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Police have been in overdrive expanding their pervasive surveillance apparatus. They want camera, cell phone interceptor, and license plate scanner coverage throughout the country. Just to enjoy the privilege of driving we’re required to submit our personal information, including home address, to the Department of Motor Vehicles so it can print it on a piece of plastic that we have to hand a police when they pull us over so they can check if there are any outstanding warrants. I don’t approve of this widespread surveillance but I do ask that they at least use the data they collect to ensure they storm the correct house when they’re on one of their domestic dog hunting excursions:
Returning home from her Monday evening walk, Tama Colson rounded the corner into her subdivision and saw DeKalb County police cars.
Then she heard the gunshots — and her neighbors’ anguish.
“I hear Leah screaming, I see Chris walking out, ‘They just shot me, they just shot me, and they killed my dog’,” Colson said Tuesday. “So I got him to lay down, took my shirt off and rendered first aid. And Chris just kept saying, ‘Why did they shoot me? Why did they shoot my dog?’”
Those are the key questions in the fourth controversial police shooting in DeKalb County in less than two years — an incident in which, according to authorities, officers responding to a burglary call went to the wrong home, shot the unarmed homeowner, killed his dog and wounded one of their own.
Admittedly shooting two innocents and one violent criminal is a better ratio that the police usually walk away with in these situations. But shooting the homeowner and the dog was criminal and charges should be filed. I would say shooting the cop was, if nothing else, bad form but the police are supposed to help homeowners defend against invaders so the shooting officer was technically doing his job.
More importantly this entire mess shouldn’t have happened. There is no excuse for having both a pervasive surveillance apparatus and raiding the wrong address. When officers are sent on a domestic dog hunting excursion the address should be displayed on a very obvious map (one using small words and basic colors so the city’s finest can understand it). Upon arriving at the address a picture of the home should be sent back to headquarters and checked against photographs already in the database. Then the officers should check their cell phone interceptor to ensure the phone they have associated with the target is at the address.
Obviously I say this halfheartedly. I don’t believe the police should be spying on us. I’m merely illustrating just of how incompetent wrong address raids are when considering all of the data law enforcement agents have available to double check they have the right place.
I didn’t get around to posting a Monday Metal this week so we’re going to celebrate the dismal day of people crushing one another in a consumer mosh pit to save $1.50 on a television with some appropriate metal. Welcome to Black Metal Friday. Obviously we’re going to start this shit off with some Immortal:
I’m also going to toss in some bonus Immortal related LULZ:
Every year I see footage of consumers stampeding into Wal-Mart like some kind of damned Mongolian horde. The only black metal band that can capture that image is Tengger Cavalry:
I’m also going to toss in some Bathory because why the fuck not:
My fine state is in the news again and, as usual, it’s not for good reasons. Jesse Ventura, one of the primary reasons my state gets in the news from time to time, filed a lawsuit against the estate of Chris Kyle for defamation. Yesterday the suit ended in Ventura’s favor and this has sparked some angry responses. Images like this one have been popping up on my various social media feeds:
The whole fallen heroes angle isn’t my thing and I’m not angry about the lawsuit. I’m mostly asking myself what the point of the suit was. While I understand that Ventura felt his reputation was harmed by Kyle’s claims the fact of the matter is the man is dead. That meant Ventura had to go after Kyle’s estate, which is headed by his widow.
Perhaps I’m just getting soft in my old age but if I believed somebody defamed me and they died I wouldn’t pursue any lawsuit against their estate. Why make family members who already suffered through a grieving period go through more suffering? They didn’t do anything. Arguments could be made that they profited off of their family member’s act of defamation but common decency would still prevent me from seeking a lawsuit against them for something a dead man said.
I’m not going to invest any time in bad mouthing Ventura. While I do understand that Kyle was very good at what he did I don’t know enough about his actions to know whether I should label him a hero or not. I reserve the status of hero for people who have done exceptionally great things such as saving thousands of lives or displaying incredible acts of mercy and I’m not sure if Kyle falls into those categories. But whether he was a hero of just a man who was very good at his job doesn’t matter to me in this regard. You should be free to seek restitution for any wrongs that even a hero may have done to you. But the lawsuit, in my opinion, was in bad taste.
When it’s not bombing children in the Middle East the United Stats is busy finding other ways to make the people in that region, and Cuba, suffer. It’s latest strike against people it doesn’t approve of comes in the form of restricting their access to education. Coursera is an online classroom where students from all around the world can learn all sorts of wonderful new things. Well not all around the world. The United States has prohibited Corsera from teaching students in certain countries:
Dear All, I write this email under protest and with a considerable degree of anger and sadness. Few things illustrate the bone-headedness, short-sightedness, and sheer chauvinism of the political structure of the United States better than the extent to which its ideologues are willing to go to score cheap domestic political points with narrow interests in the pursuit of a sanctions regime that has clearly run its course.
You might remember the Apple ad from a few years back, in which the company proudly announced that their machines were now so powerful that they fell under export restrictions: “For the first time in history a personal computer has been classified as a weapon by the US government …”
Well, that was a tongue in cheek quip at their Wintel competitors, but a few years after that same company decided that also an iPad apparently could now a weapon, in a rather cowardly anticipatory cow-tow to an ever expanding and aggressive sanctions regime, when they stopped selling any of their products to anyone who happened to SPEAK Persian in their stores (the company has since lifted that idiotic policy):
But you will now be interested to hear that also my course (and anything else Coursera offers) has been classified, if not a weapon that could be misused, then at least a “service” and as such must not fall into the hands of anybody happening to live in the countries that the United States government doesn’t like. I have thus been informed that my students in Cuba, Syria, Sudan and my homeland will no longer be able to access this course. I leave it to you to ponder whether this course is indeed a weapon and if so against what and what possible benefit the average American citizen could possibly derive from restricting access to it.
Be this as it may, I invite those students affected to use services such as hola.org or VPN routers to circumvent these restrictions.
Let me reiterate that I am appalled at this decision. Please note that no-one at Coursera likely had a choice in this matter!
At any rate, rest assured that these are not the values of the University of Copenhagen, of its Faculty of Law, and most assuredly not mine!
Let me end on a personal note: as a recipient of a McCloy Scholarship created to foster trans-Atlantic friendship and as someone who spent some of his most formative years in the United States, I have to admit that I am worried about the path this country is descending to. Blocking teaching (and medicine) from people whose government one doesn’t like is a fallback into the darkest hours of the last century. As my teacher at MIT, Prof. Stephen Van Evera would have told the people responsible for this: your mothers would not be proud of you today.
Prof. Dr. Ebrahim Afsah
Faculty of Law
University of Copenhagen
You have to love the United States government. It does everything it possibly can to make the people of countries it doesn’t like suffer. Between sanctions that prevent sanitary and medical supplies from improving the cleanliness and health of the average person to the bombing of wedding parties the United States is working 24/7 to inflict as much pain on the average Middle Easterner and Cuban as possible. Why would it does this you may ask? I’m not entirely sure. But I assume that much of its decision is fueled by its desire to extract natural resources from the region and extraction processes are easier when there’s nobody alive to resist your efforts.
Still, this is another disgusting act by a disgusting government.
Last month a federal magistrate in Wisconsin refused to order a suspect to decrypt his hard drive stating that such an order would violate the suspect’s Fifth Amendment rights. This week a federal judge ruled that such an order was, in fact, a violation of the Fifth Amendment:
A federal judge in Wisconsin today granted an emergency motion filed by Feldman’s attorney for additional time to establish that her client’s Fifth Amendment right to self-incrimination would be violated.
U.S. District Judge Rudolph Randa lifted the threat of contempt of court and jail time, at least temporarily, and asked for additional briefs from Feldman’s attorney and Justice Department prosecutors. A hearing is likely to take place this fall.
What makes this case particularly interesting is that the suspect, Jeffrey Feldman, is accused of possessing child pornography. Possession of child pornography is one of those crimes that instigates such a strong emotional response in people that they demand due process being tossed out the window and any suspects be immediately burned at the stake. There are a lot of arguments being made trying to argue that ordering a suspect to decrypt his hard drive isn’t a violation of the Fifth Amendment because the crime, in this case, is so heinous. Such an attitude, in my opinion, is extremely short sighted because it sets a precedence that allows the state to justify ordering anybody accused of any crime to decrypt their hard drive or be found in contempt of court (for which the punishment is being locked in a cage until you comply, effectively indefinite detention without due process).
At some point I predict that determining whether or not the Fifth Amendment protects suspects from court orders demanding their decryption keys will reach the Supreme Court. Regardless of whether or not that happens one thing is for certain, encrypting your hard drive is the best way to protect yourself against snooping state agents who come into possession of your devices.
While I understand that the most zealous gun control advocates are unlikely to listen to me because they believe I’m a psychopathic murderer who wants to kill children I know that there are a lot of logical individuals who currently advocate for gun control because they believe it will lead to a safer society. This post is for the latter group. I recently came across an interesting post on the Ludwig von Mises Institute website discussing the effects of cannabis prohibition:
Super potent pot is not a market failure. It is simply the result of government prohibition. In fact, it is one of the best examples of the iron law of prohibition. When government enacts and enforces a prohibition it eliminates the free market which is then replaced by a black market. This typically changes everything about “the market.” It changes how the product is produced, how it is distributed and sold to consumers. It changes how the product is packaged and in particular, the product itself. The iron law of prohibition looks specifically at how prohibition makes drugs like alcohol and marijuana more potent. The key to the phenomenon is that law enforcement makes it more risky to make, sell, or consume the product. This encourages suppliers to concentrate the product to make it smaller and thus more potent. In this manner you get “more bang for the buck.”
During alcohol prohibition (1920-1933), alcohol consumption went from a beer, wine, and whiskey market to one of rotgut whiskey with little wine or beer available. The rotgut whiskey could be more than twice as potent of the normal whiskey that was produced both before and after prohibition. The product is then diluted at the point of consumption. During the 1920s all sorts of cocktails were invented to dilute the whiskey and to cover up for bad smells and tastes.
The iron law of prohibition states that “the more intense the law enforcement, the more potent the prohibited substance becomes.” When a substance is prohibited the sellers and buyers of that substance have a vested interest in delivering the most bang for buck because the more of that substance they possess the harder it is to conceal. Small amounts of cannabis can be concealed in film canisters, flashlights (just take out the batteries), cell phones (once again, remove the battery), and any other object that has a hallowed out space. Large amounts of cannabis cannot be concealed so easily and therefore detection by law enforcement becomes much easier.
While the iron law of prohibition relates to drug prohibitions I think it’s also applicable to other forms of prohibition. Let’s look at the type of firearms preferred by violent criminals:
New state stats show that firearms were responsible for more than 58% of the murders statewide last year — but the biggest problem was handguns.
Of the 769 homicides reported in 2011, 393 were the result of handguns. There were 16 deaths by shotgun, five by rifle, and 33 by an unknown “firearm-type,” the state Division of Criminal Justice Services reports.
The Department of Justice’s Guns Used in Crimes [PDF] report backs that claim:
Although most crime is not committed with guns, most gun crime is committed with handguns. pages 1 & 2
This makes sense when you consider the iron law of prohibition. Much like cannabis buyers and sellers, violent criminals, especially ones who are prohibited from possessing firearms, have a vested interest in firearms that can be concealed from law enforcement. Laws prohibiting individuals from lawfully carrying firearms didn’t discourage people from carrying firearms, it merely made the need to possess concealable firearms greater. The same can be said for prohibiting certain individuals from carrying firearms, they now seek firearms that can be easily concealed.
This brings up an interesting consequence of enacting even stricter gun control laws. What would happen if advocates of gun control were able to achieve their goals of a partial or complete prohibition against firearms? Firearm manufacturing and transfers wouldn’t stop, they would simply move underground (or further underground in the case currently prohibited firearm transfers). In addition to moving underground the demand for firearms that deliver more bang for their buck would increase. Firearms would likely become more potent by decreasing in size, becoming more difficult to detect, and, potentially, increasing in power. Resources would be invested in working around the prohibition by making firearms that are more difficult for law enforcement officers to detect.
As it currently stands the demand for difficult to detect firearms is relatively low. Those of us who carry a concealed firearm want one that is difficult for the average person to detect but we usually care little if our firearm is easy for law enforcement agents to detect. Resources are put into making concealable firearms but not undetectable firearms. Criminals tend to favor currently produced firearms because they are cheaper than developing alternatives (everything is subject cost-benefit analysis). Few criminals are going to invest the resources in producing more potent firearms when currently available firearms are good enough. That would likely change under a stronger or complete prohibition. Suddenly the investment in resources to develop very difficult to detect firearms would make sense.
Prohibitions have consequences. When alcohol was prohibited in the United States manufacturers began distilling extremely potent liquors to deliver more bang for buck. The current cannabis prohibition has resulted in a similar outcome, cannabis today is far more potent then it was before the prohibition. A firearm prohibition would likely result in the same outcome, firearms would become more difficult to detect and potentially more powerful. This is something that advocates of gun control should consider when asking themselves if a prohibition would actually lead to a safer society.
There is some information that’s very important to know such as instructions for making gunpowder using household products:
The best chemistry experiments are those you can perform with items already laying around your house. With only some sugar, salt substitute and an instant cold pack, you can make your very own gunpowder! Being able to make homemade gunpowder without a trip to the store can be a lifesaver, no matter if it’s just for testing out a Civil War-era musket, blowing up stubborn tree stumps, or preparing for battle when imperialists overrun your country.
- Instant cold pack
- Salt substitute
- Glass jars
- Coffee filters
- Scale that can measure grams
- Stove or hotplate
Obviously this isn’t going to make high quality smokeless powder, or anything that can likely be reliably fired out of a modern rifle, but it’s a start. Knowledge like this and the ability to manufacture firearm parts at home is making the desires of gun control advocates more and more impossible.
A tip of the old hat goes to Uncle for this information.
For those who are unaware agorism is a counter economic system that strives to make an flourishing underground economy. That is to say it strives to make an economy free of government interference. Whenever you do work for a friend in exchange for cash and don’t report that income to the government you’re practicing a form of agorism. As the world economy falls further and further into the pit of failure agorism seems to be becoming more prevalent:
The United States continues to suffer from mass unemployment. People have had to adjust their lifestyles to the new reality—fewer jobs, lower wages, mortgages to pay that are now more than their homes are worth. Millions have dropped out of the job hunt and are trying to find other ways to sustain their families.
That’s where the underground economy comes in. Also called the shadow or informal economy, it’s not just illegal activity like selling drugs or doing sex work. It’s all sorts of work that doesn’t get regulated by the government or reported to the IRS, and it’s a far bigger part of the economy than most of us are aware—in 2009, economics professor Friedrich Schneider estimated that it was nearly 8 percent of the US GDP, somewhere around $1 trillion. (That makes the shadow GDP bigger than the entire GDP of Turkey or Austria.) Schneider doesn’t include illegal activities in his count– he studies legal production of goods and services that are outside of tax and labor laws. And that shadow economy is growing as regular jobs continue to be hard to come by—Schneider estimated 5 percent in ’09 alone.
So the underground economy in the United States alone is estimated to be roughly eight percent of our gross domestic product (GDP). That’s rather impressive, especially when you consider the fact that that statistic doesn’t including illegal activities but only activities that are legal in all ways except their complete ignoring of tax and labor laws.
I personally am in complete support of the agorist movement as I find the very concept of government involvement in the economy detestable. While the government and statists views agorism as theft I view it as a peaceful means of telling the government where they can stick their market interference, wars, and other activities they fund with money obtained through taxation. But as I said the government and statists view it as a form of theft which can be seen by how they refer to the underground economy:
Economist Edgar Feige estimated in 2009 that unreported economic activity was costing the US government $600 billion in tax revenues, and the growth in that number—from the Internal Revenue Service’s 2001 estimate of $345 billion—indicates the growth of the informal economy. Reporting on Feige’s work, Dennis Chaptman noted, “As the recession deepens and regular employment opportunities decline, unreported activities tend to grow, thereby swelling the tax gap and worsening the government’s budget deficit.”
Notice the wording, “costing the US government $600 billion in tax revenues.” Statistis view the product of all labor as property of the government as evident by the fact they consider taxation a form of revenue. Using this line of thinking you would be robbing the government of tax revenues if you took a pay cut that caused you to pay less income tax.
The product of your labor is not the property of the government, it’s your property. If you do not report your income to the government you’re not robbing them of revenue as the money they would have obtained from taxing your income was never rightfully theirs in the first place. Something can not be considered revenue if it would have never been rightfully yours in the first place.
Another way of thinking about this is through the example of a mugger. Let’s say a mugger robbed 10 people one year and obtained $100.00 from each of his victims for a total of $1,000.00. Now let’s say, due to these muggings, eight of the mugger’s victims went out and obtained a firearm and a carry permit. The following year the mugger attempts to rob the same 10 victims for the same amount but is only able to successfully mug two of them as the other eight pulled a gun on him and he ran off. As the mugger was only able to mug two victims for $100.00 each his take for the year was $200.00. Would you say that he suffered a $800.00 loss in revenue? Most people I know would not but that’s exactly what the government and statists are claiming.
Personally I’m glad to see the underground economy growing at such a rapid rate. Government interference in the free market is what originally lead to our economic woes and their attempts to lessen or shorten this depression have only caused it to linger longer and become more severe. Why should the government receive a cut of our labor if they are the reason we as a country are becoming less prosperous every day? Would you continue to pay an employee who continued to cost you money through his actions? No, you would fire that idiot and try to find somebody competent to replace him. Let us fire the government from our economy and instead move towards more underground activity where all transactions are voluntary and each participant gets to keep the entire product of their labor.
It’s the fourth of July which means it’s a holiday and thus I’m not going to be posting any updates today. Go out and enjoy yourselves and remember to be careful, you don’t want to lose any digits.