Later On

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

Archive for May 2015

The Secret Origins of the CIA’s Torture Program and the Forgotten Man Who Tried to Expose It

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Barbara Myers writes at TomDispatch.com:

The witness reported men being hung by the feet or the thumbs, waterboarded, given electric shocks to the genitals, and suffering from extended solitary confinement in what he said were indescribably inhumane conditions. It’s the sort of description that might have come right out of the executive summary of the Senate torture report released last December. In this case, however, the testimony was not about a “black site” somewhere in the Greater Middle East, nor was it a description from Abu Ghraib, nor in fact from this century at all.

The testimony came from Vietnam; the year was 1968; the witness was Anthony J. Russo, one of the first Americans to report on the systematic torture of enemy combatants by CIA operatives and other U.S. agents in that long-gone war. The acts Russo described became commonplace in the news post-9/11 and he would prove to be an early example of what also became commonplace in our century: a whistleblower who found himself on the wrong side of the law and so was prosecuted for releasing the secret truth about the acts of our government.

Determined to shine a light on what he called “the truth held prisoner,” Russo blew the whistle on American torture policy in Vietnam and on an intelligence debacle at the center of Vietnam decision-making that helped turn that war into the nightmare it was. Neither of his revelations saw the light of day in his own time or ours and while Daniel Ellsberg, his compatriot and companion in revelation, remains a major figure for his role in releasing the Pentagon Papers, Russo is a forgotten man.

That’s too bad. He shouldn’t be forgotten. His is, unfortunately, a story of our times as well as his.

The CIA Interrogation Center, Saigon

Before him sat the enemy.  VC.  Vietcong. He was slender, a decade older than the 28-year-old American, and cautious in his initial responses.  The American offered him a cigarette. “Smoke?”

Anthony Russo liked to befriend his subjects, finding that sharing a cigarette or a beer and congenial conversation could improve an interview’s results.

This man’s all right, Russo thought — unlike the one he had interviewed when he first arrived in Saigon. That prisoner had sat before him, quivering in fear, pleading for his life. “Are you going to kill me?” the distraught man had said repeatedly, his thumbs red and bulbous from being strung up.

Torture was not something Russo had anticipated when he took the job. A civilian with a rank equivalent to major working for the RAND Corporation, he had arrived in the South Vietnamese capital on February 22, 1965, and was briefed on his mission. Russo was to meet the enemy face-to-face and figure out what made them tick. On that first day, he could hear General Richard Stilwell, chief of staff of Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV), barking orders from the next room: “You get every goddamn plane in the air that you can!”

Russo thought the war would be over in a few weeks, months at worst.

Instead of the limited conflict he expected, years slipped by. Bombs fell, villages were decimated, the fabric of Vietnamese life assaulted. Russo persisted with his interviews of Vietcong prisoners, witnessing the after-effects of torture in nearly every instance.

It’s hard to pinpoint just when the shift occurred in the young man who came to Southeast Asia to “promote democracy.” But as one tour of duty extended to two, contact with the enemy changed not their hearts and minds, but his. On the eve of the 1968 Tet Offensive, he returned to the United States intent on challenging the war, a chance he would get, helping his friend and RAND co-worker Daniel Ellsberg with the Pentagon Papers.

That secret history of U.S. decision-making in Vietnam, a massive compilation of internal government memoranda and analyses, had been quietly commissioned by Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara in 1967 to assess what had gone wrong in Vietnam. Ellsberg leaked the Papers to the press in mid-1971, setting off a political firestorm and First Amendment crisis. He would be indicted on charges of espionage, conspiracy, and theft of government property, and would face a maximum penalty of 115 years in prison. Charges were also brought against Russo, who was suspected of complicity, after he refused to testify before a grand jury. He was jailed for 47 days for contempt and faced a possible sentence of 35 years in prison if convicted.

Ellsberg’s leak led to a Supreme Court decision on prior restraint, a landmark First Amendment case. Though all the charges were ultimately dropped, the leak and its aftermath had major political fallout, contributing to the demise of the presidency of Richard Nixon and forming a dramatic chapter on the path to U.S. defeat in Vietnam.

Ellsberg became a twentieth-century hero, applauded in print and film, his name nearly synonymous with the Pentagon Papers, but Russo, the young accomplice who goaded Ellsberg to go public, has been nearly forgotten. Yet he was, according to Ellsberg, the first person to document the systematic torture of enemy combatants in Vietnam. If no one knows this, it’s because his report on the subject remains buried in the vaults of the RAND Corporation, the think tank that did research for the Pentagon in Vietnam. Similarly, while the use of unprecedented airpower against the civilian populations of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia inspired international calls for war crimes trials in the 1970s, Russo’s exposure of the fabrication of data that propped up that air war remains but a footnote in Vietnam War historiography, unknown to all but a handful of academics. . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

31 May 2015 at 2:51 pm

Saving the bees: Easy, but we won’t do it because corporations will resist

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It’s pretty easy to save the bees in terms of effort, but because corporate profits will be somewhat reduced, corporations will not allow it, and corporations control legislators. So no action will be taken despite the environmental danger—cf. global warming: clear and imminent danger, nothing done because it would impact oil and coal profits. Example.

Lindsay Abrams writes in Salon:

The world’s bees are in trouble, and progress in addressing the underlying problems contributing to their demise, from the use of dangerous pesticides to the destruction of their habitat, is painfully slow.

But it still isn’t too late, a hopeful, if not terribly optimistic Dave Goulson tells Salon.

A professor of biology at the University of Sussex and the founder of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Goulson knows better than anyone just how massive the challenges are, but also how capable we are of meeting them — if we only muster the will. His work studying the bees’ plight was the focus of his first book, “A Sting in the Tale” — Salonspoke with him about it last May. His latest book, “A Buzz in the Meadow,” has as its centerpiece a small part of the solution: Goulson writes of his decade-plus-long project of transforming a rundown farm in rural France into a thriving meadow, which teems with life of all sorts and has become a haven for wild bees.

Salon caught up with Goulson to gauge the current situation and for a much-needed reminder that saving the bees isn’t as impossible as it may seem. Our conversation has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

What’s been happening in the bee world since we talked a year ago? Have there been any big developments in research or policy that stand out to you?

The thing that everyone talks about is all the pesticide-related stuff that’s rumbling on and on and on. There’s a lot of politics there. Obama has just announced his bee care bill, and in Ontario they’re having a big battle over proposals to withdraw neonicotinoids or reduce their use by 80 percent. Over here in Europe we’ve got this moratorium in place, but it runs out this year and no one knows what to do next, so there’s a pitched battle running at the moment between the agrichemical industry and the environmentalists and scientists all caught up in the middle of it. So that’s all been interesting and messy.

I was wondering what you thought about Obama’s new pollinator plan. I know it emphasizes bee habitat and creating these pathways for bees, which you talk about in the book as extremely important to be focusing on.

I guess I’m naturally a bit of a skeptic as to the value of big documents produced by politicians, because they often don’t seem to actually result in much real action. If they really produce, now I forget of the top of my head how many million hectares of habitat it was supposed to be, was it 5 million or something?

Yes, 5 million.

If that actually happens, and it’s good habitat for bees, that would be amazing. That really would massively help. But talk is all very well; it doesn’t help anybody or anything, so it would be nice to see whether it really works.

I suppose I also thought it was a little bit weak on the pesticide side of things. It was just really saying, “We need to do loads more research.” Well, I do research, so you’d imagine I would be saying, “Yes! Lots more money, that’s what us scientists need.” And of course, that would be nice. But actually, I think we know enough to do something, so some more specific measures to reduce pesticide use would have been nice. But perhaps that was further than they were willing to go.

Are there any areas where you might suggest that, so far as pesticides go, more research really could be useful? Or is this just buying time? That’s what it sounded like to me.

I think it is buying time rather than biting the bullet, because we all know that we use too many pesticides and it’s not really good for the environment. But nobody really wants to tackle it, because there are such powerful vested interests and so much money is made from selling them that it’s politically a difficult one to take on. So it’s an easy option to say “Let’s do more research.”

There are some areas we don’t understand very well. One of the obvious ones is that when people look at the safety of any new chemical that’s being developed, it has to be evaluated — and it’s all done on little short-term toxicity trials. So you get your honeybee and you give it compound X. You basically then wait two days, and if it’s still alive after two days, all is well and it’s deemed that that compound is not going to harm honeybees. So they look at acute toxicity in very short time periods. They never look at what happens if a bee is exposed for six months to a small amount of pesticide — but that’s what really happens. Also what really happens is the bee isn’t just exposed to one chemical — it’s exposed to 10 chemicals chronically throughout its life. Nobody looks at what the effects of mixtures are on bees, or for that matter on everything else, on people. We all consume pesticides chronically, more or less in everything we eat, and yet no one really knows for sure that that isn’t harmful long-term because no one has ever studied it long-term. You couldn’t really do it; there are some obvious practical difficulties.

So as far as bees are concerned, there are some big unknowns as to just how much impact being gently, chronically exposed to a whole cocktail of chemicals throughout their lives has. We know it happens, but we don’t know what it does. But you can guess it’s probably not good for them.

Going back to habitats, I’d love it if you could take a minute and talk about the importance of restoring wild habitat and maybe a little bit about what you learned on your farm in France.

Well obviously the big reason bees have declined, and the big reason wildlife has declined globally, is loss of habitat — and particularly for bees, loss of these flowering meadows. We used to have loads and loads of them, particularly in Europe. We had this ancient tradition of making hay and so we had hay meadows all over the place: huge, huge areas of them, and they were all full of flowers and happy bees until the 1940s, ’50s, ’60s when they all just got destroyed. It’s slightly different in North America, but you still had these vast tracts of prairies not so long ago which were originally flower-rich, open grasslands full of bees. But obviously the vast majority of those got turned into cereal fields and farmland and there are basically no flowers left, or hardly any.

The simplest way, if you want to conserve bees, the most obvious thing and the least controversial thing, everyone can agree, it would be nice to have more flowers. You don’t upset too many people when you say that. But it’s true. And also going back to these other things, the pesticides and the diseases they suffer from, they’re probably better able to cope with being poisoned or infected if they’ve got lots of food. The same is true of people; obviously we all know if you’re unwell, it’s important to have healthy food and so on, because that helps build your strength and immunity. So creating areas with flowers is a really good way to help them.

But also it isn’t just about bees, because if you try and restore these flowery habitats, then it helps hundreds of other species as well. Starting with the flowers, obviously, there are all these interesting, beautiful wildflowers that used to be quite common and many of which now are very rare. It gives them somewhere to live. Loads of other insects will come with that: the grasshoppers and crickets and beetles and flies and wasps, all sorts of other things as well. So there’s a whole rich community of creatures that live in these meadows. It’s quite dear to my heart to look after the meadows that are left and create new ones if we can, which is what I’ve been up to down in France for the last 12 years.

You focus a lot on bringing our attention to these tiny species that we might overlook. We don’t hear about tiny bugs going extinct as often as bigger animals, and it seems to require a bit of a more complicated argument as to why it’s important to keep them going.

It’s actually easier to make. As I say in the book, if pandas were to go extinct, I think we’re pretty certain it wouldn’t have any repercussions for people other than we’d be sad because we wouldn’t be able to see one at the zoo. There would be no ecological impact. But obviously, for insects that live all around us — and the simplest example of course is bees — then it’s really easy to explain the link to our own well-being. We wouldn’t have those beautiful flowers, we wouldn’t have the food to eat, if we didn’t have bees. So that’s an easy one; even young schoolchildren understand that bees do something useful, pollinating flowers.

What’s a little bit harder is the next step, but I think bees are a good way into talking about this. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

31 May 2015 at 2:31 pm

The Federal government DID weaken encryption back in the ’90s, and we’re still paying the price

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Take a look at this column by Andrea Peterson in the Washington Post. It turns out that if you deliberately weaken encryption, it doesn’t work well. Huh.

Another week, another dire warning about the technology used to secure online communications. Internet security researchers are warning about apreviously undisclosed  vulnerability that affected all modern Web browsers — a weakness that could allow an attacker to snoop or even change communications thought to be secure.

The origins of the problem can be traced to the 1990s, when the government waged a policy debate known as the “Crypto Wars” over the digital technologies now widely used to keep online communications safe. But the debate, once counted as a win by privacy advocates, is now raging again — and technologists warn it could have similarly dire consequences.

The government classified encryption — a process that scrambles up information so that only those authorized can decode it — as a munition and tried to limit the spread of the most robust forms outside the United States through strict export rules on military technologies. But even though the United States reversed course by the end of the decade, the rules were so ingrained in technologies that make the Web run, they’re still causing problems today.

“The original goal of export controls was to keep strong encryption inside the U.S. — the hope was that by forcing the software industry to use weak encryption we could keep strong security out of the hands of bad guys,” said Alan Davidson, who worked on the issue at the Center for Democracy & Technology during the ’90s and was the director of New America’s Open Technology Institute when interviewed. (He just accepted a position as digital economy director at the Commerce Department.)

“But even then the notion of making strong encryption a thing for people in the U.S. that couldn’t be accessed by those outside of the U.S. didn’t make sense,” Davidson said. It created a double standard that left innocent Internet users abroad less secure, he said, and once the encryption genie was out of the bottle, it was impossible to shove back in.

And even now, long after the most restrictive export rules on encryption have been lifted, the legacy of that policy is still leaving Internet users around the world less secure, experts say.

“You mandate people do certain things that are insecure, you’re going to have a lot of nasty unintended consequences that last for a long time,” said Matt Green, one of the authors of the report that revealed the latest vulnerability, dubbed “LogJam,” and a computer science professor at Johns Hopkins University. . .

Continue reading.

And Andrea Peterson has another column on the UN’s position that encryption (strong encryption) is important for human rights, and backdoors undermine it:

A new report from the United Nation’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights says digital security and privacy are essential to maintaining freedom of opinion and expression around the world — and warns that efforts to weaken security tools in some countries may undermine it everywhere.

The report written by special rapporteur David Kaye says that encryption — the process of digitally scrambling information so that only authorized persons can access it — and anonymity tools “provide the privacy and security necessary for the exercise of the right to freedom of opinion and expression in the digital age.” The report will be presented to the U.N. Human Rights Council next month.

It comes amid a growing debate in the U.S. about how to best balance personal privacy rights and national security. Since former government contractor Edward Snowden’s revelations about National Security Agency surveillance programs, tech companies have scrambled to encrypt more of their products.

Now, some U.S. law enforcement officials are pushing to have tech companies build ways for the government to access secure content passing through their products — so-called “backdoors.” . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

31 May 2015 at 10:52 am

Once again, “Bleeding Kansas”: This time it’s jobs.

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Bleeding Kansas” was the name prompted by the bloody conflicts as defenders of slavery clashed with those who believed in human freedom in the period 1854-1861. Nowadays, however, Kansas is bleeding jobs, thanks to Gov. Sam Brownback’s policies; he has ambitions of doing the same thing to the US as a whole.

Take a look at the non-farm job situation, comparing the US as a whole (upper line) to Kansas (lower line), both lines normalized with jobs on Jan 2011 as 100. From that starting point, where both were the same (100), you see what happens with the Brownback plan:

053015krugman1-tmagArticle

The chart is from Paul Krugman’s blog post, which is worth reading (it’s brief) for the discussion and links. And the comments there are also interesting.

UPDATE: More here—and Kansas is finally thinking about restoring some of the taxes they have cut, so long as the tax burden falls mostly on the poor.

Written by LeisureGuy

31 May 2015 at 10:35 am

Posted in Business, Daily life, GOP

An excellent basic introduction to Nash equilibria, why they are good, and their drawbacks

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Very good column by John Cassidy:

Thanks to the sterling efforts of Sylvia NasarRon Howard, and Russell Crowe, many people are aware that John Nash, the Princeton mathematician who was killed over the weekend in a car crash on the New Jersey Turnpike, lived a remarkable life. It included early academic stardom, decades of struggling with schizophrenia, and, in 1994, a shared Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. But outside the field of economics, Nash’s contribution to game theory, for which he was awarded the Nobel, remains rather less well understood.

Although it is often used in economics, game theory can be applied to any venue where people, or other decision makers, interact strategically and follow rules-based behavior. The setting could be nuclear negotiations, such as the ones currently taking place between Iran and the great powers. It could be a product market, in which a number of firms compete for business. Or it could be a political campaign, in which various candidates try to outdo each other. The word “strategically” is important, because the various players, in choosing from a variety of possible moves, take account of one another’s actions, or likely actions. And the phrase “rules-based” means that the players are acting purposefully and seeking to maximize their own advantages, rather than behaving passively, or randomly.

On one level, Nash’s contribution to game theory was highly mathematical, and, ultimately, somewhat trivial. That is how his intellectual rival at Princeton, John von Neumann, reputedly described it back in 1949, anyway, and he had a point. In co-authoring the 1944 magnum opus “Theory of Games and Economic Behavior,” von Neumann had virtually invented a new subject, complete with its own language. Nash, in diverting from his studies in pure mathematics to this nascent field, showed that in a certain class of games a certain set of outcomes exists: those outcomes are now called “Nash equilibria.”

Many of Nash’s fellow mathematicians were more impressed by his work in algebraic geometry. Over time, though, the game-theoretical methods he pioneered became widely used in the social sciences, and especially in economics. Indeed, in a 2004 article for the National Academy of Sciences that reviewed the genesis and development of Nash-based game theory, the economists Charles Holt and Alvin Roth noted, “Students in economics classes today probably hear John Nash’s name as much as or more than that of any economist.”

To understand why that is, you need to know a bit about the history of economics. Before game theory was invented, . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

31 May 2015 at 10:08 am

How religion impacts same-sex marriage

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Via The Eldest, with the graphic by Rebecca Hendin:

rebecca-hendin-illustration-irish-same-sex-marriage-cartoon-1000pix

Written by LeisureGuy

31 May 2015 at 9:56 am

Posted in Daily life, Religion

An interesting new user interface: Hand gestures

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Italians will love it, eh? 🙂 The story by Hayley Tsukayama is here, but watch this video:

The example interactions are fascinating.

Written by LeisureGuy

31 May 2015 at 9:35 am

Posted in Daily life, Technology

Broadening one’s appreciation of wine: In Pursuit of Balance

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Very interesting article in the NY Times Magazine on an upstart wine movement to bring attention to a broader range of what counts as a good wine—and specifically to highlight wines with low alcohol content from younger grapes that allow for a more variegated range of aromas and tastes. Bruce Schoenfeld writes:

In the steep hills of Central California near Lompoc, on a slope that runs along Santa Rosa Road, two vineyards lie side by side. To all appearances, the Sea Smoke and Wenzlau properties occupy one continuous parcel of land. The vines are indistinguishable; they grow in the same soil and get the same sunlight. Nevertheless, grapes planted only a few feet apart end up in bottles of pinot noir that have little in common.

Sea Smoke’s top releases sell for more than $100, and its intensely flavored wines receive all manner of critical acclaim. But the winemaker who leases the Wenzlau vines next door — Rajat Parr, a former sommelier who is a co-owner of two wine labels, Sandhi and Domaine de la Côte — can’t understand why anyone would drink them. He believes that the grapes are picked far too late, when they’re far too ripe, and that the resulting wine is devoid of both subtlety and freshness. Parr does things differently from his neighbors at Sea Smoke, starting with when he harvests. “Our wines are fermenting in barrels, we’ve gone home,” he says, “and they haven’t picked a berry yet.”

Sugar content, which determines alcohol levels, rises as fruit ripens. Parr’s wines are full of aromas and flavors that admirers compare to things you would never think to connect to wine, like the leaf-­strewn ground in a forest. To Parr, and a growing number of like-­minded colleagues, such nuance becomes impossible to achieve when the wines are too alcoholic; it’s as if the lilting flutes and oboes of a symphony have been drowned out by a slash of electric guitar. He prefers an alcohol concentration below 14 percent and often far lower, depending on the grape variety, as opposed to the 15 percent and higher that is common in California. So Parr harvests his fruit iconoclastically early. “If you pick a grape off the vine and it tastes yummy,” he is fond of saying, “you’ve already missed it.”

Early one recent morning, Parr took me to La Côte vineyard, several miles inland from the Pacific Ocean. The sun was shining when I left Santa Barbara, where the temperature was headed for the 70s. I knew Parr preferred sites that were far cooler than the surrounding area, but it hadn’t occurred to me to bring a jacket. By the time we reached the vineyard, rain was falling hard. The temperature was 49 degrees, and the whipping wind made it feel colder. Grapes grew all around me, but it was the least hospitable vineyard I’ve ever visited, more like a gathering spot for Celtic druids than a setting suitable for the cultivation of fruit.

As we hiked past stick-­figure vines, their leaves shivering in the gusts, Parr explained that he wanted the specifics of the place — the shale in the soil, that cutting Pacific wind — to be evident in the taste of the wine itself. He hates the idea of blending top-­quality grapes from different vineyards into the same bottle, which many producers do. Those wines might taste good, he admitted, but they lack depth and intrigue. “I don’t believe in the ‘best’ — that the best grapes from different areas come together and create the ‘best’ wine,” he said. “I think there’s more to wine than that.”

Most California winemakers, it’s safe to say, are trying to produce something more like Sea Smoke than Domaine de la Côte. Before Napa Valley’s emergence in the ­1980s, highly regarded wines were made in regions — mostly various places in France — where cool, wet summers tended to undermine agricultural efforts. The standout vintages were from the warmest years, those infrequent occasions when grapes reached full maturity before being picked. In California, where sunshine is abundant, ripeness is rarely an issue. Fully ripe wines are possible not only once or twice a decade, but just about every year.

If ripe wines are considered good, many California producers reasoned, those made from grapes brought to the brink of desiccation, to the peak of ripeness (or even a bit beyond), should taste even better. That logical leap has created a new American vernacular for wine, a dense, opaque fruitiness well suited to a nation of Pepsi drinkers. More sweet fruit, more of the glycerol that makes wine feel thicker in the mouth, more alcohol. And by extension, more pleasure.

Pleasure is a matter of opinion, of course. But for three decades, the tastes of mainstream American wine drinkers have been shaped by the personal preferences of one man, Robert M. Parker Jr. A 2013 inductee of the California Vintners Hall of Fame — as a reviewer — Parker has been anointed by The Atlantic Monthly as “the most influential critic in the world,” all genres included. As it happens, he has made a career out of championing exactly the style of wine that Parr and his colleagues disdain. In my conversations with them, no phrase elicited more derision than “Parker wines.” It was shorthand, fair or not, for wines they deem generically obvious and overblown.

Until a few years ago, if you wanted to drink a wine with a European sense of proportion, you bought a European wine. In 2011, in reaction to an American marketplace that they perceived to be dismissive of California wines made in anything but the superripe style, Parr and Jasmine Hirsch of Hirsch Vineyards in Sonoma County began soliciting members for a loose confederation of pinot-­noir producers called In Pursuit of Balance. The group, which charges a $900 annual fee, conducts what amounts to a political campaign on behalf of viticultural restraint. Most of its 33 members — located from Anderson Valley, about 100 miles north of San Francisco, to Santa Barbara — make modest amounts of wine, somewhere between 40,000 and 60,000 bottles a year. That’s too small, typically, to have much of a marketing budget. But by joining the group, which stages tastings around the country (and sometimes abroad), they’re able to reach the consumers who are most likely to appreciate their wines.

In recent months, many of these have started appearing in shops and on wine lists. At some restaurants in Brooklyn and certain San Francisco neighborhoods, for example, theirs are the only domestic wines available. The success of this nonconformist group, a sort of guerrilla movement against the California mainstream, has prompted invective-­filled exchanges on Internet bulletin boards, blogs and Twitter feeds. Partisans fight over alcohol levels, the proper role of critics and whether restaurants should be trying to influence their customers’ tastes by carrying only certain styles of wine.

At its core, though, the debate is about the philosophical purpose of fine wine. Should oenologists try to make beverages that are merely delicious? Or should the ideal be something more profound and intellectually stimulating? Are the best wines the equivalent of Hollywood blockbusters or art-house films? And who gets to decide? . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

31 May 2015 at 7:44 am

Posted in Drinks, Food

Representatives who sit in glass Houses should not throw stones

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Orin Kerr notes in the Washington Post:

If I understand the history correctly, in the late 1990s, the President was impeached for lying about a sexual affair by a House of Representatives led by a man who was also then hiding a sexual affair, who was supposed to be replaced by another Congressman who stepped down when forced to reveal that he too was having a sexual affair, which led to the election of a new Speaker of the House who now has been indicted for lying about payments covering up his sexual contact with a boy.

Yikes.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 May 2015 at 7:32 pm

Posted in Congress

Police killers protected by their departments and poor judges

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First, the poor judge: Prosecutor Faults Judge in Cleveland Police Verdict

That’s an important story, since normally prosecutors defend police beyond all reason.

Second, A Florida Police Killing Like Many, Disputed and Little Noticed, by Frances Robles in the NY Times. The report begins:

The witnesses who saw a Broward County deputy sheriff kill a man who had strolled through his apartment complex with an unloaded air rifle propped on his shoulders agreed: Just before he was gunned down, Jermaine McBean had ignored the officers who stood behind him shouting for him to drop his weapon.

Nothing, the officer swore under oath, prevented Mr. McBean from hearing the screaming officers.

Newly obtained photographic evidence in the July 2013 shooting of Mr. McBean, a 33-year-old computer-networking engineer, shows that contrary to repeated assertions by the Broward Sheriff’s Office, he was wearing earbuds when he was shot, suggesting that he was listening to music and did not hear the officers. The earphones somehow wound up in the dead man’s pocket, records show.

“I want justice for something that went totally wrong.” Mr. McBean’s mother, Jennifer Young, said in an interview. She added that she believed officers had profiled her son because he was black.

A federal wrongful death lawsuit filed May 11 accused the Broward Sheriff’s Office of tampering with evidence and obstructing justice. The suit alleges that the deputy who shot Mr. McBean perjured himself and that the department covered it up by giving him a bravery award shortly after the killing, while the shooting was still under investigation.

From Ferguson, Mo., to Baltimore to Cleveland, the nation seems awash in disputed, high-profile cases of police violence. But a look at disputed cases in Florida is a reminder of how frequently they arise far from the limelight and how many questions surround the way they are investigated. The issue is particularly acute in Florida, where State Department of Law Enforcement statistics show the number of fatal police shootings has tripled in the past 15 years, even as crime has plummeted.

In South Florida’s Broward County, no officer has been charged in a fatal on-duty police shooting since 1980, a period that covers 168 shooting deaths.

“The court never goes against the police,” said Rajendra Ramsahai, whose brother-in-law, Deosaran Maharaj, was killed by a Broward County deputy last year. “They are always ruling in the officer’s favor.”

In civil wrongful death cases throughout South Florida, lawyers discovered that files were missing, that dashboard camera videos had been erased and that police department accounts sometimes did not match the evidence. Cases like Mr. McBean’s underscore how law enforcement agencies that handle their own shooting investigations can be exposed to criticism years after the crime-scene tape has been taken down and the television cameras are gone. . .

Continue reading.

By all means, read the entire report. Police in the US are literally getting away with murder.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 May 2015 at 6:42 pm

Posted in Law Enforcement

JPMorgan Chase Writes Arrogant Letter to Its Swindled Forex Customers

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Pam Martens and Russ Martens, again in Wall Street on Parade:

As the U.S. Department of Labor deliberates giving JPMorgan Chase a waiver to continue business as usual after it pleaded guilty to a felony charge for engaging in a multi-bank conspiracy to rig foreign currency trading, a letter the bank sent to its foreign currency customers should become Exhibit A in the deliberations. The letter effectively tells JPMorgan’s customers, here’s how we’re going to continue to rip your face off.

Two sections of the letter stand out in particular. One section reads:

“As a market maker that manages a portfolio of positions for multiple counterparties’ competing interests, as well as JPMorgan’s own interests,JPMorgan acts as principal and may trade prior to or alongside a counterparty’s transaction to execute transactions for JPMorgan…” (Italic emphasis added.)

Most of the general public believes that proprietary trading (trading for the house) was outlawed by the Volcker Rule under the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation. Most of the public believes that trading ahead of your client’s order is called front-running and is illegal. On both points, the public is dead wrong. First, the Volcker Rule has yet to be implemented. Its effective date continues to be pushed forward. Secondly, foreign exchange spot trading between big banks and institutions (like the folks who manage your pension money) is an unregulated market left to the non-legally-binding “best practice” agreements by the biggest banks. As we reported on May 14, the Chair of the group drawing up these best practices is Troy Rohrbaugh, the head of Foreign Exchange trading at JPMorgan Chase since 2005 – including the periods for which the bank has been charged with felony conduct.

Making this best practice committee even more specious is that it is sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, part of the Federal Reserve which just fined JPMorgan Chase $342 million for lacking “adequate Firm-wide governance, risk management, compliance and audit policies and procedures to ensure that the Firm’s Covered FX [foreign exchange trading] Activities conducted at the FX Subsidiaries complied with safe and sound banking practices, applicable U.S. laws and regulations, including policies and procedures to prevent potential violations of the U.S. commodities, antitrust and criminal fraud laws, and applicable internal policies…”

Another section of the JPMorgan letter states:

“JPMorgan is not required to disclose to a counterparty when the counterparty attempts to leave an order that JPMorgan is handling other counterparties’ ordersor JPMorgan orders ahead of, or at the same time as, or on an aggregated basis with, the counterparty’s order.  JPMorgan is under no obligation to disclose to a counterparty why JPMorgan is unable to execute the counterparty’s order in whole or in part, provided that JPMorgan will be truthful if we agree to disclose such information.” (Italic emphasis added.)

In other words, despite five of the largest banks in the world pleading guilty to felonies, JPMorgan Chase still is not required to disclose a flaming conflict of interest to a customer unless it chooses “to disclose such information.”

Welcome to the world of the still unregulated Wall Street — despite its crashing the U.S. economy in 2008, over $13 trillion in loans and bailouts, nonstop charges of plundering the little guy and violating the public trust.

According to the Bank for International Settlements, . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 May 2015 at 3:47 pm

Posted in Business, Government, Law

These Two Women Are Rattling Wall Street With Common Sense Values

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

Senator Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts is a household name in America. Kara Stein is not. But both of these women are having a seismic impact on entrenched Wall Street group-think in Washington.

Stein is one of the five Commissioners of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), appointed by President Obama and sworn in just 22 months ago. Stein brought a unique set of qualifications to the SEC: from 2009 to 2013, Stein served as Staff Director of the Securities, Insurance, and Investment Subcommittee of the Senate Banking Committee. She is credited with playing a key role in drafting significant portions of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

What Warren and Stein have in common are values of right and wrong that resonate deeply with the American people and the willingness to speak common sense truths that challenge the status quo thinking about Wall Street. Warren was a former law professor at Harvard; Stein has a law degree from Yale. These attributes have Wall Street in a deep sweat.

Last Wednesday, the same day that the U.S. Department of Justice announced criminal guilty pleas from two U.S. banks, Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase, and three foreign banks, RBS, Barclays and UBS, the SEC granted all five banks waivers so that they could continue business as usual. Stein wrote a dissenting opinion, effectively shaming the SEC. Noting the serial crimes these banks have been committing for years, Stein wrote:

“Allowing these institutions to continue business as usual, after multiple and serious regulatory and criminal violations, poses risks to investors and the American public that are being ignored.  It is not sufficient to look at each waiver request in a vacuum…

“It is troubling enough to consistently grant waivers for criminal misconduct. It is an order of magnitude more troubling to refuse to enforce our own explicit requirements for such waivers. This type of recidivism and repeated criminal misconduct should lead to revocations of prior waivers, not the granting of a whole new set of waivers.  We have the tools, and with the tools the responsibility, to empower those at the top of these institutions to create meaningful cultural shifts, yet we refuse to use them…I am concerned that the latest series of actions has effectively rendered criminal convictions of financial institutions largely symbolic.”

The well-controlled outrage simmering within both Warren and Stein likely originates from both being intimately involved in observing the devastating hardships suffered by their fellow citizens during the 2008-2009 collapse of the U.S. economy – the greatest downturn since the Great Depression – and then helping to create laws and structures to rein in future Wall Street abuses. Warren served as Chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and was the driving force behind the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under Dodd-Frank, an agency still under dogged attack by Wall Street’s cronies in Congress. To see the same set of dangerous dynamics building anew on Wall Street today has both women going where few in Washington dare to go.

Looking at the themes in the speeches that Warren and Stein have delivered, there is something else that stands out: they both realize that Wall Street has a dangerous stranglehold on where America is going – economically, morally, and culturally – and understand that it is incompatible with a participatory democracy.

On March 3, the Senate Banking Committee held the first in its hearings on reforming one Wall Street regulator, the Federal Reserve. Elizabeth Warren highlighted the unprecedented and secret loans the Fed had made during the crisis: . ..

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 May 2015 at 3:29 pm

The false dichotomy of trigger warnings

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Very interesting read by Massimo Pigliucci in Scientia Salon:

There has been lots of talk about so-called “trigger warnings” lately. Although they originated outside the university (largely on feminist message boards in the ‘90s, and then in the blogosphere [1]), within the academy this is the idea that professors should issue warnings to their students about potentially disturbing material that they are about to read or otherwise be exposed to. The warnings are necessary, advocates say, because such material may “trigger” episodes of discomfort, emotional pain, or outright post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

This is clearly a crucial issue for a teacher such as myself, who is responsible for contributing to the education of scores of students every semester, and who is of course also concerned about their welfare and their thriving as human beings. So I read a lot, and widely (meaning both pro and con), about the issue, and have talked to colleagues and a number of students, in order to make up my mind not just in a theoretical sense, but also as guidance to my own actual practice in the classroom.

One of the most recent episodes concerning the controversy over trigger warnings (henceforth, TW) featured four Columbia University students belonging to the local Multicultural Affairs Advisory Board, who wrote a letter to the Columbia Spectator [2] arguing that exposure to the writings of the classic Roman poet Ovid should have come with TW because they contain references to rape. Referring to the experience of another student in a Literature Humanities course, the letter reads, in part:

During the week spent on Ovid’s “Metamorphoses,” the class was instructed to read the myths of Persephone and Daphne, both of which include vivid depictions of rape and sexual assault. As a survivor of sexual assault, the student described being triggered while reading such detailed accounts of rape throughout the work. However, the student said her professor focused on the beauty of the language and the splendor of the imagery when lecturing on the text. As a result, the student completely disengaged from the class discussion as a means of self-preservation. She did not feel safe in the class. When she approached her professor after class, the student said she was essentially dismissed, and her concerns were ignored.

As far as I can tell, this is pretty representative of some students’ point of view on the issue. Let me now give you a taste of how some faculty responded to this sort of argument. (I will ignore the more brash and insensitive commentary that has come from conservative and libertarian quarters, because I don’t think it helps the discussion move forward. If you really wish to have a taste of them, read through a partial compilation published by The Washington Post [3].)

For instance, a group of seven professors who teach in some of the fields most often targeted by advocates of TW — gender studies, critical race studies, film and visual studies, literary studies —listed a number of reasons why TW are a bad idea [4], among which:

Faculty cannot predict in advance what will be triggering for students.The idea that trauma is reignited by representations of the particular traumatizing experience is not supported by the research on post-traumatic stress disorder and trauma.

There is no mechanism, in the discourse of ‘triggering,’ for distinguishing material that is oppositional or critical in its representation of traumatizing experience from that which is sensationalistic or gratuitous.

PTSD is a disability; as with all disabilities, students and faculty deserve to have effective resources provided by independent campus offices.

Faculty of color, queer faculty, and faculty teaching in gender/sexuality studies, critical race theory, and the visual/performing arts will likely be disproportionate targets of student complaints about triggering.

Trigger warnings may provide a dangerous illusion that a campus has solved or is systematically addressing its problems with sexual assault, racial aggression, and other forms of campus violence, when, in fact, the opposite may be true.

These two excerpts already lay out much of the meat of the discourse on TW. On the one hand, faculty ought to be sensitive, rather than dismissive, to students’ concerns. This is our duty both as teachers and, simply speaking, as human beings. On the other hand, there are several reasons to think that requiring formal administrative policies about TW (as a number of students are now requesting, and universities are considering) is likely to have a good deal of negative consequences, not only for faculty, but for the students themselves.

Indeed, some students are pushing back against their own colleagues. Here is a number of comments collected during a survey on TW by a faculty who wished to explore the issue with her own students [5]:

“I would like to experience the novel without warning beforehand.”

“I think one purpose of triggers is to face deep trauma and to hopefully grow from it.”

“This is the real world and bad things happen. Caring for those affected by these topics is also a necessity.”

“If someone is so shocked that they couldn’t deal with readings, they should really be seeking help professionally and not take the class at this time.”

The same faculty, Lori Horvitz, points out that she feels unjustly attacked when students who push TW imply (or say outright), that she is simply unconcerned about their welfare: “I want to scream: ‘I care! This is why I have chosen to teach difficult material, about the oppression of women and minorities, in the first place.’”

The American Association of University Professors has also tackled the issue, and it has come down squarely against TW [6], for many of the same reasons listed by the multi-faculty op-ed mentioned above. The report begins by noticing how the range of subject matters that have been put forth for TW is vast, covering pretty much every potentially controversial (and educational) topic within the academy: racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism, cissexism, ableism, and other issues of privilege and oppression. The authors of the report mentioned a specific incident in which students at Wellesley College objected to a sculpture of a man in his underwear on the grounds that it might be a source of triggering thoughts regarding sexual assault, even though the artist wanted to represent sleepwalking.

Here are some of the most salient points of the AAUP report: . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 May 2015 at 3:15 pm

Posted in Education

The Denny Hastert situation

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Denny Hastert has been exposed, but through the use of laws that violate common sense: criminalizing behavior to an excessive degree.

Glenn Greenwald, certainly no Denny Hastert supporter, has a good article on the mechanism used by the Federal government to make what Hastert did a crime. (OTOH, Hastert’s buying land, then pushing through legislation to greatly increase the value of the land, which he then sold, was not viewed as a crime, though it is quite clearly corruption: using a public office for private gain.) From Greenwald’s article:

In the indictment, the DOJ made the decision not to expressly specify the “past misconduct” Hastert sought to conceal. Nonetheless, federal law enforcement officials apparently spent the day running aroundleaking to media outlets what the indictment worked hard to insinuate: that “Hastert paid a man to conceal sexual misconduct while the man was a student at the high school where Hastert taught.” So this seems to be a case where federal prosecutors wanted to punish someone for a crime they couldn’t prove he committed, so instead reached into their bottomless bag of offenses to turn him into a criminal for something else.

Obviously, “sexual misconduct” with a student is a serious offense, but that still is not part of what Hastert is charged with. In order to punish him for that crime, the government should charge him it, then prosecute him with due process and convict him in front of a jury of his peers. What over-criminalization does is allow the government to turn anyone it wants into a felon, and thus punish them without having to overcome those vital burdens. Regardless of one’s views of Hastert or his alleged misconduct here, it should take little effort to see why nobody should want that.

And Amy Davidson has an excellent column in the New Yorker on the Hastert case and the laws regarding it.

Both pieces are well worth reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 May 2015 at 2:19 pm

Testing the pro-size Omega S-Brush—and the Wolfman Tech once more

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SOTD 30 May 2015

Some on Wicked Edge asked about the “pro” (large) sizes of the Omega S-Series brushes—i.e., the S10049, S10083, and S10108, I got two to try. This morning was the S10108’s turn, and that’s the brush shown in the photo.

I used it with the citrus-themed Hydra shaving soap by Dr. Jon’s Handcrafted soaps—the fragrances are listed around the circumference of the label—and had no problems getting an excellent lather. The brush’s performance was fine. The feel was another matter: the greater loft made the bristles somehow feel stiffer—they were less ready to splay than with the shorter loft, a counter-intuitive result. But it was quite distinct. I definitely prefer the shorter-loft S-Series brushes:the beechwood-handled 10005 (my favorite because of the handle and shorter loft), S10018, S10019, S10065, S10077, and S10081.

Still, the lather was great, and I set to work with the Wolfman Tech show: a Gillette Tech head (holding a Feather blade) on a Wolfman Razors handle. It’s a great combination, and with the Feather blade, the Tech is for me a top-notch razor: extremely comfortable, extremely efficient, and not at all inclined to nick. I ended up with a trouble-free BBS result.

Given the soap’s citrus theme, I picked Stirling Lemon Chill as the aftershave, a mentholated witch-hazel-based aftershave that I like a lot.

The weekend begins.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 May 2015 at 11:27 am

Posted in Shaving

Recipe failure with pork chops

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I tried this recipe so that you don’t have to. It seems to be a recipe worked out at the keyboard, not the range. Probably a mustard coating with crushed black pepper and cumin sounded great.

However, it’s a great flaming pain to crush the pepper and the cumin, at least if you’re using a mortar and pestle. And then when you brush the chops with the mustard, and it takes a helluva lot more than 4 teaspoons, and rub in the cumin and pepper, then in the hot pan the mustard, pepper, and cumin immediately cooks to a crust, which comes off the chop. And the thick chops I used took 15 minutes, not twelve, but the seasonings were mostly stuck to the pan. I scraped them up, but the dish was not worth the effort.

Skip it.

Written by LeisureGuy

29 May 2015 at 8:45 pm

Posted in Recipes

Miniature Origami Robot Self-folds, Walks, Swims, and Degrades

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Via this article by Emiko Jozuka in Motherload, which explains more.

Written by LeisureGuy

29 May 2015 at 3:56 pm

Posted in Science

St. Louis County continues to exploit the poor—the county government avoids learning

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Radley Balko reports in the Washington Post:

Now that the many, many municipalities in St. Louis County face the prospect of a state law imposing a lower limit on how much revenue they can generatefrom traffic offenses (along with a credible threat of actually enforcing that law), they seem to be turning instead to non-traffic-related offenses, which aren’t covered by the new policy.

From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

Drive through this working-class suburb filled with 1950s cottages and you will see many edged and weeded lawns. You’ll also notice orange sticky notes on the doors — at least one or two per street in many parts of town.

They are warnings the city gives to residents who violate local ordinances. And in this community of 3,304 residents, the list of what earns a ticket and fine is long.

Among the things that will be “closely monitored” through the spring and summer, according to a newsletter that recently went out to residents:

Pants worn too low or grass grown too high. Children riding bikes without helmets. Barbecue pits or toys in front yards. Basketball hoops in the streets.

There’s no loitering — described in city code as “the concept of spending time idly” or “the colloquial expression ‘hanging around.’” And, despite a citywide 20 mph speed limit, there’s no playing or walking in the street.

It isn’t difficult to guess which groups of people are most likely to be affected by laws against walking in the street, wearing one’s pants too low, or “spending time idly.” It’s also probably a lot easier to avoid citations for having toys lying about (I’m still a little surprised this could be illegal) if you have a nice long drive way, or trees or fences to conceal the front yard.

According to the Post-Dispatch, Pagedale has increased non-traffic related citations by 500 percent in the last five years. Here’s how this plays out for working class people: . . .

Continue reading. As Balko later notes:

I’ve seen some reactions to this ongoing story that boil down to, “Just follow the law, and you have nothing to worry about.” But it’s a lot easier to follow the law when you can easily take a day off work to mow your grass, hire a lawn care service to trim your hedges or take an afternoon to clean up after a storm brings down some tree limbs. That isn’t as easy to do if you’re working two or more jobs, have kids to take care of and can’t afford to hire someone to fix up your property. That brings the fines. Then you have to choose between taking time off work to go to court to pay those fines, which could hurt your relationship with your employer, particularly if it becomes a pattern, or skip the court dates, after which you’re looking at an arrest.

Written by LeisureGuy

29 May 2015 at 12:15 pm

Posted in Daily life, Government, Law

How A California Gang Law Turns Spray Painting Into A Murder Charge And More in MuckReads Weekly

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Take a look at MuckReads Weekly. It’s only a little depressing.

Written by LeisureGuy

29 May 2015 at 12:13 pm

Posted in Business, Government, Law

The federal ‘structuring’ laws are smurfin’ ridiculous

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It’s a good thing we live in a free society and not a police state! Radley Balko reports in the Washington Post:

It seems appropriate that the crime of structuring is also sometimes called smurfing. Generally speaking, structuring is the act of breaking up financial transactions to get around the federal reporting requirements that kick in for transactions over a specific amount of money. The alternate term smurfing is a reference to the children’s cartoon in which a large entity (the Smurf Village) is made up of several smaller ones (the Smurfs themselves).

But if you grew up on the cartoon in the 1980s, or were unfortunate enough to have seen the 2011 movie, you’ll also know that the word smurf itself is rather ambiguous. It can mean whatever the person using the word wants it to mean. And that’s a pretty decent metaphor for how structuring laws function in the hands of federal officials.

First, a little background: Most structuring cases stem from a 1970 law calledthe Bank Secrecy Act, which requires banks to report any deposits, withdrawals, or transfers of more than $10,000. The law has since been revised several times, but generally it’s intended to make it easier for the government to track tax cheats, money launderers, illegal gambling operations and other criminal enterprises.

But the Bank Secrecy Act also requires banks to report to the federal government any activity from customers that might be construed as structuring deposits to avoid the reporting requirement. So if you have $100,000 to deposit in your bank account, and you deliberately choose to deposit that money in increments of $9,999 so your bank won’t automatically notify the federal government, you’re guilty of structuring. It’s a felony punishable by a fine and/or up to five years in prison.

Your bank is also required to report any suspicious activity by its customers. Moreover, your bank is prohibited from letting you know that it has reported you to the government. Banks that fail to sufficiently police their customers or banks that notify customers that they’ve been reported for suspicious deposits risk financial sanctions. Bank personnel found to have neglected their duties to report suspicious customer behavior can also be criminally charged and sent to prison. So there’s quite a bit of incentive for your bank to give you up, and to cast a wide net around what constitutes “suspicious activity.” There’s lots of risk in under-policing for structuring, and virtually no risk of losing customers due to a policy of over-reporting them to the government. Most customers will never know.

The problem of course is that when you force banks to cast such a wide net, they’re going to report a lot of people who have done nothing wrong.  And some of those people are going to find themselves in legal trouble. A top bartender who makes, say, $2,000-$2,500 per week in tips might make regular monthly deposits of over $9,000, but less than $10,000. It isn’t illegal to deposit $9,500 in your bank account. It’s only illegal if you’re doing so because you don’t want your bank to report the deposit to the government. That’s a pretty thin line between an innocuous activity and a felony.

There also may be some people who quite understandably don’t want to draw attention to themselves or their businesses, and so might keep their deposits under $10,000 to avoid having those transactions reported, without knowing that doing so is illegal.

In the 1994 case Ratzlaf v. U.S., the U.S. Supreme Court sensibly interpreted the word willfully in the Bank Secrecy Act to mean that in order to convict someone of structuring, the government had to show that the defendant knew that structuring was illegal. It wasn’t enough to show only that the defendant knew about the reporting requirement.

It’s an important distinction. Imagine you’re a small business owner, just getting started. The first few times you go to make deposits, they’re all under $10,000. Your business grows, and eventually you bring, say, $10,500 to the bank. The teller informs you that because you’re depositing more than $10,000, the bank will have to report you to the federal government. Even if you’ve done nothing wrong at all, it isn’t difficult to see how the phrase “report you to the government” might sound a little daunting. You might as well just hold $600 back and avoid drawing attention to yourself.

I think the structuring law itself is bad public policy. But in the scenario above, it ought to matter a great deal whether or not the small business ownerknew that withholding that $600 is illegal. Under the Supreme Court decision Ratzlaf, he’d only be guilty of structuring if the government could show that he knew holding back the $600 was illegal.

Apparently that made things too difficult on federal prosecutors. So Congress responded by dropping the word willfully from the Bank Secrecy Act. Now, prosecutors need only show that a defendant knows about the $10,000 reporting requirement, and makes deposits under that amount in order to avoid it.

Keep in mind, it doesn’t matter if you’ve earned all of your money legitimately. It doesn’t matter if you’ve dutifully reported all of that money at tax time, and paid the government every penny required of you under the law. If you knew about the reporting requirement, and you deliberately deposited less than $10,000 in order to avoid it, you’re guilty of a federal felony. And thanks to asset forfeiture, the government can then move to seize everything in your account. And possibly more.

All of this brings me to United States v. Abaira case from the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals that my fellow Washington Post blogger Eugene Volokh posted about last week. . .

Continue reading. He describes some very interesting cases. He concludes:

But here’s a little secret: There is one way you can get away with structuring, even if you personally know it’s illegal, and even if you’re doing it to cover up your own clearly illegal activity. You just need to be the sitting New York Attorney General.

Written by LeisureGuy

29 May 2015 at 11:36 am

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