- 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 ‘Israel’
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 »
Fresh off the news from WikiLeaks that the Israelis have intentionally been keeping the Gazan economy at a near-starvation level out of some twisted, morally offensive notion of collective guilt, Israeli troops killed another innocent Palestinian. The 36-year-old woman, Jawaher Abu Rahmah, was the sister of another murdered Palestinian protester, Bassem Abu Rahmah. In this case, she was simply watching a protest when she was subject to the tear gas that would cause her death.
As the unfiltered news leaked out, the Israeli propaganda machine sprung into action:
But Israeli military officials, who insisted on anonymity while their investigation was continuing, told various journalists and bloggers that they had never heard of tear gas killing anyone in the open, and raised the possibility that she had some pre-existing ailment that, alone or compounded by the tear gas, caused her death.
This paragraph just baffles me. Show me anything here that makes this murder any better. Be the consequence of their actions intended or unintended, the fact is that Israeli troops killed an innocent woman. That they and their shills in the West think these lame hypotheses provide any sort of exculpatory evidence is deeply disturbing.
Deaths like this one are simply the sort of thing that happens when one country occupies another. If the Israelis weren’t in Palestine, they wouldn’t have needed to build a wall. If the Israelis hadn’t built a wall, there would be no protest in Bilin, where both Jawaher and Bassem Abu Rahmah were killed. But the Israelis are in Palestine, they have built a wall, and they are making no great effort at respecting Palestinian life.
This is not to say that everything the Palestinians do is worthy of praise. Far from it. Every time I read a story about children being taught to hate Jews and love martyrs, it makes me feel sick. Every time I am reminded that Arafat the terrorist-murderer won the Nobel Peace Prize, I am disgusted. But the difference is that we hear about these Palestinian crimes all of the time, and only rarely about the Israeli ones.
Intentioned act or accident, the fact is that Israeli troops murdered an innocent woman in Bilin. That is a shame. May her death plague them to the end of their days.
Note: If you are looking for an interesting activist opportunity to support, check out Anarchists Against the Wall, an Israeli anarchist group agitating on behalf of the Palestinians in places like Bilin.
Posted in Miscellany, tagged Adrian Fenty, asylum, Barack Obama, Bill vander Zalm, border patrol, Canada, cartels, cartoons, China, conscientious objectors, DEA, decriminalization, Denmark, drug war, execution, Fight HST, fishing boat, food carts, food trucks, Furkan Dogan, Gerard Kennedy, homeland security, HSBC, Israel, Japan, Jyllands-Posten, Kansas City Kansas, Kentwood Michigan, kosher, LA teachers union, LA Times, legalization, licensing, marijuana, Mavi Marmara, Michelle Rhee, Muhammad, Norway, photographers' rights, police brutality, pork, Portland, safehaven, school vouchers, self-censorship, Swiss banking, torture, UN Human Rights Council, Vancouver on 10/02/2010| Leave a Comment »
- 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.
Posted in Miscellany, tagged Adult Services, Ahmed Wali Karzai, Al Araqib, Anwar al-Awlaki, Bedouins, blogging license, brain injury, business privilege tax, cabbie, Canadian Medical Association, Cantonese, CIA, coming out, corruption, Craiglist, drug legalization, Erotic Services, extrajudicial killing, Florida Marlins, gay, Hamid Karzai, housing market, Intersections International, Israel, Jeffrey Loria, Ken Mehlman, Larisa Bogoraz, Lev Ponomaryov, liquidity, lower prices, Lyudmila Alexeyeva, major league baseball, Mandarin, Michael Enright, mixed martial arts, MMA, Muslim, Oakland, Ottawa, Philadelphia, police salary, Prop 19, Putonghua, RCMP, stabbing, stadium construction, terror cell, the Negev, Vladimir Bukovsky on 08/26/2010| Leave a Comment »
- Center for a Stateless Society: covering the near-unbelievable story that Philadelphia wants to force bloggers to pay a $300 “business privilege” tax that some are calling a blogging license. You should just go ahead and pay the tax if you have any ads on your site at all because that indicates “potential profit.” I like the angle Free Talk Live took on this story–the fact that this issue even exists means people were self-reporting income from blogs on their tax returns, something that is a sad commentary on our obedient collaboration in our own oppression.
- The Globe & Mail: the Canadian Medical Association calls on the government to ban MMA fights because they are “barbaric spectacles that pose a high risk of brain injury.” Hmm, so just like football, rugby, boxing and Friday night boozing in a fraternity house? Dear Canadian doctors, why do you hate the idea of people doing what makes them happy? I don’t even care about the health data. My point is that if people want to soak their hands in cement and then bash each others brains in, I don’t care so long as they are reasonable adults who consented to participate.
- Slog: highlighting a ridiculous anti-prop 19/anti-pot legalization ad from California. It’s seriously produced by a group called MarijuanaHarmsFamilies.com. Of course, they throw out the lie that it’s a gateway drug. But the thing that I remember most is the idiotic line that it could be sold at supermarkets!! You mean like prescription drugs, alcohol, tobacco and high fructose corn syrup are right now? The sad thing is that crappy ads like this one, with its dramatic, scary drum music, actually work on people who live their lives in fear.
- Via Matt Welch at Reason, Yahoo Sports: major league baseball franchise financials leaked to Deadspin reveal that team owners have been lying about profits. I wouldn’t care except that the same owners lowballing their profits have been the guys going to taxpayers hat in hand and talking about how hard it is to make money and how much they need public assistance in building new ballparks. I’ve spoken out before about how bad publicly financed stadium construction it is, but this revelation just makes it worse.
- National Post: the RCMP break up a “terror cell” in Ottawa. I love the tough, serious scare quote they use: “These guys were doing more than just talking about terrorism. They were planning it,” a police source said. Oooh, shiver me timbers! If a couple of college kids sit around a card table smoking joints and draw diagrams of how they could attack the military base in town, does that constitute planning? The difference between American and Canadian anti-terrorism doctrine must be that in America, we use agents provocateurs to rile you up and help you plan terrorist attacks so we can arrest you and scare people some more, and in Canada, they just arrest you.
- NYT: I’m not going to lie, I didn’t make it past the lede: “The aide to President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan at the center of a politically sensitive corruption investigation is being paid by the Central Intelligence Agency, according to Afghan and American officials.” This just puts him in the elite company of another corrupt Afghan on the CIA payroll, Hamid Karzai’s dope baron brother Ahmed Wali Karzai. There’s really nothing at all surprising about this story, but at least it was written by Dexter Filkins. Just never forget, this is why our troops are dying and killing innocent people in Afghanistan!
- NYT: profiling Al Araqib, the Israeli Bedouin village razed again and again to make way for a forest…in the Negev Desert. It’s crap like this that makes it so hard to defend Israel abroad. The Bedouin are maybe the most emphatic members of the Israeli Arab community when it comes to casting their lot with the state of Israel, with some even fighting in the IDF. Maybe it would be better for everyone if the state went ahead and built this forest, but these people have homes there. They have a claim to the land. This seems like a classic “pick your battles” moment and Israel isn’t doing a very good job of picking.
- Jacob Sullum at Reason: seventeen state attorneys general sign a joint letter telling Craigslist to get rid of Adult Services ads. It’s an open and shut deal for me–if consenting adults want to negotiate business arrangements to offer sex, erotic massages or Shakespearean monologues, it’s no business of mine. But if you’re a lame person who can’t see the obvious rightness of that position, then how about the pragmatic case that these AGs have far more pressing issues to handle than Craigslist ads?
- NYT: 21-year-old loser stabs a NYC cabbie for being a Muslim. In fact, let’s not just say stabbed–he tried to slit the guy’s throat. What a great way to prove your superiority to Muslims, by resorting to the sort of tactics that a Muslim radical used to murder Theo van Gogh. This guy just confuses me–he was working for Intersections International, a multicultural group that has advocated for the Park 51 Islamic community center. Hopefully he will have plenty of time to make sense of his confusion in jail.
- NYT: Russian dissident-hero Lev Ponomaryov gets sentenced to three days in prison for taking part in a protest. This Reuters hit is short on details, but I think based on what I read in The Economist yesterday, Ponomaryov was getting in trouble for having carried a Russian flag…on Flag Day. I look forward to the day when rebellious Western youth trade in their Che Guevara t-shirts for ones bearing images of Soviet-Russian dissidents like Ponomaryov, Larisa Bogoraz, Vladimir Bukovsky and Lyudmila Alexeyeva.
- Conor Friedersdorf at Andrew Sullivan: commenting on the National Review-sourced data that the average compensation for an Oakland cop is $162,000 in a city in which the median family income is $47,000. Friedersdorf later published an email from a reader who said that he did not mind the disproportionate compensation level because it would make cop less likely to be corrupt and was a form of hazard pay. So should young black men get hazard pay for being disproportionately targeted by police brutality? And am I to believe that there is no longer any police corruption now that our cops are so overpaid?
- Via Rational Review, Cato Institute: what the murder extrajudicial killing order for American citizen and jihai cleric Anwar al-Awlaki means for America. Hint: it might be even dangerous for our future than the national debt.
- Felix Salmon: after yesterday’s distressing news from the housing market, Felix says we’ve already tried cheap money and easy liquidity, so all that’s left to hope for are lower prices. I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for that to happen–the federal government looks prepared to continue to fight market forces as hard as it can with subsidies. How dare the market reach a new stable equilibrium!
- South China Morning Post: a pro-Cantonese op-ed that talks about the value of regional and linguistic diversity in attaining a high degree of cultural richness. And yet high school history students are taught that revolutionary France was so cool because it centralized power and standardized so much of culture and administration. Uniformity is boring.
- Via Dan Savage at Slog, Mike Rogers: there were plenty of internet reactions to the news that former RNC chairman and Bush buddy Ken Mehlman came out today, but my favorite was this one. The author’s point is that Mehlman shouldn’t be accepted by the gay community until he apologizes for all the gay bashing he helped make possible under Bush. Of course, Mehlman wanted us to believe in his coming out statement that he advocated for gays behind the scenes, but the evidence doesn’t really support him. I think it’s ridiculous that he is only coming out now when he has nothing to lose, too–he works at a private equity firm, he’s not very famous anymore and lives in a sweet apartment. What better way to get famous again?
Posted in Miscellany, tagged Alberta, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, bombing, coffin, congestion, consumer loan, drug war, equalization payments, gay marriage, hasish, home mortgage, Igor Sutyagin, Iran, Israel, Louisiana, M. Ashtiani, marriage equality, medical marijuana, Osirak, parking, peat bog, peat field, Perry v. Schwarzenegger, police dash-cam, stoning woman on 08/13/2010| Leave a Comment »
- Via Jacob Sullum at Reason, StoptheDrugWar.org: a 20-year-old medical marijuana patient faces life in prison because he was pulled over with pot and hash in his possession. Just like the arbitrary bias against crack cocaine, hash is treated as infinitely worse than marijuana, which is where this guy’s felony originated. But jiminy Christmas, life in prison for POSSESSION? What has this country come to?
- Andrew Sullivan: gleefully interpreting a graph tracking the trend in support for/opposition to gay marriage since 1988. It’s a pretty dramatic graph–the opposition line is nearly all negative, the support line nearly all positive and, most importantly, the support line has now surged ahead of the opposition line for the first time. I think Dan Savage discussed the same graph today, but Andrew’s post is incredibly thorough and shot through with the sort of joy that only a man who has been educating people and winning them over the once-impossible dream of full gay marriage for the past two decades can have in a post-Perry v. Schwarzenegger world. The marriage equality movement will still encounter setbacks, maybe even in the appeal to Perry v. Schwarzenegger, and hard work is still required. But history is undeniably on the side of equality now and victory is a matter of time.
- Glenn Greenwald: disemboweling perma-hawk Jeffrey Goldberg’s new bomb-bomb-bomb, bomb-bomb Iran lead article in The Atlantic. The same Goldberg who claimed an eminent threat from Iraqi WMD programs in the run-up to that horrid old war is now claiming that Iraq had no nuclear capabilities after Israel’s raid on the Osirak reactor, which is why we should now help Israel take out Iran. Greenwald also reminds us that Goldberg volunteered for duty in the IDF! Hardly the stuff of an unbiased elder statesman.
- The Western Standard blog: a nice rant against the U.S. home mortgage system. He’s exactly right to question our bizarre attachment in helping people maintain ownership of homes they had no business buying in the first place. On that note, via Kevin Williamson at Exchequer, the government prepares to hand out $50k no-interest loans to unemployed people. I’ve been saying it for months–the home ownership fetish must end, there’s no sham in living in an apartment.
- NYT: meet Igor Sutyagin, one of the “spies” we acquired from Russia in the swap for Anna Chapman and friends. The charges against Sutyagin sounded weak in the Russian press, but they sound even weaker in the hands of the NYT. The sad thing is that Sutyagin misses Russia and wishes he could return. I immediately thought of the Solzhenitsyn comparison, but this guy doesn’t seem to have nearly the personality and mind of Solzhenitsyn. Here’s hoping that given enough time, he can eventually return to a Russia that welcomes him back as post-Soviet Russia did Solzhenitsyn.
- NYT: peat field fires prove extraordinarily hard to put out in the Russian forest fire epidemic. Notice that I said “peat field”–these fields were once real peat bogs, until they were drained by the Soviets. Nature really doesn’t like to be messed with and loves getting back at us via unintended consequences.
- NYT: Iranian woman once scheduled to be stoned to death now confesses to murder on state tv, allegedly after being tortured. We are supposed to believe that this mild-mannered woman injected her husband with an anesthetic and then electrocuted him to death. Because that’s exactly how most housewives in Azeri-speaking northwest Iran typically commit murders.
- The Western Standard blog: looking at Canada’s system of equalization payments, which redirects revenues from provinces like oil-rich Alberta to supposedly poor ones like Quebec. Turns out Quebec is using equalization money to finance programs that payee provinces couldn’t even afford.
- Jacob Sullum, Reason: a monastery works with the Institute for Justice to challenge a draconian, guild-friendly Louisiana licensing law on casket production. You would think we would have learned by now that licensing schemes are always and everywhere a protection racket scheme.
- Radley Balko, Reason: running down the case files of suspiciously lost or deleted police dash-cam videos. So it’s ok for police officers to videotape us and then get rid of the footage if it doesn’t fit their narrative, but it’s wrong for innocent Americans to videotape cops at work. It’s their country, we just live in it.
- Via Andrew Sullivan, Human Transit: San Francisco institutes an AWESOME free market-friendly, real-time price-adjusting, demand-equilibrating parking meter system. Fascinating system. Now if only they can figure out a way to do the same to make good on my long-held idea of selling last-minute plane tickets.
Posted in Miscellany, tagged Air Force, animal rights, anti-HST, Bill vander Zalm, British Columbia, caging, Cass Sunstein, chicken, civil rights, commercial loans, consumer loans, DADT, David Cameron, default, enemy combatant, equality, Eric Cantor, factory farm, Fight HST, gay rights, Geneva Conventions, GMO crops, Guantanamo Bay, gulag, Health Canada, Hezbollah, home equity loan, Israel, Lebanon, libertarian paternalism, mortgages, nudge, Ohio, Omar Khadr, prison system, processed food, property speculation, raw milk, Russia, veal, zona on 08/12/2010| 2 Comments »
- Juan Cole: the good doctor picks up the absurd story of congressmen trying to freeze aid to Lebanon because of alleged military links to Hezbollah and just shreds it. It turns out that the allegedly Hezbollah-friendly Lebanese army is in large part run by Maronite Christians and is in fact helping counteract Hezbollah in the Lebanese south. But hey, blocking aid to Lebanon over one dead Israeli soldier whilst not blocking aid to Israel over invading and bombing the whole of Lebanon makes perfect sense.
- NYT: Air Force looks to use DADT to get rid of a Lt. Col. with twenty years of service who was outed by a false sexual assault charge. Even if this guy was a first-year recruit who couldn’t do ten pushups, DADT would still be a ridiculously stupid violation of civil rights. That he is as decorated as he is makes it seem even dumber. Let’s all pretend like the Obama administration isn’t dragging their feet over chucking DADT. Oh, and NYT writer James Dao–I saw what you did there, putting the guy’s quote about “wanting to get back in the cockpit” as your punny conclusion.
- The Western Standard: mocking the pro-processed nanny state recommendations of Health Canada. I love when the state arbitrarily decides that raw milk (consumed for all of human history) is evil and dangerous, yet frankenfoods genetically modified in a lab and raised on a factory farm are good for us. I wonder if it has anything to do with the big money and power of the factory farm lobby versus the utter lack of power of small farmers.
- NYT: Ohio farmers reach an agreement with animal rights’ groups over animal living conditions on factory farms. I think this is a great story because it didn’t even have to come down to legislation. Sure, there was a threat of legislation, but both groups realized it was in their interest to work together to find a compromise. It’s a shame that the agreement won’t ban already-existing cramped caging situations and some measures won’t come into effect for years, but at least it’s a state compulsion-free attempt at reaching a better solution.
- The Independent: David Cameron utilizes Thaler-Sunstein nudge theory. Ugh. Protip: the words “libertarian” and “paternalism” don’t belong together. I love that the example of a nudge they give in this piece is fake flies in the urinal at the Amsterdam Schiphol Airport and how it improved aim. I’m ok with that sort of nudge because it doesn’t take my money to show me the way to make choices. What I’m not ok with is jacking the cost of cigarettes past $10/pack in NYC because it’s for our own good, and that’s the sort of nudge that Cameron and other do-gooders care about.
- The Moscow Times: Prosecutor General’s Office admits that 90% of Russian prisoners are sick. Maybe it’s because more than half of prison medical equipment “is obsolete.” Maybe it’s the fact that the gulag has been replaced by the zona in name only. The American penal system is the scourge of the first world, but the Russian system is bad enough to make ours look decent by comparison. Of course, that doesn’t mean we have any plans to stop shackling pregnant inmates during childbirth.
- NYT: home equity loan delinquency rate is the highest of all American commercial loan categories. I love this one property speculator quoted in the story: “I was taught in real estate that you use your leverage to grow. I never dreamed the properties would go from $265,000 to $65,000.” Maybe that was your problem, pal–you didn’t consider the potentially negative consequences of your actions.
- The Globe & Mail: great news out of British Columbia, where the anti-harmonized sales tax (HST) movement has just been informed they gathered enough signatures to force a legislative re-vote or referendum. It might not seem like a big deal to combine a 5% sales tax with a 7% sales tax to create one 12% tax, but the reality is that BC’s government was beyond underhanded in how they handled the whole situation and the HST applies to a much wider range of goods and services. Already, July witnessed a 10% drop in newly-taxed restaurant revenues. Now I just hope the anti-HST petitioners make good on their pledge to start pursuing recalls against individual MLAs who supported the tax.
- The Globe & Mail: headline–“How the Geneva Conventions are changing.” I wish the sub-headline had been something like “Investigating how the U.S. government is eviscerating them.” The money quote is this painfully simple explanation of one of the debates that has been plaguing the American chattering classes for the past few years:
How do the conventions apply in a place like Guantanamo Bay?
That’s a good example of how the conventions have evolved. The Bush administration [in 2006] asserted that because the Taliban and al-Qaeda don’t follow the rules of the Geneva Conventions, they don’t get any of their protections.
And activists would assert that’s not fair.
Yes. The Bush administration claimed that there’s a new category called unlawful enemy combatants, which gets none of the benefits of being a combatant and gets none of the benefits of being a civilian, therefore you can do whatever you want to them. The U.S. Supreme Court stepped in to say ‘No, everyone falls under something in the Geneva Conventions. You’re either a civilian or a combatant.’ So the people in Guantanamo Bay either are civilians who shouldn’t have been fighting and can be punished for that, but as civilians they get human rights. Or they’re combatants who were breaking some rules, but they still get prisoner of war status.
You have to love the Bushies for their shameless creativity, non? “Hey guys, if they have rules for civilians and combatants, let’s create a fake new class called ‘unlawful enemy combatants’ so we can make our own rules!” God, how I hope one of those soulless crooks tries to go to Europe again and they succeed in arresting him where they failed with Rumsfeld.
Posted in Miscellany, tagged Balanced Budget Amendment, ban, bike helmets, burqa, capital punishment, Claire Berlinski, Constitution, David Patterson, Egypt, Eric Cantor, execution, Gaza flotilla, graduation standards, Ground Zero mosque, headscarf, healthcare, Israel, John Boehner, Kevin Keith, Lebanon, lethal injection, Lindsey Graham, Mitch McConnell, niqab, Ohio, proficiency tests, property rights, remedial coursework, Ted Strickland, veil on 08/11/2010| Leave a Comment »
Look, I wanted to give you at least two real analytical posts and a rant about Ted Koppel’s pro-conscription op-ed on NPR, but I forgot about the U.S. men’s national team and their friendly match against Brazil tonight. 2-0 defeats aren’t the greatest fun. Still, seeing my beloved national side on tv is always a reason to celebrate. So bear with me for one more day of links before we return to full coverage tomorrow.
- Jacob Sullum at Reason: quoting the NYT, Sullum writes about a last-ditch effort to save an Ohio inmate from execution. Here’s hoping they save the guy. Capital punishment is never justified, but it’s especially unjustifiable in Ohio, the state so bad at executing people by lethal injection that in 2009, it went to an untested, single-shot method previously only used by veterinarians.
- NYT: headscarves and veils in Egypt, where they’ve become nearly ubiquitous in a self-reinforcing spiral of conformity. I found this piece quite interesting, especially in light of Claire Berlinski’s contentious article last week outlining her evolution from anti-burqa ban to pro. Berlinski’s argument was basically that she doesn’t want there to be these uniformly burqa-wearing neighborhoods that basically remove all choice and agency from the women behind the veils. I was a bit shocked by her piece and didn’t much agree with it, but this profile out of Egypt will at least add fuel to her fire. I still oppose both burqa bans and burqas.
- NYT: a few congressmen are trying to block military aid to Lebanon because after the Lebanese military stupidly fired on Israelis pruning a tree at the border last week, these congressmen claim that the Lebanese military could be in league with Hezbollah. Again, Lebanon acted very stupidly last week–they had no good reason to kill an Israeli officer over a tree removal project. But let’s not forget that there wasn’t exactly a chorus of people calling for blocking aid to Israel after, say, they invaded Lebanon in 2006 or violently raided the Gaza flotilla this year.
- The Globe & Mail: eww, a gross pro-compulsory bike helmet article. I don’t often ride without a helmet or drive without a seatbelt, but choosing not to avail myself of those potentially life-saving measures should be my right as an adult. There is some case to be made for helmet laws in Canada since they have a nationalized healthcare system and everyone will end up paying the bills for cracked-coconut people who didn’t wear a helmet, but in my world, that’s an argument against single-payer healthcare, not for helmet laws.
- NYT: New York governor says that he doesn’t oppose the not-really-located-at Ground Zero mosque, but that he would offer the mosque state property in a alternate nearby location if the situation gets too nasty. What a lame way to avoid controversy. This mosque is not going to be at Ground Zero and even if it was, it wouldn’t matter so long as it was being built on private property. All this “controversy” represents is an easy way for Republicans to gin up better poll numbers and fatter fundraising figures heading into this fall’s midterm elections. That’s called operating in bad faith, guys.
- NYT: surprise, surprise–tons of high school “graduates” have to take remedial coursework if they pursue post-secondary education. So the state lowered standards in order to keep passing kids along in order to look good on educations, said kids graduated deficient in any number of subjects thanks to the lower standards, said kids recognize their high school diplomas are worthless and pursue college degrees, said kids aren’t ready for college, said colleges lower standards…you can see where this is going. It’s ok for people to fail. It’s ok for people to ditch comprehensive schools and pursue trades like carpentry. The worst thing is to keep lowering standards so that enough people can reach our societally agreed-upon level of respectability, which just makes it harder and harder for people to distinguish themselves from one another.
- Via Andrew Sullivan, The Hill: GOP congressmen talk of proposing a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. It sounds great at first glance, but then you realize how hard it is to pass a Constitutional amendment and how much this is just a near-impossible political ploy that can be used to avoid any real questions on spending cuts. Oh, and how it might be abused by a pro-tax hike Congress down the road.