A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for the ‘News You Need to Know’ Category

They’re Just Teasing Us

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Nobody likes a tease:

This week, the 78-year-old Koskinen began his third retirement. And he says the IRS is still a distressed organization. “When Eisenhower left office, his message was: Beware the military-industrial complex,” Koskinen said. “My message is: Beware the collapse of the IRS.”

The collapse of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)? Why is he trying to get our hopes up so high? I think most of us know that there’s no way in hell that the federal government would allow its revenue generating arm to collapse. If anything, the IRS would be the last department that would be allowed to fall.

But can you imagine a world where the federal government didn’t take a huge chunk of our income? Not only would you have more money in you pocket to do with as you please but it would severely hamper the federal government’s law enforcement and military capabilities. Perhaps the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives wouldn’t be able to run guns to Mexican drug cartels; the Federal Bureau of Investigations wouldn’t be able to radicalize random isolated individuals, give them a fake bomb, arrest them, and claim credit for thwarting a terrorist attack; the National Security Agency wouldn’t be able to continue its massive surveillance program against us; and the Drug Enforcement Agency wouldn’t be able to continue waging its lethal war on drugs. A world without the IRS could be a beautiful one indeed. Let’s all hope that Koskinen’s warning has some kernel of truth behind it and that someday the IRS could collapse.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 17th, 2017 at 10:30 am

Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

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The older I get the more cynical I become towards statistics. Statistics can be a valuable tool for identifying trends. However, the trends revealed by statistics often have multiple possible explanations. Case in point, a lot of media outlets have been making a big deal about the supposed rise in hate crimes, especially against Muslims. They have been quick to blame the election of Trump. However, another cause of this trend could be methodology:

There were 271 more incidents deemed hate crimes in 2016 than the previous year, according to the latest Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) data. There were also 257 more law enforcement agencies reporting last year, so that increase could largely or even entirely be a matter of getting more complete statistics. The higher numbers mostly represent small increases in incidents classified as anti-Hispanic, anti-Jewish, anti-Muslim, or anti-white.

[…]

Some will surely blame the beginning of Donald Trump’s political ascendancy, and that can’t be ruled out. But another explanation is as likely, if not more likely: The FBI changed how it classified certain hate-crime incidents in 2015.

Before this period, crimes based on someone’s ethnicity or national origin were simply sorted into Hispanic or non-Hispanic bias incidents, leaving us with a cache of uncountable incidents that could’ve been based on someone’s perceived Middle Eastern or Arabic status. But in 2015, ethnicity was lumped in with the racial-bias category. This means that some of the incidents previously attributed to a general sort of anti–Middle Eastern bias could either be categorized as anti-Arab racial/ethnic bias or anti-Muslim religious bias, possibly spiking the anti-Islamic incident stats.

More law enforcement agencies providing data may be influencing the results. Moreover, the category being mentioned most frequently by the media, hate crimes against Muslims, is a recent addition. Going from zero incidents before 2014 to incidents in 2015 will necessarily show an increase in incidents.

None of this is to say that Trump’s election hasn’t played a contributing factor. But there are also alternative explanations for the increase in hate crimes that cannot be ignored. Perhaps the increase in hate crimes is a combination of Trump’s election and changes to methodology. Statistics can reveal a trend of the methodology is solid. But even if a trend is revealed, statistics can seldom point to a specific cause or provide an effective solution.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 15th, 2017 at 10:30 am

No Government Choo Choo for You

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While the Super Bowl itself won’t provide me any entertainment, the National Football League’s (NFL) decision to bring it to Minneapolis has provided me a significant amount of entertainment. Between turning the city into a prison and the possibility of mass transit being unavailable during the big game I’ve already been giving a great deal of entertainment. But the real icing on the cake is that even if the Amalgamated Transit Union doesn’t strike, the government choo choo will only be available to people who have purchased a Super Bowl ticket [PDF]:

Gameday Pass: $30
Only those holding one of these tickets and an official Super Bowl ticket will be able to ride the METRO Light-Rail on game day. This pass is also valid on all bus, Light-Rail and Northstar service on game day and Monday, February 5. Available only from the Metro Transit app.

There are a lot of people who mistakenly believe that “public” transport is owned by the people. “Public” transport is actually owned by the government. If the government decides that it wants to make its transportation system exclusively available to a certain segment of people, there’s not a damn thing “the public” can do about it.

If you rely on the government choo choo, don’t despair. More buses will be made available. They’ll just be slower so plan to leave much earlier than you otherwise would, you fucking pleb:

Buses: For non-ticket holders, buses will replace light-rail trains on the entirety of the Blue Line throughout the day on February 4, 2018. Replacement buses will operate between Target Field Station and Stadium Village Station on the Green Line. Buses run on similar schedules to trains but can take longer; please plan accordingly.

With all of the streets that will be shutdown in Minneapolis during the big game as well as all the additional traffic that will be flooding the remaining streets, the buses are going to end up taking a lot longer. But sacrifices must be made. Just because you paid tax dollars to build and maintain the choo choo doesn’t mean you have the highest priority. The highest priority goes to those who have enriched the NFL, which contributed absolutely nothing to the construction and maintenance of the choo choo. Isn’t it fun being a lowly pleb?

Written by Christopher Burg

November 15th, 2017 at 10:00 am

They’ll Let Anybody in the Military

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The Army is in a precarious position. It has been tasked with waging a war on terror. Since terror is such a nebulous term the Army has no defined condition for declaring victory. That being the case, the war it was been tasked with fighting has continued to grind on for almost more than one and a half decades. The problem with a grinder is that you need to constantly feed it fresh meat and the Army is having a difficult time finding enough meat.

Who wants to join the Army only to be deployed to the Middle East to get maimed or killed by an improvised explosive or a child with an AK-47? Not only is the work dangerous but the pay sucks too. The Army is offering a lot of risk with little reward, a situation most investors would run away from.

So how does the Army fill its ranks without offering better pay? By lowering its standards, of course:

The Army wants to widen the pool of recruits.

Facing low recruitment levels, the U.S. Army quietly lifted its ban on allowing people with a history of mental illness, self-mutilation and drug abuse to serve in the military – despite warnings from the industry about the risks involved.

The new rules green-light recruits who have bipolar disorder, depression and issues with cutting – a process in which a person takes a knife or razor to his or her own skin – along with those who bite, hit or bruise themselves intentionally.

If you suffer from certain mental illnesses, Uncle Sam won’t let you buy gun. Likewise, if you use illegal drugs, Uncle Sam won’t let you buy a gun. But now he’ll happily hand you a gun!

I’d make a smart ass remark about the deplorable state of education in the United States making this necessary but the decision to lower military recruitment standards is a necessity of any country fighting a decade and a half old war against an undefined enemy.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 14th, 2017 at 10:30 am

Let the Games Being

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I’m sure I’ve made my feelings about the Super Bowl coming to Minneapolis obvious. However, I do believe that people should get what they wants and they should get it good and hard. That being the case, I do take some pleasure in the fact that Minneapolis will be turned into a prison for the duration of the Super Bowl. But the icing on the cake could be the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), which has declared its intent to strike during the Super Bowl:

Unionized bus drivers, LRT operators and others at Metro Transit voted overwhelmingly to reject a final contract offer and authorize a strike during Super Bowl festivities next year.

The Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1005, which represents about 2,500 workers at Metro Transit, voted 93 percent in favor of rejecting the Metropolitan Council’s last contract offer and authorizing a strike during the period leading up to the Super Bowl.

The City of Minneapolis will be relying heavily on its public transportation system during the Super Bowl since traffic there is a clusterfuck at the best of times and will be worse with the combination of tourists and closed streets. Either the Metropolitan Council gives into the ATU’s demands or the ATU follows through with its threat to strike and the public transportation system is unavailable during the Super Bowl.

I’m expecting the Metropolitan Council to give the ATU whatever it wants but I’m really hoping it won’t and the strike will occur.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 14th, 2017 at 10:00 am

Turning Minneapolis into a Prison to Appease Our NFL Masters

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Back in 2008 the Republican National Convention was hosted in St. Paul. In response the city was basically turned into a prison. Surveillance equipment was setup everywhere, heavily armed and armored officers were out on patrol, streets were shutdown, etc.

If you missed out on that experience or want to relive the experience, I have some news for you. The city of Minneapolis, in order to appease our National Football League masters, is going to be turned into a prison:

The final plans, including which streets are closed and when, are expected to be announced in the next couple of days.

If the most recent Super Bowls in San Francisco and Houston are an indication, the security operation is like none other the Twin Cities has ever seen. Snipers will be on rooftops and in buildings in strategic places. Officers in head-to-toe commando gear will be on the streets gripping assault rifles against their chests.

Minneapolis Police Cmdr. Scott Gerlicher said the influx of federal agents to Minnesota will be the largest in the 52 years of Super Bowl history. “We are prepared for anything that might come our way,” he said last week.

The full extent of the security won’t be visible, but it will be everywhere: in the skies and on the ground. Whatever equipment is available will be used — from tactical vehicles to helicopters and boats.

[…]

In addition to uniformed officers, there will be other obvious visible protections, including 2.5 miles of concrete barriers topped with wire fencing. Some busy spaces will follow NFL bag restrictions (including no purses) and have metal detectors. The airspace will be restricted above the stadium during the game.

All of this for one fucking game.

In addition to turning the city into a prison, the security arrangements will likely impact local businesses. A yet undisclosed number of streets in Minneapolis will be shutdown, which will impact any businesses that rely on them. And I highly doubt the NFL will compensate those businesses for such losses. Likewise, I highly doubt the City of Minneapolis will give those businesses a tax credit as compensation for not being able to use the roads they pay taxes to use. After all, they’re nobodies compared to the might that is the NFL.

I hope that the worse winter storm in the history of the state hits on Super Bowl weekend. It would be fun to see how well these assholes handle security in several feet of snow.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 10th, 2017 at 10:30 am

The War Is Not Meant to Be Won

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One of the defining characteristics of an empire is that it is almost constantly at war. War is the great excuse for the State to expand its power. Need to increase taxes? Start a war to justify the increase. It might seem like a bad idea due to the expense of waging war but if you plunder enough from the other nation you can walk away with a tidy profit. Are you a politician who needs to line you pockets with some cash? Start a war and watch the campaign contributions and other perks roll in from the defense contractors. Do you want to expand your surveillance powers? If you start a war, you need to search for enemy spies!

As Randolph Bourne said, “For war is essentially the health of the State.” So it should come as no surprise that the United States, which is already engaged in a series of wars, is positioning itself to enter another:

Mr Dumont said calculating “even the roughest” potential casualty figures would be extremely difficult.
He also gave some detail on what the first hours of a war would involve.

“The only way to ‘locate and destroy – with complete certainty – all components of North Korea’s nuclear weapons programs’ is through a ground invasion,” he wrote in response to Congressman Lieu’s questions about a potential conflict.

The risks involved included a potential nuclear counter-attack by North Korea while US forces attempted to disable its “deeply buried, underground facilities”, he said.

A potential nuclear counter-attack might sound horrific but you have to remember that nobody involved in developing this assessment and nobody involved in issuing the war order would actually be sent to fight the war. Casualties are easy to justify when other people are the ones dying.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 9th, 2017 at 10:30 am

Not All Heroes Wear Capes

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Not all heroes wear capes. Some heroes wear business suits and work as accountants and lawyers who specialized in defending their client’s assets from thieving governments:

The world’s most profitable firm has a secretive new structure that would enable it to continue avoiding billions in taxes, the Paradise Papers show.

They reveal how Apple sidestepped a 2013 crackdown on its controversial Irish tax practices by actively shopping around for a tax haven.

It then moved the firm holding most of its untaxed offshore cash, now $252bn, to the Channel Island of Jersey.

Apple said the new structure had not lowered its taxes.

It said it remained the world’s largest taxpayer, paying about $35bn (£26bn) in corporation tax over the past three years, that it had followed the law and its changes “did not reduce our tax payments in any country”.

The article appears to be implying that Apple is lying about its tax payments not changing. However, I’m betting that Apple is being truthful and the move prevented its tax payments from increasing after the crackdown in Ireland (Ireland had a sweet deal until its neighbors, upset that Ireland was getting a lot of business, put pressure on it to bring its corporate tax structure up to their standards).

The accountants and lawyers that Apple hired to pull this off deserve the same applause as anybody else who stops a thief from mugging another person. Unfortunately, the world is populated with statists so those heroes will be treated like villains.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 8th, 2017 at 10:30 am

Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste

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Proponents of gun control aren’t the only ones clamoring for a ban of some sort after the recent Texas shooting. The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) is setting the ground work to once again push for a ban on effective cryptography:

A Federal Bureau of Investigation official said today that the agency has been unable to access an encrypted phone used by the gunman who killed 26 people at a rural Texas church on Sunday.

At a press conference, Christopher Combs, the FBI special agent in charge of the investigation, said the phone had been transported back to the FBI in Quantico, Virginia for examination. Investigators have identified Devin Patrick Kelley as the gunman in the shooting, which unfolded in the town of Sutherland Springs.

“Unfortunately, at this point in time, we are unable to get into that phone,” Combs said.

The shooter is dead and from what I’ve seen his motivations are understood. There is no evidence that he was part of a network that is planning other similar attacks so who fucking cares if the FBI can’t get into his phone? Statists. Why? Because the FBI’s inadequacy, in their minds, makes everybody unsafe. It’s the same mindset that causes people to demand a ban on firearms. If a technology allows an individual to defend themselves, especially against government agents, then it is dangerous and must be prohibited.

Statists want nothing more than to turn the entire country into Nineteen Eighty-Four.

A Different Set of Rules

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If you roughed somebody up and then detained them, what do you think would happen to you? I suspect that you’d be tossed in a cage for assault and unlawful detainment. However, if you wore a shiny badge and a magic suit, you might get fired from your job but somebody else would certainly get stuck paying the bill for your transgression:

A Utah nurse who was roughed up and arrested on July 26 by a Salt Lake City cop because she told the officer that he needed a warrant to draw blood from an unconscious patient has settled for a $500,000 payout.

Body cam footage from the scene shows University Hospital nurse Alex Wubbels calmly telling the officer, who was trained for the task of blood withdrawal, that he cannot take a blood sample because the patient, who was involved in a vehicle crash, had neither been arrested nor gave consent. Then the cop lunges and grabs the nurse as she was fearfully backing away. He rushes her outside the hospital, and handcuffs her. All the while, she’s screaming that there’s no reason for her detainment.

[…]

The $500,000 settlement is to be paid jointly by Salt Lake City and University Hospital. A hospital officer on the scene told the nurse that she would be obstructing justice if she interfered with Payne’s investigation.

Emphasis mine.

While the officer in question was fired, he didn’t have to pay out the $500,000 settlement. Instead his employer, Salt Lake City, and the nurse’s employer got stuck with the bill. Having that kind of shield from liability is one hell of a job perk. Unfortunately, possessing such a shield doesn’t incentivize good behavior.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 2nd, 2017 at 11:00 am