According to a recent report, Law Enforcement across the country are seeking funds for a super-secret device created by the Harris Corporation that can track cell phones, emails, and other data by acting like a cell phone tower and is small enough to fit in a suitcase. While it might focus on particular source, it can sweep the whole area in which it is located. It costs upwards of 500,000 dollars and goes by various names (StingRay, Kingfish) and is the rage of law enforcement at the moment. The problem is whoever buys it cannot talk about it as they are required to sign a non-disclosure agreement. So taxpayer money will be spent (annual cost after initial purchase is approximately 40 thousand dollars a year) on a product whose name brand will not be revealed, will not be seen, will not be demonstrated, and we will not know when it is employed or what will be done with the data acquired by its use.
When one considers that the only terrorists threats that seem to have been thwarted before they happened are ones created by the government itself, I question the expenditure of any public funds for the above purpose. We are heading to 1984 and constant government surveillance without an iota of probable cause and we don’t seem to really care. Wake up America…
Of all of the problems and travails our society faces today, the gathering of refugee children on the Texas border seems the most depressing and frustrating to this writer. I speak not to the reasons these young children risk life and limb to escape the suffocating poverty and violence of their birthplace. Conditions which to an extent can be traced to our “War on Drugs” and the collateral havoc it has generated. I speak to the reaction of those who would send these unfortunates back to the hell that is their homeland. I believe this includes the Administration which says one thing on the subject but seems to be doing another. All I hear the president saying is we have to send them back. Why? We are a land of immigrants. These are children. What is wrong with us? There is a segment of our society that has truly lost its way when they can appear at the border and scream at these little children to go back home. I believe this reflects a real, deep sickness in this country and I fear for the future if this sickness festers. There are lessons to be learned from history as what happens to a society when it loses its way as ours seems to have done and turns itself inward in fear and isolation. The behavior of some on this issue shows that we are not the shining city on the hill but more the dark alley of hatred and despair. This is a moment where this country can truly stand out as a beacon of freedom and safety. We are failing this moment miserably.
The top twenty five hedge fund managers made a total of 21 billion dollars last year. This is twice as much as all of the kindergarten teachers in the country combined. Those teachers are smart, highly educated and work hard as I am sure some of the hedge fund managers might. But let us not pretend this vast amount of wealth is good for job creation. These men only speculate… they do not create. If they disappeared tomorrow the fate of their fellow man would hardly change. What this shows that the income gap in this country is real, it is growing and it is not earned in conjunction with other societal benefits. In fact the vast wealth in this country today was inherited and not created by job creators or hard work that also benefited others.It is only a matter of time that inherited wealth will be the biggest source of great wealth. What is the history of societies who experience such a large gap between the haves and have nots….that history suggests revolution in one form or another. Jefferson said such was essential for the survival of democracy. I wonder…
Economists Slam the War on Drugs in a New London School of Economics Report
by Abby Haglage May 05, 2014 08:40 PM EDT
The ‘singular approach’ to fighting drug abuse isn’t working—and it’s time for a change, says a new report produced by the London School of Economics. What they suggest, in five steps.
In an 81-page report released Monday evening, the best and brightest minds in the economic drug policy world send the United Nations a loaded message about the drug war: Enough. The individual analyses of the economists and drug policy experts, signed by five Nobel Prize winners in economics, expose the collateral damage of the drug war and offer suggestions on how the policies can—and should—change.
Wednesday, April 30, 2014
“”Why innocent people plead guilty”: Judge Jed Rakoff suggests “tens of thousands of innocent people” have been “coerced into pleading guilty””
Doug Berman at Sentencing Law & Policy excerpts and links to an article covering the judge’s speech:
“Plea bargains have led many innocent people to take a deal,” Rakoff said. “People accused of crimes are often offered five years by prosecutors or face 20 to 30 years if they go to trial. … The prosecutor has the information, he has all the chips … and the defense lawyer has very, very little to work with. So it’s a system of prosecutor power and prosecutor discretion. I saw it in real life [as a criminal defense attorney], and I also know it in my work as a judge today.”
BY ELIZABETH KOLBERT APRIL 14, 2014
The chemist F. Sherwood Rowland is one of the few people in history about whom it can accurately be said: he helped save the world. In 1972, Rowland, a chemist at the University of California-Irvine, attended a talk on the compounds known as chlorofluorocarbons. At the time, these were being used as refrigerants, cleaning agents, and propellants in aerosol cans, and they had recently been detected in the air over the Atlantic. CFCs are unusually stable, but it occurred to Rowland that, if they were getting blown around the world, at very high altitudes they would eventually break down. He and one of his research assistants began to look into the matter, and they concluded that in the stratosphere CFCs would indeed dissociate. The newly liberated chlorine atoms would then set off a chain reaction, which would destroy the ozone layer that protects the earth from ultraviolet radiation.