1.22.2015

Policing for Profit

Holder assails policing for profit | Al Jazeera America: "civil forfeiture"
While the improvements are laudable, they will not end the abuse for a number of reasons. First, local agencies may continue the programs under state laws. Second, Holder did not ban forfeiture for state and federal joint operations. And finally, the changes fall short of addressing the how civil forfeiture tramples due process rights.
Again, I don't think this is going to change much, just turns it into a state issue. Though it's possible this is the start of an overall change in our view on the purpose of law enforcement.

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1.21.2015

Freedom of Expression

France begins jailing people for ironic comments | The Electronic Intifada:
Less than a week after the massive rallies in defense of “free expression,” following the murders of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists, French authorities have jailed a youth for irony.
Wow....I guess some people's freedom of expression is more important than others.

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1.17.2015

Ceiling for Oil Prices

A New Ceiling for Oil Prices by Anatole Kaletsky - Project Syndicate:

"Competitive market conditions would therefore dictate that Saudi Arabia and other low-cost producers always operate at full capacity, while US frackers would experience the boom-bust cycles typical of commodity markets, shutting down when global demand is weak or new low-cost supplies come onstream from Iraq, Libya, Iran, or Russia, and ramping up production only during global booms when oil demand is at a peak.  
Under this competitive logic, the marginal cost of US shale oil would become a ceiling for global oil prices, whereas the costs of relatively remote and marginal conventional oilfields in OPEC and Russia would set a floor. As it happens, estimates of shale-oil production costs are mostly around $50, while marginal conventional oilfields generally break even at around $20. Thus, the trading range in the brave new world of competitive oil should be roughly $20 to $50."

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Police State - Asset seizure

Holder limits seized-asset sharing process that split billions with local, state police - The Washington Post:

Well it's a start but it sounds like seizures will still be allowed under state laws.
While police can continue to make seizures under their own state laws, Equitable Sharing was easy to use and required most of the proceeds from the seizures to go to local and state police agencies. Some states have higher standards of proof for forfeitures and some require seized proceeds to go into the general fund.
That last sentence scares me. "Some states have higher standards". I'll bet some have lower standards too. And, it sounds like states can still run it as a profit center but maybe with more control over individual police departments. So maybe this helps. Maybe.

Somehow, I see a future where the states allow police departments to seize what they want,.. just like they do now. And get to keep part of the profit,.. just like they do now. The change will be that the states will just get a bigger cut and the Feds won't get any.

Seems like a step toward that libertarian paradise of limited Federal Government where state government cronies do all the same things the Feds did. The power brokers are a little closer to my area but they are still pretty far from me.

I think I'll wait a while to decide if this really changes anything.

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1.16.2015

7 Ways to Stop Terrorism

The best thing I've read today.

7 Ways to Stop Terrorism | The Big Picture:

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Cops vs The People

Cops should be there to help society not dominate it.

I had run-ins with maybe 20 cops over my lifetime. All for small-time stuff like traffic violations, bailing friends out of jail, had things stolen, teenage issues, etc. and I'd say nearly 75% of the them acted like assholes. I've been asking people around me to give their own estimates (my own unscientific poll) and so far most are in the 50% range. That is, in about 50% of their lifetime's worth of interactions with cops, they think that about half of the time the cop treated them badly or with an attitude. Or, the cop acted like a dick.

I say "Cops are Dicks",.. a lot.

I know not all cops are dicks but I think a lot of naturally dick-ish, bully-type people gravitate to police work. Also, it's got to be a tough job. If you didn't have a dick-ish personality when you started the job, you'd develop one after a few years of dealing with the dumb, drunk and drugged up people you run into everyday. Hell, I worked as a customer service rep for a few years and dealing with people all day, every day, will give you an attitude.

Still, there are good cops out there.

But, suppose a cop walks up to you car window. How would you bet? Is he a dick or not? Where do you put your money?

Breaking down the numbers: One third of Americans believe police lie routinely:


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1.14.2015

Interesting Maps here

35 maps that explain how America is a nation of immigrants - Vox:

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Cops are dicks

When will they realize that video cameras are everywhere.

WATCH: Police hose down crowd of sports fans with pepper spray and tear gas - Boing Boing:



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You cant trust anyone - again

A couple of days ago the story was that ISIS hacked CENTCOM's social media accounts. Today, well that might not be true.

‘ISIS’ Hackers Love American Folk-Punk, Don’t Know the Name of Their Own Terror Group - The Daily Beast:
"But all is not what it seems with the cyber jihadis. Privately, defense officials told The Daily Beast they were skeptical that the hacking was conducted by ISIS but said it was too early to say who carried out the attack."

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You can't trust anyone.

Role of FBI informant in eco-terrorism case probed after documents hint at entrapment | US news | The Guardian:
"But “Anna”, as she called herself, was no ordinary eco-protester. Really, she wasn’t one at all. She was an FBI informant under instructions to infiltrate fringe green groups and anti-capitalist networks and report back on their activities to the US government."

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1.13.2015

The Oil Price War

The call for a government bail-out begins.

America's Going to Lose the Oil Price War - Bloomberg View:
"It may be time for the U.S. government to consider whether it wants to up the stakes in this price war by entering it as a sovereign country. That might mean bailing out or temporarily subsidizing the shale producers. After all, they are competing with states now, not with businesses like themselves"

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Wind Power

Interesting post on wind power in Scotland

Too Much Of A Good Thing: Scotland Gags On Wind Power - The Automatic Earth:
Conclusions
  • In 2010 Scotland had a self contained reliable diversified electricity supply system that created a dispatchable surplus that was exported to England.
  • Come 2020 the Scottish system will be dominated by non-dispatchable wind power.
  • When the wind does not blow Scotland will become an energy parasite dependent upon imports of dispatchable power from England, assuming that England has that dispatchable capacity to spare.
  • When the wind blows hard, Scotland will generate a vast wind power surplus that will have low / no value and that no one will want / be able to use. The only way to make this plan remotely sensible is to deploy large scale pumped hydro storage. A detailed feasible plan for which, as far as I am aware, is lacking.
  • The uncontrolled expansion of wind power that has effectively already caused a glut of non-dispatchable renewable electricity must surely undermine future development and deployment of marine renewables, some of which may have made more sense than wind.
  • If you are objecting to wind turbine power stations being erected on your hill or glen, you should make clear in your objection that the wind power being generated is surplus to Scotland’s requirement. Some of it may be used at home, some of it will be exported and much of it may simply be wasted. It seems likely that Scotland’s beautiful landscape is being wrecked in pursuit of an ideological, empty dream.


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American Capitalism at Work

Generally, a race to the bottom.

6 ways Cadbury has been trashed - Telegraph:

The American takeover of Cadbury in 2010 was very controversial. Many British commentators argued that the £11.5 billion acquisition by Kraft, the world's second biggest food company, would see the famous UK brand be devalued. Within weeks Kraft had closed a factory, despite promises during the deal that it would keep it open.
But it is not just the factories Kraft has meddled with. The US owner is now called Mondelez – the confectionery business of Kraft was split out into a separate company in 2012. And it has tinkered with recipes, packaging and traditions. Not to everyone's taste.
Here are six of the more controversial changes:



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