January 2008 Archives

Defying the federal government's raids on medical marijuana users and distributors (conducted despite California state law legalizing medical marijuana use)

Berkeley Thumbs Its Nose at the
DEA, Declaring Itself Sanctuary City for Medical Marijuana Users

Defying the federal government's use of state national guard troops for an undeclared war and unsanctioned military operations

The Vermont state legislature prepares a bill saying FU to the use of the state guard for the Iraq occupation.

The Times-Picayune has some bad news for the people of New Orleans:

U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval's much-anticipated decision follows a mid-August hearing on whether a 1928 federal law immunizing the Corps from being sued over its flood control projects would shortstop the homeowners' class action lawsuit accusing the Corps of negligently designing the floodwalls...

In his 46-page ruling, however, Duval made it clear that the law requires him to dismiss the cases, but that he is not unaware of the hardship caused by that the Corps' actions .

"Millions of dollars were squandered in building a levee system with respect to these outfall canals which were known to be inadequate by the Corps' own calculations... It is hopefully within the citizens of the United States power to address the failures of our laws and agencies,'' Duval said. "If not, it is certain that another tragedy such as this will occur again.''

Uh, Judge? I was sort of under the impression that's what the court was for...

Vignettes from the Land of Liberty

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Random police sweep at South Carolina High School yields: no guns, no drugs, but a pack of cigarettes.

Vignettes from the Land of Liberty

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Old Enough To Kill But Not For Gambling

Congressman wants to ban gambling machines on military base.

Congressman Lincoln Davis (D-TN) is behind a new congressional push to ban gambling at overseas military bases because of what he feels is its inherently addictive nature.

I Recruited Jihadists (For the FBI)

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"Work expands so far as to fill the time available for its solution".

So said Professor Cyril Northcote Parkinson over fifty years ago when he formulated his famous "Parkinson's Law" of Bureaucratic Self-Aggrandizement" which described the genius of bureaucracies to find and failing that to invent work to justify ever larger budgets.

He had in mind the British civil service and royal navy.

But he could have been describing the increasing practice documented in this feature in the current Rolling Stone of using covert informants to help gin up and promote potential terror conspiracies where none existed, in order to bring terror related prosecutions to court.

Vignettes from the Land of Liberty

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Georgia Sheriff Says It's Time for Martial Law

Sick of conventional wussy drug warfare using old-fashioned methods like warrants and arrests, Sheriff Victor Hill, Clayton County, GA.  proposes that a serious military-like invasion and occupation of drug zones is necessary.

"The war on drugs in Clayton County, as in most jurisdictions, I liken it to the Vietnam War," Hill said. "Hit and miss, there is no clear win -- we don't know if we're gaining ground or not. What we want to do is we want to change our strategy. We want to make this more like a Normandy invasion."
(Thanks to Stop the Drug War)

Annals of the Ice Age

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Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) tries to deep freeze Freedom of Information Act requests for documents on dozens of warrantless raids by its "Fugitive Operations Teams".

Lawyers and Brazilian community newspaper get cold shoulder from Department of Homeland Security which refuses to expedite requests saying the raids are not an issue of particular public interest because" a preliminary search of the internet does not indicate that there is substantial current news interest concerning this topic, and no other individuals have recently sought information on ICE operations."


SOURCE Seton Hall University School of Law

Vignettes from the Land of Liberty

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Do Citizens Have a Right to "Wiretap" the Government

A 2006 graduate of New England School of Law will stand trial on Jan. 29 in Boston Municipal Court on charges of wiretapping, aiding an escape and disturbing the peace for allegedly using his cell phone to record the arrest of a 16-year-old juvenile in a drug case.


Thanks to Cato at Liberty for the link

As I saw this I couldn't help thinking of words recently written by Judge Andrew Napolitano in A Nation of Sheep:

"Why should government agents spy on us? They work for us. How about we spy on them. On cops when they arrest and interrogate people or contemplate suspending freedom, on prosecutors when they decide whom to prosecute and what evidence to use... These are all our employees and we have a right to know what they are doing."

The always-cogent security guru Bruce Schneier has a fine editorial in Wired today, with the useful epiphany that when our government overlords prattle on about how we can't afford privacy any more, it's just so much authoritarian hogwash.

Which of course we knew -- but it's always nice to have experts agree.

Read the whole article, it's worth your time, but what I think are the key insights are these.

  • Security based on identity is what authoritarians believe in: i.e., we can be safe if we keep bad guys out.
  • Security based on actions is what engineers believe in: i.e. we can be safe if we keep people from doing bad things (by intent or by accident.)
  • Most of what Homeland Security does falls into the first category.
  • They're wrong.
Wiretapping debate resumes Tuesday More FISA fallout President Bush mentioned the FISA bill last night in the State of the Union address, trying to pressure congress to grant immunity to telecoms that spy on Americans. Democrats are putting up a lackluster fight, and may cave in, once again.

January 28, 2008

Until a couple of years ago, Iowa schoolchildren could use a fingerprint to pay for their hot lunch. Thumbprint scanners were just becoming popular in Iowa for lunch lines, library checkout and bus boarding.

State lawmakers outlawed the devices for school use in 2005 amid concerns about legal issues, privacy and information hacking.

Today, there's a push to again allow fingerprint-scanning equipment in schools...

Full Story:

It's less fun than it sounds. It seems Gulf Middle School resource officer John Nohejl didn't have any porn on his Myspace page. He didn't link to any porn either. But one of his friends had a link to a legal porn site. It seems kind of like roulette. And the prize is being investigated by the state's cyber crimes unit. In Florida, of course.

XXXtreme Cop Abuse

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Quiet little Cottonwood, Arizona was the scene  of a courthouse protest against police abuse at the trial of Dibor Roberts, a female Sengalese-born American citizen who didn't pull over fast enough for a hot-headed officer. The officer smashed in her car window and grabbed her cellphone and, according to a report on Disloyal Opposition... "while police deny it, the press has reported that (the cop) Neunum dragged (the woman) Roberts from her vehicle, threw her to the ground, and handcuffed her while driving his knee into her back." The woman is now facing charges of "unlawful flight from a police officer" and "resisting arrest."  The resisting arrest charges have apparently been pressed because the cop hurt himself smashing her car window.

From the really pisses me off department - OK, this is really just too much. The NYPD says it costs too much to follow up on citizen warnings of air quality problems, and that knowledge of air quality problems without the express permission of the government leads to public panic.

And it was suggested by the Department of -- you guessed it -- Homeland Security. I'm still reacting to this emotionally and haven't had the chance to build up a full head of vitriolic steam, but it's this kind of crap that really will make America the third-world nation its leaders aspire to govern. I'm not kidding.

Knowing that it's a stupid notion on the face of it, the NYPD tried to fast-track the ruling so it wouldn't be subject to public scrutiny. That's the kind of tactic used by authoritarians everywhere -- the democratic process is too slow, they say, the threat too imminent, to wait for all you whiny-ass pansies to finish talking about things while we real men take the fight to the enemy. In this case, of course, the enemy being "people who check the official party line for truth" -- because the purpose of Homeland Security is to make people feel secure. Whether they actually are secure or not is immaterial.

The Australian government arrested Dr. Mohamed Haneef quickly in connection with the Heathrow bombing. Nancy Grace style, they leaped in front of every television to relate his evil deeds. But his lawyer, Stephen Keims was willing to risk his career to show that his client was not a terrorist. Now Haneef is back in India, and the investigation into Keim's conduct is due to end this month. Here's hoping they recognize justice when they see her. She sure hasn't been in our country much.

Full article here. Hat tip to my mom!

Can you be arrested for flying with duct tape, yarn and handcuffs? Yes, it appears you can. We do not yet know how police learned of this teen's intent to hijack a plane and crash it into the Hannah Montana Concert. We do know that the Hannah Montana Concert was actually the next night.

Let's add 'em to the ongoing no-fly list:
But not ALL of them
Pointy Things
Duct Tape

Only in Florida Department -- how often have we heard this story? Old lady pulls over at McDonald's to wait for order. Cop honks at her to get out of his way. She gives him the evil eye, apparently for being a jerk, so what's a poor cop to do? Naturally he was forced to handcuff her behind her back and cart her off to prison. Not sure how he managed to get past her car -- perhaps he should have tried harder in the first place.

In his defense, he says she was mean to him. Also, he had to arrest her because her failure to comply with his orders could have potentially cost McDonald's some business.

I'm ... I'm just not going to editorialize on this one any further. I feel cheapened already, just bringing it up.

A Radically Novel Concept

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Russ Feingold attempts to revive an antediluvian notion- congressional oversight.

Imagine the effrontery of suggesting that the secret FISA court actually give the Senate Intelligence committee a clue about how it is interpreting wiretap laws.


Vignettes from the Land of Liberty

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Random police dog searches for Pennsylvania high school.

'We want to prove a point and make sure the community knows that we will go to extremes to make sure we have drug-free schools," says school superintendent

Vignettes from the Land of Liberty

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Call it The Fugitive Migrant Act
Indiana Senate  committee approves Zero-Tolerance Immigrant Crackdown Campaign

If approved by full state senate bill would make it a criminal act to transport or in any way aid an illegal immigrant and possibly impose criminal liability on any citizen who failed to report a suspected undocumented immigrant to the proper authorities.

Civility as the New Coercion

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Brandeis Latin American politics professor to have classes monitored for use of "insensitive language".

In his Fall 2007 course on Latin American politics, Professor Donald Hindley allegedly used terms that at least one student found objectionable. Despite his repeated demands to Brandeis administrators to disclose in writing precisely what offended some students in his class, they have refused to tell him. According to Hindley, he explained to his class that Mexican migrants in the United States are sometimes referred to pejoratively as "wetbacks."
Thanks to FIRE


Vignettes from the Land of Liberty

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High School Creative Writing teacher suspended for using "Freedom Writers  Diary" as textbook.

"Unapproved" book cited for including "swear words".

Connie Heermann of Perry Meridan High School was placed on administrative leave after she assigned "The Freedom Writers Diary," a collection of at-risk teenagers' essays containing swear words and sexual overtones, to her 11th-grade English students in November.The school district says Heermann assigned the book before administrators could answer her request for permission to use it. Heermann, however, says she tried unsuccessfully for months to get the answer, and she assigned the book only after she received permission from the students' parents and positive signs -- though no expressed approval -- from two superiors.

Hard to Know What To Say

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Cheney Calls for Permanent Warrantless Surveillance
Perhaps written in to what remains of the constitution as an amendment. "Congress shall pass all laws permitting warrantless wiretapping".

Kafka Lives

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US Supreme Court: Federal Law Enforcement Agents Immune from Theft Suits
A Declaration of Independence (from accountability)

Federal law enforcement officers  are immune from lawsuits for mishandling, losing or even stealing personal property that comes under their control in the course of their official duties, the Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday in a 5-to-4 decision.

The case was brought by a federal prison inmate, but the ruling was not limited to the prison context. It was an interpretation of the Federal Tort Claims Act, which applies to federal employees' liability for damages and generally waives immunity from being sued.

NY Times by way of American Constitution

Also See here

Another Day, Another Drug War Scandal

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The Midnight Express

Two full squads of Brooklyn South Narcotics midnight crew benched for taking sex, drugs and cash from junkies and dealers.

Thanks to Talk Left

Vignettes from the Land of Liberty

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Highway Robbery

  Nebraska County Sherriff's Office Seizes $69 thousand plus at a routine traffic stop.

After stopping a car ostensibly for speeding, county sherriff's deputy finds and seizes $69 thousand dollars of "suspected drug money". No warrant, no arrest, not even, it turns out, a speeding ticket.

Thanks to the Agitator.

Zoning Out (more) Protest

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Another State (Utah) Does Massachusetts One Better, banning picketing less than 100 feet from its intended target.

Just because its ostensibly aimed at animal rights activists bothering scientific researchers doesn't mean it won't become a precedent for even further zoning out protests of all kinds.

Zoning-Out Protest

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Massachusetts State Law to widen protest buffer zones

Just because it's ostensibly aimed at anti-abortion protestors doesn't mean that dramatically widening"protest-free" zone parameters from 6 feet to 35 feet won't give authorities yet more power to marginalize protests of all kinds.     

Vignettes from the Land of Liberty

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Aircraft surveillance to make sure you buckle up.
Illinois county Special Enforcement team to use unmarked cars, aircraft surveillance to spot seat belt, speeding violations.

Of course traffic violations once you're pulled over can easily become an open invitation to arrest you for other things, an increasingly common and in many states court approved practice.  So who needs probable cause?

Vignettes from the Land of Liberty

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Lawmaker Seeks to Ban All Mention of homosexuality in public schools.

Billl would outlaw any discussion or free speech about homosexuality or bisexuality in any public elementary or middle school.
While all sorts of encomiums, both sincere and banal, issue forth from politicians and the media, it's worthwhile to recall the lengths to which government agencies, especially, but not only the FBI, went to destroy his civil liberties.

Thanks to Truthdig

Less Free, Less Safe

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Jon Stokes of Ars Technica predicts some unintended consequences of Real ID.
"Here's an ugly prediction that you can take to the bank: as the amount of data that the feds collect on innocent civilians grows, so will the number of people who are victims of crimes that were made possible by unauthorized access to a government database."

The best-known private military forces in American history were the Hessians hired by the British throne to fight its proxy war against General Washington. So naturally today's Republicans want to get in on that -- after all, just paying our troops what they're worth would funnel money to the people who deserve it least: the troops, instead of their corporate masters.

The answer is blindingly obvious, when you think about it. You just get a prince to start a private army, and hire him to do the job of American troops, for a fraction of the price. If by "fraction" you mean "factor of ten" -- which, as long as it's going to the Right People, is fine by the Cheney Administration.

Then, just to make sure those barbarians in the Middle East get the right idea about American democracy, you make sure that your private military isn't subject to any laws. Thanks, Mr. Bremer. That's sure to make those ragheads realize they should have thrown Saddam out earlier.

Nothing says "America rocks" quite as much as American mercenaries using heavy ordnance to clear their way through traffic because they don't want to wait that long. (Oops, turns out a couple of those caught in that particular incident were American soldiers. Oh, well, private military isn't subject to American law either. So that's fine, right?)

As I'm sure you're aware, the poster child for this new growth industry is Blackwater, founded by a Republican partizan named, um, Erik Prince. You can't make this stuff up, can you? Blackwater's not the only one, of course -- but they're kind of the archetype.

And no, they don't really like democracy, as evidenced by their reaction to some uppity guy running for Congress in their own hometown:


There is a man named Marshall Adame who is running for congress in our district. He just put a quote online which says he wants this company and all of us to cease to exist.

Do you like your jobs? Are you sick and tired of the slanderous bullshit going on in DC?

If so, would you all mind joining me in reminding Mr. Adame that he is running for office in our backyard. Tell all your friends and family too. We welcome their assistance in making this point very clear to Mr. Adame......

Anyone who wants to send a letter may do so at the following address.....

PMB #161

His email is info@marshalladame4congress2008.com

He was too cowardly to put a phone number on the web. I ask that you keep your comments to Mr. Adame professional (well, mostly professional). We help him if our comments get threatening or too crass. Let's run this goof out of Dodge....!

Bill Mathews
Executive Vice President
Blackwater Worldwide
850 Puddin Ridge Road
Moyock, NC 27958

Wow. Not only do they operate lawlessly in Iraq, not only are they reputed to be gearing up for "crowd" control (that means controlling you, if you were wondering) -- they also think it's fine to use intimidation to affect free elections. It'll start there, sure. Want to bet it won't spread?

These people are not Americans at heart; they're Hessians at best, the very crap our forefathers declared independence to avoid. I don't know about you, but I'm thinking Marshall Adame might be a good guy to donate a shitload of money to, because the reason Blackwater want to intimidate him is that he said this: "There is no place in the American force structure, or in American culture for mercenaries.... Private Armies represent the very things we depise as a people. Servants to the highest bidder with true allegiance to no-one."


The Raleigh News-Observer, local newspaper with the unAmerican letter
Harper's article by Scott Horton with a nice summary
For a rather pro-private stance (I'm a balanced guy) and a very nice historical perspective, try here. (Even this guy assumes that American mercenaries will be subject to Congressional oversight -- touchingly naive given actual reality, but he means well.)
A business perspective at GovExec.com
Commondreams overview to bring the balance back to where I like it.
Marshall Adame's own blog post about hate mail incoming as a result of Mathews' call to arms.
Contact page for Blackwater. Seems like Bill Mathews is too cowardly to put his phone number or email address on the web, so maybe you want to try Anne Tyrrell, their media rep instead: 703-852-4320/media@blackwaterusa.com

Remember, kids: War is evil; war profiteering doubly so.

Vignette from the Land of Liberty

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You really can't make this stuff up.

Republican Senator communicating with spirits of the dead, asserts founders of the republic believed in warrantless electronic surveillance.

Mission Creep(y)

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Keeping the Profit Motive in Policing

Kentucky bill seeks to expand asset forfeiture beyond drug to sex offense "investigations".

One of the greatest scams of the drug war has been the promiscuous expansion it's spawned of the practice of asset forfeiture by which prosecutors and law enforcement agencies may  legally confiscate any asset seized from a person SUSPECTED with probable cause of  criminal activity even if never convicted. Like speed ticket quotas but on a vaster and more damaging scale the practice has less to do with promoting public safety, much less justice, than with incentivizing prosecutorial activity. Kentucky prosecutors are revving up for another cash cow in the form of a war against sex offenders.

Here's an interesting tidbit (thanks to Lawyers, Guns, and Money): outside the United States, only 12 people are serving life in prison and were sentenced while minors. Kids, that is, under 17.

In the United States, we have 2,225 people serving life without parole who were sentenced as minors. 2,225. I'm sorry, you cannot tell me that any kid under 17 is so damned dangerous to society that he or she has to be locked up for sixty or seventy years. That's just stupid -- a juicy corporate handout to the prison industry. 227 of those were in California alone!

Corporate welfare. Great stuff, if you're on the receiving end.

More information on this travesty of American justice at Human Rights Watch and at Amnesty. Also, a helpful chart for the visually oriented among us.

Oh, one last thing -- the report notes that black kids get life without parole ten times more often than white ones. Quelle surprise.

Bad Drugs are Legal, Good Drugs are Illegal

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Nice rant against the drug war by the SF Chronicle's most countercultural columnist Mark Morford, comparing newly approved drug to illegal "ecstasy."
Exhausted and confused about Bush scandal #345, the CIA Tapes, and why they are so important?  In a recent Village Voice, Nat Hentoff makes it all clear here.  Hentoff puts a face on the abstraction, discussing the case of Abu Zubaydah, delineating the nature of his torture: "Zubaydah--held in an ice-cold cell--was denied medication for his wounds, threatened with death, prevented from sleeping, incessantly blasted with pounding rock music (by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, among others), and, at last, waterboarded. After 30 seconds of feeling that he was on the verge of drowning, he was more than eager to answer any questions."

But he had vital information that could save lives, right?  Hentoff: "Dan Coleman--the FBI's leading expert on Al Qaeda--asserted that Zubaydah was 'insane, certifiable, split personality,' and that he wasn't the top operative he was made out to be."

It is, of course, likely that Zubahdah gave false testimony.  His tortured confessions have played a role in the case against US citizen Jose Padilla, recently convicted of "terrorism charges" and hyped way back when as planning a "dirty bomb."

Hopeful Signs

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State Governors Ready to Say FU to the Feds Over Real ID?
A good old-fashioned states rights rumble may be brewing.

Phrases like local sovereignty and states rights have for generations evoked horror among progressives, being seen solely as code words and rallying cries for reactionaries, racists and nativists. For most liberals and progressives in fact accomplishing real change was defined precisely as going over the heads of backward thinking local institutions and power structures to enact enlightened legislation at the federal level. What happens though when the leaderships of both major parties, the current administration and every "respectable" presidential candidate, the supreme court, and the congress, with notable but very few exceptions, are falling all over each other to show how serious they are about not daring to rock the boat about such sacred (and lucrative) Beltway cows as the war on drugs, and the necessity of curtailing civil liberties in the name of ever-expanding national police and surveillance powers?

What hopefully will happen is a revolt and this is a hopeful sign one may finally be brewing. If this movement can sustain its momentum without petering or wimping out, it could represent a revival of the kind of local power local rights defiance of the federal government (aka nullification)seen in many states and locales who refused to enforce the Fugitive Slave Act during the 1850s and before that the Alien and Sedition Acts. This is a form of "check and balance", Jefferson and the more radical founders counted on in the absence of a strong and effective national legislature and, guess what, here we are.

Sleazing Its Way Out of History

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An administration that sleazed into Washington seven long years ago committed to concealing the past is clearly determined to slip away by erasing as many traces as possible of its own record from potential historical scrutiny. Entirely, and obviously, in character. The worry is that, once Bush-Cheney etc. are finally gone too many people finally being roused into awareness of the deep erosion of civil liberties in the past several years might be naively lulled into complacency by the prospect of a Democratic administration. But, as Glenn Greenwald makes clear in this dissection of the Democratic Senate "leadership" and its pusillanimous
ways in dealing with the issue of  warrantless eavesdropping and related topics, civil liberties will be won back and protected in spite of rather than because of  the leaderships of either party.

Well, well, well. Another overseas news story (the Times) involving American malfeasance.  Betcha you won't see this one on CNN!

The Cliff Notes version: Turkish translator picks up references to FBI investigation of US officials stealing American nuclear secrets, OK, for sale to Pakistan.  [Aside: we all know, do we not, that Pakistan then sold them to North Korea. Right, kids?] When asked via FOIA for the skinny, the FBI says that document doesn't exist.  But we know it does.

The names to follow: Sibel Edmonds, the translator.  The Liberty Coalition, who made the FOIA request based on an anonymous tip.

If you follow no other conspiracy story this year, make it this one.  You heard it here first.  (Well, OK, you probably didn't.  Work with me, here.)

The Detroit News has a neat little reminder of what happens when liberty is removed and the police-state mentality closes in: crime. Organized crime. Shooting war between the police and the Mafia. That's the legacy of Prohibition, and it's the legacy of today's Drug War -- if the market wants a product, (booze then, drugs now), then the market will get that product. The only thing Prohibition managed to do was to drive the price up to the point where truly dangerous people took over the distribution.

Y'know, I live in the Caribbean. (Yes, really.) People here buy sailboats. We want to, too, at some point. But mention it, and people will also remind you that you need to watch out for pirates. (Yes, really.) Those pirates? They're not actually pirates. What they are is guys with a motor boat and automatic weapons, funded by cocaine trafficking, who think it'll be great to rape your wife and daughter in front of you, then shoot you all and steal your nice shiny boat. Those guys are only there because the Drug War makes them inevitable. There's no money in piracy nowadays -- but cocaine? America wants it. Bad. Market forces cannot be legislated out of existence, no matter what they tell you.

They just make criminals, that's all.

More from Washington State...

"Public middle and high school students better think twice about picking up the pipe if they want to stay in school. The list of schools that randomly drug test is rapidly expanding, and District 123 could be next.

Today President Bush's drug education team landed in Pasco to hold a conference for teachers and school administrators. The group has been touring around the country for two years now, trying to convince schools to randomly test teenagers for drugs."

Full Story

27 officers in NYPD steroid probe

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Friday, January 11th 2008, 4:00 AM

The NYPD has widened its probe of steroid use on the force, grilling more officers whose names surfaced at a raided Brooklyn pharmacy, law enforcement sources said.

At least 27 NYPD officers were identified as customers on client lists seized from Lowen's Compounding Pharmacy in October. The drug store was targeted as part of a probe into a steroid ring that supplied the muscle-building substance to pro athletes...

Full Story

More Mission Creep

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NYC Mayor Bloomberg Calls for Radical Expansion of state police DNA database

NY-staters. If you ever happen to be "detained" at a nonviolent political protest, arrested for a misdemeanor offense like an open container ticket, or pot possession or a DUI, even if not convicted, prepare to have your DNA taken and stored in a statewide genetic database, along with that of convicted murderers and rapists. At least if NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg has his way. Only a few years ago the state set up a DNA registry for convicted felonious offenders of violent crimes. But the current proposal marks a radical expansion of the scope of forensic DNA. And if you're not a NYer? That's OK. Other states are floating the same idea. And several more, like California, Virginia and Texas, are already there. And needless to say the feds are setting up to link all this data together, no doubt trying to catch up with the UK, which has been at this even longer than we.

Of course you're paranoid if you think this has any chance of being yet another step toward a national genetic database, to be searched and data mined at will by federal agencies.

Gallery: Spy Gear and Police Tech at Homeland Security Conference

From throwable video cameras to shotgun-wielding robots, these are the gadgets that help you sleep at night, unless you have something to hide ... Thanks to Wired News

Welcome to the Ice Age

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Give Us Your Poor, Your Tired, Your Huddled Masses (and We'll Raid, Shackle, Beat and Detain them)

The economics of immigration are historically complex, and reasonable people can disagree about how those complexities can best be addressed and translated into policy (all of which is outside the scope of this blog). What's not so complex or disputable is that the current vendetta against "aliens" has unleashed a full scale assault against the civil liberties and human rights of immigrant communities throughout the country, "documented or undocumented", and empowered a, largely unaccountable, police apparatus, most notoriously the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The extent and magnitude of this assault is still largely unknown to most Americans, but thankfully some of the story is beginning to be told, by the National Network of Immigrant and Refugee Rights, in a new report released today.

Over a hundred cases of blatant human rights violations are documented, including the small sampling below:

ICE separates nursing mom from baby

After Saida Umanzor was detained during a raid and jailed to await deportation, ICE agents took away her nine-month old daughter, Brittney, who is a U.S. citizen, andplaced the baby in the care of social workers. Ms. Umanzor was not allowed to nurseBrittney, who had been only breast-fed up until her mother's arrest.

In all, ICE took six children away, including Ms. Umanzor's two children and her sister's three, who was at work the day of the ICE agents barged into her home. Four of the children were U.S. citizens. Ms. Umanzor was arrested on October 26 and released 11 days later, when she was put under house arrest with her baby and children.

ICE deports mother, rips family apart

ICE arrested Lilo Mancía and his wife, María Briselda Amaya, who were among 361 workers detained on March 6, 2007, during a major raid against the Michael Bianco Inc. factory in New Bedford, MA. Only Mr. Mancía was released to care for their sons, Jeffrey, two, and Kevin, five. Ms. Amaya was jailed for over a month and her children were not allowed to visit her. Then without notice, at four in the morning of April 18, ICE agents roused Ms. Amaya from her sleep and put her on a plane, deported her to Honduras, where she has no house, property, or job. Ms. Amaya and her husband had fled Honduras fearing violence and had been appealing her case for asylum. In their mother's absence, her sons, Jeffrey and Kevin, are suffering emotionally and physically. "He is refusing to eat and needs to be coaxed to take sustenance," Arthur Dutra, a teacher at the John Hannigan School, wrote in a March 15 letter about Kevin's condition. "He asks for his mother repeatedly." Jacqueline Arieta, a nurse at the Greater New Bedford Community Health Center, wrote in a separate letter that Jeffrey was having frequent earaches and losing his appetite due to "acute sadness."

ICE makes "collateral" arrests, sweeping up people without warrants during neighborhood raid

January 11, 2007, Richmond, CA: "About five officers, who identified themselves as police,knocked on the door early in the morning while we were sleeping. When my younger daughter opened the door to see who was there, they entered right away. They showed us a picture of someone and asked us if that person lives here.When we said no, they asked us each to show our papers. They arrested us because we had nothing to show. They took me, my son-in-law and his father, and put us in a black van. Later that morning, they switched us to a larger vehicle carrying many others who were caught in the raids. Even though they only had a few warrants, it seems they were prepared to arrest many more. This was not an accident; it was part of their plan."
- A mother who was arrested and detained during the Richmond ICE raids.

ICE intimidates 12-year-old to enter home; arrests four persons

September 24, 2007, New York: At 5:30am, armed ICE agents pounded on the door of the Bonilla-Velasquez home, yelling "Police! Police!" At the time, Sonia Bonilla was on her way to take her husband to work and left their daughters - Beatriz, 12, and Dalia, 9 - sleeping at home. Beatriz, awakened by ICE agent's screams, came to the door. ICE intimidated her, began to ask her who lived in the house. ICE entered the house without a court warrant or consent, conducted an unlawful search and illegally detained and arrested four residents at the home were arrested. ICE never produced a warrant. Sonia Bonilla is a lawful permanent resident and both her daughters are U.S. citizens. The Bonilla-Velasquez family lives in constant fear that ICE agents will again return and try to unlawfully enter their home.

Vignettes from the Land of Liberty

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Random Breathalyzer tests proposed for high school
One town plans to authorize police and school officials to apply alcohol breathalyzer tests randomly to every student at school events or to those who give school officials "reasonable suspicion."

Thanks to Connecticut Post

Random Police Dog Searches at High School
Principal William Moran is proposing to have area police bring in the canine units on a random basis. The district school board heard the proposal in December and will discuss it again at a meeting Tuesday. Moran said that school officials found what appeared to be drug paraphernalia such as makeshift marijuana pipes about five times this school year. "I don't think (drugs) are a huge schoolwide problem, but I'm aware it's out there," Moran said, adding it's part of his job to protect the majority of students who do not use drugs.


Another day, another tasering of another unarmed, but "uncooperative" suspect.
And, oh yeah, another death, "inconclusively" linked to police assault.

Thanks to CBS News

Make Way for Another War
The War on Cruising
Sacramento officers will monitor the Internet for clues as to which parks are hot.

Thanks to the Sacramento Bee

Another Day, Another War
On Graffitti

Suffolk, VA: "Sometimes it sends messages to our youth, and we don't want those messages to be sent."

Thanks to Suffolk, VA Daily Press

Pittsburg, PA

Here's an interesting article from AlterNet on House Resolution 1955, the "Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Protection Act."

Sure, I'm against homegrown terrorism. But the perpetrator of this little puppy, already passed with little fanfare, one Jane Harman (D-CA), assumes that the wildfire spread of violent radicalization in this great nation will be facilitated by what medium? Care to guess? I'll bet you guessed the World Wide Web, right? And you'd be right! Because Ms. Harman's prepared statement in committee for this legislative atrocity was entitled "Using the Web as a Weapon: the Internet as a Tool for Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism."

White House's deputy drug czar floats a federally funded, mandatory random drug testing program in schools.


Thanks to King 5.com

Less than a week after laying out its case for a measured, limited application of Real ID, the standardized driver's license system, which will absolutely positively NOT ever lead to a national ID card and federalized database, DHS is now touting Real ID as a potential panacea to win the drug war against crystal meth. Provided of course Americans get used to whipping out their Not a National ID card every time they buy cold remedies.

Thanks to Wired

Surveillance on Steroids

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An interesting overview of three Department of Homeland Security programs under consideration or active development: the National Applications Office, which if authorized by congress (it has not been, yet) or pursued outside congressional oversight (which, of course, could never happen without, maybe, a secret executive order) would apply state of the art military satellite imagery to domestic surveillance,Real ID (which would digitize,standardize and link data from all state driver's licenses and, potentially become a de facto national ID, and Project Hostile Intent a still R&D phase technology which would use automated array of sensors -- video, audio, laser, infrared -- to interpret behavioral gestures, facial expressions, voice inflections, temperature, heart rate, respiration rate and other physiological characteristics to identify likely terror suspects.

Thanks to  Counterpunch

Vignettes from the Land of Liberty

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Ferndale, MI
The Honker Crackdown
Michigan town bans 'honk for peace" vigils.

Thanks to The Detroit Free Press

State Rep. Introduces bill to ban Bumper Nuts
Bill would ban "anything on a car or truck that looked like human genitalia."

Thanks to Radley Balko

St. Charles, MO
Banning Swearing in Bars
Town proposal would ban indecent, profane or obscene language, songs, entertainment and literature at bars.

Thanks to Thomas Jefferson Center for The Protection of Free Expression

South Burlington, VT
Facebooking while teenaged
Cops in South Burlington bust teens for posting photos of boozing on Facebook. "It really is a World Wide Web. Law enforcement and school officials are looking at Facebook regularly."

Thanks to MomLogic

"We have a saying in this business: 'Privacy and security are a zero-sum game'".

Thanks to Daily Tech

Sinfest is the brilliant creation of the shadowy figure known only as Tatsuya Ishida.

Call for participation

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To participate in the Glorious Antiauthoritarian Blogging Project, register here to comment (by clicking on the "Comments" link at the top of this post), then drop me a line at michael@vivtek.com to enable you as an author.

The focus is to be fairly narrow.  The purpose of this blog is to track and highlight abuses of civil liberty by both the government and corporations -- and, I suppose, anybody else.  The bulk of attention will be on the United States, but posts about civil liberty around the world are welcome so far as I know.

The goal is to be the go-to place on the Web to know what's happening with freedom.

If the information you want to record is less time-oriented and more in the nature of a background, consider putting it on the Wiki.  And if you just aren't sure, ask.

Don't Tase Me Bro live

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The new collective blog for the QuestionAuthority interest group is now online.  In the days and weeks to come, we have a lot of thought-provoking information for you.  Watch this space for further details!

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