Later On

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

Archive for March 16th, 2015

Use the buildings to eliminate the shadow between the buildings

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More info in this article.

Written by Leisureguy

16 March 2015 at 6:27 pm

Good news: $50,000 that sheriff’s deputy stole—sorry, “seized”—will be returned to rightful owner

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When can we stop civil asset forfeiture? Do we have to do it case by case, as in this instance? Note that county is out more than $50,000, since they also paid $10,000 for his attorney’s fees.

Written by Leisureguy

16 March 2015 at 4:13 pm

Good news: Wall Street regulation may be taken away from the too-friendly and spineless NY Fed

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Pam Martens and Russ Martens report in Wall Street on Parade:

There is now a movement in Congress to strip the Federal Reserve Bank of New York of its regulatory oversight of the biggest Wall Street banks. The movement has roots among both Democrats and Republicans who are fed up with the continuing unbridled abuses of the public trust by the unruly hooligans on Wall Street and their timid regulator, the New York Fed.

The push for change is critically important for a number of reasons. Major among them is the perception that New York and its politicians are more concerned about what’s in the best interests of New York residents and less about what’s best for the country as a whole. Two trillion dollar too-big-to-fail banks may pose a systemic risk for the nation but they’re a handy source of quick, mega loans for the hedge funds and real estate interests in New York, whose employees’ free-spending ways are a boon to the pricey restaurants and upscale stores that dot the Manhattan landscape.

No two individuals have exemplified the hubris of the New York politician’s way of thinking better than Senator Chuck Schumer and former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a billionaire whose fortune derives from Wall Street.

Just one year before Wall Street’s deregulated landscape would usher in the greatest financial collapse since 1929, Schumer and Bloomberg were pushing for greater deregulation of Wall Street. The two hired McKinsey & Company to study any threats that might be lurking to New York City’s global dominance in financial services.

On January 22, 2007, the pair released the McKinsey report, titled: “Sustaining New York’s and the US’ Global Financial Services Leadership.” In a press release announcing the report, Bloomberg stated: “Our capital markets and financial services firms will only enjoy continuing growth — growth that our city expects, needs and demands — if we take seriously the challenges from rapidly-expanding competitors in Europe and Asia.”

At that very moment in time, the greatest threat to America’s competitiveness and its economic survival was not foreign competition, it was a collapse in corporate ethics on Wall Street; massive leverage; off balance sheet accounting; the unregulated issuance of toxic waste; and the intertwining of banks carrying insured deposits backed by the taxpayers with casino-style investment banks.

But Schumer and Bloomberg were blind to these risks – they wanted more deregulation and greater perks for Wall Street. One of the reforms sought was an overhaul of the legal system. In their cover letter to the McKinsey report, Schumer and Bloomberg wrote that the U.S. did not effectively discourage “frivolous litigation” against Wall Street and they wanted to see “legal reforms” to reduce “spurious and meritless litigation.” . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

16 March 2015 at 10:32 am

Equal justice, under law, NOT: David Petraeus and Stephen Kim

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Peter Maass reports in The Intercept about a flagrant example of a double standard of justice:

The lawyer for imprisoned leaker Stephen Kim has asked the Department of Justice to immediately release him from jail, accusing the government of a “profound double standard” in its treatment of leakers following a comparatively lenient plea deal for former Gen. David Petraeus.

Petraeus avoided prison time for disclosing a trove of classified information to his lover and lying to the FBI about it. Kim, meanwhile, was sentenced to 13 months in prison for violating the Espionage Act by talking to a Fox News reporter about a single classified report on North Korea. Kim pleaded guilty after a five-year legal battle that depleted his finances and sent him to the brink of suicide. Petraeus, in the wake of his plea arrangement, is expected to continue his lucrative career working for an investment bank and giving speeches.

Kim’s lawyer, Abbe Lowell, noted in a scathing letter to the DOJ that Petraeus, in his plea deal, admitted leaking a range of highly-sensitive material “at least as serious and damaging to national security as anything involved in Mr. Kim’s case” to Paula Broadwell, his lover and authorized biographer. Petraeus also acknowledged that when he was director of the CIA he lied to the FBI about leaking to Broadwell, as well as about keeping classified information at his home.

Yet while Kim, a former State Department official, was prosecuted under a draconian law against leaking — even though he merely discussed a single document that a government official later described in court filings as a “nothing burger” — Petraeus was allowed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor offense of mishandling classified information, and he was not charged at all for the felony of lying to the FBI. Under the deal, he is expected to be placed on probation for two years and pay a fine of $40,000.

“The decision to permit General Petraeus to plead guilty to a misdemeanor demonstrates more clearly than ever the profound double standard that applies when prosecuting so-called ‘leakers’ and those accused of disclosing classified information for their own purposes,” Lowell wrote in his two-page letter, which was dated March 6, just three days after the Petraeus plea deal was announced. “As we said at the time of Mr. Kim’s sentencing, lower-level employees like Mr. Kim are prosecuted under the Espionage Act because they are easy targets and lack the resources and political connections to fight back. High-level officials (such as General Petraeus and, earlier, Leon Panetta), leak classified information to forward their own agendas (or to impress their mistresses) with virtual impunity.”

Lowell was referring to former CIA director Leon Panetta, who was not punished even though, according to a report by the Defense Department’s inspector general, he leaked the name of the SEAL commando who led the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Other senior officials who have avoided jail time for offenses related to classified information include former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who was “admonished but not charged” for keeping classified information at his house; John Deutch, the former CIA director who resigned and lost his security clearance but was not charged for storing classified documents on a home computer; former National Security Adviser Sandy Berger, who was allowed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor after he surreptitiously removed classified documents from the National Archives, and former Gen. James Cartwright, who reportedlyhas been investigated as the source for a New York Times story on Stuxnet but has not been charged. Scooter Libby, who was Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, was convicted in 2007 of obstructing an investigation into the leak of a CIA agent’s name but his sentence was later commuted by President George W. Bush.

The imbalance of justice — high-level officials lightly punished while lower-level officials go to jail (such as John Kiriakou) or face years of career-ruining prosecution (such as Thomas Drake) — was emphasized by Stephen Kim’s sister, Yuri, in a statement to The Intercept. “Our family and our friends think it is just terribly unfair and not right that Stephen was given less consideration and different treatment for doing no more, and even less than General Petraeus,” she stated. “The general got the right result, but so should have Stephen. Stephen’s lawyers tried to get the Justice Department to address this disparity but they would not do so. We want others to know this.” . . .

Continue reading.

And Matt Apuzzo reports in the NY Times:

The plea deal given to retired Gen. David H. Petraeus, which spares him prison time even though he gave military secrets to his mistress, reveals a “profound double standard” in the way the Obama administration treats people who leak classified information, a lawyer for an imprisoned government contractor wrote in a letter to prosecutors.

The sharply worded letter calls for the Justice Department to immediately release from prison Stephen J. Kim, an arms expert and former State Department contractor who is serving a 13-month sentence for disclosing classified information about North Korea to Fox News. Mr. Kim has said he was trying to call public attention to the threat posed by that country.

Mr. Petraeus, one of the most celebrated American generals of his generation, is scheduled to be sentenced next month for giving his handwritten journals — containing notes from his meetings with the president, the names of covert officers and other secrets — to his lover for a glowing biography she was writing about him. The Justice Department agreed not to seek jail time.

“The decision to permit General Petraeus to plead guilty to a misdemeanor demonstrates more clearly than ever the profound double standard that applies when prosecuting so-called ‘leakers’ and those accused of disclosing classified information for their own purposes,” wrote Abbe D. Lowell, a lawyer for Mr. Kim.

The letter, dated March 6, arrived . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

16 March 2015 at 10:06 am

Municipal courts operate in secret and work hard to keep it that way

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St. Louis MO seems to be a hotbed of bad government. Jennifer Mann and Stephen Deere report in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on the flagrantly unconstitutional municipal courts in the area are run.

Some of the best deals that are made in the region’s municipal courts never see the light of day.

When prosecutors dismiss a citation it is often done at a whisper, in a side room, or out of court altogether.

Then the record is sealed under a state law that is ostensibly to protect the falsely accused but in reality often hides favors.

It’s just one example of how the region’s municipal courts operate in secret, keeping uneven treatment private and using laws and court rules to justify it.

A Post-Dispatch investigation into the courts found a pervasive lack of transparency. Court hearings are conducted in assembly-line fashion and in hushed tones, without any way for the public to learn what is happening with each case. Public records are sparse — viewing a single case file can often take days of waiting and require permission from a city attorney. Then there are the side deals, which are hidden but prolific.

Even in court sessions that are theoretically open, judges often speak in whispers at the bench, making it impossible to hear exchanges with defendants who don’t have attorneys. It’s here where they quietly discuss what a person can pay and when.

The prosecutor often sits in a side room, ready to make deals. Attorneys file in and out, if they show in court at all. Many attorneys will both enter on a case and seek a recommendation from the prosecutor all at once by way of a fax machine, mail or an online service. These are the agreements that result in points staying off someone’s driving record. . .

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Written by Leisureguy

16 March 2015 at 9:56 am

Conservative publications chastise conservatives for ignoring DoJ report on Ferguson

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This is interesting: two different conservative publications have strongly criticized conservatives for ignoring or making light of the DoJ report on Ferguson MO.

Leon Wolf at Red State writes under the headline “Many Conservatives are Blowing it on the Ferguson DOJ Report”:

It’s unfortunate, the way news is consumed and interpreted in the age of twitter. Everyone feels tremendous pressure to form an opinion quickly and state it loudly and with certainty. Once this has been done, people are highly resistant to changing their minds and they become impervious to new evidence, often dismissing out of hand outright facts just because they are reported by a given source (e.g., “the media is untrustworthy” or “you can’t trust the Holder Department of Justice.”) Perhaps nowhere has this phenomenon been more obvious (or regrettable) than in Ferguson, Missouri, in the wake of the shooting death of Michael Brown. Interpreting the news out of Ferguson has become a part of ideological tribalism in which, if you are a conservative you stand for the Ferguson PD and if you are a liberal you stand against them. Thus, liberals have become highly resistant to assimilating information that strongly suggests that “hands up, don’t shoot” never happened. Conservatives, on the other hand, have become highly resistant to assimilating information that strongly suggests that the Ferguson PD – as with many other municipal police departments in the country – truly is out of control, in that it recklessly violates the constitutional rights of the citizens of Ferguson and does so in a manner that has a clearly disproportionate impact on minorities.

I took the time over the weekend to read the entirety of the 102-page Department of Justice report on the Ferguson PD (“FPD”). I cannot recommend highly enough that you do the same. During the course of this reading, I intentionally read it with as jaundiced of an eye towards the Department of Justice as possible. I intentionally disregarded all commentary regarding what the DOJ investigators reported that they saw, and also all of their reported interviews of the citizens of Ferguson and FPD officers. I decided to say to myself, let’s assume that everything DOJ says is a lie, and also that everyone who was willing to talk to the DOJ during the course of their investigation either lied or shaded the truth. What remained astounded me.

Even if you read only the parts of the Ferguson DOJ report that come directly from the files of the FPD (which is to say, files that would be most favorable to the Department), the report paints an incredibly damning picture of the Ferguson Police Department. No conservative on earth should feel comfortable with the way the Ferguson PD has been operating for years, even according to their own documents.

The reflexive defense of the FPD by conservatives tends to come from two sources: . . .

Continue reading.

The second is by Jason Lee Storts in National Review:

The shooting of two Ferguson police officers on Thursday is despicable. I believe that people who call for violence against cops are not morally blameless of the violence that ensues; I also believe that the people who actually commit such acts are fully accountable individuals whose milieu does not diminish their guilt. Blame is not zero-sum. But I think, finally, that Milwaukee sheriff David Clarke is wrong, and contemptibly so, to blame the Justice Department’s report on Ferguson for having “fueled this cop hatred, this anti-police sentiment, that’s going on in America.” This sort of view seems to be widely held on the right, with many people dismissing the Ferguson report’s criticisms as spurious. Having now read the report myself, I think, to the contrary, that anyone who cares about protecting citizens from abusive and arbitrary officialdom should — whatever else he may think of Eric Holder’s tenure as attorney general — be grateful that the report exists. Here are the main points I’ve taken away from it: Ferguson police officers have routinely violated constitutional rights and engaged in conduct that is, by any reasonable standard, appalling. If you doubt me, read the report; if you don’t have time, head over to The Atlantic’s website and read Conor Friedersdorf’s compilation of excerpts from it. By way of summary: The report establishes that Ferguson police officers “violate the Fourth Amendment in stopping people without reasonable suspicion, arresting them without probable cause, and using unreasonable force. Officers frequently infringe on residents’ First Amendment rights, interfering with their right to record police activities and making enforcement decisions based on the content of individuals’ expression.” Each of these claims is supported by descriptions of multiple violations. Here is one such; many others are equally outrageous:  . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

16 March 2015 at 9:49 am

What exactly does a NYPD cop have to do to lose his job?

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Apparently more than these two did. Besides the assault on the rape victim, note that one of them had also claimed for overtime for work he did not in fact do (fraud).

Written by Leisureguy

16 March 2015 at 9:43 am

Posted in Law Enforcement

Perfect result, but razor feels somewhat harsh

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SOTD 16 Mar 2015

I really like Soap Commander Rose—and note that it’s a vegan soap. It lathers quite well and the rose fragrance is not faint. (I like fragrances I can easily smell.) I just sent some soaps and creams to a WEdger to share with novices, and I included a TOBS grapefruit and Tiki Spice Islands. He commented that he had avoid fruit fragrances because they sounded unappealing, but he loved those two. So again: do not decide based on expectations since they are so frequently contradicted by experience.

The brush is an H.L. Thäter that I like a lot. Lather was a little sparse on the third pass, but I think I simply stopped loading too soon and had too little water in the loading process.

I got a perfect BBS result with the Above the Tie S2 on the UFO handle, but the S2 continues to feel somewhat harsh. (I had the same thing with the R baseplates: R1, like the S1, was perfect; R2, like the S2, felt harsh. No nicks from either, but no pleasure, either.) Moral: be sure to test and exchange if it doesn’t work. I should explicitly state: the R2 and the S2 are perfect for some other men. The Above the Tie baseplates seem to be tuned to a narrow range, which is why they offer 6 different baseplates in regular razors (M1, M2, R1, R2, H1, H2, 1 = bar guard, 2 = open comb) and 2 in slants (S1, S2). Once you find the baseplate right for you, you’re golden.

Three passes, BBS result, and a good splash of Saint Charles Shave’s Savory Rose.

Written by Leisureguy

16 March 2015 at 9:17 am

Posted in Shaving

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