Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for January 29th, 2015

University of Illinois lies after caving to demands from donors

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Amazing story by Andrew Fishman in The Intercept. The university president clearly has the spine of a jellyfish. From the story:

Salaita, author of six books, was teaching on the faculty of Virginia Tech in 2013. He then accepted a position as a tenured professor of Native American studies at the University of Illinois-Urbana Champlain campus on October 3, 2013 and was scheduled to begin teaching the following fall. He and his wife both resigned from their positions and prepared to move to Illinois.

On August 2, 2014, he received a letter from University Chancellor Phyllis Wise and Vice President Christophe Pierre stating that his appointment would “not be recommended by for submission to the Board of Trustees in September,” a process that is typically done en masse and was widely understood as a formality.

The sudden and unexpected reversal was a response to tweets Salaita had written that were critical of Israel’s Operation Protective Edge, a bloody, 50-day military campaign in the Gaza Strip in which, according to the UN, 2,131 Palestinians were killed, along with 71 Israelis (all but five of whom were soldiers).

Salaita’s multiple tweets were highlighted in an  article in the conservative outlet, The Daily Caller. The University board of trustees then convened an unusual session on July 24 to discuss the tenor of Salaita’s tweets and his position at the university and, on September 11, voted 8-to-1 to reject his appointment.

In a public statement, Chancellor Wise said : ,

The decision regarding Prof. Salaita was not influenced in any way by his positions on the conflict in the Middle East nor his criticism of Israel. Our university is home to a wide diversity of opinions on issues of politics and foreign policy. […] What we cannot and will not tolerate at the University of Illinois are personal and disrespectful words or actions that demean and abuse either viewpoints themselves or those who express them.

Written by LeisureGuy

29 January 2015 at 4:53 pm

Does Obama care about the law at all? NSA continues illegal mass collection of metadata

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Dan Froomkin writes at The Intercept:

he presidential advisory board on privacy that recommended a slew of domestic surveillance reforms in the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations reported today that many of its suggestions have been agreed to “in principle” by the Obama administration, but in practice, very little has changed.

Most notably, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board called attention to the obvious fact that one full year after it concluded that the government’s bulk collection of metadata on domestic telephone calls is illegal and unproductive, the program continues apace.

“The Administration accepted our recommendation in principle. However, it has not ended the bulk telephone records program on its own, opting instead to seek legislation to create an alternative to the existing program,” the report notes.

And while Congress has variously debated, proposed, neutered, and failed to agree on any action, the report’s authors point the finger of blame squarely at President Obama. “It should be noted that the Administration can end the bulk telephone records program at any time, without congressional involvement,” the report says.

Obama said a year ago that he favored an end to the government collection of those records if an alternative — such as keeping the records at the telephone companies, or with a third party — still allowed them to be searchable by the government. The White House was recently said to be “still considering” the matter.

The board noted that Obama has accepted some, but not all, of the privacy safeguards it recommended — somewhat reducing the ease and depth with which National Security Agency agents can dig through the domestic data, but not, for instance, agreeing to delete the data after three years, instead of five.  . . .

Continue reading. Later in the column:

. . . one recommendation in particular – that the intelligence community develop some sort of methodology to assess whether any of this stuff is actually doing any good — has been notably “not implemented.”

“Determining the efficacy and value of particular counterterrorism programs is critical,” the board says. “Without such determinations, policymakers and courts cannot effectively weigh the interests of the government in conducting a program against the intrusions on privacy and civil liberties that it may cause.”

Bureaucracies really do not like to investigate the efficacy of their programs—for obvious reasons: if ineffective programs are discontinued, the bureaucracy shrinks. In a bureaucracy, budget is power, and the bigger the budget, the more power the bureaucrat commands. Thus the growing bureaucratic empires.

Written by LeisureGuy

29 January 2015 at 4:46 pm

Seattle police officer is insane

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Watch this video, and note the officer’s saying just after 2:35 that the man had swung the golf club at her. As the video clearly shows, that is an outright lie. It’s similar to the way police shout, “Stop resisting arrest!” as they beat someone.

We have a serious problem with the police in this country—certainly not all police, but enough to show that something’s gone badly wrong:

Seattle has apologized to the man, but what on earth was that officer thinking?

Update: Turns out that the officer seems to be racist. Note this story, which has some interesting detail

Written by LeisureGuy

29 January 2015 at 2:02 pm

Posted in Law Enforcement

Denver Cops Kill Teen, Order Witnesses Not to Record Aftermath

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A post at the site by Carlos Miller:

Denver police shot and killed a teenage girl Monday after claiming she was trying to run them over in a stolen car.

They also ordered her surviving friends not to record the aftermath.

And although a witness did apparently record the aftermath, according to media reports, that video is nowhere to be found online.

But it supposedly shows police dragging Jessica Hernandez’s lifeless body out of the car, rolling her over on the ground and handcuffing her as her friends in the car exclaimed, “she’s dead.”

The officer who feared for his life and opened fire was treated and released from a local hospital with a minor leg injury. Another officer also opened fire.

It was the third time in seven months that Denver police have shot at suspects they say were using cars as weapons.

Hernandez was either 16 or 17, according to news reports.

According to the Denver Post:

Brianna Diaz, whose house backs up to the alley where the shooting happened, said her 16-year-old sister was a passenger in the car.

Diaz said her mother ran out of the house after hearing the shots and was stopped by an officer who grabbed her and tried to calm her down.

“My mom told me to start filming, but when I took out my phone, the cop was like, ‘Don’t you dare!’ ” she said.

Four teen girls and a teen boy had been sitting in the car in the alley for several hours, listening to music and talking, said the parent of one of the teens. She spoke on condition of anonymity.

Earlier in the night, several girls had gathered at Fred N. Thomas Memorial Park to play with a Ouija board and to hang out. The parent had been upset because her daughter had not come home Sunday night and had not responded to phone calls and text messages.

A neighbor captured a video of the female suspect being searched by police after she was shot. In the video, the teen is handcuffed and rolled on her stomach and back on the ground, appearing to be searched. . .

Continue reading. Later in the article, an interesting point that makes the shooting look as though it had nothing to do with a car hitting a cop:

A witness to the shooting told a local media station that the cop who shot Hernandez walked up to the side window and opened fire, meaning he was never standing directly in front of the car where he would have feared for his life.

Tuesday, 9Wants to Know investigator Chris Vanderveen spoke to a teen who was in the car at the time of the shooting. There were five people inside the car at the time.

She wants to remain anonymous for now because of the sensitive nature of the case.

“When the cops walked up, they were on [Jessica’s] side of the car, and they shot the window and they shot her. That’s when she wrecked, and that’s when the cop got hit.”

The eyewitness said, due to the shooting, Jessica was not in control of the car when it hit the officer.

The conflicting information doesn’t prove any wrongdoing on the part of Denver officers, it should be said, but it does offer an alternate theory as to what led up to the shooting.

The officer suffered a broken leg, according to Chief White. The witness tells 9Wants to Know the officer was pinned between the car and a fence, and that’s why the officer suffered a broken leg.

An autopsy completed by the Denver Coroner’s Office indicates Hernandez died as a result of multiple gunshot wounds. The office would not comment on what “multiple” meant, but another witness tells 9Wants to Know she remembers hearing at least four shots.

While the local news station is sure to point out that the “conflicting information doesn’t prove any wrongdoing on the  part of Denver officers,” it certainly indicates there is another side to this story that perhaps the cops killed her in cold blood.

And that, of course, would explain why they did not want any witnesses recording.

The Denver Police Department will investigate itself, and we know how that works out: an incredibly obvious conflict of interest. As noted:

Now Hernandez’s friends and families are protesting the shooting, demanding a full investigation by the district attorney, but also having no confidence because it’s been more than 20 years since a local cop faced charges in a shooting.

It is not surprising that Denver police tried to prevent witnesses from recording as they have a history of doing that.

Written by LeisureGuy

29 January 2015 at 1:11 pm

Posted in Law Enforcement

Police arrest public defender for doing her job

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This seems somewhat excessive, particularly given how strongly cops object to have photos taken of themselves.

See also this post on the same incident.

Written by LeisureGuy

29 January 2015 at 1:04 pm

Posted in Law Enforcement

A two-brush, two-razor test shave: Parker 24C and Gillette NEW

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SOTD 29 Jan 2015

An extremely good shave today: BBS without flaw.

Let’s start with the soap, i Coloniali. In the past, I found that I didn’t much like the lather, but then someone told me it was a thirsty soap, and I realize that the symptoms (fading lather, mainly) that I experienced matched those of other thirsty soaps. My original dripping-wet-brush lathering method did not deliver enough water at the right time to make a good lather with thirsty soaps: after the initial spillage when I started loading the brush, holding the tub on its side over the sink, I seem not to have had enough water left for later in the process.

I now start with a brush that’s had a good shake after being wetted, and then I add a little water as I load the brush. Works like a charm, and with this soap the lather is incredibly good. A great soap.

I was comparing two brushes: the Omega S-Series brush on the left ($8) and the Kent Infinity Silvertex on the right ($25). Both brushes performed well. The Kent’s loft is a little shorter, and the knot is somehow tighter: it feels firmer on the face and would probably please those who like “backbone” in their brushes without being so damn springy as the Omega Hi-Performance synthetic (which I found unusable for me). The Omega has a slightly softer feel and opened more easily under pressure, which I like.

But in fact, the two brushes were pretty much neck and neck in performance; the main differences were knot color, loft, handle, and so on. Either would work fine, though the Kent is a little over 3 times the cost of the Omega.

The razors—the Parker 24C and the Gillette long-toothed NEW—both had Personna Lab Blue blades and both provided an excellent shave. Indeed, they perform very much alike. The Parker is $29 and the cost of a NEW will depend on condition, etc.: as a vintage razor, you have to seek out one that is in good condition. But in terms of performance, they are very, very close—and excellent: comfortable and efficient.

Mickey Lee Soapworks Italian Stallion is a prime example of experience contradicting expectations. I didn’t think I would like it and never had considered it, but I got a sample with my order and turned out to like it quite a bit. Viva samples!

I’m slow cooking a pork shoulder to which I’ve added 1/4 c liquid smoke. It will sit, covered, in a 200º F oven for the day. Yum.

Written by LeisureGuy

29 January 2015 at 10:48 am

Posted in Shaving

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