A matter of perspective
Dec 28th, 2007 by Ken Hagler

FBI Build­ing Bio­met­rics Data­base.

The FBI is build­ing a vast bio­met­rics data­base.

Giv­en its track record, does any­one believe for a minute that his or her bio­met­rics infor­ma­tion will be secure in this data­base?

[Schneier on Secu­ri­ty]

I cer­tain­ly don’t. But then, even if it were, I still wouldn’t want it to be there, because I’m actu­al­ly far more wor­ried by the FBI than by any­one who might steal the infor­ma­tion from them.

The shoe’s on the other hoof
Dec 25th, 2007 by Ken Hagler

Sent by Frank Ney to one of the mail­ing lists I read:

Some 500 LAPD gang and nar­cotics offi­cers are threat­en­ing to retire or change
jobs if the city fol­lows through on a pro­pos­al forc­ing them to reveal their
per­son­al finances, union offi­cials said.

A financial-disclosure pro­pos­al set to be con­sid­ered by the five-member
civil­ian police com­mis­sion Thurs­day would be the last major hur­dle to com­ply
with a seven-year old fed­er­al con­sent decree meant to root out police

Under the pro­pos­al, all gang and nar­cotics offi­cers with the rank of lieu­tenant
or below must pro­vide a detailed list of their finances includ­ing all their
prop­er­ties, past-due cred­it card debts, out­side income, stocks, bonds and
check­ing accounts.”

They’re allowed to do it to us, but squeal like stuck lit­tle pig­gies when the
shoe is on the oth­er foot. Scratch a cop light­ly, find a hyp­ocrite.

I say, “Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.” 500 less
offi­cial gang mem­bers in LA is a good start. Too bad this idea isn’t nation­wide
and applied to all law enforce­ment.

I agree with his con­clu­sion.

Lakota independence?
Dec 20th, 2007 by Ken Hagler

AMY H. STURGIS: The Lako­ta Free­dom Move­ment.

Dur­ing Decem­ber 17th-22nd and beyond, the Lako­ta Free­dom Del­e­ga­tion to Wash­ing­ton, D.C. is tak­ing his­toric action to reclaim free­dom under nat­ur­al, inter­na­tion­al, and U.S. law, while devel­op­ing diplo­mat­ic rela­tions with the Fam­i­ly of Nations. 

Vis­it the Lako­ta Free­dom web­site.

Read press cov­er­age:
* “Descen­dants of Sit­ting Bull, Crazy Horse Break Away from U.S.”
* “Lako­ta Group Push­es for New Nation”
* “Lako­ta Indi­ans With­draw Treaties Signed With U.S. 150 Years Ago”

[Lib­er­ty & Pow­er: Group Blog]

I’m afraid this won’t amount to any­thing, but it would be real­ly great if they could actu­al­ly pull it off.

Music Connection unsigned artists list
Dec 17th, 2007 by Ken Hagler

Every year, LA-based music indus­try mag­a­zine Music Con­nec­tion releas­es a Hot 100 Unsigned Artists list. This year I was pleased to see that quite a few peo­ple I’ve pho­tographed made the list. Con­grat­u­la­tions to Adri­anne, Amber Rubarth, Gabriel Mann, Jim Bian­co, Kyler Eng­land, Rain­ing Jane, and Saucy Monky.

Cops are above the law
Dec 17th, 2007 by Ken Hagler

Want to Get Away With Mur­der in Chica­go?.

Join the Chica­go Police Depart­ment.

An eight-month Chica­go Tri­bune inves­ti­ga­tion of 200+ police shoot­ings going back 10 years found that with­in hours of a police shoot­ing, the police depart­ment con­venes hastily-assembled, wagon-circling “round­ta­bles” of law enforce­ment offi­cials where police and wit­ness­es are ques­tioned but not sworn or record­ed, where the offi­cers involved are allowed to con­fer to get their sto­ries straight before being ques­tioned, and where the inevitable con­clu­sion is always that the shoot­ing was jus­ti­fied. From there, broad­er, show-investigations begin. Key wit­ness­es go unin­ter­viewed. Foren­sic evi­dence is ignored. And the shoot­ing offi­cer is inevitably exon­er­at­ed.

The Tri­bune found that even when infor­ma­tion is lat­er made pub­lic that con­tra­dicts the find­ings of inter­nal inves­ti­ga­tions, the police refuse to reopen a case.

Wrong­ful death law­suits often prompt the only full account­ing of shoot­ings and the inter­nal inves­ti­ga­tions that fol­low.

In a recent suit filed by Ware’s fam­i­ly, a vet­er­an detec­tive who has been the lead inves­ti­ga­tor in numer­ous police shoot­ings tes­ti­fied that she han­dles too many cas­es to go back and re-interview offi­cers and recon­sid­er round­table rul­ings when autop­sies and oth­er test results shed new light.

Once a case is closed, it’s closed,” said Sylvia Van­Witzen­burg.

Your tes­ti­mo­ny is, once you close out a [police shoot­ing] case, no mat­ter what new infor­ma­tion comes in, you’re not going to go back and review it?” asked the attor­ney rep­re­sent­ing Ware’s fam­i­ly.

Cor­rect,” she replied.

The paper also found that even on those rare occa­sions when inves­ti­ga­tors find a shoot­ing to be unjus­ti­fied, the offi­cer in ques­tion isn’t dis­ci­plined.

Offi­cer David Rodriguez assert­ed that he shot Her­bert McCarter in the abdomen in a strug­gle over the officer’s gun in Decem­ber 1999. But Smith con­clud­ed Rodriguez lied and rec­om­mend­ed his fir­ing, accord­ing to Smith and a law­suit filed by McCarter.

Key to that rec­om­men­da­tion: med­ical records show­ing that McCarter actu­al­ly had been shot in the back, and gun­shot residue tests on his clothes indi­cat­ing he had not been shot at close range.

Rodriguez, who declined to com­ment, remains a police offi­cer. Accord­ing to McCarter’s law­suit, no dis­ci­pli­nary action was tak­en despite the OPS chief investigator’s con­clu­sion.

McCarter, how­ev­er, was charged with aggra­vat­ed bat­tery of a police offi­cer. He was found guilty and sen­tenced to 5 years in prison.

In his 2006 law­suit, McCarter alleged that city offi­cials hid the OPS con­clu­sions and rec­om­men­da­tion from his lawyer in his crim­i­nal tri­al. The city set­tled McCarter’s law­suit for $90,000 this year.

The same offi­cer was lat­er sued in anoth­er ques­tion­able shoot­ing. That suit result­ed in a $4 mil­lion set­tle­ment from the city.

Final­ly, the paper found that this incred­i­ble def­er­ence to police offi­cers extends also to offi­cers who shoot peo­ple while off-duty. Cops who’ve shot peo­ple after drink­ing at bars, in road rage inci­dents, and dur­ing domes­tic dis­putes are giv­en the same admin­is­tra­tive priv­i­leges (priv­i­leges not giv­en to you or I) as cops who shoot some­one while on duty.

Via Rogi­er van Bakel.

[The Agi­ta­tor]

From what I’ve seen this sort of thing is stan­dard for all cops, not just those in Chica­go.

A look at a courtroom
Dec 17th, 2007 by Ken Hagler

Vic­tims on Tri­al: The Every­day Busi­ness of Courts. The first case turned out to be typ­i­cal. This was a per­son picked up for “pub­lic intox­i­ca­tion,” which amount­ed to overcel­e­brat­ing fol­low­ing a foot­ball vic­to­ry and dar­ing to walk on the government’s side­walks under the influ­ence of one too many. Arrest­ed, jailed, bailed out. Now was the time to face the judge.

What is your plea? Guilty, your hon­or.

What do you have to say for your­self? I’m so sor­ry that I did this and I won’t do it again.

The judge then decides to be lenient. He gives the min­i­mum fine plus court costs. I couldn’t find any con­sis­ten­cy in this pric­ing scheme, but gen­er­al­ly it amount­ed to between $400 and $1,500. The judge asks the per­son to pay it now. When he says that he doesn’t have the mon­ey, the judge con­sid­ers a pay­ment plan, con­tin­gent on the guilty declar­ing his income to the court­room; it aver­ages $400 per month.

How about you pay $100 per month? Fine.

Oh, and there’s one more thing. The criminal’s driver’s license is sus­pend­ed for six months. How can he get to work? That’s his prob­lem. It is a very spe­cial prob­lem since the court has decid­ed to loot the per­son of a quar­ter of his income dur­ing this very peri­od. How can you keep your job? Hard to say. Life is tough. And that’s the price you pay for drink­ing a few beers and dar­ing to walk on the side­walk. [Lud­wig von Mis­es Insti­tute]

Move over, elephants
Dec 3rd, 2007 by Ken Hagler

Chimps Outscore College Students on Memory Test. AP's Malcolm Ritter reports that young chimpanzees were better at remembering a series of numbers flashed on a screen, than the Japanese college students used as a control group. Scientists plan to repeat the experiment using 5th graders against the great apes.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


That's pretty impressive, considering that getting into college in Japan is basically a giant decade-plus memory training exercise.

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