Friday, November 24, 2006

More thoughts on the mess in Atlanta

I hate crap like this

Partly because I'm split. I've been around law enforcement people most of my life, and I tend to side with them. Often before I really think about it.

On the other hand...

Over the years, I've developed a bad case of cynicism and distrust toward a LOT of LE types. Seeing people acting as if(and getting away with it) they're immune from the law. Reading about case after case of raids on the wrong house, or based on bad information, where people are treated horribly- sometimes badly injured or killed- and the response is "The officers followed procedures; no action will be taken against them", and so forth.

Lots of the, call them apologists, we get the standard lines: "Wait until all the facts are in, this type of entry is necessary for officer safety, accidents happen, since they had a warrant they could legally be there so when she shot at them she was in the wrong", etc.

Lots of the, call them idiots, we get the standard "Any cop that comes into my home gets killed, if drugs were properly legalized this woudn't happen," etc.

Another complication to the arguments is, as someone put it, if you whack ATF and FBI for their actions at Waco, a bunch of people accuse you of defending Koresh for anything he may have done. So you wind up with people calling you names and accusing you of being nice to dirtbags if you criticize the police for an action. Doesn't make for reasoned argument.

No-knock warrants and Tactical/SWAT teams are much the same: there are circumstances where they are justified in use, in some actually demanded by the circumstances. Problem is they've come to be overused and/or used wrongly, and the consequences for the people hurt and the cops who did it can be really bad. Somebody winds up dead because tactics that were not called for were used, or their home is damaged and themselves & their family terrorized(and just try to get cooperation in the future from friends/family/neighbors of those people). The officers can be/SHOULD BE/ sued in many of the cases which can ruin them financially, and the consequences for a decent human being of knowing that becuase of a bad tip/deliberate lie by an informant or a mistake on address or a stupid mistake on his part, somebody died by his hand...

In the latter, even if the department protects them from financial ruin, good cops are not going to buy the "Don't worry about it, you were just doing your job" justifications they'll be given. They'll live with that for the rest of their lives.

And, as mentioned, you've now got people who'll see the police as the enemy. They're not the people who catch robbers and rapists and write tickets: they're the people who killed Uncle Frank because the idiots broke into his house in the middle of the night becuase somebody got the wrong address, etc.

I've come to see it that, in matters such as this, it may not be possible, in good conscience, to give the police the 'benefit of the doubt'. When they pin on that badge, they're given trememdous power and privilege. They can pull you over and write you a ticket, they can arrest you and put you in jail, they can kill you. When they're on a tac team or raid, that demands that they not make a mistake on address, or use a tip from some jerk they wouldn't trust to tell them the sun rises in the east to make a dynamic entry(don't you just love that name for 'smash in the door and stick a gun in peoples' face'?) without checking every detail. Somebody breaks into your house and you shoot them, all too many police and prosecutors will cut you no slack at all, will try to use any possible excuse to put you in jail; why should trained officers who screw up be given lattitude?

On the dynamic entry crap, I think Kim du Toit once wrote that if somebody smashes in his door in the middle of the night, he's not going to assume it's the police and play dead: he knows he has no illegal substances, he knows he has no illegal weapons, he knows he has conducted no illegal activity so he knows there is no reason for the police to be smashing into his home in the night. So he'll grab the shotgun to protect his home and family. So would I. First off, someone rouses you from a sound sleep by breaking in the door, you're not going to be listening carefully to hear what they're yelling; second, all the reported cases of bandits yelling 'police' or 'FBI' when they break in(note this: She said she understood Kathryn Johnston might have been frightened by recent break-ins staged by robbing crews wearing undercover police gear.) an honest citazen has no reason to believe them: ANYBODY can put big white 'POLICE' or 'FBI' on a jacket.(Added: note this Balko reported from the press conference:5) He maintains that despite the no-knock warrant police still announced themselves before entering, though he acknowledged moments later that the announcement came as police were battering down the door.

You have the right to defend yourself in your home. Period. LE has the obligation to take every step to make sure they're in the right place, for just reason, using only the tactics necessary. The consequences if they don't tend to be horrible.

Note: a commenter said this:
"Every police agency has a thick manual containing policies and procedures, and the after-action question is always "did he follow procedure?"

Officer Joe could have initiated an action which resulted in a bus full of nuns going over a cliff and killing fifty children on the beach below, then eradicating twelve families of sea lions and twenty protected species with the resulting gas and oil pollution and as long as Joe "followed procedure" he's golden."

Unfortunately, too often true.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

By the way, have you noticed the insurrection in Mexico?

And the loser of the election swearing himself in as the 'legitimate president'?

And when does this mess blow up bigtime?

And how many come storming across the border when it does?

A bit more on the Dillon press

I've been loading some more .45acp on that Square Deal B, and now I find two problems:
First, I need more primers.
Second, once you get started on this thing you can, with short breaks to refill the primer magazine, load every damn case in sight.

It's really nice, being able to crank out ammo this way, and to repeat myself from earlier I wish I'd bought one a long time ago. If I start shooting a lot of .38 Special again, I'll have to get the dies & conversion for that. If they made the dies in this press for .30 Carbine(and why don't they?) that'd be great.

I will note that the low primer alarm does work, you get down to 3-4 primers and it buzzez at you until you do something about it.

Now I need more time at the range so I can shoot this stuff up so I can bring the cases back and load some more so I can...

I'm sick of hearing about innocent people being killed

while a warrant from a 'confidential informant' or 'anonymous tip' is being served.

Lots of people all over this, and rightly so. LOTS of questions not answered here. Among the big things:

Three police narcotics officers were shot Tuesday night by a 92-year-old woman who was killed as the officers forced their way through a door while serving a warrant at a house in northwest Atlanta, officials said.
Assistant Chief Alan Dreher said the officers had a legal warrant and "knocked and announced" before they forced open the door. He said they were justified in returning fire when they were fired upon.

and then, in the same story,
As the officers approached the house about 7 p.m., a woman inside started shooting, said Officer Joe Cobb, a police spokesman. The officers returned fire, wounding the woman, Cobb said.

Ok, people, make up your damn minds! You're giving TWO DIFFERENT STORIES about how this happened.

And, as espected, from this report:
Police say they followed proper procedures. Thomas hopes they did, but added: "When you see a 92-year-old being the victim of circumstances like this, we know something is going wrong."

This is one of the things that so pisses me off about crap like this: "they followed proper procedures", the first defense, to be followed down the line by "No action will be taken against the officers".

One of the questions that comes up over and over is over in many cases is this: A neighbor, Yolanda Jackson, 42, said she was sitting on the front porch of her home on Joseph E. Lowery Boulevard a block away when undercover narcotics officers, who were not in street uniforms, showed up around 7 p.m. to serve the warrant at Johnston's home, at 933 Neal St.(emphasis mine)
Simply, why no uniforms? If you've got a warrant, if you're doing a legal act, why not cops in uniform? If you've got an house full of real bad guys, it won't prevent you from doing the job; if you've got the wrong damn house, or it turns out that your informant is settling a grudge by sending you after somebody, they chances of Bad Things Happening is greatly reduced. Like Tamara says, "Look, if three burly dudes in street clothes start banging on my door one night and try and force their way into my home, I don't care if they're yelling "Police!" or "Singing Telegram!", that's why I keep a loaded M4 carbine in the house. They're not dressed like cops, and I can think of no reason the police would need to get into my house, so my natural assumption would be that these were home invaders of some sort. If the real police need to talk with me, they can get two guys in stopsign hats and 1 Adam 12 outfits to come knock on my door like civilized people. I, a civilized person myself, will then answer it.

But over and over, people dressed like dirtbags kick in doors- all too often 'announcing' themselves by yelling 'Police!' AS they kick in the door(all too often of the wrong house, or on bad information), and then people die and the department makes excuses. Even when people don't die, you just screwed over a whole family who- along with their friends and neighbors- will decide the cops are indeed the enemy and not to be trusted. And everybody who reads about it will wonder what the hell is wrong with you that you can't serve a warrant without this crap?

Been said over and over, a 'no-knock' raid- which is what it is when you announce AS you break in the door- has a place, just like the use of a tactical team has a place. When misused, or overused, it causes garbage like this.

Note: Reason has this:

Police aren't saying what they were looking for, or what they found inside. Johnston was the only person in the house at the time of the raid. Perhaps this case will prove different, but my experience in researching this stuff is that when police conduct a drug raid, they trot out everything they found -- particularly when the raid resulted in violence. That they've yet to announce any seized contraband doesn't bode well.

Update: Balko on the press conference the police held. In particular:
1) The search warrant was in fact a no-knock warrant.

5) He maintains that despite the no-knock warrant police still announced themselves before entering, though he acknowledged moments later that the announcement came as police were battering down the door.

Got that? Announced 'police' AS THEY WERE BATTERING DOWN THE DOOR. Never mind it might be hard do hear over a ram smashing the door, never mind the cases over the past while where burglars/robbers kicked in doors and yelled 'police' as they came in. "We did yell police!"

And if there were a buy at the house as they're claiming, from who? If not this lady, they couldn't try to see if the bad guy was there before breaking in the door? I think they call it 'surveillance' or something.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

I just listened to an amazing piece of work

Not musically amazing, damn the luck.

Sometimes I listen to Sean Hannity in the afternoon. He's got one thing going for him above a lot of other interviewers: he'll ask a question, and when the politician/activist/(fill in the blank group) representative talks around it or avoids it, he comes back to it and insists on an answer. He had on today some Congressman from NY, and the big question was on the subject of Alcee Hastings, the impeached judge who Pelosi is pushing to be head of the Intelligence Committee as payback/suckup to the Congressional Black Congress. Hannity asked "Do you think this man should be in this position?" and it was amazing. This rep. dragged in Republicans("Do you condemn..?"), he dragged in everything except the freshly washed cat to avoid answering that. Including "We don't get to vote on that, it's a position the Speaker of the House decides on".

What makes this really good? This rep is one of the people who voted to impeach Hastings. And yet he could not answer yes or no to that question.

Just flat bloody amazing.

Rangel really is a jerk

On the radio a bit earlier I heard part of his blowing on some Sunday political show. Basically repeated the crap that 'mainly minorities with no choices join the military', and then said- this is paraphrasing, I can't remember the exact wording- that 'people who go to Yale or Harvard have choices, and won't join the military, so his national servitude draft bill will force them to join, which will prevent war because none of the politicians will a: want their kids( who ALL go to Ivy League universities, right?) to be involved and b: they won't want to take heat from the parents whose kids go to said Ivy League universities.

This just pisses me off beyond belief. Only people who go to 'real' colleges have 'choices', all politicians and parents of people going to 'real' colleges are assholes who won't support this country in time of need, and the people going to the 'real' colleges would ever think of joining the military.

Which must be a big suprise to all those people who left said colleges, or have degrees from said colleges, and signed up anyway.

And let us not forget that interesting piece from Rangel about taking lots of money back to New York City where it 'belongs', that places like Mississippi get more than their share, etc.

I must correct myself: Rangel isn't a jerk, he's an asshole.

You need to try this

Steve pointed to this guy cooking a pork shoulder, so I decided to try it. I got a nine-pound bone-in shoulder- smallest I could find- and used the recipe Dan pointed out with a couple of changes. I didn't have or get fennel seed, and I used dried rosemary and thyme. And I didn't peel the apples.

I stuck it in the oven for the first half-hour at high heat, then covered it and left it for about 3.5-4 hours, and DAMN it's good. Literally pulled off the bone, wonderful flavor, and about the most tender pork I've ever had.

Now I need to dig up Steve's pan con lechon recipe and give that a try. Though damned if I know where to get Cuban bread around here.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Secure high-tech passports aren't

Want to bet the proposed national ID cards won't be either?

A week or so ago the Telegraph had an article by Tony Blair listing why he insisted there needs to be a national ID card for every Briton. All to fight terrorism and crime, of course; not being able to see a doctor or write a check or whatever without the card is just a side bonus.

Well, Ace today pointed to this article on how a guy broke into the chip in the new 'ultra-secure' passports:
Fatally, however, the ICAO suggested that the key needed to access the data on the chips should be comprised of, in the following order, the passport number, the holder's date of birth and the passport expiry date, all of which are contained on the printed page of the passport on a "machine readable zone." When an immigration official swipes the passport through a reader, this feeds in the key, which allows a microchip reader to communicate with the RFID chip. The data this contains, including the holder's picture, is then displayed on the official's screen. The assumption at this stage is that this document is as authentic as it is super-secure. And, as we shall see later, this could be highly significant.

Problem, right?

The Home Office thinks not. It correctly points out that the information sucked out of the chip is only the same as that which appears on the page, readable with the human eye. And to obtain the key in the first place, you would need to have access to the passport to read (with the naked eye) its number, expiry date and the date of birth of its holder.

"This doesn't matter," says a Home Office spokesman. "By the time you have accessed the information on the chip, you have already seen it on the passport. What use would my biometric image be to you? And even if you had the information, you would still have to counterfeit the new passport - and it has lots of new security features. If you were a criminal, you might as well just steal a passport."

So no problem then?
"If you can read the chip, then you can clone it," he says. "You could use this to clone a passport that would exploit the system to illegally enter another country." (We did not clone any of our passport chips on the assumption that to do so would be illegal.)

Grunwald adds: "The problems could get worse when they put fingerprint biometrics on to the passports. There are established ways of making forged fingerprints. In the future, the authorities would like to have automated border controls, and such forged fingerprints [stuck on to fingers] would probably fool them."

Ain't this just wonderful? And a bunch of people in Congress and other places are just drooling at the thought of making us carry Certified Chromium-Plated Illuminated Gen-u-wine National ID cards* here, too. Think they'll be any better?

*apologies to C.W. McCall

Oh, yeah, BUSH was going to reinstate the draft, remember?

Except it's not him. Again.

He said having a draft would not necessarily mean everyone called to duty would have to serve. Instead, "young people (would) commit themselves to a couple of years in service to this great republic, whether it's our seaports, our airports, in schools, in hospitals," with a promise of educational benefits at the end of service.

Don't you just love it? It's a draft, but not just for military service. "young people (would) commit themselves to a couple of years in service to this great republic, whether it's our seaports, our airports, in schools, in hospitals, " etc., etc. Remember a few years ago the 'required voluntary service' crap? Here it is again. This points out that Rangel doesn't just want a draft for military service, he wants compulsory 'public service' from everyone.

Hmmm, I wonder when somebody will call it 'slave labor'? Although, since it's coming from Rangel, that'll be muted if at all.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

This makes up for almost EVERYTHING!

Go here, read it, then read the comment about the Purina Diet.

But not if you're drinking

Tranquilizer my ass, I'd shoot it

Animal Attack - Asia Common Alerting Protocol

Event summary

GLIDE NumberAA-20061119-8468-NPL

Event typeAnimal Attack Date / time [UTC]19/11/2006 - 10:13:04 (Military Time, UTC)
CountryNepal AreaSunsari district
County / State- City-
Cause of eventUnknow Log date19/11/2006 - 10:13:04 (Military Time, UTC)
Damage levelModerate Time left-
Latitude:N 26° 40.000 Longitude:E 87° 10.000
Number of deaths:Not or Not data Number of injured persons:12 persons
Evacuated:- Infected-

Nepalese hunters have captured a wild elephant that trampled to death at least 12 people and injured several others in the country's southeast, officials said Sunday. A team of 15 forestry officials found the elephant on Saturday after a two week search and shot it with a tranquilizer in the jungles of Sunsari district, about 310 miles southeast of the capital, Katmandu, said Ajit Karna, chief forest official in the area. Karna said the elephant had killed 12 people in the past one month in Sunsary and neighboring Morang districts. The elephant had also injured several others, five of them seriously and also damaged huts and crops. The elephant had been terrorizing the area and villagers had been using drums and fire torches to scare it away at night. Karna said tests were being conducted on the animal and they had cut off its tusks to prevent any attacks.

Found at Rsoe Havaria

Additional: just found this one; I didn't know it was flooding in Somalia

Animal Attack - Africa Common Alerting Protocol

Event summary

GLIDE NumberAA-20061119-8474-SOM
Event typeAnimal Attack Date / time [UTC]19/11/2006 - 12:02:20 (Military Time, UTC)
CountrySomalia Area-
County / StateBuulo Barte district CityHiraan region
Cause of eventUnknow Log date19/11/2006 - 12:02:20 (Military Time, UTC)
Damage levelHeavy Time left-
Latitude:N 3° 49.268 Longitude:E 45° 18.565
Number of deaths:9 persons Number of injured persons:Not or Not data
Evacuated:- Infected-

Crocodiles have killed at least nine people in Somalia, where devastating floods have displaced at least 50,000 others, bringing the death toll to over 50 in the lawless African nation, elders and witnesses said on Sunday. The nine died in Buulo Barte district in the central Hiraan region, 200 km north of the capital Mogadishu in the past three days, they said. Survivors in parts of the district were clinging to trees in desperation to avoid being eaten, local elder Ali Hassan Osmail said. "We are experiencing the worst crisis in this region, in addition to the evacuation and loss of property, people are expressing concerns over crocodiles that threaten their lives," Osmail added. "At least nine people have been killed by crocodiles floating all over the floodwater in the past three days and the number could rise because the problems still persist," he added. Witnesses and local officials have said the deaths bring the toll to a least 52 killed in Somalia in flood waters since late October when torrential downpours caused rivers to burst their banks. The bulk of the dead were in the Middle and Lower Juba, Lower Shabelle, Gedo and Hiraan regions. The United Nations said the current, unusually heavy seasonal rains were threatening Somalia with its worst floods in 50 years while the impoverished Horn of Africa country teeters on the brink of all-out war. Thousands of farmlands have been destroyed by the floods, which follow a prolonged drought that ravaged the entire eastern Africa region, causing a humanitarian disaster.

Speaking of climate change BS,

The Telegraph today has (ta-daaa!) Al Gore responding to the two previous articles. In usual fashion.
And, despite Viscount Monckton's recycled claims about the so-called "hockey stick" graph (an old and worn-out hobby horse of the pollution lobby in the US), this faux controversy has long since been thoroughly debunked.
Yeah, Al, but the problem is it's been debunked as crappy math(and bias) by the people who created it.

It's full of the usual 'all real scientists agree' crap. And has the title of At stake is nothing less than the survival of human civilization. Etc.

Really, you can boil it all down to this line:To be sure, not all of the finest workings of the climate system are yet fully understood to the finest grain.

Snort. 'to the finest grain' my ass.

And this clown almost became President.