Thursday, July 31, 2008


THE Archbishop of Canterbury has called for mutual generosity among Anglican bishops.

Such use of euphemisms at Lambeth! 'Mutual generosity' is just one of them that drives me crazy. Why not just follow the teachings of Jesus, 'Love one another as I have loved you'?

I recall the homily last Sunday at St Paul's in Burlington, in which Stan Baker, the preacher, said (changing slightly one of the readings appointed for the day)
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor Anglican bishops, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.


'Voor de koning te steunen.'

Today, exactly 15 years ago, king Baudouin died in his Spanish holiday home in Motril. He was 62 years old and had been king of the Belgians for 42 years.

A remembrance mass was held (an annual event) at the Onze Lieve Vrouwe church of Laken. It was attended by queen Fabiola (his widow), king Albert (his brother), queen Paola (Albert's wife) and princess Astrid (his niece).

1800 people attended the mass; there were hundreds of visitors per hour in the royal crypt.


Riazat Butt in The Guardian observes Anglican bishops meeting at the Lambeth Conference in England (Thursday 31 July 2008)
Indaba is a Zulu concept and refers to a group meeting where conflicts can be aired and consensus can be reached. It is being used at Lambeth as a way for bishops to discover common ground as well as thrash out their differences. Unfortunately some are taking the idea less than seriously, referring to it as indaba-daba-doo or lambada. One prelate was telling fellow delegates that when they are in a pub having a pint they are indaba.
Apart from some bishops' clumsy remarks, the indabas have indeed been useful in sharing stories and forced conflicting bishops to talk with (rather than at) each other. It is method that intrigues me. In my own parish, we use the African Bible Study method (an extrapolation of the very Anglican read, mark, learn and inwardly digest).

Riazat Butt continues
Ventilation continues to be an issue in Canterbury. Mindful of the torrid atmosphere, a representative from the US Episcopal church wandered into a room to deposit some fans. They quickly disappeared.
The metaphors rush through my mind! The disappearance of the fans causes a stifling of a breeze of fresh air (translate: ruach - the Hebrew word for Om/breath or spirit of God).

Other rich ironies of Lambeth
Bishops worry that, to the outside world, the Anglican Communion is obsessed with sex, especially the gay variety. No purpose would be served by highlighting that of the five colleges on Kent University campus - Darwin, Rutherford, Eliot, Keynes and Woolf - one is named after a lesbian and another is named after a homosexual. And let's not mention the agnostic - Darwin - who is now the poster boy for secularists and atheists everywhere.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


A New York Police Department officer [The Weekly Vice 29 July 2008]
has been re-assigned to desk duty, pending an investigation, after a You Tube video showed the officer body checking a Critical Mass bicyclist off of his bike.

Critical Mass, a bicycle ride normally held on the last Friday of each month as a form of protest against reliance on vehicles and bicyclist/motorist relations, has been a long standing irritation to the New York Police Department.

Although attempts by New York City to ban the event have failed in court, the tradition has created a somewhat adversarial relationship between the riders and NYPD officers who detest the event.

This past Friday, witnesses say a NYPD officer (now identified as 22 year old Officer Patrick Pogan) attacked rider Christopher Long at random, body checking the rider off his bike.

Reportedly, Long was arrested and charged with attempted assault, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. According to the arrest affidavit, Long "deliberately steered his bicycle into the officer, causing both of them to fall to the ground."
It turns out the cop was lying.


Local activist Jimmy Leas sent me an email with an attached article by Scott Ritter who [Truthdig] provides important information about current military acts against Iran, the weak pretexts used for the massive attack planned, and the sham "diplomacy" being conducted in the lead up, all with strong bipartisan support and facilitated by the corporate media.
A major culprit in this entire sordid affair is the mainstream media. Displaying an almost uncanny inability to connect the dots, the editors who run America’s largest newspapers, and the producers who put together America’s biggest television news programs, have collectively facilitated the most simplistic, inane and factually unfounded story lines coming out of the Bush White House. The most recent fairy tale was one of “diplomacy,” on the part of one William Burns, the No. 3 diplomat in the State Department.
Sending a relatively obscure official like Burns to “observe” a meeting between the European Union and Iran, with instructions not to interact, not to initiate, not to discuss, cannot under any circumstances be construed as diplomacy. Any student of diplomatic history could tell you this. And yet the esteemed editors and news producers used the term diplomacy, without challenge or clarification, to describe Burns’ mission to Geneva on July 19. The decision to send him there was hailed as a “significant concession” on the part of the Bush administration, a step away from war and an indication of a new desire within the White House to resolve the Iranian impasse through diplomacy. How this was going to happen with a diplomat hobbled and muzzled to the degree Burns was apparently skipped the attention of these writers and their bosses. Diplomacy, America was told, was the new policy option of choice for the Bush administration.
Jimmy wrote: Though not explicitly mentioned in the article, the reader comes away with an understanding of the real reason the Congressional leadership opposes impeachment. Representatives may say it has to do with politics or the elections. (They do not seem to mind being accused of putting politics ahead of their oaths of office). The congressional leadership actually keeps impeachment off the table because they support the Bush/Cheney wars of aggression and all the unfortunate violations that go with them, including setting up the apparatus to dissuade dissent at home, such as spying on Americans, detention without trial, and cruel and unusual punishment. The congressional leadership has demonstrated its support by funding the wars. They want impeachment off the table because they don't want to stop the impeachable offenses. And they are united in wanting to do it all again in Iran. They are just waiting for a way to persuade the American people that Iran is to blame before moving forward. They put impeachment off the table because the wars of aggression and the rest of the impeachable offenses are a bipartisan policy.

Monday, July 28, 2008


No, not this one, but this one.

Barack Obama's trip was all about Israel, "its needs" and "its security." He even made a trip to the Western Wall that's making headlines around the world. Except he forgot to visit the other one. One that symbolizes oppression and a violation of human rights.
As much as he admires Reagan, you did not hear Obama demand, "tear down this wall," did you?

Friday, July 25, 2008


1. GO: Listen to the House Judiciary Committee hearing this morning on Vermont's own WGDR, either on the radio or by going to its website and clicking on one of the links on the left for high speed or dial up.

2. "If You Must Impeach, Please Do It Politely" - CQ Politics

3. "Conyers blasted on Bush probe" Detroit News


Jessica Tanner, Green Democratic Alliance member, local environmental activist, and now a videographer, took advantage of Channel 17's classes in video production and went out and around Burlington to film and direct a PSA for CCTA:


Thanks to Green Left Infoasis, there's an interview with Dennis Perrin - remember his Red State Son blog? - the author of Savage Mules, a scathing indictment of the Democratic Party.
GLI: In your book you document the Democratic Party's history of militarism and imperialism. In the 2004 Avocado Declaration, Ralph Nader's former Vice presidential running mate Peter Camejo pointed out that "since the Civil War, without exception, the Democratic Party has opposed all mass struggles for democracy and social justice". Considering this long and ignoble history, how does the Party retain its reputation as a progressive antiwar party?

DP: There've been antiwar elements within the Democratic Party for some time, but they're pretty marginal. George McGovern ran the closest thing to an antiwar Dem campaign there ever was, with certain qualifications, naturally, but light years from what Obama is promising. When McGovern got trounced by Nixon, that type of campaign was discredited and never returned. "McGovernite" became a dirty word, especially among liberals. Jesse Jackson ran on some social justice issues in 1984 and '88, and was really good on Central America and southern Africa. But as you may have noticed, he never snagged the Dem nomination.

The Democratic Party of today is a corporate/imperial war party. End of story. It cannot be reformed or redeemed. It simply serves too much private power to ever become a "people's" party. Any hope for political change must happen outside of the two party system. But as you can presently see, not a lot of people seem all that interested in such a challenge. They'd rather vote, cross their fingers, and hope for the best. They are in the way, but in a sense, they always have been.
When I went to the Barnes and Noble store in South Burlington, naturally, it was not displayed with the newly arrived Obamaniac selections; it was not even in stock. So I berated the clerk for that and I placed an order. I'm looking forward to its arrival next week.

And here are a few choice paragraphs from Louis Proyect's review.
What you will not find is anything quite like Dennis Perrin’s “Savage Mules”, a slashing attack on the Democratic Party so badly needed in a time when so many false hopes are now invested in the party of “peace” and “progress”. “Savage Mules” is a pithy, sharp and funny survey of Democratic presidencies (and failed bids) going back to Woodrow Wilson that takes no prisoners. While it was written prior to the rise of Obamamania, it would certainly provide a useful corrective to a “change” campaign that seems to be recycling the centrism of the past 30 years at least.

Perrin is writing in the tradition of Howard Zinn and other radical critics of American corporate power but has his own voice that is really unique. It shares the outrage of a Jon Stewart or a Bill Maher (for whom he used to write jokes) but dares to go where they dare not.
Cross-posted at Green Democratic Alliance blog.

Thursday, July 24, 2008


Ken Picard writes this morning that BT and AJE have signed a contract.
What effect today's announcement will have on the recent effort to bring the issue to voters is unclear. A recently formed group called the Defenders Council of Vermont is collecting signatures to put the matter to a public vote in the November general election.
The zionist cabal and its rightwing supporters will either get creamed or just won't get enough signatures to put it on the ballot.

(With thanks to Haik Bedrosian.)


Sudan is at war: should Gene Robinson resign?

I've not been down to Canterbury, to get a hands on feel for the Lambeth Conference. Beneath the headlines, there are no doubt many humane and humbling encounters being experienced by participants. But the headlines do seem to be taking a nosedive.

Yesterday, the Archbishop of Sudan called for his fellow American and openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson, to resign. He spoke of the difficulty gay bishops and blessings causes him in his war torn country. 'We are called infidel by the Islamic world,' he said. 'Immediately it gives them the way out to tell the other people, these people are evil and they can even harm our people more.'

This is no doubt a serious charge. That recognised, it clearly isn't the case that Robinson is the cause of strife in Sudan. Rather, his name has become a slogan within a much larger discourse of hate. If Robinson did resign, you can bet your bottom dollar there are other sticks that Muslims in that place would pick up to beat the 'infidel'.

Moreover, homophobia kills many too. As a reminder of this, Robinson is at Canterbury, if not at Lambeth, accompanied by body guards and wearing a bulletproof vest.

In short, two evils do not make a good: ostracising a gay bishop to tackle religious violence is not a recipe for peace. Difficult though it is, the only hope must be to keep firmly focused on what you believe to be true - or, as one would hope a Christian should say, on what you believe to be godly. Violence is not godly. Homophobia is not godly. Gene Robinson should stay.
And this uncharitable behaviour doesn't help, either.


“I’ve played Irish mothers, Jewish mothers, Italian mothers, Southern mothers, mothers in plays by Neil Simon and Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams. I’ve played mother to everyone but Attila the Hun.”

Bea Arthur said in a statement, "Our mother-daughter relationship was one of the greatest comic duos ever, and I will miss her." Betty White commented, "The only comfort at this moment is that although Estelle has moved on, Sophia will always be with us." And Rue McClanahan told the Associated Press, "Don't feel sad about her passing. She will always be with us in her crowning achievement, Sophia."


And I subscribe to both. You just knew it would happen. (H/T to White House For Sale.) Vanity Fair has joined in with its OTT cover. Pardon the metaphor, but it's like beating the dead horse (and the dog days are a week away!)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


The Progressive Wanker, in a desperate attempt to woo disaffected Democrats, will run as an independent in November. Even running as a Prog, Pollina would have got maybe 10% of votes? The Progressive Party of Vermont has been in demise-mode for a while, but this is the death knell par excellence. I'll have to get out to Battery Street to see if the Pollina sign is still out in front of Prog headquarters. If he's collected all those signatures as the Prog candidate, you bettah believe it he'll have to start all over again. GMD has some theories behind his political flip-flop.
I still won't vote for him.

Saturday, July 12, 2008



'Facebook Generation' Faces Identity Crisis

Dr Himanshu Tyagi, a psychiatrist at West London Mental Health Trust, said that people born after 1990, who were just five-years-old or younger when the use of Internet became mainstream in 1995, have grown up in a world dominated by online social networks
such as Facebook and MySpace.

"This is the age group involved with the Bridgend suicides and what many of these young people had in common was their use of Internet to communicate. It's a world where everything moves fast and changes all the time, where relationships are quickly disposed at the click of a mouse, where you can delete your profile if you don't like it and swap an unacceptable identity in the blink of an eye for one that is more acceptable," said Dr Tyagi. "People used to the quick pace of online social networking may soon find the real world boring and unstimulating, potentially leading to more extreme behaviour to get that sense.
Thanks to Mark Vernon (read his comments here) and TA for alerting me to this article


I'VE blogged about Michael DeBakey here and here. Today's news from Houston is that Dr DeBakey died yesterday at Methodist Hospital, where he practised cardiovascular surgeon since 1949!
Medical statesman, chancellor emeritus of Baylor College of Medicine, and a surgeon at The Methodist Hospital since 1949, DeBakey trained thousands of surgeons over several generations, achieving legendary status decades before his death. During his career, he estimated he had performed more than 60,000 operations. His patients included the famous — Russian President Boris Yeltsin and movie actress Marlene Dietrich among them — and the uncelebrated.
Debakey almost died in 2006, when he suffered an aortic aneurysm, a condition for which he pioneered the treatment. He is considered the oldest patient to have both undergone and survived surgery for it. He recovered well enough to go to Washington earlier this year to receive the Congressional Gold Medal, one of the nation's two highest civilian honors.

He remained vigorous and was a player in medicine well into his 90s, performing surgeries, traveling and publishing articles in scientific journals. His large hands were steady, his hearing sharp. His personal health regimen included taking the stairs at work and a single cup of coffee in the morning.

Friday, July 11, 2008


WE can't put it past them.
The US is now permitting Israeli planes to use Iraqi air space and American air bases in Iraq - they presumably don't have to ask Maliki what he thinks about it. And though it has sort of slipped into the recesses of media memory, the recent Iranian missile tests were preceded by Israeli military exercises in the Mediterranean. The US is already escalating its campaign of subversion and terrorism inside Iran. Every major contender in US politics, including Barack 'sweetie' Obama, has to pay lip service to the supposed threat from Iran - about which something must be done.


In this video, Brent Foster, the State Conservation Chair for the Oregon Sierra Club, explains why he came to oppose water fluoridation.

An Environmental Professional Speaks Out on Water Fluoridation from Fluoride Action Network on Vimeo


It happens at every election cycle (is it a purely American thing? seems so). The candidate dances to the right and the media holds his hand. As Richard at American Leftist writes,
After all, a presidential campaign is primarily a media driven exercise in mythology. It is more important to present oneself to the media as innocuous, as yet another in a line of safe, conformist political figures, so that the media can, paradoxically, present the candidate as larger than life, capable of forging a profound emotional bound with the public so that he can comfortably assumes powers of near omnipotence.

This is what we observe transpiring on a daily basis with Barack Obama. He's getting tougher on Iran, he's signalling a willingness to be flexible about how he will withdraw US troops from Iraq, he's now for the death penalty even in instances without the loss of life and he wasn't willing to fight to prevent Congress from granting immunity to telecommunications companies that illegally wiretapped US citizens at the direction of the White House. It's all about showing how reasonable he is, you see. It's a long way from working as a community organizer in Chicago, but Obama probably draws upon similar skills to effectively disarm his media critics.



Archaeologists to refuse help over possible Iran strike

PERSEPOLIS, once the capital of the Persian empire, and the massive mud-brick Bam citadel are among the nine listed World Heritage Sites in Iran. Yet leading archaeologists are urging colleagues to refuse any military requests to draw up a list of Iranian sites that should be exempted from air strikes.

"Such advice would provide cultural credibility and respectability to the military action," said a resolution agreed by the World Archaeological Congress in Dublin, Ireland, last week. Instead, delegates were advised to emphasise the harm that any military action would do to Iran's people and heritage.

During the invasion of Iraq in 2003, bombing damaged important monuments, including the Al-Zohur Palace in Baghdad, and museums and archaeological sites were later looted - even though archaeologists had been consulted in advance. "If these archaeologists had little impact in terms of saving even the few selected archaeological sites listed, what did they achieve?" asks Yannis Hamilakis of the University of Southampton, UK.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


Buckingham Palace has sent a Message from H.M. The Queen

To the citizens of the United States of America from Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

In light of your failure in recent years to nominate competent candidates for President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective immediately.

Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths, and territories (except Kansas , which she does not fancy).

Your new Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, will appoint a Governor for America without the need for further elections.

Congress and the Senate will be disbanded.

A questionnaire may be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed.

To aid in the transition to a British Crown dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:

(You should look up 'revocation' in the Oxford English Dictionary.)

1. Then look up aluminium, and check the pronunciation guide. You will be amazed at just how wrongly you have been pronouncing it.


2. The letter 'U' will be reinstated in words such as 'colour', 'favour', 'labour' and 'neighbour.' Likewise, you will learn to spell 'doughnut' without skipping half the letters, and the suffix '-ize' will be replaced by the suffix '-ise'. Generally, you will be expected to raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels. (look up 'vocabulary').


3. Using the same twenty-seven words interspersed with filler noises such as 'like' and 'you know' is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication. There is no such thing as US English. We will let M*crosoft know on your behalf. The M*crosoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take into account the reinstated letter 'u' and the elimination of -ize.


4. July 4th will no longer be celebrated as a holiday.


5. You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers, or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you're not quite ready to be independent. Guns should only be used for shooting grouse. If you can't sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist then you're not ready to shoot grouse.


6. Therefore, you will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous than a vegetable peeler. Although a permit will be required if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.


7. All intersections will be replaced with roundabouts, and you will start driving on the left side with immediate effect. At the same time, you will go metric with immediate effect and without the benefit of conversion tables.

Both roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour.


8. The former USA will adopt UK prices on petrol (which you have been calling gasoline) of roughly $10/US gallon. Get used to it.


9. You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call French fries are not real chips, and those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called crisps. Real chips are thick cut, fried in animal fat, and dressed not with catsup but with vinegar.


10. The cold tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not actually beer at all. Henceforth, only proper British Bitter will be referred to as beer, and European brews of known and accepted provenance will be referred to as Lager. South African beer is also acceptable as they are pound for pound the greatest sporting nation on earth and it can only be due to the beer. They are also part of British Commonwealth - see what it did for them. American brands will be referred to as Near-Frozen Gnat's Urine, so that all can be sold without risk of further confusion.


11. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as good guys. Hollywood will also be required to cast English actors to play English characters. Watching Andie Macdowell attempt English dialogue in
Four Weddings and a Funeral was an experience akin to having one's ears removed with a cheese grater.


12. You will cease playing American football. There is only one kind of proper football; you call it soccer. Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which has some similarities to American football, but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body armour like a bunch of nancies). Don't try rugby - the South Africans and Kiwis will thrash you, like they regularly thrash us.


13. Further, you will stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to host an event called the World Series for a game which is not played outside of America. Since only 2.1% of you are aware there is a world beyondyour borders, your error is understandable. You will learn cricket, and we will let you face the South Africans first to take the sting out of their deliveries.


14. You must tell us who killed JFK. It's been driving us mad.


15. An internal revenue agent (i.e. tax collector) from Her Majesty's Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all monies due (backdated to 1776).


16. Daily Tea Time begins promptly at 4 pm with proper cups, with saucers, and never mugs, with high quality biscuits (cookies) and cakes; plus strawberries (with cream) when in season.

God Save the Queen!
And you know - ipso facto - this means the Episcopal Church and the GAFCONISTAS can take a hike. Since HM is the Defender of the Faith, the Church of England now becomes the Established Religion throughout the Land!

(Go ahead and share this with your friends in the USA - those with a good sense of humour and NOT humor.)

Monday, July 7, 2008


TWO not-so-unrelated stories from the Netherlands

A growing mountain of manure
The Netherlands is faced with a growing excess of manure from intensive farming, with the surplus due to reach 8% by 2015, newspaper Trouw reports on Monday.

Quoting figures from the agricultural economic institute LEI, the paper says tougher environmental rules mean farmers can spray even less manure on their fields than they used to, while the quantity of manure being produced is going up.
The stress and urge of rail travel - without facilities
Travelling by train is a relaxed and environment-friendly way of getting about. You can leave the car at home and sit back with a newspaper or book and a cup of coffee. It is a way of travel much to be encouraged.

But beware. In future you will have to forego the cup of coffee, because Dutch Rail plans to drastically reduce the number of toilets on trains and railway stations.
People with bladder disorders will be the hardest hit, but most of us have been caught short at one time or another. And what happens if there is a delay during the journey?

If the advice given to one bladder patient is anything to go by, we will all be expected to carry a plastic bag just in case.
I suppose people with fecal incontinence will have to wear diapers? Or else the other passengers will have to climb over ev'ry mountain!


Wednesday, July 2, 2008


ISRAELI zionists have got a taste of their favourite toy, the bulldozer. In the linked story and video, the Israeli authorities labeled the man a 'terrorist,' (how typical) and the Guardian wrote that he had a 'criminal' record.


She said "only the little people pay taxes," as a hotelier she treated her employes with disdain, and apparently Trouble got cheated, too. Leona Helmsley left instructions that a trust valued at $5 billion to $8 billion be used for the welfare of dogs. What Mrs Helmsley has done has been done before by Geraldine Dodge: the St Hubert's Animal Welfare Center in Madison, NJ was initially established back in 1939.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


Still no clear picture of cost of royalty
Officially the royal household cost €114m last year, but a number of expenses are still unclear. And according to the Volkskrant, the queen’s household overspent its official budget by €650,000 – a shortfall ‘secretly’ covered by the home affairs ministry.
The 'students' priest' dies aged 91
Jesuit priest Jan van Kilsonk, who came to Amsterdam to work at the Ignatsius college and spent most of his life with young people and students, has died at the age of 91.

Van Kilsonk was a controversial figure, who defended the rights of homosexuals and campaigned against the vow of celibacy for Catholic priests, news agency ANP reports.
We're not talking Park 'n Ride
The number of cars in the Netherlands is set to rise from seven million to nine million, making more parking spaces essential, the [Christian Democrat] party says. The country currently has between nine million and 15 million public parking spaces, news agency ANP reports.
Fingerprint payment already hacked
Equipment used to let customers at an Albert Heijn supermarket in Breukelen pay by fingerprint has already been fooled by a rubber copy, news agency ANP reports, quoting website Webwereld.

A man went through the till system with a rubber copy of someone else’s fingerprint on his own finger. Neither the system nor the till operator noticed, ANP said.

Albert Heijn said the system was being tested so the company could learn from mistakes and make improvements.
No gay relationships at Protestant schools
The Netherlands’ 165 staunchly Protestant schools are standing firm on sacking homosexual teachers who are in a relationship with another man or woman, the Volkskrant reports on Tuesday.

The schools made their standpoint clear in a paper on homosexuality which was presented to education minister Ronald Plasterk on Monday.

Plasterk said the law does allow education on the basis of religious convictions but said he was still in talks with schools about what to do if a gay teacher married.
And finally...
Last gasp
Tuesday 01 July 2008

From today, the Netherlands has joined the majority of the rest of Europe in bringing in a ban on smoking in public places such as shopping centres, in bars, cafés and restaurants.

The catering industry warns that hundreds of small bars will go out of business because of the ban. The pro-ban lobby argues that hundreds of thousands of people who avoided smoky drinking dens will return to take advantage of clean air.

The sight of hardened smokers puffing themselves silly as midnight approached sums up the new puritan mood. Smokers are poor addicts to be pitied.

But even a number of non-smokers think the government has gone to far on this one. Whatever happened to individual freedom? they argue. After all, no one is forcing you to enter a bar where smoking is allowed.

But what the freedom-of-choice lobby forgets is that smoking is not only about individual freedom. It also costs society an awful lot of money. Smokers take more time off work sick and use up a higher proportion of healthcare cash. And just by being, they encourage new smokers to take up the habit.

Of course, tobacco taxes help pay for all that. But perhaps if the government really wants to hammer the message home, it should increase the tax on cigarettes to ridiculous levels. That way smokers will understand that their individual freedom comes at a heavy cost.