A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for the ‘1984 was a Warning not a Blueprint’ tag

Judges and Science

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With all the talk about the importance of science you would think debunked forensic science would receive more coverage. Forensic science can literally be a life or death matter in some states for some crimes. Unfortunately, the courts are setup in such a way that the validity of forensic techniques is not determined by researchers in the field but by men in magic muumuus:

Giannelli, who served on President Barack Obama’s now-disbanded National Commission on Forensic Science, looks at how six forensic fields for which there is little to no supporting scientific research (or in some cases, that scientific research has discredited) — bite-mark comparison, arson, microscopic hair analysis, firearms and toolmark analysis, fingerprint analysis, comparative bullet-lead analysis. These fields vary in scientific credibility and probative value from little to none (bite-mark comparison and bullet-lead analysis) to possibly valuable, though the extent of which is still unproven (fingerprint analysis).

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But it’s quite a bit worse than that. The fact is, judges continue to allow practitioners of these other fields to testify even after the scientific community has discredited them, and even after DNA testing has exonerated people who were convicted, because practitioners from those fields told jurors that the defendant and only the defendant could have committed the crime. In the few fields where the courts have finally admitted that they got it wrong, for the most part there has been little effort to systematically review all of the cases that those mistakes may have affected. It has largely been left to defense attorneys and nonprofit legal groups to find those defendants and file claims on their behalf.

Of course, none of this should be surprising. We don’t ask judges to perform regression analyses. We don’t ask them to design sewer systems, hit fastballs or compose symphonies. We know they aren’t qualified to do any of those things. Judges are trained to perform legal analysis. No one goes to law school to become a scientist.

Judges should not be expected or even allowed to decide what types of forensic science are valid and what types are invalid. They lack the training and the background to determine such things. However, I’d hazard a guess that few in the legal system have any interest in putting qualified people in charge since that would likely reduce conviction rates and therefore cut into the State’s profits.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 29th, 2017 at 10:30 am

The Emperor Has No Cloths But Don’t Tell Him That

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How petty are those who claim authority over us? So petty that they can’t handle us snickering at them:

This is no joke, because liberal activist Desiree Fairooz is now being put on trial a second time by the Justice Department — Jeff Sessions’s Justice Department — because she laughed at Sessions during his confirmation hearing. Specifically, she laughed at a line about Sessions “treating all Americans equally under the law” (which is, objectively, kind of funny).

Police asked her to leave the hearing because of her laugh. She protested and was charged. In May, a jury of her peers found her guilty of disorderly conduct and another offense (“first-degree chuckling with intent to titter” was Stephen Colbert’s sentence at the time). The judge threw out the verdict, objecting to prosecutors’ closing argument claiming that laughter alone was enough to convict her.

But at a hearing Friday, the Justice Department said it would continue to prosecute her. A new trial is scheduled for November. Maybe Sessions, repeatedly and publicly criticized by Trump, thinks Justice’s anti-laughing crackdown will protect whatever dignity he has left.

Considering what I’ve seen from Sessions, I’m not at all surprised that the Department of Justice (DoJ) is pursuing such a petty thing under his watch. The man is such a piece of shit that I have no doubts that he’d order Fairooz executed if he had the authority to do so.

In the end, unless the next judge is pretty horrible (which is likely), these charges will likely be thrown out. However, Fairooz might be able to beat the charges but she wasn’t able to beat the ride. The hours of her life wasted fighting these bullshit charges are gone forever. It’s also possible that she’ll be out the expenses for her legal defense because it’s not guaranteed that a judge will order the DoJ to cover her legal expenses if it loses. She might be able to recover those expenses through civil court but then the hours of her life wasted on that will also be gone forever. Meanwhile, nobody in the DoJ will likely receive any punishment whatsoever for pursuing these charges.

The design of the system is as such that no matter how innocent you are or how erroneous the charges brought against you are, you will still be punished.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 6th, 2017 at 10:30 am

Just a Few Purges Away from Utopia

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Comrades, I have great news from the front line of the war against capitalism! Our glorious leader, President Nicolás Maduro, has seized control of the government of Venezuela and is now using his power to purge the counterrevolutionaries from that most prosperous of countries:

Venezuela’s new constituent assembly has unanimously voted to put opposition leaders on trial for treason.

The assembly said it would pursue those it accuses of supporting US economic sanctions against the country.

I’m sure this will fix Venezuela’s failed economy. Once the purges are complete food will return to the tables of Venezuelans, toilet paper will appear on store shelves again, and utopia will rise from the ashes. Socialism, after all, is always just a few purges away from bringing prosperity and equality to all.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 31st, 2017 at 10:30 am

There’s No Honor Among Thieves

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There’s no honor among thieves so this story shouldn’t surprise anybody:

Apparently, nobody’s exempt from the CIA’s intelligence gathering, not even its own intelligence partners. According to a set of documents published by WikiLeaks, the CIA uses a tool called “ExpressLane” that hides behind a fake software update to collect information from agencies around the world that use its biometric collection system. In the US, the list includes fellow government agencies like the FBI, the NSA and Homeland Security. These partners are supposed to share data with the CIA, but clearly, the intelligence service wants to make sure they’re not keeping anything from the agency.

The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), National Security Agency (NSA), and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) are all tasked with spying. In the case of the FBI, it is tasked with spying on domestic individuals. Both the NSA and CIA are supposed to spy on foreign individuals but they always seem to get caught spying on domestic individuals as well. Since those two agencies are willing to violate the rules that are supposed to govern their behavior, it shouldn’t surprise anybody that they’re both violating those rules by spying on each other.

Now the question is, what will happen with this revelation? Will Congress hold a hearing and punish the CIA for surveilling other agencies? It’s a possibility since the State generally doesn’t take transgressions against it kindly. Then again, Congress has been happy to stand idly by as agencies within the executive branch violate every rule written to govern their power. And since the CIA is spying on everybody, it’s quite possible that the agency has some good dirt on some of the members of Congress (and if you’ve read anything on the history of the CIA, you know that the agency wouldn’t be above using blackmail against members of Congress). If Congress ignores this transgression like it has ignored the NSA’s transgressions, it will further embolden government agencies to violate further rules governing their behavior and the vicious cycle will continue on its merry way.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 29th, 2017 at 10:30 am

The FBI Thwarts Another Terrorist It Created

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If you look at the raw numbers as they are reported, the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) has thwarted a number of terrorists. However, if you dig a little deeper, you quickly realized that the FBI manufactures many of the terrorists it catches. How does the agency manufacture terrorists? It looks for vulnerable people, usually people mostly isolated from society, and has an undercover agent befriend and radicalize them. When the undercover agent believes the time is right, they hand the sucker a fake bomb, send them on their merry way, and then arrest them. Tell me if you think that this story might fall under the category of manufactured terrorism:

“We as a family are extremely distraught about this situation with our son Jerry Drake Varnell, but what the public must understand is that he is a paranoid schizophrenic and is extremely susceptible to different types of ideology that normal people would deem immoral. Underneath his condition, he is a sweet-hearted person and we are extremely shocked that this event has happened. However, what truly has us flabbergasted is the fact that the FBI knew he was schizophrenic. The State of Oklahoma found him mentally incompetent and we, his parents have legal guardianship over him by the Court. These documents are sealed from the public, which is why no news media outlet has been able to obtain them. The FBI clearly knew that he was schizophrenic because they have gathered every ounce of information on him. Reading the criminal complaint against him has brought us great pause due to the numerous lies from the informant. We do not have an underground bunker! We built our home a few years ago and bought a storage container, as we use it for a storm shelter. We only recently pushed dirt up around it to make it safe. The building is used for storage and is NOT a bunker full of food and supplies, in fact the doors close from the outside. It has neither electricity nor anything that would make it habitable.

What the public should be looking at is the fact that the FBI gave our son the means to make this happen. He has no job, no money, no vehicle, and no driver’s license, due to the fact that he is schizophrenic and we; his parents do everything we can possible to keep him safe and functional. The mental health system has consistently failed us due to the lack of establishments and health care coverage for a person like him. He has attended college and just enrolled in welding school. His medications allow him to be somewhat functional but he will never be completely functional in life. His brain does not work like a normal person and never will due to the nature of his mental illness. He has suffered through countless serious full-blown schizophrenic delusional episodes and he has been put in numerous mental hospitals since he was 16 years old. The FBI came and picked him up from our home, they gave him a vehicle, gave him a fake bomb, and every means to make this happen none of which he had access to on his own. We know who their informant is and what the public should know is that he is that a drug-dealing criminal. On June 15, 2017, Jerry’s Father told the criminal informant “that he was not allowed back on our property and if he returned we would have him arrested for trespassing and drugs”. Apparently, he continued to sneak onto our residence. The FBI paid him to continue this operation and I believe they have cleared his criminal record.

The FBI found a paranoid schizophrenic who was judged mentally incompetent by the State of Oklahoma and was therefore entirely dependent on his parents, had an agent befriend him, and manipulated him into deploying a fake bomb that was provided to him by the agent. While the FBI might tout this as another terrorist attack thwarted by the agency’s efforts, in reality this attack wouldn’t have even been possible without the FBI’s involvement. Where else besides law enforcement could you receive credit for thwarting a crime that you created?

The FBI’s habit of creating the terrorists that it creates has a lot of ramifications. First, it completely skews the terrorism statistics. If you look at the raw numbers, the number of incidents of terrorism are artificially inflated because of the FBI’s antics. What are people supposed to do with bad data? Second, it shows that mentally ill individuals are nothing more than pawns for government agents. The FBI really has no choice but to prey on the mentally ill if it wants manufacture terrorists. But the various levels of government here in the United States often claim that they want to help the mentally ill. Those claims fall on deaf ears when agencies within the government are exploiting the same people the various other levels of government claim to want to help.

This problem isn’t likely to go away soon since the FBI hasn’t received any notable punishment for using this strategy. If that doesn’t demonstrate bad faith on behalf of the United States government, then I don’t know what does.

Alabama Legislators Moves to Hasten Executions

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The State of Alabama found itself in an embarrassing position. A man who has been on death row for 30 years managed to prove his innocence. While the legislature won’t pass a bill to compensate the man for the three decades of his life the State stole from him, it did ensure that a mistake like this never happens again:

Meanwhile, since Hinton’s release the Alabama legislature has passed a different bill related to capital punishment — the Orwellian-named “Fair Justice Act,” which aims to limit the appeals of death row inmates and speed up executions. As Hinton himself wrote in an op-ed, had the Fair Justice Act been in place at the time of his conviction, he’d almost certainly be dead.

If the State can execute inmates quicker, it doesn’t have to worry about them possibly proving their innocence and thus embarrassing it. See? Problem solved!

Let the Purges Begin

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There comes a time in every great socialist country’s history where Dear Leader has to purge undesirable elements from the benevolent government. That day was yesterday for Venezuela:

Caracas, Venezuela (CNN) — Venezuelan authorities seized opposition leaders Leopoldo Lopez and Antonio Ledezma from their homes early Tuesday, the country’s Supreme Court said, after both publicly opposed a controversial election that critics say will let President Nicolás Maduro illegitimately consolidate power.

Both men had been under house arrest for prior convictions. The house arrests were revoked, the court said, because intelligence officials claimed they were planning to flee.

Families of the two distributed separate videos purportedly showing armed men carrying the politicians away from their homes in the night. In one, a man apparently pulls Ledezma, a former Caracas mayor, out a door.

As we all know from our own government school education, the economic policies of socialism are right and true. However, the evil capitalists and their bourgeois allies are working constantly to undermine the people. When that happens Dear Leader must step in to defend the people. It’s unfortunate but Nicolás Maduro has had to consolidate is power for the good of the country and consolidation always requires a few sacrifices purges.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 2nd, 2017 at 10:00 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.

Police Body Camera Footage Being Placed Under Lock and Key

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Equipping police with body cameras was supposed to help the public hold law enforcers accountable but like any solution the State agrees to, body cameras turned out to be yet another weapon in the State’s arsenal to expropriate wealth from its subjects. State governments are placing body camera footage under lock and key so it can’t be used by the public:

North Carolina, for example, passed legislation last year excluding body camera video from the public record, so footage is not available through North Carolina’s Public Records Act. That means civilians have no right to view police recordings in the Tar Heel state unless their voice or image was captured in the video.

Louisiana also exempts body camera video from public records laws.

South Carolina will only release body camera footage to criminal defendants and the subjects of recordings.

Kansas classifies body camera video as “criminal investigation documents” available only when investigations are closed. The Topeka Police Department may have wanted positive public relations with the release of its pond rescue video, but if a news outlet had requested that video through Kansas’ Open Records Act, that request would’ve likely been denied.

I stated pretty early on in the body camera debate that the footage would be useless, at least as far as holding the police accountable goes, unless the video was streamed directly to a third-party server that wasn’t under the control of any government entity. However, most body cameras upload their data to services, such as Axon’s evidence.com, that are controlled by parties with a vested interest in pleasing police departments. Combine that setup with the state laws that put the footage outside of the public’s reach and you have another tool that was sold as being good for the people that was actually very bad for them.

I Don’t Think Theresa May Understand How Networks Work

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Politicians never let a tragedy go to waste. After another attack in London Theresa May, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, was quick to exploit the tragedy by using it to call for restricting the Internet:

The Prime Minister said introducing new rules for cyberspace would “deprive the extremists of their safe spaces online” and that technology firms were not currently doing enough.

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London attack shows too much tolerance for extremism in UK, May says
“We cannot allow this ideology the safe space it needs to breed – yet that is precisely what the internet, and the big companies that provide internet-based services provide,” Ms May said.

“We need to work with allied democratic governments to reach international agreements to regulate cyberspace to prevent the spread of extremist and terrorism planning.”

She obviously doesn’t understand how networks works.

Networks are groups of interconnected people or computers. While the Internet is the largest network in the world it is not the only network, which is what Theresa’s proposal fails to address. She seems to think that restricting the Internet, a proposal which is absurd by itself, would silence the forces her government is at war with. It wouldn’t. Even if there was a way to effectively restrict what kind of content is posted on the Internet it would simply cause those being restricted to create a separate network.

What shape would such a network take? While predicting the future is impossible there are some precedences that could give us an idea. Guifi.net, for example, is a mesh network that spans most of Catalonia. Even if every Internet connection to Guifi.net was severed the nodes on the network would still be able to communicate with one another. Drug cartels also built their own large scale network in Mexico.

Humans are social creatures and therefore strive to build networks. Every attempt to interfere with this drive has failed. Even the mighty Roman Empire, despite its best efforts, was unable to stop early Christians from networking. Eventually they networked to such a scale that they Christianized the empire. Theresa May can make whatever proposal she desires but even if it is implemented it will fail because it’s attempting to interfere with one of humanity’s most basic drives.

Written by Christopher Burg

June 6th, 2017 at 10:30 am