A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for June, 2017

Federal Judge Slaps Down California’s Prohibition Against Possessing Standard Capacity Magazines

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I’ll end this week in a high note. California passed a law that would prohibit the mere possession of standard capacity magazines. That law was set to take effect tomorrow but a federal judge slapped it down for obvious reasons:

A federal judge on Thursday blocked a California law set to take effect Saturday that would have barred gun owners from possessing high-capacity ammunition magazines.

The judge ruled that the ban approved by the Legislature and voters last year takes away gun owners’ Second Amendment rights and amounts to the government taking people’s private property without compensation.

California law has prohibited buying or selling the magazines since 2000, but until now allowed those who had them to keep them.

“Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of otherwise law-abiding citizens will have an untenable choice: become an outlaw or dispossess one’s self of lawfully acquired property,” San Diego-based U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez wrote.

Granted, the State seizing property without compensating its rightful owner isn’t new. Civil asset forfeiture has allow the State to get away with doing so for decades now. However, this prohibition didn’t even have the pretext of a law, other than itself, being broken, which is a new step in legal depravity and apparently one that went too far for one federal judge.

I also find myself laughing at the fact that the judge noted that this law would turn “hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of otherwise law-abiding citizens” into criminals. If that criteria was always applied then no laws would get passed since all of them turn otherwise law-abiding citizens into criminals. Although I believe it was unintentional, that judge was a man after my own heart when he issued that statement.

Written by Christopher Burg

June 30th, 2017 at 11:30 am

Your Citizenship Has Been Revoked

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The Nazgûl Supreme Court recently ruled that illegally obtained evidence can still be presented by prosecutors. Accountability was thrown out of the window with this ruling since there is no consequences for illegally collecting evidence. This ruling was controversial enough that three of the judges disagreed with one of them disagreeing quite loudly:

In her dissent to the ruling in Utah v. Strieff, which revolved on the matter of reasonable suspicion, Sotomayor cited James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, W.E.B. Du Bois’s The Souls of Black Folks and Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me to describe what’s it’s like to live in constant fear of “suspicionless stops” as a person of color.

“Although many Americans have been stopped for speeding or jaywalking, few may realize how degrading a stop can be when the officer is looking for more,” wrote Sotomayor. “This Court has allowed an officer to stop you for whatever reason he wants — so long as he can point to a pretextual justification after the fact.”

Sotomayor said the court’s ruling had essentially classified all Americans as inmates in the prison-industrial complex.

“By legitimizing the conduct that produces this double consciousness, this case tells everyone, white and black, guilty and innocent, that an officer can verify your legal status at any time,” Sotomayor wrote. “It says that your body is subject to invasion while courts excuse the violation of your rights. It implies that you are not a citizen of a democracy but the subject of a carceral state, just waiting to be cataloged.”

I’ve heard many people, conservatives and liberals alike, make the distinction between citizens and non-citizens when it comes to rights. They claim that one of the advantages of citizenship is that you enjoy the protection of the Bill of Rights. However, this ruling by the Supreme Court nullifies that claim because pesky things like warrants no longer need to be acquired before a search is performed. All a police officer needs to do is have a legal excuse for initiating an interaction with you and from there they can collect whatever evidence they want, legally or illegally, and it can be used against you in a trial.

This trend is nothing new though. Our so-called rights, which are really a set of temporary privileges, have been dwindling since ink was being applied to the paper that became the Constitution (the Constitution itself was nothing more than a power grab by the federal government). Every new law has been a further restriction to our freedoms. And while we’ve enjoyed a few scraps of freedom here and there they have paled in comparison to the freedoms we’ve lost. The United States has become a police state. Anybody who denies that is a fool.

Double Standards

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I think that there is already enough evidence to show that the Yanez trial wasn’t on the up and up. But there is yet another demonstration of this point. Before the case began state investigators attempted to collect every shred of information about both Castile and Reynolds. Warrants were issued for their cellphone records, social media posts, and even files stored on iCloud. However, the investigators didn’t perform nearly as rigorous of a search into Yanez’s history:

The search warrants offer a revealing glimpse at how authorities conducted the investigation in the initial days, and how thoroughly they looked into social media accounts and cellphone records after the shooting.

It is not unusual for police to try to find out anything they can about those involved in a case like this, said Michael Quinn, a retired Minneapolis police sergeant. “If you’re a prosecutor, you would want to know everything [defense attorneys] would know,” he said.

But he was perplexed that investigators didn’t do the same searches on Yanez.

“You would think they would want to know everything on him,” Quinn said.

BCA spokesman Bruce Gordon said Friday that the agency searched for Castile and Reynolds’ phone and social accounts because “it was important for us to obtain every image available that may have captured the incident, those events that led to it and those that immediately followed.”

He declined to say why the same wasn’t done for Yanez.

I’m guessing he declined to comment because the only thing he could have said was, “Professional courtesy.”

I’ve seen several people comment that the searches into Yanez’s records weren’t necessary because a thorough background check was performed on him when he joined the force. That claim doesn’t hold water though. First, if that were the case you would think that the spokesman for the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension would have said so. It would have been a straight forward enough reason. Second, the background check was performed int he past. A lot of time has passed since then. How do we know that Yanez didn’t say things online that could have brought his claim of fearing for his life into question?

Granted, this shouldn’t surprise anybody. The State protects its own (unless they cease to be useful means for its ends), which is why making use of its courts to hold it accountable is a fool’s errand. It’s also why cases the declare government employees, especially law enforcement officers, not guilty of crimes must be taken with a grain of salt.

Written by Christopher Burg

June 30th, 2017 at 10:30 am

Just a Few More Bad Apples

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It’s a day ending in “y” so it should come as no surprise that another story of law enforcer corruption has come to light:

Detective David March and officers Joseph Walsh and Thomas Gaffney face charges of conspiracy, obstruction of justice and official misconduct.

Laquan McDonald was shot 16 times by a white officer in 2014, sparking widespread protests across the city.
Prosecutors accuse the three men of lying in the shooting’s aftermath.

“The indictment makes clear that these defendants did more than merely obey an unofficial ‘code of silence,’ rather it alleges that they lied about what occurred to prevent independent criminal investigators from learning the truth,” Special Prosecutor Patricia Brown said in a statement on Tuesday.

Officer Jason Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder in 2015 after dashcam footage appeared to show him fatally shooting Mr McDonald as he moved away from officers, contradicting police accounts. He has pleaded not guilty.

According to the indictment, the three officers allegedly falsified reports and tried to conceal the events surrounding Mr McDonald’s death “to shield their fellow officer from criminal investigation”.

This illustrates the problem with the few bad apples theory that the law and order crowd constantly parrot. If there were only a few bad apples in law enforcement then the majority of good apples would be holding them accountable. But that’s not what happens. Instead the supposedly good apples remain silent or conspire to cover up the misdeeds of the bad apples, which makes them bad apples themselves.

Law enforcement’s issues are more than a handful of bad officers. Sure, maybe a handful of bad officers are the ones committing the most heinous crimes. But the law enforcement culture has the concept of the thin blue line. If you’re on the law enforcement side of that line then your brothers and sisters in law enforcement will stand besides you through almost anything. If you’re on the other side of that line you’re life is judged as being less valuable. So long as this culture remains the entire bushel of apples will remain rotten.

Written by Christopher Burg

June 30th, 2017 at 10:00 am

When Malware Does Some Unintentional Good

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There aren’t many good things to be said about malware but once in a while it can accomplish some unintentional good:

Acting Deputy Commissioner Ross Guenther told reporters on Friday that 55 cameras had been exposed to the ransomware virus, but they’ve now determined 280 cameras had been exposed. The cameras are not connected to the internet, but a maintenance worker unwittingly connected a USB stick with the virus on it to the camera system on June 6.

Fryer said that about 1643 tickets would be withdrawn – up from the 590 that police had announced on Friday – and another five and a half thousand tickets pending in the system would be embargoed.

It sounds like the police department is planning on reissuing many of the tickets after it has [pre]determined that the malware didn’t actually alter anything. But it’s nice to see malware actually attacking a legitimate target even if it wasn’t intentional.

Written by Christopher Burg

June 29th, 2017 at 11:00 am

Unprofitable Crimes Go Unsolved

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One of the biggest problems with policing here in the United States are the incentives given to departments. Solving violent crimes such as assaults, murders, and rapes aren’t profitable while arresting people for nonviolent acts such as possessing a rifle with a barrel that’s under an arbitrarily defined length, putting something into your body that’s not approved by the State, and using specific types of radios without first obtaining a license from the Fascist Communication Club Federal Communications Commission (FCC) are incredibly profitable. Needless to say these incentives mean departments put a ton of money and effort into things like the drug war while they can’t even be bothered to store evidence of rapes properly:

Mold was found growing on several hundred rape kits held in Austin police storage, according to a city memo.

As part of an audit of the 1,629 evidence kits stored in the refrigerator found that 849 of them showed some signs of mold on the outside.

The mold was discovered in April by Signature Science, an Austin company hired to help test the kits, which contained evidence collected in the 1990s.

The company told Assistant Police Chief Troy Gay on Friday that “there were no observable issues with any of the samples they processed with the case reported to have mold.”

I’m surprised they didn’t jump dump the rape kits in a dumpster. After all, the only reason they’re even bothering to process them now is because enough people flipped their shit that it was causing headaches for politicians.

Unfortunately, so long as the incentive system rewards enforcing laws against nonviolent activities over violent activities things will continue as they have been.

Written by Christopher Burg

June 29th, 2017 at 10:30 am

The Government Never Makes a Promise It Plans to Keep

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The United States needs meat for its perpetual meat grinder. Starting another draft would seem like the obvious solution but ever since the fiasco that was the Vietnam War the plebs have been a bit touchy about being forcibly enslaved to go die in some part of the world they are only faintly aware of. Since filling its ranks using people within its borders hasn’t been working too well the United States has started looking outward. Some time ago it extended an offer to immigrants: join the military and you will be fast tracked for citizenship. However, the whims of the State change at a moment’s notice and now the government may renege on its promise:

The Pentagon is considering a plan to cancel enlistment contracts for 1,000 foreign-born recruits without legal immigration status, knowingly exposing them to deportation, a Defense Department memo shows.

The undated action memo, prepared for Defense Secretary Jim Mattis by personnel and intelligence officials at the Pentagon and obtained by The Washington Post, describes potential security threats of immigrants recruited in a program designed to award fast-tracked citizenship in exchange for urgently needed medical and language skills.

Additionally, 4,100 troops — most of whom are naturalized citizens — may face “enhanced screening,” though the Pentagon voiced concern on how to navigate “significant legal constraints” of “continuous monitoring” of citizens without cause, according to the memo.

Thank you for your service. Now get the fuck out of the country.

This about-face shouldn’t surprise anybody who has been paying attention to the actions of the United States government. It has broken almost every single promise it has made. But that’s the nature of a thief. It will tell you whatever you want to hear to get close enough to you to steal your wealth.

Written by Christopher Burg

June 29th, 2017 at 10:00 am

Defending Against Propaganda

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Fake news and propaganda are still hot issues for a lot of people. Why? Most likely because they’re products of the public schooling government indoctrination system and are therefore unable to differentiate between facts and fiction when they’re being reported by a respected authority figure. When you can’t tell the difference between the two the fact that some of what you’re being told is factual while the other is fictional probably seems very scary.

But that’s OK because there are some solutions that will fix everything:

In a sense, social media audiences need basic “stranger danger” lessons. Every kid knows that the nice person offering candy and a ride might actually be trying to kidnap them. We need the same instincts in online public spaces, too. The friendly person tweeting at you from Georgia might actually be a bot under the control of Russian hackers. Don’t trust Internet people until you know them.

One of the most hopeful responses I’ve seen to these problems has come from an unlikely place: the Girl Scouts of America. The group has just created a cybersecurity badge that girls can earn alongside more traditional badges for skills like camping, first aid, and music (apparently the “whittling” badge I was so proud of as a kid is no longer offered).

It’s encouraging to see the Girl Scouts teaching cybersecurity to children, because this is the kind of basic skill that people will need more than ever in years to come.

Perhaps the next step will be encouraging teachers and librarians to teach kids defensive social-media skills. Lessons would start with the basics, like how to find the sources for an article and how to understand who has made edits on Wikipedia. More advanced students could be trained to recognize the kinds of bots that are used in propaganda campaigns. Eventually, students could learn to build tools that block known sources of malicious information, much the way Block Together works to prevent the spread of trolling and sockpuppet armies on Twitter.

While education about computer security is extremely beneficial, the flaw of the above proposals is that they rely too much on domain specific knowledge and dictation from authority.

The greatest defense against propaganda is an educated populace. A lot of people make the mistake of assuming that an educated populace is one where a large percentage hold college degrees of some sort. The fact that people often exclusively tie education and college together is a good example of how bad the government indoctrination system is in this country.

Whether a population is education or not has nothing to do with pieces of paper. The ultimate determining factor is whether or not the overwhelming majority of the populace is capable of independent thought. That is to say, an educated populace is one where critical thinking is in abundance and reliance on authority figures for knowledge is at a minimum. An uneducated individual is willing to accept any knowledge provided to them by an authority figure whereas an educated individual will be skeptical of any knowledge provided by an authority figure and attempt to verify it through personal investigation.

Propaganda becomes less effective when individuals default to a state of skepticism. Therefore the most effective tool for fighting against propaganda is teaching individuals how to think for themselves. Once they can do that they can seek out the knowledge they need to further guard themselves. Having authority figures dictate to individuals what is or isn’t propaganda and what they should or should not do to guard against it only exacerbates the problem because it keeps those individuals in a state of mind where they seek knowledge from authority, which is what propagandists rely on.

Unfortunately, the State relies on propaganda and therefore has a vested interest in teaching people to blindly accept knowledge from authority instead of seeking it out themselves. That being the case, the government indoctrination system will continue doing its damnedest to prevent students from thinking for themselves. Until parents stop sending their children to these indoctrination centers propaganda will continue being effective.

Written by Christopher Burg

June 28th, 2017 at 11:00 am

More Evidence that Secession is Necessary

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The United States of America doesn’t respect the rights of individuals. Even the constitutionally granted rights are ignored by it. That alone is a solid argument for secession. Another solid argument is the fact that many of the individual states don’t get along very well. California, for example, has implemented a travel ban against eight states for official state business:

SACRAMENTO — President Trump’s proposed “travel ban” from several Muslim-majority countries has consistently been blocked by the courts. But California has a ban of its own — barring official travel to a growing list of pariah states.

The new law took effect in January, outlawing state employees and officials from using tax money to go to states with laws California deems discriminatory in regards to LGBT issues.

The first states on the list were Kansas, Mississippi, North Carolina and Tennessee. But late last week, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced that the list has doubled and now includes Alabama, Kentucky, South Dakota and Texas, the second-largest state in the U.S.

I’m sure the eight listed states are jumping for joy. Likewise, they’re probably drawing up their own travel bans against California.

If each state starts issuing official travel bans for its employees based on disagreements between laws things could get interesting. Several states could issue official travel bans on California and New York for their restrictive gun laws. Other states could issue official travel bans against California and Minnesota for their fiscally irresponsible socialist policies. As Internet privacy laws start getting passed states could issue travel bans based on those. The options are practically limitless. In the end there could effectively be a blanket travel ban for the employees of individual states traveling for official business to other states.

I also wouldn’t be surprised if these travel bans for state employees traveling on official business end up being used as a precedence for banning any individual within the state from traveling, at least directly, to verboten states. If things continue at this rate, the future is going to be very interesting.

Written by Christopher Burg

June 28th, 2017 at 10:30 am

Hope for the Future

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It’s pretty clear that there’s no hope to be found amongst the current generation of rulers. However, Texans may have a glimmer of home in the next generation of rulers:

But it recently got a boost from some unlikely supporters: a contingent of high school boys.

Earlier this month, a secession bill won overwhelming support from the mock legislature in Texas Boys State, the American Legion’s summer program where youth leaders create and run their own government, as the Wise County Messenger reported Saturday. The vote, held June 15, marked the first time in the nearly 80 years since the program’s inception in Texas that both chambers of the Texas Boys State legislature voted in favor of seceding from the Union.

It’s nice to see at least some young individuals have their heads screwed on right about secession. There’s no saving the United States of America. Between crippling amounts of debt, a body of law that no individual can ever fully memorize, an unwillingness to respect both the rights of individuals and the constitutionally granted privileges of the individual states, etc. it’s clear that the only way to chisel out a little extra freedom is for the individual states to secede. Once they’ve seceded and become the new tyrants then the counties can secede and then the townships and finally the individuals.

Secession down to the last individual!

Written by Christopher Burg

June 28th, 2017 at 10:00 am