Currently viewing the tag: "freelance"

I was listening to Taylor Swift, then I read about New Mexico cops and their officical sexual assault, and I had to switch over to NWA and a band that is actually called Copstabber.

This week, two men in New Mexico claimed they were subjected to horrific invasive anal medical procedures after minor traffic incidents during which the cops came to suspect they were carrying drugs. On November 5, a local news station reported that David Eckert was suing the city of Deming, Hidalgo County, and the officers and doctors responsible for his mistreatment during a January incident. Eckert was pulled over by officers because he didn’t come to a full stop while trying to exit a Walmart parking lot. At some point during their interaction, the cops decided that Eckert seemed to be “clenching his buttocks,” and their dog indicated it smelled drugs under Eckhart’s seat. According to Eckert’s recently filed lawsuit, local cops and state troopers got permission from a judge to send him to the hospital to get intimately probed for narcotics. Reportedly, a doctor at one hospital declined to search on ethical grounds, but the folks at Gila Regional Medical Center weren’t so concerned. Though he never consented to the search, Eckert spent the next 14 hours being X-rayed, got anally probed twice, and was given an enemathree times then forced to defecate in front of cops and doctors. None of this uncovered any drugs, but Eckert was billed for all these procedures, which cost thousands of dollars.

A startlingly similar story comes from Timothy Young, who was stopped by New Mexico state deputies in October of last year after he neglected to use his blinkers while turning. The very same dog that smelled drugs on Eckert also “found” some contraband in Young’s car, so he too was taken to Gila Medical Center and subjected to a similar battery of anal probing and X-rays. The team at KOB 4, the local news station, discovered that the dog isn’t even certified in the state of New Mexico, but Jacob Sullum at Forbes pointed out that dogs can continue to be used as drug detectors even if they are wrong most of the time, just so long as the cops say that the canines are doing their jobs.

The rest here, plus bonus background on the semi-legal status of this sexual assault.

Officer Ramos demonstrating how his scuffle with Kelly Thomas was indeed "the fight of [his] life"

Officer Ramos demonstrating how his scuffle with Kelly Thomas was indeed “the fight of [his] life”

On October 14, a 52-year-old mentally ill man named Bobby Gerald Bennett was shot at four times by police in Dallas, Texas. His mother, Joyce Jackson, who he sometimes lived with, had called them after the two had an argument; she says she was told the officers coming to the house were trained in dealing with people like her son, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. But one of the officers, Cardan Spencer, shot Bennett in the stomach even though he wasn’t approaching the cops—a neighbor’s surveillance video shows that Bennett was holding a knife but standing 20 feet away from them. After that video came out, the charge against Bennett of assault with a deadly weapon on a public servant got dropped and now Spencer is suspended indefinitely and being investigated himself.

This kind of incident is depressingly common. On November 18, two former members of the Fullerton, California police department will go on trial for beating and killing Kelly Thomas, a homeless man who suffered from schizophrenia, back in 2011. Manuel Anthony Ramos is charged with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter and Jay Cicinelli is charged with involuntary manslaughter and excessive force. (Another officer who was present at the beating will go on trial for involuntary manslaughter in January.) Thomas had a long rap sheet for “interactions” with police that went back 20 years, as you might expect in the case of a homeless man with a mental illness. By all accounts the cops, who were responding to reports of car break-ins in the area, were aware of Thomas’s problems. Yet they still beat him repeatedly as he begged for help and cried out for his father (a former sheriff’s deputy who sued the police department and brought a lot of media attention to the case). Thomas eventually choked on his own blood because his throat was crushed.

The rest here

Via Wikipedia

Via Wikipedia

Last time I wrote about immigration for VICE, Breitbart.com used the piece as an example of VICE’s lefty bend. As a Republican who just wants to smoke pot and oppress the poor, that was surprising to me.

Fun fact: fewer people are sneaking across America’s borders than ever before, and net illegal immigration hit zero in 2012. However, that hasn’t stopped Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from following a “bed mandate” that says it has to keep an average of 34,000 people in custody in its 250 detention centers, as the Washington Post reported this weekend. We’re constantly hearing about how the federal government needs to cut costs, and even the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees ICE, said the quota could be easily reduced, yet House Republicans forced an additional $400 million of funding on the agency, mostly for border security and deportation. In spite of the constant panic over the US’s “unsecure border,”the immigration-control budget has nearly doubled since 2006 (the same year the bed mandate began) to $2.8 billion a year, even though illegal immigration is down mostly thanks to the financial crisis that devastated the US economy. Where is all that money going?

The Post story notes some of the pleasant features of a brand new detention center in Texas that houses immigrants waiting to see if they will win political asylum or be returned to their country of origin: detainees “sleep in air-conditioned, unlocked ‘suites’ with flat-screen TVs overlooking volleyball courts and soccer fields.” That doesn’t change the fact that these plush facilities are built by private corporations that lobby federal and state governments in order to assure they have plenty of building contracts. (The ACLU has extensively reported on what they see as a pattern of human rights violations in immigration detention centers.)

Even if you don’t support open borders, it’s natural to question the vast amount of taxpayer money being spent on policing the geographical movements of people who (generally) just want to get a higher-paying job in order to help themselves and their loved ones. According to ICE, on a single day in early September nearly 20,000 out of 34,000 detainees had criminal records—but in 2009 ICE found that only 11 percent of its detainee population had committed violent crimes.

The rest — including the Bad Cop Blotter — over here.

policeIn which I am relatively soft on the police, but advise everyone to not just assume that shooting Miriam Casey was necessary. Never assume it’s necessary, because the cases where it shouldn’t have happened are mixed in and too often the cops are entirely uninterested in sussing them out.

When police officers in Washington, DC, shot 34-year-old Miriam Carey after she took them on a short, frantic car chase from the White House to the Capitol, the initial consensus was that cops performed heroically, that they saved lives from a gunman who might even have been a terrorist. But the first reports, as is often the case, were wrong. Though the spontaneous hustle for news of Twitter first used the hashtag #capitolshooting, the only shots fired were by the police, and Carey was unarmed—in fact, she never left her car. But even after all of that was public knowledge, thewidespread assumption was that the cops and secret service officers were justified in shooting at a woman who was recklessly and aggressively driving toward potential targets for terrorism and who refused to surrender to them.

On Thursday afternoon Carey, a resident of Stamford, Connecticut, drove up to a security barrier around the White House. When the Secret Service approached she turned around quickly, hitting the barrier and then speeding towards the Capitol building. In the course of this chase, two police officers were injured and a cop car crashed into a barrier. When the dust settled, Carey was dead and her now-motherless one-year-old child, in the back seat of the car, was put into protective custody by DC family services.

Now Carey’s two sisters—one of whom is a former New York City cop—are criticizing the cops, claiming they didn’t have to use lethal force on a woman who was probably terrified. There are certainly indications that, in hindsight, Carey was more of a danger to herself than anyone else. She may have suffered from postpartum depression with psychosis—there are reports that medications for bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, which she may have stopped taking, were found in her apartment. Carey apparently expressed various paranoid theories to police in December, including her belief that Barack Obama was spying on her. (Carey’s sisters dispute her ex-boyfriend’s claim that she suffered from delusions about communicating with Obama.)

Police say they are investigating the use of force, and the FBI is investigating Carey. Odds are the shooting will be ruled entirely justified even if it turns out the cops killed a woman who was merely confused and frightened. Carey’s driving would have been dangerous outside of DC, a town that just went through the Navy Yards shooting and is a ripe target for terrorists of all stripes.

It’s still alarming how quickly the situation escalated. What if Carey hadn’t meant to drive up to that first barrier outside the White House? What if she was freaked out by the Secret Service and sped away in hopes of avoiding a confrontation, and what if when she stopped long enough to have multiple guns pulled on her—seen in this video—she panicked?

The rest over here

DEA_badge_CSo, the government is shut down…and by shut down, they mean to hell with national parks, WWII memorials and the veterans who want to visit them, and kids with cancer, but dammit, 87 percent of the Drug Enforcement Administration counts as essential!

Turns out there’s a name for this blatantly political effort to make government feel essential — it’s called “Washington Monument Syndrome.” Makes sense. This game is not new. And liberals are the ones who always fall for it the hardest. They tend to respond to libertarian suggestions of even light trimming with “BUT THE PARKS AND THE ROADS AND THE DEPARTMENT OF HUGS FOR POOR CHILDREN WILL GO FIRST.”  No matter how radical you are, even a full-on anarchist knows we’re not going from choking on the corpulence of this government to frolicking in the rainbow and puppydog-topia of pure voluntaryism in one day. And before we get to those cancer kids, there’s a whole lot of stuff to get rid of.

With that in mind, please enjoy my latest VICE piece and just revel in the wretchedness of my number one pick for non-essential, fired forever, burn down their building and laugh at them agency. (They’re allowed to leave the building first, however. Because I’m nicer than they are.)

If last month’s revelation that the the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has been keeping a database of phone logs since 1986 wasn’t bad enough, here’s further proof of the intrusiveness of the agency’s tactics: a lawsuit being fought between the DEA, Oregon, and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) hinges on the fact that the drug warriors believe they should have easy access to the Oregon Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) database and have been acting on that belief, even though it contradicts state law. In plain English, the DEA says that if your medical records are shared with a pharmacy—something that happens routinely thanks to the PDMP—you lose the right to assume that that information is private, even if lawmakers in your state disagree with law enforcement.

The basis for the DEA’s legal argument is the third-party doctrine, the precedent the government leans on if it wants to look into your credit card charges, your utilities bills, your emails, or anything else that you have shared with someone else. The Fourth Amendment protects you against “unreasonable search and seizure,” but increasingly, in an era where the vast majority of our private communications go through a third party, law enforcement is expanding the definition of what a “reasonable” search is.

The rest over here.

 

  • Here is the most recent stuff I’ve written for VICE, which you should read if you have no already done so.
  • And here are two different HuffPost Live segments I have done in the last odd-week. I am never sure how they go, because it’s a fundamentally slightly weird format for a discussion. But they call me back when they need a spare libertarian, so that bodes well. One is on the zombie rise of neoconservative, and the other is on Rand Paul and the Fed.
  • And finally, finishing up the self-promotion, I uploaded my last five radio shows to Mixcloud, in case anyone is interested, or missed them because they were at 3 pm and people have jobs, for God’s sake. Listen, your life needs more “Old Time (More Or Less).” When I listen I marvel at my inconsistency in quality for mic breaks. When I have something to say on the song, be it “Poor Ellen Smith” or “Strange Fruit,” on the other hand, I am not half bad.
  • An impassioned defense of breakfast, and its essential greasy qualities. [H/T: John Glaser]
  • I have just discovered a new love — Fortean Times Magazine. I haven’t really checked out the website, but the print mag was delicious and well worth $11. I aim to contribute sometime soon. (I Google Image searched “fortean” and got the above, awesome Terry Colon cartoon. If Terry Colon every does a cartoon of me/you/anyone, they’ve made it in life. Spiritually, at least.
  • Terry Colon also explains the mechanics of UFO fuel in a way that makes at least as much sense as anything ever on Doctor Who — except maybe “The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances.”
  • Speaking of things Fortean, sort of, please do check out Jesse Walker’s new United States of Paranoia. It is excellent and mentions most of the most interesting things about America such as witch trials, Indian captives, communists, drugs, The X Files, militias, and the fear that Satan is sending children secret backwards messages in their music.
  • Can we talk for a second about how all of the Satanist sex abuse panics happened in the 20th century — the LATE 20th century? I will say it again, forget the blacklist, Arthur Miller should have written an awkwardly unsubtle allegory that is still really kick-ass about that shit. Some of those investigators might as well have used spectral evidence for all of the real-world basis their allegations had. Vile.
  • Those horrible Koch brothers strike again.
  • Reminder that John Bolton deserves to be booed. 
  • Important Youtube finds during an insomnia internet journey: 1938 anti-STD film Sex Madness!; and what professes to be the only known recording of H.L. Mencken speaking.
  • I would love to see Jezebel do a lot more of this: this blog says would-be NYC Mayor Christine Quinn cannot be against street harassment/cat-calling if she also supports Stop and Frisk. THIS, Jezebel — apply your support of abortion rights to the bodily autonomy issues related to, say the drug war, or myriad other issues. Take your good feminist inclinations and correctness about smaller issues, and extend into life and death and imprisonment and freedom level of issues. Please.
  • VICE’s Harry Cheadle on the horrible conservative response to Chelsea Manning (formerly Bradley) and her preferred pronoun. Calling her a traitor wasn’t enough, she’s also crazy now. Blech.
  • Today I read this disturbing, fascinating Verge story on the new science of face transplants.

Today’s video does a good job demonstrating the happiness which can be found in a moshpit, particularly the uber-earnest folk punk sort:

And here’s the album version, which is a better auditory experience:

 

A few days ago I had another piece published on VICE. This one was — ideally — fodder to annoy statists and conspiracy theorists both.

According to a poll released last week by Public Policy Polling, 4 percent of Americans—quotes are essential here—“believe shape-shifting reptilian people control our world by taking on human form and gaining power.” That was the silliest bit of a survey of 1,200-odd adults on conspiracy theories that ranged from “Wait, didn’t that at least mostly happen?” (whether George W. Bush “intentionally misled the public about the  possibility of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq to promote the Iraq war”) to half-baked ideas conceived by dorm-room stoners 40 years ago (“Do you believe Paul McCartney actually died in a car crash in 1966 and was secretly replaced by a lookalike so the Beatles could continue, or not?”).

These results were passed around the media to much amusement over the apparently stupid, partisan naïveté of Americans. But it’s really not as bad as the Atlantic Wire headline declaring that “12 million Americans Believe Lizard People Run Our Country” indicates. For one thing, as Reason’s Jesse Walker pointed out, it would be awfully tempting to troll any pollsters inquiring about your feelings towards Roswell, the Reptilians, and whether Obama is the Antichrist (13 percent, for the record, said he was).

For another, not all the theories PPP asked people about are as nutty as the idea that the moon landing was faked (7 percent of respondents believe it was) or a belief in Bigfoot or Sasquatch (14 percent are on board). If you squint, you can see the logical roots of some of them: while the US government probably didn’t consciously allow 9/11 to happen (11 percent say it did), and Osama bin Laden seems to really be dead and gone (despite the 6 percent of folks who say he’s still out there), the former conspiracy theory is aided by the staggering lapses in security and intelligence preceding the attacks, while the latter can be chalked up to the Obama administration’s refusal to release photos of bin Laden’s bullet-ridden body.

The rest over here

Yesterday, the Associated Press declared that the phrase illegal immigrant was no longer kosher, which is a big deal, since when the AP changes its style guide, newspapers around the country go along with it. Naturally, many people (mostly conservatives) responded to the tiny tweak with howls—and tweets—of derision.

The AP’s reasoning for this fairly mild mandate is that illegal shouldn’t be a descriptor for a person; indeed, “No person is illegal” is a common pro-immigration slogan. “Illegal should describe only an action, such as living in or immigrating to a country illegally,” Kathleen Carroll, a senior vice president and executive editor at the AP, wrote to explain the decision. So you can say, “Chen illegally overstayed his visa and lived illegally in the United States,” but Chen himself is not an illegal immigrant. Nor is he an undocumented worker, or an illegal alien, terms which have already fallen out of AP favor.

Though there are meaty—if often abstract and geeky—debates to be had over language, from the legacy of theN word to rigidly enforced political correctness on college campuses. So far, this war of words has been filled with self-righteous, obnoxious carping about terminology, which is far less helpful than discussing whether it’s wrong for poor people to cross an imaginary line in search of better lives. But at the same time, this conscious word-choice change points at the bigger issue of why 11 million people who live and work in the US are treated as an invading army by so many of their fellows.

The rest here