The USSS proudly oversees the largest ink library in the world

Friday, March 12th, 2021

Nada Bakos’s CIA unit in Iraq consulted with the leading government experts in forgery, the United States Secret Service (USSS), as she explains in The Targeter:

Along with its highest-profile duty — protecting the president — the service has other branches that do everything from detect counterfeit currency to monitor networks of electronic crime. One branch, some 120 men and women strong, collects ink. More than 8,500 samples of ink, in fact, which have been sent to the USSS from manufacturers since the 1920s.

Each new ink formulation prompts a new delivery, with samples arriving from around the world as liquid in a bottle or perhaps a new batch of pens or refills.

Each time, the team scribbles a sample of the ink onto Whatman filter paper, grade 2 — hence the paper’s common nickname, scribble sheets — tucks it into a protective sleeve inside a binder, then stores it in dark cabinets to protect it against degradation from light, temperature, and humidity. The USSS proudly oversees the largest ink library in the world — and we needed their expertise.

A ruling system that prevents dissent and locks the world into stagnation and inevitable failure

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2021

Back in October, 2018, John Robb looked at an insurgency at the crossroads:

Trump’s open source #insurgency often appears unstoppable. All of the traditional methods of political opposition have proven unable to damage it for more than a few days (at most). However, in late October, we saw the outlines of a dynamic that suggests that may not be true for much longer.

[...]

In the last few weeks of October, we saw the following pattern:

An uptick in domestic terrorism connected to Trump’s #insurgency. The Florida Van Man Mail Bomber targeted vocal political opponents. The Kentucky Kroger Terrorist killed 2. The Pittsburgh Synagogue Terrorist killed 11.

To minimize the damage to the insurgency, Trump rapidly shifted the national conversation through something best termed a fast transient. In this case, the fast transient was a proposal to end birthright citizenship through Presidential edict. On cue, the insurgency and the resistance immediately began to battle over the proposal.

However, something new happened. Technology companies, from Facebook to Paypal to GoDaddy, took the opportunity to rapidly deplatform (physically disconnect) many of the people (Proud Boys, etc.) and companies (Gab, etc.) it deemed to be potentially violent.

This new dynamic may be the beginning of the end for the insurgency since it turns a strength of the insurgency into a debilitating weakness.

[...]

The big technology companies represent the third major force in this conflict — in addition to the insurgency and the resistance. Currently, their main source of power is in the physical dimension (attrition warfare). They have the ability to disconnect the insurgency at scale and they just demonstrated they are willing to do that. These violent attacks have provided the technology companies with the justification they need to enter this online war on the side of #resistance.

If this dynamic of violence continues, the global technology companies will join this online war. Here’s what this would mean:

The technology companies would begin to treat the language and the symbology of #insurgency as signs of online terrorism. This would give them the green light to ruthlessly censor it (within seconds of it being posted) and deplatform the people who post it. Moreover, this would be done at scale (tens of thousands a day if necessary) and at the level of individual conversations.

The social AIs being built at the major networks would inevitably end up oriented towards dampening the #insurgency. Slowly at first, but more aggressively as the AIs mature. This capability would likely become exportable, and provide a stealth means of redirecting countries like Brazil, the Philippines, Italy, etc. away from insurgent politics and towards corporate standards.

Efforts by the big technology companies to actively maintain social stability through social AIs, makes us extremely vulnerable to a long night. A world dominated by a system that through naive utopianism or through an aggressive takeover by populist leaders, narrows public thought down to a single, barren, ideological acceptable framework. A ruling system that prevents dissent and locks the world into stagnation and inevitable failure as it runs afoul of reality and human nature.

The only thing tougher than moving illegal drugs across borders is getting the profits back to Mexico’s cartels

Thursday, December 10th, 2020

Small cells of Chinese criminals have upended the way narcotics cash is laundered:

The only thing tougher than moving illegal drugs across borders is getting the profits back to Mexico’s cartels, U.S. officials said. Cash is heavy, and transporting it exposes traffickers to lots of risk. Putting it into the banking system is perilous, too. The U.S. and Mexican financial systems have been geared to detect dirty money.

Prosecutors told the court that Gan and his accomplices sidestepped these obstacles by first moving the U.S. cash offshore to China, then on to Mexico. Lim was a linchpin connecting both sides of the Pacific. In her November 2019 plea agreement, Lim admitted to laundering, with Gan and Pan Haiping, about $48 million in drug cash between 2016 and September 2017. She took a 0.5% commission, the agreement said.

Lim testified at Gan’s trial that she had two jobs. The first was collecting drug money in U.S. cities such as Chicago and New York from cartel contacts, typically anywhere from $150,000 to $1 million at a time. She would wait in a public place, armed with a burner phone, a code name and the serial number of an authentic $1 bill. Mexican cartels would pass on her details to their dealer contacts, who would call Lim’s burner phone and use the code name to identify themselves. At the rendezvous point, Lim would give them the $1 bill with the corresponding serial number as a “receipt” to verify the handoff had taken place, Lim said at trial.

Lim’s other job was recruiting businesses in the Chinese diaspora to help them make that cash disappear, Lim and prosecutors said.

Some U.S.-based Chinese merchants have long engaged in off-the-books currency “swaps” to avoid hefty bank fees. Such transactions are illegal in the United States, American authorities said, if they are used by companies routinely to skirt the formal banking system or to operate an unauthorized money transfer business. In some cases these informal, hawala-style transactions are used to help wealthy Chinese move money clandestinely out of China, in violation of that nation’s currency controls.

The operation run by Gan and Pan Haiping grew to include at least three Chinese merchants in New York, who were paid commissions to participate, Lim told the court. The names of the Chinese merchants were not revealed at Gan’s trial, and it’s unclear if they knew of Lim’s links to drug trafficking.

Prosecutors at trial presented testimony, evidence and graphics showing how the transactions worked. At their simplest, authorities said, that process worked as follows: Lim would arrive at one of the merchants with, say, $150,000 in cartel cash. With the businessperson observing, she would open a currency converter app on her smartphone to obtain the exchange rate between the U.S. dollar and the Chinese yuan. She would also hand over the details of a bank account in China given to her by Gan. In what’s known as a “mirror transaction,” the Chinese businessperson would take possession of the $150,000 in U.S. currency while simultaneously transferring the equivalent in Chinese yuan from their own account in China to the bank account number provided by Gan.

The result was that a foreign transfer of funds had been made without involving a U.S financial institution – or the accompanying digital fingerprints. The Chinese business had effectively used yuan from its China-based bank account to purchase cash dollars now on hand in the United States; it earned a commission for its trouble while avoiding bank fees and U.S. government scrutiny.

Meanwhile, Gan had converted U.S. drug dollars into Chinese currency now sitting in a Chinese bank. The only contact with the financial system – a domestic transfer between two accounts in China – would be unlikely to raise red flags with Chinese banking authorities unaware of the money’s provenance.

The crime ring used various Chinese banks for the operations, including the Bank of China, according to WhatsApp messages exchanged between Gan and Pan Haiping. The messages were extracted from Gan’s iPhone by Homeland Security Investigations agents after his arrest, and key excerpts were read out aloud by prosecutors at trial, according to court transcripts.

[...]

“When there is need by the cartels for cash to be laundered, and there is demand for cash from the Chinese, you have a perfect marriage made in heaven,” Im told Reuters. “The Chinese brokers are very important to the Mexican and Colombian cartels.”

[...]

Chinese money launderers are squeezing out Mexican and Colombian rivals by undercutting them on price by as much as half, U.S. officials said. The Chinese operators have been able to do that because they levy fees on both sides of each transaction. They impose fat commissions as high as 10% on Chinese citizens eager to get money out of China. That allows the Chinese money brokers, in turn, to charge traffickers nominal fees of just a few percentage points. The money launderers still turn a handsome profit while locking in a steady supply of coveted dollars and euros from cartel customers.

The kinds of gun control measures that poll well are not the kind of thing that would significantly move the needle in terms of US gun deaths

Friday, December 4th, 2020

Democrats were wise, Matthew Yglesias notes, to have abandoned gun control as an issue between John Kerry’s defeat and Barack Obama’s re-election:

Back a bit over a decade ago when I worked at the Center for American Progress there were certain issues CAP didn’t really work on. Some of that was just a lack of funding or staff interest but there was no rule against trying to go get the funding if you were interested. The two big exceptions to that were trade, which was seen as too divisive in the Democratic Party, and guns, where the feeling was that post-2004 Democrats had decided that this was not an issue worth losing votes over.

That analysis had a few parts to it:

  1. Even gun regulation measures that poll well did not seem to really motivate voters while opposition to gun regulations was clearly motivating.
  2. The kinds of gun control measures that poll well are not the kind of thing that would significantly move the needle in terms of US gun deaths — the high-profile mass shootings that spark these conversations are statistically rare and generally don’t involve shooters who would’ve flunked universal background checks.
  3. The pro-gun forces are advantaged by the geography of the US Senate, so the outlook for federal action on even popular-but-ineffective measures is bad.

Related to (1), most progressives themselves did not think this was a particularly important issue compared to universal health care, climate change, immigration reform, and abortion rights. Nor did they consider it as urgent as fiscal stimulus and financial regulation.

In summary, it did not make sense to risk losing votes over measures that were unlikely to be adopted and unlikely to make a huge difference even if they were adopted.

[...]

Then came Sandy Hook, which was horrifying and happened to arrive at the very peak of liberal hubris about cultural issues right in the wake of Obama’s win. Progressives re-engaged with the issue, and Pat Toomey (a conservative Republican from a state Obama won) and Joe Manchin (one of the vocal pro-gun Democrats) wrote a bill that while not particularly consequential would, if it passed, have signaled a breaking of the pro-gun consensus in Washington.

It was a calculated risk and it didn’t pay off. The Manchin-Toomey bill failed, and all four of the elements of the circa 2008 consensus turned out to still be true.

Given that reality, it makes sense for people who care passionately about other issues to try to swim back to that old approach.

[...]

Here’s the deal: There are about 40,000 firearms deaths per year in the United States and if you could make them go away that would be great.

But a majority of those deaths are suicides. And the homicides are mostly committed by normal, inexpensive easily concealed handguns, not by scary assault weapons. Where do the guns come from? In a 2016 report for the Bureau of Justice Statistics, Mariel Alper and Lauren Glaze look at a survey of prison inmates and found that 21 percent of all federal and state prisoners said they had a firearm when they committed the offense for which they were serving time in prison. Of those incarcerated gun owners, just “seven percent had purchased it under their own name from a licensed firearm dealer.”

The largest share (43 percent) said they bought the gun on the black market. Another 25 percent say they got it from family or friends.

None of this is to deny that gun control laws could drastically reduce the incidence of firearms death. You might think that potential suicides would just substitute some other means of killing themselves, but research does not bare that out. If fewer guns were around, then fewer people would kill themselves. By the same token, you definitely could drain the swamp of illegally circulating firearms. But the way you would accomplish these things would be by drastically reducing the number of legally owned guns around. Stricter background checks for new purchases just aren’t going to significantly change the situation.

The United Kingdom has drastically fewer gun assaults than we do and that has a lot of benefits. Not only are innocent lives saved, but it allows their police to operate largely unarmed which would greatly ameliorate a tangled nexus of American social problems around racism and police use of force. But the UK didn’t get there with really rigorous background checks, it got there by making civilian ownership of guns mostly illegal.

What’s more: Gun enthusiasts are aware of this. So when progressives talk about the tragedy of gun deaths in America, it doesn’t matter if their actual proposal is a very mild tweak to background checks. When you define “the problem” as gun deaths, you are pushing toward a drastic solution that gun hobbyists don’t want, and they are highly motivated to vote against you.

Social scientific works can be a trove of politically incorrect data

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2020

Many conservatives credulously believe progressives’ claims that the social sciences vindicate liberal ideology, Steve Sailer says, but social scientific works can be a trove of politically incorrect data:

Here are some striking facts gleaned from [A Peculiar Indifference: The Neglected Toll of Violence on Black America, by conventional liberal criminologist Elliott Currie of UC Irvine]:

Between 2000 and 2018…more than 162,000 black Americans lost their lives to violence…the population of a substantial midsize American city — say Jackson, Mississippi….

As Currie admits, the vast majority of black murder victims are unquestionably killed by other blacks. The criminologist offers a lengthy historical explanation of why that is still, in 2020, the fault of whites (as you no doubt would anticipate, FDR’s redlining plays a role), but the 21st-century empirical data in the book is eye-opening:

In the United States today, a young black man has fifteen times the chance of dying from violence as his white counterpart.

Why do murderous blacks and their victims skew so young? Among whites, “hardened criminals” tend to be considerably older than they are among blacks. Does the violence gap between the races decline with age? It’s an unanswered question whether the racial disparity in homicidal tendencies actually diminishes with increasing age, or whether blacks of criminal inclinations simply tend to wind up dead or in prison earlier than whites do.

Currie goes on:

What makes these disparities even more sobering is that the rates of violent death for white men in the United States are themselves quite high by comparison with those of men in other advanced industrial societies…. The current annual homicide death rate for non-Hispanic white men in the United States, at nearly four per 100,000, is more than five times the rate for all German men, and close to twenty times the rate for men in Japan.

Contrary to the usual assumptions that racial gaps are driven by white bigotry, they tend to be smallest in Southern and old Wild West states, and largest where whites are best-behaved, such as in North-Central blue states:

In the state of Illinois, for instance, the homicide death rate for young African-American men (ages fifteen to twenty-nine) has averaged 143 per 100,000 over the course of the twenty-first century, thirty-seven times the rate for white men the same age.

Surely, though, race is less important than sex when it comes to murder rates?

But so strong is the effect of race that a black woman has half again as much chance of dying by homicide as a white man…. Black women lose far more years of life to homicide than to diabetes—a notorious killer of African-American women.

Moreover, among male victims of domestic murders:

What may be more surprising, though, is that intimate partner violence also contributes to the excess risk faced by black men. Among the male victims…the racial imbalance was even more striking than among female ones: nearly half of the men who died in these incidents of intimate partner violence were black.

Paying protection money was part of the cost of doing business in Afghanistan

Monday, September 28th, 2020

Westerners tend to be rather naive, as a recent recent Freakonomics podcast, When Your Safety Becomes My Danger (Ep. 432) illustrates:

Gretchen PETERS: I’ve heard the argument that paying protection money was part of the cost of doing business in Afghanistan. And I think it is a terrible, terrible argument. It’s just self-defeating for an organization to pay protection money and not deal with the problem from the start.

[...]

PETERS: He got a phone call one day from one of his team members saying the Taliban just fired a couple of R.P.G.’s at our project. Nobody’s been hurt. And so, he called up the Taliban commander and said, “What’s the problem? You told us you weren’t going to attack us anymore.” And he said, “No, no, nobody got hurt. We intentionally missed. But your payment’s due. You need to get over to the hawala market and send me my money.” And he said, “Oh, yes, I’m so sorry.” And went over and paid the money right away.

[...]

PETERS: So, the Taliban would fire warning shots when the bills were due. And they would often launch non-lethal attacks just before a contract was due. And that seemed to be an effort to try and get their security contracts renewed. And that would perpetuate this completely corrupt system.

[...]

Anja SHORTLAND: So, the question is, “Do you want to be economically active in territory that is controlled by the Taliban or not?”

[...]

SHORTLAND: If you do want to be active in that territory, you’ve got to make it somewhat in the interest of the Taliban. If they don’t get any economic benefit from your company being there, then they will attack you by any means possible.

[...]

SHORTLAND: You minimize the kidnapping by making sure that the people who control the territory get a certain flow of funds.

[...]

SHORTLAND: That is actually 99 percent of the business. So, it is disequilibrium behavior — as long as everyone pays, there is no need to kidnap anybody.

[...]

SHORTLAND: I started off with Somali pirates, and what really struck me about piracy was how many happy ends there were. How generally nonviolent it was from the moment that the pirates got on board, and how well the trades functioned.

[...]

SHORTLAND: I do find that if they work, then it is because somebody is making them work, somebody is creating institutions that turn what can be very tricky, one-off trades into repeated interactions. It’s about creating self-enforcing contracts.

[...]

SHORTLAND: When there is a famine in southern Somalia, and you want to get relief supplies in there, basically, you have to contract the trucking out and you have to accept that 50 percent of the supplies will disappear. So, the question is, “Do you want to provide relief supplies, knowing that a large proportion of it will end up in the hands of the Shabaab?” If you say no, then there is no way of delivering the aid.

[...]

SHORTLAND: That’s right. Or you’re trying to establish a protection protocol. But in general, it’s better for them to take their protection money and not bother anybody. And so, even if you’re working in a country that has an endemic kidnapping problem, it is possible for companies to keep their employees safe from kidnap by making some concession to whoever poses the risks to them.

Stephen DUBNER: When you say, “some concession,” usually in the form of some protection payment, yes?

SHORTLAND: Well, you would frame it in terms of, perhaps, a corporate social responsibility program, or you do a joint venture, or you do some community engagement. There are lots of words for this. The protection contract is implicit. It’s never spelled out. It is through subcontracting. And the more layers you can put between yourself and the warlord, the better this is going to work in terms of being caught by the media. It’s all about plausible deniability.

DUBNER: So, would “tax” be a better word generally?

SHORTLAND: Well, that’s effectively what it is. But if people are not really sure whether the cartel or the rebel group or the insurgents have the capacity to actually kidnap, they might skip a protection payment, which is effectively tax evasion and then they decide that they have to prove that they can do it, and then they will. And in a way, kidnap for ransom is a really good way of backing up that kind of threat because nobody needs to get hurt.

DUBNER: Now, of all the criminal enterprises and cartels and pirates that you’ve researched, how does the Taliban compare in terms of their efficacy and organization and ability to execute these plans?

SHORTLAND: Well, they control a lot of territory. And they use that territory to grow very high-value crops, like drugs. And therefore, they’re very well-resourced. And they also have a certain amount of legitimacy with the people whose territory they control. And therefore, they are very effective at delivering violence and that is and something that the U.S. government has recognized.

PETERS: In percentage, I can tell you that the Taliban were making about 25 percent of their budget in protection payments.

I saw an opportunity and I took it

Sunday, September 6th, 2020

Officer Ellifritz got a call about a stolen bicycle:

While I was speaking with my prisoner during the arrest process, I recognized that most of you will never be in such a position to talk candidly with a thief (who also had past arrests for felonious assault, kidnapping, rape, and a host of other crimes). Since I get this “honor” quite regularly, I’m happy to share the what I learn with you all.

Our thief today is homeless. He’s 32 years old and overweight. He’s a regular consumer of crack cocaine. He has no job and no place to live. He sometimes stays at friends’ apartments, but his permanent address is a local homeless shelter. The sum total of his possessions consisted of a change of clothes, a broken phone, and less than $4 cash.

When I asked the man why he stole the bike, his comment was enlightening:

“I took it because I have the chance to stay at my friend’s place tonight instead of the shelter. My friend lives in (the next town over) and it would be about a four hour walk to get there. It rained all day yesterday and it looks like it’s going to rain some more today. I just didn’t want to spend four hours walking in the fucking rain and getting soaking wet again. I figured a bike would be faster.”

He continued by saying: “I knew it was wrong to steal the bike, but I just don’t care. I didn’t want to get wet no more. I saw an opportunity and I took it. I’d do the same thing all over again if I got the chance. Biking is just faster than walking.”

The guy wasn’t rude or trying to play the role of a badass. He was just describing the daily realities for someone who lives in a world very different from the one in which you and I reside.

He wasn’t mentally ill. He knew right from wrong. But he had absolutely no remorse about taking a bike from some girl who probably needs it as just badly as he did. The thought of what the victim would experience didn’t even register in his mind. He “saw an opportunity” and took it. He took a college girl’s only means of transportation, because he didn’t want to be inconvenienced by a long walk.

This is what most folks don’t understand about serious criminals. The fact that the victim of the crime would be affected in a negative manner is not even an afterthought. Your feelings and concerns mean absolutely NOTHING to the criminal. He doesn’t care if you live or die, let alone how “inconvenienced” you will be if he takes all of your stuff or beats you within an inch of your life. If you literally had ZERO concern about the well being of your neighbors and fellow humans, what kind of atrocities would you be capable of committing? That’s something that few people consider.

Compliance does make you less likely to endure a beat-down

Monday, July 6th, 2020

Roland G. Fryer Jr. summarizes what the data say about police:

There are large racial differences in police use of nonlethal force. My research team analyzed nearly five million police encounters from New York City. We found that when police reported the incidents, they were 53% more likely to use physical force on a black civilian than a white one. In a separate, nationally representative dataset asking civilians about their experiences with police, we found the use of physical force on blacks to be 350% as likely. This is true of every level of nonlethal force, from officers putting their hands on civilians to striking them with batons. We controlled for every variable available in myriad ways. That reduced the racial disparities by 66%, but blacks were still significantly more likely to endure police force.

Compliance by civilians doesn’t eliminate racial differences in police use of force. Black civilians who were recorded as compliant by police were 21% more likely to suffer police aggression than compliant whites. We also found that the benefits of compliance differed significantly by race. This was perhaps our most upsetting result, for two reasons: The inequity in spite of compliance clashed with the notion that the difference in police treatment of blacks and whites was a rational response to danger. And it complicates what we tell our kids: Compliance does make you less likely to endure a beat-down — but the benefit is larger if you are white.

[...]

We didn’t find racial differences in officer-involved shootings. Our data come from localities in California, Colorado, Florida, Texas and Washington state and contain accounts of 1,399 police shootings at civilians between 2000 and 2015. In addition, from Houston only in those same years, we had reports describing situations in which gunfire might have been justified by department guidelines but the cops didn’t shoot. This is a key piece of data that popular online databases don’t include.

[...]

Investigating police departments can have unintended consequences. Following the brutal beating of Rodney King by Los Angeles police officers in 1991, the U.S. attorney general was given the power to investigate and litigate cases involving a “pattern or practice” of conduct by law-enforcement officers that violates the Constitution or federal rights. Many argue that the answer to police reform in America must include more of these types of investigations.

We conducted the first empirical examination of pattern-or-practice investigations. We found that investigations not preceded by viral incidents of deadly force, on average, reduced homicides and total felony crime. But for the five investigations that were preceded by a viral incident of deadly force, there was a stark increase in crime — 893 more homicides and 33,472 more felonies than would have been expected with no investigation. The increases in crime coincide with an abrupt change in the quantity of policing activity. In Chicago alone after the killing of Laquan McDonald, the number of police-civilian interactions decreased by 90% in the month the investigation was announced.

Importantly, in the eight cities that had a viral incident but no investigation, there was no subsequent increase in crime. Investigations are crucial, but we need to find ways of holding police accountable without sacrificing more black lives.

Seven reasons why police are disliked

Wednesday, June 24th, 2020

Randall Collins casts his sociological eye at why police are disliked and finds seven reasons:

  1. Police are used for collecting fines for municipal budgets.
  2. Police are used for enforcing unpopular regulations.
  3. Police dislike defiance.
  4. Police dislike property destruction.
  5. Adrenaline overload and forward-panic attacks on unresisting targets.
  6. Police training for extreme situations.
  7. Racism among police.

You can’t violate anybody’s civil rights while eating

Sunday, June 21st, 2020

What happens to America’s big blue cities, Steve Sailer asks, when The Establishment switches sides from the cops to the blacks?

Our elites appear intent on trying that experiment once again, although we have been through a couple of highly relevant historical examples that they ought to recall first.

Because blacks, despite making up only about one-eighth of the population, have accounted for the majority of homicide offenders in recent decades, overall long-term murder rates tend to be driven by the authorities’ attitudes toward African-Americans: indulgent or hardheaded?

Thus, the first Black Lives Matter era (2014–2016) saw the total number of homicides in the U.S. grow a record-setting 23 percent in two years. Moreover, the most spectacular exacerbations of homicide rates happened precisely where BLM won its most famous political victories over the police, such as St. Louis, Baltimore, Chicago, and Milwaukee. By this point, Black Lives Matter has gotten more incremental blacks murdered than all the lynchings in American history.

This “Ferguson Effect,” named after the celebrated August 2014 riots, was repeatedly denied by the media, until the evidence became overwhelming, at which point they stopped talking about it.

Voters at the national level didn’t allow the White House to continue to worsen homicide. Murders fell 7 percent from 2016 to 2018 under Trump.

And the earlier period in which the influential sided with blacks over cops, from the end of the Kennedy Era to the end of the Carter Era, saw the murder rate double nationally, destroying many American cities.

Most notoriously, in New York City murders grew sharply in the early 1960s, from 390 in 1959 to 634 in 1965, before exploding under the new liberal Republican mayor John Lindsay, reaching 1,691 in 1972.

Lindsay, a handsome WASP, had sided with blacks against the city’s Irish policemen and Jewish school administrators.

As usual, the cops responded by slowing down on the job: the retreat to the doughnut shop. By one estimate, NYPD cops got down to doing about two hours of policing per eight-hour shift. After all, you can’t violate anybody’s civil rights while eating.

White residents fled many neighborhoods, such as the once-tranquil Bronx (where Ogden Nash had complained in 1930 about the lack of excitement with the couplet “The Bronx?/No, thonks!”), which saw reported burglaries increase by 1,559 percent from 1960 to 1969. In turn, the white population of the Bronx fell nearly 50 percent between the 1970 and 1980 Censuses.

Today, the media portrays those whites who fled as the Bad Guys, far worse than the criminals who preyed on them: The whites were guilty of the racial felony of abandoning blacks and Puerto Ricans to the ravages of segregation. In the past, however, media coverage was less hateful and bigoted in part because journalists were often related to former outer-borough whites. But today fewer and fewer dare speak up about what really happened to white residents of the cities after the Civil Rights Era unleashed liberalism on them.

Restraining the suspect on his abdomen is a common tactic in excited delirium syndrome situations

Thursday, June 18th, 2020

There are six crucial pieces of information that have been largely omitted from discussion on the Chauvin’s conduct:

George Floyd was experiencing cardiopulmonary and psychological distress minutes before he was placed on the ground, let alone had a knee to his neck.

The Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) allows the use of neck restraint on suspects who actively resist arrest, and George Floyd actively resisted arrest on two occasions, including immediately prior to neck restraint being used.

The officers were recorded on their body cams assessing George Floyd as suffering from “excited delirium syndrome” (ExDS), a condition which the MPD considers an extreme threat to both the officers and the suspect. A white paper used by the MPD acknowledges that ExDS suspects may die irrespective of force involved. The officers’ response to this situation was in line with MPD guidelines for ExDS.

Restraining the suspect on his or her abdomen (prone restraint) is a common tactic in ExDS situations, and the white paper used by the MPD instructs the officers to control the suspect until paramedics arrive.

Floyd’s autopsy revealed a potentially lethal concoction of drugs — not just a potentially lethal dose of fentanyl, but also methamphetamine. Together with his history of drug abuse and two serious heart conditions, Floyd’s condition was exceptionally and unusually fragile.

Chauvin’s neck restraint is unlikely to have exerted a dangerous amount of force to Floyd’s neck. Floyd is shown on video able to lift his head and neck, and a robust study on double-knee restraints showed a median force exertion of approximately approximately 105lbs.

Let’s be clear: the actions of Chauvin and the other officers were absolutely wrong. But they were also in line with MPD rules and procedures for the condition which they determined was George Floyd was suffering from. An act that would normally be considered a clear and heinous abuse of force, such as a knee-to-neck restraint on a suspect suffering from pulmonary distress, can be legitimatized if there are overriding concerns not known to bystanders but known to the officers. In the case of George Floyd, the overriding concern was that he was suffering from ExDS, given a number of relevant facts known to the officers. This was not known to the bystanders, who only saw a man with pulmonary distress pinned down with a knee on his neck. While the officers may still be found guilty of manslaughter, the probability of a guilty verdict for the murder charge is low, and the public should be aware of this well in advance of the verdict.

In the early 1970s, New York City police officers shot more than 300 people a year

Thursday, June 11th, 2020

Chicago Sun-Times reports that 18 people were killed Sunday, May 31, making it the single most violent day in Chicago in six decades, according to the University of Chicago Crime Lab:

From 7 p.m. Friday, May 29, through 11 p.m. Sunday, May 31, 25 people were killed in the city, with another 85 wounded by gunfire, according to data maintained by the Chicago Sun-Times.

In a city with an international reputation for crime — where 900 murders per year were common in the early 1990s — it was the most violent weekend in Chicago’s modern history, stretching police resources that were already thin because of protests and looting.

“We’ve never seen anything like it, at all,” said Max Kapustin, the senior research director at the crime lab. “ … I don’t even know how to put it into context. It’s beyond anything that we’ve ever seen before.”

The next highest murder total for a single day was on Aug. 4, 1991, when 13 people were killed in Chicago, according to the crime lab.

The Rev. Michael Pfleger, a longtime crusader against gun violence who leads St. Sabina Church in Auburn Gresham, said it was “open season” last weekend in his neighborhood and others on the South and West sides.

“On Saturday and particularly Sunday, I heard people saying all over, ‘Hey, there’s no police anywhere, police ain’t doing nothing,’” Pfleger said.

“I sat and watched a store looted for over an hour,” he added. “No police came. I got in my car and drove around to some other places getting looted [and] didn’t see police anywhere.”

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said on May 31 alone, Chicago’s 911 emergency center received 65,000 calls for all types of service — 50,000 more than on a usual day.

Jason L. Riley, writing in the Wall Street Journal, notes that the media likes to break down cops’ behavior by race, but doesn’t do the same for civilian crime:

None of these deaths or shootings involved police, so there will be no massive protests over them, no tearful commentary on cable news and social media, no white politicians wrapped in Kente cloth taking a knee for photographers.

Sadly, the only thing remarkable about the episode is that it occurred in the middle of a national discussion about policing. The political left, with a great deal of assistance from the mainstream media, has convinced many Americans that George Floyd’s death in police custody is an everyday occurrence for black people in this country, and that racism permeates law enforcement. The reality is that the carnage we witness in Chicago is what’s typical, law enforcement has next to nothing to do with black homicides, and the number of interactions between police and low-income blacks is driven by crime rates, not bias. According to the Sun-Times, there were 492 homicides in Chicago last year, and only three of them involved police.

So long as blacks are committing more than half of all murders and robberies while making up only 13% of the population, and so long as almost all of their victims are their neighbors, these communities will draw the lion’s share of police attention. Defunding the police, or making it easier to prosecute officers, will only result in more lives lost in those neighborhoods that most need protecting.

[...]

In the early 1970s, New York City police officers shot more than 300 people a year. By 2019 that number had fallen to 34.

[...]

A recent New York Times report, for example, tells us that the racial makeup of Minneapolis is 20% black and 60% white, and that police there “used force against black people at a rate at least seven times that of white people during the past five years.” Left out of the story are the rates at which blacks and whites in Minneapolis commit crime in general and violent crime in particular.

The era of criminalized public drunkenness was over

Wednesday, June 10th, 2020

Drinking in public wasn’t a crime until rather recently:

In 1963, it was unlikely that you would have been arrested for drinking in public — but you could have been arrested for being a “common drunkard.”

Most states and municipalities had laws on the books that made it illegal to be a “common drunkard” or a “vagrant,” terms used to describe those who would be known today as alcoholic and homeless, respectively. The police arrested hundreds of thousands of people every year for violating these so-called vagrancy and public drunkenness laws, which were at the heart of the police’s mission to control urban social disorder. Such laws defined life on Skid Row: Some perennially homeless, alcoholic men spent years of their lives in jail, in 30-day increments, on charges of public drunkenness and vagrancy.

But in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s, legal scholars started to criticize how these laws were enforced, using arguments that would be familiar to anyone following the contemporary debate around drug decriminalization. Critics argued that arresting, charging and incarcerating “drunkards” wasted scarce police and court resources; that the laws were enforced more stringently against poor black people than against affluent white people; and that “public drunkenness” was a moral and medical issue better addressed in churches and hospitals than jails and courtrooms.

In short, they called for reform. The Supreme Court heeded that call in 1964, in its landmark decision Robinson v. California. The immediate effect of the decision was to strike down a California statute classifying drug addiction as a crime. But it also rang the death knell for all “status offenses,” vagrancy chief among them.

In a later decision, the Supreme Court chose not to strike down public drunkenness laws as unconstitutional. The court found that such laws prohibited the act of “appearing in public while drunk,” rather than “being an alcoholic.”

But the writing was on the wall. Vaguely defined status offenses like public drunkenness and vagrancy were constitutionally unsound and, in the long run, unenforceable.

Further pressure to overturn public drunkenness laws came from the executive and legislative branches. Two Presidential Commissions on Crime described public drunkenness laws as ineffective deterrents to repeat offenders and a burden on the criminal justice system. They strongly recommended that public drunkenness be decriminalized. And in 1971, Congress passed the Uniform Alcoholism Treatment Act, which called on states to decriminalize public drunkenness and shift their handling of public inebriates to the health system. Thirty-five states adopted it, and most of the others passed similar laws.

By the end of the ‘70s, arrests for public drunkenness had dropped by half nationwide. (They would continue to fall, almost unabated, until the present.) The era of criminalized public drunkenness was over, after 350 years. Doctors and advocates for the rights of the homeless and alcoholics started to breathe easier.

Not everyone was happy, though. Entrenched business interests and well-to-do citizens, and their allies in state and local legislatures, still wanted the police to take undesirable homeless and alcoholic people off the streets. But as public drunkenness and vagrancy were no longer criminal acts, the police had no tools at their disposal.

Enter the ban on public drinking.

[...]

They leave no room for ambiguity or subjectivity. You either are violating the law, or you aren’t.

Use the same tactics you would use with a power hungry and controlling supervisor in your place of employment

Friday, May 29th, 2020

How do you safely intervene when cops are mistreating a prisoner?

Violent action won’t help. You will be arrested and likely beaten or killed as well. If you physically attack the cop, it might actually make it worse for the guy you are trying to protect.

[...]

You always want to give your opponent a “face saving” way out. You want your opponent to think that your idea is his idea and to embrace that idea rather than to fight it. The best way to deal with these police officers is to use the same tactics you would use with a power hungry and controlling supervisor in your place of employment.

[...]

Don’t let your rage make you ineffective. To verbally convince these officers that they are acting in error, you need to provide them with a better solution and make them think that the decision is in their own best interests. You may have to soften your angry tone and think a bit to make that happen.

[...]

The best thing to do is to approach another officer on scene who has less ego involvement rather than approaching the officer kneeling on the man’s neck.

Say something like:

“Hey officer, I just want to let you know that the guy on the ground appears to be suffering from a medical condition. I don’t know if the officer controlling him knows he’s kneeling on the dude’s neck. People are videotaping and it doesn’t look good. I just don’t want you guys to get in trouble.”

If someone approached me at a similar scene in that manner, I would most certainly go check things out and ensure that the prisoner is OK.

You don’t care about the officers’ well being. You openly hope that the officer does get in trouble. Remember, to be successful, you want him to think it was his own idea. You want the officer to think “Maybe that doesn’t look very good. I have to stop this before it gets worse.” Play the game.

If there is no one else on scene, I’d approach the officer and focus on the medical issues.

“Officer, let me help you. I’ve had advanced medical training and that guy doesn’t look so good. Let’s move him on to his side and away from the car so that he can breathe better and I’ll check him out for you.”

In that approach, the officer can yield authority to someone who is better qualified without losing face. Most cops know very little about medical treatment protocols. If you seem like you know more than he does, he may yield to your experience.

Another way that might work is:

“Officer, are you OK? I’m a martial arts instructor. Can I help you hold him down so that you don’t have to kneel on his neck? Just tell me what you want me to do and I’ll do it.”

That might get the officer thinking about the consequences of kneeling on someone’s neck and allow him the safety to “de-escalate” if he feels that you are helping him get a chaotic situation under control.

A lot of those attacks should be considered “workplace violence”

Wednesday, March 18th, 2020

The US Department of Justice recently released an 18-page summary of active shooter statistics for every attack that met the FBI definition between the years 2000 and 2018, and Greg Ellifritz provides highlights, which I edit down further:

The majority of casualties occurred in “Open Areas.” Cops use large buildings like schools, churches, and vacant offices in which to conduct their training. Very few cops get training on how to cross open ground under fire to approach an outdoor active killer site. That needs to change.

The average active killer event results in two people injured for every one person killed. This has been true for as long as people have been keeping statistics about the topic. The statistics remain the same for this subset of killings. Lots of cops embrace the role of being the guy who hunts down and slays the killer. Fewer cops embrace a role where they are helping the injured.

Out of 277 total incidents, only four involved multiple suspects. Most events were perpetrated by a single killer who was arrested on scene by responding cops. Police agencies who amass large groups of officers before entering are wasting time. The chance of needing 360 degree coverage for multiple threats is almost non-existent.

Most active killers used handguns. Although many of the killings with a high body count were perpetrated with semi-auto rifles, 2/3 of attackers used handguns, not AR-15s.

Thirty-five percent of the killers carried more than one weapon. Responders should not drop their guard if the killer appears to be disarmed of his primary weapon.

Most of the active killer attacks took place in commercial businesses. We hear a lot about shootings at concerts, schools, and churches. Those are comparatively rare. Most of the attacks in the study were in businesses open to the public. A lot of those attacks are perpetrated by employees and should better be considered “workplace violence” incidents rather than active killer events.