bye bye free speech in US?

John Irish jirish at MWEB.COM.NA
Wed Mar 31 14:55:50 CST 2004

Leah Larkin wrote:

> Although this isn't technically a "speech" issue, I just discovered
> that my pending USDA permit to import dead insect specimens has a ban
> on importations from certain countries, such as Cuba, North Korea,
> Iran, Iraq and Libya.  I have no idea how long this particular rule
> has been in effect, but I fail to see how a few dead bees from Iraq
> might pose a threat to the US' national interests.

This idiocy reminds me of the 1980's, when major institutions sometimes
refused to allow South African taxonomists to loan literature or
material, not to mention types. For some reason they tended to extend
this to Namibians as well. On one memorable day I first heard from the
South African Foundation for Research Development that they wouldn't
consider my funding application because I 'was not a South African',
then I got a letter from the British Museum, declining my loan request
because I 'was a South African'.

Their pettiness in no way influenced the eventual turn of events in this
part of the world, and I don't expect the regulations quoted above will
have any impact on the 'war on terrorism' (or whatever it's currently
called) either.


Dr. John Irish
Biosystematics Coordinator: Namibia
Tel./SMS: +264-81-269-6602; Fax +264-61-258153
P.O. Box 21148, Windhoek
Namibia Biosystematics Web Portal:

"The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits
to grow sharper - E. Phillpots"

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