Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Blogger questioned by the FBI for online comments

This blogger was invited down to the local FBI office for his trip through the wringer for posting criticisms of laws, the FBI, and homeland security. Oddly enough, he had the guts to post about that too.

Apparently they censored his blog first though.


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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Officer shot during no-knock warrant; no drugs seized

In from the Gestapo tactics department:

On January 18th, 2008, Officer Jarrod Shivers of the Chesapeake Police Department was shot during entry while serving a "no-knock" warrant for marijuana in the middle of the night. As a result, the lone occupant, Ryan David Frederick, was charged with 1st degree murder after the original group of police called in SWAT for assistance. (Virginia Pilot)

First off, my condolences to the friends and family of the slain officer. It is a tragedy.

However, it is reported that after a second article appeared in the Virginia-Pilot that omitted any drugs from the seized items list taken from the house, one has to wonder if they had the right man or house. The subsequent complete radio silence by the department makes this look like a cover up of the worst degree. So my condolences to the man and his family, who in the absence of explanations by officials, seems like another victim of government overreaching.

In the defense of the police:
  • An informant told them that the suspect was growing quantities of marijuana in his garage, had a scale, and packaging equipment.
  • A warrant was issued, and the officers served it at the time of their choosing.
In defense of the suspect:
  • The Chesapeake PD spokesperson implied that the officers serving the warrant were in plain clothes. Now, if you had someone in plain clothes kick in your door in the dark, would you not legitimately assume this was a home invasion in progress and act to protect yourself? Home invaders are smart enough to pretend to be cops these days, too, so unless the uniform were absolutely clear, I'd argue that in the heat of the moment it would be impossible to make an informed decision, and I'd rather err on the side of my personal safety.
  • On the seized items list are "three shells, and a Bersa 'Firestorm' .380 hand gun". So am I to believe that an officer serving a no-knock warrant was not wearing a vest? A .380ACP round has less impact energy at the muzzle than a 9mm Parabellum/Luger round does at 25m. All modern, even concealable vests are rated to stop the latter.
Evidence the police used was an informant's statement. That's fine. However, isn't it reasonable to expect that they investigate some more before kicking in doors? Anyone can tell a cop that I am growing pot in a garage, and my door gets kicked in in the middle of the night?

If you were an officer serving a warrant of this sort, in the middle of the night, wouldn't you wear a uniform, or make it absolutely clear that you were police? Yelling "Police!" while kicking in the door isn't enough - home invaders (the criminal sort) do that too.

I think it's sad that this cost an officer's life, and ruined another. Is the fight against a small time pot grower really worth this cost? Remember, pot-heads don't beat their wives. Alcoholics do.

Of course, the online police board have an entirely different view on the matter.

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Friday, January 18, 2008

Ron Pauls Newsletters and Lew Rockwell

Well, I guess I had better post these links, just in case you, dear reader, don't follow the ones on the right.

Reason Magazine made a convincing case (to me, anyways, even though the title asked who did it) that longtime friend and business associate Lew Rockwell wrote some of the bigoted vomit into Ron Paul's newsletters. Ron Paul stated that "some crazy staffer" did it. Then it sounded like his campaign was about to come clean, but this would expose Ron Paul as a liar (as if you can be libertarian and pro-life/anti-choice).

Even the Donklephant noticed.

Why do politicians seem to think everyone but them is stupid?

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PowerPoint(tm): The New Documentation Standard

Well, finally something work related.

So what did I miss? Apparently everyone dumped Visio (tm) and other technical drawing products, and replaced them with PowerPoint. Four years ago I lamented the same thing with a PowerPoint presentation being considered a "Product Plan."

Architecture Consultant: "We need a state diagram and a sequence diagram."

Developer: "Here it is."

AC: "That's a Power Point! The arrows don't line up, and there are no dotted connectors!"

Manager: (Manager overrides) "It's great!"

AC: "It actually does not show how anything interrelates, and how it relates to the software components."

Manager: "Well, you had better be able to fix out outage with this."

Yet, all this focus, and meetings have gotten longer, and the elevator pitch is a lost art.

What gives?

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Say it's not so, Britain! CCTV is not a deterrent?

The Telegraph has an article where police admit openly that drunks are not deterred from attacking each other, or the occasional passersby, by the proliferation of CCTV cameras. This was admitted in front of the House of Lords, no less.

Just imagine - the drunken rabble does not care that it's being recorded while stomping the head of a hapless victim against a curb. And they'll get away with it - another study showed that 80% of images captured were of such poor quality that they neither helped get a conviction after the fact or even identify one of the perpetrators.

Great. At least the family gets to see their loved one's last moments alive, or more commonly, being able-bodied on grainy CCTV recordings.

Maybe it would have stopped the 9/11 terrorists. Wait! They were on CCTV too!

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Monday, January 14, 2008

Corporate Accountability: Bill Collectors

I find it very interesting that any company can post what they want on your credit report, and then you have to prove it's not true, with no accountability, and little recourse to the company posting wanton incorrect information.

Example: You go to the hospital. What you don't know:

  • Each department does its own billing, so that makes:
    • ER doctor
    • ER
    • Surgeon
    • Anesthesiologist
    • Hospital Surgery Department
    • Hospital Recovery
  • Say one or two of those departments don't get the billing information passed on by admissions. They do have your name, SSN, but get your address wrong, and "forget" that other departments have this information.
  • Since the bill gets mis-sent, and the insurance information is not available for you, and even though they have your phone number nobody bothers to call, the bill gets sent to collections.
  • The other bills are paid by insurance, and you actually never see them.
  • Unpaid amounts sent to collections, and sit there for five years.
  • Collections at some point sells off the bad receivables to another collector.
  • Collector files "in collections" to SSN on that account.
Now, let me ask the following:
  1. Nobody bothered to contact the debtor. Ever.
  2. The addresses on the credit report from all three credit reporting agencies were correct - looking at that would have made it clear that the address was transliterated when transferred between departments.
  3. Debtor contacted original hospital for another matter (where a call was made for a different case, and some insurance information screwup), asks if there is anything else outstanding, and gets told of one of the outstanding amounts. Debtor asks is there is anything else owing, is told no. Debtor arranges payment through the insurance company.
  4. Debtor finds the entries on his credit report. Contacts collector, arranges payment.
Now, the problem is that the last collecting company could not be bothered to pull contact information for the debtor, but could be bothered to file the same bills, at different months, with all three collecting agencies.

What recourse does the debtor have?
  1. Debtor contacted collector, and paid of own volition.
  2. Debtor is on record asking about other debts prior to being placed in collection.
  3. Debtor's SSN and phone number were correct, active, and connected during this time, with current addresses on the credit report.

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Saturday, January 05, 2008

Newsflash: Terrorists use "low tech tricks" to foil authorities

Oh no!

The Washington Post reports here that terrorists are using low tech, simple codeword transliteration to foil attempts to monitor them. No kidding. Dough becomes explosives, the hospital becomes jail, and ... you should get the picture.


You should be. According to the article, in 2005 Andrew Rowe was sent to prison for 15 years because authorities felt they found a code book mapping Nokia phone model numbers to other "things." Presumably they had to do with terrorism, but nobody could figure out a specific plot, meaning his crime, other than a transliteration booklet, is unspecified.

Wait! If I say, I'd like a Nokia 6610, and that the Nokia N80 sucks, I can go to jail for 15 years?


So you didn't have the dough to help your cousin with the hospital bill? Guilty you are!

I guess it's high time sacrifice more freedoms for security, don't you think?

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