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Lately the Tea Partiers and other US conservatives have been co-opting some libertarian ideas like ending Social Security and the Federal Reserve

ILLUSTRATION COURTESY OF THE ATLANTIS PROJECT Lately the Tea Partiers and other US conservatives have been co-opting some libertarian ideas like ending Social Security and the Federal Reserve, but there’s at least one notion that’s too fringe even for the Republican primary: seasteading, which is when you and your buddies get together and build an artificial island in international waters that will become its own country. No one’s ever done this successfully, but some people have tried, including Eric Klien, whose effort to create a seastead called the Atlantis Project in the early 90s fizzled out due to lack of interest. He remains captivated by outlandish ideas (he currently runs the Lifeboat Foundation, which is devoted to making sure humans don’t kill themselves off), so we called him up to see just how crazy he is. VICE: How did the Atlantis Project get started?
Eric Klien: I had a Libertarian candidate running for the state senate in Nevada and there was a lot of election fraud at the time, and that annoyed me so much I decided, well, let me start my own country. Seasteaders, including the currently active Seasteading Institute, are pretty much all libertarians. Why haven’t other utopian-minded people, like communists, tried to build artificial countries?
Because communists have had no problem getting their own country. And in the past they’ve had really big countries like China. The closest thing to a libertarian country is the United States, and that’s why you’ll also find that the libertarians doing these things are based out of the United States and not a European country. So lots of people are talking about it, but do you think anyone’s going to step up and construct a floating country anytime soon?
The Seasteading Institute, since they’re backed by a billionaire, is capable of doing something small somewhere. You could at least put a boat somewhere and call it a country. You could do that tomorrow. The problem would be how to make that sustainable.
If I was going to try to make it sustainable, one way would be to make the boat into a hospital-type ship where you offer the latest medical technologies, because in the US, the FDA takes years and years to approve stuff. That’s actually why I bought the domain, because I was thinking I might do that. What do you think about the idea that you start a country by having individual families or small groups of people start seasteads and then clump them together over time?
It’s difficult, because people don’t work well together. Especially libertarians.
Yes, I’m well aware of that. You somehow have to have an organization that’s cohesive enough that it will expand very rapidly to like 100 families so it won’t evaporate on you.


Photos courtesy of Mayo Clinic Great news for cats with AIDS and millionaires whose kids are already tired of the slave they got in their stocking for Labor Day. Scientists have genetically modified cats by infecting their eggs with a virus containing a foreign gene, resulting in a psychedelic litter of glow-in-the-dark kittens. The glowing effect allows scientists to see if their gene insertion worked, but otherwise has no purpose (apart from generally tripping us the fuck out). Evidently, if you can make a cat glow in the dark, you may be able to make it impervious to feline AIDS. The team behind the study did not return VICE’s request for a comment on how the hell that is supposed to work. The isolated Nanti live deep in Peru’s Kugapakori-Nahua Reserve and are under threat from land invasions and disease.

PHOTO COURTESY OF SURVIVAL INTERNATIONAL Back in August, an indigenous tribe disappeared from the depths of the western Brazilian Amazon after a group of Peruvian drug traffickers was rumored to have invaded their area. Little media attention was paid to the incident, and the tribe has yet to be found. Now, another group of native people is in trouble, this time in southeast Peru. The tribe has been bribed with stationery, medicine, and jobs so that big companies like Pluspetrol can open up the land for oil exploration. We talked to a press officer at Survival International, a tribal advocacy organization, about why this situation is a royal bummer. VICE: Why are these tribes isolated from the world?
Christina Chauvenet: The tribes choose to be. They are aware of the outside world, but often have very negative experiences with outsiders coming into their land. They also have a very strong connection to their ancestral land and don’t see any reason to leave. I read about the missing tribe on in August, but every time I mentioned it to someone they had no idea what I was talking about. Why are people unaware?
There is an increasing amount of media coverage, but oftentimes governments are the primary perpetrators of violations against tribal people’s rights, and they do everything they can to restrict information about the situations of tribal people from getting out. Such is the case in West Papua, where journalists and human rights researchers are not allowed in the country. Also, many people have negative views of tribal people, thinking that they should be assimilated into mainstream society because their way of life is “backward.” However, when development or “progress” is forced on tribal people, the result is almost always catastrophic: poverty, disease, depression, and early death. OK, but we deal with all those things. Why should these tribes be protected?
First, there is the issue of basic human rights. These groups are under serious threat of losing their lives and livelihoods if their land is not protected. Last year, the last member of the Boa tribe in the Andaman Islands died, which meant the end of an entire culture. When you think about the end of cultures, it’s a serious threat to human diversity. Tribal people are also the best conservationists. They take care of their lands, and when their livelihoods are protected, so are the areas they inhabit, which are some of the most pristine areas in the world.


PHOTO BY MICHAEL HUEBNER When Emad Daiki first heard of the outbreak of rebellion against Gaddafi’s regime, he quickly returned home to Misurata, Libya, to support the fight for liberation. But instead of picking up arms, Emad tossed together some dough, cheese, and tomato sauce and began a free pizza delivery service to the front line. For years Emad ran a successful pizzeria in Stockholm, and those skills, coupled with the help of some fellow Libyans, donated ingredients, and a few ovens, allow Emad to bake 10,000 slices daily, with deliveries to the front line three times a day. There may not be much diversity as far as the menu goes (it’s a basic cheese pizza with a small amount of tuna on top), but it’s been a massive morale booster to weary rebels. And how does it taste? “Well, it tastes great,” says Michael Huebner, a photographer who visited the pizzeria during his time spent in Libya. “It tastes like a pizza you would have in one of those small stores on the streets of Europe.” Mamma mia!

ILLUSTRATION BY HANNAH KUNKLE Like any good pimp, the government of Bonn, Germany, doesn’t play games with its paper—hoes have to pay up. However, the backdoor nature of the streetwalking trade has made it hard for the tax man to collect. Now the city has instituted new sex-tax machines, which look like ATMs and sell temporary prostitution licenses. Hookers have to purchase €6 tickets from these machines to conduct a lawful night of fucking for cash. Although the administration of this new tax is unique, Germany has a long history of regulated sex work dating back to the 1920s. Even the uptight Nazis, who claimed to oppose prostitution, had state-run brothels for soldiers and privileged prisoners in concentration camps. We talked with German historian Atina Grossman about Germany’s long history of whoring and taxing the whores they love to whore with. VICE: Up until now, brothel workers were the only sex professionals who were forced to pay taxes and they are still the only ones who pay a progressive income tax. Does that give them a sense of prestige over the ATM-paying streetwalkers?
Atina Grossman: Historically there has always been this contradiction. There were the “wild” prostitutes who we call streetwalkers. They could move in and out of the occupation, turning tricks now and then. And then there were those who worked in brothels, which were more professional and might have had their own doctors.
Do you think the logic that came up with taxing hookers through a machine is a product of Germany’s distinct culture?
It takes a certain kind of mind to come up with an idea like that—everything has to be orderly. If everybody else pays taxes, you can’t allow one group to evade it. The practice also speaks to a society that assumes that it’s in the public interest to pay taxes, which is different from the US. German people think that you pay taxes because you expect things from the state. Doesn’t taxation lead to more legitimacy for people in the sex industry? Why are sex-worker advocates opposed to the tax?
Organized sex workers have been active in Germany since the 1920s. I think these groups are willing to pay their fair share of taxes. What some groups are upset about is the districting quality of these measures. They feel like they are being marginalized to one place.

PHOTO COURTESY OF AP PHOTO/ALEXANDRE MENEGHINI Los Zetas are learning it’s not an easy gig being Mexico’s most notorious drug cartel. Along with the grisly rep, body snatching, and public brutality comes some intense heat from el presidente Felipe Calderón Hinojosa and his army of federal and local officers. The Mexican Navy just arrested 80 Zetas and dismantled a complex telecommunications network they built in Veracruz, a state that has been plagued by the rivalrous turf war between the Zetas and the Gulf Cartel. The network included high-tech stuff like solar panels and antennae for two-way radios—important tools for doing dastardly gangster shit. High-ranking members of the Zetas have also been targeted by the police officials. Femme fatale Mireya Moreno Carreón, the first woman linked to the leadership of the Zetas’ Monterrey operations, was recently arrested by authorities in San Nicolas de los Garza. These crackdowns come in the wake of national mourning after a fire at the Casino Royale in Monterrey was allegedly set by Zetas and killed 52 people. The attack, which police suspect was in retaliation for nonpayment of extortion money, shocked Mexico because the majority of the victims were middle-class women. With the pressure on, the Ministry of Public Security has reported that the Zetas are purging their weakest links, executing people in their ranks who are minors, have been recruited in recent months, or have ever violated orders. This intel was gleaned from suspects arrested for the Casino Royale fire. The Zetas better do something, because Calderón’s war against the cartels is only going to get tougher. Nearly $11.8 billion has been budgeted for agencies dedicated to fighting cartels like the Zetas, which is an 11 percent increase from 2011.