Archive for July, 2012

It Depends on the Meaning of the Word “Illegal”

Time for another edition of “Sophistry in Action!” (-tion!…-tion!)

When you label someone an “illegal alien” or “illegal immigrant” or just plain “illegal,” you are effectively saying the individual, as opposed to the actions the person has taken, is unlawful. The terms imply the very existence of an unauthorized migrant in America is criminal.

In this country, there is still a presumption of innocence that requires a jury to convict someone of a crime. If you don’t pay your taxes, are you an illegal? What if you get a speeding ticket? A murder conviction? No. You’re still not an illegal. Even alleged terrorists and child molesters aren’t labeled illegals.

By becoming judge, jury and executioner, you dehumanize the individual and generate animosity toward them. New York Times editorial writer Lawrence Downes says “illegal” is often “a code word for racial and ethnic hatred.”

Two words, mi amigo: nice try.

Let me put the same situation differently: are people who snuck across the border or forded the Rio Grande (hence the term “wet-back”, which is offensive); or even violated the terms of their visas here legally? Of course not. They need not be tried and convicted to be in violation of the law. I still get the speeding ticket (and penalties if I don’t pay), without benefit of a jury trial.

Understand it’s not the “alien” or “immigrant” part we object to. It’s the illegal part. And one’s presence here—illegal as it is—is rarely the only illegal act. IDs are forged, identities (sometimes plural) are invented or stolen, social benefits (intended for citizens) are exploited. We don’t make this up: it happens all the time. The president’s own Aunt Zeituni and Uncle Omar are a clue to how widespread the abuses are.

The term “illegal immigrant” was first used in 1939 as a slur by the British toward Jews who were fleeing the Nazis and entering Palestine without authorization. Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel aptly said that “no human being is illegal.”

Again, nice try. We who disagree with you love to be compared to Nazis. It’s so empowering!

Elie Wiesel is never wrong about anything, but to use his words about Jews taking up residence in the nascent land of Israel and applying them to migrant peach-pickers or lawn-care laborers is a stretch. (Oh, and if there is an equivalent among “undocumented workers” to the 1917 Balfour Declaration and the 1922 League of Nations mandate, do please cite reference. The Jews weren’t “illegally” in “Palestine” at all.)

There’s a lot more, but after being called racist and neo-Nazi, who really has the motivation to go on? We’ll only face more ad hominem venom.

Compare to our president, who did a very good thing (if for a very political reason), by attending a naturalization ceremony on Independence Day:

But Obama did more than just welcome members of the military to American citizenship. The naturalization ceremony took a political turn when the president defended his controversial decision to unilaterally enact some provisions of the DREAM Act — which would put illegal immigrants who came to this country at a young age on a path to citizenship, but which has failed to win passage in Congress — and also to renew his call for comprehensive immigration reform.

No doubt the author would approve. Certainly, he would never dare compare Obama to Hitler! (Even if Obama’s deportations have been at a rate that would make Sheriff Arpaio blush.)

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Former CIA Director, James Woolsey Points Out American Antisemitism

Says Pollard still in jail because he is Jewish

And for that, I give James Woolsey our coveted ‘Ya Think?™ Award

Former CIA director James Woolsey called for the release of Jonathan Pollard in a letter to the editor, printed in the Wall Street Journal Thursday, hinting that his being Jewish may be a reason he is still behind bars.

“For those hung up for some reason on the fact that he’s an American Jew, pretend he’s a Greek- or Korean- or Filipino-American and free him,” Woolsey wrote.
Related:

Peres promises to continue working to free Pollard

As CIA director in the early 1990s, Woolsey recommended against clemency for the spy, but now says that the nearly-two decades that Pollard served since then are enough.

“Of the more than 50 recently convicted Soviet bloc and Chinese spies, only two—Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen—also received life sentences, and two-thirds of these some-50 enemy spies served or have been sentenced to less time than Pollard has already served,” Woolsey explained.

Pollard, he added, expressed remorse for his actions, cooperated with the US government, and pledged not to use the crime for profit after his release.

Earlier this week, President Shimon Peres promised to continue to work for the release of Pollard in a meeting with his wife, Esther, in Jerusalem.

Peres met with Esther Pollard for the first time since his trip to Washington last month, where he asked US President Barack Obama to commute Pollard’s sentence to the over 26 years that he has served.

Obama is an antisemite and Pollard will not go free. But at least someone is calling him out on it.

- Aggie

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Self Evident Truths

I don’t know why I bother—I can’t tell you that you should.

But as this piece was deemed worthy of publication in the New York Times on Independence Day, it carries some significance:

THIS spring I was on a panel at the Woodstock Writers Festival. An audience member asked a question: Why had the revolution dreamed up in the late 1960s mostly been won on the social and cultural fronts — women’s rights, gay rights, black president, ecology, sex, drugs, rock ’n’ roll — but lost in the economic realm, with old-school free-market ideas gaining traction all the time?

There was a long pause. People shrugged and sighed.

Because they thought the question was imbecilic, I hope (but doubt).

While I can accept that the 60s saw advancement in women’s rights and gay rights, what—civil rights movement notwithstanding—do the 60s have to do with Obama in 2008? The 60s also saw the rise of the muscle car—the Mustang, the Firebird. the Torino, the Camaro. Today we have the Prius and the Mini Cooper. Connection, anyone? Advancement?

And where has the 60s ethos “won” on sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll—all of which predate the 60s, and miraculously survive the era? “Free love” is fine if you can afford the antibiotics for the STDs and the protease inhibitors for the HIV. And aren’t we all better for the crack epidemic of the 80s, followed and joined by epidemics of amphetamines, glue, crystal meth, oxy, even bath salts?

But most of all, what is wrong with “old-school free-market ideas”? Talk about sexy! Talk about a high!

That’s what I might have said. But they didn’t ask me:

What has happened politically, economically, culturally and socially since the sea change of the late ’60s isn’t contradictory or incongruous. It’s all of a piece. For hippies and bohemians as for businesspeople and investors, extreme individualism has been triumphant. Selfishness won.

From the beginning, the American idea embodied a tension between radical individualism and the demands of the commonweal. The document we’re celebrating today says in its second line that axiomatic human rights include “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” — individualism in a nutshell. But the Declaration’s author was not a greed-is-good guy: “Self-love,” Jefferson wrote to a friend 38 years after the Declaration, “is no part of morality. Indeed it is exactly its counterpart. It is the sole antagonist of virtue leading us constantly by our propensities to self-gratification in violation of our moral duties to others.”

What poppycock. The Declaration is not a Timothy-Leary-tune-in-turn-on-drop-out tract or a Joseph-Campbell-follow-your-bliss justification. Rather it is a grand vision of government, a defense of it as well as a critique of it. The very next line reads: “That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” What does that have to do with individualism, let alone selfishness?

The essay is already discredited, but while we’re on the subject of sloppy, misinformed thinking:

Consider America during the two decades after World War II. Stereotypically but also in fact, the conformist pressures of bourgeois social norms were powerful. To dress or speak or live life in unorthodox, extravagantly individualist ways required real gumption. Yet just as beatniks were rare and freakish, so were proudly money-mad Ayn Randian millionaires. My conservative Republican father thought marginal income tax rates of 91 percent were unfairly high, but he and his friends never dreamed of suggesting they be reduced below, say, 50 percent.

That “say” is awfully telling, isn’t it? It means his father never actually opined on a “fair” marginal tax rate, only what the author revealingly feels is an inviolable floor. Is 57% (50/91) of an “unfair” number automatically “fair”? Someone should have told Pol Pot, Mao, Stalin, and Hitler. (Comparing tax rates to genocide, BTL? Really?)

But then came the late 1960s, and over the next two decades American individualism was fully unleashed. A kind of tacit grand bargain was forged between the counterculture and the establishment, between the forever-young and the moneyed.

Going forward, the youthful masses of every age would be permitted as never before to indulge their self-expressive and hedonistic impulses. But capitalists in return would be unshackled as well, free to indulge their own animal spirits with fewer and fewer fetters in the forms of regulation, taxes or social opprobrium.

People on the political right have blamed the late ’60s for what they loathe about contemporary life — anything-goes sexuality, cultural coarseness, multiculturalism. And people on the left buy into that, seeing only the ’60s legacies of freedom that they define as progress. But what the left and right respectively love and hate are mostly flip sides of the same libertarian coin minted around 1967. Thanks to the ’60s, we are all shamelessly selfish.

In that letter from 1814, Jefferson wrote that our tendencies toward selfishness where liberty and our pursuit of happiness lead us require “correctives which are supplied by education” and by “the moralist, the preacher, and legislator.”

Show of hands—how many people want to be “corrected” by “the moralist, the preacher, and legislator”? That’s what I thought.

But if I may offer my own analysis, this guy is missing the nose in front of his face. As a tale-ender of the baby-boom generation, I am repeatedly amazed and amused at the self-absorption of my older brothers and sisters. They think they invented sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll, along with just about every other style, fad, and development of their day. Generations are like the tide: they wash away what came before. And as the Boomers were a veritable tsunami (without the infant mortality rates to lessen the impact), they swamped popular culture with their adolescent narcissism.

The author, Kurt Andersen, was born in 1954, perfectly situated, as a precocious 14-year-old (you know he was), to internalize and memorialize the radical events of 1968. Just look where he was when the question was initially proposed to him: Woodstock! QE-[bleeping]-D!

Did it even occur to him to defend “old-school free-market ideas”? Doesn’t sound like it. His generation (to which I barely, yet resentfully, cling) wasn’t taught so. We are manufactured Keynesians—manufactured because the available evidence supports the “old school” over our “reformed” education, and we can’t allow that. That’s why another Boomer, Barack Obama, is running the administration he is, and why we have the economy we do.

If we are a nation of individuals, as Andersen argues, we sure seem a bunch of stupid ones.

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France, Taxes, Britain

Funny

Roger, a senior expatriate executive working for an international company in Paris, is thinking seriously of taking a walk down David Cameron’s “red carpet”.

The UK prime minister last month riled France’s new Socialist government when he declared he would lay on a five-star welcome for anyone moving to London to avoid the tax re­gime promised by President François Hollande – including his election pledge of a 75 per cent marginal rate on incomes above €1m a year.

fe and I love Paris. We came here by choice. But I’m reconsidering our situation given the changes in the pipeline,” says Roger, who declined to be identified by his real name.

More than the 75 per cent rate, it is a move to higher wealth and inheritance taxes that worries him – and what he perceives as a cultural hostility to the rich. “The anti-wealth rhetoric is just not encouraging. I’d rather be in a country where I don’t have to deal with that,” he says.

It is not just expatriates who are concerned. Henri de Castries, head of Axa, the insurer, is one of France’s most respected business leaders. “I’ve listened to Mr Hollande. He wants to see more growth and lower employment. He wants to see business prospering. We want to see that, too,” he says. “The question is how to achieve these goals? There is no example, in modern economic history, of a country that has succeeded in reducing its deficits by bringing taxes to a confiscatory level. On the contrary, it leads to a decline in activity, and an increase in the deficits.”

So they’re moving to London, eh? How long before the Brits impose the same taxes? How long before we do it here in the US? There is nowhere to hide from this.

Sound familiar?

It was the banks that first felt the lash of Mr Hollande’s tongue when he declared that his “true adversary” was not Mr Sarkozy but “the world of finance”. The president, who has spent almost his entire career in the public sector or working for his party, once said: “I don’t like the rich.”

- Aggie

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It’s Unexpected!™

Happy News!!!

The Obama Presidency is working! We can all breathe a sigh of relief.

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits last week fell by the most in two months, government data showed on Thursday, a hopeful sign for the struggling labor market.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 14,000 to a seasonally adjusted 374,000, the Labor Department said. The prior week’s figure was revised up to 388,000 from the previously reported 386,000.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims falling to 385,000 last week. The four-week moving average for new claims, a better measure of labor market trends, fell 1,500 to 385,750.

The initial claims data has no bearing on Friday’s employment report, which is expected to show employers added 90,000 to their payrolls in June, according to a Reuters survey, after increasing them by 69,000 in May.

The unemployment rate is seen steady at 8.2 percent after rising in May for the first time since August.

Job growth has weakened in recent months amid a cloud of uncertainty, spawned by the European debt crisis and fears of tax increases at home next year.

Ok, let’s look at Aggie’s Complicated Mathematical Model™ for further guidance. Last week’s numbers were only bumped up by 2,000, and I don’t recall what I thought the increase would be. This week’s numbers are “only” 374,000 new claims. The model tells me that it can’t be bumped up by 10,000-12,000, since that is too ugly. So, assuming that there is no glitch in the government calculation, the numbers next week will bump up by, say, 4,000, and next weeks numbers will also be disappointingly high. The end of the 4th of July holiday will be blamed for the new sadness. However, if we all work together, and raise taxes, we can expect things to turn decisively better in Obama’s 2nd term.

- Aggie

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Note To NY Times: If The Supreme Court Says It Is A Tax, It. Is. A. Tax.

And spin it anyway you want, it is still a tax

The fact that one of Romney’s senior advisers is apparently an idiot is beside the point. Obamacare would be history, except for the fact that it is a tax. Period.

WOLFEBORO, N.H. — Mitt Romney declared on Wednesday that President Obama’s health care mandate was in fact a tax, shifting his campaign’s characterization of the law and aligning himself with the conservative voices in his party.

Mr. Romney’s remarks, made in a hastily arranged interview with CBS News on a national holiday, prompted renewed criticisms that he was willing to adjust his views for political expediency. Two days earlier, his chief spokesman and senior strategist had said that Mr. Romney did not believe the mandate should be called a tax.

Mr. Romney was already in the uncomfortable position of standing at odds with the dominant Republican Party message on health care: that President Obama was imposing a burdensome new tax on the middle class by requiring health insurance. His latest statement, while carrying the short-term risk of allowing his opponent to brand him a flip-flopper, helps him square an issue that could be a political liability with conservative voters in November.

A debate over whether a requirement to carry health insurance can be considered a tax — as the Supreme Court last week ruled it could — has consumed the presidential campaign since the decision. Conservatives, despite their deep dismay over the ruling, have pounced on the tax issue, saying Mr. Obama deceived the American people by disguising a huge tax increase as a health care reform bill.

Asked twice on Wednesday whether the president’s mandate amounts to a tax, Mr. Romney said that it did.

“The Supreme Court is the highest court in the nation, and it said that it’s a tax, so it’s a tax,” Mr. Romney told CBS News. “They have spoken. There’s no way around that.” He later repeated his assertion to CNN after a Fourth of July parade here, an idyllic summer retreat on the edge of Lake Winnipesaukee.

The Obama campaign seized on Mr. Romney’s words, calling it a glaring contradiction of his chief spokesman’s remarks. “First, he threw his top aide Eric Fehrnstrom under the bus by changing his campaign’s position,” the campaign said. “Second, he contradicted himself by saying his own Massachusetts mandate wasn’t a tax.”

Mr. Fehrnstrom’s comments on Monday, in which he also said that Mr. Romney felt the health care law was unconstitutional and should have been invalidated, were backed up by a campaign news release that day saying that Mr. Romney believed the mandate is “an unconstitutional penalty” — notably, not a tax.

Interesting how unconcerned the paper is with explaining that Obama told us for three years that is isn’t a tax, only to have that lie ripped open by the Supreme Court. I keep seeing an unfortunate moment from my childhood when a bandage was ripped off a nasty infection. Yuck. Ow. Yuck. So go ahead, try the flip-flop thing with Romney. But in the blogosphere we will continue to point out what a sad little excuse for a newspaper the NY Times has become.

It’s a tax, bitches.

- Aggie

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You Wouldn’t Believe Me if I Told You

So I won’t even try:

In the past decade, the U.N. Human Rights Council elected Col. Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya as chair, hailed Sri Lanka’s “promotion and protection of all human rights” after its army had killed thousands of civilians, and convened an emergency session to lament the death of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, founder of the Hamas terrorist organization.

Even so, historians will now have to decide whether the U.N.’s flagship human rights body is about to sink to a new low.

According to a U.S.-sponsored and EU-backed draft resolution that was debated today during informal meetings at the council in Geneva, the murderous regime of Bashar al-Assad is a declared candidate for a seat on the 47-nation U.N. body, in elections to be held next year at the 193-member General Assembly.

What… how… you sputter?

As part of the U.N.’s 53-nation Asian group, Syria’s candidacy would be virtually assured of victory due to the prevalent system of fixed slates, whereby regional groups orchestrate uncontested elections, naming only as many candidates as allotted seats.

That’s how non-democracies like China, Cuba, Russia and Saudi Arabia won their current seats, and how Pakistan and Venezuela are about to do the same.

Syria gets it. Syria knows that it is among the majority of countries that can use the corrupt and inept institution that is the United Nations for its own nefarious ends. Else why be a part of it?

Syria gets it better than we do—it ain’t even close:

Fears that Syria will indeed win—in a 2013 election for a position starting the following year—appear to have mobilized the U.S. and the European Union into taking the unprecedented action of asking the council to declare in advance that a candidate country, in this case Syria, be declared inherently disqualified to join its ranks.

Shockingly, the perfectly reasonable attempt to keep Syria away from the world’s highest human rights body was met with strong resistance.

In today’s discussions, Cuba declared itself “totally opposed,” and demanded the paragraph’s deletion, a position quickly echoed by China. It was for the General Assembly to decide whom to elect, insisted Havana.

“We don’t like to speak to country candidacies,” added Egypt. Brazil argued that the reference to council membership was “outside the scope of the resolution.”

Russia insisted that no action be taken until Assad’s candidacy was formally submitted. Likewise, India believed the subject was “premature.”

“Shockingly.” That’s pretty funny. Like Claude Rains in Casablanca, “shocked” to learn of gambling going on in this establishment.

Syria knows who its friends are. Syria gets it.

What’s more, Syria belongs on the UN Human Rights Council:

GENEVA, July 2 – Despite continued killings of civilians in Syria, today the U.N.’s top human rights body devoted its entire proceedings to its ritual Hate Israel Day. A day against Israel is a permanent feature of every council meeting, under its only country-specific agenda item, entitled “the Human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories.”

The meeting opened with Richard Falk, the pro-Hamas 9/11 conspiracist who serves as the human rights council’s “Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.” His report was followed by detailed status updates on the 2009 Goldstone Report, the 2010 Flotilla Report, and the developing council inquiry and report into settlements.

Twenty states and six non-governmental organizations took the floor this morning. UN Watch was the only one to challenge Mr. Falk.

Syria thanked Falk for his “bravery.” Israel continually refuses all forms of cooperation with the UN expert. Syria would welcomes his visit any time, if wishes to visit the Palestinian brothers living in Syria, over half a million people. Israel’s occupation remains the main obstacle for peace and stability in the region.

Falk is an avowed, unashamed, and unapologetic antisemite (not that anyone’s asking him to apologize). That makes him like Tony Bennett at the Mirage: a beloved performer and his adoring audience.

Syria gets it—but so does Obama:

Today, at the United Nations, the Obama administration is turning its back on Israel. For the very first time, the U.N. Security Council has invited the U.N. high commissioner for human rights to “brief” the Council specifically on the subject of Israel and the commissioner’s list of trumped-up sins. Though the U.S. is a veto-holding power, the extraordinary move has full American approval, despite the fact that the global soapbox will be handed to Navi Pillay, a notorious anti-Israel partisan.

Furnishing Pillay with a Security Council podium to attack Israel, therefore, must be set side by side with President Obama’s reelection campaign verbiage. Voters are rightly concerned by the president’s full frontal embrace of the United Nations. So administration officials are being dispatched to address Jewish voters in key states like Florida quite specifically on the subject of the Obama response to the demonization of Israel at the U.N.

Here’s Esther Brimmer, assistant secretary at the Bureau of International Organization Affairs, speaking to a Jewish group in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties, Florida on April 24, 2012: “Our diplomatic engagement . . . at the U.N., is rooted in an ironclad commitment by President Obama to support Israel across the U.N. system. . . . Our commitment to defend Israel throughout the U.N. system, both in countering biased anti-Israeli actions and in opposing those who seek platforms to expand anti-Israel efforts at the U.N., remains strong.”

And here’s U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice at a synagogue in Boca Raton, Fla., on May 10, 2012: “Not a day goes by — not one — when my colleagues and I don’t work hard to defend Israel’s security and legitimacy at the United Nations. . . . President Obama has insisted that the United States be clear: The treatment Israel receives across the U.N. system is unacceptable. Efforts to chip away at Israel’s legitimacy have been met with the unflinching opposition of the United States.”

It ain’t so.

If any hip, young Jewish kids are going to schlep down to Florida this year to harangue their parents and grandparents to vote for Obama, as they were urged to do in 2008, I hope they are met with ladle-clenched fists and pelted with mah-jongg tiles. This criminal regime—and I mean Obama’s, not Assad’s—has played Jewish Americans for saps, suckers.

Sadly, more sadly than I can say, they have played along.

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If You’re Arab and Full of Sh*t, Clap Your Hands

Clap-clap:

Jordanian authorities have been turning away Syrian refugees of Palestinian heritage or threatening to deport those who have arrived in Jordan from Syria over the past year, according to a report released on Wednesday by Human Rights Watch.

“Jordan must take in these refugees for humanitarian reasons even though we cannot afford to let them set up home permanently here because we just do not have the resources.”

He said that many of those arriving do not have official papers or identification, either because they left their homes in a hurry or because they destroyed them while escaping from Syria.

Another problem, he pointed out, is that many Jordanians who married Syrians, including those with Palestinian backgrounds, are suddenly seeking Jordanian citizenship for spouses, and this could eventually cause a demographic problem for Jordan. The population balance between Jordanians with Palestinian heritage and those without is a contentious issue in the Hashemite Kingdom.

Ah-ha! Oh-ho!

The Palestinian state of Jordan couldn’t possibly take in any “Palestinian” refugees (whatever that term means), yet the Jewish state of Israel must take in all of them. That is essentially the Arabist (hence international) belief.

Which is why I don’t bother with these stories much anymore. I’m past all that.

Israel must act as unilaterally and as disproportionately as it is accused of every day. It must annex all or most of Judea and Samaria—yesterday. (When President Romney is sworn into office, I pray it will.) It must unleash an inferno on Iran’s nuclear facilities the moment it thinks it has no choice. It must remove the terrorists in Gaza (i.e. the Hamass government) before another Israeli is harmed. It must do all of this and more because a Jewish life is worth no less than any other. No more, fine, but no less.

If you’ve read as many stories like this one as we have, there’s really no discussion, no teaching moment. There is only action to save lives. That’s where Israel is. That’s where I am.

The only shame is in wasting weighing debauched terms like “peace” and “negotiation”. I dry heave just thinking about it.

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So Much For Sanctions On Iran

Obama’s loopholes gut sanctions

n Istanbul Tuesday, U.S. and Iranian nuclear negotiators meet for the fourth time in four months, with the classic diplomatic assignment of talking about whether to hold future talks. They’ll likely agree to do so, but the real news happened under the radar last week: Though economic sanctions still haven’t slowed or stopped Iran’s nuclear drive, the Obama Administration has decided to make them even weaker. The Iran sanctions regime is looking like the U.S. tax code—filled with loopholes.

It’s so weak, in fact, that all 20 of Iran’s major trading partners are now exempt from them. We’ve arrived at a kind of voodoo version of sanctions. They look real, insofar as Congress forced them into a bill President Obama had to sign in December. The Administration has spoken incantations about their powers. But if you’re a big oil importer in China, India or 18 other major economies, the sanctions are mostly smoke.

Now, when Iran gets the bomb and uses it on us or one of our allies, I don’t want to hear one word from a leftist along the lines of “We didn’t know…” You knew, and you know. You are enabling this and when it happens, you own it.

- Aggie

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Szechuan Beef

Is the news that they protested? That they protested and won? Or that they protested and won and that the government praised them?

Plans to build a copper alloy plant in Sichuan province have been scrapped following violent protests by residents, a Chinese official says.

Officials in Shifang posted a statement on the city’s Twitter-like weibo account on Tuesday evening announcing the move.

“Shifang will not build this project henceforth,” Shifang Communist Party head Li Chengjing said in the post.

The decision was made in response to public concerns, he added.

Editorials in state-run media acknowledged the residents’ concerns, with the Global Times’ Chinese editorial calling on local government officials to learn the lessons of Shifang.

China Daily said residents’ lack of scientific understanding “may prevent some worthwhile projects from being launched”, but said their “growing awareness” about rights and the environment was “good for the country”.

The protests are also being widely discussed on weibo platforms – China’s equivalent of Twitter – with users posting millions of messages as well as re-tweeted images.

Many were critical of the local government response, accusing the police of brutality, while others focused on the environment.

A resident in southern Guangxi province wrote on Tencent Weibo: “We can neither damage the environment, nor go along the path of ‘pollution first, control later’.”

Many users were also surprised by the fact that messages about Shifang have largely been left uncensored.

Hey, I just report this stuff. Don’t ask me to figure it out. (Though it wouldn’t surprise me to see the government crack down after people have been drawn out.)

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We Are All Barney Now

Happy 4th of July!

- Aggie

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Put Another Hebrew National on the Grill

I’ve stated and restated my thoughts on America’s Declaration of Independence over the years. You can find them if you care to look (which even I can’t be bothered to do).

Let’s hear from someone else (hat tip Yerushalimey):

Does my man-crush show?

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