22 March 2018

Another School Shooting………

This time, in Maryland, Saint Mary's County yesterday.

Seriously, why is this even news any more?

It happens every week or so.

Quote of the Day

Saying that Russia has undermined American democracy is like me – middle-aged, five foot nine, and unblessed with jumping ability – saying that the Brooklyn Nets Russian-born center Timofy Mozgov undermined my potential career in the National Basketball Association.

Paul Street on Counterpunch.
If we are really worried about our democratic process being compromised, we need to look at the corporate media, the entrenched elites, the feckless punditry, and the political consultant class first.

They've done a way better job at compromising democracy than Vladimir Putin.

Hell, they may very well have done a better job at compromising democracy than Benito Mussolini.

This May be the Best Twitter Exchange Ever

In response to attacks from Chris Cuomo proxies yesterday, actress, and now candidate for the Democratic Nomination for Governor, Cynthia Nixon Tweeted the following:

The response from Twitter user @mecreature was one for the ages:

MeC owes me a screen wipe, and we owe MeC a major book deal.

21 March 2018

Quote of the Day

Clinton’s boast that she won where the economy is vibrant partially explains why she lost: There are too few of these vibrant areas left to win national elections.
David "D-Day" Dayen
He gives a pretty good explanation on why Clinton's open contempt for the Americans who have been left behind by the "new economy" touted by her husband and his ilk was so politically damaging.

There is Symmetry Here

It appears that pedophiles are concealing child pornography within the blockchain ledger that accompanies bitcoin, which means that if you have bitcoin, you may also have possession of kiddie porn:
German researchers have discovered unknown persons are using bitcoin’s blockchain to store and link to child abuse imagery, potentially putting the cryptocurrency in jeopardy.

The blockchain is the open-source, distributed ledger that records every bitcoin transaction, but can also store small bits of non-financial data. This data is typically notes about the trade of bitcoin, recording what it was for or other metadata. But it can also be used to store links and files.

Researchers from the RWTH Aachen University, Germany found that around 1,600 files were currently stored in bitcoin’s blockchain. Of the files least eight were of sexual content, including one thought to be an image of child abuse and two that contain 274 links to child abuse content, 142 of which link to dark web services.

“Our analysis shows that certain content, eg, illegal pornography, can render the mere possession of a blockchain illegal,” the researchers wrote. “Although court rulings do not yet exist, legislative texts from countries such as Germany, the UK, or the USA suggest that illegal content such as [child abuse imagery] can make the blockchain illegal to possess for all users.”
When the crypto currency was invented by "Satoshi Nakamoto", it was seen as a step toward a mythical Libertarian paradise.

Now it appears to be a step toward a libertarian reality.

People Are Saying That This Will Be the End of Facebook ………

The whole issue with Cambridge Analytica and Facebook is a big deal, and it appears that at the privacy violations that ensued were a deliberate artifact of Facebook's business model.

That this business model has been completely contemptuous of user privacy has been clear since Mark Zuckerberg was at Harvard.

While the consequences could be severe, literally involving penalties exceeding a trillion (yes, that is a "t") dollars in accordance with a consent degree that was agreed to a few years back, the chance of meaningful penalties, or meaningful legislation is near zero.

Given the hostility of the Republican Party to regulation and consumer protections, and the Neoliberal Obama/Clinton wing of the party is so enamored of internet firms as to take any promises from tech executives at face value, meaningful government action is as likely as Jeff Sessions joining Black Lives Matter.

I expect a small fine and some theatrics at Congressional hearings, but not much else.


It's close, but it appears that Dan Lipinski has won the primary in Il-3.

I'm so glad that I do not live there, because I would have to vote with that homophobic right wing rat-f%$# phony Democrat, as the Republicans candidate is a Neo-Nazi Holocaust denier. (disavowed by the establishment party, but Mandy Rice-Davies Applies)

20 March 2018

This Amuses Me

We always knew that former French President Nicolas Sarkozy was corrupt and venal, but I never expected that he would actually be taken into custody.

Even more amusing is that appears that the money that he from Moammar Gaddafi, before he engineered his ouster and murder, is what will get him taken down.

Considering the blow-back from the Libya debacle, and he and Cameron were the prime movers for this, it does mean that he's done in French politics:
Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy was taken into police custody Tuesday over allegations he illegally accepted 50 million euros ($68.5 million) from the government of the late Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi to finance his successful 2007 presidential campaign.

The detention of Sarkozy — France’s president between 2007 and 2012 — represented a major development in what is likely to become an explosive political scandal.

Sarkozy has repeatedly denied allegations that he took money from Gaddafi, slamming the accusations as “grotestque” and “crude ma­nipu­la­tion .”

Although an investigation began in 2013, Tuesday marked the first time authorities have questioned Sarkozy on the matter. Under French law, authorities can hold a suspect in custody for up to 48 hours before deciding whether there are sufficient grounds to launch a formal investigation.

Brice Hortefeux, who served as France’s interior minister under Sarkozy, was also questioned by police Tuesday, although not taken into custody.
It could not happen to a more deserving rat f%$#.

I really hope that he does some jail time, unlike, for example, his predecessor Jacques Chirac, who merely received probation.

Tweet of the Day

It's a valid point: Putin is clearly a dedicated capitalist, and Jeremy Corbyn is not.

H/t naked capitalism

19 March 2018

Taking, "Move Fast and Break Things," Too Far

Well, it looks like the, "Laws for are for losers," crowd in Silicon Valley have taken their reckless disregard for our safety and that of the world into space:
On 12 January, a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) rocket blasted off from India’s eastern coast. While its primary cargo was a large Indian mapping satellite, dozens of secondary CubeSats from other countries traveled along with it. Seattle-based Planetary Resources supplied a spacecraft that will test prospecting tools for future asteroid miners, Canadian company Telesat launched a broadband communications satellite, and a British Earth-observation mission called Carbonite will capture high-definition video of the planet’s surface.

Also on board were four small satellites that probably should not have been there. SpaceBee-1, 2, 3, and 4 were briefly described by the Indian space agency ISRO as “two-way satellite communications and data relay” devices from the United States. No operator was specified, and only ISRO publicly noted that they successfully reached orbit the same day.

IEEE Spectrum can reveal that the SpaceBees are almost certainly the first spacecraft from a Silicon Valley startup called Swarm Technologies, currently still in stealth mode. Swarm was founded in 2016 by one engineer who developed a spacecraft concept for Google and another who sold his previous company to Apple. The SpaceBees were built as technology demonstrators for a new space-based Internet of Things communications network.

Swarm believes its network could enable satellite communications for orders of magnitude less cost than existing options. It envisages the worldwide tracking of ships and cars, new agricultural technologies, and low cost connectivity for humanitarian efforts anywhere in the world. The four SpaceBees would be the first practical demonstration of Swarm’s prototype hardware and cutting-edge algorithms, swapping data with ground stations for up to eight years.

The only problem is, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) had dismissed Swarm’s application for its experimental satellites a month earlier, on safety grounds. The FCC is responsible for regulating commercial satellites, including minimizing the chance of accidents in space. It feared that the four SpaceBees now orbiting the Earth would pose an unacceptable collision risk for other spacecraft.

If confirmed, this would be the first ever unauthorized launch of commercial satellites.
(emphasis mine)

This is nuts, and it happens because tech in general, and Silicon Valley in particular, have become criminogenic cultures.

To stop this, we need to start aggressively jailing people who do sh%$ like this.

What's more, we need to aggressively target the VCs who fund this sort of behavior.

Willful blindness doesn't cut it.

Of Course it was Uber

Why am I not surprised that the first self driving care that ran down a pedestrian was an Uber:
Arizona officials saw opportunity when Uber and other companies began testing driverless cars a few years ago. Promising to keep oversight light, they invited the companies to test their robotic vehicles on the state’s roads.

Then on Sunday night, an autonomous car operated by Uber — and with an emergency backup driver behind the wheel — struck and killed a woman on a street in Tempe, Ariz. It was believed to be the first pedestrian death associated with self-driving technology. The company quickly suspended testing in Tempe as well as in Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Toronto.

The accident was a reminder that self-driving technology is still in the experimental stage, and governments are still trying to figure out how to regulate it.

Uber, Waymo and a long list of tech companies and automakers have begun to expand testing of their self-driving vehicles in cities around the country. The companies say the cars will be safer than regular cars simply because they take easily distracted humans out of the driving equation. But the technology is still only about a decade old, and just now starting to experience the unpredictable situations that drivers can face.
There will no doubt be an investigation, and unless I miss my guess, they will find that Uber cut some corners, and that this contributed to the accident.  It's a core part of their corporate DNA.

I Gotta Figure that Kennedy Called Bullsh%$ on this Appeal

The other 4 conservatives on the court are political hacks, so the US Supreme Court's refusal to review the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's redistricting decision was driven by Kennedy ensuring that they would lose, and they did not want to fight a losing battle.
The Supreme Court on Monday turned down a request from Republican legislative leaders in Pennsylvania to block a redrawn congressional map that creates more parity between the political parties in the state.

The practical impact is the 2018 elections are likely to be held under a map much more favorable to Democrats, who scored an apparent victory last week in a special election in a strongly Republican congressional district. The 2011 map that has been used this decade has resulted in Republicans consistently winning 13 of the state’s 18 congressional seats.

Monday’s action was the second time that the court declined to get involved in the partisan battle that has roiled Pennsylvania politics. The commonwealth’s highest court earlier this year ruled that a map drawn by Republican leaders in 2011 “clearly, plainly and palpably” violated the free-and-equal-elections clause of the Pennsylvania Constitution.
The PA court decision was rooted entirely on the Pennsylvania state constitution.

In fact, it could be argued that the Pennsylvania opinion was carefully drafted to avoid any possibility of a federal issue , and as such a Supreme Court review would be highly unusual.

Of course, that didn't stop Kennedy in Bush v. Gore, but I think that the sh%$ that he got over that may have been a learning experience for him.

November in Pennsylvania should be rather interesting.

Oh, You Delicate Snowflakes....

It appears that comedian Jim Carrey has taken up political cartoons as a hobby, and his latest, which is clearly of Sarah Huckabee Sanders, has resulted in Talibaptist Republicans and Fox News completely losing their sh%$.

Seriously Republicans, if you can't stand up to Ace Ventura, Pet Dick, how can you stand up to ISIS?

I'm not a fan of Carrey's artistic stylings, but this butt hurt is really just pathetic.

More Cowbell!!!!

A vegan nut-job* activist in Switzerland has been denied citizenship in for a campaign against cowbells:
A longtime resident of Switzerland has been refused a passport because of her outspoken campaign against cowbells. Vegan animal rights activist Nancy Holten, who was born in the Netherlands but has lived in Switzerland since she was eight years old, has been labelled a "big mouth" by the resident committee in her village that has rejected her citizenship application twice.

Holten's argument? Wearing heavy metal bells around their necks is causing Switzerland's roaming cows physical pain and distress. Switzerland's argument? Cows look damn good in bells, especially when they're roaming around in the picturesque alps. Also, tourists are charmed by them.

In Switzerland, citizenship applications are partially assessed by a committee of residents who live in the same district as the applicant. It would appear that Holten is unpopular among some in her village of Gipf-Oberfrick, with a local representative of the Swiss People's Party Tanja Suter telling the Swiss media that she "annoys us and doesn't respect our traditions."

Cow bells aren't the only cause on Holten's mind. The self-described freelance journalist, author, model and drama student has staged multiple campaigns against other beloved national pastimes like hunting and piglet racing. According to Swiss news site The Local, the sounds of church bells irritate her too. Does this woman even eat Lindt balls?
You know, cow bells would not be my choice for a hill to die on, but whatever.

*The nut job has nothing to do with being a vegan, and everything to do with freaking out over f%$#ing cowbells.

A Good Point

The folks at (where else) Jacobin make a point that is shocking, illuminating, and true.

Specifically they note that private property could only has begun as theft backed up by the threat of violence, which in a very real way, makes all property stolen:
Perhaps the most interesting thing about libertarian thought is that it has no way of coherently justifying the initial acquisition of property. How does something that was once unowned become owned without nonconsensually destroying others’ liberty? It is impossible. This means that libertarian systems of thought literally cannot get off the ground. They are stuck at time zero of hypothetical history with no way forward.
Obviously, our current society could not function without property, but it does put the whole concept of eternal property that is so beloved of libertarians and the neoliberal order in some much needed perspective.


BTW, the sculpture, wasn't removed, it was just relocated further away from the sanctuary:

18 March 2018

Quote of the Day

The problem isn't simply that these people weren't prosecuted (though they should have been). It's that they weren't even shamed enough to think that maybe the public spotlight wasn't the best thing for them.
Duncan "Atrios" Black
Atrios is talking about the torturers, like Gina Haspel, who were emboldened by Obama's refusal to persecute even the worst of them.

Obama's decision to, "Look forward, not back," on torture did not put the chapter behind us, because, not only did it not put torture behind us, it Endorsed torture and torturers.

Barack Obama, and his AG at the time, Eric "Place" Holder are not stupid people, and they had to know that a failure to prosecute constituted and endorsement of torture.

Tweet of the Day (Possibly the Tweet of the Millenium)

This is pure brilliance.

16 March 2018

Tweet of the Day

This reminds me of this scene in Life of Brian.


The Lexington has been found:

15 March 2018

Quote of the Day

Kobach wants to be governor, which is not something Kansas deserves. Hell, it’s not what Hell deserves.
Charlie Pierce
Oh snap!

A Good Point on the Qualcomm/Broadcom Mess

It's has the kibosh put on this because CFIUS determined that it was a threat to US security.

This was not because the Singaporean firm Broadcom was a security risk by its actions or its location, but because it is aggressively leveraged to grow through acquisitions, while Qualcomm invests heavily in technology.

They explicitly said that the Private Equity/Hedge Fund type operations constitute a threat to American technological accomplishments, because it results in disinvestments.

The only conclusion that one can reach then is that the whole Private Equity/Hedge Fund business model is a threat to America:
By the normal standards of U.S. national security, the government’s ruling on Tuesday to delay and potentially derail the acquisition of high-tech company Qualcomm by the Singaporean company Broadcom was startlingly smart and gobsmackingly wonderful.

It was smart because it extended its definition of U.S. security interests to maintaining our advantage in the development of the most advanced forms of technology, in this case, the 5G communications systems that will be critical to both driverless cars and network security in coming decades. The government’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS for short) wrote that it feared that if Qualcomm, the nation’s leading developer of 5G technology, were purchased by Broadcom, its research would suffer and a Chinese high-tech company, Huawei, would likely surge past it to become the global leader in security technology.

In the past, CFIUS has blocked several Huawei attempts to purchase U.S. tech companies because they would have involved the transfer of security-related technology to a company that CFIUS has demonstrated has ties to the Chinese military. CFIUS—an interagency committee headed by the Treasury Department, but also consisting of more than a dozen departments and agencies, ranging from Defense to Commerce—is in the business of ruling on potential foreign purchases of U.S. companies that have national security implications. Tuesday’s ruling was groundbreaking in that the issue wasn’t whether Singapore’s Broadcom itself posed a security risk by favoring the Chinese—nothing in the CFIUS letter even hinted at that—but rather, that the purchase might simply reduce Qualcomm’s capacity to conduct high-end research, thereby enabling Huawei and the Chinese to develop advanced technology before we do, which could give them a military advantage.

But why would Qualcomm’s purchase by Broadcom diminish Qualcomm’s commitment to research? This is the gobsmacking part of the CFIUS letter.

Because, in the words of the letter, “Broadcom’s statements indicate that it is looking to take a ‘private-equity’-style direction if it acquires Qualcomm, which means reducing long-term investment, such as R&D, and focusing on short-term profitability.”

Let that sink in for a moment. The staffers of CFIUS—probably the most business- and security-savvy civil servants in the government, headed by those at Treasury—are saying that the private-equity control of companies, which is a dominant feature of current American capitalism, reduces investment and results in profit extraction. CFIUS does not go on to say that the purchase of U.S. companies not only by foreign companies but by U.S. private equity firms, too, also leads to reduced investments and the kind of profit extraction that has enriched the 1 percent at the expense of other Americans; that’s not CFIUS’s mission. But having baldly stated that private equity leads to profit extraction, that’s the inescapable conclusion that any reader of CFIUS’s letter must reach.

The CFIUS letter goes on to specify the way in which Broadcom follows the private equity model of purchasing companies by taking on debt, and paying off that debt by reducing expenditures and funneling revenue into profits. “Broadcom has lined up $106 billion of debt financing to support the Qualcomm acquisition,” CFIUS writes, “which would be the largest corporate acquisition loan on record. This debt load could increase pressure for short-term profitability, potentially to the detriment of longer-term investments. The volume of recent acquisitions by Broadcom has increased the company’s profits and market capitalization, but these acquisitions have been followed by reductions in R&D investment.”
This is not something I would expect from the Trump administration.

I can only conclude that the higher ups only read the recommendations, and not the explanation.

The way I would, and have, put this, is that, "There is nothing that cannot be ruined by an application of modern American Financial techniques."

14 March 2018

International Pun of the Day

Russian to Judgement
Craig Murray
He's discussing the recent poisonings of a Russian double agent in Russia.

He's skeptical of the current narrative, as we all should be in this world of "81mm Aluminum Tubes."

I'd take his arguments at the link with a grain of salt, but I love the pun.

Headline of the Day

Verizon Forced To Briefly Give A Damn About Its Neglected Broadband Networks
New York state is suing Verizon for broken promises.

We really need to end barriers to municipal broadband to compete with these ratf%$#s.

The Gray Lady Drops the "T-Word"

The New York Times editorial board has come out against Gina Haspel running the CIA, and called her a torturer.

No euphemisms here:
President Trump has displayed enthusiasm for brutality over the past year. He has told the police to treat suspects roughly, praised President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines for murdering people suspected of drug ties and called for the execution of drug dealers.


Previously, anyone alarmed by Mr. Trump’s cavalier embrace of government-sanctioned cruelty was reassured by his vow to accept the advice of his defense secretary, Jim Mattis, who opposes Torture and promised at his Senate confirmation hearing that he would uphold American and international laws against it.

Now we have reason to be uneasy yet again.

When it comes to Torture, no American officials have been more practiced in those heinous dark arts than the officers and employees of the Central Intelligence Agency who applied it to terrorism suspects after 9/11. Few American officials were so directly involved in that frenzy of abuse, which began under President George W. Bush and was ended by President Barack Obama, as Gina Haspel.


As an undercover C.I.A. officer, Ms. Haspel played a direct role in the agency’s “extraordinary rendition program,” under which suspected militants were remanded to foreign governments and held at secret facilities, where they were Tortured by agency personnel.

Ms. Haspel ran the first detention site in Thailand and oversaw the brutal interrogations of two detainees, Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri. Mr. Zubaydah was waterboarded at least 83 times in a single month; his C.I.A. Torturers bashed his head into walls and subjected him to other unspeakable brutalities. This cruelty stopped when investigators decided he had nothing useful to tell them.


The use of Torture and secret foreign prisons — think of the deeply disgraceful events at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq — was a boon to terrorist groups, helping their propaganda and recruitment efforts. Such activities were also an irritant to key allies and even put American forces and personnel at risk of legal liability and being subjected to harsh treatment when they are detained.

Ms. Haspel is reportedly respected by many C.I.A. officers. But she effectively ran an illegal program, and her promotion to such a top administration position, unless she forcefully renounces the use of Torture during her confirmation hearing, would send an undeniable signal to the agency, and the country, that Mr. Trump is indifferent to this brutality, regardless of what Secretary Mattis believes. Members of Congress and public interest groups need to stand up and make clear that, otherwise, the appointment is wrong.
(Emphasis mine)

She, and her defenders, are saying that she was just obeying orders.

That argument did not carry the day in Nuremberg, and they should not carry the day now, and the New York Times agrees.

Silly Rabbit, Jail Is Not for White Folks

This is one Very white person
And corporate criminals don't come any whiter than Elizabeth Holmes:
Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of blood testing startup Theranos, has been charged with engaging in a "massive fraud" by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC says she and the company's president raised more than $700 million using an "elaborate, years-long fraud in which they exaggerated or made false statements about the company’s technology, business, and financial performance."

No, she won't be going to jail over this. In fact, even though she faces some serious penalties over the charge — she's losing control of the company and won't profit if it is sold — she also doesn't have to admit wrongdoing as part of a settlement with regulators.

To recap, Theranos was once a Silicon Valley favorite because of its promise that its technology could allow for a wide variety of blood tests with just a droplet of blood. That all began to fall apart when the Wall Street Journal raised serious questions about the accuracy of the tests, prompting a government agency to shut down one of its labs.


Here's are some of the things Holmes has agreed to do to settle with the SEC.

She'll give up financial and voting control of the company.
  • Holmes has to pay a $500,000 fine.
  • She cannot be a director or officer of a publicly traded company for 10 years. Theranos is a privately-held company, which means she can continue to be CEO.
  • She has to return 18.9 million shares of Theranos stock.
  • She will give up her majority voting control of the company by converting her shares to Class A Common shares from Class B Common share

She should be in jail, and she should be banned from managing publicly traded companies for life, but she does not even have to admit liability.

Well, I suppose she's commiserating with David Petraeus about how unfair this all is.

About PA-18

It's appears to be heading to a recount with a margin in the ¼% to ½% range (about 600 votes), with the Democrat leading.

In any case, it appears to be a roughly 20% swing from Trump, so whether or not the Democrat, Connor Lamb, or the Australopithecus, Rick Saccone actually ends up filling out remaining term of  Tim Murphy, who resigned following allegations of sexual improprieties.

Whatever the results, I expect the Democratic party establishment to claim that this shows that they need to make no changes to their strategy, because, as Upton Sinclair noted, "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it."

(Update 24 hours later) Lamb has been declared the winner by a few hundred votes.

No update on the recount.

13 March 2018

Live in Obedient Fear, Citizen!

There are a growing number of reports of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) searching the electronic devices of passengers on domestic flights in the US, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which has sued the federal agency for records.

The ACLU Foundation of Northern California filed a lawsuit against the TSA on Monday demanding that the government disclose its policies for searching the computers and cellphones of domestic travelers, arguing that anecdotal accounts have raised concerns about potential privacy invasions.

“We’ve received reports of passengers on purely domestic flights having their phones and laptops searched, and the takeaway is that TSA has been taking these items from people without providing any reason why,” the staff attorney Vasudha Talla told the Guardian. “The search of an electronic device has the potential to be highly invasive and cover the most personal details about a person.”

A TSA spokesman, Matt Leas, declined to comment on the lawsuit but said: “TSA does not search the contents of electronic devices.”

Over the past year, civil liberties groups have repeatedly raised concerns about US border agents expanding the invasive searches of international travelers’ phones. Some travelers reported authorities demanding they unlock their devices and allow officials to review text messages, social media accounts, photos and other private information – without warrants or reasonable suspicion. Now, there are questions about whether similar practices could be happening for passengers traveling within the US, raising fears that the government may be increasing surveillance and privacy violations at airports.
This is f%$#ed up and sh%#.

They Have Managed to Outrage Me Again

So, Donald Trump has fired Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State (via Twitter, no less) and announced his intent to replace him with current CIA head Mike Pompeo.

This is not a shock, it's been telegraphed for a while, and it is a not an outrage.

What is an outrage is who has been named to replace Pompeo at the CIA, Gina Haspel, the inspiration for the main character in the Leni Riefenstahl Kathryn Bigelow film Zero Dark Thirty, who ran the CIA torture camp in Thialand, and then destroyed evidence to evade Congressional oversight:
Donald Trump’s pick for head of the Central Intelligence Agency, Gina Haspel, reportedly oversaw a black site prison in Thailand where terrorism suspects were tortured. She briefly ran the prison in 2002, anonymous officials told the Associated Press.

Deputy CIA director could face court deposition over post-9/11 role in torture

If the US Senate confirms Haspel, she would be the first female director of the agency, but the historic significance of her nomination was immediately overshadowed by her reported link to the black site, where two suspected al-Qaida members were waterboarded.

“The fact that she’s been able to stay in the agency, rise in the agency and now is in line to be director should be deeply troubling,” Larry Siems, author of the Torture Report, a book analysing government documents relating to Bush-era torture released in 2014, told the Guardian.

Haspel also drafted a cable ordering the destruction of CIA interrogation videos in 2005.

A US justice department investigation into the tapes’ destruction ended without charges, but the event helped spark a landmark investigation into US detentions and interrogations.

Christopher Anders, deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Washington legislative office, claimed Haspel “was up to her eyeballs in torture”.

Anders urged the CIA to declassify her torture record before the Senate considers her nomination.
She has been described as having, "Ran a laboratory for torture."

This crap has me agreeing with John Sidney McCain III, who has described her as a representing, "One of the darkest chapters in American history," which is a complete mind f%$# to me.

While we are at it, it should be noted that German prosecutors are considering issuing an arrest warrant against Haspel for her torture.

Once again, the world has exceeded my already blindingly low expectations.

She should be in jail, but Obama decided, in defiance of signed treaties, to prosecute any of the torturers.

Thanks, Obama.

12 March 2018

The DCCC Supports Enslavement of Women

If you oppose women having control over their own bodies, you support their enslavement, and Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) has said that he is fine with supporting candidates who want to strip women of control over their own bodies:
Democrats will not withhold financial support for candidates who oppose abortion rights, the chairman of the party’s campaign arm in the House said in an interview with The Hill.

Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) said there will be no litmus tests for candidates as Democrats seek to find a winning roster to regain the House majority in 2018.

“There is not a litmus test for Democratic candidates,” said Luján, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman. “As we look at candidates across the country, you need to make sure you have candidates that fit the district, that can win in these districts across America.”
So, you are going to support segregationist candidates in predominantly white districts in Alabama then?

Of course not, but women are expendable to Luján and his ilk.

Dpo not give to the DCCC.

The Intellectual Bankruptcy of the US Foreign Policy Consensus

Rather unsurprisingly, it appears in Foreign Policy magazine, in all caps, "THE MEETING IS THE CONCESSION".

For more than 2 decades the US policy has been that there should be no talks without full capitulation by the DPRK.

This is not a sane or consistent way to conduct foreign policy.
This weekend, my 2 brothers and my dad all got together and went to the beach at Neskowin, Oregon.

Much drinking ensued.

I figured that I would share some pictures for everyone to appreciate/mock.

Back to the chain gang tomorrow.

See the attached Imgur album.

View post on imgur.com

10 March 2018

Make it Stop!!!!!

Apologies to Dr. Seuss and Art Buchwald:
"Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton will you please go now!
The time has come.
The time has come.
The time is now.
Just go.
I don't care how.
You can go by foot.
You can go by cow.
Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton will you please go now!
You can go on skates.
You can go on skis.
You can go in a hat.
Please go.
I don't care.
You can go
By bike.
You can go
On a Zike-Bike
If you like.
If you like
You can go
In an old blue shoe.
Just go, go, GO!
Please do, do, do, DO!
Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton
I don't care how.
Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton
Will you please
You can go on stilts.
You can go by fish.
You can go in a Crunk-Car
If you wish.
If you wish
You may go
By lion's tale.
Or stamp yourself
And go by mail.
Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton
Don't you know
The time has come
To go, go, GO!
Get on your way!
Please Tony B.!
You might like going in a Zumble-Zay.
You can go by balloon . . .
Or broomstick.
You can go by camel
In a bureau drawer.
You can go by bumble-boat
. . . or jet.
I don't care how you go.
Just get!
Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton!
I don't care how.
Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton
Will you please
I said
I meant . . .
The time had come
So . . .
Hillary WENT."

Quote of the Day

One of the reasons why Russia can credibly meet or beat the US in terms military-related technological superiority is that top mathematical and physics grads have been going into finance since the mid 1980s.
Yves Smith
It's interesting how, when people complain about crowding out from government deficits, it never seems to extend to how a parasitic financial industry is diverting intellectual capital to unproductive uses.

In fact, if you read trade magazines like Aviation Week, it becomes clear that a major hurdle for high tech operations is the fact that there is no one is stepping up to replace the current (near retirement)  cadre of technical employees.

These folks know how to count, and so are going to finance where it is more remunerative.


Stephen Colbert is Colberting Congress:

09 March 2018

Holy Sh%$

We now know why the Cole bombing lawyers at Guantánamo resigned, they found a microphone concealed in the room used for lawyer-client conferences, and the court has refused to discuss this. Under these conditions, now only would I have resigned, I'd have seriously considered defecting to Russia and revealing all the crap that they have pulled:
Lawyers for the alleged USS Cole bombing mastermind quit the capital case after discovering a microphone in their special client meeting room and were denied the opportunity to either talk about or investigate it, the Miami Herald has learned.

The narrative, contained in a 15-page prosecution filing obtained by the Herald, is the first authoritative description of the episode that caused three civilian defense attorneys to resign from the death-penalty case of Abd al Rahim al Nashiri on ethical grounds: Rick Kammen, a seasoned death-penalty defender, and Rosa Eliades and Mary Spears. In fact, the prosecution says the listening device that lawyers discovered in an early August inspection of their special meeting room was a legacy of past interrogations — and, across 50 days of ostensibly confidential attorney-client meetings, was never turned on.

The description, an eight-paragraph, declassified version of something the public was not allowed to know until this week, was contained in a prosecution filing at the U.S. Court of Military Commissions Review signed by the chief prosecutor for military commissions, Army Brig. Gen. Mark Martins, and three appellate lawyers on his staff.

It says that, after the three lawyers quit the case in October, prison workers “removed flooring, walls, and fixtures” in an attorney-client meeting site exclusively used by Nashiri and his lawyers and “confirmed that legacy microphones, which were not connected to any audio listening/recording device nor in an operable condition, were removed.”
I don't believe them, and neither do the lawyers who quit:

Kammen, reached by the Herald, called the prosecution account “outrageous” and “really grotesque selective declassification” designed to permit “some portion of the truth to seep out, but only in ways that the government feels will help it.”

At the time of their resignations, Kammen said he was only allowed to say that something had occurred, which he could not describe; that he sought discovery from the judge in order to investigate the episode as well as a hearing, and the requests were denied it. The judge’s denial is classified.

“Our concerns were much greater than what they appear to admit was there,” he said. He added, however, that even the portion the prosecution now permits the public to know “demonstrates that either Colonel Spath was lied to by the government or in many of his statements he was lying to the public, the press and the victims in a way that was absolutely shameful and disgraceful — by casting it as fake news.”


War court watchers wondered why the discovery was considered a national security secret in the first place.

“If this really was an innocuous slip-up with unplugged microphones, why has the government apparently tried so hard to cover it up?” Stephen Vladeck, a University of Texas law professor, told the Herald.

“What else is being kept secret?” Hina Shamsi, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Security Project, said in a tweet.
These military commissions have always been a travesty, as this incident clearly shows.

One down, Nine Thousand Nine Hundred and Ninety Nine to Go

Martin Shkreli has been sentenced to seven years in prison for fraud.

The obvious follow-up question is, "What about the other guys?"

People like Lloyd Blankfein, Tim Sloan, Jamie Dimon, Brian Moynihan, etc.
A federal judge on Friday sentenced Martin Shkreli, the notorious former hedge fund manager, to seven years in prison for defrauding his investors of $10 million.

In imposing the sentence, U.S. District Judge Kiyo Matsumoto roughly split the difference between the 15 years prosecutors asked for and the up to 18 months sought by Shkreli’s defense team. Shkreli, 34, who delivered a tearful speech to Matsumoto apologizing for his conduct and pleading for leniency, did not react to the sentence.

A complicated picture of Shkreli emerged from the trial, said Matsumoto, who said the case had given her a case of insomnia. “It is more than clear that Mr. Shkreli is a gifted individual with a passion for science,” she said. But his crimes are serious and it is important to send a message that such fraud should be not tolerated, she said. “White collar offenders like Mr. Shkreli use their intelligence and acumen to elude detection,” she said.

Shkreli, best known for raising the price of an AIDS drug by 5,000 percent when he was chief executive of Turing Pharmaceuticals, was convicted last August of defrauding the investors in his hedge funds, MSMB Capital and MSMB Healthcare. Shkreli lied to obtain investors’ money and then didn’t tell them when he made a bad stock bet that led to massive losses, prosecutors argued. Instead, they said, he raised more money to pay off other investors, or took money and stock from Retrophin, a drug company he founded.
We need to throw a whole bunch more people in jail, but it ain't gonna happen.

08 March 2018

Off to Oregon

Flying into a no longer epicly carpeted Portland International Airport (PDX) and then going to Nescowin to hang with my dad and my brothers.

Some beer will be consumed, and much flatulence is anticipated.

Sorry folks, but that is about as gangsta as the Saroff males get.

The long suffering Saroff females on the other hand………

07 March 2018

Jeff Bezos Is Attempting to Upload His Consciousness to a Machine

Let's look at the checklist of scary sh%$ that Alexa does:
  • Listens to everything you say.
  • Doesn't really care except to sell you more sh%$.
  • Doesn't really understand the real you.
  • Doesn't care that they don't understand the real you.
  • Doesn't give a sh%$ about people generally.
And here is the final bit, unexpected bursts of weird incongruous laughter.

I can only conclude that this is a result of Bezos attempting to upload his consciousness to the cloud:
Over the past few days, users with Alexa-enabled devices have reported hearing strange, unprompted laughter. Amazon responded to the creepiness today in a statement to The Verge, saying, “We’re aware of this and working to fix it.”


As noted in media reports and a trending Twitter moment, Alexa seemed to start laughing without being prompted to wake. People on Twitter and Reddit reported that they thought it was an actual person laughing near them, which is certainly scary if you’re home alone. Many responded to the cackling sounds by unplugging their Alexa-enabled devices.
I'm beginning to think that this whole Internet thing was a mistake.

06 March 2018

And in the TX-7 Primary

The Democratic side is going to a runoff, with Lizzie Fletcher getting the most votes  with the condemned by the DCCC Laura Moser close behind.

The Emily's List endorsed Fletcher is a union buster lawyer, so even if the DCCC had not released an opposition research dump on Moser, she would have my support.

With the DCCC's war on Moser though, I'm actually interested in what would otherwise be an obscure, Congressional race.

It's highly unlikely that either can win the general:  7% more Republicans turned out than Democrats, and for them, the primary was meaningless, with the incumbent getting 76% of the vote.

Moser's campaign website is here.

Send her money, and tell the Blue Dog loving DCCC to go cheney themselves.

Gee, You Think?

Some days, it's Republicans who stun me with their ability to exceed my lowest expectations.

Some days, it's Donald Trump who stuns me with their ability to exceed my lowest expectations.

Some days, it's Democrats who stun me with their ability to exceed my lowest expectations.

Some days, it's Monsanto who stuns me with their ability to exceed my lowest expectations.

And then, there is Facebook:
Facebook has apologized for sending out a survey to find out how the social network should respond when adult men ask teenaged girls for sexually explicit images.

The survey, which went out to an undisclosed number of users of the social network over the weekend, posed this question:

In thinking about an ideal world where you could set Facebook's policies, how would you handle the following: a private message in which an adult man asks a 14 year old girl for sexual pictures.

  • This content should be allowed on Facebook, and I would not mind seeing it.
  • This content should be allowed on Facebook, but I don't want to see it.
  • This content should not be allowed on Facebook, and no one should be able to see it.
  • I have no preference on this topic.
Missing is any acknowledgement that soliciting sexual imagery from minors is a crime in many countries, including the US and the UK, to say nothing of facilitating the distribution of such content on your website.
How I long for the quiet competence and high moral standards that Microsoft showed (only by comparison) when it ruled the world.

Should I Start a GoFundMe?*

Poster child for backpfeifengesicht, a face that needs to be punched
Pharma bro Martin Shkreli will have to forfeit $7.6 million, including his copy of the Wu-Tang Clan album Once Upon A Time in Shaolin as a result.

My heart bleeds borscht:
The disgraced pharmaceutical executive and hedge fund manager Martin Shkreli must forfeit $7.36 million in assets (PDF) to the federal government following his fraud conviction, a judge ruled Monday. The assets set for forfeiture (PDF) include the single copy of the Wu-Tang album Once Upon A Time in Shaolin that Shkreli reportedly bought for $2 million, as well as a painting by Pablo Picasso.

The forfeiture follows Shkreli’s conviction last October on three of eight counts of securities and wire fraud. The federal government had indicted Shkreli in December of 2015 for running a Ponzi-like scheme, alleging he defrauded investors in two hedge funds he managed and siphoned millions from his pharmaceutical company, Retrophin, to cover losses.
Oh, the horror.

*For the snark impaired, if I do actually start a GoFundMe, it will be done ironically.

05 March 2018

Another Stopped Clock Moment

Over at the 2nd worst OP/ED page in the nation, they are wringing their hands at the demise of the most transparent CIA front in history, the National Endowment for Democracy:
Speaking to the British Parliament in 1982, President Ronald Reagan called on the United States “to foster the infrastructure of democracy” to help ensure that people around the world were empowered to determine their own fates. Now, at this increasingly fraught moment for freedom around the world, the Trump administration wants to dismantle that infrastructure.

Buried in the State Department’s fiscal 2019 budget request is a proposal not only to slash the budget of the National Endowment for Democracy but also to disassemble its relationships with its core institutes, including the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute. For the NED and those institutes, the proposal is an assault not only on their organizations but also on the pro-democracy mission they are dedicated to.

“If implemented, the proposal would gut the program, force crippling layoffs and the symbolic meaning would also be shattering, sending a signal far and wide that the United States is turning its back on supporting brave people who share our values,” said NED President Carl Gershman.

The Trump administration proposal would allow the NED to continue issuing small grants but move funding of its core institutes to the State Department, where the IRI and NDI would have to compete with private contractors. The organizations involved argue that keeping funding decisions at arm’s length from the State Department allows the NED network to do things on the edges of the pro-democracy movement that the U.S. government can’t or won’t, such as supporting Chinese dissidents in ways that upset Beijing.
The NED has been little more than a a front for regime change efforts for our state security apparatus since its founding.

It is a cover for, "A boot stamping on a human face - forever," fomenting civil wars and civil unrest against regimes deemed insufficiently pliant.

This is why, for example, the NED has been largely silent regarding the excesses of the House of Saud.

Good riddance, even if its demise is for the wrong reason.  (We know that it's the wrong reason because it's Trump and his Evil Minions doing this.)

And, Once Again, United Airlines Says, "Here, Hold My Beer."

In the annals of poor management decisions, UAL's decision to replace a performance based bonus program with a lottery takes the cake:
Employees of United Airlines used to get quarterly bonuses if they hit certain performance targets. Now, they’ll all be entered into a lottery, out of which one—and only one—lucky person will win $100,000.

United president Scott Kirby broke the news in a memo on March 2, calling the change “an exciting new rewards program.” He noted that, in addition to the $100,000 award, quarterly prizes would also include luxury vacations, smaller cash awards, and Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedans. Instead of getting individual bonuses each quarter, workers who achieve their performance goals will be all entered into the drawing, from which winners will be chosen at random.

The change is not sitting well with employees themselves. ………
Gee, the employees aren't enthused at getting f%$#ed by the worst airline in the United States.

I think that United will be enjoying its time in the cellar.

This is the very apotheosis of American management culture.

Tweet of the Day

Yeah, pretty much.


From the '80s:

04 March 2018

Meanwhile in Italy

It's still unclear, but it appears that neither major coalition has managed to secure a majority, which means that Italian politics are (once again) highly fluid:
Based on votes counted by 0230 GMT, ex-PM Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right coalition looks set to win the most seats in the lower house of parliament.

It is tipped to get 248-268 seats - below the 316 needed for a majority.

Forming a government may now take weeks of negotiation and coalition-building.

Alternatively, fresh elections could be held in a bid to produce a more decisive result - though there is no guarantee that would happen.

Vote projection figures put the anti-establishment Five Star Movement in second place. It has made significant gains and could emerge as the largest single party, with 216-236 lower house seats.

A centre-left coalition led by the governing Democratic Party stands in third place, with a projected 107-127 seats - its prospects battered by public anger over unemployment and immigration.

Final confirmed results are not expected for several hours.
The collapse of the center-left is not a surprise.

The core tenet of the center-left in the EU is support for the EU, and the EU is fundamentally a conservative neoliberal institution.

Unqualified support of the EU means that the center-left has already destroyed itself, and the voters are finally recognizing this.

About that Putin Speech

The Russians believe that US hostilities with them never ended, as Putin's recent speech eloquently illustrates:
Russia has developed a new array of nuclear weapons that are invincible, according to President Vladimir Putin.

Mr Putin made the claims as he laid out his key policies for a fourth presidential term, ahead of an election he is expected to win in 17 days' time.

The weapons he boasted of included a cruise missile that he said could "reach anywhere in the world".

He said of the West: "They need to take account of a new reality and understand ... [this]... is not a bluff."

Giving his annual state of the nation speech, Mr Putin used video presentations to showcase the development of two new nuclear delivery systems that he said could evade detection. One video graphic appeared to show missiles raining down on the US state of Florida.
This speech appears directed more toward the Russian electorate, the next Presidential election is about 2 weeks away, but it is a rather unwelcome development.

Most of the weapons shown are unlikely to reach full deployment.  I find the nuclear powered torpedo and drones to be rather fanciful.

On the other hand, I do believe that the R-28 Sarmat (NATO designation SS-X-30 Satan 2) will enter service, as well as the various hypersonic glide reentry vehicles, which should add significant complications to US missile defense systems.

It should be noted that the timing of these announcements does seem to be correspond to development being started when George W. Bush withdrew from the ABM treaty in 2002.

It's All about the Defense Contractors, Isn't It?

Iraq is looking at purchasing the S-400 surface to air missile system from Russia, and the US is threatening sanctions:
Having suffered two decades of US-led bombing campaigns, terrorist insurgency and sectarian violence, Iraq is now trying to protect its airspace. But the US threatens to slap it with sanctions if it buys Russian missile systems.

Baghdad has recently expressed interest in purchasing Russia’s advanced S-400 surface-to-air missile defense systems. However, if Iraq goes forward with the plan, it faces a dilemma: the US could potentially retaliate with sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act of 2017 (CAATSA).

"We want to purchase any weapons that will strengthen the security of Iraq and the country's armed forces. At the same time, we respect regional and international commitments,” Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim Jaafari told RIA Novosti on Wednesday. “There are a number of obstacles on the path [of buying] S-400 systems. The Iraqi side is still negotiating, and when the final decision is made, it will be considered," Jaafari added.

According to State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert, Iraq has already been warned that purchasing S-400 systems could violate CAATSA, which imposes sanctions on countries which purchase weapons from Moscow.
As confirmed by this official State Department Briefing, it appears that the US foreign policy apparatus has been become little more than a lever to sell US weapons systems.

This Has Got Me Seriously Geeking Out

First unit, with conventional controls

Fluidic controls illustrated
The University of Manchester is demonstrating fluidic controls on its Magma UAV.

Basically, it uses small puffs of air to interfere with the Coanda effect prove out-sized control effects:
A flight-test program this spring will attempt to prove supersonic air bled from an engine can provide directional control equivalent to conventional flying surfaces. The program also is aimed at investigating the potential of using exhaust vectoring to replace vertical tails. Possible applications run the gamut from enabling maneuvering with minimal impact on a radar cross-section, to increasing lift on heavy transport aircraft.

Magma, a project run by the University of Manchester, England, and supported by BAE Systems, attracted attention late in 2017 when its first flight was revealed. The September flights were with conventional control surfaces on the subscale unmanned aircraft, and mainly were concerned with establishing that a new airframe built to test fluidic-control technologies behaved as expected. Further flights, planned for late spring, are intended to demonstrate not just that these technologies work, but could in theory be inserted or removed from platforms quickly and easily.


The idea of using pressurized air from the engine to aid aircraft control has been around for some time. The Blackburn Buccaneer strike aircraft’s boundary-layer control system used air blown over the wings to assist carrier landings and increase control at low speeds, but Magma benefits from techniques and technologies that were unavailable during past programs.


“The air sticks to that rounded surface,” says Bill Crowther, a reader at the university and the Magma project’s academic lead, “but it also drags in the other air around it. So it acts like a virtual flap, without moving anything.”

Poland, Meet Barbara Streisand

Poland's new law which forbids discussion of Polish complicity in the Holocaust has made discussion of Polish complicity in the Holocaust much more more likely.

Poland, meet the Streisand Effect:
The Streisand effect is the phenomenon whereby an attempt to hide, remove, or censor a piece of information has the unintended consequence of publicizing the information more widely, usually facilitated by the Internet. It is an example of psychological reactance, wherein once people are aware that some information is being kept from them, their motivation to access and spread it is increased.
It appears that the Polish parliament IS a Polish joke:
But an effort to refocus attention on to Polish suffering, and away from the Holocaust, through a change to Poland’s anti-defamation law — which now makes it a crime for anyone, in any part of the world, to accuse “the Polish Nation” of complicity in Nazi war crimes — has backfired spectacularly.

The new law, which took effect this week, prompted widespread criticism from Israeli officials and Jewish groups in the United States — as well as Polish historians, Germany’s foreign minister and the State Department. In an effort to defuse tensions, Poland’s far-right, nationalist government has promised that the law will not be enforced in the coming weeks, until it can be reviewed by the nation’s constitutional court.

But even if the law is never enforced, the debate over the text of the amendment has already profoundly damaged Poland’s past and present reputation.

The clearest impact of the legislation has been to draw fresh attention to recent historical research which makes it plain that Poles rarely opposed and were frequently complicit in the persecution of their Jewish neighbors by the Nazis following the annexation of western Poland to Germany.

03 March 2018

This is F%$#ed Up and Sh%$

The Senate Intelligence Committee has concluded that Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee were behind the leak of private text messages between the Senate panel’s top Democrat and a Russian-connected lawyer, according to two congressional officials briefed on the matter.

Senator Richard M. Burr of North Carolina, the committee’s Republican chairman, and Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat, were so perturbed by the leak that they demanded a rare meeting with Speaker Paul D. Ryan last month to inform him of their findings. They used the meeting with Mr. Ryan to raise broader concerns about the direction of the House Intelligence Committee under its chairman, Representative Devin Nunes of California, the officials said.

To the senators, who are overseeing what is effectively the last bipartisan investigation on Capitol Hill into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, the leak was a serious breach of protocol and a partisan attack by one intelligence committee against the other.


The messages between Mr. Warner and Adam Waldman, a Washington lawyer, show that the senator tried for weeks to arrange a meeting with Christopher Steele, the former British spy who assembled a dossier of salacious claims about connections between Mr. Trump, his associates and Russia. The Senate committee has had difficulty making contact with Mr. Steele, whom it views as a key witness. And Mr. Waldman, who knew Mr. Steele, presented himself as a willing partner.


Fox News published the texts, which were sent via a secure messaging application, in early February. President Trump and other Republicans loyal to him quickly jumped on the report to try to discredit Mr. Warner, suggesting that the senator was acting surreptitiously to try to talk to Mr. Steele.


Copies of the messages were originally submitted by Mr. Waldman to the Senate committee. In January, one of Mr. Nunes’s staff members requested that copies be shared with the House committee as well, according to a person familiar with the request who was not authorized to talk about it publicly. Days later, the messages were published by Fox News, the person said. Fox’s report said that it had obtained the documents from a Republican source it did not name.

The documents published by Fox News appear to back up the senators’ accusation. Though they were marked “CONFIDENTIAL: Produced to USSSCI on a Confidential Basis,” suggesting that they had come from the Senate panel, known as the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, the person familiar with the congressional requests said that the stamp was misleading and that other markings gave away their actual origin.

Specifically, the copy of the messages shared with the Senate had page numbers, and the one submitted to the House — while preserving the reference to the Senate committee — did not.

A lawyer for Mr. Waldman independently concluded that the House committee had probably shared the document and sent a letter to Mr. Nunes complaining about the leak, according to a person familiar with the letter.
I have my suspicions about who leaked the texts **cough** Nunes **cough**, but regardless of who did, this sort of rat-f%$#ing between the House and Senate is really unprecedented.

About F%$#ing Time

Baltimore City Solicitor Andre Davis said Wednesday that city officials do not plan to cover any costs or damages arising out of civil lawsuits filed against convicted police officers who were members of the Gun Trace Task Force.

The corrupt officers, he said, are on their own.

Dozens of state and federal lawsuits are expected against the eight task force members who were convicted of various federal crimes, including racketeering and robbery. Six pleaded guilty, while two were convicted at trial this week.

In one of the first federal lawsuits, filed by Ivan Potts in 2016 against the city and three of the officers, city government lawyers are arguing that taxpayers should not be responsible for potential damages.

“Each and every one of the wrongs ... were committed outside of the scope of the officers’ employment as BPD law enforcement officers and in pursuit of said officers’ private and personal interests,” city government lawyers wrote in a filing last month.

Davis said Wednesday that this is a strategy the city plans to use going forward with other actions, though he said officials would consider each suit to see if there should be an exception. And in some cases, a judge could order the city to pay.


While the move could save the city millions of dollars, plaintiffs lawyers and the American Civil Liberties Union argued victims could be deprived of much-needed compensation.

“That is a travesty,” said David Rocah, senior staff attorney for the ACLU of Maryland. “The city bears significant responsibility for enabling these crimes by its failure to adequately supervise the officers. It can’t now simply wash its hands of the matter.”
Needless to say, the Baltimore police union is freaking out, placing them on the same side as the ACLU, which is a remarkably bizarre development.
As many as nine Baltimore police officers could have to pay tens of thousands of dollars in damages after juries found they acted with “actual malice” in the course of making arrests — a development that prompted a warning from the police union and, in turn, a fiery response from the city’s top lawyer.

The union asserted in a memo Tuesday that forcing officers to pay such damages themselves was a change in the city’s policy. But both City Solicitor Andre Davis and his predecessor said Wednesday the policy has not changed and officers have potentially been on the hook for decades in such cases.

Davis said what has changed is that he has been more transparent about the policy, noting it in materials submitted to the city’s spending board in December. Davis called the memo by a local Fraternal Order of Police leader an attempt to “stir something up.”
I've suggested before that personal liability for police officers, along with a requirement that they carry insurance, can serve as a deterrent to police misconduct, and this is a good first step.