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30 Sep 21:06

First diagnosis in USA...

30 Sep 14:31

Town Wants to Ban Cameras After Cop’s Obama Rant Goes Viral

by Ted Balaker

Nanny of the Month turns five years old this month, and after all these years busybodies still delight in making it it their business to mind your business. Back in September 2009, control freaks put everything from shark tours to apple pie on their hit list. How about this month?

Careful where you toss those table scraps, because Seattle has given garbage collectors the power to fine residents who aren't all in on composting.

A Minnesota pol is going Four Loko over the latest alcohol innovation. The manufacturer of Palcohol says its powdered alcohol will will be a hit with everyone from airlines to backpackers (astronauts?). But if state Rep. Joe Atkins (D) has his way, Gopher State backpackers will be banned from pairing their campfire fried eggs with a freeze-dried Bloody Mary. (The feds now say they approved Palcohol by mistake.)

But on this very special episode, Nanny of the Month zeros in the Garden State.

Remember Richard Recine, the (now former) Helmetta, New Jersey, special officer caught on video declaring that he does not have to abide by the Constitution since "Obama decimated the friggin' Constitution"?

Helmetta officials were plenty embarrassed when the video went viral, and yet they chose to honor the spirit of Recine's rant by pushing for a ban on photography and video in public buildings.

Under the proposed ordinance, citizens would need a permit to capture such moments of candor in the future, although public meetings would be exempt from the requirement.

The ACLU says the ordinance may be unconstitutional. However, violators would still face up to $2,000 in fines and up to 90 days in jail. But it's OK, because officials are cracking down on photography for the sake of the children.

About two minutes.

Follow Nanny of the Month on Twitter (@NannyoftheMonth) and submit your nominees for next month!

Nanny of the Month is written Ted Balaker (@tedbalaker) and produced by Balaker and Matt Edwards (@MattChrisEd). Edited by Edwards. Opening graphics by Meredith Bragg.

To watch previous episodes, go here.

Scroll down for downloadable versions and subscribe to Reason TV's YouTube channel for notifications when new material goes live.

29 Sep 23:39

When we consider all US CEOs and all US workers, the ‘CEO-to-worker pay ratio’ falls from 331:1 to below 4:1

by Mark J. Perry

minwageHere are some questionable statistics about CEO pay that we learn about from the AFL-CIO’s Executive Paywatch webpage:

1. In 2013 the CEO-to-worker pay ratio was 331:1 and the CEO-to-minimum-wage-worker pay ratio was 774:1. America is supposed to be the land of opportunity, a country where hard work and playing by the rules would provide working families a middle-class standard of living. But in recent decades, corporate CEOs have been taking a greater share of the economic pie while wages have stagnated and unemployment remains high.

2. Highly paid CEOs of low-wage employers are fueling this growing economic inequality. In 2013, CEOs of the S&P 500 Index companies received, on average, $11.7 million in total compensation, according to the AFL-CIO’s analysis of available data from 350 companies.

3. It doesn’t have to be this way. Politicians should raise the minimum wage. Corporations should pay their employees a living wage. And workers should have a collective voice on the job to demand their fair share.

MP: As I pointed out in a post earlier today on CD, this frequently cited AFL-CIO analysis of CEO pay is an example of “statistical bait-and-switch.” Or call it a “statistical canard” or a “statistical fallacy.” Here’s why:

The AFL-CIO is comparing: a) the average salary of a small sample (350) of the highest paid US CEOs, out of a total CEO population in 2013 of 248,760 CEOs, according to BLS data here, and b) the average worker pay for production and nonsupervisory workers, which represents only 8.5 million factory workers out of a total of 136.3 million payroll employees nationwide. In other words, the AFL-CIO’s reported “CEO-to-worker pay ratio” of 331:1 is calculated by ignoring 99.9% of all US CEOs and 93.8% of all US workers. A more accurate description would be to call it a ratio of the pay for 350 of the highest-paid US CEOs to the pay of only 6.2% of the American labor force, or a ratio of an unrepresentative, infinitesimally small, and statistically insignificant group of CEOs to a small minority and unrepresentative group of US factory workers. It’s a completely bogus and meaningless comparison.

The top chart above shows a more statistically valid comparison of CEO pay to average worker in the US pay by considering: a) the average annual pay of all US CEOs in every year from 2002 to 2013 (data here) and b) the average annual pay of all US workers in a comprehensive, national BLS dataset that includes workers in 22 major occupational groups, 94 minor occupational groups, 458 broad occupations, and 821 detailed occupations (132.6 million workers for 2013). Based on those data, the average CEO earned $178,400 last year, the average worker earned $46,440, and the “CEO-to-worker pay ratio” was 3.84:1, and that’s a LOT different from the AFL-CIO’s ratio of 331:1 by a factor of more than 86 times! Call it a “statistical falsehood-to-truth ratio” of 86:1 for the AFL-CIO’s exaggerated, bogus ratio. The chart also shows that the real CEO-to-worker pay ratio has not been increasing as is frequently reported, but instead has been remarkably constant over the last 12 years, averaging 3.8:1 in a tight range between a maximum of 3.89:1 in 2004 and a minimum of 3.69:1 in both 2005 and 2006. The ratio of 3.84:1 in the most recent year (2013) was actually slightly lower than the ratios in 2004 (3.89:1) and in all years between 2009 and 2012.

Likewise, the bottom chart displays a more statistically valid comparison of average CEO pay to the annual pay of a full-time minimum wage worker. In 2013, a full-time minimum wage worker earned $14,500, and therefore the CEO-to-minimum-wage-worker pay ratio was only 12.3:1 compared to the grossly inflated 774:1 ratio reported by the AFL-CIO. That’s a “statistical falsehood-to-truth ratio” of 63:1 for the AFL-CIO’s exaggerated ratio. Because of the recent increases in the minimum wage between 2007-2009, the CEO-to-minimum-wage-worker pay ratio in recent years has been lower than the most recent 12-year average of 12.76:1.

Bottom Line: Do a Google search of the phrase “CEO to worker pay” and you’ll find 150,000 links to reports and articles that almost exclusively compare the salaries of a very small, statistically insignificant group of S&P500 or Fortune 500 CEOs to average worker pay. I’m suggesting that those comparisons are statistically invalid and meaningless. A comprehensive and statistically valid comparison of the average pay of all US CEOs to the average pay of all US workers reveals a much different story than the frequently reported narrative of a 300:1 (or higher) and rising CEO-to-worker pay ratio in the US. The reality is that the annual salary of the average US CEO pay is less than four times the annual pay of the average worker, and that ratio has been remarkably stable for more than a decade. 

29 Sep 21:00

Wisdom of the Day: Screenwriters Rich Journalism

by Frank J.

say what you will about silent films, it was a Golden Era for screenwriters who wanted to name their characters The Girl and Man With Hat

— Mallory Ortberg (@mallelis) September 26, 2014

poor person: These are my daughters Mercedes and Porsche rich person: There are my sons Ford and Chevy

— dan mentos (@DanMentos) September 26, 2014

Journalism is about covering important stories. With a pillow, until they stop moving.

— David Burge (@iowahawkblog) September 26, 2014

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29 Sep 12:09

Very Dry Water, Hard-Frozen Fire, and the Ostentatious Invisible Rich

by Don Boudreaux
(Don Boudreaux)

Here’s a letter to the New York Times:

In his New York Times blog on Wednesday - in a post entitled “Having It and Flaunting It” – Paul Krugman complained that America’s rich are obsessed with exhibiting their wealth in the form of “ostentatious” consumption.  Indeed, Mr. Krugman asserted that “for many of the rich flaunting is what it’s all about….  [I]t’s largely about display.”  And this display, Mr. Krugman alleged, “imposes negative externalities on the rest of the population.”

A mere five days later, in his New York Times column today - a column entitled “Our Invisible Rich” – Mr. Krugman gripes that the reason more Americans aren’t infuriated by today’s great income inequality is that “the truly rich are so removed from ordinary people’s lives that we never see what they have.”

Mr. Krugman is here ostentatiously inconsistent!

Sincerely,
Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
and
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA  22030

29 Sep 12:00

Testimonial – Paleo Remission Of Severe Rheumatoid Arthritis

by Squatchy

I was diagnosed with RA in 2002. I am a second generation RA sufferer so I looked to my mother for guidance. She had advanced RA (which means that her joints had twisted) within 4 years of onset and traditional treatment by a Rheumatologist. In desperation she had researched the new internet and found the Minocin treatment. This protocol had finally put her in remission. So following her advice, I started Minocin right after my initial diagnosis. I saw moderate success in slowing the progression and controlling the symptoms – and was still considered ’early stage’ (which means some joint erosion apparent in xrays but no twisting) as of the summer of 2009.

Around Thanksgiving of 2009, my pharmacist and the insurance company (via major hiking of copays for name brand meds) convinced me to go generic minocin. By Christmas of that year I was bedridden and unable to even dress myself. 90% of my joints were swollen to twice their size and not even hydrocodones controlled the agony. At this time I finally went to a Rheumatologist.

Although he pressured me to take methotrexate – I refused, knowing in my heart that I just had to make it until the generic minocin prescription ran out and I could get back on name brand. So we agreed on a prednisone treatment plan. I noticed steady improvement again as I took the name brand minocin – but the ’super flare’ had taken out my muscle tone and the continued use of both prednisone and Nexium (I had developed IBS and Acid reflux from all the painkillers) were slowly depleting my bones and causing a massive weight gain.

By the fall of 2012, I was obese and miserable. The RA was controlled to the point I could finally get off prednisone. But the tight tendons and weak muscles made it hard to work 60 hours a week. I knew I had to change!

January 1st, 2013 – I joined the workplace biggest loser contest, started the paleo diet and started walking at night. Within three days I suffered my first (of 3 that year) stress fracture. The doctor recommended to only exercise in a pool. So I joined a small local gym. By Feb 1st, 2013 – I noticed that I had absolutely NO RA pain! I quit taking those meds. By March 1st, 2013 – I realized my Acid reflux and IBS symptoms had disappeared. So the Nexium prescription went unfilled forever more.

I was in 100% natural remission (no drugs) until July 2013. I also lost 10 dress sizes and stabilized at a size 6. I began to re-introduce food groups at that time and began having RA flares again. Through comparing food journals and symptom journals I began to identify the foods that caused my RA. From Chocolate, Cheese, & Bananas causing immediate major flares to Daily wheat consumption causing ’build up’ flares – I’ve learned how to stay in remission by taking control and ownership of what I eat.

This week I have an appointment with an Allergist to pin point specific food allergies. So as an 11 year RA veteran with 3 scientific degrees (earned during my years with RA) – I can tell you what researchers have already studied and published – the source of most RA inflammation begins in the intestines. Furthermore it can be treated and controlled by what you choose to introduce to your intestines.

26 Sep 15:00

Land Use and Local Government: The Facts On the Ground Are Libertarian

by Walter Olson

Walter Olson

Prof. Kenneth Stahl, who directs the Environmental Land Use and Real Estate Law Program at Chapman University School of Law, has a post at Concurring Opinions asking why libertarians aren’t more numerous among academic specialists in local government and land use law. Stahl describes his own views as siding with “leftists rather than libertarians,” that is to say, those who “have some confidence in the ability of government to solve social problems”: 

Nevertheless, were you to pick up a randomly selected piece of left-leaning land use or local government scholarship (including my own) you would likely witness a searing indictment of the way local governments operate. You would read that the land use decisionmaking process is usually a conflict between deep-pocketed developers who use campaign contributions to elect pro-growth politicians and affluent homeowners who use their ample resources to resist change that might negatively affect their property values. Land use “planning”—never a great success to begin with—has largely been displaced by the “fiscalization” of land use, in which land use decisions are based primarily on a proposed land use’s anticipated contribution to (or drain upon) a municipality’s revenues. Public schools in suburban areas have essentially been privatized due to exclusionary zoning practices, and thus placed off limits to the urban poor, whereas public schools in cities have been plundered by ravenous teachers’ unions.

… It hardly paints a pretty picture of local government. Yet, most leftists’ prescription is more government. 

To put it differently, libertarian analysis better explains what actually goes on in local government than does the standard progressive faith in the competence of government to correct supposed market failure. The post (read it in full!) goes on to discuss specifics such as annexation, incorporation, and economic stratification-by-jurisdiction; the relative success of lightly governed Houston in achieving low housing costs and attracting newcomers and economic growth; and the transference of progressives’ unmet hopes to regionalization, so memorably summed up by Jane Jacobs years ago: “A region is an area safely larger than the last one to whose problem we found no solution.”

Stahl: 

So why would left-leaning scholars, who have seen so clearly the failures of local government, place so much faith in a largely untested restructuring of governmental institutions, rather than looking to less government as the solution?

Great question.

26 Sep 13:15

FAA: Drones Are Okay For Hollywood, But Not Okay For Sports

by Mike Masnick
Jts5665

The arbitrary and capricious rule of man.

We remain absolutely baffled by the FAA's bizarre rules about drones. As we've noted, the FAA has said that you can use drones for fun, but if it in any way involves profit, it's not allowed. So you can use a drone to take photographs from the sky for personal use, but if you're a real estate agent trying to do a flyover of a house you're trying to sell, that's illegal. And while some people still claim that drone use should be limited so they don't interfere with airplanes, that doesn't seem to (even remotely) be the concern here, otherwise the personal use of drones would be barred too.

But it's getting even more bizarre. Now, it seems that anyone who wants to use drones in anything close to an innovative way has to first go beg the FAA for permission. And the permission is sometimes given and sometimes withheld. Compare these two stories. The University of Michigan wanted to use drones to deliver the game ball before kickoff of a football game, but the FAA nixed the request. It's not at all clear why. This was for a sporting event, and it would just be for fun. It's hard to see how the use was "commercial" other than the fact that college football is big business. Meanwhile, compare that to the fact that the FAA is apparently granting permission to Hollywood to use drones to film things:
In May, seven aerial photo and video production companies asked for regulatory exemptions (known as a 333 exemption) that would allow the film and television industry to use drones with FAA approval. Those seven companies and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), were asked by the FAA to develop the guidelines and safety procedures under which they planned to operate. The FAA reviewed those procedures and is expected to approve the drone-specific rules and standards that will enable Hollywood to be exempt from existing aviation regulations.
Of course, the report from Forbes notes, this actually took four years of back and forth with the FAA to get to this point.

We've talked for a while about the concept of permissionless innovation and why it's important to keep the velocity of innovation moving forward at a rapid pace. Adding in this layer of bizarre, arbitrary and ridiculously slow regulation, and you're slowing down that pace. And while some say "does that really matter" for something as silly as flying drones, as we've noted, it's entirely possible that drones can create some amazingly powerful societal shifts. But each bit of "permission" needed along the way slows down that process and limits our ability to innovate and to adapt and adjust and learn.

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25 Sep 20:44

FDA Doesn't Want E-Cigs Marketed as Safer Than Tobacco Cigarettes

by Matthew Feeney

Matthew Feeney

In a forthcoming article in Regulation California Polytechnic State University economics professor Michael Marlow describes the negative effects on public health of the proposed regulation of e-cigarettes. The FDA proposes to expand its authority granted under of Section 911 of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. “Section 911 bans marketing tobacco products as modified risk products without FDA approval. Moreover, manufacturers are unable to inform consumers their products do not contain tobacco.”

The prohibition on marketing e-cigarettes as safer than traditional cigarettes has not been subject to cost-benefit analysis. This is particularly significant given that the literature on e-cigarettes suggests that they help smokers quit. Even the JAMA Patient Page, published by The American Medical Association last January, highlighted a number of potential e-cigarette benefits such as their lack of tobacco and the less toxic nature of e-cigarette vapor compared to cigarette second-hand smoke.

In his back-of-the envelope calculation using quit rates from the published literature, Marlow estimates that the benefits related to e-cigarettes would be between $15.6 and $49.2 billion a year as the result of between 2.4 and 6.4 million smokers becoming former smokers every year. “Prohibiting sales to youth and requiring a clear description of product ingredients may be appropriate. But prohibiting any information regarding potential efficacy in harm reduction is hard to justify given substantial benefits reported in currently available studies.”

25 Sep 19:24

Murder Case Prosecutors Claim 'National Security' To Stop Questions About FBI Examination Of Google Maps Search

by Tim Cushing

A Google Map search is seemingly the only piece of evidence tying former Cisco engineer Brad Cooper to the the murder of his wife, Nancy. According to his testimony, Cooper was at home with the couple's two daughters at the time his wife was strangled in a nearby park.

Nancy Cooper disappeared on July 12, 2008. That same day, Brad Cooper was questioned by local law enforcement. During the next couple of days, he consented to a search of his house and vehicle and turned over a pair of his wife's running shoes for dogs to track her scent. On July 14th, a body was discovered. This was confirmed to be Nancy Cooper the next day. Brad Cooper turned over the house to investigators that same day, moving out to "preserve" the house itself as evidence. He left behind his computer, which was still connected to the internet. This stayed on for 27 hours before investigators removed it.

Here's where it gets interesting. (An admittedly callous way to look at a situation where one person is dead, one is headed to jail and two kids are effectively parentless…)

The most damning evidence gathered by investigators (working with the FBI) was a Google search showing the exact spot where Nancy Cooper's body was discovered, supposedly performed by Brad Cooper the day before she was killed. This being the only evidence is a fact, rather than conjecture. It's acknowledged in the appeals court's decision which granted Cooper a new trial. [pdf link]

Prosecutors pressed hard with this discovery, coupling it with the fact that Cooper and his wife were observed arguing at a party the night before she vanished. The real story about this supposed search may never come out. Cooper pled guilty to reduced charges earlier this week, after being granted a new trial on appeal. Perhaps Cooper actually did murder his wife, but the key evidence being used against him was severely questionable, enough so that he was awarded another chance to fight the charge.

The 56-page opinion granting him a new trial details the previous court's unconstitutional "abuses," which led to a guilty verdict.

Cooper's defense attacked the supposedly damning search, alleging that it had been planted on the computer by investigators. Their first witness could likely have offered testimony indicating the search had been planted but the State called into question his expertise as a forensic expert and his testimony was prohibited by the court from covering this topic.

Cooper's defense tried to bring in another witness, one more specifically-trained to testify on the specifics the court was demanding. This last-minute replacement, who had reached the same conclusion as the previous expert (that the search had "been placed on the hard drive [and] could not have been the result of normal internet activity"), but was prevented from doing so when the State objected to this "violation" of discovery rules (i.e., witness and testimony were not presented to the prosecution before the trial began).

The appeals court disagreed with the previous court's dismissal of the first expert witness. It argued that this witness was specifically trained to discover computer tampering, something a planted search result would fall under.

The Google Map files recovered from Defendant's laptop were perhaps the most important pieces of evidence admitted in this trial. We hold that the trial court abused its discretion in excluding Ward from testifying, relying on the State's own evidence, to his opinion that the Google Map files recovered from Defendant's laptop had been tampered with.

[...]

We hold, whether the error was constitutional or not, that erroneously preventing Defendant from presenting expert testimony, challenging arguably the strongest piece of the State's evidence, constituted reversible error and requires a new trial…
The appeals court also found that excluding the second witness because of discovery violations was also unconstitutional, noting that using procedural issues to deny the defendant a chance to defend against the single, most important piece of evidence is a deprivation of due process.
In light of the lack of willful misconduct on the part of Defendant, the rational reason presented for failing to inform the State before trial that Defendant would be calling [the new witness], the role of the State in having this situation arise after the trial had commenced, the fundamental nature of the rights involved, the importance to the defense of the testimony excluded, and the minimal prejudice to the State had the trial court imposed a lesser sanction – such as continuance or recess, we hold that imposing the harsh sanction of excluding Masucci from testifying constituted an abuse of discretion.
The third key issue leading to Cooper being awarded the new trial is the most interesting -- a motion made to limit discovery with assistance from the FBI. Cooper's team tried to get the State to turn over information related to the means and methods used during its forensic search of Cooper's computer and found itself being denied on "national security" grounds.
The State filed a motion in opposition, arguing that there exists "a law enforcement sensitive qualified evidentiary privilege" which should act to prevent discovery of these items, "because such disclosure could lead to the development of countermeasures to FBI investigative techniques. Such countermeasures could defeat law enforcement's ability to obtain forensic data in criminal cases." The State also argues that this information was protected as "work product."
The trial court agreed.
The trial court found as fact "[t]hat the FBI's Standard Operating Procedures and policies are the same techniques and tools that are used in counterterrorism and counterintelligence investigations[.]" The trial court concluded that "under the provisions of N.C. Gen. Stat. §15A-903, patterned after Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 16, the disclosure of the information sought by... Defendant would be contrary to the public interest in the effective functioning of law enforcement[,]" and that "under the provisions of N.C. Gen. Stat. § 15A-908[,]" disclosure of the information would result in "substantial risk" of harm to "any person, including the citizens of this State, of physical harm."
As the appeals court pointed out, there was no reason to completely deny discovery. The documentation could have been reviewed in camera for any potential national security issues, or allowed certain redactions to be made. It also pointed out that even the FBI's stated national security concerns don't necessarily preclude discovery.
Even in the face of a compelling State interest in keeping records confidential, due process might compel discovery, depending on how material the records are to a defendant's defense.
In this case -- with the "sole piece of evidence" being a questionable Google Maps search -- discovery was extremely material and possibly exculpatory. But the trial court wouldn't even allow the defense to ask whether revealing the forensic method used to "recreate" the map search would have national security implications.
MR. KURTZ: Well, Judge, there is potentially a piece of information that exists on Mr. Cooper's computer that could say definitely that this material was planted, absolutely definitive. I may be wrong. Special Agent Johnson's testing may indeed be that it all has the exact same millisecond all the way across. I don't think I'm wrong. Now, one way or the other, whether it's having a -- a test done on a Vista machine now and seeing what it -- what it actually shows or giving us access to the original test data, which I don't believe has any national security ramifications since it deals with a Google Map test. One way or the other, we should be entitled to this information as it could be tremendously exculpatory.

THE COURT: Upon reconsidering this issue about this in-court test, pursuant to Rule 53-403, I'm going to sustain the objection and exclude any testing in Court because of the differences in the equipment and the statements made by this witness that this is not the appropriate place to do it. We need to bring the jury back in. And regarding the national security issue, that is a matter that we have already ruled on. It is something I have already dealt with.

MR. KURTZ: But, Your Honor, there is a witness on the stand that can answer specifically whether this is an issue of national security. And I'm not even going to be allowed to ask that question?

THE COURT: I believe I've already determined, because of the rules of the -- and the discovery process that you are not entitled to get those things.

MR. KURTZ: So my understanding is, the -- the rules and the discovery process, we're hiding behind national security on an issue where we could get a clear answer from a witness that this is not in fact a national security issue. And we're talking about a piece of information that could be exculpatory to Mr. Cooper.
Further on, Cooper's defense presses the issue further, veering into exasperated sarcasm, only to be shut down again.
THE COURT: It's the methodology that they used, I think, that falls under the security issue, but –

MR. KURTZ: But if I could ask Special Agent Johnson if he has any national security concerns related to that methodology, we might be able to determine that this one particular test is a legitimate one to be disclosed, that it will not actually disclose the missile codes.

[...]

THE COURT: The objection is sustained. I'm not going to allow further questioning in this line or any in-court testing of that computer.
This shut-down of discovery was the third factor prompting the decision to grant Cooper a new trial. Not that it matters. As stated earlier, Cooper has opted to plead guilty, perhaps because the lighter sentence could see him freed in another six years or so, as well as possibly give him the chance to be visited by his family members. It may also be that his new trial was being handled by a public defender who wasn't familiar with the details, rather than his previous legal team. There are a lot of factors to weigh, and even innocent people have been known to cop a plea rather than keep on fighting. It's been more than six years since Brad Cooper was arrested. He may spend less time in jail than he has fighting these charges.

None of the above is meant to imply that Cooper is definitely innocent, but the key piece of evidence is very questionable. Even without the FBI's "national security" intercession, the State has been very reluctant to turn over any information about its examination of Cooper's computer. An anonymous blogger who has been tracking this case notes that those who examined the computer made two different statements about the presence of a "cookie" verifying the Google Maps search.

Cooper's computer contained cookies for every day except the day the search was to alleged to have occurred. The forensic examination of the computer turned up no evidence of the cookie being deleted, as testified by the FBI's Agent Johnson. It simply wasn't there. The FBI could have subpoenaed Google for the information regarding this search but never did, even though it requested other information from the search giant.

Agent Chappell, on the other hand, offered up two different stories in court documents. In the report stating that the FBI had found no evidence that Cooper's computer had been tampered with, he says that "we have an index.history.dat file the week of 7/11 that corroborates the visit to maps.google.com and a cookie for the visit."

But in his testimony, he states the opposite. Chappell was unable to find the cookie corroborating the visit in "allocated or recovered deleted." In fact, Chappell could find "nothing from this side."

Futhermore, it appears law enforcement may have attempted to "wait out" Google's privacy policy, which states that information is only retained for 18 months.
In May ’09 …. 10 months after the crime, Howard Kurtz, Brad’s defense attorney contacted Agent Johnson and asked him if he could obtain a copy of the hard drive and Johnson informed him that he was finished and that he could pick up a copy that day. Hours later, Detective Daniels contacted Brad’s attorneys and informed them that ADA Howard Cummings would not release the hard drive to them. No reason was given, no timing was given. They wouldn’t receive it until after the privacy policy had expired, making it too late to ever verify the search through Google cookies.   Because they received the Defense “preservation of evidence” letter, the prosecution knew that they would miss this privacy deadline.
There's more. According to the defense's examination of the hard drive, dozens of files were altered during its stay with local law enforcement. A police officer charged with recovering information from Nancy Cooper's Blackberry destroyed it instead, possibly inadvertently. This happened nine days after the preservation order in 2008. The defense wasn't informed of this fact until shortly before the trial began in 2011.

But in the middle of it all is the FBI. While the FBI may not have tampered with Cooper's computer, the simple fact is that any law enforcement agency can ask for the FBI's help in matters like this and use the feds' "national security" shield to withhold certain information from the defense. The appeals court chastised the trial court for indulging the FBI's secrecy, but many, many courts will swiftly defer, even if it means the withholding of possibly exculpatory evidence. That's the very troubling side effect of the FBI's dalliance in national security, something it has focused more and more of its efforts on over the past several years. It can assist law enforcement, like it always has, and use its "higher calling" to shroud itself and those it helps in secrecy.

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25 Sep 16:02

Presenting The iPhone 6 Repair Kit

by Tyler Durden
25 Sep 17:01

Which Universities Produce The Greatest Number Of Billionaires

by Tyler Durden

Forget the biased and manipulated US News and World Report ranking of top US colleges, when it comes to college reputation ranking, only one thing really matters: success, which for better or worse in our day and age is measured, with apologies to all the emotional romantics, by money. So courtesy of the most recent Wealth-X and UBS Billionaire Census for the year 2014, here are the universities who undergraduate ranks have spawned the highest number of billionaires. Sorry Harvard.

From the report:

Pursuing higher education is not a prerequisite for attaining billionaire status: 35% of the world’s billionaires do not have a bachelor’s degree and some even dropped out of high school. Nonetheless, of the 65% who have been awarded a bachelor’s degree, many go on to pursue further studies. For example, 21% of “educated” billionaires have an MBA and 11% of “educated” billionaires hold a Ph.D.

 

Of the top 20 most popular schools for billionaires – in terms of the number of billionaires who have obtained their bachelor’s degree at these institutions – 16 were in the United States. The United States is the country with the largest number of billionaires, however that fact alone does not fully explain the disproportionate representation of American universities in this list. At the undergraduate level, more than a quarter of the students who obtained their bachelor’s degrees from these American institutions were born outside of the United States. It is apparent that these institutions top the ranking not just because of the United States’ large number of billionaires, but also because they have strong international reputations, which attract students from around the globe. This is particularly true beyond the bachelor’s degree: more than 39% of students who attended these top American institutions for postgraduate studies were born outside the United States.

And yet: "Despite the international repute of these top-ranking higher education institutions, it is worth noting that only 16% of the world’s “educated” billionaires attended these schools; 84% did not. Today’s billionaires were awarded their bachelor’s degrees from over 700 different universities around the world."

25 Sep 13:55

Video Proves Cops Shot Guy in Walmart Immediately, For No Reason

by Robby Soave

Video footage has been released in the shooting death of John Crawford, the man who was gunned down in a Beavercreek, Ohio, Walmart by cops who apparently thought he was armed and dangerous. In reality, Crawford had picked up a pellet rifle from the hardware section of the store and was carrying it around while he talked on the phone.

The police maintained that Crawford had refused orders to drop the weapon; the video footage proves definitively that that was not the case—the cops shot the man almost immediately after encountering him. Claims in some media outlets that Crawford had been walking around the store and pointing the gun at people also seem false, unless those occurrences happened during the few seconds that Crawford was out of range of the surveillance camera.

Nevertheless, a grand jury declined to indict the two officers involved, according to The Huffington Post. The U.S. Department of Justice will look into the matter, however.

When this story first broke, many wondered whether mitigating factors would emerge to explain, if not justify, the reaction of law enforcement officers. To my eyes at least, the surveillance video confirms the worst case scenario: The cops killed this man for almost no reason whatsoever.

Watch the video below.

25 Sep 14:00

Raise a Glass: The Bill of Rights Was About Food Freedom

by Baylen Linnekin

Bill of RightsOn September 25, 1789—exactly 225 years ago today—Congress passed the ten amendments that make up the Bill of Rights.

Yes, the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution—the ones that protect everything from free speech to due process—originated as a series of bills in Congress. They were drafted by future president James Madison, at the time a congressman from Virginia. Madison also wrote the text of the Constitution, which had established a system of limited government but hadn’t explicitly protected individual rights. With the Bill of Rights, it now did both.

It’s difficult to imagine today’s Congress thinking up—nevermind passing—anything so profound as what Madison wrote in those ten amendments. But then, the experience of the Founding Fathers was far different from that of today’s legislators. By most accounts, Madison, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and other colonists had grown up as happy British subjects. Yet the Founding Fathers would later cast off colonial rule by planning and then engaging in open revolt against Britain. They formed an entirely new country, and established a new form of government.

What was the impetus for these revolutionary changes? I argue that one key element was spiraling British attacks on colonists’ “food freedom."

Beginning in the mid-1760s, facing debts, the British came to see America as a cash cow ready to be milked. Britain’s Parliament passed the Sugar Act, the first direct tax on the colonists, in 1764. The Act, which effectively banned foreign rum, sugar, and molasses, also expanded a growing list of foods that could be obtained only through the British. Protests against the Act helped give rise to cries of “taxation without representation.”

Under the subsequent Tea Act, the British dumped their own tea on the colonists, who protested with boycotts and the fateful Boston Tea Party.

British laws like the second Quartering Act, a response to the Boston Tea Party, gave British troops the authority to take specific foods like beer, vinegar, salt, and pepper from the colonists. (When New York’s colonial legislature had failed to comply with the first Quartering Act's food mandates, Parliament had simply dissolved the legislature.) Parliament also soon passed the Fisheries Act, which prohibited colonists from fishing in the North Atlantic. By the time word of the fishing ban reached the colonies, the first shots of the American Revolution had already been fired at Lexington and Concord.

These attacks on food freedom incensed the Founding Fathers. The list of grievances Thomas Jefferson articulates in the Declaration of Independence includes rebukes of King George for permitting British troops to “eat out the[] substance” of colonists’ cupboards and for trampling on colonists’ fishing rights.

The Revolutionary War ended in 1783. But the acknowledgment by the Founding Fathers that a government of unchecked powers would trample Americans’ food rights hadn’t ended with the Declaration of Independence. In fact, James Madison himself had food and food freedom in mind as he wrote the words that became the Bill of Rights.

As I revealed in a scholarly article two years ago, the First Amendment’s Assembly Clause traces its origins back to pre-revolutionary and revolutionary-era conversational gatherings among colonists from all walks of life as they sipped pints of ale, punch, and grog in taverns.

That’s not all. The Supreme Court in recent years acknowledged the protection of hunting rights inherent in the Second Amendment. We wouldn’t have a Third Amendment—which prohibits the quartering of troops in peacetime—had the Founding Fathers not felt the sting of acts that permitted British troops to steal colonists’ food under the reviled quartering acts. Other examples of the relation between food and the Bill of Rights are found in at least three of the other amendments that make up the Bill of Rights.

Any way you look at it, food and the Bill of Rights are intimately tied. After work today, if you happen to stop off for a drink on your way home, consider toasting this landmark birthday of our rights.

25 Sep 16:42

Developer Wants to Build Hundreds of Homes for Hasidic Jews; Catskills Town Might Dissolve Itself to Stop Him

by Jesse Walker

Bloomberg has published the strangest, most interesting local-government story you'll read today. (*) Here's how it opens:

L'shanah tovah from sunny BloomingburgA plan to build 396 townhouses for ultra-orthodox Jews in a rural New York village is pitting residents and local officials against a developer who says he's a victim of an anti-Semitic plot.

Opposition to the project is so strong that Bloomingburg, the village in the Catskills, is considering dissolving its local government, which could allow the larger surrounding town to block the development. Voters will decide Sept. 30 whether to fold their municipal government into the Town of Mamakating, whose population is 30 times larger.

Shalom Lamm, the developer seeking to build townhouses and amenities meant to draw Hasidim, accused officials in a federal lawsuit of misusing building codes to keep Jews from moving to the area and violating the rights of the plaintiffs under the U.S. Constitution. Town officials say the issue is about preserving Bloomingburg's rural character, not about religion.

The article goes on to describe residents' fears that the new arrivals will "have all the power in electing the next mayor," among many other details. It reminds me a bit of those 19th-century efforts to disenfranchise Mormons on the theory that they'd otherwise vote en masse for Brigham Young's hand-picked puppets. Check out the whole thing here.

Via Tim Carney, who headlines his post "Village plans to immolate itself to prevent takeover by Hasidic Jews."

(* Unless you don't read it. Or already read it yesterday. Or have found a story that's even more fascinatingly bizarre, in which case please send it my way.)

24 Sep 20:20

Do You Have a Permit to Capture Those Trees on Film, Citizen?

by Scott Shackford

But what if somebody makes a revenge porn site. But for trees!Oh, you think government lands are public lands, American citizen? You think the wilderness belongs to you? You are good for a laugh, citizen. Now show me your permit to take photos in this forest. Don't have one? That will be $1,000, citizen. We do take checks.

That's the latest from the U.S. Forest Service, which is implementing restrictions that will require any media outlet to get a permit to take pictures or shoot footage on land under their control. The Oregonian explains the potential consequences that seem to be clear to just about everybody except the U.S. Forest Service:

Under rules being finalized in November, a reporter who met a biologist, wildlife advocate or whistleblower alleging neglect in any of the nation's 100 million acres of wilderness would first need special approval to shoot photos or videos even on an iPhone.

Permits cost up to $1,500, says Forest Service spokesman Larry Chambers, and reporters who don't get a permit could face fines up to $1,000.

First Amendment advocates say the rules ignore press freedoms and are so vague they'd allow the Forest Service to grant permits only to favored reporters shooting videos for positive stories.

"It's pretty clearly unconstitutional," said Gregg Leslie, legal defense director at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press in Alexandria, Va. "They would have to show an important need to justify these limits, and they just can't."

The wilderness director can't explain to The Oregonian why the rule is needed. Apparently the restrictions have been in place for four years, but she couldn't recall whether any media outlet had actually paid for a permit. She invoked the Wilderness Act of 1964 and said its goal was to prevent the forests from being "exploited" for commercial gain. Obviously, taking a picture or video in the wilderness doesn't "exploit" the wilderness in any logical way even if the photographer sold the art. Do they think cameras steal the souls of rocks? Do they think there's a market for some sort of "Pine Trees Gone Wild" film series showing them getting drunk off fresh summer rain and shedding all their needles? But an expensive permitting process certainly does allow the Forest Service to "exploit" citizens for fees to pad out their budgets.

The rule also gives supervisors discretion whether to approve the permit on the basis of whether the coverage was in support of the Wilderness Act's goals. When asked whether the rule was a violation of the First Amendment, she responded that there's an exception for "breaking news." That's not how it works, federal government employee.

Read more here.

24 Sep 16:01

Top U.S. Consitutional Expert: Obama More Extreme Warmonger than Bush or Nixon

by George Washington

Jonathan Turley is perhaps the top constitutional law expert in the United States (and a liberal).

Turley told MSNBC that Obama is worse than Bush or Nixon in launching unilateral, unconstitutional wars:

Other constitutional experts agree.

24 Sep 14:59

Obamacare Architect Says Society Would Be Better Off If People Died At 75

by Tyler Durden

Submitted by Michael Snyder of The American Dream blog,

Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, brother of Rahm Emanuel, says that society would be far better off if people quit trying to live past age 75.  His new article entitled “Why I Hope To Die At 75” has the following very creepy subtitle: “An argument that society and families—and you - will be better off if nature takes its course swiftly and promptly”.  In the article, Emanuel forcefully argues that the quality of life for most people is significantly diminished past the age of 75 and that once we get to that age we should refuse any more medical care that will extend our lifespans.  This is quite chilling to read, considering the fact that this is coming from one of the key architects of Obamacare Of course he never uses the term “death panels” in his article, but that is obviously what Emanuel would want in a perfect world.  To Emanuel, it is inefficient to waste medical resources on those that do not have a high “quality of life”.  So he says that “75 is a pretty good age to aim to stop”.

Emanuel believes in this philosophy so much that he says that he would like to die at age 75.  Of course he has no intention of committing suicide, but if he happened to drop dead once he hits his 75th birthday he would be very happy about that.  The following is an excerpt from his new article

I am talking about how long I want to live and the kind and amount of health care I will consent to after 75. Americans seem to be obsessed with exercising, doing mental puzzles, consuming various juice and protein concoctions, sticking to strict diets, and popping vitamins and supplements, all in a valiant effort to cheat death and prolong life as long as possible. This has become so pervasive that it now defines a cultural type: what I call the American immortal.

 

I reject this aspiration. I think this manic desperation to endlessly extend life is misguided and potentially destructive. For many reasons, 75 is a pretty good age to aim to stop.

And so Emanuel plans to start rejecting pretty much all medical tests and treatments that will prolong his life once he reaches that age

At 75 and beyond, I will need a good reason to even visit the doctor and take any medical test or treatment, no matter how routine and painless. And that good reason is not “It will prolong your life.” I will stop getting any regular preventive tests, screenings, or interventions. I will accept only palliative—not curative—treatments if I am suffering pain or other disability.

 

This means colonoscopies and other cancer-screening tests are out—and before 75. If I were diagnosed with cancer now, at 57, I would probably be treated, unless the prognosis was very poor. But 65 will be my last colonoscopy. No screening for prostate cancer at any age. (When a urologist gave me a PSA test even after I said I wasn’t interested and called me with the results, I hung up before he could tell me. He ordered the test for himself, I told him, not for me.) After 75, if I develop cancer, I will refuse treatment.

 

Similarly, no cardiac stress test. No pacemaker and certainly no implantable defibrillator. No heart-valve replacement or bypass surgery. If I develop emphysema or some similar disease that involves frequent exacerbations that would, normally, land me in the hospital, I will accept treatment to ameliorate the discomfort caused by the feeling of suffocation, but will refuse to be hauled off.

A couple of decades ago, an article like this would have sparked mass public outrage.

But today, this article hardly even gets any attention.

That is because this kind of philosophy has spread everywhere.  It is being taught at colleges and universities across the United States and it is even represented throughout the ranks of the Obama administration.

For example, Barack Obama’s top science adviser John P. Holdren believes that implanting sterilization capsules under the skin of women could be a way to reduce the size of the population and increase the quality of life for everyone…

A program of sterilizing women after their second or third child, despite the relatively greater difficulty of the operation than vasectomy, might be easier to implement than trying to sterilize men.

 

The development of a long-term sterilizing capsule that could be implanted under the skin and removed when pregnancy is desired opens additional possibilities for coercive fertility control. The capsule could be implanted at puberty and might be removable, with official permission, for a limited number of births.

Yes, this guy is a total nutjob.

But he also has the ear of the man occupying the White House.

And we are not just talking about a few isolated crazies like Holdren.  This agenda have been fully embraced by our politicians in Washington.

For instance, did you know that the federal government actually has an “Office of Population Affairs“?

On the website of the Office of Population Affairs, you can find information about abortion, female sterilization, male sterilization and a vast array of contraceptive choices.

U.S. taxpayers are paying for all of this, but most people don’t even know that it exists.

Of course this agenda has been moved forward by both Democrats and Republicans for decades.

And the woman that is very likely to be our next president is also a very strong proponent of this philosophy.

When Hillary Clinton accepted Planned Parenthood’s Margaret Sanger Award back in 2009, she spoke glowingly of Sanger…

In a speech to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America Awards Gala, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that she admires “Margaret Sanger enormously, her courage, her tenacity, her vision.” Secretary Clinton said she is “really in awe of” Sanger for Sanger’s early work in Brooklyn, New York, “taking on archetypes, taking on attitudes and accusations flowing from all directions.”

But the truth is that Sanger was deeply racist and was determined to do whatever she could to help control the population growth of the poor.  The following is one of her most famous statements

“The most merciful thing that the large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it.”

Hillary Clinton is also a huge supporter of the United Nations Population Fund.  If you are not familiar with the United Nations Population Fund, it is an organization that funds abortion, forced sterilization and brutal eugenics programs throughout the developing world.

Population control advocates such as Emanuel, Holdren and Clinton are fully convinced that they are doing the right thing.

They actually believe that the world will be a better place if less people are born and if the elderly do not live as long.

24 Sep 07:01

Another green calls for “Deniers” to be jailed

by Anthony Watts
Climate Depot reports that another prominent green, Robert F. Kennedy Junior, has called for climate “deniers” to be jailed. Is it just me, or is there something very wrong with a political landscape in which people find it acceptable to demand their opponents be jailed for disagreeing with them? Watch the video. RFK Jr wants…
23 Sep 17:27

University Orders Fraternities To Begin Accepting Women...

Jts5665

I wonder if their sororities will begin accepting men...?


University Orders Fraternities To Begin Accepting Women...


(Second column, 23rd story, link)

23 Sep 18:51

The White House's Solution To Deranged Assailants

by Tyler Durden
Jts5665

I guess they figure since this system worked so well keeping veterans out of the world war II monument during the government shut down, so it will do a bang up job of keeping people off of the white house lawn...

That a "knife-wielding veteran sniper rushes White House to warn Obama 'atmosphere is collapsing'" should surprise most Americans, but, as The Washington Post reports, that he tried, and where he tried from, should surprise absolutely no one.


 

Via The Washington Post...

There are at least 32 similar incidents that have been reported since the mid-1970s, according to an assessment conducted by the Post. We included a few other interesting incidents in our total tally, but, regardless, that number is almost certainly too low. A report in 1994 indicated that the Secret Service had cataloged 23 people climbing the fence between 1989 and that year; news reports only covered a handful.

 

We took the incidents that were covered by the media and mapped them according to the point of entry -- and, in some cases, point of capture -- of the perpetrators.

 

 

The incidents cover a wide range of culprits and motivations, from homeless people to anti-war protestors to one remarkably drunk guy.

 

So - in response to all that...

35 breaches of The White House perimeter... "don't worry, we got this!"

Additional security fence now in place at the WH to prevent any further fence jumping incidents. pic.twitter.com/a8rwaPmcYH

— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) September 23, 2014

So, as long as the next 'deranged assailant' is shorter than 3 feet tall and unable to climb, the President appears safe (especially if he 'resorts' to further vacations away from The 'endangered' White House.)

23 Sep 18:03

America's Politicians Earn $608 Per Hour

by Tyler Durden

On the surface, earning $174,000 per year, while putting one solidly in the top 10% of all US earners, does not sound like much. This happens to be the 2014 allocated wage of America's elected political representatives, the members of the House of Representatives. And indeed, in the grand scheme of things it isn't much... until one considers that in the 102-day period between August 1 and November 12, this wage will be "earned" for just working a paltry 8 days, which, presuming 10 hour workdays, amounts to a whopping $608 per hour, on par with what some of America's most prominent lawyers earn. It is also several times the hourly compensation of anesthesiologists, one of the highest-earning professions, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, at $113 an hour on average.

According to The Hill, liberal activist Ralph Nader worked out the eye-popping calculation in an angry letter he sent to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Monday. From The Hill:

“While millions of Americans are working more and more for less and less, you and your House of Representatives seem to have no problem working less and less for more and more,” he wrote.

 

Nader calculated that Boehner, who earns $223,500 a year as Speaker, will earn roughly $781 per hour over a three-and-half month span, given Congress worked only eight days. Boehner has a higher salary than rank-and-file members.

 

Lawmakers and their aides rebut Nader’s claim by arguing that time spent in Washington is only part of their job. The other part is meeting with and serving constituents back in their home districts and states. That’s why they call the time away state and district “work periods.”

 

But critics, including President Obama, aren’t buying it. Obama scolded lawmakers on Aug. 2 for going “on vacation” without passing legislation to raise the minimum wage or reduce interest on student loans. 

Yes, we too find it ironic for Obama to be bashing others' vacation practices, but in this case he happens to be right: because if there is one job that is more useless than that of the US GOTUS, it is that of a US politican, whose "work" is laid out as follows:

The House left for a five-week vacation from Washington on Aug. 1 and didn’t return until Sept. 8. After two four-day workweeks, it left again Thursday and is not due to return until Nov. 12.

 

The Senate worked a similar schedule. It took the same break as the House in August and also worked only two weeks in September before leaving Washington to campaign for the midterm elections.

 

Some lawmakers admit they should probably be working harder.

 

Rep. David Jolly, a Republican from Florida, sent a letter to the House Rules Committee asking for the House to adopt a rule that would require it to stay in session longer.

 

“I write to strongly advocate for a permanent rule change that would formally require the House to be in session significantly more days during the 114th Congress, which will convene in January 2015,” he wrote. “The House of Representatives, the ‘People’s House,’ simply cannot address the many priorities of the nation if we are not in session more days,” he added.

And while it is easy to be furious with America's worthless landed political class - whose only contribution to society is being voted out or resigning - a logical question arises - why should the House, or the Senate, or even the President for that matter, work any hours in a world in which all the heavy lifting, or any lifting, is borne by the monetary authority, i.e., the Fed, which makes sure nobody in power has to make any decisions ever again just by pressing CTRL-P a few billion times every day.

Finally, while we are amused by the naive thinking that members of the House earn "only" $174,000 per year or however much per hour, it is not their wages that make most members of Congress millionaires. In fact, as the following chart shows, the 50 richest members of Congress all have a net worth of $7.5 million or higher!

They did not earn this money by collecting a paltry salary. Instead, they made it through kickbacks, bribes, and other "lobbying" funds. All of which, of course, are perfectly legal in the circus that passes for US government.

It is that which should be the target of public ire, not how much Congressmen make on an hourly basis. Because when one factors in all the undisclosed sources of funds, it is then that one would get a per hour number that would rival some of the best paid hedge fund managers in the US.

23 Sep 15:57

Targeting the Constitution

by Nicholas Quinn Rosenkranz

Nicholas Quinn Rosenkranz

[Cross-posted from The Volokh Conspiracy]

It is now well known that the IRS targeted tea party organizations. What is less well known, but perhaps even more scandalous, is that the IRS also targeted those who would educate their fellow citizens about the United States Constitution.

According to the inspector general’s report (pp. 30 & 38), this particular IRS targeting commenced on Jan. 25, 2012 — the beginning of the election year for President Obama’s second campaign. On that date: “the BOLO [‘be on the lookout’] criteria were again updated.” The revised criteria included “political action type organizations involved in … educating on the Constitution and Bill of Rights.”

Grass-roots organizations around the country, such as the Linchpins of Liberty (Tennessee), the Spirit of Freedom Institute (Wyoming), and the Constitutional Organization of Liberty (Pennsylvania), allege that they were singled out for special scrutiny at least in part for their work in constitutional education. There may have been many more.

The tea party is viewed with general suspicion in some quarters, and it is not difficult, alas, to imagine the mindset of the officials who decided to target tea party organizations for special scrutiny. But federal officers swear an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” It is chilling to think that these same officials who are suspicious of the tea party are equally suspicious of the Constitution itself.

What is most corrosive about this IRS tripwire is that it is triggered by a particular point of view; it is not, as First Amendment scholars say, viewpoint-neutral. It does not include obfuscating or denigrating the Constitution; only those “involved in … educating on the Constitution” are captured by this criterion. This viewpoint targeting potentially skews every national debate about politics or government. And the skew in not strictly liberal; indeed, it should trouble liberals as much as conservatives. The ultimate checks on executive power are to be found in the United States Constitution. Insidiously, then, suppressing those “involved in … educating on the Constitution” actually skews national debate in favor of unchecked executive power.

For example, this IRS tripwire would not be triggered by arguing that the NSA should collect the phone records of every American citizen. But it would be triggered by teaching that the Fourth Amendment forbids “unreasonable searches and seizures.” This tripwire would not be triggered by arguing that the president should unilaterally suspend politically inconvenient provisions of federal law, like ObamaCare. But it would be triggered by teaching that, under Article II, section 3, the president “shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” This tripwire would not be triggered by arguing that the president should appoint NLRB members unilaterally. But it would be triggered by teaching that, under Article II, section 2, such appointments require “the Advice and Consent of the Senate.” This tripwire would not be triggered by arguing that the president should target and kill U.S. citizens abroad. But it would be triggered by teaching that, per the Fifth Amendment, no person shall “be deprived of life … without due process of law.” This tripwire would not be triggered by arguing that the president should declare war unilaterally. But it would be triggered by teaching that, under Article I, section 8, “Congress shall have Power … To declare War.” In short, the IRS was “on the lookout,” not for those who preach unlimited executive power, but for those who would teach about constitutional constraints.

Even more to the point, perhaps, this IRS tripwire would not be triggered by arguing that the IRS should discriminate against the tea party. But it would be triggered by teaching that such discrimination constitutes unfaithful execution of the tax laws. And thus, alas, there is a perverse logic to targeting constitutional educators alongside tea party organizations. Political discrimination in the administration of the tax laws is not merely “outrageous,” as President Obama has said; it is an assault on our constitutional structure itself. For an official who has chosen to go down this road and target the tea party, there is an Orwellian logic to targeting constitutional educators as well. After all, they are the ones who might shed light on this very point.

This is a new low for American government — targeting those who would teach others about its founding document. Forty years ago, President Richard Nixon went to great lengths to try to conceal the facts of his constitutional violations, but it never occurred to him to conceal the meaning of the Constitution itself, by targeting its teachers. Politicians have always been tempted to try to censor their political adversaries; but none has been so bold as to try to suppress constitutional education directly. Presidents have always sought to push against the constitutional limits of their power; but never have they targeted those who merely teach about such limits. In short, never before has the federal government singled out for special scrutiny those who would teach their fellow citizens about our magnificent Constitution. This is the new innovation of Obama’s IRS.

“We the People” do not yet know who first decided to target “political action type organizations involved in … educating on the Constitution and Bill of Rights.” But there is at least one person who does know. Ironically, though, Lois Lerner, former director of the Exempt Organizations Division of the IRS, is making full use of her own constitutional education: “I have been advised by my counsel to assert my constitutional right not to testify …. One of the basic functions of the Fifth Amendment is to protect innocent individuals, and that is the protection I’m invoking today.”

Five years ago, President Obama, our constitutional law professor-in-chief, presented his first, ringing Constitution Day proclamation: “To succeed, the democracy established in our Constitution requires the active participation of its citizenry. Each of us has a responsibility to learn about our Constitution and teach younger generations about its contents and history.” Quite so. Perhaps this year, Obama could explain why his IRS would target those who answered this call.

23 Sep 14:27

FBI gags state and local police on capabilities of cellphone spy gear...


FBI gags state and local police on capabilities of cellphone spy gear...


(Third column, 10th story, link)

23 Sep 03:41

Selective disenfranchisement: Ferguson residents must present photo ID to get into DOJ town hall

by Doug Powers

**Written by Doug Powers

Photo IDs are being required in order for people to perform a civic function? Paging Eric Holde… wait, never mind:

An obscure arm of the Justice Department known as “America’s peacemaker” banned reporters and non-residents from two town hall meetings Monday in Ferguson, Missouri. The ban was enforced by Ferguson police officers, even though a city spokesman said local officials wouldn’t prevent outsiders from attending.

DOJ’s Community Relations Service, or CRS, a small government agency charged with conflict resolution, is mediating a series of meetings in the St. Louis suburb, which was rocked by protests after a police officer shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown last month.
[...]
Photos from one of the events, however, showed Ferguson police checking IDs at the door. Authorities also ejected a Ferguson resident for recording the meeting, but allowed him to return when he promised to stop. A local Democratic committeewoman was temporarily barred.

**Written by Doug Powers

Twitter @ThePowersThatBe

22 Sep 17:24

Book: USA Spending 30 Times More Per Capita than China on Social Programs

Financial expert and author, Joe Hoft, told Breitbart News Executive Chairman Stephen K. Bannon that America’s exorbitant spending on social programs is a disaster waiting to happen, on par with or greater than the bank meltdown in 2008.

Appearing on Breitbart News Sunday, on Sirius XM Patriot Radio 125 to discuss his book, Falling Eagle Rising Tiger, Hoft explained that when the Great Depression paralyzed America in the 1930’s, President Franklin Roosevelt did not let the crisis go to waste and pushed for social change with his New Deal.

Joe, the identical twin brother of the controversial purveyor of Gateway Pundit, Jim Hoft, contends that over the past century the United States has become increasingly a socialist state. Yet, according to Hoft, social change in America has not gone very well.

The enormous welfare handouts, which Hoft relates are now in excess of $1 trillion annually, are unsustainable. Contrarily, he contends that Asia Pacific, including Australia, Japan, and China, are prospering by increasing their reliance on capitalism, creating smart tax policy, and spending substantially less than the U.S. on social programs.

When you compare China’s population to the U.S., Hoft points out that they have about four times as many people as the U.S. However, the U.S. is spending about “30 times more per capita than China is on social programs, and spending seven times more overall,” he asserts.

Hoft submits that many of the federal social programs, like Fannie Mae and FHA under FDR, and the Community Reinvestment Act under Jimmy Carter, shifted financial risk onto the American taxpayer and contributed greatly to the bank failures in 2008. So, too, social programs from the 1930s, like social security, are ticking time bombs, ready to explode.

According to Hoft, China has changed its policies drastically since the late 1970s, and they are now more capitalistic. “Because of their more capitalistic approaches, they have become the second largest economy in the world. Five hundred million people have been lifted out of poverty.”








22 Sep 14:51

Healthcare.gov Is A Security Disaster... And Those Working On It Knew It, And Tried To Stop Independent Security Review To Hide It

by Mike Masnick
We've written before about how problematic the technology is behind the federal healthcare.gov website, pointing out that the federal government hired political cronies rather than web development experts to build it. There was an effort to open source the code, but after the feds put the code on github, they removed it after people started pointing out just how bad it was. Then, just about a month ago, we noted that the government turned down a FOIA request from the Associated Press concerning the site's security practices, arguing that it might "give hackers enough information to break into the service." As we noted at the time, if revealing the basic security you have in place will give hackers a road map to breaking into the site, the site is not secure at all.

A damning new report from the Goverment Accountability Office (GAO) more or less confirms this is the case. This is further backed up by an even more astounding "Behind the Curtain of the Healthcare.gov Rollout" released by the House Oversight Committee. To be fair, the GAO is non-partisan and known to be even-handed and fair. That's not always the case with Congressional committee reports. Still, the two are worth reading together. The level of mess behind the project is rather astounding and it appears that the site still is not particularly secure, which obviously explains the refusal to do that FOIA release.

Here's the GAO basic summary of the security situation for the site:
While CMS has taken steps to protect the security and privacy of data processed and maintained by the complex set of systems and interconnections that support Healthcare.gov, weaknesses remain both in the processes used for managing information security and privacy as well as the technical implementation of IT security controls. CMS took many steps to protect security and privacy, including developing required security program policies and procedures, establishing interconnection security agreements with its federal and commercial partners, and instituting required privacy protections. However, Healthcare.gov had weaknesses when it was first deployed, including incomplete security plans and privacy documentation, incomplete security tests, and the lack of an alternate processing site to avoid major service disruptions. While CMS has taken steps to address some of these weaknesses, it has not yet fully mitigated all of them. In addition, GAO identified weaknesses in the technical controls protecting the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the FFM. Specifically, CMS had not: always required or enforced strong password controls, adequately restricted access to the Internet, consistently implemented software patches, and properly configured an administrative network. An important reason that all of these weaknesses occurred and some remain is that CMS did not and has not yet ensured a shared understanding of how security was implemented for the FFM among all entities involved in its development. Until these weaknesses are fully addressed, increased and unnecessary risks remain of unauthorized access, disclosure, or modification of the information collected and maintained by Healthcare.gov and related systems, and the disruption of service provided by the systems.
That failure to restrict access to the internet was for test servers, one of which got infected with malware recently.

But the really damning story is that CMS, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which was in charge of the product, seemed totally incompetent throughout this process -- and directly chose to kill off an independent security review by MITRE, knowing the results would be bad and that they might get out:
Once MITRE completed their September Security Assessment, Mr. Schankweiler’s FFM development team was unhappy with the report and sought to have it changed. On September 26, 2013, Darren Lyles, one of the IT security officials assigned to the FFM development team, wrote Ms. Fryer:
The Draft SCA [security control assessment] Report has been called into question by CGI [primary contractor building the FFM] and CIISG [Consumer Information Insurance Group, the team within CMS that works with contractors to develop the FFM and other Healthcare.gov components] Stakeholders. There are assertions made in the report that are deemed to be erroneous and misrepresentative of what actually occurred. I have attached the report that has been commented on by CGI and would like to submit this for your review.
Michael Mellor, Ms. Fryer’s deputy, responded to Mr. Lyles: “Keep in mind – that the purpose of the SCA is to provide an independent assessment of the security posture of a system. As part of that independent assessment, the maintainer of the system likely will not agree with all of the findings and the SCA report.”

Mr. Schankweiler, Mr. Lyles’ superior, then responded to Mr. Mellor, insisting that the report should be reviewed by senior CMS officials and worried the report would be seen by others outside CMS: “We need to hit the pause button on this report and have an internal meeting about it later next week. It is important to look at this within the context of the decision memos and ATO memo that is going up for Tony [Trenkle, CMS Chief Information Officer] and Michelle [Snyder, CMS Chief Operating Officer] to sign.” Mr. Schankweiler then wrote the report was “only partially accurate, and extremely opinionated, false, misrepresentative, and inflammatory.” Mr. Schankweiller noted that “It is very possible that this report will be reviewed at some point by OIG, and could see the light of day in other ways.” Mr. Schankweiler offered to “look at the report from the government perspective and provide ... analysis.”

On October 7, 2013, the lead security tester for MITRE, Milton Shomo, wrote Jane Kim, a CMS official on Ms. Fryer’s EISG team, “CCIIO [Centers for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, one of the divisions at CMS responsible for running the exchange] and CGI Federal had some issues with some of the information in our Marketplace … draft SCA report from the assessment we did in August and September. MITRE stands behind everything in our report as an accurate description of the assessment.
There were a number of other similar problems, but it becomes clear that choices were made for political reasons, rather than technological or security reasons.

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22 Sep 09:45

Escalating #GamerGate

by noreply@blogger.com (Vox)
A veteran game developer, Brad Wardell, who unlike Zoe Quinn actually has a fair amount of game development experience, weighs in on #GamerGate:
In my mind, the balance of wrongdoing is heavily weighted on the opponents of #gamergate.  Mainly, because its opponents have had a long head start of character assassination and harassment. I know some of my friends in the media will be appalled by that but that’s mainly because they haven’t seen the shit storm directed at anyone who dares not support the “social justice” narrative for the past few years.

Without the August 28th mass “gamers are dead” article series on multiple sites, none of this would have happened. Let’s remember that.  It was a tempest in a teapot before that.

Every major escalation I’ve seen in this industry conflict has begun with one side mass misrepresenting others with a very broad brush.

The anti #gamergate people are the ones who brought me in

One thing to make clear here: The pro-#gamergate people didn’t ask me to stand up for them. They made no demands on me.  All I did was, as game developer, was tweet that I like gamers and don’t like seeing gamers misrepresented.  For that, the anti-#gamergate people started smearing me. (SJW logic: Make up allegations, use allegations as evidence, repeat).

In other words, I was not/am not trying to use #gamergate to get a pound of flesh. You want me to quit throwing in the misdeeds of the SJW crowd in SJW faces? Then tell them to quit character assassinating me.  Because, let’s face it, I have a large, heavy, blunt instrument in the form of having been falsely accused of sexual harassment and having won that case so thoroughly that the plaintiff had to publicly apologize. You don’t get more clear cut than that in the legal world.  I’d be delighted to just talk about games, tech, etc. But if you’re going to suggest I’m some sort of misogynist or rapist or sexual harasser then yea, I’m going to use the 800 pound mace that SJWs carelessly crafted for me.

And for those truly concerned in the gaming media: If you want to do “the right thing” (even if it’s two years late): Feel free to have the articles and threads that smear me set to just not be indexed by search engines. Is that really asking for a lot? No censorship. No retractions. No apologies.  Just make it so that new harassers aren’t born every time someone looks at the first page of Google results on us. I’ve been doing stuff 20 years, I’ve helped invent a number of the technologies you guys use on your PCs every day. But it’s all crowded out because the media chose to use me as a cartoon villain to push forward an agenda. Thanks for that. I just love having to discuss the Kotaku article every few weeks with some investment banker or enterprise customer. I really enjoy having to answer awkward questions by extended family. And the occasional random “You fucking shit lord, I hope you die in a fire!” emails I get are just..well they’re just so heart warming. Thank you for that.

The double standards

When I see a Ben Kuchera arguing for the deletion of threads because they might encourage harassment of game developers, I ask, where was he when I was taking a beating on nearly every gaming forum for something I didn’t even do? Oh that’s right, he was helping spread it!  Yea, thanks for using an image that shows a claim that I asked my female employees if they enjoyed tasting semen. And you know what? I didn’t hold any of this against anyone. I didn’t send PR people to demand threads removed. No DMCA messages. But it’s pretty infuriating to see calls to censor discussion based on “harassment” when they had no problem when I was the target.

Except, of course, in my case, I hadn’t actually done any of the things I was alleged to have done. No, I’ve gotten to fry for the past couple years in countless threads across the net.  I also want to point out that even though we won, and we got a public apology, some don’t consider that enough because apparently we were supposed to demand the plaintiff admit in writing to committing perjury. So even mercy is frowned upon by these people....

Let me preface this: NO ONE can survive detailed scrutiny. This is doubly true if the person doing the scrutiny is not giving you the benefit of the doubt.

Historically, the activist columnists in other industries have gotten away with trashing their opponents. It’s easy to lampoon the Tea Party people, for instance because their core base aren’t very technical and have no real means to strike back.  Same was true of the Occupy movement which got overrun by SJWs and was easily dismissed soon after.

But gamers are technical. They do have the means to fight back.  I’m sure it never occurred to the columnists who wrote “gamers are dead” that their targets would be able to effectively return the favor. Those who have had great success cherry picking and editing quotes/emails/tweets to create a false narrative of their opponents never dreamed that doing so would come back to haunt them.
I am very loosely acquainted with Brad, having spoken to him a few times when he was at Stardock. He's a smart guy and he's perceptive too. However, I think he's making one mistake here, the same mistake that most people in the SF/F community have made over time, which is thinking that being reasonable and moderate and fair to the other side is an option. It is not. There is absolutely no evidence supporting that belief... one can't even call it a conclusion. Fantasy would perhaps be the better term.

We're not dealing with reasonable people here, we are dealing with psychologically damaged people who want to utterly trash and destroy the things we love due to their envy, their mental instability and their evil, twisted ideology. They're not going to stop simply because they've been shot down once or twice. Failure doesn't demoralize them because it is their natural state. They're simply never going to stop until you have submitted to them and they have destroyed yet another predominantly male bastion.

Understand that I'm not considered an extremist because I'm a hot-tempered angry person given to historically unusual positions, but because the Social Justice Whores all realize that I am immune to their influence and I am therefore a threat to them by demonstrating that their victory is not inevitable Progress and one need to cower before them. Unlike most of their targets, I can take every accusation of sexism and racism and homophobism and religionism and inequalism and bigotism, laugh at it, and refuse to be swayed by it. What they call an extremist is nothing more than an individual who will not submit to them and dutifully confess that black is white and gay is good and two plus two is five on command.

As Instapundit says, we have to punch back twice as hard. Trash back twice as hard. They're not used to it. They can't take it. They freak out when we simply point out the observable fact that Zoe Quinn aka Chelsea Van Valkenburg is a slut, and, allegedly, a whore. They go ballistic when we observe that Anita Sarkeesian is a complete fraud who knows virtually nothing about games. They are furious when we note that very few people read most of their award-winning works and that there is little science in their "science fiction". We don't have to assassinate their characters because they don't have any. And they can't handle the truth, which makes it our most potent weapon.

But only for those with the courage to stand up for it and wield it. So stop temporizing and thinking you're going to somehow straddle the fence. Stop thinking that perhaps you can keep your head down and escape notice. You're not. That's the first step towards ultimate submission. Choose consciously and courageously, don't let your fear of rejection make up your mind for you.

After all, being rejected by this collection of delusional neurotics is an absolute badge of distinction and good sense.

UPDATE: The SJW are now launching attacks on The Escapist due to its refusal to fall in line:
This is an attack by the Anti-Gamergate side. Kuchera was unable to browbeat Greg Tito into censoring the discussion, now that the corrupt journalists are losing this debate rapidly, the Anti-GG side is desperate to shut down the discussion.

They've already begun censoring on 4chan. They've turned it into a SJW hugbox, to the point where being politically incorrect in /b/ (the bloody POLITICALLY INCORRECT FORUM) is a ban worthy offense.

If you wonder why the Anti-GG side is doing this, the answer is simple:

They're bloody terrified of losing their power.

For about 3 years now, they've had the privilege to attack, patronize, and demean others. They could insult people sarcastically, insinuate that all attempts to disagree with them were based on "racism" or "misogyny" rather than logic. Now with Gamergate being more popular and them being shown for who they are, they are absolutely desperate to end the discussion.

They've been painting us as the harassers, us as the doxxers and the "hackers". You can all see now, that this is a lie. They're a group founded on hatred, a clique desperate to retain their power and trying to censor the opposing side's discussion.

Say what you will of us, but we haven't been attempting to bring down sites for allowing the opposing side to speak.

So the next time someone says "We aren't trying to silence you" or "we aren't trying to take your games or websites away!" just know that it is a lie. It happened to 4chan. It's attempting to happen here. We wont let them silence us.

Posted by Vox Day.
22 Sep 11:24

Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux
(Don Boudreaux)

… is from a speech given by James Madison to the constitutional convention in Philadelphia on June 29, 1787:

In time of actual war, great discretionary powers are constantly given to the Executive Magistrate.  Constant apprehension of War, has the same tendency to render the head too large for the body.  A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty.  The means of defence against foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home.  Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended.  Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending, have enslaved the people.

This quotation appears on page 25 of the Independent Institute’s 2010 re-issue of the 1972 edition of the late Arthur A. Ekirch, Jr.’s, excellent 1956 volume, The Civilian and the Military: A History of the American Antimilitarist Tradition.

20 Sep 14:46

Uncle Sam’s ‘War on Poverty’: A Snapshot History

by Don Boudreaux
(Don Boudreaux)

Look at the graph below (which I get from this Heritage Foundation page).  (To enlarge this graph, just click on it.)  You tell me if the revving-up of Uncle Sam’s welfare-state activities in the mid-1960s can be considered, by any scientific criterion, to have been clearly successful at reducing officially measured rates of poverty in the U.S.

Screen Shot 2014-09-20 at 10.37.12 AM

Can anyone say Losing Ground?