Posts Tagged ‘prison system’

  • 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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  • 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.

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