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Archive for the ‘Wall of Fame Assholes’ Category

The Problem With Statutory Laws

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Statutory law, like democracy, is often erroneously held up as a feature of truly great societies. The problem with statutory law is that it’s based on the belief that the decrees of legislators and the rulings of judges are justice. But justice is about righting a wrong as much as possible and statutory law often fails miserably at this. Consider the recent rape case in Oklahoma:

The case involved allegations that a 17-year-old boy assaulted a girl, 16, after volunteering to give her a ride home. The two had been drinking in a Tulsa park with a group of friends when it became clear that the girl was badly intoxicated. Witnesses recalled that she had to be carried into the defendant’s car. Another boy, who briefly rode in the car, recalled her coming in and out of consciousness.

The boy later brought the girl to her grandmother’s house. Still unconscious, the girl was taken to a hospital, where a test put her blood alcohol content above .34. She awoke as staff were conducting a sexual assault examination.

Tests would later confirm that the young man’s DNA was found on the back of her leg and around her mouth. The boy claimed to investigators that the girl had consented to performing oral sex. The girl said she didn’t have any memories after leaving the park. Tulsa County prosecutors charged the young man with forcible oral sodomy.

[…]

But the trial judge dismissed the case. And the appeals court ruling, on 24 March, affirmed that prosecutors could not apply the law to a victim who was incapacitated by alcohol.

“Forcible sodomy cannot occur where a victim is so intoxicated as to be completely unconscious at the time of the sexual act of oral copulation,” the decision read. Its reasoning, the court said, was that the statute listed several circumstances that constitute force, and yet was silent on incapacitation due to the victim drinking alcohol. “We will not, in order to justify prosecution of a person for an offense, enlarge a statute beyond the fair meaning of its language.”

According to the judge’s interpretation of the law a woman who is so intoxicated that she has been render unconscious cannot be forcibly sodomized. And Oklahoma’s law very well might be written in that way, which is the problem.

This case should be focusing on the wrong that was performed and the best way to correct that wrong as far as possible. In any sane justice system that would be the focus. The question of whether a person can consent if they’re not in a sound state of mind, for example, would probably be explored if the focus was on the wrong. Most people would likely agree that a person who is so drunk that they’ve passed out cannot consent to a legal control, let alone sex.

But under statutory law the focus isn’t the wrong but on what was written by legislators and ruled by other judges.

Written by Christopher Burg

April 30th, 2016 at 10:30 am

Don’t Make Vague Threatening Statements When You Carry A Gun

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Sometimes I become complacent in my assumption that gun owners as a whole are a pretty cool group. This is probably because most of my friends who own guns are really awesome people. But then a social issue hits the headlines and I’m reminded that a lot of gun owners are just as big of assholes as a lot of anti-gunners. This post is about one of those gun owners.

Target reiterated its bathroom policy, which is a sensible policy that allows transgender individuals to use the facilities of their gender, and now a bunch of social conservatives are announcing their plan to boycott the store. I have no issues as far as that goes since everybody should be free to associate or disassociate with anybody they choose for whatever reason they choose. But a handful of these social conservatives seem to be having a competition over who can be the biggest asshole about it.

The current winner of this competition may be Anita Staver. Staver felt the need to make a special announcement to alert the world that she will be carrying her firearm into a very specific place:

After Target announced its transgender customers and employees can use store bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity, Orlando-based Liberty Counsel president Anita Staver said she would be taking her Glock .45 into Target’s restrooms, saying the gun “identifies as my bodyguard.”

Most of us who carry a firearm don’t feel the need to specifically announce every single place we’re going to carry it. In fact when one go out of their way to make a special announcement that they’re going to carry a gun into a place that is currently being featured in heated debates — especially when that announcement contains language that belittles one side of the debate — it might come off as a bit threatening. Just maybe.

If you want to carry a gun, just carry the damn thing. Don’t be an asshole about it. And especially don’t make statements about the fact you carry that could very easily be perceived as threatening to a group of people you openly hold distain for. In other words, don’t be this asshole.

Written by Christopher Burg

April 28th, 2016 at 10:30 am

Yet Another Reason Why Democracy Sucks

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Democracy has been deified in our society and any dissent is treated as high treason. But I’m here to tell you that democracy sucks.

Democracy is built on the idea that whatever a majority of a voting body decides is somehow just. But what happens when the majority of a voting body decides your so-called rights are mere privileges and furthermore have deemed you no longer need those privileges?

A survey commissioned by the BBC suggests that 63 per cent of UK university students believe the National Union of Students (NUS) is right to have a “no-platform” policy, whereby individuals or groups with opinions deemed to be offensive can be banned from speaking on student union premises.

More than half (54 per cent) of students surveyed also thought the policy should be actively enforced against people who could be found intimidating.

The National Union of Students (NUS) is a democratic organization and a majority of the designated voting body decided to allow censorship on campus student unions. With that simple majority vote, which is also backed up by a majority of surveyed university students, anybody deemed to be supporting an offensive platform is barred from speaking at a location that their tax dollars may very well have funded.

Freedom of speech is a concept used to protect the minority from government censorship. But democracy is a concept that relies on the idea that the will of the majority is correct. The two concepts are opposed to one another because a democracy is oppositional to the minority.

Written by Christopher Burg

April 27th, 2016 at 10:00 am

How The State Makes Us Less Secure Part MLVII

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The State, by claiming to provide for the common defense and declaring a monopoly on justice, has a conflict of interest. Providing for the common defense would require it to disclose any vulnerabilities it discovers but it’s reliant on those vulnerabilities to obtain evidence to prosecute individuals accused of a crime.

Adding a new chapter to this ongoing saga is the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) decision to fight a court order to reveal a vulnerability it used to uncover the identify of Tor users:

Last month, the FBI was ordered to reveal the full malware code used to hack visitors of a dark web child pornography site. The judge behind that decision, Robert J. Bryan, said it was a “fair question” to ask how exactly the FBI caught the defendant.

But the agency is pushing back. On Monday, lawyers for the Department of Justice filed a sealed motion asking the judge to reconsider, and also provided a public declaration from an FBI agent involved in the investigation.

In short, the FBI agent says that revealing the exploit used to bypass the protections offered by the Tor Browser is not necessary for the defense and their case. The defense, in previous filings, has said they want to determine whether the network investigative technique (NIT)—the FBI’s term for a hacking tool—carried out additional functions beyond those authorised in the warrant.

People around the world rely on tor to protect themselves from tyrannical regimes. Journalists living in countries such as Iran, China, and Thailand are only able to continue reporting on human rights violations because Tor protects their identities. Sellers and consumers of verboten drugs, neither of whom are causing involuntary harm to anybody, successfully used Tor hidden services to make their trade safer. Victims of domestic abuse rely on Tor to get access to help without being discovered by their abusers. By refusing to publish the vulnerability it used, the FBI is putting all of these individuals in danger.

On another point, I must also emphasize that that the FBI is claiming the defense doesn’t need to know this information, which speaks volumes to the egotistical nature of the agency. Who is the FBI to decide what the defense needs to know and doesn’t need to know? Being the prosecuting party should already disqualify the FBI’s opinion on the matter due to its obvious conflict of interest.

Written by Christopher Burg

March 30th, 2016 at 10:30 am

Civil Forfeiture Is Back

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In December of last year the Department of Justice (DoJ) announced that would be suspending payments under the Equitable Sharing Program. There was much rejoice. But anybody familiar with statism knows that rules can change at the whim of a bureaucrat to no victories are permanent. The DoJ has just announced that it will resume payments again:

The Justice Department had suspended payments under this program in December, due to budget cuts included in last year’s spending bill.

“In the months since we made the difficult decision to defer equitable sharing payments because of the $1.2 billion rescinded from the Asset Forfeiture Fund, the financial solvency of the fund has improved to the point where it is no longer necessary to continue deferring equitable sharing payments,” spokesman Peter J. Carr said in an email Monday.

While he didn’t specify exactly where the new funding came from, Carr noted that the program is partly funded by the cash and other property seized under the program.

Civil forfeiture is one of the most brazen efforts by the State to redistribute wealth from the people to itself. Usually the State wraps its theft in justifications of providing services and due process. But civil forfeiture isn’t used to build roads or fund schools and spits in the face of due process by presuming guilt instead of innocence.

Due to the massive amount of pushback it wasn’t surprising to hear the DoJ announce it was suspending the program. The State likes people to believe its theft isn’t theft and public opinion was going against that fiction with civil forfeiture. It’s also not surprising to see the decision reversed, especially now that the media attention has died down, since civil forfeiture is one of the DoJ’s favorite tools to enhance the power of its law enforcers. And as we all know, a heavily armed law enforcer is a happy law enforcer and a happy law enforcer is much more willing to steal for their employer.

Written by Christopher Burg

March 30th, 2016 at 10:00 am

How The State Makes Us Less Secure Part MLVI

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Statists often claim that the State is necessary for the common defense. If this were the case I would expect it to do what it can to make everybody safer. Instead it does the opposite. In its pursuit of power the State continues to take actions that make everybody under its rule less safe.

The latest chapter in this ongoing saga revolves around the iPhone of Syed Farook. After trying to get a court to force Apple to write a custom firmware for Farook’s iPhone that would allow the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) to brute force the passcode, the agency postponed the hearing because it claimed to have found another method to get the data it wants. That method appears to be an exploit of some sort but the Justice Department has classified the matter so we may never know:

A new method to crack open locked iPhones is so promising that US government officials have classified it, the Guardian has learned.

The Justice Department made headlines on Monday when it postponed a federal court hearing in California. It had been due to confront Apple over an order that would have forced it to write software that would make it easier for investigators to guess the passcode for an iPhone used by San Bernardino gunman Syed Farook.

The government now says it may have figured out a way to get into the phone without Apple’s help. But it wants that discovery to remain secret, in an effort to prevent criminals, security researchers and even Apple itself from reengineering smartphones so that the tactic would no longer work.

By classifying this method the Justice Department is putting, at minimum, every iPhone 5C user running the same firmware as Farook’s phone at risk. But the exploit likely reaches further and may even put every user of every iOS device at risk.

Since Farook’s iPhone is in the State’s possession there is no risk of its firmware being upgraded. That being the case, there’s no reason for the Justice Department not to disclose the vulnerability its exploiting. Even if the exploit is disclosed the agency will still be able to use it to gain access to the data on Farook’s phone (assuming the exploit works as implied). But disclosing it would allow Apple to patch it so it couldn’t be used against the millions of innocent people using iOS devices.

There is a conflict of interest inherent in statism. The State is supposed to provide for the common defense of those within its territory. At the same time it’s charged with investigating crimes and dispensing justice. In order to fulfill the latter goal it must be able to gain access to whatever information it deems pertinent to an investigation. Ensuring that access is available conflicts with providing for a common defense since an effective defense against foreign aggressors, especially as it relates to protecting data, is also an effective defense against the State.

Giving Children A Taste Of The Police State While They’re Young

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It’s true, the United States is a police state. But even Uncle Sam has nothing compared to his dear old mum. While the United States is still fighting terror by having the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) radicalize adults with lukewarm intelligence the United Kingdom (UK) has already moved on from such trivial matters and is now dealing with the threat of radicalized four year-olds:

Staff at a nursery school threatened to refer a four-year-old boy to a de-radicalisation programme after he drew pictures which they thought showed his father making a “cooker bomb”, according to the child’s mother.

The child’s drawing actually depicted his father cutting a cucumber with a knife, his mother says, but staff misheard his explanation and thought it referred to a type of improvised explosive device.

On Friday the boy’s mother showed the Guardian video footage of her son in which he is playing happily on the floor of his home, and is shown a cucumber and asked what it is. “A cuker-bum,” he says, before going back to his toys.

The footage was taken by the mother at the family home in Luton after the nursery discussed referring the child to a de-radicalisation programme out of concerns that pictures drawn by him referred to explosions and an improvised explosive device known as a “cooker bomb”.

How brainwashed by propaganda does a nursery school staff have to be to assume a four year-old is saying “cooker bomb” when they say “cuker-bum”? At that age children are still working out how to pronounce words. Hell, at that age I will still trying to figure out why “very” wasn’t pronounced “berry”. The fact that these mouth breathers are so fucking terrified that they immediately assume a child failing to pronounce a word correctly is related to a terror plot should disqualify them from working with children.

What was especially egregious was the nursery school staff’s statement to the mother:

In between the odd tear and laugh of disbelief, the mother spoke about the experience, which she said had left her shaken and upset, and involved her being told at one point: “Your children might not be taken off you … you can prove yourself innocent.”

Emphasis mine. Prove her innocence? That’s not how things are supposed to work. The fact that the nursery school staff believes a person must prove their innocence instead of the State proving guilt demonstrates just how fucked the UK is.

One of the biggest problems facing The United States and many European countries is the rampant number of quislings. You know the type. The jackass neighbor who calls the police because you have a fire pit going in your backyard and they know you didn’t get a permit. The car mechanic who calls the police because they found a dime bag of weed in your car while they were fixing it. The nosy neighborhood watcher who calls in your car because it was parked on the street for over 24 hours. Because of these worthless busybodies the State is well informed of its laws being broken and can enforce them. Without them the State would have a much harder time enforcing its laws because it wouldn’t know about the violations.

Written by Christopher Burg

March 22nd, 2016 at 10:30 am

It Was Snowden All Along

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In 2013 the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) demanded Ladar Levison hand over the TLS keys to his Lavabit service. He did comply, by providing the key printed out in small text, but also shutdown his service instead of letting the key be used to snoop on his customers. The FBI threw a hissy fit over this and even threatened to kidnap Levison for shutting down his business. But one question that always remained was who the FBI was after. Everybody knew it was Edward Snowden but there was no hard evidence… until now.

Court documents related to the Lavabit case have been released. The documents are naturally heavily redacted but the censors missed a page:

In court papers related to the Lavabit controversy, the target of the investigation was redacted, but it was widely assumed to be Edward Snowden. He was known to have used the service, and the charges against the target were espionage and theft of government property, the same charges Snowden faced.

Now, what was widely assumed has been confirmed. In documents posted to the federal PACER database this month, the government accidentally left his e-mail, “Ed_snowden@lavabit.com,” unredacted for all to see. The error was noted by the website Cryptome earlier this week, and Wired covered it yesterday.

This revelation didn’t tell us anything we didn’t know before but it’s nice to have hard evidence in hand. Now we know with certainty that the FBI completely destroyed a business as retaliation for having Snowden as a customer. I say this was retaliatory because the court documents [PDF] clearly show that Levison was willing to cooperate with the FBI by surveilling the single target of the order. However, the FBI decided it would accept nothing less than the surrender of Lavabit’s TLS key.

Had the FBI been reasonable it would have had its tap. Instead its agents decided to be unreasonable fuckheads, which forced Levison to shutdown his business entirely instead of putting thousands of innocent users at risk. This case is also a lesson in never cooperating with terrorists. Levison offered to cooperate and still had his business destroyed. When the FBI comes to your door you should refuse to cooperate in any way. Cooperating will not save you. The only difference between cooperating and refusing to cooperate is that in the case of the latter your business will be shutdown before innocent users are put at risk.

When The State Isn’t Wrecking The Technology Industry It’s Begging It For Help

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Do you know what’s especially funny about the fight between Apple and the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI)? While one part of the State is trying to destroy computer security another part is begging for help:

Carter will visit a Pentagon outpost in the heart of Silicon Valley, speak at a cybersecurity conference in San Francisco and go to Microsoft and Amazon headquarters in Seattle to highlight the risks of cyberattacks and the need for greater digital cooperation with the Pentagon.

His visit to the West Coast — his third in less than a year, more than he’s made to Kabul or Baghdad — marks the latest effort by the Obama administration to recruit telecommunications, social media and other technology companies as partners in national security operations despite deep suspicion in Silicon Valley about government surveillance.

Statism in a nutshell. When computer security stands in the way of the State’s power it attempts to crush it mercilessly. But when it needs computer security to solidify and maintain its power it comes crawling back to the very people it tried to execute only a short while ago.

In the end the State wants the best of both worlds. It wants a world where its networks and devices are secure but nobody else’s are. Why should security professionals provide the State any assistance when it constantly tries to bite their hands?

Written by Christopher Burg

March 1st, 2016 at 10:30 am

Los Angeles Teaching Homeless People To Not Be Homeless By Stealing Their Homes

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Governments hate the homeless. Some people find this surprising but only because they don’t understand the nature of the State. The State exists on and for plunder. Every law it creates is created to further its plundering. That being the case, people who have nothing to take are effectively worthless to the State. Because rounding them up and killing them wouldn’t go over well with the general populace local municipalities have opted for another solution to their homeless “problem.” They try to make the lives of homeless individuals so miserable that they go elsewhere and becomes another municipality’s problem.

Los Angeles may be sinking to a new low in this endevour though. Recently city officials have begun teaching the homeless a lesson about being homeless by taking their homes:

Escalating their battle to stamp out an unprecedented spread of street encampments, city officials have begun seizing tiny houses from homeless people living on freeway overpasses in South Los Angeles.

Three of the gaily painted wooden houses, which come with solar-powered lights and American flags, were confiscated earlier this month and seven more are planned for impound Thursday, a Bureau of Sanitation spokeswoman said.

As is always the case in these situations, city officials are citing their own bureaucratic nonsense. These thefts are being perpetrated under the guise of sanitation. City officials also, as it always the case, claimed to be offering a better solution without offering any other solution:

Mayor Eric Garcetti’s spokeswoman, Connie Llanos, said he is committed to getting homeless people into permanent and not makeshift housing.

“Unfortunately, these structures can be hazardous to the individuals living in them and to the community at large,” Llanos said in a statement on the mayor’s behalf.

“When the city took the houses, they didn’t offer housing, they straight kicked them out,” Summers said.

What Mr. Garcetti means by permanent housing is getting the homeless out of the city so they’re no longer his problem. Maybe the homeless population of Los Angeles should consider seizing some of the government’s buildings. They’re technically unowned (since the State, being a criminal organization that has acquired everything in its possession through theft, cannot legitimately own property) and would provide permanent housing.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 26th, 2016 at 10:00 am