- 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
murderdeath 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.
Posts Tagged ‘Aleksandr Lukashenko’
Posted in Miscellany, tagged Afghanistan, Aleksandr Lukashenko, Anas Salih, Andrei Sannikov, anti-meth laws, Belarus, Buddy Tavares, budget crisis, Canada, civilian casualties, civilian deaths, collateral damage, Danil Sannikov, DHS, drug war, drunk driving, Ian Birk, Illinois, Iran, Iraq, Irina Khalip, Israel, Jawaher Abu Rahmah, John T. Williams, Kelowna, Megan McArdle, Mexican truckers, Mountie, NAFTA, Nasrin Sotoudeh, NATO, Omar al-Qawasmeh, Palestine, police brutality, prison system, Russian opposition, Seattle, tax hikes, Teamsters, tear gas, TSA, whittler, woodcarver on 01/12/2011| 1 Comment »
Posted in International news, International politics, tagged Aleksandr Lukashenko, Belarus, customs union, Druzhba pipeline, gas, Russia, Ukraine, Union State of Russia and Belarus, Vladimir Putin on 06/21/2010| Leave a Comment »
NYT reports that Russia turned off the gas pipeline to Belarus yesterday. If this was the “Druzhba” pipeline that the Russians have often used to block delivery to Ukraine in the past, it would be a darkly funny development since “druzhba” means “friendship” in Russian and Russia will have by now used this supposed friendship-pipeline to have starved perhaps its two most closely related East Slavic brothers of gas. The interesting thing is that stopping to delivery to Ukraine made sense at the time; Ukraine was threatening to break out of the post-Soviet orbit and go over to the West. But Belarus? The least-reformed post-Soviet state, led by Aleksandr “Uncle Luk” Lukashenko, the last dictator in Europe, the man too lazy to rename his secret police anything other than KGB, the man who promotes Russian over Belarusian at any chance, and most importantly, the man who helped create the Union State of Russia and Belarus and once seemed to welcome Belarus’s reannexation in to Russia? Color me shocked.
Interestingly enough, it’s this last bit, the Union of Russia and Belarus, that seems to be causing the trouble:
The decision arises in a tendentious political context, as President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko refused to sign off on the customs union with Russia and Kazakhstan, to Russia’s south.
In protest of Russian oil tariffs, Belarus has refused to sign off on the start of the customs union, which Moscow created in 1991 in hopes of forging a permanent economic alliance of post-Soviet countries.
Ah-ha. So Russia wants Belarus to accede to the customs union and is going to hold their feet to the fire by withholding gas until they do. I don’t know if it’s a good or bad thing for Belarus that the article indicates European demand for gas is much lower in summer, so the Europeans will presumably have less incentive to mediate on behalf of the Belarusians as they did for the Ukrainians in the depths of winter.