- 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 ‘TSA’
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 Afghanistan, Anderson Township, anti-smoking, anti-tobacco, Canada, Cornelius Dupree Jr., Dallas County, Derek Hale, DHS, drug possession, drug war, Estonia, flag burning, flag desecration, for-profit colleges, Gladys Scott, Glenn Greenwald, Haley Barbour, Jamie Scott, John Harmon, jury nullification, Leo Tolstoy, Liu Xiaobo, Michael C. Moynihan, nationalism, one-child policy, Pashtun, Phillip Greaves, police brutality, Qian Yunhui, railways, recording, Russian Orthodox Church, secondhand smoke, sex offender registry, statism, subways, The Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure, TSA, Wikileaks, Wilmington Delaware, Wisconsin Supreme Court on 01/07/2011| Leave a Comment »
- 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.
I’m still a peon in the world of journalism, interning at a paper and running this blog. That doesn’t mean I haven’t read enough in my lifetime to know good journalism from bad, and the Mark Ames-Yasha Levine “Kochtopus conspiracy” hit piece against the Opt Out movement was unquestionably the latter. Mind you, I like Mark Ames–I love reading old stuff from The eXile paper he infamously founded with Matt Taibbi in Moscow in the 1990s. This article, though, was a horror show.
The main problem with it is hardly a unique one. It’s one that I have noticed in plenty of left-wing journalism: the idea that you can always crack a story just by “following the money.” Perhaps it should not be surprising that people with socialist leanings would have a materialist approach to investigative journalism, too. Anyways, I’ve critiqued this approach before in my criticism of The New Yorker‘s anti-Koch hit piece this summer, but it applies again here. And what made it even worse in the Ames-Levine story is that they didn’t even bother to follow the money, instead resorting to even lazier associative BS that I saw one site describe as “Six Degrees of Separation for the libertarian movement.” “Oh, this person is a Free Stater? They must know the Koch brothers.” That makes about as much sense as saying that just because someone lives in Omaha, they must know Warren Buffett.
Furthermore, Ames and Levine seem to want us to believe there is something creepy or wrong about libertarians fighting back against the TSA’s revolting new procedures. Yes, libertarians are recording their encounters and intentionally pushing the envelope. It’s called civil disobedience. Was what Rosa Parks did creepy because she was an anti-segregationist with some support from the NAACP? Was what John Scopes did creepy because he was an evolutionist with some support from the ACLU? No. People with a strong ideological opposition to some distasteful piece of legislation are the ones most likely to risk the most to see it defeated.
My favorite response to the article came from Glenn Greenwald, one of America’s preeminent civil libertarians but also a political progressive to the left of most of the Democratic Party, just like Ames and Levine. Of course, this did not stop Ames and Levine from essentially calling him a CATO Institute shill, as pointed out by Brian Doherty at Reason. Greenwald’s piece is a real and thorough fisking that debunks nearly every paragraph of the Ames-Levine article.
Returning to my introduction, I may be only a fledgling journalist, but the time I have spent working on stories makes me realize how lame of an attempt Ames and Levine made at doing research and how lax the editors at The Nation must be. They apparently made no attempt to contact the people they smeared in their story, something that would not have been hard to do with all the talk shows John Tyner and Meg McLain have done. Heck, Meg is even a weekly cohost on Free Talk Live. Now that I’ve used Facebook to track down long-forgotten high school classmates of murder victims and visited creepy old homes just to get a phone number for an interview, I feel safe in saying that the effort Ames and Levine needed to put into this story to achieve a baseline level of good research was minimal. That didn’t stop them from failing to do it.
Posted in American politics, tagged American Traveler Dignity Act, backscatter scanner, DHS, enhanced patdown, Matt Kernan, Meg McLain, Michael Chertoff, millimeter wave scanner, naked scanner, National Opt-Out Day, Orlando federal courthouse, Rapiscan, TSA, WeWontFly.com on 11/24/2010| Leave a Comment »
Let’s get some things straight.
1. If you go to an airport, there is a good chance you will be asked to told to go through a new full body scanner. There is an equally good chance that you will not be told the machine you are being asked to enter is a full body scanner.
2. The new full body scanners shoot a somewhat-obscured vision of your nude body, which is then transmitted to a TSA goon in a remote room who determines if you are a terrorist or not.
3. The radiation load these scanners hit your body with is a subject of discussion, but some respected scientists are saying it simply isn’t safe (PDF).
4. You always have the right to opt of a scan. Just say that you want to opt out. Presumably the TSA will try to embarrass you by screaming “Opt out!” and then subjecting you to a public patdown.
5. The patdown will be disgusting. They have been instructed to grope your body up to and including your groin. But this momentary humiliation and violation of your rights is far preferable to taking a shot of radiation and/or giving them a naked shot of your body that may not be deleted, as they claim.
Tl;dr–ALWAYS opt out of the scanner and take the patdown.
Ok, now let’s elaborate the case a bit. The first incident to really gain infamy under the new regime involved Free Stater Meg McLain, who was allegedly handcuffed and had her ticket destroyed at a Florida airport just for asking questions about the process. Though some details of her story were later discovered to be less serious than they first appeared, her case is illustrative of one potential danger of the system. McLain is an attractive woman who was in part upset because she thought she was singled out for scanning because of her attractiveness. Even if she was not, it is easy to see how, in the airports still selecting passengers randomly for backscatter screening, the TSA could “randomly” select attractive people for their own perverse thrills.
Then there was the sad, sad, sad case of a 3-year-old girl reduced to screaming and tears by one of the new-style patdowns. Yes, a 3-year-old potential “terrorist.” I have seen a bunch of people on a bunch of blogs say it, but imagine how hard it must be for a parent to explain to their kids that it is never ok for a stranger to touch you, unless they are a costume-wearing bully with a badge at an airport. Then they can touch your private parts all they want, kids! Just sickening.
Now, one of the most famous claims made by the naked scanner advocates is that the nude images are immediately deleted upon the TSA screener deciding you are not a terrorist. As with so many government claims, Gizmodo discovered this is just not true (H/T: LewRockwell.com). It seems that the thugs operating the millimeter wave naked scanners at a federal courthouse in Orlando managed to save 35,000 images. If they were doing it there, they will do it elsewhere if they haven’t already. And once they start saving the images, it doesn’t really matter whether some pervy TSA goon is adding them to his porn collection or the government is constructing a database of biometric images, the reality is that your rights will be violated.
But people are already fighting back. Ron Paul has introduced the American Traveler Dignity Act to Congress (H/T: Jesse Walker at Reason). This bill would basically classify the new TSA screenings as sexual misconduct. I normally have no use for Congress, but this sort of defensive legislation is potentially nice, though it surely won’t pass. Matt Kernan, an average guy from my hometown of Cincinnati, refused to submit to the completely ludicrous idea of a backscatter scanning on his way out of the airport after an international flight and, after 2.5 hours, beat the TSA and got to leave without one.
And most importantly, tomorrow–or what may already be “today” for some of you–will be Wednesday, November 24: National Opt-Out Day. Fliers and non-fliers alike will congregate at airports to protest against the new measures by opting out of the scans en masse and taking patdowns. Hopefully it will both snarl the TSA apparatus and show to the uninformed members of the public that you actually do have a right to opt out. I’m going to be part of the protest here in Seattle. Both tomorrow and beyond, be sure to check out WeWontFly.com, a clearinghouse for information about the scanners and how to resist.
So, whatever you do, do not go through the scanners. Take your patdown for the moment, ask the screener how it feels to be a fascist who sexually assaults children, and then continue to speak out against the TSA every chance you get. They may have pushed too far on this one. We won’t be able to get the feds to unspend the billions they spent on former DHS secretary Michael Chertoff’s nude scanners, but at least we can get them out of our airports and away from our bodies.
Posted in Miscellany, tagged Abdul Rahim Abdul Razak al-Janko, blowback, Bozhena Rynska, Burma, counterterrorism, Danny Lampley, dogging, due process, election, Enoch Cree Nation, Faisal Shahzad, First Nations, food stamps, Georgia, hooliganism, Jean Chretien, Junta, longboards, Mario Vargas Llosa, NATO, Nobel Prize, Paul Martin, Pledge of Allegiance, Puttenham, self-defense, state secrets, Talmadge Littlejohn, taser, tolerance, torture, TSA, Tupelo Mississippi, welfare, White Rock B.C. on 10/08/2010| Leave a Comment »
- Via Andrew Sullivan, Radley Balko: Tupelo, Miss. judge Talmadge Littlejohn sends an attorney to jail for refusing to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in court. Oh my God. This is our country. Leaving alone the fact that the Pledge of Allegiance is a sickening little exercise in nationalist-slave conditioning, this judge should be locked up for contempt of his own court. Contact him here.
- Via Lew Rockwell, Atlanta tv: TSA thugs launch a counterterrorism raid against an Atlanta bus station. The reason? “Officials told Channel 2’s Eric Philips there is no particular threat sparking the surge in activity, just their desire to ward off any potential attacks.” Translated, that says “preemptive fear-mongering.” The only criminals in that bus station were these sick freaks with the badges and the guns. Leave our country alone!
- Glenn Greenwald: highlighting the sad case of Abdul Rahim Abdul Razak al-Janko, a Syrian man we tortured and knowingly detained as innocent for over seven years. He is suing the U.S. government, but Glenn’s right–we know this will end with another invocation of state secrets. If you are one of the bureaucrats who helped keep this man in jail, you weren’t just doing your job. You don’t get that excuse. You were complicit in ruining a man’s life. If there is a hell, you will rot in it.
- Maclean’s: Canadian municipalities start banning longboards. Border town White Rock, B.C. sounds to be the most repugnant. An art student was killed riding such a board in July, and now senior citizens have been complaining to the mayor about how frightened they are of the boards. Oh, we wouldn’t want you to be scared! Oh, we wouldn’t want you to risk your life as you see fit! Instead we will take away your rights. It’s for your own good, children! Now kneel down and thank your master!
- The Globe & Mail: covering the Burmese “election” process. It’s a fixed “election” that will just make the awful junta feel more legitimate. But unlike Venezuela, the Burmese opposition is being smart and boycotting it. Never, ever let the devils ruining your lives think they do it with your consent or any shred of moral legitimacy. Some day they will pay for what they have done.
- NYT: profiling an English village that has become a mecca for swingers and public sex fans. This is just such an English story. There’s the woman who found a sex toy in the bushes and asked the police to book it into the lost and found. And then, from a 71-year-old woman: “I think we should just let them get on with it.” Wait, you mean you don’t want to stop consenting adults from doing something that poses no harm to you? Crazy! I don’t like the creepy Big Brother stuff the UK has done lately, but you have to admire this old-school British spirit of tolerance.
- Daniel Larison in The Week: calling for the end of NATO. Awesome. It can’t stop expanding. The Warsaw Pact is long gone. It gives irresponsible American foreign policy and military hacks an automatic team of allies to help back up our disastrous policies abroad. Get rid of this beast before they go and do something really stupid like invite Georgia to join.
- Pat Buchanan: outlining the poisonous effects of welfare on families. According to Buchanan, one in five New Yorkers receives food stamps. And we wonder why people are so irresponsible.
- Katherine Mangu-Ward at Reason: celebrating the Nobel Lit Prize victory of the Peruvian Mario Vargas Llosa, who actually has quite a libertarian pedigree. He even wrote two essays for Reason: #1, #2. I’m a bit wary because most South American neoliberals tend to end up being quite statist, but it’s automatically better than the late, nasty Portuguese commie Jose Saramago having won.
- Katerine Mangu-Ward at Reason: highlighting a piece on Canada’s exercise in fiscal discipline under the Liberal governments of the late 1990s. Worth clicking through just for the graph that shows real cuts of nearly 20% across the board in just a two year span. Again, cutting government inefficiency is nice, but it’s not even close to the total elimination of the state that we need.
- Moscow Times: Moscow gossip columnist Bozhena Rynska might face up to seven years in jail for hooliganism charges after she tased a vile abuser who put his hand down her pants in a nightclub. If she had taken revenge with a chair on the scene instead of walking to her car for her taser, she would have been justified, says a lawyer. So because a woman tried to equalize her level of force against a man stronger than her, she becomes the bad guy? Violence is not the outcome I would support, but there’s no doubt in my mind she was justified.
- National Post: more info on the Canadian parliamentary bill that would make salaries and expenses for top First Nations (Native American) authorities public. Take a look at the Enoch Cree Nation, where councilmembers earn $175,000 compared to an average resident’s income of $15,000. Of course you don’t want your salaries made public, you fatcats. You should be ashamed to live like that as the people you “represent” exist in squalor.
- Glenn Greenwald: reminding us all of the very real nature of blowback in analyzing the Faisal Shahzad ruling. The longer we occupy Muslim lands, the more innocent Muslims we put to the sword, the more the violent minority will come here and attack us. The war on terror is a self-perpetuating exercise, but then that’s the best sort of exercise if you are a defense contractor or security state hack.
I’ve said it before, but it’s worth saying again: if you’re not already reading/RSS subscribing to Carlos Miller’s Photography is Not a Crime blog, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Carlos Miller is not only one of the leaders in the photography and video recording rights movement, but also far and away the best clearinghouse for information from across the country. And whilst The Country Estate was on hiatus, he certainly was not.
My favorite post was this one–Miller found a new TSA poster (“Don’t let our planes get into the wrong hands”) that basically conflates peaceful, rights-exercising photographers with terrorists. Sweet Jesus! And you thought propaganda went away after WWII. The government hates competing narratives and fact checking. They want our reality to be their version of reality and they can’t handle this new-found democratization of news. There would be almost a quaint sort of humor to their tone-deaf failure to change with the times and fear of cameras if it wasn’t for the fact that people are being threatened, beaten and jailed on a nearly-daily basis for nothing more than recording government employees.
I found this story of a vacationer taking photos at the USS Yorktown landmark in South Carolina to be particularly disturbing, too. The Yorktown is a decommissioned carrier on public display. That didn’t stop the homeland security psychos at the Coast Guard from contacting this photog at his unlisted number. Creeped out yet? They also wanted copies of all of his photos. For taking pictures of a museum ship that hasn’t been in service since the 1970s. Clear national security interest there, right? And the sad thing is they didn’t outright censor him, but based on his blog post, he was going to go down the far more insidious path of self-censorship, rather than risk ending up on the “wrong” list.
Same idea, different location: a railfan in Indiana got his camera confiscated for shooting photos of trains and track that had steel mills in the background. National security again. Because terrorists don’t have access to satellite images. Consider the slippery slope here, too. Today it’s steel mills, but what if tomorrow it’s the county commissioner’s house? If you live next door to that guy, will you not be allowed to take photos anymore?
This photography and recording issue is one big test case. Right now, the photographers and the government are sizing each other up and seeing what they can get away with. We the photographers and allies of photographers must not blink. It’s imperative that these government bullies continue to be tested. The law is on our side. If we keep testing them, they will have to lock us all up and get a lot of horrible PR or begin to let us exercise our rights. Even if there’s short-term setbacks, our rights will win out ultimately. There’s too many of us and our case is too clear-cut.
So for now, I encourage everyone to go out and buy as many cheap cameras as you can afford. Every chance you get to test the law, take it. See a cop, turn on your camera. If it gets confiscated, you’re only out a few bucks. If it doesn’t get confiscated, we win.
Posted in Miscellany, tagged 15 Penn Plaza, advertising, Afghanistan, Ahlam Mohsen, AIDS, Armed Services Committee, Benigno Aquino, bombing Iran, botched rescue, brain, bungled rescue, Carl Levin, civilian casualties, collateral damages, Donald Tsang, drug legalization, economic nationalism, Empire State Building, Gary Hart, HIV, Hong Kong, hostage crisis, Houston Police Department, Iran, journalism, Julian Assange, Just Say Now, moral culpability, Penn Station, Philippines, police brutality, Potash Corp., property rights, rape, Russia, safe sex, Saskatchewan, Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, TSA, unprotected sex, war with Iran, zoning laws on 08/25/2010| Leave a Comment »
As promised, here’s the links I owed you from last night.
- NYT: the Empire State Building whines and petitions for the imposition of state power in a private real estate dealing to keep another tall building from being built too close to theirs. In fact, they don’t just want to stop this project, they want to create a “17 block no-go zone” around their building. How would that be worded? “Hereby resolved that within this 17 block zone, fundamental economic and civil rights are declared null and void.” If the Empire State Building guys want to protect the skyline, then they should go buy up the land where this tower is going to be built. What they are doing right now is crying and playing emotionalist media politics in the hope of getting the gun barrels of state power behind them.
- Center for a Stateless Society: college student Ahlam Mohsen faces five years in prison for throwing a pie at Senator Carl Levin D-MI. Mohsen chose Levin because he chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee–making him one of the bloody-handed sickies in Washington most responsible for our two immoral wars. So the guy who perpetuates wars that kill hundreds of thousands of civilians is a victim and the woman who throws a pie at him and kills no one is a criminal. Hmm. Interesting bit of calculus there. Show your support for Mohsen by liking this Facebook group.
- The Volokh Conspiracy: Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals rules in favor of lawmakers in my home state of Ohio, who decided that a mother and father did not need to be notified by the coroner that their dead son’s brain would be removed and held indefinitely as part of a criminal investigation. Wow. I’m all in favor of solving crimes, but couldn’t the state at least have asked them or even just notified them? And if the parents weren’t suspects in the crime, why would the state have any right to seize the brain at all?
- NYT: an investigation kicks off into the killing of 8 Afghan civilians and the wounding of 12 more by NATO forces. The dead included two women and a child. I think I have an answer for that emotionally abusive Time magazine cover with the noseless girl and the “What happens if we leave Afghanistan” header–what happens if we leave Afghanistan is that no more blood of innocent Afghans ends up on our hands. How do people support this war anymore? What business do American teenagers have dying on behalf of a corrupt president and his dope baron brother and being put in situations in which they kill innocent people? End the war now.
- Photography is not a Crime: Houston police detain a man and impound his camera for taking photos of a TSA checkpoint. God forbid you take a picture of them telling old ladies to take off their shoes and making people remove liquids from their bags. At least this story has given me a good idea for what to do the next time I feel bored. I think it’s gotten to the point that all of us need to take our cameras everywhere and take pictures of everything–test them, force them to back down, force them to recognize our rights.
- Der Spiegel Online: an HIV-positive German pop star goes on trial for having unprotected, disclosure-free sex with men, including one who now has HIV. It’s interesting because the defendant is a woman and we usually think of men as being more likely to desire unprotected sex, so there has to be some distinction made between not telling a partner who doesn’t want to use a condom that you have HIV and telling a partner who wants to use condom not to use it and also not disclosing that you have HIV. Oh, and I also wonder how they have any means of proving that the aggrieved man contracted HIV from this singer and not someone else. I don’t know all of the details of this case, but it sounds like it would probably be better handled in civil than criminal court.
- Moscow Times: following the trial of a cop who beat a drunken, chained-up reporter into a coma and later saw the reporter die. This story coming from Russia and the Russian state’s “respect” for journalists (see: Anna Politkovskaya, Anastasia Baburova, Natalia Estemirova) well-known by now, I have to wonder if this death was accidental. Even if it was an accident, it remains yet another barbaric instance of police brutality.
- Via Jacob Sullum at Reason, HuffPo: Facebook drops ads from pro-legalization group Just Say Now because its pot leaf logo violates a ban on ads for “smoking products.” According to HuffPo, the ban is really only tobacco product advertising. I don’t really care what Facebook does with their advertising policy because they’re a private company and it’s their right to set policy as they see fit. But this decision leaves me with even less respect for Facebook. Tobacco, marijuana, alcohol–maybe you don’t like these things, but if you’re a company that doesn’t believe adults should have the right to put them into their bodies without government interference, then I have precious little interest in continuing to do business with you.
- The Globe & Mail: addressing the potential sale of Saskatchewan-based Potash Corp., the world’s largest Potash producer. It was private, then got seized by a provincial NDP government in the 1970s, later when private again and now is coveted by an Australian mining company. In the CBC coverage I heard and in this article as well, the primary response seems to be nationalistic whining. Sample some of the stupidity in this article–“Potash belongs to the people of Saskatchewan. They, and they alone, can decide how the material under their province should be exploited, and by whom.” “If there’s one industry in which Canada should be a world leader, with its own multinationals spanning the globe, it’s mining. Take Toronto’s Barrick Gold Corp. out of the equation, and our industry presence worldwide is pathetic, given our domestic attributes.” Being born in Ohio gives me no more entitlement to or veto rights over the sale of the soybeans grown in the northwest corner of the state than being born in Saskatchewan gives some random dude in Regina any claim to potash commodities his province. And then there’s this whole idea of being a world leader. Economic nationalism leads to really dumb decisions like bailing out General Motors. Whoops.
- Via Daniel McCarthy at The American Conservative, Gary Hart: if you’re the sort of brainless, death-worshiping moron who thinks bombing Iran would be a good idea, here’s a list of five pragmatic reasons for why it isn’t.
- Julian Assange round-up: Glenn Greenwald points out instances of blatant lies being used in a classic “throw out a whole bunch of crap and hope some of it sticks” attack against Assange. It’s really cute how the war-worshipers are trying to discredit the one guy who is just putting a ton of facts out there and saying “read through it and interpret it how you like.” And in what seems like an oddly assured, authoritative handling of the issue, the NYT tells us that we have no reason to worry that the rape charges against Assange could have been planted. Of course we have no reason to wonder about the potential involvement of a government that fanatically hates Assange and did crazy things like plant rumors that Martin Luther King was a gay communist and gave Fidel Castro poisoned cigars to ruin his beard. I can sleep so much better now!
- Hong Kong tourist tragedy in the Philippines mega-post: in case you missed it, a disgruntled Filipino cop took a bus full of tourists from Hong Kong hostage and ended up killing eight of them. Let me just begin by saying that this cop deserves to burn in a very warm place for a very long time–don’t use violence to resolve your grievances, especially when it’s violence against people who had absolutely nothing to do with creating your grievance. My favorite piece was in The Globe & Mail, perhaps because it focused on the narrative of the Chinese-Canadian Leung family, which lost three of its five members on the bus. Horrific. The NYT piece is good, too–less narrative, but more time spent looking at potential causes, including a theory that Filipino police stood down in tacit agreement with the disgruntled officer’s grievance. South China Morning Post published this fascinatingly tone-deaf, responsibility-abnegating screed from the Filipino president blaming TV coverage for the failed rescue attempt on the bus. And then for good measure and balance, SCMP replied with an op-ed of its own, squarely placing the blame on the aforementioned Filipino president. I don’t know anything close to all of the details, but I do know that I feel deeply saddened for the eight people who were killed and their families. Violence is awful.