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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 12 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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