Thursday, March 29, 2007

Right Punishment, Wrong Crime


A Swiss man in Thailand has been jailed, and he should have been jailed – I just don’t like the label the government put on his crime.

"The court has punished him for insulting the king. This is a serious crime," judge Pitsanu Tanbuakli said.

I certainly do not think anyone should be punished for merely insulting a politician. So, why do I think he should be jailed at all? Because in addition to insulting the King, he committed an actual crime: vandalism.

Security cameras videotaped him defacing the king's portraits on December 5, which is the king's birthday and a time of national celebration.
He did not own those portraits. He deserves the ten years.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Liberty Wins in French Muhammad Drawings Case


A French court decided not to prosecute a French Satirical Weekly Newspaper on the whim of easily offended people.

PARIS (AP) - A French court cleared a satirical weekly newspaper Thursday in a case brought by Muslims who were angered by its publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.

So are things looking up for free speech in Europe? Not so fast. Look at what may happen in Poland.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Socialist Republican warns about the spread of socialism


. . . . oh, but only in Latin America.

MIAMI (AP) - Republican presidential candidate John McCain warned on Wednesday against the spread of socialism in Latin America and pledged to give the region renewed U.S. attention if elected.

I wish McCain cared as much about the spread of socialism in the United States. A quick stroll though his voting record proves he does not.

How Pork Looks in Dingmei village


In the United States, politicians bribe their districts to vote for them by funding unconstitutional and often useless products with tax dollars. This is often referred to as “pork barrel spending” and while it is complained about in some circles it works. In Dingmei village in Fujian province, China, the bribes are . . . more direct in nature. Recently, there have been calls to cut down on bribing voters. Not everyone is happy about this.

“You can earn lots of money if you're elected village boss, so what's so bad about dishing some of it out?” complained one old man, whose surname was given as Chen.

But this election, they went to the temple and all we got was a bowl of rice and bottle of beer after all was said and done,” he said. “It's peanuts.”

I am certainly no fan of bribery but there is something to be said for the openness with which it occurs in this village. In the United States there is the pretense that politicians are “doing something for their districts” when in reality all they are doing is moving about confiscated tax dollars. In Dingmei village there is no veneer so the corruption, the bribery is far more obvious. This, perhaps, is at least slightly more healthy.

The villagers aren't happy at an election without bribery,” an old woman was quoted as saying in the article, headlined “In combating election bribery, the law is no match for praying to the gods”.

Indeed, the law is quite ineffective because it is the politicians who write the law in the first place.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

ANIMAL-RIGHTS activists want baby Polar bear KILLED

Via The Sun (UK):

You could easily be forgiven for thinking that animal rights activists, you know, supported animal rights. They talk a good game - usually. Then sometimes they say a cute little baby polar bear should be killed. Its crime? Being dependent on humans.
You see, evil humans have done the job the bears mother SHOULD have done.

Knut became a superstar after he was rejected by his mother at birth last December.”

These so-called animal rights activists seem upset that the human race has one-upped mother nature in the mothering world.

Activist Frank Albrecht said last night: “The hand-rearing of Knut is a breach of the animal protection code.

He’ll rely on humans forever and this cannot be right.”

Monday, March 19, 2007

Charity Dinner = Gilded Age?

Via Yahoo News (and Drudge):

The last time Drudge used the term “Gilded Age” in one of his headlines it was an expensive pizza he was slamming. Now, he is slamming a meal for charity. For anyone not sure of the reference, Wall Street Words: An A to Z Guide to Investment Terms for Today's Investor by David L. Scott (2003) defines "Gilded Age" as

"The years between the Civil War and World War I when institutions undertook
financial manipulations that went virtually unchecked by government. This era
produced many infamous activities in the security markets."
Hmmm, with Sarbanes-Oxley and all of the other laws that regulate trading that really doesn't fit. Could it be Drudge is just using the term to refer to the fact people are getting wealthy? Could it be he is simply uncomfortable with success?

I, for one, am not at all uncomfortable with people who have money going to a charity dinner. This is one:
"All profits from the $25,000 dinner are going to two charities — Medecins Sans
Frontieres, which will be sent a check for $15,000, and the Chaipattana
Foundation, a rural development program set up by the king of Thailand, which
will receive $46,000, Ohri said."

Safer Mosquitoes?

Via Yahoo News:

For anyone who fears genetic engineering I have a question. Do you fear malaria more? What is genetic engineering could help prevent malaria? Would that change your mind? This might be a very real question soon.

“Researchers have developed a malaria-resistant mosquito, a step that might one
day help block the spread of an illness that has claimed millions of lives
around the world.”

It is important to remember this was not the human type of malaria.
“Working with the mouse form of malaria — not the human type — Rasgon's team was able to genetically engineer mosquitoes that were resistant to malaria."
And they do need more time.

"We're not anywhere near a field release," he said. Now they need to turn their
attention to working with human malaria and trying to engineer a mosquito
resistant to that.

But if GM luddites have their way, they won't get that time.