We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]


This article is from nearly a week ago, but it is of interest still, I think:

Newspaper owners responsible for publishing racist or xenophobic articles in Britain are to be protected from being sent for trials abroad under government plans to soften the impact of the new Extradition Bill.

Ministers will introduce amendments today to tough European-wide laws that allow courts to extradite EU citizens accused of committing one of 32 generic criminal offences.

Concerns raised by the media that they could fall foul of the new law when it comes into force in January have prompted the Government to act to remove the threat of prosecution.

The Bill makes “xenophobia and racism” one of 32 crimes for which a British citizen can be sent for trial in another EU country – such as Germany or Austria, where it is illegal – although there is no such standalone offence in this country.

But because British newspapers are sold abroad and their articles are published on the internet, editors and their proprietors could face prosecution for racist offences committed in this country.

I can’t say I understand the full ramification of this, but my brain is abuzz with questions.

For instance. Will these amendments apply only to newspaper proprietors, or will, for example, the proprietors of group blogs be exempt also, in similar circumstances? If one of us junior contributors here did a White Rose posting that the government of Austria deemed to be xenophobic or racist, would Gabriel and Perry, the named organisers of White Rose, then still be in the firing line? Or do these amendments apply to them as well?

Looking at the larger picture here, the stink of this piece is that “Europe” is a place where what seems to matter is not what you have done but who you are.

What’s so special about these newspaper proprietors, other than that they have the power to affect the fortunes of major politicians? Are they like the drivers of fire engines needing to exceed the regular speed limits? I suppose they would argue that, metaphorically speaking, this is indeed what they are, sort of. They are our protectors, and therefore they themselves need special protection.

But one fears, on the contrary, that maybe these big media newspapers may ease off on their concern-raising about the other 31 of those 32 generic criminal offences – and about, you know, things in general – just so long as they themselves are not directly threatened by the new arrangements. One fears, in other words, that in exchange for their own protection, they’ll relax about protecting the rest of us.

Still, at least the Indy gave these other 31 criminal offences a passing mention. Can anyone say, or point to a place which does say, what they all are?

Lords on vitamins

The Telegraph has an update about the vote in the House of Lords on the European Union curbs on the sale of vitamins and mineral food supplements.

Peers voted by a majority of 53 last night to call upon ministers to revoke regulations due to implement the EU’s Food Supplements Directive in August 2005. But Health Minister Lord Warner said the vote would make no difference.

The UK is obliged to implement the directive. Failure to transpose its requirements properly would be a serious breach of our obligations under the EC Treaty and would result in infraction proceedings against the UK and in the likelihood of our facing heavy fines. Ultimately, implementation would be forced upon us.

A nasty taste

An opinion piece in today’s Telegraph alerts the readers:

A dangerous and disagreeable piece of legislation comes before the House of Lords today. In order to implement the EU’s directive on higher-dose vitamin supplements, the Government proposes to ban nearly 300 products currently on sale in our health stores.

The proscription of these vitamins is the first in a series of EU regulations dealing with alternative remedies. A second directive, covering herbal medicines, is already clanking its way through the machinery of state. There are proposals to regulate homoeopathy, and even to require a standard European qualification for herbalists (who, in England and Wales, have operated under a statute dating from Tudor times).

These restrictions are driven by something called “the precautionary principle”. The concept, emanating from Brussels and very popular with the EU types “holds that nothing should be legal until it can be shown to be safe”. In other words, it reverses the burden of proof.

The issue is not one of science, but of freedom. Here is a horrible demonstration of how the EU system can work, elevating corporate interests over individuals, and tossing aside all considerations of liberty and fairness in pursuit of harmonisation.

Voting against the legislation is, alas, only a gesture, since EU rules come into force automatically in Britain, but it is a gesture that should be made none the less.

Treated like criminals

EU Observer has an article about the European Commission’s proposal to treat European citizens as criminals or at least as criminal suspects. No really.

Apparently, the heads of state for EU countries who met in Greece last week have given the ‘green light’ to the process of collection of biometric data such as fingerprints, iris scan or DNA for a chip inbedded in the passports of all EU citizens.

Thomas Rupp of the European Referendum Campaign is not impressed:

Somehow – obviously – I suffer from a clash of realities: Didn’t a lot of people last year talk about “democratisation” of the European Union and making it more “citizen friendly”? – Right: this event was called the “Convention on the Future of Europe”. Obviously the future of Europe now begins with the need of EU citizens to provide their most intimate data to the state.


Provided this law will pass and they ask me for my personal data… Shall I give my fingerprints – or even my DNA – to a growing state which does not fulfil the minimum standards of a modern democracy? Where there is no separation of powers? That has a parliament, which has no right to initiate law? Where – instead – non-elected public servants have the monopoly to initiate law, which in the end is decided by the executives of the member states – avoiding control by their national parliaments?


Suppose I refuse to give away my fingerprints? What would happen? Would I immediately be classified a criminal? Someone who has to hide something, with bad intentions? Would I have to go to jail? Would I have to leave the European Union?

Well, rhetorical questions aside, there are no surprises here from the European Commission.

Link via World Watch Daily.