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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:

http://www.dailynews.com/ci_7755506

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
cor­rup­tion.

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.

[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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