- 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 ‘NAFTA’
Posted in Miscellany, tagged Afghanistan, Aleksandr Lukashenko, Anas Salih, Andrei Sannikov, anti-meth laws, Belarus, Buddy Tavares, budget crisis, Canada, civilian casualties, civilian deaths, collateral damage, Danil Sannikov, DHS, drug war, drunk driving, Ian Birk, Illinois, Iran, Iraq, Irina Khalip, Israel, Jawaher Abu Rahmah, John T. Williams, Kelowna, Megan McArdle, Mexican truckers, Mountie, NAFTA, Nasrin Sotoudeh, NATO, Omar al-Qawasmeh, Palestine, police brutality, prison system, Russian opposition, Seattle, tax hikes, Teamsters, tear gas, TSA, whittler, woodcarver on 01/12/2011| 1 Comment »
Posted in Miscellany, tagged African Union, Ahmed Wali Karzai, Al-Shabab, Barack Obama, bayou, BP, Cajuns, China, consumer protection agency, crony capitalism, David Cameron, Dodd-Frank, drone strikes, drug war, Elizabeth Warren, financial reform bill, foreign exchange, free trade, Gaza, guest worker, Gulf fishing, Gulf oil spill, Hester Prynne, immigration, J-1 visa, labor camp, Mexico, NAFTA, party plates, public shaming, quotas, sex offenders, Somalia, stimulus, tariffs, temporary worker, transitional government, Turkey, Vicente Fox, war in Afghanistan, war in Iraq, Wikileaks, xenophobia on 07/28/2010| Leave a Comment »
It was an exceptionally busy day today and I’m tired, so you’ll have to make do with an extra-long list of links for the day. Full coverage returns tomorrow.
- The Corner: xenophobe and immigrant-basher Mark Krikorian hyperventilates because J-1 visa-holding foreigners might be coming to the U.S. to earn summer paychecks and not learn through foreign exchange. Oh the humanity! I know a lot of Russian students who have come to the U.S. on J-1s to work over the summer. They might not be in classrooms learning English or blithely backpacking across the U.S., but that doesn’t mean they aren’t getting invaluable English practice, forming friendships with Americans and learning what it means to work here. It doesn’t even mean that they wouldn’t rather be sitting lazily in classrooms and learning about gerunds, just that getting a visa, flying over here and having a place to live is pretty expensive for a Russian college student. You know someone is a truly vile xenophobe when they’ve graduated from getting worked up over permanently-resident illegal aliens to legal, visa-holding temporary workers.
- NYT: $59 billion more for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq passes the House by a 308-114 vote. Supposedly, the anti-war movement is supposed to see this as a victory because 102 Democrats voted no, as compared to 32 nays for a nearly-identical bill last year. Hey, but don’t worry–at least some of the Democrats who voted no this time did it because stimulus funds, including some earmarked for saving teachers’ jobs, had been stripped out of the bill. Not, you know, because American teenagers are getting blown up by roadside bombs as they make Afghanistan safe for dope-running by Ahmed Wali Karzai whilst we wipe out innocent people with drones and bombs. Heaven forbid you oppose war funding for those reasons…we mustn’t be too extreme!
- NYT: with the skeletal and intentionally vague financial “reform” bill having passed into law with the understanding that unelected regulators would fill in the gaps, an army of industry lobbyists and lawyers mobilize in Washington to “help” write the laws for the benefit of their clients. First the “reform” bill enshrined too-big-to-fail in law, now it adds makes the crony capitalist economic model still more poisonous. But Congress had to do something, lest the proles get too upset at their inaction!
- Marginal Revolution: speaking of the financial “reform” bill, Tyler Cowen makes the case against the shoo-in Elizabeth Warren as head of the new consumer protection agency. Warren has apparently made a big deal out of beefing up usury laws and driving predatory lenders out of business. Cowen’s point: is allowing a high-risk borrower and a rapacious lender to freely agree to terms any worse than allowing two STI-untested gay men to have consensual and unprotected sex? Like Cowen, I will always side with informed consent over anti-choice emotionalism.
- NYT: in a rare bit of good news, the oil on the surface of the Gulf is is dissolving quickly. What remains to be seen is what sort of damage the oil will have done to swamps and marshlands, what it did to the ecosystem at depths and whether or not there is still a sub-surface plume issue. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for the best, most of all for the Gulf Coast fishermen and unique regional communities like the Cajuns who might be on the verge of losing a generations-long occupation.
- NYT: the African Union decides to send more peacekeepers to Somalia. Outside of the sham, Western-backed Lesser Mogadishu Municipal Authority transitional government, I don’t know who this move benefits. The article also reminds us that the U.S. has already whizzed away $200 million of aid money in Somalia, with at least some of it going to help the transitional government employ child soldiers. Meanwhile, how about a solution that actually makes sense: “But many analysts argue that it would be better, in the long run, to pull out all the peacekeepers, let the transitional government fall, let the Shabab take over the country, and then allow clan militias and businessmen to rise up and overthrow them. The eventual result, analysts argue, would be a government that would be more organic and therefore more durable than a government that relies on outside forces to survive.”
- People’s Daily: Chinese villagers arrested for protesting against a new landfill that might just ruin their livelihood. But have no fear, two have already been released from “re-education through labor” camps! I wonder what Thomas “China for a day” Friedman would have to say about this story.
- Der Spiegel: more analysis of the Wikileaks documents, this time focusing on drone aircraft.
- Via Scott McConnell at The American Conservative, The Guardian: David Cameron visits Turkey and compares blockaded Gaza to a “prison camp.” Now imagine what Sarah Palin would try to do to any right-of-center American politician outside of Ron Paul who spoke the truth like Cameron. In a dream world, having a right-of-center Israel-realist in No. 10 would encourage Obama to move towards a neutral position as well.
- AlterNet: U.S. gives Mexico a $1.6 billion aid package with little oversight, Mexico gets a full-on gang war in its northern states. The war on drugs wins again! The article mentions former Mexican president Vicente Fox’s recently-stated support for marijuana legalization. If Fox can do it, why can’t ex-toker Barack Obama?
- Western Standard: uses this Toronto Star article on ridiculous hold-ups to two “free trade” agreements Canada is negotiating to make the point that “free trade” agreements like NAFTA don’t really establish free trade at all. But the case the Standard blogger makes is especially interesting–19th century free trade was fundamentally different because government was still small and fed primarily by tariff revenues, whilst 21st century government is massive and funded primarily by income and sales tax revenues. Thus, tariff barriers can be lowered with little damage, so long as quotas and other restrictions are maintained.
- NYT: Chinese government looking to end “public shaming” component of criminal punishment. It’s ironic that just as the Chinese get rid of these vulgar Hester Prynne laws, U.S. states now do things like require DUI offenders to have color-coded license plates and send postcards with pictures and vital information of sex offenders to their neighbors. Ho-hum.
NYT reported on a Whirlpool factory that is closing in Evansville, Ind. and reopening in Mexico. These are the sort of stories that leave me with mixed feelings. I feel bad for the people losing their jobs. I wish this was still an America in which hard-working high school graduates could get manufacturing jobs and raise families on a decent income. The people to be laid off have done nothing wrong. But all that being said, you can’t expect companies to act against their own profit motive. To tell a company where it must locate its plants and find its employees would be a violation of liberty. If you owned a factory in the U.S. and you were losing money and you knew you could move your operations to Mexico and earn money, you would move the jobs south in a heartbeat. It’s sad that one era in American life is drawing to a close and stability and prosperity are being replaced with hardship and uncertainty, but such are the realities of economics. Full coverage after the jump. (more…)