When Australian lawyer (and atheist) Alex Stewart allegedly rolled marijuana “joints” from pages of the Bible and Koran and smoked them on YouTube, he quickly learned that many Muslims do not share the sufferance demonstrated by Western Christians, who have become accustomed to such conduct. Neither the Australian government nor Christians posed a threat to Stewart, but Muslim leaders were quick to try to avert violence from their community; Stewart found it necessary to go into hiding.

smokingWith tobacco smuggling on the rise because of high taxes on cigarettes in the United Kingdom, Scottish government officials and anti-smoking activists met in Perth, Scotland, on September 20 to discuss ways to combat such smuggling, according to the Courier of Dundee, Scotland. The outcome of their meeting will be a report to the Scottish government.

Raul Diaz of the Mexican Superintendence of Tax Administration confirmed this week that the Mexican government intends to build a wall along the Mexican/Guatemalan border. Diaz claims that the official purpose of the wall is to prevent the passage of contraband, but has also admitted “It could also prevent the free passage of illegal immigrants.”

Since the advent of the income tax, it has been obvious that governments believe that their citizens’ earnings actually belong to the government first and that citizens should simply be grateful for whatever pittance their overlords let them keep. Payroll deductions, such as those for income tax, Social Security, and Medicare, have made that state of affairs even plainer; the money is extracted from the employee’s paycheck before he ever sees it.

Frank Dikotter, an historian from Hong Kong, has been allowed wide access to Chinese Communist Party archives. Speaking at the Independent Literary Festival, Dikotter described Mao Zedong as the greatest mass murderer in human history. According to the historian, the entire death toll from the Second World War was 55 million people. Mao alone was responsible for the death of a mind-numbing 55 million in the years after the war.