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International spying has turned world into a giant beauty salon

June 19, 2013

It’s hard to believe it was better than 20 years ago, but when Cas Taylor was chairman of the Maryland House of Delegates Economic Matters Committee, he once pulled his members off the floor to deal with “a Southern Maryland problem.”

The next day he did the same, saying “we’re still working on that Southern Maryland problem.”

It was some time later that we — keen investigative journalists that we were — discovered that the “Southern Maryland problem” they had been working so tirelessly on was actually a 15-pound Smithfield ham. Cas looked out for his committee members, and they looked out for him.

But what are patriotic American lawmakers to do now that Smithfield is being sold to the Chinese? What’s the new motto going to be: “If you liked our drywall you’ll love our pork chops?”

According to press accounts, Shuanghui International, China’s largest pork producer, will buy Smithfield, allowing American pork products to be available for export to Asian markets.


Shuanghui, which goes by the Americanized name of Shineway (a missed opportunity considering that Swineway would have been even better), was accused in 2011 of feeding chemicals to livestock that proved to be harmful to humans.

And that is different from what we do over here, how? I mean, we can claim superiority over foreign nations in a lot of ways if we want, but meat production probably isn’t one of them.

But you never know who has the high ground anymore. I was pretty horrified at the way the Chinese were hacking into American computers, except now it turns out that we were probably hacking them as good as we were getting hacked.

And the Brits have been spying in the Turks, as well as tapping the Blackberries of the world’s G-20 reps, and the Iranians have been spying on the Brits, and the South Africans have been hacked, and everyone has been spying on the Russians, and the U.S. has been spying on the AP, and Bloomberg has been spying on Goldman Sachs, and the Americans have been reading Medvedev’s email.

So we come to find out the world is just like one big small-town beauty parlor, where there are no secrets, and everyone knows whose car was seen parked in whose driveway at 5 in the morning.

And if all that wasn’t bizarre enough, we get news that New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft has accused Russian dictator-about-town Vladimir Putin of stealing his Super Bowl ring. Putin insists it was a gift.

This no doubt reminds you of the time you played marbles for “keeps,” but then the kid who lost his favorite tiger eye changed his mind and wanted it back.

But these are the main global players in business, politics and sports acting as if they are playing some sort of glorified game of Monopoly or Spy vs. Spy — and you can’t help but come to the following conclusion: We’re doomed.

What all this smells of is too many people and governments with too much time on their hands. Instead of doing the work they were hired to do, they are sitting at their desks for half the day with their eyes glued on Facebook. “Oh look, Thabo Mbeki had added a life event to his timeline. Dislike.”

As if any of this matters. Since all our world leaders are acting like such children, maybe they should take heed of an adage well known to every 5-year-old: Mind your own beeswax.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 6997, or via email at

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