Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Canada’

  • 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.

Read Full Post »

  • 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.

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

The National Post recently had two good articles on what are called “equalization payments” in Canada. Basically, ever year, the wealthy Western provinces like British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and especially Alberta transfer wealth to the federal authorities, who then redistribute it to have-nots in the East. The worst culprit this year is capitalism-bashing Quebec, which will receive more than $8.5 billion from “greedy” Western oil and timber barons.

The whole system is quite distasteful–to think that people in one part of the country have some claim to the wealth of people in another part of the country. If Quebecers want a slice of Alberta’s pie, then maybe they should move to Alberta. But it is unsurprising in our world of nationalism. Rather than let Quebec go, federal governments have bought them off with equalization payments and allowed them to get by with unsustainable fiscal policies. Rather than respect federalism and let people in Alberta and B.C. keep their money, federal governments act as if they are somehow entitled to arbitrarily redistribute it.

The first article I read was about how equalization payments come not just in the form of direct transfers,  but also much higher rates of federal employment in the have-not provinces. Personally, I think Alberta should feel lucky to have fewer bloodsuckers per capita running around than those on Prince Edward Island, but that’s just me. In any case, this article got my long-established anti-equalization hackles up.

But the second article sort of knocked me back on my feet. Canada’s Atlantic provinces have often benefited from equalization payments, leading Canadians elsewhere to look down on them a bit. And I would have continued to do so myself if not for this article which pointed out that Atlantic Canada had a vibrant trading relationship with the Eastern United States until the mid-19th century, when protectionist industrialists in Ontario and Quebec ganged up on them and obstructed trade with the U.S.

So yes, the equalization payments of today are a gross demonstration of the idea that some people have a claim on the wealth of others just because they happen to live inside the same imagined borders. But the equalization payments of today might not have been necessary if state-allied business owners of a century and a half ago had not used government’s coercive force to protect their interests and crush the productivity of others. Both in the 19th century and the 21st, the state is picking sides and messing things up. As the equalization fatcats in Quebec would say, plus ca change

Read Full Post »

A judge in Ontario did something pretty cool this week and took a machete to Canada’s federal anti-prostitution laws, effectively decriminalizing prostitution in that province. Federal government officials are already preparing an appeal. If the decision stands, it could have a rapid trickle-down effect across Canada since precedent would effectively be set for the remaining provinces.

Here’s hoping it stands. It makes no sense that we accept consensual, mutually beneficial economic exchanges of any number of goods and services, yet we hold some puritanical prejudice against doing it for sex. We allow it to be given away for free, sure. But put a dollar figure on it? Exercise control over your own body and do with it what you want? Heavens no!

The only thing that I don’t really like about this decision is that the judge did it not because she agreed with the principles I just established–namely, the idea that we are sovereign over our own bodies–but because she researched the issue enough to come to a pragmatic decision about sex workers’ health and safety. The benefits to their health and safety are tremendous secondary pluses and should not be discounted, but this is not a pragmatic issue. It’s a philosophical, ethical issue about who holds sovereignty over our bodies. Right conclusion, wrong logic, judge.

The Canadian papers have covered the issue quite a bit this week. My least-favorite article was a glowing profile of Swedish prostitution laws, where sex workers are not penalized but the customers who solicit them are. The logic behind the Swedish approach is that violence and other crimes enter the sex trade through the customers, not the providers.

Ugh. I’d love to know how many of the johns who have been charged were chubby-faced middle-aged businessmen versus those who were woman-beating gangsters. My suspicion would be that the businessmen are amateurs dumb enough to get caught, whilst the gangsters operate far enough underground that they don’t have to worry. Even if I’m wrong, it’s still a gross principle for a law. So long as violence and exploitation are not entering into the equation, neither the customer nor the client is at fault in a prostitution transaction. It’s just two consenting adults setting a mutually agreed-upon price for a service.

Did you hear that, state authorities? Mutually beneficial. Consensual. No violence. No force. Maybe you should try following those principles in your relations with us, your slaves.

Read Full Post »

  • Glenn Greenwald: doing vital reporting on an issue entirely neglected by the U.S. media–the release of findings from the UN’s inquiry into Israel’s raid on the Mavi Marmara. Included in the findings: 19-year-old U.S. citizen Furkan Dogan was shot execution-style as he lay on the deck in a semi-conscious state. The only UN Human Rights Council member to vote against endorsing the report was the U.S. American-Israeli relations: where you execute an innocent citizen of ours and we help you cover it up!
  • NYT: Norway says that three terrorist plotters arrested in July were planning an attack on the Danish hero-newspaper Jyllands-Posten–the paper that published the Muhammad cartoons. The best part is that all three plotters were permanent residents who arrived as asylum seekers. You came to the West seeking so asylum…so that you could violate the rights of others and make them seek asylum? Here’s hoping these three rot for a very, very long time.
  • New Humanist: around 20 U.S. newspaper spike a cartoon for a perceived slight to Muhammad. This is when they’ve won, when we start self-censoring. Ugh.
  • Carlos Miller: Michigan authorities bully a man and threaten to refer him to the Department of Homeland Security…for taking pictures of the town water tower. Similar photos are displayed on the town’s own website. Snap those shutters, people. We have to keep shaming these jerks into respecting our rights.
  • Reason: their entire October issue is available for free online now!
  • Free Keene: video of Pete and Adam from Liberty on Tour having a very well-handled, funny encounter with U.S. Border Patrol. Best part: the checkpoint is comfortably inside U.S. territory. And I used to think it was odd that Russians had to carry their papers everywhere.
  • National Post: updating information on the conscientious objector safehaven bill being walked through the Canadian parliament by Liberal MP Gerard Kennedy. It’s too bad they are trying to make him limit it to U.S. objectors only, but at least this would be an improvement over the current system.
  • Radley Balko at Reason: updating a police brutality case. The DEA gave a big, fat settlement to the innocent man who was brutalized. But now the only disciplinary action taken has been against the Kansas City (KS)  cop who blew the whistle. It’s their country, we just live in it.
  • Katherine Mangu-Ward at Reason: LA teachers union sickos blame the suicide of an LA teacher on the LA Times teacher effectiveness rankings. Vile. What other profession gets away with this sort of evidence-averse bullying yet still gets sympathy from the public?
  • Armin Rosen at Reason: highlighting the stomach-churning hypocrisy of Obama on DC schools. First Obama listened to the evidence-averse, child-hating crazies teachers there and helped kill the popular voucher program. Now he stood by and let the pro-school reform mayor lose his reelection race. In the meantime, his kids attend the super-elite Sidwell Friends. Do you think of the lives you’ve ruined before you go to bed at night, Barack? What are a few schoolkids condemned to failing schools when you run Guantanamo Bay and oversee two bloody wars, I guess.
  • The Globe & Mail: U.S. prepares to lock up a Canadian pot smuggler. 8 months for harming no one, for initiating no force, for respecting consent. Proud to be an American!
  • Pat Buchanan: making the case that China overplayed its hand in the recent fishing boat face-off with Japan. By Buchanan’s logic, China has now proven itself a ruthless foe willing to use economic warfare to achieve its goals. I don’t see this as a revelation.
  • The Globe & Mail: British Columbia’s political-administrative classes gang up on anti-harmonized sales tax (HST) leader Bill Vander Zalm because there happen to be some crazy people in his movement. What a load of spew. This is like that insane Google v. Viacom lawsuit, where Viacom tried to hold Google liable for individual users uploading licensed content, even if Google removed it. Vander Zalm is not responsible for the actions of individuals who support his cause. You’re getting desperate, guys.
  • The Globe & Mail: French prosecutors were nice and helpful, gladly turning over information on 1,800 secret Swiss accounts held by Canadians to the Canadian Revenue Agency. How dare you hide your wealth from Leviathan! Leviathan is hungry!
  • NYT: an Israeli publishes the country’s first pork cookbook. It doesn’t sound like a big deal until you read this part: “Pork sellers routinely face protesters, and in recent years, arsonists have attacked shops in cities like Netanya and Safed, where Orthodox Jews live near secular immigrant communities.” Yes, burn down a store because someone inside is selling a product you don’t have to use.
  • Glenn Greenwald: ridiculing Obama for his hypocrisy in talking tough on Iranian torturers whilst filing state secrecy claims to dismiss investigation of torture at home. It feels so refreshing to lose our moral credibility, doesn’t it?
  • The Globe & Mail: Vancouver politicos can’t understand why food carts aren’t taking off there like they have in Portland. Well, they have some inkling that it was because they limited the number of licenses. But hey, let’s just set a new, arbitrarily-low number of licenses and tell people to put their carts in clusters and it will be ok! You’re doing it wrong, you imbeciles. Get rid of the licenses. Let people do what they want. Then the trucks will come.

Read Full Post »

You might remember me linking to a story by Paul Karl Lukacs about how he refused to answer questions from U.S. customs on a recent trip home. Given my recent difficulties with U.S. and Canadian customs, I found Lukacs’s strategy of non-cooperation fascinating. It’s not going to come much in handy going to Canada since, as they have reminded me before, going to Canada is a “privilege, not a right.” But with U.S. customs…well, eventually they have to let citizens back in the country. What’s the alternative? Deport us? If you know how hard it is to emigrate to another country with even the best of intentions, you’ll understand how laughable that suggestion is.

Lukacs just followed up with a more comprehensive, ten-point guide to customs strategy (H/T: Lew Rockwell.com). Read it, learn it, memorize it. I don’t necessarily recommend deploying these strategies since it will cost you time, maybe even to the point of ending up in detention, and maybe get you put on a watchlist or the dreaded no-fly list, but at least know what is in your arsenal as a citizen.

One of the money quotes:

That being said – and this is a point several commenters made – entering the U.S. is a cruder experience than entering most other countries. Although I enter China multiple times a year, I have never been asked a question by an immigration or customs officer. When I have entered Thailand without a visa, the officer’s questions have been limited to the duration of my visit (to make sure I am within the Kingdom’s visa waiver rules). Once, a German immigration officer wanted to know my plans, and that interview was polite and three questions long. And, in my reading of travel blogs, the U.S., Canada and Great Britain are the three countries consistently mentioned for their overreaching border officers. (emphasis mine, M.)

Having entered all three of these countries, I couldn’t agree more. Certainly there are outliers. Going into Ukraine, our train was searched by dogs. Entering Russia requires a visa. But even in those countries, my actual interactions with the border patrol were shorter, less intrusive and politer than what I’ve encountered in the U.S., the UK and Canada. Canada especially–I’ve been asked about my employment history, asked for contact information for the person I was visiting so they could call her and even had my hard drive searched for “obscene material.” It’s a veritable smorgasbord of dehumanization and shaming. The irony in the Anglophone countries that taught the world so much about civil liberties now working so hard to undermine them is deep and painful.

For U.S. citizens, I think the most important quote was this one:

A federal judge in Puerto Rico – a territory sensitive to the rights and privileges of its residents’ U.S. citizenship — said it best: “The only absolute and unqualified right of citizenship is to residence within the territorial boundaries of the United States; a citizen cannot be either deported or denied reentry.” U.S. v. Valentine, 288 F. Supp. 957, 980 (D.P.R. 1968).

Put that in your pocket. Remind the friendly customs people. See how they try to dodge that one.

Coming in a very close second:

3. Any Misstatement To A Federal Officer Can Result In Your Arrest.

If a federal officer claims you lied to him, you can be arrested and charged with the crime of making false statements. You do not have to make the statements under oath (which would be the different charge of perjury).

This statute – which is referred to as Section 1001 and which can be read here in all its prolix glory — is the reason why Martha Stewart has a Bureau of Prisons number.

The only way to immunize yourself against a false statements charge is to refuse to speak to federal officers.

This is such a big one. Don’t give them the rope to hang you. They interrogate thousands of people each day, hundreds of days a year. They are used to these interactions. They are pros. They have the power. We are amateurs. We get nervous and don’t know what to say. This leads to us saying dumb and/or inconsistent things. You might think you are above this reality, but you’re probably wrong. So play it close to the vest as much as possible.

Last one I want to highlight:

5. Politeness Would Make No Difference.

Many of the commenters took issue with my rude tone toward the CBP officers. This criticism is profoundly misguided.

To the authoritarian mind, there are only two responses to a demand: submission or defiance, and anything less than total submission is defiance. A Lutheran grandmother from Savannah with manners from an antebellum finishing school would be hassled if she refused to answer CBP’s questions.

Answering with a tart “None of your business” underscores that I will not be pushed around and – potentially important from a criminal procedure perspective – is an unambiguous statement that I am not waiving any rights. It is a line in the linoleum.

Definitely my experience so far. I’ve tried to be polite, especially with U.S. Customs. It’s been received positively once. Every other time, it’s been met with curtness and the same BS everybody else encounters. They’ve got an image to protect. Welcoming you back to the country with a slap on the back and a big smile isn’t part of it.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »