A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for the ‘Wall of Fame Assholes’ Category

The Totality of the Situation

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The line separating lethal and nonlethal force seems clear enough. Something that has a high probability of killing somebody, such as a gun or knife, is lethal whereas something that has a low probability of killing somebody, such as a punch to the gut or pepper spray, is nonlethal. But all too often people don’t consider the totality of the situation (a favorite phrase of cop apologists trying to excuse what appears to be obviously egregious behavior by an officer). Consider this story about the pipeline protests in North Dakota:

Tear gas was used to disperse a crowd of 400 protesters at the Dakota Access Pipeline late Sunday after clashes that authorities described as a “riot” prompted by “very aggressive” activists.

A law enforcement officer was hit on the head by a thrown rock during the confrontation, Morton County Sheriff’s Office said in an update at 1 a.m. local time (2 a.m. ET).

Videos posted to Facebook by activists showed authorities spray a continuous stream of water over demonstrators in below-freezing temperatures but sheriff’s spokesman Rob Keller told NBC News that no water cannon were deployed. He said the water was being sprayed from a fire truck to control blazes as they were being set by activists.

[…]

“Officers on the scene are describing protesters’ actions as very aggressive,” the release noted. “In order to keep protesters from crossing the bridge, law enforcement have utilized less-than-lethal means, including launching CS gas.”

In spite of what the police claimed, the videos and images from the protest make it clear that they were deliberately spraying the protesters with water cannons, not putting out fires. Even considering that normally water cannons are considered nonlethal because spraying somebody with a water cannon isn’t likely to kill them. However, at the time of this police action temperatures in the area were below freezing and anybody who lives up here in the northern states knows that hypothermia can become lethal quickly.

If we’re supposed to consider the “totality of the situation” when police officers do something seemingly terrible then police officers should be held to the same standard. Driving out firetrucks with the intention of spraying down protesters in below freezing weather is lethal force. The officers might as well have opened fire with rifles. They certainly don’t have grounds to claim they were utilizing less-than-lethal means.

Without Government Who Would Kill the Dogs

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Police perpetrated puppycide (PPP) is a significant problem in the United States. The problem is so widespread that the term puppycide was coined to describe it:

Stories like Smith’s happen all the time. They’re so common that they’ve become known by the grim moniker puppycide. There’s a whole category on Reason’s website for such events, a 16,000-person-strong Facebook group that tracks local media reports of them, and even a database that attempts to collect information on dog shootings nationwide. But no one knows how many dogs are in fact killed by police every year.

A Justice Department official speculated in a 2012 interview with Police magazine that the number could be as high as 10,000 a year, calling it “an epidemic.”

Why are so many dogs being killed by police? Many of these incidents involve dogs that were leashed or kenneled, which leads one to think that many law enforcers simply enjoy killing dogs. The usual schtick we’re fed when these PPPs occur is the time honored “officer safety.” Officer safety are two magical words that when combined are supposed to absolve an officer of any excessive use of force.

At some point people need to ask why the magical words “officer safety” needs to be thrown around so often, especially when we consider the fact that being a police officer isn’t all that dangerous.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 16th, 2016 at 11:00 am

The Public Education System’s Ongoing War with Education

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Since its inception the public education system has been at war with education. Instead of education people the United States public education system is based off of the Prussian system that was designed to make automatons that were smart enough to operate the machinery but not smart enough to revolt against the State. But remnants of education continued to stick around for a few generations until we finally reached the point we’re at today where the movie Idiocracy looks more like prophecy than satire.

The Hibbing School District has identified a remnant of education that has managed to remain untouched and is working to address that hiccup:

HIBBING — The Hibbing School District is considering ending its nearly 60-year partnership with the Hibbing Rifle and Pistol Club.

During a school board meeting Wednesday, Superintendent Brad Johnson said various concerns from the public regarding the gun range in the basement of Lincoln Elementary has led him to strictly limit access to the facility until there’s a permanent solution to ensure everyone’s safety and to limit concerns from the public.

The facility can only be used once school-organized activities and events have concluded on Wednesdays, or when inclement weather prevents gun safety classes from being held outdoors.

There has never been an incident on the range so safety isn’t the actual reason for attempting to shutdown the range. But teaching children how to safety and effectively operate firearms is education and potentially threatening to the State. And I’m not even talking about the potential form armed revolution in this case. People who have the ability to defend themselves and are confident in their ability are much harder to scare. Fear is the health of the State. Without fear the State has a hard time manipulating people into surrendering their autonomy.

Consider the police state we live in today. It was able to expand because first people were afraid of the communists then they were afraid of the drugs and now they’re afraid of the terrorists. People are willing to put up with widespread surveillance, again, because they’re afraid of the terrorists. Now the State is drumming up fears of war with Russia and that will be used by it to grab even more power.

The knowledge and ability to defend yourself is a significant threat to the State. The public education system has been hard at work stamping down this knowledge by teaching children to never fight back against bullies but instead run to a school administrator. In recent years schools have even begun punishing students who do defend themselves under the idea that violence is never the answer. Sometime like a gun range that teaches children how to use the most effective tools of self-defense commonly available wasn’t going to fly forever.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 12th, 2016 at 10:30 am

Comcast: Because You Suck and We Hate You

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Today’s lack of blogging is brought to you by Comcast. For the third goddamn time this year Comcast has decided to jack up my bill. Why? This time, just as the last two times, they are claiming I was receiving a discount that has now expired. What record do I have of receiving this discount? None. It was never listed on my bill, I was never told about it, and I never received a mailer alerting me to it. Apparently Comcast is in the business of giving discounts without telling you. Or, you know, they’re lying sacks of shit. Either way, I was wasting time on the phone with them and will end up wasting more time on the phone either getting my bill back to the way it was or disconnecting the service and finding another Internet provider (or which I have, maybe, two other options).

To further prove Comcast hates you the company also announced that it will be issuing data caps:

Cellphone users watched with dismay in recent years as unlimited data plans became nearly extinct, thanks to the growing demand for video. Now, many Twin Cities residents will see data caps coming to their internet service, too.

Comcast, in an e-mail to customers Thursday night, said it will place a limit on internet data use for its residential customers in Minnesota, starting Nov. 1.

As a business class customer I don’t believe this will effect me. But I’m sure it’s only a matter of time until this shit applies to business customers as well.

And while the 1TB cap sounds very generous everybody needs to keep in mind that 4K video is becoming more popular and it sucks up bandwidth. 1TB won’t be much in the near future, which Comcast is banking on:

For serious online gamers or 4K video streamers, unlimited data is still available — for $50 more a month.

Otherwise, what happens if you go over 1 terabyte in a month? Comcast will charge you $10 for every 50 gigabytes over the limit, up to a maximum of $200.

What a bunch of gouging fuckers. Let’s all take a moment to thank the State for providing protections to Comcast so it can do this kind of shit without much worry of losing customers to competitors.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 7th, 2016 at 10:00 am

All E-Mail Providers are Snitches But Some are Bigger Snitches Than Others

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E-mail should be a dead standard this day and age. By default it offers no confidentiality or anonymity. Even when you use something like GPG to encrypt the contents of your e-mail the metadata, such as who you communicated with, remains unencrypted. But legacy products like to stick around past their welcome and almost all of us have to deal with e-mail on a daily basis.

This dependency on a legacy product has also been a boon for the State. The snoops working for the State such as the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) love e-mail because it’s easy to surveil. Not only are the messages unencrypted by default but many providers are more than happy to assist federal agencies in their quest to spy on the general population. It was recently revealed that Yahoo has been one of the e-mail providers in the State’s pocket:

Yahoo Inc last year secretly built a custom software program to search all of its customers’ incoming emails for specific information provided by U.S. intelligence officials, according to people familiar with the matter.

The company complied with a classified U.S. government demand, scanning hundreds of millions of Yahoo Mail accounts at the behest of the National Security Agency or FBI, said three former employees and a fourth person apprised of the events.

Some surveillance experts said this represents the first case to surface of a U.S. Internet company agreeing to an intelligence agency’s request by searching all arriving messages, as opposed to examining stored messages or scanning a small number of accounts in real time.

Stories like this make me happy that Yahoo has been suffering financially. Most technology companies have at least half heartedly pushed back when the State has demanded all-encompassing surveillance powers. But Yahoo was more than willing to roll up its sleeves and provide the State with everything it asked for. Fortunately, there was at least one decent person in Yahoo during this fiasco. Unfortunately, that person was powerless to stop Yahoo from going through with its dastardly deed:

According to two of the former employees, Yahoo Chief Executive Marissa Mayer’s decision to obey the directive roiled some senior executives and led to the June 2015 departure of Chief Information Security Officer Alex Stamos, who now holds the top security job at Facebook Inc.

I’d say he was well rewarded for standing up for what he believed in. Facebook is raking in cash so he’s almost certainly being paid far better. And while Facebook is a major player in the State’s surveillance apparatus the company has at least shown a willingness to provide customers with secure means of communications by allowing WhatsApp, one of its acquisitions, to implement the Signal protocol and even implemented optional end-to-end encryption in its Messenger app.

This is the point where I’d recommend Yahoo’s users to abandon its e-mail service for a more reputable one. But I doubt anybody reading this is actually using Yahoo’s e-mail service. But if you are a statistical anomaly and still using it you should stop. Yahoo has zero interest in protecting your privacy.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 5th, 2016 at 10:30 am

To Better Protect and Serve You

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The police exist to protect and serve you, which is why police departments invest so much money into buying equipment that better enables them to protect and serve you. Take Ford’s new innovation that will surely help you feel safer:

Just when it seemed like undercover police cars couldn’t get any stealthier, along comes this.

After adding red-and-blue emergency lights inside the front visors of unmarked police cars, Ford said Monday that it is introducing rear emergency lights built into the spoiler.

The system means that in states where officers in unmarked cruisers are allowed to pull over speeders, it may be harder to recognize their vehicles — until those lights go on.

Here in Minnesota police cars are required to be marked. That requirement has lead to black police cars with black lettering on them that is difficult to distinguish unless you’re close to the vehicle. I won’t be surprised if I see these innovative spoilers even on “marked” cars.

So how will these innovative spoilers help police better protect and serve you? The same way International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) catchers, surplus Ballistic Engineered Armored Response Counter Attack Trucks (BearCat), drug sniffing dogs, laser speed detectors, and most of the other fancy shit law enforcers buy: not at all. What it will do is help law enforcers expropriate even more wealth from the people they prey on.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 4th, 2016 at 10:00 am

You Can’t Squeeze Blood from a Turnip

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I have yet another story of civil forfeiture for you. But this one is a little different. Instead of it being a story about cops stealing property that the owner is never able to get back this story starts out with the courts siding with the owner. However, there’s a plot twist. The stolen property has already been sold:

For eight years, Michiganders Gerald and Royetta Ostipow have been fighting the seizure and forfeiture of hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of their property.

Last month they prevailed when a judge ordered the return of virtually everything that had been taken from them. But the Ostipows’ victory was short-lived, for they soon discovered that the Saginaw County Sheriff’s Office had sold their property years ago, while their forfeiture case was still being actively litigated.

So, it’s back to court for the Ostipows.

You can’t get what isn’t there but at least the system works… for the rulers. Law enforcers were able to steal and hock Mr. and Mrs. Ostipow’s stuff for financial gain. In order to fight the seizure the Ostipows had to invest money in a lawyer and hours in the court system, which helped keep the court employees employed. Then when the court finally ruled in favor of the Ostipows they found out that they would have to spend more money on lawyers, and by extent help pay the salaries of more court employees, because their property was pawned off years ago. If the federal court sides with them then the city that employs the officers will likely be forced to pay damages, which very well may lead to a tax increase to make up for the loss to the city.

In the end everybody involved with the State profits while the Ostipows have to continue hemorrhaging cash and will never be able to reclaim the hours of their life that have been lost.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 29th, 2016 at 10:00 am

Everything is Permitted

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I do enjoy those rare glimpses into the unfiltered minds of our overlords. Usually they are careful with what they say and hide their depravities behind a veil of officialdom. But every now and then their facade cracks and they reveal their trust selves to the world. Rudolph Giuliani just did exactly that:

Giuliani said Trump does not necessarily want the United States to extract the oil itself but wants to “leave a force back there and take it and make sure it’s distributed in a proper way.”

“That’s not legal, is it?” ABC’s George Stephanopoulos asked, as the Geneva Conventions forbid seizing the natural resources of a sovereign nation after invading it.

“Of course it’s legal. It’s a war,” Giuliani said, laughing. “Until the war is over, anything’s legal.”

Suddenly the perpetual state of war makes more sense. So long as the war continues the State believes it can excuse any of its depravities.

What Giuliani has expressed isn’t unique to him, he was just dumb enough to say it publicly. But if you look at the extensive list of atrocities that have been committed by the United States in this never ending war such as bombing wedding parities, killing children, and raping prisoners and you see that punishments are never doled out you realize that the political class believes everything done is legal. What makes matters worse is that there is no relief for the civilians living in the areas the United States is bombing. Since the war on terror has no concrete set of parameters that constitute winning the war has no defined end. It can be waged perpetually and the State has no motivation to end it since it believes war gives it an avenue to do anything without consequences.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 15th, 2016 at 10:30 am

DEA Decides to Generate More Revenue

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While the government claims the war on drugs is being waged to protect the people, anybody with a brain realizes that it’s about generating revenue. Many of the drugs prohibited by the war, such as cannabis, are far less dangerous than the drugs that remain legal, such as alcohol. However, the war on drugs has opened the door for civil forfeiture, an exponential increase in slave labor, widespread surveillance, and heavily armed revenue generators law enforcers.

New drugs are being added to the prohibited list every year. Each one of those new drugs is another opportunity for the State to steal more wealth and kidnap more slave laborers. This year the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) wants to add kratom to Schedule I:

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is moving to place the herbal supplement kratom on its list of Schedule I drugs, effectively banning a naturally occurring psychoactive substance that some say holds promise as a therapy for opioid addiction.

The DEA, in a notice published in the Federal Register this week, said it wants to include two active kratom ingredients in its most restrictive classification of drugs with high potential for abuse and no known medical benefit, signaling that the government considers the plant as dangerous as heroin. The scheduling move would last for two years, with a possible extension of an additional year, and would go into effect at the end of September.

Kratom, like cannabis, is a plant, not some chemical concoction that has to be synthesized. This means that the DEA is effectively waging another war on nature. The advantage of this, to the DEA, is that it can’t win a war against nature so the struggle against the kratom menace would be a perpetual revenue stream for the agency. Also like cannabis, kratom is used medicinally:

Kratom is made from the leaves of Mitragyna speciosa, a Southeast Asian tree related to coffee, and has been consumed in Asia for millennia, typically as a tea or powder. The herb contains alkaloids that appear to activate opioid receptors in the brain and reduce pain. Although most opioids have sedative qualities, low to moderate doses of kratom serve as a mild stimulant.

The advantage of targeting a medicinal plant is that people who use kratom to treat their pain are likely to ignore the prohibition so they can continue living a less painful existence. That means the DEA has a good pool of victims it can exploit for cash and slave labor.

Of course the DEA is citing the usual crap about addiction, health effects, etc. However, all of those things apply to alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs that aren’t prohibited. Furthermore, Asian countries have been using kratom for ages to no widespread negative effect. And even if kratom has serious side-effects they’re far less deadly than law enforcers burning babies with flashbang grenades, shooting family pets, and beating people to within an inch of their lives.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 2nd, 2016 at 10:00 am

Obedience Won’t Save You

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People pay taxes because the alternative is ultimately death. Yes, the State will go so far as to murder you if you don’t fork over the “protection” money it demands. The threat of death convinces most people to pay their taxes. Furthermore, as if hoping to curry favor with the State, many people perform a great deal of virtue signaling by proclaiming how much they enjoy paying taxes. But obeying the State’s expropriation tax laws and virtue signaling won’t save you. Even if you obey and pay the State will try to steal more of your wealth if it thinks it can get away with it:

Over the years, we received guidance from Irish tax authorities on how to comply correctly with Irish tax law — the same kind of guidance available to any company doing business there. In Ireland and in every country where we operate, Apple follows the law and we pay all the taxes we owe.

The European Commission has launched an effort to rewrite Apple’s history in Europe, ignore Ireland’s tax laws and upend the international tax system in the process. The opinion issued on August 30th alleges that Ireland gave Apple a special deal on our taxes. This claim has no basis in fact or in law. We never asked for, nor did we receive, any special deals. We now find ourselves in the unusual position of being ordered to retroactively pay additional taxes to a government that says we don’t owe them any more than we’ve already paid.

Apple has a massive team of lawyers whose job is to ensure it complies with the laws of the regions it operates in so it can avoid the State’s wrath. The European Union decided that this dedication to obedience wasn’t enough and chose to demand billions of dollars more from the largest tax victim in its territory. In the eyes of the European Union Apple and every other organization and individual are little more than giant Automated Teller Machines. When it decides it wants more cash it claims the wealthy didn’t pay enough taxes and demands they either pay more or else.

This should be a lesson to all the people hoping to avoid the State’s wrath by publicly proclaiming how much they enjoy paying taxes. Apple has a long history of touting its efforts to be a “responsible citizen”, which includes publicly stating its desire to pay its “fair share”. But the European Union still went after Apple for more. Don’t fool yourself into believing the State will let you live your life so long as you kowtow to it.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 31st, 2016 at 10:30 am