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When wolves returned to Yellowstone

November 6, 2014

This article’s about a year old; I just came across it a couple of weeks ago. It sounds to me like the root problem was failing to keep the deer population under control. (I’m guessing they didn’t allow humans to hunt the deer in Yellowstone, so the wolves may now be doing something no one was doing earlier.)

But it’s a nicely done clip and makes a good point about nature’s balance.

When They Brought These Wolves Into The Park, They Had No Idea This Would Happen

In 1995, wolves were re-introduced into the Yellowstone National Park, after being wolf-free for 70 years. What naturalists and biologist never imagined, was that the most remarkable thing would take place. Mother Nature knows what she’s doing if we just leave her alone.

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All your phone are belong to us

November 2, 2014

Paul sends links to two stories about a judge in Virginia who rules that fingerprint locks on phones aren’t protected by the Fifth Amendment but password locks are. He adds, "This is why NOT to use a fingerprint lock on your phone."

From The Wall Street Journal’s Digits blog:

Judge Rules Suspect Can Be Required To Unlock Phone With Fingerprint

A Virginia Circuit Court judge ruled Tuesday that police officers cannot force criminal suspects to divulge cellphone passwords, but they can force them to unlock the phone with a fingerprint scanner.

If applied by other courts, the ruling could become important as more device makers incorporate fingerprint readers that can be used as alternatives to passwords. Apple introduced the technology last year in its iPhone 5S and Samsung included it in its Galaxy S5.

When those phones arrived, lawyers said users might be required to unlock the phones with their fingerprints. More recently, Apple and Google said they had changed the encryption scheme on the newest phones using their operating systems so that law enforcement can’t retrieve the data. FBI Director James Comey criticized the companies, saying were allowing users to “place themselves above the law.”

The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gives people the right to avoid self-incrimination. That includes divulging secret passwords, Judge Steven C. Frucci ruled. But providing fingerprints and other biometric information is considered outside the protection of the Fifth Amendment, the judge said.

And from MacRumors:

Court Rules Police Can Force Users to Unlock iPhones With Fingerprints, But Not Passcodes

A Circuit Court judge in Virginia has ruled that fingerprints are not protected by the Fifth Amendment, a decision that has clear privacy implications for fingerprint-protected devices like newer iPhones and iPads.

According to Judge Steven C. Fucci, while a criminal defendant can’t be compelled to hand over a passcode to police officers for the purpose of unlocking a cellular device, law enforcement officials can compel a defendant to give up a fingerprint.

The Fifth Amendment states that “no person shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself,” which protects memorized information like passwords and passcodes, but it does not extend to fingerprints in the eyes of the law, as speculated by Wired last year.

Judge Steven C. Frucci ruled this week that giving police a fingerprint is akin to providing a DNA or handwriting sample or an actual key, which the law permits. A pass code, though, requires the defendant to divulge knowledge, which the law protects against, according to Frucci’s written opinion. […]

If Baust’s phone is an iPhone that’s equipped with Touch ID, it’s very likely that it will be passcode locked at this point and thus protected by law. Touch ID requires a passcode after 48 hours of disuse, a restart, or three failed fingerprint entry attempts, and the device has probably been in police custody for quite some time. It is unclear if the judge’s ruling will have an impact on future cases involving cellular devices protected with fingerprint sensors, as it could be overturned by an appeal or a higher court.

If you’re worried about your phone being searched, you should encrypt it.

How to Encrypt Your Android Phone and Why You Might Want To

Some recent legal rulings have suggested that encryption can protect against warantless searches. The California Supreme Court has ruled that police officers can lawfully search your cell phone without a warrant if it’s taken from you during arrest – but they would require a warrant if it was encrypted. A Canadian court has also ruled that phones can be searched without a warrant as long as they’re unencrypted.

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What are they thinking? (2)

November 1, 2014

What are those silly oil producers and speculators thinking? They’re driving the price down again.

Yes, Virginia, there is a global market in oil. And since oil is about as fungible as any good can be, its price isn’t controlled by the US President, or the US Congress, or even the big US oil companies.

I don’t know the cause of the decrease in oil prices recently but I strongly suspect the increase in US oil production, which is at a 30+ year high, has something to do with it.

In fact, if the global price of oil drops very much more, it’ll be so low that some fracking operations may be operating at a loss.

And removing those fracking sources may cause an upward price adjustment as supply contracts. You can look it up.

Someone said once about US stock market prices, "I believe they will fluctuate." And so will the price of oil, no matter what the politicians may say or do in their misguided attempts to control it — or to demonize the people producing and selling it.

Video via Carpe Diem

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The same old same old

October 26, 2014

Via Instapundit, I came across this article by Kevin Williams at NRO. He talks about several other cases in addition to Joseph Adams’.

Meet the New Serfs: You
Accountability is only for the little people.

The New Haven SWAT team must have been pretty amped up: It was midnight, and they were getting ready to bust down the door of a man wanted on charges involving weapons violations, robbery — and murder. They were not sure how many people were in the house, or how they’d react. After a volley of flash grenades that set fire to the carpet and a sofa, they moved in, guns drawn. A minute later, they had their man zip-tied on the floor.

If only they’d double-checked the address first.

Bobby Griffin Jr. was wanted on murder charges. His next-door neighbor on Peck Street, Joseph Adams, wasn’t. But that didn’t stop the SWAT team from knocking down his door, setting his home on fire, roughing him up, keeping him tied up in his underwear for nearly three hours, and treating the New Haven man, who is gay, to a nance show as officers taunted him with flamboyantly effeminate mannerisms. […]

And when Mr. Adams showed up at the New Haven police department the next day to fill out paperwork requesting that the authorities reimburse him for the wanton destruction of his property — never mind the gross violation of his rights — the story turned Kafkaesque, as interactions with American government agencies at all levels tend to do. The police — who that same night had managed to take in the murder suspect next door without the use of flash grenades or other theatrics after his mother suggested that they were probably there for her son — denied having any record of the incident at Mr. Adams’s home ever having happened. […]

In a sane world, the New Haven authorities would have shown up at Adams’s house with a check, flowers, and an apology, and a certificate exempting him from taxes for the rest of his life. In this world, people in his situation get treated by the government like they are the ones who have screwed up. And of course they’d say they had no record of the episode — getting information about your situation from any government agency, especially from one that is persecuting you, requires an agonizing effort.

In the same vein, here’s an interesting essay by Frank Serpico at Politico. (Tip o’ the hat to Paul.) Mr. Serpico describes a lot of the corruption and egregious violence he saw during his career as a policeman. He ends his essay with a list of recommendations for reining in out-of-control police forces, the most important one being independent review boards.

The Police Are Still Out of Control
I should know.

In the opening scene of the 1973 movie “Serpico,” I am shot in the face—or to be more accurate, the character of Frank Serpico, played by Al Pacino, is shot in the face. Even today it’s very difficult for me to watch those scenes, which depict in a very realistic and terrifying way what actually happened to me on Feb. 3, 1971. I had recently been transferred to the Narcotics division of the New York City Police Department, and we were moving in on a drug dealer on the fourth floor of a walk-up tenement in a Hispanic section of Brooklyn. The police officer backing me up instructed me (since I spoke Spanish) to just get the apartment door open “and leave the rest to us.”

One officer was standing to my left on the landing no more than eight feet away, with his gun drawn; the other officer was to my right rear on the stairwell, also with his gun drawn. When the door opened, I pushed my way in and snapped the chain. The suspect slammed the door closed on me, wedging in my head and right shoulder and arm. I couldn’t move, but I aimed my snub-nose Smith & Wesson revolver at the perp (the movie version unfortunately goes a little Hollywood here, and has Pacino struggling and failing to raise a much-larger 9-millimeter automatic). From behind me no help came. At that moment my anger got the better of me. I made the almost fatal mistake of taking my eye off the perp and screaming to the officer on my left: “What the hell you waiting for? Give me a hand!” I turned back to face a gun blast in my face. I had cocked my weapon and fired back at him almost in the same instant, probably as reflex action, striking him. (He was later captured.)

When I regained consciousness, I was on my back in a pool of blood trying to assess the damage from the gunshot wound in my cheek. Was this a case of small entry, big exit, as often happens with bullets? Was the back of my head missing? I heard a voice saying, “Don’ worry, you be all right, you be all right,” and when I opened my eyes I saw an old Hispanic man looking down at me like Carlos Castaneda’s Don Juan. My “backup” was nowhere in sight. They hadn’t even called for assistance—I never heard the famed “Code 1013,” meaning “Officer Down.” They didn’t call an ambulance either, I later learned; the old man did. One patrol car responded to investigate, and realizing I was a narcotics officer rushed me to a nearby hospital (one of the officers who drove me that night said, “If I knew it was him, I would have left him there to bleed to death,” I learned later). […]

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LEAP’s Top Ten

October 17, 2014

A nicely done post (with good graphics). RTWT – it won’t take long.

10 Shocking Reasons To End The Drug War

This is not your ordinary Top 10 Buzzfeed list. Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a group of law enforcement officials opposed to the war on drugs, created this list to show why the War on Drugs has been one of the most disastrous policies in American history. From mass incarceration and tremendous loss of life to billions of dollars seized from citizens every year, drug prohibition is a colossal failure. We need you to share this list to help get the word out. Help grow the number of people in this country and around the globe demanding legalization, regulation and control.

andy-griffith-2014

Via Carpe Diem

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A lighter look at civil forfeiture

October 11, 2014

John Oliver takes a cheeky look at civil (asset) forfeiture. You may be surprised by some of the things he mentions.

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Something pretty cool in New York

October 5, 2014

If you read all the posts about cops here, you might come away with the idea that they’re mostly cruel people who enjoy abusing their power. They’re not, of course; my own interactions with police have been positive by and large. And I think that police officers show the same mix of good and bad folks that’s in the general population.

So for a little balance, here’s a story about a cop and a young child that’s good news. Congratulations to Sergeant Hildenbrand for helping to save this boy’s life.

Police officer drives car and does CPR at same time on toddler

RED HOOK, N.Y. (WABC) –
A Red Hook police sergeant thought he was just pulling over a speeder; instead it turned out to be a frantic dad trying to get help for his son.

The 22-month-old was having a medical emergency and the officer took quick action that saved the little boy’s life. […]

On Monday, Morgan’s 22-month-old boy, also named Matthew, suffered a seizure and collapsed. The 19-year-old grabbed the small lifeless body and jumped into his car. Speeding through the Dutchess County Village of Red Hook, Morgan and Police Sergeant Patrick Hildenbrand spotted each other at just about the same time.

“I was going and then he hit his lights and then as soon as I seen that I stopped and I ran to his car. You get through traffic a lot faster,” Morgan said.

“He has a young boy in his hands and he’s running at me, yelling at me, his son is not breathing. ‘I think my son is dead, my son is not breathing,'” Hildenbrand said.

What happened next is extraordinary. Morgan, now in the back seat of a police SUV held his son close to the partition and watched as the 35-year-old policeman drove to the hospital and performed CPR on the boy at the same time.

“I reached my hand back here as I’m driving, moved my body over and started doing all the compressions and feeling for a pulse while I could still operate the vehicle,” Hildenbrand said. […]

“I really don’t think this child would be here today if it wasn’t for those efforts. I think the key is when you can start rescue CPR out in the community it certainly, the earlier you start it the better outcomes you have,” said Dr. John Sabia, of Northern Dutchess Hospital.

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