NYPD cop: we arrested people on false drug charges to meet quotas

This is what your drug war has wrought, America.

A former NYPD narcotics detective snared in a corruption scandal testified it was common practice to fabricate drug charges against innocent people to meet arrest quotas.

The bombshell testimony from Stephen Anderson is the first public account of the twisted culture behind the false arrests in the Brooklyn South and Queens narc squads, which led to the arrests of eight cops and a massive shakeup.

Anderson, testifying under a cooperation agreement with prosecutors, was busted for planting cocaine, a practice known as “flaking,” on four men in a Queens bar in 2008 to help out fellow cop Henry Tavarez, whose buy-and-bust activity had been low.

Waging war on recreational pharmaceuticals, and setting quotas for police to catch a set amount of criminals for certain classes of crimes (even when crime rates are low, no less!), all for what? To keep you safe? Or to keep the for-profit prison systems in the black?

Tories’ steamroller government targets Canadian autonomy from US law

Back on Talk Like a Pirate Day, our friend sinned34 posted the following, which ought to give any Canuck pause, all pirate talk aside.

Seems th’ Cons in power here been schemin’ wit’ the Prez o’ them United States to allow the Queen’s navy to cross the border soutwards, in return for allowin’ the longish arm o’ the Amerikin law to reach up in ta Canada, unner the guise o’ chasin’ down terrists an’ protectin’ the public from varyin’ forms o’piracy. He s’posedly be doin’ this inna hopes of convincin’ that Republikin lap dog Obama to open up th’ border to more trade. But the way the Yanks been tossin’ their freedoms and due process overboard to the sharks be makin’ me fear they be exportin’ even more of the US-type prison system up northwards.

To translate that for those of you who don’t speak Piratese (for shame!), Harper plans on allowing cross-border police raids. Ostensibly it’ll allow our police and/or RCMP to cross the border to the States, but given the levels of crime between our particular jurisdictions, all we’ll likely end up with is the States raiding us. So much for our more liberal laws — between this and the omnibus legislation looking to turn Canada’s copyright laws into DMCA Mk. II, they’ll all be forfeit shortly. Sinned continues:

Stephen Harper has been working to introduce minimum sentencing rules and increase the penalties for drug offenses, especially targeting cannabis, and he’s building more prisons, so one can expect that he’s planning more legislation to fill those prisons. However, due to the general Canadian acceptance of cannabis use (a 2009 Angus Reid poll had 53% of Canadians agreeing with the statement, “The use of marijuana should be legalized”), it might cost him politically if he were to pursue a drug war with too much zeal.

If the Conservatives can’t convince Canadians to embrace the war on drugs, the next best thing would be to almost literally import the American war on drugs into the Great White North. The ability of American drug enforcement to enter Canada while investigating drug crime is the simplest way to bring US drug law across the border.

He’s absolutely right in this assessment. The last set of laws that were passed to combat terrorism was used primarily for domestic cannabis cases. We’re not talking about those evil drug dealers whose money supposedly funds terrorists, either — the international drug cartels that have gained their power through the very demonization of their product. We’re talking about the local asshole growing a few plants in his basement and getting thrown in jail for a long time for possession with intent to sell.

The War on Some Drugs has, traditionally, not been about the drugs themselves at all. It has, as near as I can figure, been an effort to turn jails into a moneymaking scheme. When people call for legalization and taxation, I can’t help but chuckle. See, there is far too much money in turning an entire class of citizens into criminals in a culture with for-profit prisons; in driving a market for a specific, popular and generally harmless* recreational pharmaceutical, that happens to grow like a weed, underground. Prohibition on alcohol was too much for the system to handle, and the shock of it turned just about everyone into a criminal, in such a way that the “war on drugs” was not just a figure of speech but an actual, violent war between organized crime and police. Too many innocents were caught in the crossfire. Prohibition of marijuana seems to be a “just right” amount of war, generating enough “criminals” to warrant megajails and the likes.

This is the culture Harper evidently wants to import to Canada. This is how he shuffles the war on some drugs into Canada by the side door. Once Canada becomes a fiefdom to the States’ drug laws, we’re at the top of the slippery slope, and if anything called for a slippery slope argument, this is it. We’re about to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into the war on drugs whether Canada cares about cannabis use or not.

And worse, even the FBI admits this war was never meant to be won.

* There is a large cohort study suggesting that cannabis increases risk of psychosis. I’m not going to dismiss this study outright, but it involves self-reporting, and does not control for previous family history of psychosis, each of which is a large enough flaw that I’d like to see independent verification.

Climate noise amplification

Ever notice that once in a while, when observing scientific matters, you have a signal to noise problem that’s really difficult to overcome?

I’m not talking about the actual problems of signal-to-noise in building studies, especially out of short and uncorrelated pieces of data. I’m talking about the amplification that goes on in the denialist quarters of the blogosphere, picking up on phrasings or terms of trade that happen to be easy to misconstrue into a soundbite “club” to beat layfolk over the head with. This happens in pretty much every field of study, but never to the extent or effectiveness seen in the field of climatology.

Take, for instance, Phil Jones’ interview with the BBC, from which an intentional misunderstanding of the concept of statistical significance by a question sent in by a climate skeptic entrapped Jones into saying something technically correct but easily misconstrued.
[Read more...]

RCimT: Climate round-up

Apropos of the topic of discussion for today’s radio show, here’s a roundup of some links related to climate change, plus some other related sciencey bits that I otherwise just wanted to get out of my tabs. Enjoy!

Here’s how climate change was subsumed into the “culture war”. Good overview of how we got to the point where science and anti-science polarized along political lines, and how it’ll backfire on the pro-money and anti-science crowd.

Knowing that bots and hired trolls have all but filled the discourse on other matters, Googling for related topics and astroturfing dissent as though they were legitimately grass-roots, it’s no surprise that climate denialists are employing these same tactics to muddy the discourse.

Some new study came out claiming some ridiculous things about the science proving anthropogenic global warming, and the media is touting this study as “blowing a hole” in the science, calling those people that understand and accept the evidence “alarmists” in the process. Phil Plait rips ‘em a new one over this mendacity, and in the process, Learns to Stop Worrying and Love the Ad Hominem in the process. Though I’d argue that since he’s also showing why they’re wrong, what he’s doing is simply including a personal attack in the conclusion. You’ll want to click pretty much every one of the links in his post, as the actual debunking mostly happens off-blog.

Like at RealClimate, for example. If you don’t want to go through the links above, at least check that one out.

John Abraham, one of the participants in the Atheists Talk radio show today, had another radio spot recently about climate change that you should check out.

The Koch Brothers, apparently movers-and-shakers in the conservative world, are making a concerted effort to stamp out a wind power generation project in New Jersey. And, of course, disguising it as a grassroots movement.

Mike Haubrich, host of the Atheists Talk show, has a good piece on “Hide the Decline”, those unfortunate terms of trade in the “Climategate” emails. Those emails led to a million false allegations against climate scientists and climate science as a whole due to a simple misunderstanding and a willful ignorance of the truth, even after having it explained a million and one (for good measure) times.

And now that the raw data from the “Climategate” study has been released, and STILL they can’t find any actual wrongdoing or manipulation in the scientists’ processes, I’m sure that’ll evaporate finally! Right?

If we could find some way to keep space debris from smashing it to bits, I’m now convinced space solar is the best path out of this era of fossil fuels and into the next, of renewable resources. Building the arrays and keeping them safe from space junk would be expensive, but no more expensive than, say, three ongoing wars, or the Bush-era tax cuts.

Enjoy the radio show! I’ll be listening live myself, if I can get the stupid feed to work properly this time around. Last time the streaming was glitchy as hell. Here’s to hoping it’s sorted now.

Women like porn, but Facebook doesn’t like women liking porn

Women like porn too, it turns out. No, seriously. Some really do.

Facebook, however, apparently doesn’t like that fact.

On July 27, 2010, Facebook removed the Our Porn, Ourselves Facebook campaign page. After the page was removed, anti-porn organization Porn Harms claimed victory and thanked Facebook for the deletion, on the organization’s Facebook page and their Twitter feed. Our deleted group had roughly 3,500 members, most of whom were women (I combed through the member logs frequently). Our page had over three times the members of Porn Harms’ anti-porn page.

According to Facebook the deletion was in response to reported violations of Facebook’s Terms of Service, among which include obscenity. As I am an active and high-profile figure in the online social media space, I am not a newcomer to social media, or implementing Terms of Service. I also knew that someone was persistently trying to get every piece of art removed from our gallery — regardless of the content, nearly every user-uploaded photo was mysteriously being flagged and removed.

Wanna place bets that Facebook’s censorship (and yes, deleting something as obscene that has absolutely no obscenity is very likely a specious excuse, and therefore outright censorship outside the boundaries of the terms and conditions of use of the site) was done entirely at the behest of the anti-porn folks whose proverbial lunch was being eaten, judging by the member counts of the two groups?

Hat tip to @antiheroine (Skepchick Jen) for tweeting about this — yet another example of someone cheating at the rules of the intertubes to get their way when reality contraindicates their favored positions.

Heh. Positions.

Attention, those who cheat at the intertubes: we’re on to you.

It seems cheating at Youtube isn’t the only sport of those without a leg to stand on ideologically. A group of right-wingers organized using a Yahoo! Group to orchestrate and perpetuate a continual “burial brigade” on Digg, a social bookmarking site I admittedly never use myself, in order to “bury” posts from left-leaning sources, or even just left-leaning news. Thankfully, this cheating isn’t going unnoticed, as the mainstream media has caught on.

Digg is a popular site where users share articles, photos and video links. News outlets have often used Digg for story leads. The expose shows how right-wing individuals are making an effort to stop left-leaning stories from being shared widely. In contrast, Olson discovered that the Digg Patriots favored stories about conservative pundits such as Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck, and Michelle Malkin.

This is part of Olson’s AlterNet article:

Although this is a fringe group of Teabagging wingnuts, many well established figures in the Digg community are also present, such as BalancingAct, EMFK, Janinco, mikeinto, and spindig. 10 members have been part of Digg since 2005-2006, with 43 having their current account there for over 2 years. 19 are in the top 500 all time users as ranked by Social Blade, including 3 in the top 100. They have submitted over 30,000 articles, and dugg over 1,000,000 submits collectively. They regularly front page material, yet have some paranoid delusion that the Digg admins are part of some conspiracy to censor them, not once recognizing the blatant hypocrisy of their organized censorship doing that very thing.

ABC News wrote a story about the expose and published Kevin Rose’s tweet on the matter saying that his company is “looking into this.” The Atlantic Monthly has also written about the controversy surrounding Digg.

Digg has said they will do away with the “bury” option since it’s being so easily abused to kill articles before they even have a chance at making the front page, since that means a bare few people were controlling the flow of information on the site. This doesn’t address the overarching fact that people are willing to cheat to have their ideologies pushed. It also doesn’t address the fact that the supposed purveyors of all that is right and good have been caught once again exhibiting their dubious moral fibre.

Even more cheating at Youtube

I’ve discussed at greater depth in the past the lengths to which creationists will cheat at a meritocratous system like Youtube, including both vote-botting and abusing the DMCA to censor opposing viewpoints. I was going to embed a video here, as I’m subscribed to Thunderf00t’s Youtube channel, but Dan J beat me to the punch. So head on over and watch it there.

Thunderf00t takes a creationist video producer named HowTheWorldWorks to task for the obvious subscription number manipulation — how tons of accounts subscribe to his videos within a two-week window, each with a watched-video count of 0, and HTWW mysteriously hid his subscriber list after being found out. And it is epic.

Hey creationists, why can’t you play fair? Is it because your ideas are bankrupt and fringe, and you are honestly not nearly as popular as the science Youtubers? Because I suspect that to be the case. Play fair, guys. Jesus would!

How far can you make it through this video?

I saw this on TLC originally, on some “Trading Spouses” show (or something — it was mostly just on after Holmes on Homes), and had to change the channel when this crazy Christian lady got put into a non-Christian household. I couldn’t even make it through the first minute — as soon as she screamed “SHE’S NOT A CHRISTIANNNNAAH!!!” I turned it off.

what I originally tried to embed

Dan pointed out it wasn’t embedding properly, nor was the one he embedded (gah), but I found this one that is edited that embeds:

Oh, and no fair turning the sound off, that’s cheating and means you’re so dark-sided.