Different River

”You can never step in the same river twice.” –Heraclitus

March 14, 2005

Jailed for Overdue Library Books

Filed under: — Different River @ 9:56 pm

There really seems to be a crackdown on library users these days.

First there was the U.S. Army Lieutenant threatened with an arrest for tresspassing for reading in the “wrong” section of a public library who was in Brookline, Massachusetts (and later denied renewal of his gun permit using this incident as an excuse).

Now, a fellow in Burlington, Washington has been arrested for having overdue library books. The really stupid thing is, he got arrested after he called police to report that his mail had been stolen. Instead of investigating the mail theft, they discovered he had an outstanding warrant (!!!) for overdue library books (“detaining city property”).

And, he showed the police the library books and told them to take them, but they refused and arrested him instead. Fox News:

Jeremy Jones of Burlington, Wash., called police to his home on Feb. 22 about a case of mail theft.

But the cops found Jones had a warrant out for “detaining city property” and missing a related court date. They promptly clapped the cuffs on the 20-year-old man.

Turned out he had 18 books, worth a total of $268, long past due to the Burlington Public Library.

“I told [the police], ‘They’re right on the table, take them,’” Jones told KOMO-TV of Seattle. “They said, ‘No, we have a warrant, we have to arrest you.’”

Remeber this next time you here librarians get all high and mighty about the USA PATRIOT Act and their refusal to honor search warrants requesting library patron records to protect patron “privacy.” Obviously, they have no problem handing patron records over to the police to get revenge for (since they apparently declined to allow the police to collect) a $268 library fine. But they would never hand over patron records to the FBI to help with a terrorism investigation. From the web site of the American Library Association:

What people read, research or access remains a fundamental matter of privacy. One should be able to access all constitutionally protected information and at the same time feel secure that what one reads, researches or finds through our Nation’s libraries is no one’s business but their own.

There are many privacy bills that have been introduced into recent Congresses relating to business, health, student and other records. The expansion of e-government, e-commerce, and other forms of electronic transactions, including library services, raises serious questions for the library community in protecting individual privacy, especially the privacy and confidentiality of library patron records.

They have their principles, you see!

Principles that lead them to think it’s perfectly fine to check out books on how to make bombs to blow up innocent people, as long as you return them on time — but it’s a crime to keep books past the due date, if you aren’t using them to planning anything nefarious.

Makes me wonder what they teach in library school these days….

China’s NPC authorizes force against Taiwan

Filed under: — Different River @ 12:00 pm

CNN is reporting that the (People’s Republic of) China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) has passed a resolution authorizing Beijing to use force against Taiwan to prevent it from formally declaring its independence. (Taiwan has, of course, been independent in practice since 1949, but the Beijing regime is very much against anyone saying so, and saying so is rather controversial in Taiwan as well, since this would implicitly recognize (legitimize?) Communist control of the mainland.)

Now given the form of government in Beijing, the fact that the National People’s Congress (all of whose members are appointed by said government) does not really change anything legally. From the standpoint of legality in use there, they could have used force just as easily last week as this week.

However, the fact that they bothered to have the NPC pass this, and that they announced it, shows that they really want to remind everyone that they reserve the “right” to use force against Taiwan. And this is rather worrisome, especially in light of the fact that they are increasing the number of missiles aimed at Taiwan. And the fact that much of the U.S. military is presently occupied elsewhere (Iraq, Afghanistan, probably standing by for North Korea, Syria, etc.).

(Hat tip: Matt Drudge for both links.)

Iwo Jima (2)

Filed under: — Different River @ 11:30 am

Following up on this post: Veterans of the Battle of Iwo Jima returned to the island recently to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the 36-day battle. Here’s an interesting article by James Brooke in the New York Times. Brooke includes some discussion of the Japanese point of view, which is not particlarly flattering, from my perspective. (Though the article makes no judgements, really — for the NYT, it’s suprisingly evenhanded.) He also points out that, “In the 35-day fight for this eight-square-mile volcanic island, 6,821 marines and Navy personnel were killed, more than four times the number of American troops killed in two years in Iraq.” And in the firebombing of Tokyo on March 9-10, 1945, it’s estimated that more than 100,000 were killed — more than by either atomic bomb, a point also made here. (I’m not sure I completely agree with that article, but it definitely makes some good points.)

War is hell. And it was even more hell then than it is now.

UAW won’t “support the troops” anymore

Filed under: — Different River @ 1:18 am

This is probably the only time I’ve ever heard of someone asserting their constitutional rights under the Third Amendment. Though I doubt they know that’s what they’re doing.

The United Auto Workers has its international headquarters near a Marine Reserve Center in Detroit. They have been letting Marine reservists part their cars their while working at the Reserve Center on weekends. But no more — at least, not if for Marines who have pro-Bush bumper-stickers or foreign cars.

From AP:

“While reservists certainly have the right to drive nonunion made vehicles and display bumper stickers touting the most anti-worker, anti-union president since the 1920s, that doesn’t mean they have the right to park in a lot owned by the members of the UAW,” the union said in a statement released Friday.

Shocked and disappointed, the Marines are pulling out.

“You either support the Marines or you don’t,” said Lt. Col. Joe Rutledge, commanding officer of the battalion’s active duty instructors. “I’m telling my Marines that they’re no longer parking there.”

At a time when U.S. armed forces are fighting and dying in Iraq and Afghanistan, quibbling over parking privileges is “silly,” Rutledge said.

The pro-Bush bumper stickers are another sore spot after last year’s election.

UAW President Ron Gettelfinger opposed President Bush, accusing him of ignoring calls for labor law reform and failing to combat unfair business practices in China — a growing threat to U.S. manufacturers.

“We do not think it is unreasonable to expect our guests to practice the simple principle of not insulting their host,” the UAW statement said.

[Lt. Col.] Rutledge is unmoved.

“I don’t see it as a snub against them,” he said, adding no conditions were set when the union first began allowing the Marines to park in the lot several years ago. “We’re appreciative of what they’ve done, but you don’t come into my office and say, ‘OK, we’re not going to support some of your Marines.’ I don’t know what a foreign car is today anyway. BMWs are made in South Carolina now.

One of the great things about the United States of America is that people have the right, under the Third Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, to deny the military access to their property. And one of the lousy things is that some people exercise that right in really nasty ways, like denying our reservists the right to use an empty parking lot on weekends just because they don’t like the reservists’ bumper stickers and choice of cars.

Footnote 1:
I myself buy only American cars, but maybe I should re-evaluate this if the UAW continues to act anti-American.

Footnote 2:
For those of you who don’t remember (which is probably, as you’ll see below, nothing to be embarrassed about), the Third Amendment states:

No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Now I know it says “house,” but given the expansive interpretation the courts have given to the rights in the other Bill of Rights amendments (except the second, of course), I imagine if there were ever a third amendment case (has there been?), they would rule it to apply to all private property, and would include parking cars in the meaning of quartering soldiers.

By the way, one of my favorite “quiz questions” to ask lawyers when we get to talking about law (especially if the lawyer in question expounds on how ignorant the public is of the law) has always been, “What right is protected by the Third Amendment?” I’ve been asking this for about five years now, and exactly one lawyer has gotten it right. So if you didn’t know, don’t worry — if you fell asleep in your civics class, this probably isn’t what you missed. ;-)

UPDATE #1: Rank-and-file Democrats are supporting the UAW’s decision, and further insulting the Marines, on Democratic Underground.

UPDATE #2: The UAW flip-flopped due to bad publicity, but the Marines said they’re not coming back anyway. See here.

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