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Comment: Balance of Crime (Score 1) 435

by rmandevi (#47468375) Attached to: FBI Concerned About Criminals Using Driverless Cars

On the one hand, the criminal acts will be more than counterbalanced by the reduction in DUI activity alone. On the other hand, poverty is good for creating crime--some small percentage of people that get laid off turn to crime for income. That would happen within the ranks of laid-off taxi drivers and truckers just as it does everyplace else.

Comment: Re:Thank you (Score 1) 242

by rmandevi (#45738689) Attached to: Panel Urges Major NSA Spying Overhaul

The NSAs actions were not so much inept as trusting of people that had been, or should have been, carefully screened and loyal. It turns out that both the contractor Snowden and the company contracted to do Snowden's background investigation were not completely trustworthy. The company is now being sued by the Federal government, and Snowden is facing charges after his theft and betrayal.

In other words, the NSA shouldn't hire people with a high degree of love and loyalty to the United States.

You can argue that Snowden's actions were misguided, but not that they were for personal gain. If he wanted that, he'd have sold secrets in some back room, rather than just publishing them and confessing to the deed publicly. He honestly believes that he is acting in the best interests of the American people, government be damned. And God help me, I agree with him.

That is precisely the sort of attitude that this nation was founded on - a rag tag group of soldiers telling the King of England that his services were no longer required. Ever see those bumper stickers, "I love my country - it's my government I fear"? Snowden is living it.

If you want to screen against people who wish to do the US harm (thus requiring that people show loyalty to the US) and still defend against the Snowdens of this nation, you would have to also separately screen for loyalty to the current power structure. You would have to screen for authoritarianism. Maybe you could limit your search to honorably discharged military veterans (the military is authoritarian, a useful trait in people trusted with killing machines and being asked to do their jobs while being shot at).

Comment: Re:One Suspect Dead (Score 1) 1109

A taser on a subject a few feet in front of you is one thing. You're likely to get them in one shot. In that case, a taser is an almost perfect weapon.

But what if you miss? Now you have to retract the wires. In an actual gunfight, a taser is a one-shot, limited range weapon. Don't take a taser to a gunfight.

Besides, do you really want to tase a bomber? To me, a taser seems dangerously like a detonator. I don't know what happens if you tase a chunk of explosive (you know, like suicide bombers wear under their clothes), and I don't want to find out.

Believe it or not, most cops aren't gun-happy killers. Their handgun is a weapon of last resort, when nothing else can stop a suspect from doing grievous harm to somebody. Yes, there are sociopathic killers in uniform, but they are in the minority.

Finally, a handgun is a very useful police tool because of its use as a mind control device. Tasers aren't very threatening, and if somebody aims one at me, I may try a quick move--what's the worst that can happen? Point a handgun at me, and I'm much more likely to be very interested in what I can do to set your mind at ease. I suspect that at least 90-95% of the time a cop uses a handgun, they are using it as a mind control device and never have to discharge it. In that way, there are ways that handguns are more effective and less threatening than tasers.

Tasers have their place in law enforcement, and certainly personal defense, but their place is not that of the police handgun.

Comment: Re:directly? (Score 1) 1105

by rmandevi (#43465595) Attached to: Explosions at the Boston Marathon

> I didn't say "directly responsible for causing", I said "directly responsible for preventing". The FBI anti-terrorism unit is there specifically to prevent bombings. They have agents that can and have directly infiltrated and stopped bomb plots (e.g. this one []). That's their job description, and that this happens means they screwed up.

Do you seriously expect the FBI anti-terrorism unit to make the marathon unbombable? Do you sue your doctor every time you catch a cold?

Let's say, just for a minute, that we give the FBI above-the-law, license-to-kill getapo-like privileges (and let me be clear that this would be a tremendously bad idea). This isn't the Superbowl, taking place in an arena designed to limit where people can get in and out (just to force you to buy a ticket). This is a fifty-two mile security perimeter within a city that evolved out of cow paths. You need airtight security checkpoints around that entire perimeter--and that means that neither police tape nor Jersey barriers are enough, you're going to have to put six foot walls up around the route. And your bomb-sniffing dogs? Not only do you need them within the perimeter, but you're going to have to search every building within trebuchet range of the route (what, don't think they have trebuchets here? We've got MIT, where a freshman will build you the best one in the world for the cost of parts!). You're going to have to patrol the sewers, in case some lunatic wants to pass a bomb out of a manhole cover.

The FBI wants to make it impossible to bomb the marathon? Then CANCEL it. It's the only way to be sure.

Anti-terrorism units don't stop all terrorism. Cops don't stop all crimes. Doctors don't stop all disease. When a terrorist attack happens, a crime happens, or somebody gets sick, that doesn't mean that the good guys screwed up. Be glad they stop all the terrorism, crime and disease that they do. Don't expect them to bat a thousand.

Comment: Re:directly? (Score 1) 1105

by rmandevi (#43463563) Attached to: Explosions at the Boston Marathon

> I didn't say "directly responsible for causing", I said "directly responsible for preventing". The FBI anti-terrorism unit is there specifically to prevent bombings. They have agents that can and have directly infiltrated and stopped bomb plots (e.g. this one []). That's their job description, and that this happens means they screwed up.

Do you honestly expect the FBI to make the Boston Marathon unbombable? There's no such thing. We can't keep assassins with guns away from our Presidents, and a President is a two-meter target. You're asking for ironclad security across an event twenty-six miles long. You want to make a marathon unbombable? Cancel it. Nothing short of that will do.

The FBI's job is not to make the marathon unbombable. The job of the police is not to make crimes impossible. Their jobs are to stop as many bombings and crimes as they can with the tools (both physical and legal) at their command, and failing that, to bring those responsible to justice. There are cracks, and there are those who will slip through those cracks.

But as you said, they have stopped bomb plots. They can't stop all of them. Even if you gave them above-the-law, license-to-kill legal abilities and turned them into the SS, they couldn't stop all bomb plots. The fact that this bombing happened is not, in and of itself, evidence that the FBI "screwed up".

Comment: Email is Plaintext (Score 2) 332

by rmandevi (#43415231) Attached to: IRS Can Read Your Email Without Warrant

By default, email is plaintext. It isn't sent in an envelope, it's more of an electronic postcard. You aren't guaranteed a particular routing, so email may pass through any number of ISPs of varying nationality, legality, and morals. You want privacy? Use encryption.

In snailmail, enveloped mail has an expectation of privacy, postcards less so (if at all). Email is not snailmail. All it takes is a packet sniffer in the right place to read your mail, not even much of a cracking package. So there is no de facto privacy. The only expectation of privacy comes from people who keep expecting email to behave like snailmail, and it's a false expectation.

The case that the fourth amendment applies to unencrypted data sent across arbitrary connections is weak. I'm no fan of the IRS, and they are often above the law and a law unto themselves, but I don't think that applies here.

Comment: Re:Simply Could Not Fulfill His Duties (Score 5, Interesting) 542

by rmandevi (#42861151) Attached to: Pope To Resign Citing Advanced Age

While the Church is a church of forgiveness, it is not a Church of forgetfulness. The Church can decide not to punish a molesting priest, but it should realize that it has a problem with that priest and should not let that priest around children again.

For the record, policy in the USA requires any Church members (from bishops down to Religious Education teachers) are required to take a course in child abuse detection and prevention (sexual and otherwise). One of the things that they teach there is if they see signs of abuse from anybody, they are to inform both the Church and the local constabulary.

The reasons that the Catholics have been singled out on the abuse angle are roughly:
1: We are expected to be held to a higher moral standard than even other churches, as well we should be
2: There are an awful lot of priests there. Roughly a third of the US Christian population is Catholic, and no other church has a quarter as many members as the Catholic church does. Again, more reason to keep our noses (and other parts) clean.
3: The ugly reason is that the Catholic Church is organized different from other churches, and thus easier to sue for big money. Because we are an authoritarian church, ownership is by hierarchy. When the scandal started up in Boston (the archidiocese I grew up in), people weren't suing a priest, or that priest's church, but the archdiocese itself, which draws its income from every Catholic church in the Greater Boston area.

None of these should be taken as excusing things that the Church and priests, but I do note that the above reasons may explain why we don't see similar scandals rocking other churches. I highly doubt that the Catholics have cornered the market on molesting clergy.

For my money, the fact that these pedophiles exist in the Church is horrible, but in a way understandable. Any large group will have some bad apples, and it's impossible to weed them all out. The fact that the Church had been protecting these priests [em]as policy[/em] is much worse. I for one would have loved to see Cardinal Law explain himself to a grand jury, and think in retrospect that Pope John Paul II did us all a disservice by getting him out of the country before that could happen.

Comment: Re:Let me get this straight (Score 0) 800

by rmandevi (#42801789) Attached to: Leaked: Obama's Rules For Assassinating American Citizens

Are you suggesting that the army gets an arrest warrant before shooting at Al-Qaida? Any member of Al-Qaida, regardless of citizenship, can safely assume that the US demands their surrender.

Are you saying that this could be abused to just say "Yeah, I just don't like that guy, I'll say that he's Al-Qaida, say he's threatening lives, and say he's uncapturable"? It certainly could. Can a cop just shoot you in the head and pass it off as you trying to mug somebody? He certainly can. Can the family or loved ones of the deceased demand that the one who made the decision to kill, in either case, be hauled up before a judge on murder charges? Absolutely. Abuse can happen, with or without this document.

This has nothing to do with accusation of crime. When a cop fires his weapon, it's not because he has a warrant signed by a judge, it's because he believes that an innocent person is about to get killed and that nothing less can stop that from happening.

Comment: Let me get this straight (Score 1) 800

by rmandevi (#42799493) Attached to: Leaked: Obama's Rules For Assassinating American Citizens

So the President has given the DoD the power to kill a US citizen abroad who is threatening US lives, and can't be safely captured? Our cops already have the power to kill US citizens in the US who are threatening US lives and cannot be safely captured (arrested). That's why cops carry guns. If you are threatening someone's life, they will arrest you if they can, and kill you if they must. If this document is genuine, it is giving US citizens abroad rights similar to what they would have here. In either case, the rule is simple: surrender the gun (or IED, or strike force), and nobody gets hurt.

I am not a fan of our current President, but this is a sane policy. If we don't claim the right to kill US citizens under these circumstances, we give them more powers to kill us than they had when they were within our borders. If a US Al-Qaida member doesn't like being on a US hit list, they can come out with their hands up, just like any other suspect.

Comment: Re:Provoking (Score 1) 1130

by rmandevi (#42799067) Attached to: Machine Gun Fire From Military Helicopters Flying Over Downtown Miami
> What was he supposed to do? Stop reading to the kids, stand up, and say "Children, I must save the United States! Begone!"? Absolutely. Even if he had no decision to make (and are you seriously telling me that the POTUS has no duties when the US is being attacked?), the instant he realized that the US was under attack, he needed to also realize that he was a walking bullseye. The next plane could well have come into the school. He should have walked out, with or without explanation ON NATIONAL TELEVISION (letting the bad guys know where he _wasn't_ any longer), pulled the fire alarm on the way, and left a Secret Service agent behind to work with the principal to evacuate the school and the entire block.

Asynchronous inputs are at the root of our race problems. -- D. Winker and F. Prosser