Archive for March, 2010

Cops & Judges Caught Using Secret Codes On Tickets

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

Politics, free trade, violence

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010
Shared by toddgrotenhuis
Aside from the non sequiturs in the last paragraph, this is a pretty good post. Immigration and emigration rights are crucial to real free trade. If people can vote with their feet, then they can move to where conditions are better. We have a lot of work to do, to get there, though.

As some of you probably know, SF author, biologist, (and friend of mine) Peter Watts was charged a couple of months ago with assaulting a US border patrol officer. The case has now come to trial and Peter has been found guilty of obstruction, for failing to get on the floor immediately when told to do so after being punched in the face a couple of times. The more serious charge — that Peter had assaulted the officer in question directly — was thrown out of court. But failure to immediately and unquestioningly obey any order by a border patrol officer is apparently "obstruction", which in turn is a subset of "assault", carrying a maximum 2-year prison sentence. (Being incapacitated — for example, due to being dazed due to having been beaten up — is not, it seems, a mitigating factor.)

The problem behind this unjust and bizarre mess is buried a couple of layers deep.

Given: the assault (on Peter Watts, by the Border Patrol) shouldn't have happened. Nor should he have been charged, much less tried and convicted of assault in the opposite direction. Nor should failure to immediately and unquestioningly obey an order after being punched in the face be a crime — any kind of crime.

But there's a more alarming moral to be drawn here.

I note with some alarm that the saucepan of free international travel we've been swimming frog-like in for decades is now steaming.

It's not just the USA where border agencies have quietly acquired vast, unaccountable, and draconian powers. Here in the UK, the government is responding to anti-immigration sentiment by erecting a near-iron curtain around all ports and airports, monitoring all traffic, and dealing harshly with anyone who wants to travel for reason other than tourism or business. Ditto most of the EU (within the EU things are as different as they are within the United States, for much the same reason — it's a free trade/movement zone). The barriers are going up all around the developed world, and while the spikes are intended to point outward, other developed world travellers get caught on them. (I'm not just thinking of Peter Watts here; in SF fandom there's also the case of Cheryl Morgan. Just off the cuff, among friends of mine.)

Capital can flow freely, but labour is in shackles world-wide.

If you don't see a very specific political subtext here (being sold to the voting masses on the back of crude xenophobia and racism), let me be more explicit: labour wants to migrate where working conditions and pay are best. Capital wants to invest for growth where working conditions and pay are worst.

By penning us (the labour) in, capital can maintain, for a while, the wage imbalances that maximize profit. (Take raw material. Process as cheaply as possible. Sell for as much as possible.) In the long term, it's unsustainable — labour in the high-cost developed world is taking a hammering due to being uncompetitive, and wages will be forced down until it is competitive, while labour costs in the developing world are skyrocketing. It'll end when American and EU wages meet in the middle with Chinese and Indian wages ... unless American, EU, Chinese, and Indian wage-earners are forced to recalibrate their expectations against the DRC or Somalia.

f you don't think this affects you, if you don't think you're on the same side of the barricades as the sweatshop workers in Bangladesh and the marine biologists in Toronto, you're deluded; unless you've got a seven-digit trust fund to dine out on, the tidal flow of globalized capital is running against your class interests.

Welcome to the future that globalized capitalism has bought for us (and see also the vital, pressing need for election funding reform in the USA, which is the pivot on which this whole mess revolves). I'm beginning to think that, regardless of his prescription, Karl Marx's diagnosis of the crisis of capitalism was spot on the money. And crap like this is going to keep happening as long as we're workers first and citizens last.

Morning Links

Monday, March 29th, 2010
  • Woman claims massive police raid on her home caused her miscarriage. She was accused of violating city animal control ordinances. Her attorney says she was later cleared. In addition to the usual overkill, there’s also a certain irony in bringing a SWAT team to confront someone charged with neglecting dogs.
  • Close-up photos of dew-covered insects.
  • Great post by Will Wilkinson on “Earth Hour.” I thought the counter-protests in which people burned as much energy as possible were silly and not particularly helpful to the discussion. But Will makes a very good point about energy consumption and poverty.
  • Old pictures of drunk Brits.
  • Area police officers were involved in hundreds of vehicular collisions last year that could have been avoided had the drivers adhered to traffic laws and basic roadway etiquette, according to official reports.”
  • Woman paints people to look like paintings, then photographs them. Result: Rather nifty.

Texas Justice

Monday, March 29th, 2010

After someone sent an anonymous letter to the Texas Medical Board complaining about alleged unprofessional behavior by Dr. Rolando Arafiles, Arafiles had his friend, Winkler County Sheriff Robert Roberts Jr. investigate where the letter came from. After getting a search warrant for computers at Winkler County Memorial Hospital, where Arafiles worked, Roberts determined two nurses at the hospital sent the letter. The hospital fired the nurses, and Roberts charged them with felony misuse of official information. The district attorney dropped the charge against one of the nurses but prosecuted nurse Anne Mitchell. It took a jury less than an hour to find her not guilty. The nurses are now suing the county.

InjusticeNews: Washington State trooper accused of driving off road while drunk then calling rookie trooper to help him cover it up:

Saturday, March 27th, 2010
InjusticeNews: Washington State trooper accused of driving off road while drunk then calling rookie trooper to help him cover it up:

Man in wheelchair who was Tasered files claim against city – Merced Sun-Star

Saturday, March 27th, 2010

Man in wheelchair who was Tasered files claim against city
Merced Sun-Star
In the claim, Williams accuses police of excessive force, false arrest and violating his civil rights with "intentional, malicious, and oppressive" ...

and more »

Officer used ‘excessive force’ shooting dog-stabber four times: judge. –

Friday, March 26th, 2010

Officer used 'excessive force' shooting dog-stabber four times: judge.
... 2010 EDMONTON — A "sloppy and negligent" police investigation and an Edmonton officer's "unconscionable use of excessive and aggressive force" meant ...
Edmonton officer who shot man should be charged:
Man shot by cops released on Charter breachesEdmonton Sun
Make shooting report publicEdmonton Journal

all 5 news articles »

Don’t Cross Them

Friday, March 26th, 2010

Buzz Roy walked down the street one night to get some pizza. He's been walking down that same street for years. But one end of the street is in his hometown of Derby Line, Vermont. The other is in Stanstead, Canada. As he was returning home, state police officers stopped him and told him that crossing into the United States on that street is illegal. So he did what any red-blooded American would do: He walked back into Canada and crossed over into the United States again. In fact, he did that a couple of times. He was arrested and faces a $500 fine.

Lunch Links

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010
  • Obama’s promise not to tax the middle class takes another tumble. Turns out, he won’t tax you so long as you don’t smoke or frequent tanning salons. Should have said, “I won’t raise your taxes so long as you engage in activities approved of by the federal government.”
  • Three little-used airports in Rep. Bart Stupak’s district received big federal grants two days before health care vote. Grants amounted to $27 for every passenger who actually used the airports in 2008. Pure coincidence, I’m sure.
  • Via the comments, check out the comments to an article on the Jonathan Ayers case posted to this police-oriented website. Troubling, to put it mildly.
  • Canada’s lack of respect for free expression is contemptible. But Ann Coulter is still a twit.
  • I’m not a video game person, but this game looks deliciously wicked.
  • India weaponizes hot chilli.

Sex Crimes

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Georgia's Supreme Court has ruled you don't have to have been convicted of a sex crime to be placed on the state's registry of sexual offenders. Georgia requires anyone convicted of kidnapping or false imprisonment of a minor to register as a sex offender even if the crime didn't involve a sexual offense. The state says there are dozens of people on the registry who have never been convicted of a sex crime.