Monthly Archives: January 2018

RT.com is a menace

RT.com (“Russia Today”) is a menace. I see its articles linked every once in a while as though this is a regular news organization. It’s not. It’s a news organization only in the same sense as Radio Moscow was during the Cold War. Russia is a rival power, and no longer an ideological enemy. It’s still propaganda.

Now they’re upset that “German teens enlist in record numbers thanks to social media drive.” By that, they mean 17 year-olds. This isn’t what people used to think of as “child soldiers.”

Germany now has a record number of children registering to join its army following an intensive social media campaign. More than 2,000 soldiers under the age of 18 served in 2017, according to new figures.

Yes, they said “children.”

It’s still pretty common to join the military at 17. In the U.S., you could once be drafted only at 18, but they’d let you join at 17 with parental permission and (in the modern era) a high school diploma. Until recently, once in, you were just like any other recruit.

This changed slightly in 2002 with the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict. You can still join the military at 17, but they can’t send you into a war zone until your 18th birthday. It’s not a radical change.

Treaties like this aren’t surprises for proper militaries. Negotiators have military advisors in the loop when a treaty is still being written and debated. Once signed and ratified, the respective military manuals are updated to reflect any changes. If a responsible country doesn’t like a treaty, they either don’t ratify it, or they state their reservations. (Reservations are pretty common in treaties.)

This article at Russia Today eventually admits that Germany has the same policy we do — fully in compliance with the treaties it signed — and yet RT.com pretends this is supposed to be an outrage from medieval times.

The definition of a child soldier used to be a kid under 15. People are forgetting what a mess much of the rest of the world was, and still is. It’s all well and good that we’ve settled on 18 for going into combat, but RT.com is watering down some of the true outrages that exist in the world. That is, after all, their job.

Bank heists are inappropriate uses for Google Street View

Planning a heist has never been easier. This is the 21st century: Just pull up a mapping website like Google Maps with Street View to figure out your getaway route.

Fortunately for the rest of us, Louisiana lawmakers added a legal roadblock in 2010 by making this sort of thing against the law. The Volokh Conspiracy (whose name shouldn’t suggest they were planning such crimes) has found that using these tools for a crime will get you an extra year in the slammer. It’s an extra ten years if this was terrorism.

And for what it’s worth, I haven’t gone back to using Google. I use it as an example here because Mr. Volokh uses that. As I’ve said before, I’m a Bing.com user. This is an important point when Google has been going full Big Brother.