H/T smokingscot for Liberland. According to the Guardian, 7 square km Liberland came into existence as the world’s newest sovereign state in April this year,

In the week since Liberland announced its creation and invited prospective residents to join the project, they have received about 200,000 citizenship applications – one every three seconds – from almost every country in the world.

Prospective citizens are also offering Liberland their expertise in areas from solar power and telecoms to town planning and coin minting. “There is a spontaneous ordering taking place,” Jedlicka says. “People have planned the whole city in three days and others really want to move in and invest … what seemed like a dream now really looks possible.”

Liberland’s only stipulations are that applicants respect individual rights, opinions and private property, and have no criminal record or Nazi or Communist party background.

Jedlicka says: “The model citizen of Liberland would be [American founding father] Thomas Jefferson, which is why we established the country on his birthday. Citizens will be able to pursue happiness and this is the place where we can make this happen.”

Crucial to this flourishing, he believes, is fiscal policy. Liberland is the dream of a man whose earlier membership of the Czech Civic Democratic party and current loyalty to the Free Citizens party puts him firmly on the right. Staunchly anti-EU, Jedlicka says he has “pretty close relations” with the Swiss People’s party and “will meet with British politicians to discuss Nigel Farage’s plans to leave the EU”.

“Taxation will be optional and people will only finance specific development projects,” says Jedlicka. “We have to see how the foreign ministries react and we need to explain to them the kind of prosperity we can bring to the region. It will bring in money from all over the world: not only to Liberland, which would be a tax haven, but to the whole area. We could turn this area into a Monaco…


Vit Jedlicka, the founder and President of Liberland, or the Free Republic of Liberland to give it its full title, explains how it started:

The key starting point would be to find a piece of land, unclaimed by any country, as was the case of this seven square kilometers of land along the Croatian and Serbian border. Croatia claimed that the territory belongs to Serbia but Serbia doesn’t want to rule over it, a difficult situation that has lasted for more than twenty years. This area along the west bank of the Danube River was basically abandoned by both of these countries. This made for an ideal place to start a country.

It’s not all been plain sailing:

Serbia’s ministry of foreign affairs called the creation of the country a “frivolous act,” while Croatia said it was a “virtual quip.” But after exactly seven months, Europe’s youngest nation—if you can call it that—survives. Liberland has a constitution, a flag, an anthem, and a motto…

Land usage aside, however, Liberland has an even more pressing problem—how to handle its potential citizenry. Right now, borders are closed and Liberland’s only house, supposed to become its parliament, remains empty. “The Croatian police is blockading our frontiers and stopping Liberlandians from entering their motherland,” Jedlička claims. The president himself says he has been twice detained by Croatian officers. “They always treated me like a president and released me quickly, but they were not so nice with the other settlers,” he says.

Clearly there wouldn’t be a smoking ban in Liberland. I occasionally dream of a little country like this: a country where you can, well,… sit in a bar and drink a beer and smoke a cigarette. A country with the absolute minimum of laws, rather than the absolute maximum. A country with an absolute minimum of taxation, rather than the absolute maximum.

In the past, when life got too oppressive in Europe, people just got into boats and sailed off to America, to found their own colonies with their own rules (or lack of them). Now America has gradually turned into another superstate with lots of taxes, and lots of rules and regulations. Where can you go to get away from it all?

The real problem these days is one-size-fits-all superstates like the EU.

We need more little countries like this, making their own rules. Why not give the Islamic State its own little 7 squ km state, in which they can chop each others’ heads off to their hearts’ content? Why not give smokers their own country, where smokers can smoke themselves to death?

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Worse and Worse

Chris Snowdon has a couple of recent articles,  one with celebrity chef Jamie Oliver calling for taxes on sugar, the other with other busybodies asking for the same on meat. The gist of them seems to be that we’re being lined up for ‘sin taxes’ on sugar and meat as well as tobacco and alcohol. And there’ll probably be carbon  sin taxes as well.

What’s going on here is that the government is lobbying itself (through organisations like ASH and Jamie Oliver) to raise taxes. In effect, the government asks itself, “Should taxes be raised on X?”, and then after a ‘consultation’ with ‘stakeholders’ the government says, “Yes. Taxes should be raised.” And so taxes are raised. And then after a few weeks or months, the process is repeated.

It’s state-sponsored theft.

This is why organisations like ASH keep being funded. They provide the justification to raise taxes over and over again, always in the pious knowledge that “It’s the right thing to do.”

No wonder government always get bigger. ASH is actually part of the government. And so is Jamie Oliver.

So what happens when more or less everything is taxed to the maximum, and 90% of the price of anything goes straight into the government’s pockets?

Well, taxpayers will be getting poorer and poorer while the government is getting richer and richer. The cost of living for ordinary people will just keep on rising. Their standard of living will fall and fall. At some point, they won’t be able to make ends meet. They’ll starve. They’ll lose their homes. It won’t be any better for the over-taxed companies they’re working for. They’ll be driven out of business.

In short, the economy will collapse under the enormous overburden of taxation. And what will the government do? It’ll do what it always does. It’ll raise taxes. It’s the only thing it knows how to do.

But once the economy is collapsing, the government tax take will dry up. There won’t be enough money to pay government employees (which by then will be almost everybody). The Smoking Prevention Officers Union and the Sugar Awareness Outreach Office and the Meat Intelligence Agency will threaten to go on strike. But since they no longer bring in any tax revenues, the government won’t yield to their demands. So they’ll all starve too. Everyone will starve. Everyone will become homeless.

As far as I can see, we’ve been living in global recession/depression for approaching 10 years already. And it’s all set to get worse. And worse. And worse.

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Another “Logical Evolution”

Via a comment by Roobeedoo:

Nonsmokers will have a bylaw to back them up when they ask smokers to butt out in parks and outside civic facilities starting next spring.

They won’t, however, be able to summon a bylaw officer.

Council voted 7-2 in favour of a bylaw amendment Tuesday prohibiting smoking and “vaping” of e-cigarettes in all City parks and on civic building properties.

“This is a logical evolution of where we have been with other smoking legislation from the City of Kamloops,” said Coun. Ken Christian, noting that it will reduce exposure to second-hand smoke, reduce the modelled behaviour of smoking and “de-normalize” tobacco use in the city.

He also said it’s important to send a message as Ottawa considers decriminalizing marijuana use.

“Some smokers may feel like we’re pushing them farther and farther into the woods, and fair enough,” said Coun. Arjun Singh. “I do believe people will comply and, hopefully, more people will be encouraged to give it up.”

Via Harley, another “logical evolution”:

A Waffle House customer shot and killed an employee after she told him to put out a cigarette at the U.S. 90 business in the early-morning hours Friday, police said.

Biloxi police Sgt. Donnie Dobbs said the 52-year-old employee was shot in the head after arguing with the customer about smoking inside the restaurant around 1 a.m. Friday.

The employee, who has not been identified pending notification of next of kin, died at Merit Health Biloxi a short time later. She had a suffered a single gunshot wound to the head.

What else is to be expected when one part of a society is set upon by another?

The War on Smoking is going to claim a lot of casualties.

And this is all supposed to be about health?

In other news, the West seems to be backing away from Recep Erdogan:

Lt. General Tom McInerney is an expert on handling threats from fighter jets….

In his role as Norad commander for Alaska, McInerney dealt with more Russian fighter jet incursions (which he calls “bear penetrations”) than anyone else in the world.

So McInerney knows how to tell innocent from hostile incursions by foreign fighter jets, standard rules of engagement of foreign fighter jets, how to read radar tracks, and the other things he would need to know to form an informed opinion about the shootdown of a foreign jet.

Yesterday, McInerney told Fox News – much to the surprise of the reporter interviewing him – that assuming the Turkish version of the flight path of the Russian jet is accurate, Russia wasn’t threatening Turkey, and that Turkey’s shoot down of the Russian jet “had to be pre-planned”, as the jet wasn’t in Turkish air space long enough for anything other than a premeditated attack to have brought it down.

That’s what the Russians are saying too. And what I was pretty much saying as well.


Juncker warned that the euro is pointless if people can’t move around freely to use it.

“If the spirit of Schengen leaves us … we’ll lose more than the Schengen agreement. A single currency doesn’t make sense if Schengen fails,” Juncker told the parliamentarians.


Liberia Suffers New Ebola Death, Despite Being ‘Ebola-Free’

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Degrees of Freedom

Chris Snowdon has an article in the Spectator about how Australian health activists are trying to redefine ‘freedom’ to mean ‘safety’.

The latest example of this comes from the Australian Health Promotion Association (AHPA). Its spokesman told the nanny state inquiry that ‘to be truly free’ we need to be able to walk down the street ‘free from the fear of being run down by a speeding or drunk driver’ and without being ‘exposed to cigarette smoke’.

He objects to this sort of redefinition, saying:

It is a sure sign that a person is against freedom when they start trying to redefine it.

But perhaps one of the problems with freedom is that for all the talk about it (of ‘freedom-fighters’ and ‘freedom-lovers’, etc.) ‘freedom’ is a curiously ill-defined idea. And it is perhaps precisely because it is so ill-defined that health activists feel emboldened to redefine it.

So what is ‘freedom’? When I asked Google, it responded:

Freedom (is) the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants.

And this seems to be a perfectly good place to start.

But given this definition of freedom, I might ask: Do I not always have the power to act, speak, and think as I want? Is that not a power that is invested in all humans? As I type these words, I am acting (by pressing the keys on the keyboard), and I am also speaking (making words), and I am thinking (about what words to type). Isn’t the power to think, speak, and act as I want synonymous with ‘being alive’? Has there ever been a single day in my life when I was unable to think or speak or act as I wanted?

I suppose that on those few occasions when I came down with a fever, and lay in bed with a high temperature, my thoughts became a little disordered, and I only spoke monosyllabically, and I was barely able to reach the glass of water beside my bed. But I still retained the power to think, speak, and act, even if it was in a highly restricted manner.

I have yet to be sent to prison, but I imagine that once thrown into a dark dungeon, I would still be able to think as freely as I ordinarily do, and I would still be able to speak (perhaps in whispers) to any other inmates of my cell, and I would still be able to pace about inside its confines, and perhaps scratch my name on its walls, or mark off the passing days. I would simply be highly restricted in what I could do.

When I was a schoolboy (which was a bit like being sent to prison), I was required to pay attention to teachers during classes, to keep quiet, and to write notes on what I was being taught. But it was perfectly possible to drift off into a daydream, or stare out of the classroom window, or draw pictures. So I was not actually constrained to pay attention or write notes.  It was instead requested of me that I should pay attention and write notes, on pain of some kind of punishment if I did not (and some sort of reward if I paid particularly diligent attention). And anyway, out on the playground between classes, I was not constrained or required or requested to think or speak or act in any particular way. I could do more or less exactly as I liked, as long as I stayed within the bounds of the playground.

I have also been an employee of a number of different companies. This was a bit like being a schoolboy, in that it was requested of me that I devote my attention to a particular task for several hours, but with the difference that I was rewarded with a pay cheque every month (something schoolboys never get). But once again, at the end of the working day, I could do more or less whatever I wanted. And it was always open to me to terminate my employment whenever I wanted (something schoolboys are not permitted to do).

I’ve never been very rich, in the sense of having a lot of money or owning lots of things, but even the richest of rich people are constrained to some extent. They can’t extend their property into other people’s property. Even they can’t do exactly as they like.

So what might be said is that although I am always free to think, say, and do as I want, in practice this freedom is often highly constrained. A patient lying in his sickbed is free to do as he pleases, but is practically unable to do very much at all. The prisoner in his cell is able to think, speak, and act freely, but he is constrained by the walls of his cell to a tiny subset of all the things he might wish to do. The schoolboy in his classroom might be constrained to listen to a teacher for an hour or so, but he will be let out at regular intervals between classes into a playground. The employee at his workplace may be required to perform some task for some number of hours, but he will have lunch breaks and tea breaks and will go home in the evenings, and have a weekend to himself, and perhaps even paid holidays in summer. And even the billionaire owners of the company in which they, who spend their days playing golf or holidaying in the Bahamas, are constrained in small ways.

So instead of thinking of people as being either free or unfree, we might instead think in terms of degrees of freedom. And one might set individual people somewhere on a scale of degrees of freedom, so that the invalid constrained to his sick bed has a very small degree of freedom (he can just reach the glass of water beside his bed), while the billionaire on his golf course on the Bahamas has a very high degree of freedom: he can do almost anything he likes. So if a degree of freedom is seen as a circle whose area corresponds to the sum of all the things someone can possibly do, we might see a scale of increasing degrees of freedom. Or, to put another way, the circle represents the size of the cell someone lives in:degrees_of_freedom

Yet even billionaires may not always enjoy the highest degree of freedom. For if a billionaire falls sick, or is sent to prison, he will have the same small degree of freedom as any invalid or prisoner, no matter how much money he has in his bank.

And equally when an invalid is cured of his malady, or a prisoner is released from prison, he does not become as free as a billionaire overnight. In reality, he merely steps up to the next level on the scale of increasing degrees of freedom. The sick child who recovers from his illness becomes a schoolboy, and on leaving school the schoolboy becomes an employee, and as an employee he can be expected to be promoted to become a supervisor or manager, and may even rise to become a company director, and a millionaire – and even a billionaire.

It can now be very quickly seen that good health is not the same thing as freedom. Health ≠ Freedom. A prisoner in his cell may be in perfect health, but he is still not ‘free’. Health is only one component of freedom. It may be the prime requirement of freedom, but it is by no means the only one.

Equally, we can dismiss the notion that freedom is identical to safety. For all safety measures are put in place in order to preserve health, and health ≠ freedom.

And what about ‘freedom from fear’? The awful ‘fear of being run down by a drunk driver or exposed to cigarette smoke’? And here we might say that fear is itself a kind of crippling disease, and to be smitten with fear is not very different from being stricken with cancer. The cancer patient cannot get out of bed because he lacks the strength to do so, but a man paralysed by fear cannot get out of bed because he dare not. And perhaps we should treat outbreaks of fear and panic in the same way as we treat any disease.

In summary, freedom is not something we have or don’t have in some absolute, on-or-off sense, like being ‘free’ or ‘unfree’. Freedom is experienced in degrees. Some people have a higher degree of freedom than others, but nobody is completely and absolutely free. And only the dead are constrained to think nothing, say nothing, and do nothing.

I have barely even scratched the surface of the matter.

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A Billion Lives

I gather there’s a movie out called A Billion Lives. I think it’s about ‘vaping’ or something. And Aaron Biebert, its director, has said:

It seems that many pro-smoking advocates would like to hurt our film because they are delusional veterans of a lost war. Lost.

It’s laughable to me that they are still fighting. It reminds me when they found Japanese soldiers on an island many years after WWII was done. They were still on alert, waiting for orders. They were still at war.

However did he guess?

I instantly recognised myself, of course. I had, after all, just returned from my look-out post on the island’s lone peak, from which I gaze out daily upon the distant blue horizon, waiting for the fleet to arrive.

But are we veterans really ‘delusional’? Who says the war is lost? He mentions ‘an island’, a single island with a few soldiers on it. But I think there are many, many such islands. And they form an archipelago that stretches all around the entire globe. And I reckon that there’s at least 1.5 billion veteran smokers on those islands. That’s half a billion more lives than he’s got. Surely the war is only lost when all those islands have been invaded and declared smoke-free, and all the soldiers on them taken captive? And that most certainly hasn’t happened yet.

I know this because I have constructed a sort of radio set, from bamboo and wire and glass. It has allowed me into a sort of “global information web” which simply didn’t exist in the past. And it has let me make contact with veterans all over the world. A month or two back I was chatting to some Russian smokers. And yesterday to an Israeli smoker. And I’m in regular communication with numerous British and American smokers. There are still a lot of us!

So, yes, I’m still at war. And I’m still on alert.

I think this Aaron Biebert is bit of a defeatist. We used to shoot people like him. And after deciding that one war has been lost, it seems that he’s now fighting some other war that he also thinks has been lost.

Sadly, the vaping war is nearly lost as well. If vaping is going to survive, the tactics must be non-conventional. The people fighting it must actually rally around something. They must stop fighting each other…stop fighting their few remaining allies.

I don’t know much about this ‘vaping’. I grow tobacco on the hillside below the peak, and I smoke it in a coconut pipe.

But if he decides not to surrender in this new war of his, I agree that the tactics must be unconventional. But I’m not sure that people need to rally around something. I think they just need to rally together. They must discuss ways of resisting, ways of fighting back. They must be imaginative. They must try out a few ideas.

Anyway, I must get on. Today’s the day when I strip down and clean my rifle again. I do it once a month. I’ve still got four bullets for it.  I used to have seven, but I used up three of them on defeatists.

I’ll never give up. I will never surrender. And I want my rifle to be clean and polished. Because one day the fleet will arrive.

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Earth is Cooling, Not Warming

Something like this was bound to happen sooner or later: Russian military jet shot down by Turkey.


The finger of territory over which the Russian jet reportedly flew is about 2 km wide, and at the Su-24’s top speed of 1,315 kph it would have taken 5.5 seconds to fly over. It’s still only 11 seconds at half that speed.

If the yellow dots are of the Turkish F-16 that launched an air-to-air missile, then it was at least 10 km away. US air-to-air missile speeds are typically Mach 4, or 1.361 kps, and so would have taken 13 seconds to reach the Su-24.

To hit the plane while it was over Turkish territory, the Turkish pilot would have had to launch the missile before the Russian jet crossed into Turkish territory. If he launched the missile while the Russian jet was over Turkish territory, the missile would have hit after the jet had returned  to Syrian airspace. Since the Su-24 came down about 5 km inside Syria (green rectangle), the latter is probably what happened.

To me, it seems really stupid  and completely unnecessary to shoot down a plane which spends 10 seconds or less over your airspace.

NATO convened an emergency meeting:

Diplomats present at the meeting told Reuters that while none of the 28 NATO envoys defended Russia’s actions, many expressed concern that Turkey did not escort the Russian warplane out of its airspace.

“There are other ways of dealing with these kinds of incidents,” said one diplomat who declined to be named.

Putin is very angry.  Furthermore,..

the Russian Ministry of Defense explained, going forward, any Turkish plane that enters Syrian airspace will be fair game.

Via James Delingpole and NoTricksZone,

Veteran journalist Günter Ederer* writes a piece reporting that massive alterations have been found in the NASA GISS temperature data series, citing a comprehensive analysis conducted by a leading German scientist. These results are now available to the public.

Ederer reports not long ago retired geologist and data computation expert Professor Dr. Friedrich Karl Ewert began looking at the data behind the global warming claims, and especially the datasets of NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies (GISS).

Ewert painstakingly examined and tabulated the reams of archived data from 1153 stations that go back to 1881 – which NASA has publicly available – data that the UN IPCC uses to base its conclusion that man is heating the Earth’s atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels. According to Ederer, what Professor Ewert found is “unbelievable”:

“From the publicly available data, Ewert made an unbelievable discovery: Between the years 2010 and 2012 the data measured since 1881 were altered so that they showed a significant warming, especially after 1950. […] A comparison of the data from 2010 with the data of 2012 shows that NASA-GISS had altered its own datasets so that especially after WWII a clear warming appears – although it never existed.”

I knew that the weather data was being massaged by James Hansen and company, but it seems that it was far worse than I imagined, and actually turned a global cooling trend into a global warming trend.

“Using the NASA data from 2010 the surface temperature globally from 1940 until today has fallen by 1.110°C, and since 2000 it has fallen 0.4223°C […]. The cooling has hit every continent except for Australia, which warmed by 0.6339°C since 2000. The figures for Europe: From 1940 to 2010, using the data from 2010, there was a cooling of 0.5465°C and a cooling of 0.3739°C since 2000.” 

So when all the adjustments are taken out, the Earth turns out to have been cooling for the past 70 years, not warming.

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A Snake in the Committee Room

I came across Sheila Duffy’s appearance before the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee on Headrambles late last week, and it’s been bubbling away at the back of my mind for days.

Her petition starts at about 54 minutes in, and lasts about 5 minutes, and the gist of it is that she would like to remind that the Parliament that they are signatories to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, and she wishes to draw their attention to article 5.3 of the convention, which requires the parties to protect the policies from the vested interests of the tobacco industry, which meant that parties should have as little to do with the industry as possible. i.e. they shouldn’t admit them for consultations.

I’ve taken the trouble of roughly transcribing her little speech (emphasizing the most egregious claims). But it’s worth watching for the smirking expression on her face throughout (click to enlarge).


“Scotland has a proud record of tackling tobacco, and it’s hard for me to believe that next year will see 10 years since Scotland implemented smoke-free public places. I’d like to take a moment to remember what tobacco is. It is widely available, with 8 tobacco retail outlets for every one pharmacy in Scotland, so it’s easier to buy poison than it is to buy medicine. It is addictive and dependency-forming, and engineered to be as highly so by tobacco companies. It is primarily a childhood addiction, not an adult choice. And it is lethal to at least one in two consumers, and recent research suggests maybe two in three consumers when used long term in accordance with the manufacturers intentions. In Scotland tobacco is estimated to be responsible for around a quarter of all adult deaths recorded each year – some 13,000 lives lost early. And behind each death there are likely to be 20 people living with chronic and disabling disease caused by tobacco. So this is a major and largely hidden epidemic. And it is a commercially driven epidemic, driven by an industry with a long and well-documented history of denial, delay, and deceit with regard to health measures. And an industry that has demonstrated that its main interest lie with its profits. And because the tobacco industry is a world wide predator, the WHO developed and put forward the first and only international public health treaty, which has 180 signatories, including the UK and EU, and which covers 90% of the world’s population. Now this treaty requires parties to introduce broad-brush measures to try to reduce the harm from tobacco, so things that we already have like tobacco tax, smoke-free enclosed spaces, curbs on tobacco advertising. But this petition relates to article 5.3 of the FCTC which requires parties, in setting and implementing public health policies, to act to protect the policies from commercial and vested interests of the tobacco industry. Now that could be quite a wide instruction, but fortunately the conference of the parties developed further detailed guidance about how this article could and should be implemented…. For example, “Parties should interact with the tobacco industry only when, and to the extent strictly necessary, to enable them to effectively regulate the tobacco industry and tobacco products. Now I believe we need to raise awareness of this treaty in parliament. I believe there have been recent actions, unknowingly committed, which have gone against our obligations under the treaty. So the point of this petition is to ask parliament to consider the international treaty and its article 5.3, to think about Scotland’s obligations under it, and to develop guidance for parliamentary staff to ensure that we meet those obligations. Thank you.”

The first MSP to respond said that he didn’t smoke, but regarded smoking as a legal choice people made. Other MSPs came in even harder, even accusing her of being part of the tobacco industry, because she lived off the existence of tobacco. But in the end they conceded that maybe they’d need to find what ‘best practice’ was in other countries.

But what stuck in my mind  was what a conceited little prig Sheila Duffy was. She had delivered a little potted lecture setting out TC vision of the tobacco industry selling ‘poison’ to children, all the while with an insouciant smile playing on her face. If I’d been one of those MSPs, I’d have been very angry at the way she was talking down to them.

In fact, what she was doing wasn’t ‘petitioning’ them, but threatening them. You have obligations under the treaty, so do something about them, or else

And as I watched the menacing, smirking, slit-eyed performance, I suddenly saw Sheila Duffy as an enormous snake, which had slid out of darkness into the committee chamber, leaving half of its huge bloated bulk outside the door.

And that was enough of an image for me to work up using my new touch-sensitive tablet and Manga Studio 5. Here’s the result (click to enlarge):


It could have been better, but it pretty much captures the image that had sprung to mind, and it didn’t take all that long to do (1 or 2 hours). Indeed, it would have been done even quicker if I’d known how to use Manga Studio 5 properly.

But at least I managed to get a little grin on the mouth of the snake.

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