Posts concerning law

“The System”: Tropa de Elite

23:27 01 Sep 2013

Tropa de Elite and Tropa de Elite 2 – O Inimigo Agora é Outro[1] are two Brazilian crime/action movies about the drug trade and corruption in Rio de Janeiro. While fictional[2], they clearly draw upon contemporary Brazilian politics. They both follow Roberto Nascimento, who at the start of the first film is a captain in BOPE, an elite unit roughly analogous to the American SWAT squads[3].

Permalink     Comment     [, , , , ]    

The Zimmerman Verdict

23:15 14 Jul 2013

George Zimmerman, accused of second-degree murder and/or manslaughter of Trayvon Martin, was acquitted yesterday. The social media response I’ve seen has been almost uniformly one of disgust or despair, intermingled with the apparent belief that the verdict is representative of racism in the United States (and, perhaps, in Florida particularly).

Based on what I know, I think Zimmerman probably accosted Martin in some way and provoked or initiated the struggle that ended with his killing Martin. And had I been on the jury, I would have voted to acquit. Because “probably” isn’t enough.

Permalink     3 Comments     [, , , , ]    

Not all Hacking Cases are Treated the Same

23:57 23 Jun 2013

From the UK, evidence that there’s a markedly higher tolerance among law enforcement for certain types of hackers. “The other hacking scandal: Suppressed report reveals that law firms, telecoms giants and insurance companies routinely hire criminals to steal rivals’ information”. You know, “the right people”.

I’m vaguely surprised that so far, we haven’t seen any hard evidence of data going from government sources to business entities for this kind of thing. Money clearly gets you access to police files and the like, but I’m curious about the extent to which “blue-chip companies” have been able to get their hands on state surveillance data such as that being collected by GCHQ.

That’s the thought I’ll leave you with this week; hopefully I’ll put together a longer post for next week. Take care out there.

Permalink     2 Comments     [, , ]    

Trust Us

15:28 16 Jun 2013

It appears that the NSA has been collecting both phone call metadata and actual phone call content from an unknown, but very likely vast, number of American citizens, and that this likely extends to other forms of communication such as email and text messaging. They may have been doing this in violation of the US Constitution while avoiding getting that issue before the courts, but they may also have been doing this in violation of the guidelines that the Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Act court has laid down—i.e. illegally.

Permalink     1 Comment     [, , , ]    

The Boston Marathon Bombings

21:28 21 Apr 2013

The aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings made clear just how much the media—and apparently a substantial portion of the population—want to promote the notion that the “War on Terror” is a real war, that there’s a real and highly dangerous enemy, and that the US is engaged in a struggle where the nation itself is under threat.

Prior to the identification of the suspects, it seemed like many media figures were thinking, “please let it be Al Qaeda”—and that if if it had turned out to be some disgruntled middle-aged guy protesting IRS policies, they and a chunk of their audience would lose a lot of interest.

Permalink     1 Comment     [, , , ]    

November 2012 California Ballot Measures

23:51 28 Oct 2012

I’m more interested in the state-level measures than I am in this year’s elections at any level, and this is how I’m going to vote on them. Quick highlights: YES on 34, NO on 35, YES on 36.

Permalink     1 Comment     [, , ]    

It’s Safer, But Why Stop the Scaremongering?

18:50 22 Jul 2012

Radley Balko does a good job of putting into context statistics about police fatalities in the US, and pointing out that despite the impression you would get from every media outlet, it’s a job that seems to be getting safer—but this doesn’t seem to alter policy in any way.

Permalink     Comment     [, , ]    

Technical Difficulties and Linkspam, 2012-06-17

22:56 17 Jun 2012

The death of my old MacBook Pro this evening has caused the loss (hopefully only temporary) of the blog post I was working on today (on androids in Alien and Prometheus), which I will try to recover and finish next week.

In the meantime, here are some interesting things I encountered on the internet this week.

Permalink     1 Comment     [, , , , , , , ]    

Marriage, Same-Sex and Other

23:17 13 May 2012

Same-sex marriage has been a major news topic this week, because of the passage of North Carolina’s Amendment One and Barack Obama’s statement that he thinks same-sex couples should be able to marry. A good time, then, to explore the subject.

Permalink     1 Comment     [, , , , , , , ]    

Corruption: Ireland’s Mahon Tribunal

23:34 01 Apr 2012

Dublin has grown a great deal over the last 30 years, and in so doing has become a case study in how not to manage urban/suburban development, planning, or transit policy[1].

The urban planning process for Dublin County in that period was endemically corrupt, which was common knowledge at the time but has been made extremely clear by the final report, released 22 March 2012, of the Mahon Tribunal, a body set up in 1997 to investigate such matters. It seems unlikely in the extreme that the corruption and the terrible urban sprawl aren’t connected.

Permalink     1 Comment     [, , , , , ]    

Kirby Ferguson’s “Everything is a Remix”, Part 4

21:55 19 Feb 2012. Updated: 23:44 02 Mar 2012

I mentioned this on Facebook earlier in the week, but it’s important enough to also write a post about.

Permalink     Comment     [, , , , , , ]    

SOPA and Why I’m Against it

23:52 22 Jan 2012

Earlier this week I “blacked out” tadhg.com as part of the widespread protests against SOPA. This post includes a number of my reasons for opposing it.

Permalink     Comment     [, , , ]    

NYPD Notes

23:59 30 Oct 2011

I don’t recall any interactions with the police when I lived in New York, but over the years my accumulated impression has been that it’s a very corrupt organization. That’s not necessarily unusual—I suspect that most of the police forces in major American cities would be just as bad (and nothing I’ve heard about, say, the Los Angeles or Chicago police has made me think otherwise). At the moment, though, the NYPD seem to be at the forefront.

Permalink     Comment     [, , , , , ]    

Expression, Pseudonymity, Google+

23:06 21 Aug 2011. Updated: 18:19 17 Sep 2011

Google+ has come under fire recently for banning users who don’t have usernames conforming to the service’s rules about what usernames should be like. Google’s policies on the matter are wrong, and the reasons why they’re wrong, as well as the potential implications of their policy, are important.

Permalink     3 Comments     [, , , , , , , , , ]    

“Protect the Children” Hysteria and Injustice

22:41 18 Apr 2011

This is the summary:

  • Local comic/musician goes to elementary school, plays song for kids.
  • A friend of his videotapes this, both the performance and the kids’ (positive) reactions.
  • Musician and friend later come back to empty classroom and record him performing a song with graphically sexual lyrics.
  • Musician edits two sets of footage together to make it appear as if he sang the sexually-explicit song to the kids.
  • Musician then puts edited version on YouTube and plays it at a local club’s comedy night.

Clearly the title of the post gives it away somewhat, but what do you think happened next?

Permalink     1 Comment     [, , , , , ]    

The Generosity of the Federal Reserve

00:20 15 Apr 2011. Updated: 00:22 16 Apr 2011

Matt Taibbi covers the still-astonishing handouts given out by the Federal Reserve as part of its “crisis management” measures over the last few years. Given the amounts of money involved, it is absolutely stunning that this stuff isn’t brought up whenever benefit cuts are discussed. Yes, I know that the whole point of the mainstream media is to prevent mass awareness of just how twisted the situation is, but even so, it’s amazing how effective it seems to be.

To slash public spending while simultaneously showering money on the wealthy—never mind acting pious and responsible while doing so—is nothing less than massive thievery from the poor to the rich; there’s really no other way to describe it.

Meanwhile, the Department of Justice is busy addressing the key problems facing America today, although some members of Congress and the Senate want a different focus.

The current mantra guiding US actions seems to be “the floggings shall continue until morale improves”.

Permalink     Comment     [, , , , ]    

A Guatemalan Tale of Truth Stranger than Fiction

21:37 28 Mar 2011

David Grann’s “A Murder Foretold: Unravelling the ultimate political conspiracy” is an amazing article; I highly recommend reading the whole thing.

Permalink     Comment     [, , ]    

Blast from the Past: Reddy Realty

23:50 14 Mar 2011. Updated: 00:51 15 Mar 2011

From 1999–2000 I lived in a Berkeley apartment, and was recently reminded that it was rented from a criminal sex offender who would ultimately plead guilty to, among other things, the transportation of minors for illegal sexual activity.

Permalink     Comment     [, , , ]    

Obama: Just Another Establishment Hack

19:42 13 Mar 2011

I’ve actually asked the Pentagon whether or not the procedures that have been taken in terms of his confinement are appropriate and are meeting our basic standards. They have assured me that they are.

Obama was referring to Bradley Manning, who is being held in Quantico, in 23-hour-a-day isolation, who’s deliberately being deprived of sleep, and who has recently had even his boxer shorts taken away from him.

Permalink     Comment     [, , ]    

Hypocrisy and “The War on Drugs”

17:12 27 Feb 2011

Just in case you needed more evidence, here’s a particularly good demonstration that the drug war is racist and classist: “Mitch Daniels’ Disappearing Felony”.

Also, you really shouldn’t miss this proposal for a new illegal drug classification scheme.

Permalink     Comment     [, , , ]    

Tainting with Knowledge

22:32 08 Feb 2011

Wow, this is fascinating: a Florida judge has prohibited, pre-emptively, the distribution of leaflets on jury nullification near courthouses, claiming that it amounts to jury tampering. According to my understanding of the law, jurors in the US have the right to acquit based not purely on the absence of guilt but also on their sense of the justice of the law—however, judges are free to bar anyone in their courts from informing the jurors of this right. The notion that they’re free to do so outside their courtrooms certainly seems like a stretch to me, and seems to obviously violate the First Amendment, but that’s not necessarily worth anything in terms of appeals rulings.

Permalink     Comment     [, , ]    

Court Challenges to Obama’s Health Care Program

18:26 01 Feb 2011

I like the idea of public health care; in fact I think health care is one of the legitimate uses to which the state apparatus can be put. That being said, I consider Obama’s proposal to be a mockery of real public healthcare, and I find it reprehensible both in theory and in implementation. On top of that, in the context of American politics in particular, it’s also governmental overreach, and today’s court decision seems entirely reasonable to me:

If Congress can penalize a passive individual for failing to engage in commerce, the enumeration of powers in the Constitution would have been in vain.

That seems quite evidently true regardless of what one thinks of the Constitution’s relevance (or of the proposition that the Constitution’s enumeration of powers has been in vain).

Permalink     Comment     [, , ]    

Initial Thoughts on the Giffords Shooting

21:18 10 Jan 2011

I think it’s it’s pointless to speculate about Loughner’s motivations at this point, especially since analyzing his online imprint seems like an exercise in reading tea leaves—is he a right-winger because he likes Ayn Rand, or a leftist because he likes The Communist Manifesto?

Permalink     Comment     [, , ]