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Archive for the ‘Miscellany’ Category

  • MacLean’s: Shocking article about NATO compensation schemes for civilian deaths in Afghanistan. It’s a business. Compensation for one tragedy was $20,000 and a new car, whereas for another death, it was just $210. That NATO forces are able to put a dollar value on human life through bargaining is proof of the devastating and dehumanizing effects this war is having. End it now before any more blood ends up on our hands.
  • Via Andrew Sullivan, HuffPo: Visualizing what America’s armies hath wrought in Iraq: 100-150k dead civilians, 2 million refugees abroad, 2 million displaced persons domestically.  If you had any illusions about this empire being a liberal or ennobling one (contradiction in terms), they must be shredded by now.
  • The Globe & Mail: In news that should shock no one, a Kelowna (B.C.) Mountie kicked the hell out of a suspect. You can watch the video yourself. Eyewitnesses report that the suspect, Buddy Tavares, was complying with the officer. Cops are not your friend.
  • Juan Cole: We already knew about Jawaher Abu Rahmah, the Palestinian woman killed by Israeli tear gas recently. Add to the list of Israel’s victims the names of Anas Salih (died in Gaza after being denied the exit visa he needed to get medical treatment) and Omar al-Qawasmeh (innocent man murdered in his home in a case of mistaken identity). The occupation must end.
  • Glenn Greenwald: Writing about the “climate of fear” the American government has created in the minds of its citizens. I used to study totalitarian regimes. Many scholars agreed that the worst kind of censorship they exercised was the self-censorship that went on in the fear-wracked minds of their citizens. This self-censorship is now here in America. Progress!
  • Radley Balko at Reason: Guess what–stupid anti-meth laws had the unintended consequences of making the meth trade far more profitable and seeing a boost in meth use. But hey, at least those kneejerk laws that make you feel like a criminal when you go to buy cough medicine kept some old lady without an ID from getting the Nyquil she wanted.
  • NYT: Do not forget the name “Nasrin Sotoudeh.” She is a human rights lawyer in Iran who has been sentenced to 11 years in jail, disbarred, and (my favorite) banned from leaving Iran for 20 years. “You are such an awful criminal that…we cannot bear to have you leave us!” What a vile place. Sotoudeh’s “crime” was talking to the foreign media.
  • National Post: In this time of governmental austerity, the Canadian government has somehow found additional money to expand their prison capacity. To be fair, Canada’s incarceration rate is much lower than America’s. This move still repulses me. At best, it is a cynical way to “create jobs,” never mind the fact that building more jail cells creates a powerful incentive to fill them. At worst, it is a declaration of faith in the untruth that locking more people in cages makes a better society. It doesn’t.
  • Ilya Somin at the Volokh Conspiracy: Post on the Illinois budget crisis, where income taxes may be jacked up to cover a deficit. I don’t have a strong position on the budget crisis. What I do have a strong position on is oft-quoted beltway “libertarian” Megan McArdle, who wrote, “Whether or not you think these programs should exist, they do now, and you can’t simply throw people off who planned their lives around them.” Time to write that loser out of the libertarian movement.
  • Via Thomas DiLorenzo, Anne Applebaum: It’s not often a mag like Foreign Policy prints an article titled “Homeland Security Hasn’t Made Us Safer,” so relish it for now. After unmasking the fact that DHS is a porkbarrel subsidy program, Applebaum writes, “As for the TSA, I am not aware of a single bomber or bomb plot stopped by its time-wasting procedures.” Amen.
  • Via Liberale et Libertaire: “Serious” and “respected” pundit Matt Yglesias recently called for the U.S. to institute a gendarmerie system (as he put it, “a quasi-military federal organization specialized in police/security functions rather than finding and killing bad guys per se.”) Sweet Jesus! As if the thing that this horrid little police state needs to get it going again is more cops with more power.
  • MacLean’s: This article about drunk driving nearly made me cry. In each case discussed, a drunk driver killed a beloved passenger. In each case, the family of the dead victim asked for clemency for the drunk driver, a friend of their lost loved one. In each case, Leviathan said, “Down, slave! I know what is best for this society,” and promptly threw the book at the offenders. No respect for the dead.
  • Cienna Madrid at The Stranger: Blogging from day two of the inquest into the murder death of half-deaf woodcarver John T. Williams at the hands of SPD Ofc. Ian Birk. A homicide investigator apparently tried to claim that the legal-sized whittling knife Birk claimed Williams had open but was found closed at the crime scene somehow magically closed itself when Williams dropped it. Mmmm-hmm. Then Birk took the stand to admit that he never called for back-up in 10-second confrontation that ended with Williams dead on the pavement. Birk has the gall to claim Williams looked at him threateningly, even though dashcam footage shows the perpetually drunk Williams shuffling across the street in a pitiful and harmless enough way that other pedestrians continued to walk towards him. It can’t happen in this inquest, but I look forward to the day Birk faces murder charges.
  • NYT: Israeli bloggers question their government’s use of tear gas following the tragic death of Jawaher Abu Rahmah. Awesome work, bloggers. It is a powerful and important thing for the world to understand that not all Israelis support the brutal thuggery and murder carried out in their name.
  • NYT: The Russian opposition thought they had a way around the country’s absurd permit process for protests–sending out protesters willing to stand an approved distance away from each other. Now pro-Kremlin groups are counter-picketing the solo protesters by standing near them, just to get them arrested. Of course, the cops are not arresting the pro-Kremlin folks. Vile.
  • Katherine Mangu-Ward at Reason: In case you still thought NAFTA was really a free trade agreement, did you know Mexican truckers have been banned from driving in the U.S. since 2009? This then led to punitive tariffs from Mexico. Sounding like free trade, right? Well, Obama might be about to address the situation, but not without the noxious Teamsters warning us how awful that would be for America.
  • NYT: My, my, the Israelis are bloodthirsty lately–the latest allegation is that they killed a 65-year-old Gazan man on his farm…for getting too close to the security fence. Of course, Palestinians responded with violence of their own.
  • NYT: The post-election crackdown in Belarus is getting worse. Lukashenko’s rotten state is now trying to place Danil Sannikov, the 3-year-old son of (arrested) opposition leader Andrei Sannikov and his (arrested) journalist wife Irina Khalip, in an orphanage. Never mind that his grandmother has been appointed to care for him! How dare Lukashenko bring innocent children into his bloodsport.
  • Daily Anarchist: Another “ugh” moment from this (formerly good) blog–author Seth King says that it is right to milk the state for benefits. Why? “Only then will the productive class begin to realize that paying taxes is for chumps.” Also, “you are not responsible for its theft because you never condone forced wealth redistribution.” Whatever helps you sleep at night after you’ve spent your ill-gained food stamps, Seth. Shameful.
  • Brendan Kiley at The Stranger: The fourth (and last) installment in an awesome investigative series on the drug war. Kiley comes to the conclusion that the best thing to do is legalize all drugs. This is very good. The only problem is this statement: “The only way out is to legalize—and regulate—everything.” Regulate it? Why? Just let people put what they want into their bodies and face the consequences. If they don’t like the risk, then don’t ingest the drug or create a private testing organization to give them the safety they want. Even if I disagree with regulating, it’s a great and invaluable piece of writing.
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  • LewRockwell.com: Three videos of police brutality. Take your pick, they are all horrible: an elderly disabled woman thrown to the ground, a cop pointing a gun at a woman’s head for getting in a car accident, a girl tased through her skull. Never forget: these thugs are not your friends.
  • National Post: Two Canadians are facing charges for desecrating an American flag as part of a bet over last year’s gold medal hockey game in Vancouver. The flag is just a stupid piece of fabric. It is only the false religion of nationalism that makes it anything more. I would encourage everyone to go out and burn five flags tomorrow just to knock the nationalists down.
  • Justin Raimondo at Antiwar.com: Best and worst of 2010. I am obviously going to love that Glenn Greenwald is one of his best, but I’m really more excited about seeing the repulsive Michael C. Moynihan of Reason as one of his worst. That a hateful little statist apologist like Moynihan works at Reason is appalling. The rot he has been churning out against WikiLeaks is awful, thus making me quite glad to see LRN.fm drop Reason.tv from their lineup.
  • Radley Balko at Reason: The Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld the decision to list a teen on the sex offender registry for forcing another teen to accompany him in collecting a debt. Wh-what? How is that a sex crime? Quiet, slave–do not question the wisdom of Leviathan!
  • Glenn Greenwald: What Glenn learned from his campaign of pro-WikiLeaks media appearances. Money quote: “From the start of the WikiLeaks controversy, the most striking aspect for me has been that the ones who are leading the crusade against the transparency brought about by WikiLeaks — the ones most enraged about the leaks and the subversion of government secrecy — have been . . . America’s intrepid Watchdog journalists.”
  • Via Conor Friedersdorf at Sullivan, USA Today: Railways are apparently the next target for the DHS/TSA fascists. The airport racket wasn’t a big enough employment program for fat skinhead knuckle-draggers, so they are going to need to start up unconstitutional and utterly pointless searches at subway stations to create some more jobs for their brethren.
  • NYT: Have you heard of Jamie and Gladys Scott? They had spent 16 years behind bars for an $11 armed robbery. Well, luckily for them, Miss. Governor (and GOP presidential hopeful) Haley Barbour went and said some vaguely racist crap a few weeks ago. Looking to prove he didn’t hate blacks after all, Barbour suspended their sentences, contingent upon one sister giving the other a kidney. I am glad these women have been released from their ridiculous sentences, but that Barbour did this for opportunistic reasons and that there is some sort of caveat attached pisses me off.
  • Western Standard: Highlighting the inspiring story of an incidence of de facto jury nullification in a Montana marijuana possession case. During jury selection, the drug warriors couldn’t find enough potential jurors in the pool willing to even consider locking someone up for having a sixteenth of an ounce. Not like the quantity should really matter, but still awesome.
  • Eugene Volokh: Phillip Greaves, the sick dude who wrote the infamously-banned-on-Amazon book The Pedophile’s Guide to Love and Pleasure, was recently extradited to Florida to face felony obscenity charges. Undercover cops baited him into sending them a copy of the book. Is Greaves  a sick puppy who should be ostracized by other adults? Probably. But is writing a book reason enough to entrap someone and then lock them up? Hell no.
  • Via Jacob Sullum at Reason, Michael Siegel: the top 10 anti-tobacco lies of the year. Why just talk about the realities of lung cancer when you can make up much worse lies? That seems to be the motto of the anti-smoking zealots. It’s mostly BS about secondhand smoke.
  • The American Conservative: A great parody poster, ridiculing America’s support of all manner of reprehensible regimes.
  • The Cincinnati Enquirer: Meet John Harmon, a diabetic who was repeatedly tased and beaten by Hamilton County cops during a groundless DUI stop. Cops suspected Harmon was drunk when really his blood sugar was low. It probably didn’t help that Harmon is black. Now he is suing. Good–punch the cop-bullies in the nose.
  • NYT: Headline: “Abuses Cited in Enforcing China Policy of One Child.” Oh gee whiz, do you think? I don’t really know how you differentiate when the one-child policy is itself just one great instance of abuse. There is a story in this report about a woman carried off to a hospital and sterilized against her will. To the criminals perpetrating these crimes–I don’t often wish violence upon people, but may you end up first against the wall come the revolution.
  • Radley Balko at Reason: A how-to on recording the cops. Not exactly a thriller, but excellent for logistics. The recording front is one of the primary ones on which we are fighting right now.
  • Kevin Carson at Center for a Stateless Society: Headline: “Statism: An Unfalsifiable Religion.” Pointing out the endlessly self-perpetuating loop of statism. I liked this quote: “Market failures are taken as evidence that we need a regulatory state, but regulatory failures are used as a pretext for even more government.”
  • William Grigg at LewRockwell.com: Pausing to remember the horrific story of Derek Hale, executed by cops in 2006. Hale’s widow recently received a settlement from the City of Wilmington, Delaware, but that can scarcely bring back her tased-into-a-stupor, then-shot husband Derek.
  • Daily Anarchist: Ugh…a guy writes about how he no longer hangs out with his non-anarchist friends. I hate this crap. Saying that you don’t want to hang out with non-anarchists is just as collectivist as being a collectivist. People must be treated as individuals.
  • Juan Cole: Top ten myths about Afghanistan. Must-read. Cole just demolishes every one of the plot lines you hear articulated in White House briefings and mainstream reporting. It is an unwinnable war.
  • NYT: Remember the name Qian Yunhui. He began as no hero–a Communist Party apparatchik. But he later fought for his neighbors’ property rights, and this is why he may well have been killed by the regime.
  • NYT: Estonia joins the Euro. Poor Estonians. We’ve covered this story before. At a time when the euro is facing an existential crisis, let there be no doubt that this decision had nothing to do with the good of average Estonians and everything to do with bureaucrats and politicians seeking more goodies from the European Union.
  • Jacob Sullum at Reason: Covering the federal court ruling that NYC can’t force cigarette merchants to put up anti-smoking posters. This is one small victory for private business, but it comes in the midst of a losing war.
  • Via Conor Friedersdorf at Sullivan, The Washington Examiner: When it comes to for-profit colleges, no one wins. You have the colleges themselves fighting to keep their meal-ticket, the 87% of revenue they get from taxpayers. Then you have guys shorting the stocks of for-profit colleges fighting for more onerous regulation of them in Congress, just to make sure they make money on their short. Yuck.
  • The War Nerd Gary Brecher at The eXile: Lessons from the Pashtun. I don’t always love Brecher’s column, but this one was hilarious. Good example: “They still remember Timur in Herat, but they won’t remember us. Not even all the money we spent, because Afghans are not future software billionaires. They’ll spend it on guns or pretty little dancing boys, and it’ll all end up in the form of Muhajir merchant families, or the 32-foot Bayliners sitting in the driveway of some merc’s house in Tracy.”
  • NYT: Those who petition the Russian Orthodox Church to rescind Tolstoy’s excommunication either totally misunderstand his philosophy or just want to make a name for themselves. My guess is the latter. If Tolstoy knew that his great-grandson was campaigning for Putin and begging for the Patriarch to restore Tolstoy to good graces, he would implode.
  • John McWhorter at The New Republic: Fantastic essay on how ending the drug war–and not just on marijuana–would be a tremendous thing for black America. My only concern with McWhorter’s essay is that it’s a bit too pragmatic. The war on drugs should be ended because it is morally wrong, not because it leads to a lot of innocent black men going to jail. If fewer black men go to jail once this great wrong is eliminated from our society, then so much the better.
  • Daniel Larison: Pointing out the uncomfortable truth that Liu Xiaobo is a pretty lame stooge of Western imperialism (read: supported the war in Iraq). This news disappoints me, but like Larison, it does not diminish my belief that Liu Xiaobo should be freed immediately.
  • Radley Balko at Reason: Cornelius Dupree Jr. became the 21st man to be exonerated by DNA evidence…in just one county. He had been in prison since 1980. What a tragedy, 30 years stolen.

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Welcome new readers from Slog! Thanks for following me over here. Please keep coming back or just subscribe via RSS.

To the old guard, the last few weeks have been hectic with me facing the end of my internship. Apologies for the long layoff. But I’ve accumulated a good batch of links for you in the meantime. Note: I am saving the majority of my links about WikiLeaks for a separate, dedicated post.

  • Globe & Mail: Saeed Malekpour, a Canadian resident, has been sentenced to death in Iran for running a porn site. That is it–running a porn site. This case is just as bad as the wife-stoning last summer, but getting nowhere near the attention. Don’t forget this guy’s name, don’t let him die.
  • Via Brian Doherty, Chicago Breaking News: Aurora (Ill.) police have yet to return $190k confiscated from two drug suspects in a traffic stop. A judge has even ordered the money returned, only to have the city refuse. This is nothing new–the cops routinely confiscate money from suspects and then make it so hard to get back a lot of people just give up.
  • Via Andrew Sullivan, The Telegraph: Switzerland considers overturning their ban on incest between consenting adults. Do I think incest is disgusting and unfathomable? Yes. But could I agree more with this statement? “Incest is a difficult moral question, but not one that is answered by penal law.” No, I couldn’t. Freedom means defending even the rights of people with whom we do not agree.
  • Kevin Carson at Center for a Stateless Society: Covering every angle of the UK student riots in a way no other outlet has. Such a well-considered piece. Carson points out that it’s easy to blame the protesters for being thugs, but harder to see them as victims of a government education system that perversely subsidizes education and creates infinite new credentialing standards.
  • National Post: Oh my God–a woman is filing a lawsuit against McDonald’s for marketing food to her children and making it hard to say no. Oh my God. I am about to explode in flames just reading about this vile human trying to use force against a business for more or less existing. Burn in hell, Monet Parham.
  • Globe & Mail: This story fails in every way possible. What was once a private project to build a Canadian Museum of Human Rights is now a government-funded boondoggle (funded by the supposedly conservative Harper government, btw). Now, Ukrainian-Canadian groups are whining that the museum doesn’t do enough to cover the Ukrainian famine of the 1930s. There’s almost nothing more unseemly than this sort of genocide porn.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy: Dinging Drudge for linking to PrisonPlanet.com, the main Alex Jones site. Alex is too far out there, way too wrapped up in conspiracy theories for me to like him. But just because he is a conspiracy theorist doesn’t mean his (very popular) site is incapable of breaking stories.
  • Via Tyler Cowen, Bruce Schneier: Interesting argument that rather than arguing about security for the Washington Monument, it should be closed as a “monument to our fears.” I don’t think Schneier really wants to close it and neither do I, but his “this is why we can’t have nice things” point about America’s love of fear is pretty awesome.
  • Tim Cavanaugh at Reason: Did you know Wesley Snipes is sitting in jail now, even though he beat his tax charges, just because the judge brought him up on another misdemeanor? And that the sentence he got for the misdemeanor is longer than a lot of sentences issued to felons? The statists don’t like it when you mess with their revenue stream.
  • Der Spiegel: In a super-minor WikiLeak, American authorities got butthurt over Austria’s “limited” worldview. In this case, “limited” means “not interested in pursuing imperialism and global war.” Yet another reason for me to love Austria.
  • National Post: A trade war may be brewing in my native Ohio, where a Canadian contractor made the cheapest bid to provide chairs to a courthouse, only to be told the contract needed to be awarded to an American firm. First of all, color me disgusted that Franklin County (home to Columbus) “needs” a $100 million, 7-story courthouse. Sounds like too many laws. Second of all, the idea that this will “create” jobs when it just means government will have to spend more money stolen from working people on the stupid chairs is ludicrous.
  • NYT: Old news, but the judge tossed out the case against extrajudicial murders targeted killings filed by Anwar al-Awlaki’s dad. Apparently, this issue should be left up to the executive branch…because they are transparent, fair, and moral. God, this is sickening.
  • Globe & Mail: Ted Turner urged leaders at the Cancun conference to institute a worldwide one-child policy. Bye bye, Ted. Go back to your ranch and STFU. You are insane and you hate humans. Guess what? We hate you back, you old loon.
  • NYT: Telling the chilling story of Danroy Henry, another unarmed black man killed by a white cop in shady circumstances. It happened in October and we still haven’t heard much about the evidence. People need to stop trusting the police and start realizing they are bullies who kill people.
  • Matt Welch at Reason: L.A. extended a moratorium on fast food restaurants in low-income neighborhoods to become a full-on ban. I understand fast food is horrible for health and encourages bad decisions. But this isn’t the way to solve the problem, by denying people their access to it and telling companies where they can and can’t operate.
  • LewRockwell.com blog: Using Foreign Policy‘s list of the world’s top 15 imprisoned dissidents to ask when Julian Assange and the tortured Bradley Manning will make the list. These dissidents are worth learning and remembering, for sure. But the point about Assange and Manning is incredibly valid–we are doing things we associate with dictators.
  • NYT: The WTO ruled in favor of a U.S. tariff against Chinese tires. This is what passes for pro-trade in our world. No more WTO, no more NAFTA-style free trade agreements, no more tariffs. Just free people in different places trading freely with each other, please.
  • Globe & Mail: The idiotic son of Canada’s third-party leader, who is unfortunately on the Toronto council, is calling on the council to condemn MacLean’s for their now-infamous “Too Asian?” article. And just like all of the other kneejerkers complaining about this article, little Mike Layton seems to have failed to read past the title. Or maybe he did and he is just a cynical opportunist pol gunning for more votes. Whatever it is, shut up.
  • Globe & Mail: One of the articles in a series about religion in Canada was about unused church infrastructure closing down and falling into disrepair, especially in Quebec. I just really loved this quote: “It’s not because you stop believing in Amon-Ra that you destroy the Pyramids.” So well said!
  • NYT: Three New Orleans cops have been convicted in the post-Katrina murder of Henry Glover. Amen. Have fun in jail, you thugs. Would that more murderer cops were getting acquainted with the general population right alongside you.
  • Justin Raimondo: Remember all the big media fawning over Richard Holbrooke’s death last week? How the power-loving, arrogant old fool had said we should end the war in Afghanistan as his last words, even though he was too much of a coward to do it whilst he lived? Raimondo points out that that was only the tip of the crappy iceberg with Holbrooke.
  • The Economist: The judge hearing Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s case suddenly and inexplicably decided to postpone his ruling. In fact, just long enough for Vladimir Putin to make a tamper-tastic, completely unfair statement condemning Khodorkovsky on national tv. Khodorkovsky is no saint, but his punishment has already far exceeded his crimes.

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I’m still a peon in the world of journalism, interning at a paper and running this blog. That doesn’t mean I haven’t read enough in my lifetime to know good journalism from bad, and the Mark Ames-Yasha Levine “Kochtopus conspiracy” hit piece against the Opt Out movement was unquestionably the latter. Mind you, I like Mark Ames–I love reading old stuff from The eXile paper he infamously founded with Matt Taibbi in Moscow in the 1990s. This article, though, was a horror show.

The main problem with it is hardly a unique one. It’s one that I have noticed in plenty of left-wing journalism: the idea that you can always crack a story just by “following the money.” Perhaps it should not be surprising that people with socialist leanings would have a materialist approach to investigative journalism, too. Anyways, I’ve critiqued this approach before in my criticism of The New Yorker‘s anti-Koch hit piece this summer, but it applies again here. And what made it even worse in the Ames-Levine story is that they didn’t even bother to follow the money, instead resorting to even lazier associative BS that I saw one site describe as “Six Degrees of Separation for the libertarian movement.” “Oh, this person is a Free Stater? They must know the Koch brothers.” That makes about as much sense as saying that just because someone lives in Omaha, they must know Warren Buffett.

Furthermore, Ames and Levine seem to want us to believe there is something creepy or wrong about libertarians fighting back against the TSA’s revolting new procedures. Yes, libertarians are recording their encounters and intentionally pushing the envelope. It’s called civil disobedience. Was what Rosa Parks did creepy because she was an anti-segregationist with some support from the NAACP? Was what John Scopes did creepy because he was an evolutionist with some support from the ACLU? No. People with a strong ideological opposition to some distasteful piece of legislation are the ones most likely to risk the most to see it defeated.

My favorite response to the article came from Glenn Greenwald, one of America’s preeminent civil libertarians but also a political progressive to the left of most of the Democratic Party, just like Ames and Levine. Of course, this did not stop Ames and Levine from essentially calling him a CATO Institute shill, as pointed out by Brian Doherty at Reason. Greenwald’s piece is a real and thorough fisking that debunks nearly every paragraph of the Ames-Levine article.

Returning to my introduction, I may be only a fledgling journalist, but the time I have spent working on stories makes me realize how lame of an attempt Ames and Levine made at doing research and how lax the editors at The Nation must be. They apparently made no attempt to contact the people they smeared in their story, something that would not have been hard to do with all the talk shows John  Tyner and Meg McLain have done. Heck, Meg is even a weekly cohost on Free Talk Live. Now that I’ve used Facebook to track down long-forgotten high school classmates of murder victims and visited creepy old homes just to get a phone number for an interview, I feel safe in saying that the effort Ames and Levine needed to put into this story to achieve a baseline level of good research was minimal. That didn’t stop them from failing to do it.

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No, I didn’t forget about WikiLeaks, the TSA, and the FBI’s entrapment scam in Portland…there are just so many relevant links for each of those subjects that they deserve their own posts. So here’s the rest of the news.

  • Globe & Mail: I’m a non-violent person, but if a politician who runs a community of 87 people told me they deserved their $243k tax-free salary, I would be tempted to head-butt them in their obscene little mouth. And that’s precisely what a First Nations chief in Nova Scotia has just done. The only salary you deserve is the $0.50/hour you get for working in a prison laundry, you criminal.
  • Globe & Mail: One of the most interesting WikiLeaks cables was one showing the U.S. talking about how Canadian TV shows encourage “insidious” anti-American stereotypes. Seems the criminals running the U.S. don’t like the Canadians protesting against our border policies. Aww, poor little babies–our neighbors document exactly the way in which you humiliate and dehumanize innocent people every day and you don’t like it. Here’s an idea: stop doing it.
  • Globe & Mail: B.C. courts have essentially rewritten a man’s will because he wrote out his four daughters and made his son the sole beneficiary. The judge said that he was a “racist” (bad, but completely irrelevant here) and demeaned his daughters. Shouldn’t they just be glad he is dead, then? The idea that courts can play ex post facto referee on solemn contracts is deeply upsetting and creates a horribly slippery slope.
  • Globe & Mail: A wonderfully biting slam of American imperialism and the Harper government’s cooperation with it. This piece is a must-read. Sometimes, it takes a foreigner to make us see just how much of an incessantly war-mongering tyrant-state ours is. This is the Canada we need to be our neighbor.
  • NYT: Meet the chengguan, China’s unthinking, skullcracking, government-issue thugs who keep urban order. These people are sick. They beat a man to death for videotaping them. And now they are recruiting attractive young women to put a prettier face on it. Even if you put make-up and lipstick on police power, it’s still a giant “boot stamping on a human face forever.”
  • LewRockwell.com: Stupid fascist DHS secretary Janet Napolitano is now apparently forbidding all packages from Japan that “weigh more than .9 pounds, are not sent by a commercial enterprise, and do not have the receiver’s SS# written on the package.” All because a couple of explosive print cartridges got mailed once. Do you really think this will keep us safe, Napolitano? Of course not. You just want more power in your grubby little hands. Burn in hell.
  • Der Spiegel: Europe freaks out over Switzerland’s newest referendum, which authorizes authorities to automatically expel criminal foreigners. I like open borders, but I also like people who respect the culture and way of life that goes on inside those borders. If you are lucky enough to get into Switzerland and you can’t behave yourself, I don’t see any problem in them getting rid of you….even better if they replace you with me.
  • NYT: The Russian government has agreed to hand a ton of confiscated property back to the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC), an organization that suffered tremendously under the Soviets. But even this seemingly good news can still be bad as we are treated to the vile spectacle of the ROC happily taking over the deeds to confiscated Catholic and Lutheran churches in Kaliningrad, aka Koenigsberg, the former royal seat of Prussia that is only Russian today because Russia needed an ice-free Baltic port. Looks like Tolstoy was right about the ROC.
  • Vienna Review: meditations on Western tech companies and their cozy relationships with authoritarian dictators and censors. I wasn’t even familiar with the lead example–Russian police breaking up an opposition NGO because their server computers might have used pirated Windows software. Microsoft said nothing. They had intellectual property to look after, you know!
  • NYT: The yearly protests at the School of the Americas (now called WHISC) at Ft. Benning are dwindling in attendance. If you don’t know, SOA/WHISC is a friendly little place where American soldiers train Central American thugs how to crack skulls and disappear people. I remember my high school used to send protesters every year, and me, being the bien pensant nationalist that I was, was appalled. Now I’m sad to see the protests shrinking in yet another sign of the left rolling over now that Obama is in control.
  • NYT: The EU is proposing to deny visas to 60 Russian officials implicated in the jailhouse death of the the lawyer Sergei Magnitsky…and the officials are all butthurt about it. Awww, poor little babies, you won’t get to go blow stolen money in London anymore! Maybe you should have thought about that before you participated in what very much looks like a murder.
  • Via Andrew Sullivan, the Daily Beast: Meet Steve King, the Iowa Republican who will likely become the House’s top man on immigration. This guy is a real sickie: “He has dubbed illegal immigration not just a ‘slow-motion terrorist attack’ but a ‘slow-motion holocaust.'” All this from a jerk who lives in Iowa, eons away from the people in places like El Paso who should actually have a say in border policy.
  • Via Andrew Sullivan, Gawker: Meet a girl who has nearly $200k in student loan debt…just from undergrad. People worried about student loans don’t spend a year abroad, missy. Oh, and the $200k that bought you a diploma at a pretty average liberal arts school like Northeastern could have bought you a better diploma at a state school and left you probably $120-140k to play around with. It’s hard to feel bad for people this stupid.
  • Moscow Times: The artist who headed up the Voina (“War”) group that did so much to mock state power in Russia has been forced to escape into exile in Estonia. His name is Alexei Plutser-Sarno. I wish him well in continuing to mock the state.
  • Globe & Mail: Canadian courts are currently wrestling with the issue of polygamy. If the polygamists win, Canada could become the only Western country to permit polygamy. Predictably, people are saying how awful this would be and what it might do to attract polygamist immigrants. First thing–there is nothing especially bad about polygamy. It’s not something I would do, but it works for some people. If women are being forced into it, that’s something worth fighting. But if everyone is ok, let it go. Second thing–the idea that polygamists will suddenly just descend upon Canada is laughable. How will they get in? I would crawl to Vancouver on my knees to get a Canadian work permit and I’m a graduate degree-holding, English-speaking, non-criminal. It’s not like these people can just start showing up on airplanes and building polygamist colonies.

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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 imperialist liberal 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 inflation Quantitative 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.

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It’s been a while. Last week got a bit nutty with election coverage. But I’ve done a ton of reading and now you get a super sized-order of links.

  • NYT: Sane people in NYC have run the stats on NYPD’s stop-and-frisk campaign and they aren’t pretty. Of course minorities were stopped more frequently. It turns out that more than 30% of the 2.8 million stops between 2004-2009 probably weren’t justified. Thank God activists are filing a lawsuit. The cop-bullies need to be punched in the nose for this one.
  • Via Tyler Cowen, IT World: Demands a clickthrough, just to see the heartbreaking photo of a 23-year-old North Korean girl who could easily be mistaken for a malnourished preteen. Enjoy your cognac, Kim Jong-Il. If there’s a hell, you’re going to be roasting in it. If there’s not, hopefully your people manage to Ceausescu you first.
  • LewRockwell.com blog: Johannes Mehserle, the Oakland cop who murdered Oscar Grant, received a two-year sentence. With time served, he could be out in just over six months. It’s their country, we just live in it.
  • Via Radley Balko at Reason, poker player Terrence Chan: U.S. customs thugs turn the tourist Chan away twice at the border, even after he gave them personal documents with the insulting level of private information they wanted from him. These people are out of control. Let’s not even get into the right of free people to cross borders. Let’s just leave it at the sheer idiocy of customs bullies keeping people from spending money in our economy during a recession. How smart, you scumbags.
  • Justin Raimondo: Running down a murderer’s row of happy little accomplices to state-sanctioned murder who are about to find themselves holding leadership positions in the House. Yuck. But as Raimondo points out, at least the utterly vile war criminal Ilario Pantano lost his campaign. Thank God.
  • IMPORTANT — English-language PDF of Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s final remarks at his showtrial in the gulags. I don’t agree with every word, but I know that we must not forget this man. He abused a corrupt system, he probably did some extremely shady things in Russia’s early capitalist era, and he would have never become as rich as he did if not for state power. But that doesn’t mean he deserves to end up serving a life sentence in prison whilst men who did worse roam free.
  • Glenn Greenwald: Having a field day with the slavish U.S. media’s attempts to blame the letter bomb campaign on al-Awlaki. This is Greenwald at his best, pointing out the near-total lack of evidence for any involvement by al-Awlaki…except for the very convenient fact that he is a U.S. citizen Obama wants to murder targeted-kill.
  • The Economist: They’re getting bolder–after the FBI provoked a man into supporting one of their little agent-provocateur fake terrorist attacks on the Washington Metro, transit police wanted to start searching bags the next day. You didn’t keep us safe from anything, you losers. This guy would have never done anything if he wasn’t put up to it. Don’t you dare try to take away more of our rights.
  • Via Andrew Sullivan, Mickey Kaus: Pitching “instant recall” voting with “None of the above” as an option. If “None of the above” wins, Mickey wants a fresh election with all new candidates. This is how sick democracy is. Even when you don’t want anyone, they make you pick someone, just to make the system look legitimate. Here’s an idea: “None of the above” as an option and the office ceases to exist if it wins.
  • NYT: “Well wouldn’t you know it, most politicians didn’t want to talk about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in their election campaigns.” Is this surprising to anyone? Both parties support our imperialist agenda of death. Of course they aren’t going to remind people of the two evil wars we are fighting.
  • National Post: Columnist says “Embrace the hypocrisy,” regarding the U.S. and Canada’s positions on torture. We condemn other countries for it and condone it ourselves. It’s disgusting to see things have come to this. It’s even more disgusting to watch the supposedly anti-torture left roll over and play dead now that Obama is president.
  • MacLean’s: Using the absurd Randy Quaid refugee case to say Canada shouldn’t accept refugee claims from the U.S. Boo! If I thought I could go to Canada and win a refugee hearing on the grounds of my opposition to the warfare state that operates in my name and with my tax dollars, I would. Americans need Canada to be our safety valve of last resort.
  • Der Spiegel: Reporting on child labor in the Uzbek cotton harvest. I know a lot of Uzbeks. Almost everyone of them had a story about being part of cotton-picking student labor gangs. No, people aren’t dying as under military conscription, but sending 11-year-old girls to cotton fields and paying them nine cents for a day’s labor is SICK.
  • The Globe & Mail: Looking back on liberal interventionism, seven years after we invaded Iraq. It’s not looking too good. Of course, this isn’t stopping Michael Ignatieff from trying to run to the interventionist right of Stephen Harper on foreign policy. For Americans, you can think of Ignatieff’s foreign policy as basically identical to Clinton’s, or you could just read this article about it.
  • Jacob Sullum at Reason: Destroying the Four-Loko witchhunters on the basis of their own stats. Four-Loko, the new caffeinated beer tallboy, actually has less caffeine than coffee, but this isn’t stopping news hacks from claiming it causes heart attacks. I bought 24 of them for our newsroom last week and drank part of one myself. It’s vile sludge, but we’re all still alive. Of course, this didn’t stop Michigan from banning it last Thursday.
  • The Moscow Times: When two governments suck at once. Canada institutes a new visa questionnaire that could require some Russians to reveal national security info they are prohibited from revealing by law. Canada—get rid of your visas. Russia–stop telling your citizens what they are allowed to say.
  • Tyler Cowen, in the NYT: Immigrants create jobs. Suck it, Lou Dobbs.
  • National Post: Reporting on blatant lying used by nanny state health tyrants. I think our food system is messed up. I hate to see people drink soda. Obesity is out of control here. But trying to assert control over people’s right to ingest things into their own bodies is repugnant, especially when it is hatched on the basis of lies.
  • Katherine Mangu-Ward at Reason: Covering Montana, the latest state to cap payday loan interest rates. “Capping interest rates” is just a polite way of saying “Drives out of business.” Payday loan rates are so high because they are for at-risk clients. In addition, no one makes anyone take one out. Damn these politicians and their populist demagoguery.
  • National Post: A math professor at U of Manitoba sues the school over their decision to award a PhD to a guy who failed his comprehensive exams twice, only to have the requirement waived because of his “extreme examination anxiety.” It gets better–he didn’t even take the required courseload. Rock on, Gabor Lukacs, you principled academe!
  • The Globe & Mail: Requesting Canada get rid of its dairy and poultry protectionism. Amen.
  • NYT: The ugly side of Thailand–censorship. If you haven’t already heard of Thailand’s horrifying lese majeste laws, read up now.
  • NYT: How about some good news? Russia’s brave opposition has absorbed the blows and continued their fight and now they have won a bit of breathing room for their protests. Things are still horribly restricted, but these opposition activists are heroes, people who really put their lives on the line for freedom. Wonderful news. Поздравляю вас, Стратегия-31!
  • Via Andrew Sullivan, LA Times: The specifics of San Francisco’s health-fascist Happy Meal ban. Nice job respecting our right to choose, you fascist guttersnipes.
  • Radley Balko at Reason: Cops will charge a 72-year-old man who fired his gun at suspected robbers entering his house during a poker game. Turns out it was a SWAT team. What would have happened if a SWAT thug shot an unarmed person inside? Paid administrative leave? A commendation?
  • Via LewRockwell.com blog, WaPo: Federal judge rules to limit the liability of the Washington Metro in a lawsuit over an accident that killed nine people. And people really think a court system in which the referee plays for one of the teams only could ever be a fair court system.
  • The Globe & Mail: Discussing the Harper’s government sick hypocrisy in blocking the foreign takeover of Saskatchewan’s Potash Corp. Harper the guy who wrote his Master’s about free market economics blocked the deal to win some votes in Saskatchewan. This columnist seems to feel bad for him. No. This was unprincipled opportunism of the lowest order.
  • Ross Kenyon at Center for a Stateless Society: Attacking the proposed “Robin Hood tax” on the financial sector from both the left and the right. Great piece.

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