A lot of people are very upset with Equifax at the moment. The company’s amateur hour security practices allow the personal information of millions of people to fall into unauthorized hands. You would think that a screw up of that magnitude would dissuade any rational business from doing business with it. Well the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) isn’t rational or a business so this shouldn’t surprise anybody:
Between March and July of this year, the credit rating agency Equifax, was infiltrated by hackers who made off with the sensitive personal information of more than 140 million Americans. That sounds like the kind of thing that might hurt a company’s credibility when it comes to security. But Politico is now reporting that the IRS will pay Equifax $7.25 million to “verify taxpayer identities and help prevent fraud.”
I don’t know why the IRS feels the need to pay Equifax to verify taxpayer identities when its database is in the wild. I’m sure the IRS could acquire a copy and just perform verify taxpayers itself.
I really need to get into government contracts. It seems like no screw up is so severe that it will dissuade the government from doing business with you.
It seems that Spain’s clubs failed to break the spirits of Catalans. Even though Spanish law enforcers beat down over 800 people, Catalonia is still planning to declare its independence:
Catalonia will declare independence from Spain in a matter of days, the leader of the autonomous region has told the BBC.
In his first interview since a disputed vote on Sunday, Carles Puigdemont said his government would “act at the end of this week or the beginning of next”.
If the Catalan government follows through with its promise, Spain will have to either acquiesce or use force. Judging by its response to the vote, I’m lead to believe that Spain isn’t planning to acquiesce. Needless to say, this could escalate into a civil war. Hopefully Spain will recognize the fact that it has no right to claim ownership of Catalonia or its people and steps aside. But history has shown that few government will recognize or admit to their illegitimacy.
When somebody is arrested they’re given a Miranda warning, which, in addition to a few other things, informs the arrested individual that they have a right to an attorney. However, an individual’s right to an attorney, like every other right, is subject to change whenever it suits the State:
With its case falling apart, the prosecution did something drastic: It asked presiding Judge Andrew Hague to dismiss Rodriguez’s public defender on the grounds that it would not seek jail time. This meant Rodriguez was no longer entitled to a lawyer.
Since the vast majority of misdemeanor cases in Miami-Dade County do not end with a conviction (or subsequent jail time) the prosecutor’s decision not to seek jail time was a minor concession. The public defender objected, arguing that Florida law required Judge Hague to determine whether her removal would disadvantage Mr. Rodriguez. The judge ignored this request and discharged the lawyer.
On April 27, 2016, Rodriguez had his day in court, representing himself. Things did not go well. Rodriguez unwittingly waived his right to a jury trial after Judge Hague failed to explain what was happening. The prosecution’s case rested entirely on the testimony of the arresting officers. But because Rodriguez did not know how to follow up with the public defender’s requests for discovery and depositions, he was unprepared to challenge the officers’ testimony. To make matters worse, Judge Hague repeatedly and loudly berated Rodriguez for not knowing how to ask questions like a lawyer.
This case can be added to the stupidly long list of cases that demonstrate that the court system isn’t about justice.
Being a defendant or a prosecutor in a courtroom requires arcane knowledge. It’s not enough to argue your point, you have to argue it using the proper incantations. Failing to do so will bring the wrath of the man in the muumuu on you. He will declare your statement inadmissible. This is why representation is critical. You need a guy on your side who possesses the arcane knowledge of the courtroom. Without him, most people will be steamrolled by the other side.
Samuel Edward Konkin III introduced me to the idea that the State can be starved of resources if more economic activity moved into the unregulated black market. However, I always figured entering the black market would require dealing drugs, guns, or some other highly controversial good or service. I never imagined that I could enter the black market by selling household pets:
California could become the first state to outlaw so-called puppy mills with legislation that bans pet stores from selling dogs, cats and rabbits that do not come from rescue organizations or shelters.
Animal rights activists believe that this bill will eliminate “puppy mills” and other breeding operations that often raise animals in inhumane conditions. However, that won’t be the outcome of this bill. What this bill will do is create a black market for household pets. On the upside, this will deprive California of any licensing and tax revenues associated with breeding pets.
Once again we have a shooter whose family and friends say they are shocked by his actions, which has lead them to believe he just “snapped.” This is very common after a shooting and it’s not unusual for people on the sidelines to sneer and claim that the friends and family are either idiots who missed something obvious or lying. However, I believe his family and friends need to be cut a significant amount of slack. After all, an individual who is intelligent enough to plan an attack of this magnitude is also intelligent enough to act in an expected manner around friends and family.
There is a book that I believe is relevant here. It’s titled Without Conscience and is an overview on psychopathy. I’m not trying to imply that the Las Vegas shooter was a psychopath as it is defined medically but psychopaths are an example of individuals who are capable of acting in an expected manner to achieve desired ends.
It’s quite feasible that the Las Vegas shooter consciously acted in a way he knew would be least alarming to people because acting in that manner served his ends of perpetrating his attack. There very well may have been no warning signs for friends and family to notice, which is why they’re shocked by his actions.
As humans we tend to want things to fit into simple boxes. If somebody appeared to be “normal” to us, then the tidiest explanation for them acting violently is that they “snapped.” We also tend to want simple solutions. Access to mental healthcare is often brought up as a solution to shootings like this. However, providing access to mental healthcare only works if the subject wants to pursue it. If they want to perpetuated an attack instead, they aren’t going to utilize mental healthcare. Banning firearms is another proposal brought forth after these shootings. However, somebody who is willing to kill is seldom dissuaded by laws preventing them from acquiring a weapon legally. If that were the case, felons and gang members wouldn’t have access to firearms.
Unfortunately, the universe doesn’t care about our desire for simplicity. It throws complicated shit at us. If we refuse to acknowledge that fact, we’re doomed to continue trying to shove things into our simple boxes and are therefore doomed to propose simple solutions that will inevitably fail.
The vote on secession in Catalonia has come and gone. The overwhelming majority of voters voted in favor of secession. However, in order to cast that vote they had to risk beatings from Spanish law enforcers:
The Catalan regional government is holding an emergency meeting to discuss the next steps towards declaring independence from Spain, a day after millions of Catalans voted in a tumultuous poll that left more than 800 people injured.
Preliminary results from Sunday’s vote showed that 90% of people cast their ballots in favour of independence, according to the Catalan government.
At least 844 people and 33 police were reported to have been hurt on Sunday after riot police stormed polling stations in a last-minute effort to stop the vote.
This vote wasn’t even binding and Spain’s law enforcers were willing to beat down over 800 people, which really shows Spain’s attitude towards Catalan independence. As far as Spain is concerned, the only way Catalonia is leaving is in a body bag. However, secession appears to be extremely popular in Catalonia so Spain is unlikely to succeed at keeping the people there under its boot indefinitely. If things continue down this road, Spain will eventually have to decide whether it will let Catalonia secede peacefully or require it engage in a civil war. I’m hoping for the former but based on Spain’s actions so far I fear the latter may be inevitable.
You know how I periodically rant about law enforcers being above the law? The Star Tribune is running a multiple part series on Minneapolis law enforcers who have been convicted of criminal offenses but still hold their job:
They are among hundreds of sworn officers in Minnesota who were convicted of criminal offenses in the past two decades yet kept their state law enforcement licenses, according to public records examined by the Star Tribune. Dozens of them are still on the job with a badge, a gun and the public’s trust that they will uphold the law.
The cases reveal a state licensing system that is failing repeatedly to hold officers accountable for reckless, sometimes violent, conduct.
In Minnesota, doctors and lawyers can lose their professional licenses for conduct that is unethical or unprofessional — even if they never break a law. Yet law enforcement officers can stay on the job for years even when a judge or jury finds them guilty of criminal behavior.
As the article notes, people in many fields have their licenses taken for far less than being found guilty of a criminal offense. Furthermore, those individuals don’t even hold the same authority as a law enforcer. A doctor generally isn’t in a position to shoot or kidnap you and they certainly aren’t in a position to shoot your family pets.
Why are law enforcers given so much leeway? To answer that question, we need to point out the primary purpose of law enforcers. The primary purpose of law enforcers is not to serve and protect. They’re revenue generators for the State first and foremost. In order to encourage law enforcers to generate as much revenue as possible they are given a lot of privileges. Departments are often given a share of the loot their officers bring in. When a law enforcer is accused of wrongdoing they are given a paid vacation instead of being left unpaid during the duration of the investigation. Officers who commit an act of violence are usually treated more kindly than you or I would be under the same circumstances. It should come as no surprise that law enforcers are also allowed to continue generating revenue for the State even if they have been found guilty of the very crimes they are supposed to uphold.
I’m sure most of you have heard that there was an attack in Las Vegas. It’s still too early to do much more than speculate. What is known is that as of this writing at least 50 people have been killed and at least another 200 have been injured. The attacker has been named as Stephen Paddock, a 64-year-old resident of Las Vegas.
Over the next few days I’m sure a great deal of speculation will take place. Keep in mind that with these kinds of events it usually takes weeks for forensic teams to put all of the pieces together.
This week we’re going to be listening to some Spanish power metal: