Tuesday, February 27, 2018

They Owned an Island, Now They Are Urban Poor

Source: Amazon Watch

'I had a better life than anyone in São Paulo. If I wanted to work my land, I did. If I didn't, the land would be there the next day. If I wanted to fish, I did, but if I'd rather pick açaí, I did. I had a river, I had woods, I had tranquility. On the island, I didn't have any doors. I had a place ... And on the island, we didn't get sick.'

This article from Amazon Watch relates the stories of Brazilian people displaced from islands in the Xingu river by construction of a hydro-electric dam. These people called the Ribeirinho use to live off the land and fish the Xingu river, until the Brazilian government in conjunction with Norte Energia decided to evict them before the water rose above their islands. The Ribeirinho once got everything they needed from nature, free of charge, but now find themselves paupers living on the fringe of society in need of government handouts for subsistence. It reminds us that man is free in his natural state and only becomes subjugated in civilized society when he trades freedom for comfort and security. I'm not an anarcho-primitivist suggesting that we destroy civilization. The main concern here is land rights. We've seen this same tragedy unfold throughout history. Wherever governments have forced traditional societies from their homelands they have usually left them in conditions much worse than the subsistence living they were use to. This same scenario occurred in our own backyard where Indian tribes that once flourished off of hunting, forging, and some agriculture were reduced to welfare recipients dependent on the same institution that put them in those conditions. Here to I am not suggesting we turn back the clock, but that we learn the lessons of history and the fundamental importance of land rights to human well being. Protecting them would go along way to diminishing pollution and the persecution of traditional societies.

Liberal Diversity Law Keeps Minority Students From Receiving a Decent Education

Sources: Pacific Legal Foundation, Data USA: Hartford, CT, Sheff v. O’Neill Settlement, Hartford Courant

The ongoing case of Robinson v. Wentzell contests a Connecticut law that imposes race based quotas on Hartford magnet schools. The city of Hartford runs several world class magnet schools that are in such high demand that a lottery, run by the state’s Regional School Choice Office, is used to determine which applicants can attend these schools. However, there is a catch. Connecticut state law requires the student body of magnet schools to be at least 25% white and asian and no more than 75% black and hispanic, even if it means some seats in these schools remain empty. This is a problem in Hartford, CT where only 15.4% of the population is white, and a measly 2.6% are asian. On the other hand, over 35% of the population is black and close to 45% of the population is hispanic. Thus, the lottery is deliberately rigged in favor of white and asian applicants.

Checking the race and ethnicity of students at the front of waitlists — welcoming them if they are white; denying them seats if they are black or Latino — may be the most startling piece of the magnet-school selection process. But it is not the only way the system suppresses minority enrollment in high-performing Sheff schools.

This is perhaps another example of the law of unintended consequences at work. The law in question stemmed from a 1996 state supreme court decision in Sheff v. O’Neill holding that all school children should have substantially equal educational opportunities and urging the legislature to curb racial segregation and discrimination in public schools. As a result, the Connecticut General Assembly passed and then governor John Rowland enacted Act 97-290, which put into motion several recommendations made by the governor’s Education Improvement Panel including the creation of 8 interdistrict magnet schools in Hartford and a mandate that at least 25% of the students enrolled in these schools be white or asian. The law was intended to reduce racial segregation but it has had the opposite effect by denying minority children in the applicant pool admission and keeping them in segregated, woefully underfunded neighborhood schools. Even some of the plaintiffs to the original sheff case have turned against the law that resulted from it.

"I do not think that a child has to sit next to any specific type of child or race of child or religion of child to get a good education. So those seats are empty? Fill them up!" said Best, who was a young mother when she and her daughter Neiima signed on as plaintiffs. "Let's think out of the box and let's just say, 'OK, we tried this. We offered this. Now who wants to come here?' And fill up the seats."

This is not the first time that liberal policies have backfired on the minority groups they were meant to help. It happens more often than most people notice. The same liberals championing affirmative action on college campuses also admit that it disproportionately benefits white women. If that is so, why keep it around? Women already out number men nearly 2 to 1 on college campuses. The war on drugs was just as much a liberal effort to clean up the inner city as it was an initiative of the Nixon admin. At its outset, it was supported by the congressional black caucus and high profile liberal politicians like Nelson Rockefeller, Jerry Brown, Joe Biden, Bill Clinton etc. And yet liberals today tell us that enforcement of the Controlled Substances Acts disproportionately harms minority communities and that the laws are racist. The same could be said of the current liberal effort to legalize pot. Although not as overtly authoritarian as the war on drugs, it is by all measures an attempt to tighten state control over what people can put in their own bodies, and as an unintended side effect black people are still twice as likely to be arrested for cultivating cannabis.

Monday, February 19, 2018

This is Who Trump Wants To Sell Weapons To

Communists and capitalists are laughing all the way to the bank while their useful idiots argue over the trivial details of their respective fiefdoms.

Mongabay: 14 Year Sentence For Vietnamese Activist Over Chemical Spill Protest

Refresher: Trump Pursues Weapons Deal With Totalitarian Communist Regime

During the APEC conference in Hanoi last year, Trump aggressively tried to sell U.S. missiles to Vietnam’s communist regime and oversaw the signing of two memorandums of understanding between Vietnam’s state owned gas company, PetroVietnam Gas, and two American gas companies: AES Corp and Alaska Gasline Development Corp. These events transpired as the result of Obama lifting the arms embargo against the country in 2016. Relations between the two governments have been thawing after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Congress began providing foreign aid to Vietnam in 1991 and Clinton ended the trade embargo against Vietnam in 1994. USAID currently spends about $68M per year on the country (as of FY 2016).

We are once again met with crickets on Capitol Hill in the face of intolerable human rights abuses, but since they are being committed by a government that currently has profitable business partnerships with major U.S. industries, they apparently don’t matter. Of course, the same could be said of the Chinese government’s persecution of religious minorities and organ harvesting of political prisoners.

On February 6th, Hoang Duc Binh was given a 14 year prison sentence for the heinous crime of vlogging about and protesting the government’s hesitant response to the 2016 Formosa chemical spill, or as the kangaroo court put it ‘slandering authorities and abusing democratic freedoms to infringe on state interests (in the same way that a slave may infringe on the interests of a slaver). During the same trial, a fellow activist was given a 2 year stint for ‘opposing officers on duty’. Six other activists have also been convicted of similar thought crimes related to the chemical spill. Perhaps the most famous case, which received temporary corporate media coverage, was that of journalist Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, who went by the pseudonym Mother Mushroom. She was sentenced to 10 years in prison in connection to her coverage of human rights abuses and environmental issues in Vietnam. Since Trump doesn’t really believe in free speech I doubt he would take issue with anything the communist regime has done. He probably wishes he could emulate that here, but for now he is consigned to calling unfavorable coverage of himself fake news and threatening to revoke broadcasting licenses on twitter.

In 34 States, Police Can Legally Rape People They Detain

Sources: Big Think, Associated Press, New York Daily News

Currently 34 states, including my own, do not prohibit police officers from making sexual contact with the people they detain as long as they claim that consent was given. I don’t think I need to point out how this is completely inappropriate on the job even when consent is given; it should be a no brainer even for pro-cop simps. However, the coercive relationship between an officer and a detained citizen makes consensual sex all but impossible. To put this in perspective, imagine a scenario in which a young girl is caught with pot or some other illicit substance on her person. The officer, who is a straight male in this example, tells her that she can avoid arrest by giving him head. If she were to comply with his request, it wouldn’t be consensual by any known legal standard. Similar propositions are illegal in every other profession, but somehow the one profession that uses state sanctioned violence gets a free pass. Since 2006, at least 26 officers have been acquitted of sexual assault and rape charges by arguing that the detained person consented in their defense. To boot, sexual assault is one of the most reported forms of police misconduct second only to use of excessive force. From 2009 until 2014, approximately 550 officers lost their jobs for sexual assault and rape charges, and an additional 440 for possession of child porn and soliciting sex from minors. The example I gave earlier is not too far off from the real story of Anna Chambers, who was raped in the back of a police van by two plainclothes NYPD detectives. It began when the detectives caught her and 2 male friends smoking pot. They let her two friends go, but she was handcuffed and placed in the back of the van, which means sex was their motive all along, not some heroic stand against the reefer madness. It will be interesting to see how quickly state legislatures across the country follow suit and close this loophole out of sheer embarrassment to the rest of the civilized world.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Motivational Quote of The Day

‘Man is a growth by law, and not a creation by artifice, and cause and effect is as absolute and undeviating in the hidden realm of thought as in the world of visible and material things. A noble and Godlike character is not a thing of favor or chance, but is the natural result of continued effort in right thinking, the effect of long-cherished association with Godlike thoughts. An ignoble and bestial character, by the same process, is the result of the continued harboring of groveling thoughts.’
-James Allen, As A Man Thinketh

There is a mantra in the ancient Farsi religion of Mazdayasna: good thoughts, goods words, good deeds. Here this ancient wisdom is elaborated. Your thoughts inevitably are reflected in your words and actions. A person’s character is molded through habitual words and actions. At the back of character is thought. Positive thoughts, such as those of ambition, unwavering focus, a sense of obligation, and sheer will, mold a noble character. Negative thoughts, such as those of self-doubt, self-abasement, and self-pity, mold an ignoble character. You eventually become what you constantly think about.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Pursue Pleasure In The Long Run (delayed gratification)

And since pleasure is our first and native good, for that reason we do not choose every pleasure whatsoever, but will often pass over many pleasures when a greater annoyance ensues from them. And often we consider pains superior to pleasures when submission to the pains for a long time brings us as a consequence a greater pleasure. While therefore all pleasure because it is naturally akin to us is good, not all pleasure should be chosen, just as all pain is an evil and yet not all pain is to be shunned. It is, however, by measuring one against another, and by looking at the conveniences and inconveniences, that all these matters must be judged.

- Epicurus, Letter to Menoeceus

The quintessential difference between hedonistic ethics and what is commonly, though falsely, called a hedonistic lifestyle is an evaluation of present and future gratification. Hedonism in the first case requires sacrificing some immediate gratifications for a greater return in the future, while hedonism in the second case is pursuing pleasure indiscriminately, which in practice means pursuing immediate gratification even when it is counterproductive and destructive towards a pleasant life in the long run. Hedonism of the former kind makes use of the cardinal virtues, especially temperance and prudence, in pursuit of pleasure while hedonism of the latter type falls back on the exact opposite vices. For this reason, I believe hedonism should be considered a religion in practice with an assortment of personal rituals that help people keep their focus on long-term goals while simultaneously staying grounded in the present.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Trump Admin Commences Land Grabbing For Border Wall

Source: Brownsville Family Loses 10 Acres of Land to Border Wall

“They had surveyors, engineers and if we didn’t consent to what they wanted to pay for the property, they hit us with the eminent domain, the eminent domain means that the government can pay whatever they want for the properties.”

Juan Cavazos is just one of many landowners who will lose control of his property for the preservation of our white nation. If the wall goes up he will lose access to 10 acres of his land, and since this part of his property has already been condemned the government can now pay him less in “just” compensation than the fair market value before the feds took over his land. Anyone familiar with how the government uses eminent domain knows that “just” fair market value compensation is utter bullshit. Usually they try to pay private landowners as little as possible, and unless that person can afford a good attorney they will usually get ripped off.

My views on the border wall have shifted over the last few months. I use to support the border wall and I was ok with eminent domain in certain situations.

My previous posts supporting the border wall:

A Southern Border Wall Would Be Practical But Certainly Not A Panacea

President Trump Issues Executive Order To Build A Border Wall

I’ve come to realize that the arguments in favor of building a wall, especially from some libertarians, basically boil down to the ends justify the means and an appeal to tradition (i.e. we’ve always done it this way) two rationalizations that I usually vehemently condemn in other areas because I can see that that the long term effects are detrimental. These same rationalizations were used to justify some of the worst human cruelties in history. Similar arguments were made by the Eugenics movement in the early 20th century, not just in favor of immigration restrictions, but also anti-miscegenation laws, forced sterilization by court order and at its height state sanctioned ‘mercy killing’ of people deemed genetically unfit, all for the greater good of humanity. We can look down the road and see that the logical conclusion of these expediency justifications is a tyranny that none are safe from.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Farmers Along Proposed Pipeline Route Fight Eminent Domain

Source: NJTV News

Another day another story illustrating that property rights don’t really exist in our supposedly freedom loving ultra capitalist country. Apparently freedom means some businesses are free to steal property from other businesses at gunpoint as long as it generates more revenue for the state.

The PennEast Pipeline Co. has filed 92 eminent domain lawsuits against landowners in New Jersey in conjunction with the construction of a 120 mile natural gas pipeline that runs from the Marcellus Shale region of Pennsylvania to Mercer County, New Jersey. The inevitable victims of the proposed robbery include Jacqueline Evans, who co-owns Haut Farm in Stockton, NJ, and her neighbors T.C. and Joe Buchanan, who own an adjacent orchard.

Jacqueline Evans has been running her farm for over five years, but she says she’s at risk of losing everything. “We love our home, we don’t want to leave, and this is wrong. It’s for an unneeded pipeline,” she said.

All of those trespassing surveyors that have been on our property, Michigan, New York, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Florida, their license plates were from all over the place. Nobody was from New Jersey,” said T.C. Buchanan. “The unions are saying, we're going to get jobs. If there are any jobs, it’s going to be temporary. They said it’s seven weeks to seven months maximum for workers, and in the meantime, they put all the farms out of business.

Did I mention this will be an armed robbery? The pipeline company received approval from the FERC in January, but have yet to obtain the requisite rubber stamps from the Delaware River Basin Commission and New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection. Despite lacking the necessary permits, PennEast Pipeline Co. has already requested the assistance of U.S. Marshals to maul any landowners who might resist the proposed robbery.

“They’re also filing on the ability to use U.S. Marshals and force against us if we resist,” said Evans. “I don’t understand why they need to have U.S. Marshals with guns. I have little kids, they’ve been traumatized by this enough, so that took my breath away that they would do that, but it falls in line with how they’ve treated us all along.”

With Trump in the oval office this will undoubtedly go through and be hailed as progress by his braindead supporters. Apparently, progress is setting precedents that weaken property rights and concede more power to the state and favored corporations.

A Few Bad Apples Spoil The Whole Bunch

Source: Baltimore Gun Trace Task Force trial: These 12 additional police officers have been accused of wrongdoing

Gondo testified that he stole for years and lied about it, and said he never worried about internal affairs.“It was just part of the culture,” Gondo testified. “I wasn’t getting complaints; I wasn’t putting my hands on people.”

As testimony against two Baltimore police officers, indicted on federal racketeering charges, wrapped up last week, we learned that corruption within the Baltimore County Police Department wasn’t limited to the 8 members of the Gun Trace Task Force. It should go without saying that these 8 officers could not have carried out their decade long crime spree without the complicity or assistance of their supervisors and cohorts. As early as day 2 of the trial it was admitted that Lt. Ian Dombroski, who is the head of internal affairs, credited GTTF officers for 8 hours of overtime that they didn’t have to work if they recovered guns. In another instance, Momodu Gondo, a convicted member of GTTF, testified that retired deputy commissioner Dean Palmere coached two officers on what to say after they fatally shot a man sitting in his vehicle in an alley. The six convicted officers and one bail bondsman, who provided witness testimony in this case, have indicated that at least 12 other officers were complicit in covering up their crimes or alerting them to a federal investigation. Some of these officers, like former homicide detective Sean Suiter, are dead; some, like Michael Sylvester, have since left the force, and others are still around. Convicted bail bondsman Donald Stepp testified that Sgt. Thomas Wilson III provided him security when he met with a New York drug supplier at a strip club. In 2013, Wilson was charged with perjury for lying on a search warrant affidavit, although he was later acquitted. Another shocking instance of complicity is that of Sgt. Ryan Guinn, who took part in a 2010 incident where GTTF allegedly planted drugs on a man who later fled and died during a police pursuit. Sgt. Ryan Guinn is one of three former members of GTTF who has not been charged. There were still other officers who were not members of GTTF but took part in stealing cash from suspects. Officers Michael Woodlon, Jason Giordano, Sean Suiter, Tariq Edwards, and Kenneth Ivery alleged took stolen cash. Other officers named as accomplices to the crime spree include officials that had tipped off GTTF members to an ongoing federal investigation. This includes officer Sherrod Biggers and an unnamed prosecutor.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Leo Wise said in federal court in March, just after the GTTF officers were indicted, that a Baltimore assistant state's attorney had tipped the officers off to the federal investigation before it was concluded.Jenkins’ plea agreement last month reiterated the claim, saying the attorney had tipped Jenkins off. The attorney has not been identified by federal prosecutors.

Hopefully, as more evidence comes to light we will go deeper down the rabbit hole of police criminality. So far, we have barley scratched the surface.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Police Brutality Cost Pittsburgh Over 11 Million During The Past Decade

Making the case for independent oversight of police (and eventual abolition) one example at a time

Source: Pittsburgh City Paper

In case you haven’t seen it, I wrote a similar article last year about the civil settlement costs for Baltimore taxpayers over a five year period. You can find it here.

Since 2008, excessive force, police misconduct and false imprisonment has cost Pittsburgh taxpayers $11, 281,178 in civil settlements. The largest settlement to date, which cost the city $5.5 million, resulted from an officer shooting Leon Ford five times during a traffic stop in 2012, paralyzing him. The second largest settlement to date, which cost the city $3.7 million, resulted from the false imprisonment of Thomas Doswell, who was initially convicted of rape in 1986 but exonerated with DNA evidence in 2005. The city has paid a total of 43 civil settlements over the past decade, most of which were much smaller than the two aforementioned cases, ranging from $1,000 to $250,000. Often the officers that caused the civil damages were allowed to keep their job, like the cop that shot Leon Ford or in the more disturbing case of an off-duty officer assaulting a civilian.

In 2011, the city paid $40,000 to Kaleb Miller following a claim of excessive force against Pittsburgh police officer Paul Abel. In June 2008, Abel allegedly assaulted Miller and shot him in the hand while off duty. Abel’s homeowner’s insurance was supposed to pay out an additional $4,500 as part of the settlement for Miller, but the decision was ultimately overturned and the city ended up picking up the tab for the additional $4,500. Following the incident, Abel was fired, charged criminally, acquitted by a judge and then given his job back by an arbitrator.

It is no secret that police are usually not held personally responsible for their misconduct, but this problem extends to all government officials as well. Unlike the private sector, where individuals and companies bare the cost of their failures and mistakes (unless there is some intervention to save them e.g. a bailout), government officials can always shift the cost of misconduct and failure onto taxpayers in the form of civil suits, settlements and public debt. Personal responsibility is foreign to them. This is why police officers, and really all civil servants, should be required to purchase malpractice insurance as a corrective measure, essentially a band aid policy until such time as alternative institutions can be introduced.

Man Who Raped Young Girl At Church Camp Spared Prison Because He is 'legally blind'

Source: AOL.com

This is the most absurd thing I’ve ever heard. It gives a new meaning to the phrase justice is blind.

Benjamin Lawrence Petty, age 36, rapped a 13 year old girl in June 2016, while working at the Falls Creek church camp in southern Oklahoma.

Court documents state that Petty told the young victim that he wanted to show her a new type of device he brought to the camp when he suddenly pulled her into his cabin.
Petty then "closed the door to his bedroom, tied [the victim's] hands behind her back, pulled down her jeans, pushed her face down on his bed, and violently raped and sodomized her," records show.

Petty pled guilty to charges of forcible sodomy, 1st degree rape, and rape by instrumentation last month; all three resulted in felony convictions. His punishment? Only 15 years of probation, 2 of which he is required to wear an ankle monitor. Apparently, his attorney was able to find some loophole that allows him to avoid prison because he is “legally blind.”

Murray County Assistant District Attorney David Pyle, who negotiated the guilty plea, said that Petty's blindness was a major factor in his decision not to insist on prison time.
"The big thing is Mr. Petty is legally blind and the parents (of the victim) live out of state and this little girl lives out of state and didn't want to make all the travels back and forth," Pyle said. "The plea was negotiated with their permission."

According to Fox News this man has since resigned as DA.

Although I’m not a fan of putting people behind bars I make exceptions for heinous crimes like this. Obviously, Mr. Petty can see well enough to cook and rape a little girl so I fail to see how his so called ‘medical condition’ would make it impossible for him to go to prison. If his blindness is as bad as the moral ineptitude of the prosecutor then maybe they should put him in solitary confinement. You don’t need your sight to rot in solitary confinement.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Baltimore Police Task Force Robbed Suspects, Sold Drugs, and Planted Fake Guns On Innocent People

Among other crimes.

Source: The Baltimore Sun

The ongoing trial of two Baltimore police officers, detectives Daniel Hersl and Marcus Taylor, has revealed a plethora of shocking testimony from convicted cops and other witnesses about the crimes of a specific unit of the Baltimore Police Department known as the Gun Trace Task Force. Eight police officers and one bail bondsman have been implicated in crimes ranging from burglary via warrantless searches of the property of drug dealers to racketeering and drug trafficking. Sgt. Wayne Jenkins, who pleaded guilty in a federal racketeering case, was the supervisor of the task force. According to bail bondsman Donald Stepp, Jenkin’s partner in crime, the task force was set up for the sole purpose of covering up their criminal activity.

Stepp said Jenkins told him the Gun Trace Task Force was a group he had hand-picked to be a “front for a criminal enterprise.” He also said there were other officers from other units working with Jenkins, but he did not name any on the witness stand.

Stepp’s role in this gang was to resell drugs that Jenkin’s squad had taken from dealers throughout Baltimore as well as assist Jenkins in robbing them of cash.

Baltimore County bail bondsman Donald C. Stepp, 51, said Sgt. Wayne Jenkins made near-nightly trips to Stepp’s home to drop off drugs, Stepp said. Jenkins has pleaded guilty in the case

Stepp said that in April 2015, during the riots that followed the death of Freddie Gray, Jenkins walked into Stepp’s garage carrying two garbage bags full of looted pharmaceutical drugs.

There is also a little mentioned detail about the task force carrying replica guns to plant on innocent people they might ‘accidentally’ kill during their crime spree. I would be willing to wager that this isn’t an isolated incident.

Ward said the unit’s supervisor, Sgt. Wayne Jenkins, instructed the officers to carry replica guns to plant if they found themselves in a jam. Police recovered a replica gun from the glove box of Taylor’s vehicle after he was arrested last year. The gun, shown to jurors, is nearly indistinguishable from Taylor’s service pistol

I will continue to update this post as the trial is still ongoing.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

A Conservative Approach To Protecting The Environment

Most of my posts address the topic of property rights, which at a cursory glance doesn’t seem to be related to the environment. Over time, though, I’ve started to notice a commonality between the two subjects. For instance, property rights tend to be a major obstacle for pipeline companies and the oil/gas industry in general, which is often solved through eminent domain. Examples are furnished by the 2016 debacle over the Dakota Access Pipeline, in which at least one landowner was arrested for protesting construction on her own land, as well as the current holdouts against the Mariner East 2 pipeline. This not only happens in the U.S., but also in other regions of the world where property/land rights are more ill defined. For instance, in the Amazon rainforest drilling is often conducted on Indian land without the informed consent of the communities which reside there. Such was the case in the legal battle between the Achuar and the Canadian company Talismen Energy. Protecting land rights would also be a bulwark against other extractive industries both legal and illegal. For instance, respecting the land rights of the Baka pygmies would go a long way to curbing deforestation in the Congo. A series of studies conducted by the World Bank provides ample evidence to corroborate this conclusion.

A six-nation study for the World Bank’s Program on Forests found deforestation rates are significantly lower where communities have legal rights to the forests and government support for management and enforcement, compared with areas elsewhere.

Elsewhere being places where governments have forced communities out of their ancestral lands and handed stewardship over to corrupt eco-guards, something that happens often throughout Africa.

Research from Indonesia showed conflict over land was minimized and investment was encouraged when local communities were involved in designing transportation corridors around proposed mining projects. Another study from Indonesia showed granting long-term rights over mangrove swamps to indigenous people has better protected the critical coastal ecosystems than in areas where the endangered buffers between land and sea are not locally managed.

I am not suggesting that governments shouldn’t have any role in addressing environmental problems. What I am suggesting is that they would be more effective to this end if they did what they are suppose to do in theory, which is to protect property rights, regardless of whether it’s the property rights of farmers and ranchers in the Midwest or the indigenous peoples of tropical rain forests. Nothing further should be done until they get this right.