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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