Your Morning Cup of Links

In today’s edition of, “Damn it, China”…a horrible and inhumane practice called “bear bile farming” is drawing ire from China’s growing community of animal rights activists.

Guizhentang’s proposal to triple the company’s stock of captive bears, to 1,200 from 400, provoked a firestorm from those opposed to bear bile farming, a process that involves inserting tubes into the abdomens of bears and “milking” them, sometimes for years. Protesters in bear suits picketed drugstores, hackers briefly brought down Guizhentang’s Web site and more than 70 Chinese celebrities, including the basketball star Yao Ming and the pop diva Han Hong, circulated a petition calling on the stock exchange to reject the I.P.O.

Thomas Sowell has some great summer reading for you.

A first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone sold for over $200,000 at auction in London.

Refugee camps are generally pretty terrible places to live…but this one’s not so bad.

The EU is making sure that reusable olive oil bottles are no more, because the EU doesn’t have any more pressing problems.

“With the euro crisis, a collapse in confidence in the EU, and a faltering economy, surely the commission has more important things to worry about than banning refillable olive oil bottles?” inquired one British member of the European Parliament. Germany’s Suddeutsche Zeitungnewspaper, meanwhile, called the regulations the “silliest” rules since the EU’s infamous attempt to regulate the curvature of cucumbers…The staple is one of the most fraud-prone agricultural products in Europe, in part because it’s so much more valuable than other forms of oil and remains relatively easy to doctor with cheaper products like soybean and other seed oil…The EU, in fact, has an olive-oil task force dedicated solely to stopping trafficking in dodgy extra-virgin. Still, this kind of large-scale fraud takes place at the level of producers and bottlers — not at the restaurant table.

Poor Dan Brown, he just can’t catch a break lately. Clive James, who just published a translation of Dante’s The Divine Comedy, has this to say about Brown’s new book inspired by the Inferno portion of Dante’s poem…

“My initial reaction, when I heard that Dan Brown was writing a thriller inspired by Dante’s Inferno, was to rewrite the translation I had been working on so that it would become the story of a secret society of present-day scholars of medieval literature conspiring to take over the Catholic Church and install P. Diddy as pope. Then I got drunk for a couple of days and woke up to the realization that Dan Brown’s book would sell a thousand times more copies than mine no matter what I did…Dan Brown has spent his lifetime learning to write the kind of prose that has earned him nothing except millions of dollars. I pity him deeply.”

The rationalist way of death.

Another blow to school choice

The Justice Department recently decided that schools that accept vouchers must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act as though they were government contractors…That decision will make schools less likely to participate in voucher programs. Compliance with the ADA will significantly raise costs, and some schools may be wary of compromising their character as private organizations…“So, after 22 years of operation and with 25,000 student participants, approximately 11 percent of whom have disabilities, the state agency that oversees the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program has received a grand total of 0 complaints regarding the program’s treatment of students with disabilities.” The problem may be non-existent, but the costs of the department’s solution will be real enough.

More details on the two Iranian presidential candidates who were barred from running.

Also, what the fuck is going on in Sweden??

Well, this is awkward. A father who set up a video camera to capture ‘paranormal’ activity, accidentally caught some other activity instead…his girlfriend having sex with his teenage son. Sounds like a family of winners.

What’s long, hard, full of seamen…and impotent? Spain just spent $680 million on a submarine that can’t swim.

One of Spain’s largest defense splurges may also be one of its most embarrassing. After spending nearly one-third of a $3 billion budget to build four of the world’s most advanced submarines, the project’s engineers have run into a problem: the submarines are so heavy that they would sink to the bottom of the ocean…Given the mistake, Spain is going to have to choose between two costly fixes: slimming the submarines down, or elongating them to compensate for the extra fat. All signs point to the latter, which will be anything but a breeze—adding length will still require redesigning the entire vessel. And more money on top of the $680 million already spent.

There’s something about those armadas that Spain just can’t seem to get right.

The one and only Salman Rushdie (I’m re-reading Shame right now) gives some advice to young writers.

“Western writers have never doubted that their subject matter is interesting—even if it’s very local or parochial,” he said, and advised all writers to “just make the same assumption.” He also noted that Western writers have also felt free to write about any place in the world, not just where they’re from, and “nobody calls them deracinated.” He was buoyed by the fact that Indian writers are now embracing this same freedom, and writing fiction set all around the globe, refusing “to be caged by origin.” When asked if he had advice for young writers trying to escape being pigeonholed by where they’re from, Rushdie answered quickly and with a big grin: “No tropical fruit in the title… avoid that shit.”

And lastly, the Obama administration admitted today to killing American citizens in the drone strikes that everyone already knows about. But naturally Barack Euphemism Obama didn’t permit Holder to call them drone strikes, referring to them instead as, “sensitive counterterrorism operations.” See? They’re nice and sensitive. Those drones just want to know how you feel. They care. This feeds into the whole “terrorism as therapy” mindset that Victor Davis Hansen explains here.

The fantasy that prior American policy was insensitive to Muslims and did not differentiate sufficiently between Islam and al-Qaeda has been an article of faith of this administration…The greater worry is anti-Islamic bigotry and prejudice, not heightened awareness of the propensity for certain people to commit terrorism in the supposed service to Islam. This odd mindset explains both the Orwellian euphemisms (overseas contingency operations, man-caused disasters, workplace violence, violent extremism, etc.) and the collective madness of some career-minded bureaucrats competing with one another in the public arena with their politically correct nonsense (cf. the Muslim Brotherhood as “secular,” NASA’s “foremost” mission as Muslim outreach, or jihad as a “holy struggle”). That groupthink was based on the flawed idea that the more we deny an Islamic catalyst to terrorism, the more there will be none. The problem was not just that elites seeking to ingratiate themselves with the Obama administration routinely indulged in such willful blindness, but that these absurdities filtered down to the day-by-day protocols of our intelligence and law-enforcement bureaus…Alas, for all the obsequiousness and cash, U.S. popularity in the Middle East is as low as it was under Bush.

And that’s why it was so refreshing to see David Cameron, in the wake of the horrific terrorist attack in London yesterday, quickly call it what it was: a terrorist attack. He also immediately traveled back to London to be involved in the aftermath and the investigation. And, best of all, he didn’t feel the need to lecture the British people on how they should behave. It must be nice to have such a leader, who is genuinely outraged when something like this happens, who treats his citizens like grown-ups and whose view on radical Islam is based in reality.

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Filed under Around the World, Literature, Politics, Uncategorized

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