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Posts Tagged ‘drug war’

  • 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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  • 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.

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The immense backlog of articles to read has been read. The requisite amount of head-shaking has occurred. And now, at long last, my sense of inertia has been overcome. We’re back online, folks. The Country Estate is now officially operating from a secret location tucked away on a Seattle hillside. Let’s get started with a record-breaking batch of links…and remember, some of them might be old since they’ve been accumulating for a while, but they’re all worth reading!

  • The Independent: Robert Fisk does a two-part series on “honor” killings. Worth reading every word. By the end, I didn’t know what was more horrifying–the crimes themselves (“One of the most terrible murders in 1999 was that of a mentally retarded 16-year-old, Lal Jamilla Mandokhel, who was reportedly raped by a junior civil servant in Parachinar in the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan. Her uncle filed a complaint with the police but handed Lal over to her tribe, whose elders decided she should be killed to preserve tribal “honour”. She was shot dead in front of them.”) or the “justice” systems in the countries that witness most of these murders and routinely let the perpetrators off the hook.
  • Via David Schmader at Slog, Seattle Weekly: the cartoonist who drew the “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” cartoon after the South Park controversy last year has gone into hiding. Because she drew a cartoon. Someone in the Slog comments thread was saying that we need to have an “I am Spartacus” moment and I couldn’t agree more. These medievalist thugs cannot be allowed to win.
  • Center for a Stateless Society: did you know border patrol skull-crackers can ask for your papers and lock you up even if you’re just near the border? Cops in Rochester are such happy little thugs that their department is endowed with increasing amounts of funding for their card-checking.
  • Jacob Sullum at Reason: the Las Vegas coroner clears a cop who killed a man in his home on a drug raid. Not only was the cop serving a warrant on the wrong guy, but also his explanation of what led him to shoot the man doesn’t match up at all with forensic evidence. So why did he get cleared? It’s their country, we just live in it, silly!
  • Via Reason, Paul Lukacs: an American citizen exercises his right to remain silent in an intrusive interrogation by U.S. border patrol thugs. Sample: “I’m not going to be interrogated as a pre-condition of re-entering my own country,” I said.
  • National Post: it’s old news out of my own Seattle, but the prosecutor who indicted non-violent freedom activist Marc Emery for selling marijuana seeds now says that the war on drugs is a waste of time and resources. Of course you would say that now, you schmuck…now that it comes at no personal cost to you, now that you’ve helped ruin another man’s life for a nonviolent “crime.” Whilst I’m at it, don’t forget to do your part in freeing Marc Emery, a true hero.
  • MacLeans: an absolutely bone-chilling account of a Canadian journalist who narrowly dodged an “honor” killing in her native Pakistan. Her own brother deceived her and would have killed her for marrying the wrong boy if she hadn’t been too smart to fall for it.
  • Via Lew Rockwell, Fox: the FBI bans a British teen from American shores for life…for sending an email with an obscenity to the president. Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will get me banned from a country for life?
  • Der Spiegel: a profile on the recently-charged five-man U.S. murder squad busted in Afghanistan. These guys were horrible…planting weapons and evidence on innocent people after killing them for sport, collecting body parts as trophies, etc. But the thing we have to be most careful of is allowing the Pentagon and the media to convince us that this was a one-off deal. These guys just happened to get caught. What they did was egregious and sickening, but it’s only a shade morally darker than drone strikes that kill one bad guy and a family full of innocents. Innocent blood like this will continue to accumulate on our hands so long as we stay in Afghanistan.
  • NYT: the Department of Defense wants to use your money to buy and burn all 10k copies of a new Afghan war memoir because it contains classified information. What does classified even mean anymore, in the world of Dick Cheney’s “Treated as Top Secret?” This case is a perfect example of why we need WikiLeaks. They can burn books, but good luck burning hyperlinks.
  • Via Tyler Cowen, NYT: longshot Nevada gubernatorial candidate wants to let people submit to yearly vehicle inspections and then pay a daily fee to speed up to 90 mph. This might sound freedom-y, until you realize that it means you have to accept the notion that the state can tell you how to use your property and that you should pay them money to partially exercise a right that should be yours from inception.
  • Radley Balko at Reason: Mississippi wants to execute a man based on “expert” evidence from a disgraced forensic dentist. Clearly trials in government courts are not stacked against the defendant! Clearly no innocent man could ever be executed in our country!
  • Center for a Stateless Society: “State power is not a creative force, but a destructive one.” This goes out to all those smarties out there who want politicians to “create” jobs. Check out the Broken Window Fallacy or GTFO, dudes.
  • NYT: take a trip to Newark, the city so plagued by police abuse and corruption that they’re asking the feds to intervene. So you’re going to make a justice system stacked in favor of the state less stacked in favor of the state by bringing in….more state power? That’s a hell of a thought process.
  • Via the NYT, AP: it’s short enough to just give you the relevant details–“VIENNA (AP) — A jailed right-wing Austrian author has been found guilty of violating a prohibition on glorifying Nazi ideology and sentenced to an additional two years in prison. Gerd Honsik is already serving a four-year term, which began last year after he was found guilty of ”Wiederbetaetigung” — ”re-engaging” in Nazi-era beliefs. The crime is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.” Good Lord! Nazis, Holocaust deniers, fascists, racists, etc–they’re all repugnant people. But jailing someone for 20 years for having the “wrong” idea? America looks a lot freer all of a sudden.
  • NYT: a restaurateur in San Diego faces “up to 30 years in prison, almost $4 million in fines and the government seizure of his small French restaurant” for hiring illegal immigrants to work in his kitchen. Because it’s not the right of free and peaceful people to cross  borders.
  • NYT: profiling smokers in NYC. “There was a time, not so long ago, that no one lingered, cigarette in hand, between the MetLife buildings on East 24th Street. They smoked at their desks, or, later, in a smoking lounge. Then in 1995, City Hall started rolling out its restrictions and the herding began: big room to small room, inside to outside, public to private, acceptable to anathema. Today, the stigma runs deeper than ever. “They look at you like you just clubbed a baby seal,” Mr. Davila said.” Whoo, demonize minorities! It’s not discrimination when it’s for public health!
  • Center for a Stateless Society: cops react so harshly to people following the law and recording them in public places because the state doesn’t like competing narratives. Keep the cameras rolling, people. If I ever get enough money, I’d love nothing more than to pay an army of cameramen to follow every cop everywhere in some big city.
  • Center for a Stateless Society: great article on a trend I’ve noticed with disapproval, too–statist jerks appropriating the word “serious” to describe just about anything that supports or expands the state power status quo.
  • NYT: Did you ever notice how the oldest person in the world almost always seems to be Japanese? Well, it turns out that Japan’s count of people older than 100 was actually off by a bit….to the tune of 234,000 persons. Some of it was down to bad bookkeeping, but a substantial part resulted from people lying in order to keep deriving pension benefits in the name of the dead. Not that entitlements breed dependency or anything.
  • Matt Welch at Reason: Headline says it all–“Watching California’s Newspapers Line Up Against Legalizing the Pot That 90% of Their Employees Have Smoked.” It’s not really too surprising given that we’re in a country in which the last three presidents have admitted using pot and the last two have copped to cocaine. Cognitive dissonance is a favored past-time of the “serious” people in the country.
  • Via Rational Review, the Show-Me Institute: the limitless expansion of licensing cartels, from doctors to lawyers to nurses to hairdressers. This is what happens when established interests hate competition, lawmakers love more power and revenue and average Americans continue to love to be scared.
  • The Globe & Mail: a woman sues her employer for being told to dress a certain way. Ugh. I get your point. I probably wouldn’t want to work somewhere that asked me to dress in what I viewed to be a degrading way. But no one put a gun to your head and made you work there! You freely entered into a contract with them, under which these terms were specified! Passive-aggressive power-up bonus: she didn’t even complain to her employer before taking it to the authorities.
  • NYT: NYPD, which has long denied the existence of ticket and collar quotas, gets caught talking about quotas on tape. It’s not like we didn’t already know there were quotas, but boy, it is ever satisfying to see these liars caught red-handed.

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I was pleased to see two stories I heard addressed last week on Free Talk Live covered in more depth this weekend by journalists. Though I am pleased to see these stories get coverage, I would be infinitely more pleased if they had never happened and didn’t need to be covered. Both exemplify horrifying abuses of state power at its worst.

The first is far more serious–the awful case of Kathryn Johnston, the 92-year-old Atlanta woman killed in her own home by a hail of nearly forty bullets fired by trigger-happy cops on a no-knock drug raid who later planted narcotics at the scene. It’s an older case that resurfaced in the news last week after the city reached a $4.9 million settlement with her family. $4.9 million that won’t bring back Kathryn Johnston and $4.9 million that will be paid by Atlanta taxpayers, not the sick puppies responsible for murdering this woman. As the Free Talk Live guys pointed out as well, ask yourself if this story would have ever become as big as it did if the victim hadn’t been a 92-year-old woman. Imagine it was a 20-year-old black guy, for example. We wouldn’t still be talking about that case now and a lot of bigots would probably even be hinting that the guy had it coming.

Even if this raid had resulted in drugs being found, it still wouldn’t be right. Cops don’t have the right to kick your door down with guns drawn to keep sovereign adults from consenting to buy, sell and use substances arbitrarily defined as illegal. Adults should have the right to control what goes in their bodies–even if it’s something suicidal like hemlock. When are we going to stop supporting the persecution to the point of death of these victimless “criminals?”

In the other case of note, federal prosecutors have decided not to take action against Lower Merion (Pa.) school district for distributing laptops and then commanding webcams on the laptops to take unauthorized photos of the students at home. Now imagine some guy in the community had given away laptops and didn’t warn people he would be keeping control over the webcam nested in the laptop, which he then used to take nude photos of children. We would call that pedophilia and kiddie porn at the least, maybe something even worse. That guy would go to jail and be put on a sex offender list for life. But when a public school system does it, we just look the other way.

People need to realize that the state is not on our side. The state is not “of the people.” At this point in our country’s history, the state is a self-reinforcing monstrosity of illiberalism and opacity, within which the various levels, layers and organizations collaborate with each other and against us. Plenty of people get into state service for the “right” reasons, but they quickly become active or passive adherents to the gospel of aggression that keeps them attached to the taxpayer teat. They feel perfectly comfortable looking after their interests embodied in the state, so why should we people kept under the state jackboot feel uncomfortable asserting our opposition to them and refusing to collaborate in our own mistreatment?

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  • NYT: Lindsey Graham is a sick, sick puppy. A man equally dough-faced in politics and his own countenance, he has come under fire from the Republican base in his home state of South Carolina for being too liberal. Graham has seen what the Tea Party has done in getting rid of Republicans even more conservative than him this year and can’t hold much hope for his future. That’s what I think is behind his proposal to alter the 14th Amendment and get rid of birthright citizenship. It’s a page stolen from the playbook of “tough on crime” leftists, who knowingly sell out civil liberties and nonviolent criminals in an attempt to not look wimpy. In my mind, this ploy is even worse–the schmuck is talking about altering the Constitution and changing a working citizenship law just to protect his political future. I hope you will have many long years to reflect on your next term in the Senate when you are burning in hell, Lindsey!
  • NYT: Senate passes an immigration bill by unanimous consent that will require increased U.S.-Mexico border security to in part be funded by raising fees on Indian-owned firms that employ Indian immigrant-majority staffs in the U.S. What? It probably won’t surprise you to learn that Chuck Schumer was the guy behind this populist bit of hijacking. Please issue a moral defense of the idea that companies that hire too many Indians should pay for more wasteful security on a border with which they have no concern. I’m waiting.
  • The Independenta British backpacker stands to be freed after serving six years of a ten-year sentence in an Indian jail cell shared with 50 other inmates. His crime? Drug possession. And the best part is that his trial was conducted entirely in Hindi (which  he does not speak) and presented no DNA or fingerprint evidence connecting him to the drugs. It took the guy four years to even get an appeal. The list of conditions he’s picked up in jail: “malaria, dysentery, rat bites, depression, prostatitis and urinary dysfunction.” Another life ruined by the drug war!
  • Der Spiegel: Germany reaches a settlement with the families of Afghan civilians mistakenly killed in a bombing. I find it remarkable that the compensation will be $5000 per family. $5000 goes a long way in Afghanistan, but for us in the West–isn’t it sad that we’ve reached a point at which innocent life is worth only $5000? Do we really want this war tarnishing our souls any longer?
  • Via Andrew Sullivan, Bill Kristol: giving Obama a checklist for reelection. This is one of those, “Oh no…my God, he’s serious!” sort of posts. The checklist Kristol offers: 1. extend tax rates, 2. rescind the Afghanistan withdrawal deadline and 3. oppose the not-really-at Ground Zero mosque. But hey, at least if Obama can get through the next year with that BORING list, Kristol has military action in Iran for him to look forward to. These policies would be bad enough in a vacuum, but it’s like Kristol completely missed the last decade.
  • NYT: Hamid Karzai throws a hissy fit over anti-corruption investigators looking into the dealings of his government cronies. Because that’s what innocent guys who aren’t involved in corruption up to their eyeballs tend to do. But hey, at least it isn’t like American teenagers are dying and dropping bombs on innocent people for the sake of this guy and his dope baron brother. Oh wait….
  • People’s World: article accusing Rand Paul of being a shill for anti-workplace safety coal companies. It’s not very interesting, except for this part: Paul also argued for “local and state” control instead of federal regulation of mining….”The bottom line is I’m not an expert, so don’t give me the power in Washington to be making rules. You live here, and you have to work in the mines.” But miner Tim Miller, a United Mine Workers representative in Madisonville, Ky., saw things differently. “Rand Paul and his deregulation – all he talks about is deregulation and the local authorities having total control over any regulation,” Miller told the Associated Press. “I think that takes us back at least 100 years, back to when 12-year-old kids could work in the coal mines.” Seriously? Rand Paul admitting the limits of his own knowledge and saying that coal regulations probably shouldn’t be made by people in Washington who have never even seen a coal mine rather than local actors who are intimately acquainted with every step of the production process makes him the bad guy? The left can be incredible at times. Here, it is like they are faulting Rand Paul for taking a textbook Hayekian position on information asymmetry rather than being humble enough to defer to the judgment of people who know more than him. Thou art a politician, thou must control!
  • LewRockwell.com: one of those head-scratching articles that keeps LewRockwell.com confined to the fringe, this time railing against a 13-year-old Canadian girl for raising money to boost education for women in Afghanistan. Why publish an article like this one? It’s mainly meanness, and meanness  directed against someone in no position to defend herself. I get the point the author is making against universalist humanitarianism as grist for the mill of “humanitarian” interventionism and imperialism. But using this girl to make your point (along with some low blows against Canada) is stupid. And this is why LewRockwell.com will remain mired where it is.
  • Glenn Greenwald: assessing Elena Kagan. Greenwald would prefer a justice more “progressive” than Kagan, I would prefer more of an originalist, but we can agree that Kagan will be no friend of civil liberties. Greenwald had one quote that I loved: The reality is — and this has long been clear — that Americans have little respect for, and even less interest in, people who stand for nothing and seem afraid of their own belief system.  Clarity of principle and courage of conviction are almost always more politically appealing than muddled incoherence, calibrated careerism, or muted cowardice. Here’s hoping we never see a candidate so artificial, self-censoring and calculating as Kagan again.
  • South China Morning Post: a Western expat calls for the Hong Kong government to compel all licensed taxis to install GPS devices because this loser has trouble communicating with the cabbies in English. “Boo-hoo, I didn’t get where I was going fast enough, you need to put a gun to the head of private business owners so my feelings don’t get hurt again!” Hey guy–if you don’t like the taxis you’re hailing, then stop hailing cabs or book through a higher-end service. If enough people are like you and get tired of the low English capacity, then taxi companies will respond. Until then, take your force-loving whining back to Australia where they could probably use your help in building the internet firewall they want.
  • Matt Welch at Reason: you’d think the government would have learned not to encourage people who can’t afford to own homes to buy them…but you’d have thought wrong. Even after the property bubble, even after we are encouraging Section 8 renters to rent McMansions in foreclosure-capital-of-the-world Las Vegas, these people still haven’t learned. I don’t know if it’s just that home “ownership” is really that much of an entrenched fetish in Washington or that there’s whole federal agencies and close buddies like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that would probably be in for significant layoffs if the market scaled back down to where it needs to be and are filled with self-preservation types.
  • Via Andrew Sullivan, Jon Chait at the war-loving New Republic: “surely you can’t mean you only support defensive wars!” Chait is smugly shocked and argues that Joe Klein is over-reacting to the Iraq war in saying that we should only fight defensive wars–that is, wars in which we have been attacked first. What an insane standard for making wars! We can’t let our tanks and planes go to waste like that! Bring on the death!
  • NYT: very interesting article on the Italian economy. It’s interesting that much of Italy’s huge public debt is owned by Italians themselves, not foreign creditors. It doesn’t really matter whose passport they are carrying if they all present their notes at once and demand payment, but it is an interesting point that probably help to explain why Italy had fewer problems with credit rating agencies than Greece, Spain or Ireland earlir this year. My favorite quote: “‘Before World War II, Argentina was rich,’ he says. ‘Even in 1960, the country was twice as rich as Italy.’ Today, he says, you can compare the per capita income of Argentina to that of Romania. ‘Because it didn’t grow. A country could get rich in 1900 just by producing corn and meat, but that is not true today. But it took them 100 years to realize they were becoming poor. And that is what worries me about Italy. We’re not going to starve next week. We are just going to decline, slowly, slowly, and I’m not sure what will turn that around.'”
  • St. Petersburg Times: discussing whether Russia’s current policy course leads to a Soviet future for the country. Things you don’t want to miss include a fascistic drug cop who wants Moscow-area clubs to close at midnight because it would help him fight drugs and the revelation that an anti-red tape/corruption measure designed to cap corrupt inspections of businesses put a temporary dent in bureaucratic salaries is just being replaced by fewer inspections with higher payments.
  • Via Publius at the Western Standard, Maclean’s: analyzing Canada’s stimulus. Publius pulls the particularly egregious case of $25 million ferry terminal for a village of 450 people that will admittedly be used for only a few hours per week. This is a big part of why centrally-planned projects like the ever-popular stimulus are doomed to failure–throwing productive dollars at unproductive, politically beneficial programs the market would never support. Publius wants to make the point that Conservative voters aren’t getting a very conservative deal under Harper. Agreed.
  • LewRockwell.com blog: good post highlighting the recent disclosure that this will be the first year Social Security pays out more than it takes in, or the first year that people might be forced to recognize its insolvency.
  • NYT: public sector pensions are bloated and they’re dragging down governments across the country, but at least public sector retirees recognize the problem and are cooperating. Not! The main guy profiled in the piece is a poor, pitiful 62-year-old who toiled away as a public school math teacher for an insufferable 29 (!) years and thinks the Colorado pension reforms could cost him half a million dollars over the rest of his life. Oh, poor you! Money quote:
  • Taxpayers, whose payments are also helping to restock Colorado’s pension fund, may not be as sympathetic, though. The average retiree in the fund stopped working at the sprightly age of 58 and deposits a check for $2,883 each month. Many of them also got a 3.5 percent annual raise, no matter what inflation was, until the rules changed this year.

    Private sector retirees who want their own monthly $2,883 check for life, complete with inflation adjustments, would need an immediate fixed annuity if they don’t have a pension. A 58-year-old male shopping for one from an A-rated insurance company would have to hand over a minimum of $860,000, according to Craig Hemke of Buyapension.com. A woman would need at least $928,000, because of her longer life expectancy.

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