"The dollar dropped to the lowest level versus the yen since July 1995..."
Saturday, November 28, 2009
"RADLEY BALKO is an award-winning investigative reporter who focuses on civil liberties and criminal justice. He is a senior editor at Reason magazine, where he writes a monthly column. He also writes a weekly column for Reason's website and blogs at Hit & Run and The Agitator, his personal blog, which is a must read for anyone with a healthy scepticism of the government's activities...
DIA: You've written about the creeping militarisation of law enforcement in America. How has this trend manifested itself and what are the consequences for the quality of policing?
Mr Balko: The most obvious way it has manifested itself is in the explosion in the use of SWAT teams and similar paramilitary police units over the last 25 years. The criminologist Peter Kraska has surveyed their use over that time. He's found that the total number of SWAT-team deployments in the 1970s was a few hundred times per year, over the entire country. By the 1980s, it was a few thousand times per year. And by around 2005, Mr Kraska estimates around 50,000 times per year. The surge has been driven entirely by the drug war, with the vast majority of SWAT deployments being used to serve drug-related search warrants.
This has led to a militaristic mindset among America's police departments, beyond just SWAT teams. Driven by "war on crime" and "war on drugs" rhetoric set by political leaders, police officers have increasingly taken on the psyche of soldiers. There's a pervasive and troubling "us versus them" attitude in policing today. Policing has become more reactionary, more aggressive, and it's poisoning the relationship between the police and the communities they serve.
I should add that I don't think police officers themselves are to blame for this, nor, obviously, are all police officers guilty of it. These are problems spawned by 35 years or so of bad policies set by politicians. That's really where any reform would need to start.
DIA: Another criminal justice issue you often deal with is the use of forensic evidence. How is forensic evidence being abused in the courtroom, and what can be done to improve the way we use science in criminal proceedings?
Mr Balko: The main problem with forensic evidence is that it isn't science but it's usually presented to juries as if it were. Forensic evidence—think fingerprint matching, hair and fiber analysis, ballistics, etc—has been largely invented by and developed by police and police organisations. But when its presented in court, it's often presented with the gloss of science. It's telling that the one type of forensic evidence that actually was developed in the scientific community—DNA testing—is really the only type that's relatively certain (provided the evidence is handled properly). And it's showing us just how flawed and overstated other areas of forensics really are...
DIA: Beyond the two discussed above, what are the most critical flaws in America's criminal justice system?
Mr Balko: Incentives. At every step in the process, the incentive is toward putting people in jail. And there's almost no penalty at all for state actors who overstep their authority. Police departments, for example, get federal anti-drug grants based in large part on how many people they arrest on drug charges. After the botched drug raid in Atlanta a few years ago in which a raiding police team shot and killed an innocent 92-year-old woman, we learned in subsequent investigations that officers had monthly quotas for drug arrests and drug seizures. Ed Burns, the former Baltimore cop and co-creator of the magnificent HBO show "The Wire", talks about this quite a bit....the incentive problems are most apparent with prosecutors. Prosecutors get no credit for cases they decide not to bring, either because of a lack of evidence or because pressing charges wouldn't be in the interest of justice. They're only rewarded for winning convictions. That's what gets them promoted, or re-elected, or gives them the elevated profile to run for higher office. Every incentive points toward winning convictions. And particularly with prosecutors, there's really no penalty at all for going too far to get a guilty verdict...
George Orwell wrote of government power, "If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—forever." He may still be right, but there's now a decent chance someone will be there with a cell-phone camera to post it on YouTube. And exposing abuse of power is half the battle."
"A look at Nelson Mandela (Morgan Freeman) from the fall of apartheid. The story is about Mandela's release from prison, his election as President of South Africa and his attempts to use the 1995 Rugby World Cup as a vehicle to bring his people together, after the fall of apartheid. Led by their captain Francois Pienaar (Matt Damon), the South African team wins the tournament, upsetting the favourites New Zealand 15–12 in the final."
"In 1971, several hundred squatters took over an abandoned military barracks in Christiania and attempted to create their own utopia. Two generations later, 800 idealists still live here, defending their right to enjoy life on their terms, while real estate developers set their sights on this now desirable piece of land."
Friday, November 27, 2009
"(516): Why does Thanksgiving make hot girls feel disgusting and fat girls feel horny? Its killing my prospects."texts from last night:
"(812): I literally ate my thanksgiving dinner while getting a lapdance. And honestly, after that, there is no other way."
"Finally, Al Gore and Lord Monckton have come together to "rap battle" over climate change. Well, sort of.Via http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2009/nov/26/al-gore-lord-monckton-rap-battle
Hugo Farrant, "an MC/spoken word performer from the UK now based in Melbourne", has put together a brilliantly rapped "news report" for TheJuiceMedia, a YouTube channel which describes itself as "an independent media source for events taking place in Australia relating to indigenous people, history, law and the environment". Farrant, who has clearly done his homework, plays the role of anchorman Robert Foster, as well as the parts of well-known climate combatants Al Gore and Lord Monckton. Neither Gore nor Monckton come out of it too well."
Thursday, November 26, 2009
By that I mean you should give smallpox infected blankets to your neighbors, wait for them to die, then take their stuff. Cheers.
*Little known fact, in England Thanksgiving is known as "Thank Fuck We Got Those Weird Jesus Bastards On The Boat Day." Well, at least according to Warren Ellis' Twitter. You're welcome.*
Via Warren Ellis » For Your Delectation
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
"A 41-year-old man searching for his biological father reports that he became depressed after discovering it's Charles Manson. It doesn't help that dear old dad signs his prison letters to his son with a swastika."
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
PM - Atlas III Pushups [1m] - 22
Atlas Situps [3m] - 52
Hindu Pushups [2m] - 17
Hindu Squats [12m] - 204
Hindu Pushups [2m] - 17
Atlas Situps [3m] - 45
Atlas III Pushups [1m] - 18
Chins [1m] - 12
MILO DSR [4m] - 20/15
Bridge - 50 count
"Sarah Palin fans at her book signing in Clumbus, Ohio. The object of their line of questioning is simple “Why do you like Sarah Palin?” and “Why do you think she would make a good president?”"
You always had the hippies and the libertarians, but when you get the conservatives, you know it's gone too far.
"In the next several months, the Supreme Court will decide at least a half-dozen cases about the rights of people accused of crimes involving drugs, sex and corruption. Civil liberties groups and associations of defense lawyers have lined up on the side of the accused.
But so have conservative, libertarian and business groups. Their briefs and public statements are signs of an emerging consensus on the right that the criminal justice system is an aspect of big government that must be contained.
The development represents a sharp break with tough-on-crime policies associated with the Republican Party since the Nixon administration.
...Edwin Meese III, who was known as a fervent supporter of law and order as attorney general in the Reagan administration, now spends much of his time criticizing what he calls the astounding number and vagueness of federal criminal laws.
Mr. Meese once referred to the American Civil Liberties Union as part of the “criminals’ lobby.” These days, he said, “in terms of working with the A.C.L.U., if they want to join us, we’re happy to have them.”
“The problem of overcriminalization is truly one of those issues upon which a wide variety of constituencies can agree,” Mr. Thornburgh said. “Witness the broad and strong support from such varied groups as the Heritage Foundation, the Washington Legal Foundation, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the A.B.A., the Cato Institute, the Federalist Society and the A.C.L.U.”
...“Libertarians and the civil liberties left have always had some common ground on these issues,” said Radley Balko, a senior editor at Reason, a libertarian magazine. “The more vocal presence of conservatives on overcriminalization issues is really what’s new.”
Several strands of conservatism have merged in objecting to aspects of the criminal justice system. Some conservatives are suspicious of all government power, while others insist that the federal government has been intruding into matters the Constitution reserves to the states."
Warren Ellis » T-Shirt Of The Week #005: HEALTH:
"TOTW is basically a joke that Ariana and I pull each week in our joint guise as the International Electrophonic Unit. Basically, we take some of the stupider things I’ve said on Twitter and elsewhere, often in a state of extreme alcoholic refreshment or severe sleep deprivation, and put them on a t-shirt. Ariana set up a Cafe Press store (because this is a joke and engaging with a serious maker of t-shirts would be less funny to us), and… well, once a week, here we are."
The bonus regular greatest coffee container of all time [I will buy one of these.]
Lying In The Gutters – 24th November 2009 | Bleeding Cool Comic News & Rumors:
"We examined the sales effects and latest news of the Blackest Night ring promotion, as the Error Rings hit eBay, and thanks to Latty of Larry’s Comics for the above image – would they be called nipple rings?
Monday, November 23, 2009
"TWILIGHT.... was the TRIUMPH OF THE WILL of teen girl romantic fantasies, NEW MOON is the Nuremberg Rally of teen girl romantic fantasies."
Look! It Moves! by Adi Tantimedh#26: So What’s The Problem With Twilight The Vampire? | Bleeding Cool Comic News & Rumors:
"...The biggest difference TWILIGHT has with previous vampire stories is that it’s entirely fuckless. It’s about abstaining from intercourse for as long as possible in order to prolong the romantic agony. The TWILIGHT franchise tweaks the vampire figure into something more tame and watered down: he’s not particularly dangerous, survives in daylight, and he sparkles. Teenage girls like sparkle, I guess. But the biggest difference with TWILIGHT is that it’s not about fucking at all but the swoony-moony, sweet pain of yearning rather than consummation. That’s how it’s tailored for teenage girls who are still working out their feelings about sex and find here a safe place to explore their romantic wiring. Here they have an emo Bad Boy who’s nice to them, who could hurt them but restrains himself not to. That tens of millions of teenage girls all over the world is revealing and you either hope this is something they’re going to grow out of lest they spend their adult lives going after emotionally abusive and unavailable men. I wonder if this points to some background of abuse in the girls who really like this fantasy. What’s really disturbing is the adult women who love this fantasy. In order for it the work, the girl has to be passive and constantly in need of protection and rescue rather than be self-sufficient and proactive. This proves Feminism still has a very long way to go. Alas, chaps, if your wife or girlfriend is obsessed with the TWILIGHT fantasy more than just liking it, you might want to seriously examine your relation and their emotional stability.
If the first TWILIGHT movie was the TRIUMPH OF THE WILL of teen girl romantic fantasies, NEW MOON is the Nuremberg Rally of teen girl romantic fantasies. It takes the abstaining yearning into deeper realms of female masochism and self-destructiveness when the heroine starts deliberately putting herself in danger to re-experience the thrill of being rescued by Twilight the Vampire...
TWILIGHT makes me really glad I don’t have a teenage daughter as I would have to work really hard to teach her not to be a submissive doormat who’s into abusive bad boys and even then I would be unlikely to succeed."
"The press corps that is bashing her skull in right now is the same one that hyped that WMD horseshit for like four solid years and pom-pommed America to war with Iraq over the screeching objections of the entire planet. It’s the same press corps that rolled out the red carpet for someone very nearly as abjectly stupid as Sarah Palin to win not one but two terms in the White House. If there was any kind of consensus support for Palin inside the beltway, the criticism of her, bet on it, would be almost totally confined to chortling east coast smartasses...
What the people who are flipping out about the treatment of Palin should be asking themselves is what it means when it’s not just jerks like us but everybody piling on against Palin. For those of you who can’t connect the dots, I’ll tell you what it means. It means she’s been cut loose. It means that all five of the families have given the okay to this hit job, including even the mainstream Republican leaders. You teabaggers are in the process of being marginalized by your own ostensible party leaders in exactly the same way the anti-war crowd was abandoned by the Democratic party elders in the earlier part of this decade. Like the antiwar left, you have been deemed a threat to your own party’s “winnability.”
And do you know what that means? That means that just as the antiwar crowd spent years being painted by the national press as weepy, unpatriotic pussies whose enthusiastic support is toxic to any serious presidential aspirant, so too will all of you afternoon-radio ignoramuses who seem bent on spending the next three years kicking and screaming your way up the eternal asshole of white resentment now find yourself and your political champions painted as knee-jerk loonies whose rabid irrationality is undeserving of the political center. And yes, that’s me saying that, but I’ve always been saying that, not just about Palin but about George Bush and all your other moron-heroes.
What’s different now is who else is saying it. You had these people eating out of the palms of your hands (remember what it was like in the Dixie Chicks days?). Now they’re all drawing horns and Groucho mustaches on your heroes, and rapidly transitioning you from your previous political kingmaking role in the real world to a new role as a giant captive entertainment demographic that exists solely to be manipulated for ratings and ad revenue. What you should be asking yourself is why this is happening to you. Even I don’t know the answer to that question, but honestly, I don’t really care. All I know is that I find it extremely funny."
Via Science Jokes to Brighten Your Monday Morning - Boing Boing
Year One - innocuous fun. Michael Cera and Jack Black play, well, the same characters they always play. But funny.
The Venture Bros - best show about failure in the history of TV.
SNL - a really solid episode this week. The China press conference was great, Dave Matthews as Ozzy, the Say Anything spoof, but the genius moment was the ""let's have Andy Samberg sing a song about being in love with Reba McEntire, who is actually a black man wearing a red wig."
Community is really hitting its stride.
Friday Night Lights - still my favorite drama on TV.
Misfits - picking up depth and entertainment with ep 2.
FlashForward - really nice [and accurate, imho] Japanese cultural commentary this episode. The show is still equal parts awesome and suck, tho'.
The Mentalist - the Red John mythology eps are the best.
Doctor Who - The Waters of Mars - really, really excellent. The Doc is going off the deep end. Can't wait for the xmas special. The preview for The End of Time looks genius.
Daily Show - moment of the week was Stewart sparring with Lou Dobbs.
[Pt 1 - pt 2 & 3 on the web here and here.]
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Exclusive - Lou Dobbs Extended Interview Pt. 1|
The Prisoner remake on AMC - Watched it through to the end, more pity to me. Not even a slight departure from the original ideas and concepts of the first show, but an actual direct repudiation of the very ideas. The 'we can make a good village' at end sums it all up. Be prepared to sacrifice your individuality and freedoms as long as the "right" people are in charge and for the "right" cause. How fucking horrifying. McGoohan must be spinning in his grave. Sad that this is what passes for daring media discourse. Trust Big Brother, for they have your best interests at heart and are only trying to help. Disgusting.
This review is spot on regarding it - REVIEW: AMC’s The Prisoner – Look! It Moves! #25 by Adi Tantimedh | Bleeding Cool Comic News & Rumors:
"Let’s get this out of the way: THE PRISONER remake is shit. Pointless, generic shit.
Yes, it’s pretty-looking and expensive and shot in Sunny South Africa with decent actors, but it is shit. It’s shit because it either completely fails to understand what the original Sixties version was really about or it just violently disagreed enough with it to use the superficial elements to repute what the Sixties version wanted to say.
Which kind of defeats the whole point of the story in the first place. Why remake a popular story if you’re going to toss everything that people liked about the original under the bus? The catchphrase and key theme of the original show was Number Six’ weekly decree, “I am not a number, I am a free man!” In an interview in last week’s New York Times, the writer of the remake said he felt the need to modify that sentiment into something more, moderate, less individualist, more… community-minded.
...McGoohan was making a parable about one man’s struggle to assert his individuality in a world that’s trying to pin him down and break him, but the individuality he fought tooth-and-nail for might be an illusion after all, and the fight might be part of the system after all, but it still needed to be fought, for everyone. The remake feels like a piece of fanfic at best where the writer decided to rewrite the story to accommodate their own theme of the need to be part of a community in order to be of worth, which is about a million miles from what the original show was getting at. While the makers can go around trumpeting that they’re tackling contemporary issues like the oppressiveness of the Surveillance Society, that theme was already dealt with at length and with more wit and finesse in the original series... The remake is a redundant and much duller trap, rather than attempt to express a real point, it’s hamstrung by caution and stays steadfastly in the middle. The original series posits that the world is the Village. The remake seems to say that maybe the Village isn’t so bad after all, if it was only run by nice people."
"I guess they figured they're cops, so what the hell is going to happen to them? And you know what? They're right. They've gotten away with it."
"It Opened Our Eyes" - Reason Magazine:
"Steve and Candice Cheolas were charged with controlling a social gathering where alcohol was consumed by minors, a crime that requires both knowledge and acceptance of the minors' consumption. They were also charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Additionally, Candice Cheolas was charged with obstructing a police officer.
"If you look at the depositions, none of the kids said my parents knew there was drinking going on," Nick says. "They said they snuck alcohol in their pants, or were hiding in the bathroom to drink. The police said my parents were drunk and smelled of alcohol. That's just a lie. My parents don't drink in the home, except for maybe a glass of wine with Christmas dinner."
The Cheolases eventually discovered that the police officers who came to their home that night had written two sets of reports, and there were major discrepancies between the two drafts. The second drafts included damning information about the Cheolases that was nowhere to be found in the initial reports. They also discovered the officers were wearing microphones on their uniforms that connected to the dash cam on their patrol cars. The audio recordings captured by those microphones would eventually vindicate the family in court.
"The police reports attributed 28 separate statements to my mother that made her seem drunk, belligerent and confrontational. Of those 28, only one benign statement actually shows up in the audio. Everyone lied after the fact. The police, the paramedics, the parents of the girl who got drunk. The tapes show that," Nick says. The police reports also allege that when officers attempted to enter the home, Candice Cheolas repeatedly screamed at them and blocked their access to the doorway—the reason for the obstruction charge. But the audio tapes show she wasn't even outside when the officers entered the home, and bear no evidence of screaming. All of which is why the prosecution took the unusual step of trying to prevent the police department's own audio tapes from being admitted into evidence.
Why would police produce false reports when they know the entire incident was recorded? "I really don't know," Nick says. "I guess they figured they're cops, so what the hell is going to happen to them? And you know what? They're right. They've gotten away with it."
Candice Cheolas was finally tried in January 2006. The prosecution called 28 witnesses. When the state rested its case, Macomb County District Judge Walter Jakubowski, Jr. ordered a directed verdict in favor of the defendant. Candice Cheolas didn't even need to put on a defense."
PM - Atlas III Pushups [1m] - 20
Atlas Situps [3m] - 45
Hindu Pushups [2m] - 15
Hindu Squats [12m] - 192
Hindu Pushups [2m] - 15
Atlas Situps [3m] - 35
Atlas III Pushups [1m] - 15
Chins [1m] - 10
MILO DSR [4m] - 20/15
Bridge - 40 count
AM - Atlas 1 & 6
PM - Atlas III Pushups [1m] - 19
Atlas Situps [3m] - 40
Hindu Pushups [2m] - 15
Hindu Squats [12m] - 180
Hindu Pushups [2m] - 10
Atlas Situps [3m] - 30
Atlas III Pushups [1m] - 10
Chins [1m] - 8
MILO DSR [4m] - 20/15
Bridge - 40 count
Sunday, November 22, 2009
"I always wondered what happened to the Pete Ross character from early Smallville. Who no sooner than he learned Clark Kent’s secret, suddenly nicks off across the country, written out, not to be heard from again (aside from a one-off return last year).Personally, I hope he gets off. But I think all non-violent drug offenders should get off. And you should be able to buy Oxy over the counter. It's a magickal world I dream of.
I wondered if he’d ever return as a criminal?
Well, that plot-twist has been realised in reality, actor Sam Jones arrested and charged as part of a conspiracy to purchase and distrubute the restricted drug oxycodone…"