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More on the Kathryn Johnston murder
Apr 30th, 2007 by Ken Hagler

Johnston Timeline. Federal investigators have released a timeline in the Kathryn Johnston case, and it’s absolutely horrifying. We now learn that even the initial bust that produced the tip leading to the raid was due to planted evidence. Which means everything about this case was created and manufactured by these cops. The instinctual ease with which these three officers piled lie on top of lie, the fact that they very nearly got away with it, and the fact that none of the three had a single moment of moral clarity until their case began unraveling three weeks later—it’s all chilling. Consider this passage:

Johnston got off one shot, the bullet missing her target and hitting a porch roof. The three narcotics officers answered with 39 bullets.

Five or six bullets hit the terrified woman. Authorities never figured out who fired the fatal bullet, the one that hit Johnston in the chest. Some pieces of the other bullets — friendly fire — hit Junnier and two other cops.

The officers handcuffed the mortally wounded woman and searched the house.

There was no Sam.

There were no drugs.

There were no cameras that the officers had claimed was the reason for the no-knock warrant.

Just Johnston, handcuffed and bleeding on her living room floor.

That is when the officers took it to another level. Three baggies of marijuana were retrieved from the trunk of the car and planted in Johnston’s basement. The rest of the pot from the trunk was dropped down a sewage drain and disappeared.

The three began getting their stories straight.

While an innocent, elderly woman lay bleeding, handcuffed, and dying on the floor of her own home due to their malfeasance, these animals went about planting drugs to implicate her, and concocting a story to save their own hides. Every case these officers ever worked on needs to be reopened. And that’s just getting started. A police department that could produce these three dirty cops, and allow them to operate, is a department that has almost certainly produced many more. It would be awfully coincidental if the only three bad drug cops at APD all happened to be working together this particular night, and happened to get caught on this particular raid.

Johnston’s murder should also be a wake-up call for those who instinctively believe initial police accounts of what happened during one of these raids. I suspect that if Kathryn Johnston had been a 22-year old innocent man instead of an 88 (or 92, depending on who’s reporting)-year old innocent woman, we may still not know exactly what happened in that house. [Hit & Run]

I wouldn’t stop at looking closely at just the Atlanta Police Department. It’s abundantly clear, from many similar cases over the years all across the country, that the problem is not with any particular police department, but with the very nature of police today.

Unfortunately, the one thing we can be sure of is that nothing will change as a result of this case. All the blame will be placed on the smallest unit that the APD leadership can manage, and everyone who’s allowed to comment in the mainstream media will insist that this was just a few rogue cops who have been punished, and the vast majority are honest and decent. Meanwhile, the “honest and decent” cops will continue smashing down doors and murdering people in their homes with impunity.

Two good articles
Apr 28th, 2007 by Ken Hagler

Recently Alexander Cockburn has written a couple of good articles. Bring Back the Posse argues that we should get rid of SWAT teams in favor of ordinary people defending themselves, and Is Global Warming a Sin? compares “carbon credits” to the medieval Christian sale of indulgences (a similarity I’ve noticed myself) and talks about the lack of scientific basis for this piece of Ecofreak dogma.

Potentially habitable planet discovered
Apr 26th, 2007 by Ken Hagler

Astronomers Find First Earth-like Planet in Habitable Zone. Astronomers have discovered the most Earth-like planet outside our Solar System to date, an exoplanet with a radius only 50% larger than the Earth and capable of having liquid water. Using the ESO 3.6-m telescope, a team of Swiss, French and Portuguese scientists discovered a super-Earth about 5 times the mass of the Earth that orbits a red dwarf, already known to harbour a Neptune-mass planet. The astronomers have also strong evidence for the presence of a third planet with a mass about 8 Earth masses.

This exoplanet – as astronomers call planets around a star other than the Sun – is the smallest ever found up to now and it completes a full orbit in 13 days. It is 14 times closer to its star than the Earth is from the Sun. However, given that its host star, the red dwarf Gliese 581, is smaller and colder than the Sun – and thus less luminous – the planet nevertheless lies in the habitable zone, the region around a star where water could be liquid! The planet’s name is Gliese 581 c.

“We have estimated that the mean temperature of this super-Earth lies between 0 and 40 degrees Celsius, and water would thus be liquid,” explains Stéphane Udry, from the Geneva Observatory (Switzerland) and lead-author of the paper reporting the result. “Moreover, its radius should be only 1.5 times the Earth’s radius, and models predict that the planet should be either rocky – like our Earth – or fully covered with oceans,” he adds.

“Liquid water is critical to life as we know it,” avows Xavier Delfosse, a member of the team from Grenoble University (France). “Because of its temperature and relative proximity, this planet will most probably be a very important target of the future space missions dedicated to the search for extra-terrestrial life. On the treasure map of the Universe, one would be tempted to mark this planet with an X.” [European Southern Observatory]

Jobs Americans Won’t Do
Apr 16th, 2007 by Ken Hagler

Jobs Americans Won’t Do. Jill Stewart is in the LA Weekly with an absolutely insane story about a former sex slave who served 20 years in prison for covering up the murder (which neighbors committed) of her enslaver.

Maria Suarez today is a salaried, part-time counselor at About Face, a Koreatown-based counseling program for convicted sex felons under court order to get help, and a sought-after public speaker respected as a woman who has lived through a personal hell and understands the minds of abusers.

But while she has overcome hurdles so extreme and memories so dark that a woman with less fight might have lost her mind, Suarez’s most impossible battle may unfold in the next few weeks.

She and her pro bono lawyers at the Los Angeles offices of the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST) are challenging federal laws that require she be sent back to Mexico, a country she barely remembers. On May 7, her special T-visa expires.

The Christian Science Monitor published a long piece on Suarez a few weeks ago, and the story is harrowing. And even if she gets an unconditional pardon from Gov. Schwarzenegger, she's likely to be booted back to Mexico.
[Hit and Run]

Here’s yet another case of gross injustice in the legal system. I hadn’t heard about this before, but it seems to me from reading the case that Ms. Suarez should not only be pardoned, but given a formal apology. California really needs more people like her.

With that in mind, the Governor’s website has a page of contact information. I’ve heard that politicians pay the most attention to handwritten letters.

L. Neil Smith on immigration
Apr 15th, 2007 by Ken Hagler

Immigration and Integrity. In any case, none of that has anything to do with the fundamental human right to move from place to place. That trumps everything else in this argument, and the only “reply” opponents of open borders can make is to dismiss those of us who point it out as “doctrinaire” or “dogmatic”. We are, in fact, principled, and that annoys them to no end.

Will open borders cause problems? Certainly they will. There’s no human activity that isn’t attended by problems of one kind or another. Will opening the borders cause more problems than trying to close them? Absolutely not. Border controls of the kind that De Coster and Cox seem to demand are totally inconsistent with maintaining a free country. Of course if the last thing you want is a free country, then border controls are the perfect place to begin. And there are always plenty of “useful idiots” like these two to help you make it happen.

Principles mean nothing—in fact, they mean less than nothing—when adhering to them is easy. Adhering to them when it’s hard is what principles are all about, and the determination to do so is called integrity. [The Libertarian Enterprise]

Mainstream media caught lying again
Apr 10th, 2007 by Ken Hagler

Washington Post Caught Out in Propaganda Rewrite. …the Google News capture of the original article contains the original paragraph from the Reuters article. In other words, the truth accidentally slipped out, and they had to rush to fix it. I have to wonder whether the Washington Post news room has some kind of alarm that sounds in those rare cases when the truth is published and the entire staff is mobilized to suppress it.

And they wonder why people no longer buy newspapers.[Mathaba News Network]

Spychip protection
Apr 9th, 2007 by Ken Hagler

Boffins working on RFID super-shield.

Boffins working on RFID super-shield: “Guarding the guards

A group of Dutch researchers at Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, led by PhD student Melanie Rieback, is building RFID Guardian, a personal RFID firewall to allow individuals to monitor and control access to RFID tags.…

[…]

The project aims to create a platform that will handle all types of RFID chips and allows individuals to create their own personalised security policies and enforce them using features already built into the tags such as cryptography and kill commands along with newer ones such as automatic key management.

When it’s finished, RFID Guardian is intended to be a portable, battery-operated device incorporating an RFID reader that will tell users when new RFID tags appear (for example, when you buy a tagged item), when they’re being read, and who owns them.

(Via The Register – Security.)

[Privacy Digest: Privacy News (Civil Rights, Encryption, Free Speech, Cryptography)]

I suspect this project may end up being quietly killed off by local government, but if it actually does succeed I’d certainly buy one of their RFID Guardians.

Environmentalism is a religion
Apr 8th, 2007 by Ken Hagler

RAW re pop ecology. [True] Ecological science, like all science, is relativistic, evolutionary, and progressive; that is, it regards all generalizations as hypothetical and is always ready to revise them. It seeks truth, but never claims to have obtained all truth.

Pop ecology, or ecological mysticism, is the reverse in all respects. It is absolutist, dogmatic, and fanatical. It does not usually refer its arguments back to ecological science (except vaguely and often inaccurately); it refers them to emotions, moral judgements, and the casual baggage of ill-assorted ideas that make up pop culture generally. Ecological mysticism, in short, is only rhetorically connected with the science of ecology, or any science; it is basically a crusade, a quasi-religion, an ideology. [lowercase liberty]

And if you believe that I have a bridge for sale
Apr 7th, 2007 by Ken Hagler

US denies Iranian torture claim. The US denies claims by an Iranian diplomat abducted in Iraq that he was tortured by CIA agents. [BBC News]

Sure they do. I’m sure that, if anyone in the mainstream media ever bothers to ask, they’ll also deny that his release could possibly have anything to do with the release of the 15 British sailors.

It was never about the tapes
Apr 4th, 2007 by Ken Hagler

Blogger Covering Anarchist Rally Goes Free. Josh Wolf was a young video blogger who covered an anarchist protest in San Francisco. (On NPR I heard some of the footage–kids chanting “Smash the state! Smash the state!”) Apparently a police officer was injured and a cruiser burned. Since the cruiser was purchased with government money, the gov’t claimed it was a federal crime, and thus Wolf enjoyed no protections as a journalist. He refused to give up his out-takes (which the gov’t claimed may have had incriminating evidence) and finally struck a deal to end his 7 1/2 month prison stay. For what it’s worth, he sounded fairly articulate and reasonable in the short clips I heard.

In any event, it’s pretty ridiculous that someone can go to jail for not handing over videotapes that (everyone now stipulates) contain nothing incriminating. [Mises Economics Blog]

This was never about incriminating tapes, or even about the tapes at all. Josh Wolf was in jail because he defied his lords and masters, and that’s it. If he’d knelt down before the jackbooted would-be gods and offered his unconditional obedience, he’d have been on his way without further incident.

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