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Comment Not all governments throw people away (Score 4, Interesting) 180

ATF uses fake drugs, big bucks to snare suspects

It's the drugs â" though non-existent â" that make that possible because federal law usually imposes tougher mandatory sentences for drugs than for guns. The more drugs the agents say are likely to be in the stash house, the longer the targets' sentence is likely to be. Conspiring to distribute 5 kilograms of cocaine usually carries a mandatory 10-year sentence â" or 20 years if the target has already been convicted of a drug crime.

That fact has not escaped judges' notice. The ATF's stings give agents "virtually unfettered ability to inflate the amount of drugs supposedly in the house and thereby obtain a greater sentence," a federal appeals court in California said in 2010. "The ease with which the government can manipulate these factors makes us wary." Still, most courts have said tough federal sentencing laws leave them powerless to grant shorter prison terms.

To the ATF, long sentences are the point. Fifteen years "is the mark," Smith said.

"You get the guy, you get him with a gun, and you can lock him up for 18 months for the gun. All you did was give this guy street creds," Smith said. "When you go in there and you stamp him out with a 15-to-life sentence, you make an impact in that community." ...
[A defendant's] lawyer, Michael Falconer, said he wouldn't be opposed to the drug-house stings if he thought the ATF could make sure they were aimed only at people who were already ripping off drug dealers. "But on some level," he said, "it's Orwellian that they have to create crime to prevent crime."

You know what the US government won't do for that same individual? Ensure they have a decent education, a basic level of care for their mental and physical health, a safe neighborhood, and a real shot at becoming a contributing member of society even though that would cost less than convicting them of thoughtcrime and throwing them in prison for fifteen years. Instead we pay for some kitted out machine gun-toting pigs to play cowboy rather than policing the streets like officers. Not incidentally, they're too chickenshit to get out of their cars in a lot of those neighborhoods. Yet they still collect their paycheck and their pension, live way out in the suburbs to avoid the desperation they help create with their cowardice, and pat themselves on the back for being heroes.

Now imagine you're an immigrant, or an Iraqi, Yemeni, Afghani, or Syrian. You're worth even less than a citizen. You're trash. You're not even a speedbump on the way to some policy goal rooted in geopolitical theories that have been dead to the rest of the world since the 80s. The kind of policy that sends a million troops and five trillion dollars to a sanctioned, isolated nation, and ends up destabilizing the entire region, massively aiding Iran, and stoking tensions between Shia and Sunni, all while avoiding a single hint of punishment for Saudi Arabia or Pakistan where all of the funding and most of the terrorists for 9/11 came from. Oh, and as a plus: where al Qaeda was unheard of before, they now have another weak state to operate from. Brilliant.

That's why the rest of the world despises the American government. It's not our freedom. It's our complete lack of principle, abject hypocrisy, and massive state violence that they hate. And with our apathetic political landscape, they're beginning to tire of Americans individually for being lazy, ignorant, wasteful, and greedy. We just sit here and take it; a nation of lolling toddlers waiting on the next innovation in fast food and reruns of Pawn Stars while our wealth is squandered in military adventurism that has killed millions of innocent people in only five decades.

PRISM is just icing on the rotting carcass that once was America, and our allies are starting to look towards the exit. Our government has taken another step on the road to fascism and failed statehood: it has declared unlimited surveillance and assassination rights over every human being on the planet; it has declared war on the truth, and it has promised (and delivered) punishment for anyone who dares to speak it. Despite that, the same throwaway phrase about America not being the worst country in the world is still technically true, if you're not allowed to consider how it treats non-citizens. But if the best thing about your country is that it isn't Somalia, do you think there are a few things you could work on?

Anyway. There's my two minutes of well-earned hate for the state of democracy in America. Enjoy the decline.

Comment Re:God it feels good to be an American!!!!!!! (Score 5, Insightful) 621

Well, if you want to get into raw numbers, the United States is responsible for at least a few million deaths worldwide since the end of WWII. If you count our proxy wars and the wars we helped arrange, such as the Iran-Iraq War, the Soviet-Afghan conflict, various central American death squads, etc, then it is upwards of 20-30 million dead in the last sixty years or so.

(Here's a weak source, but discussing our empire isn't exactly acceptable conversation in regular media outlets. The basic facts are undeniable, even if you'd like to discount our role in arranging, funding, and supplying arms for war that are in our own interest.)

We're not above watching people die of starvation either:

As many as 576,000 Iraqi children may have died since the end of the Persian Gulf war because of economic sanctions imposed by the Security Council. ...
The sanctions were imposed by the Security Council after Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990. Led by the United States, the Council has rejected many Iraqi appeals to lift the restrictions, which have crippled the economy, until Iraq accounts for all its weapons of mass destruction and United Nations inspectors can certify that they have been destroyed in accordance with several Council resolutions.

I think we all remember how many WMDs were found after we spilled the blood of our own and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, along with emptying our treasury of five trillion dollars.

In any case, what is undeniable is that the United States of today and the Stalinist era of the USSR both share one common feature: the respective governments of both nations are hiding their decisions to have people killed and imprisoned from a transparent judicial process. Our government has now openly declared that the political elite are above the law.

But instead of talking about those hard realities, you have backpedaled to the position that we are not as bad as Stalin.

Well, that's a load off my mind! I hope Obama spends the 4th helping military doctors force feed hunger striking prisoners at Guantanamo while they celebrate spending the rest of their lives without the right to a trial. I even have an idea of what we can write on the cake:


Comment Re:"Ego trip" (Score 5, Insightful) 458

Tell me about the 'secret laws'

You don't fucking get it, do you? How can he tell you about a secret law? The ACLU and other organizations continue to ask the government that very same question, but the government refuses.

The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of the Nation's Capital, and Yale Law School's Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic filed a motion today with the secret court that oversees government surveillance in national security cases, requesting that it publish its opinions on the meaning, scope, and constitutionality of Section 215 of the Patriot Act. That section, which authorizes the government to obtain "any tangible thing" relevant to foreign-intelligence or terrorism investigations, was the legal basis for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court order revealed last week by The Guardian requiring Verizon to turn over months' worth of phone-call data.

"The ultimate check on governmental overreach is the American public," said Alex Abdo, staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project. "For years, the government has secretly relied on sweeping interpretations of its surveillance powers, preventing the very debate it has now belatedly invited on the wisdom and legality of those powers."

In addition to the initial rulings by the court on Section 215, the motion filed today also asks whether earlier opinions have been revisited in light of more recent rulings by other courts, such as the Supreme Court's 2012 decision in the GPS tracking case U.S. v. Jones. Another answer sought by the motion is whether the FISA Court has considered the constitutionality of the "gag order" that bars companies from revealing that they have been ordered to turn over information under Section 215. (In 2008, a federal appeals court agreed with the ACLU that an analogous gag order provision relating to "national security letters" was unconstitutional.)

"In a democracy, there should be no room for secret law," said Jameel Jaffer, ACLU deputy legal director. "The public has a right to know what limits apply to the government's surveillance authority, and what safeguards are in place to protect individual privacy."

Also, don't wonder why the world tells you to go fuck yourself when you ask for Snowden. If you weren't murdering teenagers with completely illegal and immoral drone strike programs after killing a few hundred thousand civilians in multiple wars of aggression, maybe everyone wouldn't burst out in laughter every time you uttered the phrase "rule of law."

Comment Re:Three mouse buttons? (Score 1) 29

Easy, buddy. Back in the day it was an old joke:

Fanboi: Name one thing that your PC can do that my Mac can't!!
Operator: Right-click.

Today's analog is:

Fanboi: Name one thing that your Android can do that my iPhone can't!!
Operator: Run applications without Apple's permission.

Comment Re:But... (Score 1) 186

It's a net win - just like factory automation reducing the number of factory workers is a net win. Also, Walmart really pisses off hipsters, so it's twice as good

Yeah, I fucking replaced ten people with one robot, and I was the last manufacturing business in town. It's a win-win! Well, if you count me twice. Which I do.

Higher taxes for everyone else comes from voting for bigger government, not from Walmarts.

Oh, Fuck. Off. When Walmart drives out all of the Mom and Pops where any slacker in the 90s could earn 9-12 dollars an hour can't make 7.50 an hour plus benefits because instead of the store being a little lax on inventory, or God Forbid you had to wait an entire week to get that thing you saw in the catalog, we decided to get everything fast and now and made like shit by child laborers in southeast asia. And we got to buy the Waltons a goddamn hawaiian island so they can drink themselves to death in front of a nice view.

Gee, for me, there's a downside in that scenario. But as long as we get more efficient, everything's good for everyone equally, right?

Comment There is no silver bullet (Score 1) 635

You have to make a lifestyle change. If you eat shit, and you sit there like a pile of shit, you will look like a pile of shit, and you will feel like a pile of shit.

We are mammals, and we aren't supposed to sit inside all day. We need to move around and get some sun, or our biological systems are going to continue to store fat like it's winter. Without Vitamin D and exposure to fresh air instead of the toxic inside environments we work in, including low levels of oxygen due to poor ventilation, we have trouble getting all of our biological systems to run like they are supposed to.

I am in a constant battle with my weight, which I am usually on the losing side of. When I cut out all sugar, including sugar in coffee, and I focus on eating vegetables and non-meat sources of protein, I feel like absolute hell for three days and then I feel amazing until I start eating crap again. This time around I'm going kind of nuts with pressed kale/apple/carrot juices and very little meat. The change is astounding. Within a week all of the weird aches and pains I had, including some of my back pain, began to disappear. (I am down to a BMI of 30 from 36, and still trending down).

I really think the Western diet starves us of basic building blocks for repairing and maintaining our bodies, and as we discover more about our symbiotic relationship with bacteria, I bet they will find out that the ingestion of products (sugar, processed flour, etc) that easily turn into glucose make our symbiotic bacteria go apeshit and stop serving their purpose. It's like stuffing petri dishes into your body and hosting a microbiological world war.

The funny thing is that once I rid my tongue of the expectation of a wall of salt and fat and sugar, healthy foods that seemed bland are suddenly rich with flavors and it's no problem snacking on carrots and raw broccoli with hummus or whatever and staying away from sugar drinks which are now overly sweet. I can get an Americano with a touch of milk and it tastes like chocolate if the beans are good. Roasted whole vegetables (which I am trying to learn how to cook myself) are as satisfying as any fast food meal, but I don't feel like shit an hour later.

Probably the best side affect is that my body now tells me when it's full. Two years ago I could eat an entire pizza without really thinking about it. Now I can have a bowl full of vegetables and feel more satisfied. (Not sure what the science behind that is, exactly, but it works.)

Mass produced foods are designed to addict, and kicking that addiction is just as important as kicking a smoking habit, if not more. Once I hit my target BMI, if I can stay on track, I will introduce a small amount of meat back into my diet, but I'm fairly convinced that processed sugar and processed wheat are literally poison for our mammalian biological systems. Now that it's out of mine, I don't have to think about going outside. Getting up and moving around is no longer a chore. It's actually becoming a joy that I haven't felt since I was a kid and spent every possible moment outside.

Anyway, tl:dr; Pollan seems to be right. Eat lots of veggies, a little bit of dairy, and a tinier bit of meat. Drink water. Go outside. Do not drink sodas or eat fast food, ever. If you put garbage in your body, your body will turn into garbage.

Comment Colonel Korn is an idiot (Score 0, Flamebait) 533

Colonel Korn is a hopeless fucking idiot and doesn't understand the difference between falsifiable assertions and anecdotes. It is safe to ignore him on every subject ever.

He's probably a libertarian blowhard who's worldview is so damaged that he thinks plastic bags -- cheap, frivolous, lazy, horrible for the environment -- are somehow representative of an American way of life. Well, stopped clocks are right twice a day too, I guess.

Comment Adrian Lamo: Poster Child for Power Patriotism (Score 3, Insightful) 341

He's the kind of fuckhead who would be ratting his friends out an invading force the week after they rolled over his town. He's loyal to power, doesn't have any semblance of principles that exist outside of worshiping power, and therefore he's a fucking model American (or German or Frenchman or whomever is running the show).

He probably spends weekends having wet dreams about exposing plots that discredit Old Glory, or any of the principles she has pretended to have over the past 200 years. He sleeps with on hand on a flagpole, stroking it erotically as he tries to imagine a thousand dead bodies and ten thousand eviscerated limbs and container ships full of blood pouring over his naked body to celebrate the March of Freedom -- making a pitstop in weak Arab States before it returns to bring justice to the nigger Filipinos and nigger Mexicanos and Panamanians and Nicaraguans and Hatians, fouling his financial lebensraum and ruining a diverse America predicated on the phallus worship of power and of the gun and all her related orgasms of control and death -- as long as Freedom worships American Freedom unconditionally. Unconditionally, as judicious as God: you are either with Us, or you are against Us and you are doomed to die if you do not obey. But you won't have to wait for hell in the afterlife. This is currently available for overnight delivery, if you call now.

Just before he climaxes, a tear forms in Adrian's eye as he imagines how glorious and good he is, offering the savage Arab a chance to get on their knees and sign up for slavery instead of being killed on the spot. He revels in the moment that God was in the room when his Lord and Savior, George Herbert Walker, decided in his infinite wisdom to kill a few hundred thousand Iraqis and displace two million more in order to improve women's rights by sending tens of thousands of them into prostitution after killing their husbands on the battlefield. In his own way, Adrian has freed the Iraqi people from the tyranny of owning their own resources, and replaced their struggle against corruption of their government with a loss of basic security, infrastructure, and education.

And when he does climax, Adrian thinks about the power he protects. He thinks about raping and murdering a prisoner and then helping cover it up without having to answer to any semblance of a court. He heaves his entire body into rapture as he pictures an innocent man being electrocuted to death by someone from the Agency while Bradley Manning is forced to watch from a prison cell, crying for mercy, as part of his "non-torture" permanent solitary confinement that Adrian bravely initiated because... why?

Because in Adrian's sick fantasy, Bradley Manning is the individual who needs to be cured of dangerous fantasies. But the truth is that Adrian Lamo is a hallow imitation of a human being, and when he passes away there probably won't be a soul left to save. Lamo will worship whoever has the biggest gun, and it will serve him well because parasites make up for their lack of intelligence and abandoned independence with dependence on larger, more powerful entities who will accept fealty from any random piece of shit from the street, including Adrian Lamo.

Comment The Problem is the Federal Arbitration Act (Score 2) 147

For all of you non-lawyers who have not followed Supreme Court caselaw on arbitration, the fault lies with the Federal Arbitration Act. In short, the Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that that Act has such a strong presumption for the validity of an arbitration clause that it is impossible to wiggle out of it. The next emerging threat is going to be binding arbitration in employment contracts. It already is inserted in many employment contracts, and the only protection at the moment is being offered by the NLRB. See, e.g.,

Comment Re:You're talking to the wrong crowd (Score 1) 322

I hope the amount of incorrect, ranting assumptions you've made about me and what you think I stand for made you feel better.

Perhaps you shouldn't be blamed, but your role in the institution is clear: you help rationalize death and violence for those in pursuit of power. There are lower callings, but not many.

Do you believe that the world and humanity would be better off if the US hadn't existed after, say, WWII? Not just from a geopolitical perspective, but from perspectives of technology, medicine, and similar? Do you believe that someone like, say, China, or an amalgamation of warring mideast states, or perhaps even an old Soviet superstate would be a better global steward than the United States and the West?

The mid-east states started warring after we and our allies divided them up after WWI and purposefully separated tribal groups by state lines, and then started stealing all of their resources. China has not stepped outside of its borders in quite some time, but I understand if you're afraid of the Asiatics. 19th Century ignorance is about where I'd place your philosophical aspirations.

As for Russia, I find that simply ironic. Who was it who was invading Afghanistan to impose secular values on a fundamentalist culture, but couldn't get things done because weapons and arms were being smuggled in through Pakistan? Do I prefer the massacres in the eastern bloc to the death squads in Central America? Do I prefer the assassinations of civil rights leaders with the FBI or the KGB? How is Estonia doing vs Haiti? Latvia vs Ecuador? Poland vs Nicaragua? Was Saddam a great ally in the 1980s when we sponsored a million deaths after Iran threw out our puppet government, or was Mubarak a better investment (until recently, at least)?

Did our investment in China go up or down after they rolled over students in Tiananmen Square? What made us turn on Gaddafi after showering him with diplomatic gifts in 2008?

Do women have more rights in Saudi Arabia or Iran, and if the answer is Iran, why are we allies with Saudi Arabia?

Only a fool can see the American empire as anything than what it is: a run-of-the-mill, self-interested machine of conquest and violence. Not better or worse than any other empire, but like all empires, interested in a single question: do you obey?

If you want to defend that mentality, there's no difference between yourself an any other parasite of any other empire. You wave the stars and stripes because of your coincidental birthplace, not because it represents a value system. You're a self-righteous parasite. There's nothing special about you or about America. Not anymore.

PS: I didn't even touch the slaughter in Southeast Asia. That would have made the argument too easy.

Comment Re:You're talking to the wrong crowd (Score 5, Insightful) 322

Most of the commenters here will twist this story into how the US is somehow evil, and drone on (pun intended) about how the US and West governments and/or corporations and/or political systems are what's wrong with the world, when in reality, people are suffering and dying under actual tyranny and oppression.

Like in Syria.

You are absolutely right, and absolutely wrong.

In December of 2001, U.S. agents arranged to have a German citizen flown to a Syrian jail called the Palestine Branch, renowned for its use of torture, and later offered to pass written questions to Syrian interrogators to pose to the prisoner, according to a secret German intelligence report shown to TIME on Wednesday. The report is described in the new book Ghost Plane: The True Story of the CIA Torture Program by British investigative journalist Stephen Grey. The complex arrangement was part of the CIA's sprawling practice of extraordinary renditions, the secret transfer of terror suspects to hidden prisons across the world -- which has involved the aid of numerous foreign governments and the knowledge of key Western European allies, according to the book, which was shown to TIME by the author. After U.S. officials long refused to confirm the CIA's secret detention of terror suspects abroad, President Bush last month admitted that terror suspects had been transferred abroad to secret CIA facilities, but U.S. officials continue to deny that such prisoners have been tortured, saying that foreign governments assured them that they would be treated fairly.

Inside the CIA's Secret Prisons Program, Time Magazine, 2006

And before you backpedal on what happened to Maher Arar:

This week the Supreme Court denied, without comment, the appeal of Maher Arar, a dual citizen of Canada and Syria who was arrested in transit through JFK airport in 2002, then shipped off to Syria and tortured for 10 months. Arar's abuse allegedly included repeated beatings with electrical cables and confinement in a cell the size of a grave. When they realized they had the wrong guy -- the really, totally, and utterly innocent guy -- Arar was released without charges. He was then completely exonerated of any link to terror by the Canadian government, which impaneled a commission to investigate the incident, issued a 1,000-plus-page report on the matter, held its own intelligence forces responsible for their role in the screw-up, then apologized and paid Arar $9.8 million. Whereas the U.S. government -- as Glenn Greenwald observes -- has never apologized, never acknowledged any wrongdoing, never held anyone responsible, and, on President Barack Obama's watch, has only redoubled its efforts to prevent Arar from having even a single day in court.

So, we took an innocent man, illegally shipped him off to Syria (probably in exchange for easing off pressure on the Assad regime), tortured him, and now we're denying him his day in court to hold our government to account. Stop pretending that you, or the American government, has any principled position on matters of human rights. Syrian torture facilities are just dandy when we want to use them. The fact is that we have put more bodies in the ground this decade than the Assad regime has in it's entire family history.

That's why you focus on Assange, instead of dealing with what his organization has revealed. The truth isn't important to you. Protecting American state power is. Oddly enough, the American government keeps telling me that they're free to subpoena everything about me and my life, and that I should have nothing to fear if I have nothing to hide, and now we're saying the same thing. Why is the American government so afraid of the truth?

As a huge world power, they've got lots of little people like you, desperately clinging at the teat of the empire, ready to kill enough brown people to fill up football stadiums labeled "collateral damage" and "terrorism suspects" instead of what most of them probably are: "innocent civilians." They're not statistics, and they're not mistakes, they were human beings with families and hopes and a future, and they were all snuffed out because you and people like you would rather massacre a million people than let oil rich nations govern themselves. You'll send young Americans to die telling them it's for freedom, but really it's for the empire. It's for profit. It's for control over countries that don't want us there.

So fuck your lies, fuck your hypocrisy, fuck your deluded self righteousness, fuck your paranoid fascism, and fuck you. May you reap what you sow.

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