Can Someone Please Tell the Cops that Photography is Not a Crime!

Via Instapundit in his
USA Today column
:

Under the Espionage Act, certain classified military
facilities can’t be photographed, but that’s it. But if
photographing buildings puts you at risk for being hassled, police
often take it even more personally if you photograph them at work.
As attorney Morgan Manning reported in Popular
Mechanics
, people who photograph police in the process of
arresting — or beating, or shooting — suspected criminals often
find themselves confronted by officers who demand that they hand
over their cameras or delete the incriminating images.

Again, the police don’t have any authority to do that. In fact,
the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit has held
in the case of Glik v. Cuniffe that the right to
photograph police officers in public spaces is so clearly
established that officers who break the law by interfering with
citizens who do so can’t plead “good faith” immunity.Good-faith
immunity is supposed to protect officers who have to act
quickly in areas where the law is unclear. The right to take
photographs of police officers in public places, said the Court of
Appeals, isn’t unclear. (In fact, it’s so clear that the Justice
Department has written a letter to law enforcement
agencies making that point.)


Read the whole thing.

Watch Reason TV‘s great vid on this very topic:

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Eighty Years Ago Today, John Dillinger Helped Create the FBI

not in boardwalk empireGangster John Dillinger’s lifelong career of
crime—he robbed at least 12 banks and four police departments and
was accused of shooting and killing an East Chicago police officer
while escaping one bank robbery—ended, with his life, eighty years
ago today outside the Beacon Theater in Chicago, Illinois. Agents
from the Division of Investigation (DOI) of the Justice Department
(DOJ), a predecessor to the FBI, surrounded the theater based on a
tip from an informant and then shot and killed him when he resisted
arrest outside. The FBI’s official history
explains
:

[Special Agent in Charge William] Cowley also phoned [bureau
director J. Edgar] Hoover for instructions. Hoover cautioned them
to wait outside rather than risk a shooting match inside the
crowded theater. Each man was instructed not to unnecessarily
endanger himself and was told that if Dillinger offered any
resistance, it would be each man for himself.

At 10:30 p.m., Dillinger, with his two female companions on
either side, walked out of the theater and turned to his left. As
they walked past the doorway in which Purvis was standing, Purvis
lit a cigar as a signal for the other men to close in.

Dillinger quickly realized what was happening and acted by
instinct. He grabbed a pistol from his right trouser pocket as he
ran toward the alley. Five shots were fired from the guns of three
FBI agents. Three of the shots hit Dillinger, and he fell face down
on the pavement. At 10:50 p.m. on July 22, 1934, John Dillinger was
pronounced dead in a little room in the Alexian Brothers
Hospital.

 The feds avoided a “dynamic entry” and tried to get their
man outside the theater. There were no reviews of law enforcement
shootings back then, but even a review process that didn’t always
justify every police shooting would likely find this one
justified.

As for that informant, Anna Sage, she was a Romanian immigrant
being threatened with deportation as an “alien of low moral
character” and provided the government with information hoping it
would prevent deportation. Afterward, the FBI told her it didn’t
have enough influence at the Department of Labor and she was
deported anyway, though she did receive $5,000 in reward money. In
a 2008 write-up of “spies and snitches,” CNN offered a possible
“more devious motive” proposed by crime author Jay Nash.
Via CNN
:

In Jay Robert Nash’s book “Dillinger: Dead or Alive,” the author
suggests the whole episode was a setup. Because the FBI’s failure
to capture the elusive Public Enemy No.1 was a source of
considerable consternation, Nash believes the scene outside the
theater that night was the shooting of an innocent man staged by
Sage, Zarkovich, and the FBI. The goal? Alleviate pressure on the
FBI and help keep the “Lady in Red” in the country.

Sage herself was never reported to have presented a theory like
this although as someone kicked out of a country she thought she
was helping she likely would’ve if it were true (and might have
even it if weren’t).

Nevertheless, the nationally-publicized campaign to capture John
Dillinger—he was the feds’ first “Public Enemy Number One”—helped
bring Hoover and his “G-Men” to prominence. The next year Congress
approved the creation of the FBI, an independent DOJ agency. In a
column for Roger Ebert where Nash tried to explain his Dillinger
theory, he
points out
:

Hoover personally announced or personally approved of all press
announcements on all cases. He totally controlled the public mouth
and words of the FBI. To build the image of an invincible Bureau,
Hoover relentlessly spent much of his time controlling that public
image and manipulating the press-newspapers and radio in those
days. He cheated and lied to build that FBI reputation, such as
creating out of whole cloth the image and actual words of the
“G-Man”; for instance, he issued a statement and reiterated that
statement later on in an article for the American Legion magazine
that FBI agents captured George “Machine Gun” Kelly in a rooming
house and when they burst through the door of his room, Kelly,
according to Hoover, stood quaking in his underwear, pleading:
“Don’t shoot, G-Men, don’t shoot!” This was a lie. Kelly was
captured by Memphis, Tennessee police detective sergeant William
Raney, who slipped into Kelly’s bedroom on the night of September
26, 1933, put an automatic to the kidnapper’s head and awoke him
with a nudge of that cold instrument. Kelly awoke and said: “Well,
I’ve been expecting you fellows.” Raney marched him down to Memphis
police headquarters where he was booked and then turned over the
FBI agents who were waiting at those headquarters-none were present
when Kelly was captured and Kelly never said “G-Man” to them or
anyone else. That was Hoover’s invention. He knew that only local
police had the authority to make official arrests before suspects
were turned over to his agents to face federal charges–in Kelly’s
case a kidnapping charge.

The only federal charge ever made against Dillinger was that he
drove a stolen car across a state line (the sheriff’s car he stole
when making his escape from the jail at Crown Point, Indiana and
driving it into Illinois), and it was upon that charge alone that
Hoover made Dillinger Public Enemy Number One-simply because he was
getting more publicity in 1934 than was Hoover and his FBI.

Hoover was director of the FBI from its founding until his death
in 1974. He had also been the director of the predecessor agency
since 1924. Hoover presided over a bureau that transformed from an
agency meant to enforce the anti-prostitution Mann Act and other
“interstate commerce” crimes to one that conducted widespread
surveillance and counterintelligence operations against various
dissident groups in the 60s and 70s.

In a way the FBI was returning, and continues to keep coming
back, to its roots. 
After the assassination of President McKinley
by a Polish
anarchist, Congress passed a number of laws banning anarchists from
entering the country and the feds began to track suspected foreign
radicals—it was the first seed of what would become the FBI. Today
the agency lists its number one investigative priority as
terrorism
. According to a Human Rights Watch report, nearly all
of the domestic terrorism plots foiled by the FBI were
planned by the agency too
, in sting operations. 

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Gene Healy Says You Can’t Blame Americans for Not Feeling Exceptional

“We
are exceptional in a certain way that no other nation is,”
Secretary of State John Kerry told U.S. embassy
staffers in Vienna last week. We’re the only country founded
on “the idea that people are created equal and that all people have
a chance to aspire for greatness. … Pretty amazing, right?” Kerry
enthused. So far, so patriotically correct — but Kerry really
stepped in it when he admitted getting “a little uptight when I
hear politicians say how exceptional we are. … Not because we’re
not exceptional,” he hastened to add — but because bragging
about it is “kind of in-your-face.”

Hit the Drudge siren! Mobilize the shock troops of righteous
indignation! Gene Healy notes that everyone from Rush Limbaugh to
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal had a tedious rage-spasm, making an
ersatz religion out of American Exceptionalism instead of
addressing the ways in which America grows less exceptional.

View this article.

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The Rot Within, Part I: Our Ponzi Economy

Submitted by Charles Hugh-Smith of OfTwoMind blog,

Depending on blowing the next bubble to temporarily prop up the economy is the height of foolhardy shortsightedness.

All the conventional policy fixes proposed by Demopublican politicos, technocrats and the vast army of academic/think-tank apparatchiks are the equivalent of slapping a coat of paint on a fragile facade riddled with dryrot. All these fake-fixes share a few key characteristics:

1. They focus on effects and symptoms rather than address the underlying causes, i.e. the dryrot at the heart of our government, society and economy.

2. They maintain and protect the Status Quo Powers That Be–no vested interests, protected fiefdoms or Financial Elites ever lose power as a result of these policy tweaks.

3. They are politically expedient, meaning they assuage the demands of vested interests rather than tackle the rot undermining the nation.

4. They ignore the perverse incentives built into current systems and the incentives of complicity, i.e. to cheer another coat of paint on the dryrot rather than face the costs of real reform.

The financial underpinnings of the economy and society are rotting from within:finance, higher education, defense, healthcare, law, governance, you name it.

This week I want to highlight a few key causes of this pervasive and eventually fatal systemic rot.

Let's start with Our Ponzi Economy. There are three primary examples of our Ponzi Economy: pay-as-you-go social programs (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, etc.); housing and the stock market. All are examples of financial Ponzi schemes.

All Ponzi schemes rely on an ever-expanding pool of greater fools who buy into the scheme and pay the interest/gains due the previous pool of greater fools. Ponzi schemes fail because the pool of greater fools is finite, but the scheme demands an ever-expanding pool of participants to function.

All Ponzi schemes eventually fail, though each is declared financially soundbecause this time it's different. The number of greater fools required to keep the scheme going eventually exceeds the working population of the nation.

Here's why Pay-As-You-Go Social Programs are all Ponzi schemes:

1 retiree consumes the taxes paid by 5 workers.
Those 5 workers when they retire consume the taxes paid by 25 workers.
Those 25 workers when they retire consume the taxes paid by 125 workers.
Those 125 workers when they retire consume the taxes paid by 625 workers.
Those 625 workers when they retire consume the taxes paid by 3,125 workers.

You see where this goes: very quickly, the number of workers required to keep the Ponzi scheme afloat exceeds the entire workforce.

The only way to keep the Ponzi scheme going is to keep raising payroll taxes on the remaining workers, which is precisely what welfare states (i.e. every developed economy on the planet) has done.

But raising taxes merely extends the Ponzi scheme one cycle. Eventually, taxes are so high that the remaining workers are impoverished. Right now, the U.S. has reached a ratio of 2 full-time workers for every retiree. As the number of retirees rises by thousands every day and the number of full-time jobs stagnates, the ratio will slide toward 1-to-1:

The Problem with Pay-As-You-Go Social Programs: They're Ponzi Schemes (November 5, 2013)

Estimates are even worse in other developed nations. In Europe, the ratio of retirees over 65 to those between 20 and 64 will soon reach 50%–and that's of the population, not of people with full-time jobs paying taxes to fund social welfare programs. (source: Foreign Affairs, July/August 2014, page 130)

As the percentage of the working-age populace with full-time jobs declines, the worker-retiree ratio will become increasingly unsustainable. The taxes paid by each worker are nowhere enough to fund the generous pension and healthcare benefits promised to every retiree.

In the U.S., the number of people of working age who are jobless is 92 million; the number of full-time jobs is 118 million. This chart of labor participation includes almost 30 million part-time employees who don't earn enough to pay substantial taxes and millions of self-employed people making poverty-level net incomes.

 

Courtesy of STA Wealth Management, here is a chart that shows full-time workers are less than half the labor force:
 

Housing is also a classic Ponzi scheme: prices can only go up if there is an ever-expanding pool of greater fools willing and able to pay even more for a house than the previous pool of greater fools.

As I have explained many times, the only way the Status Quo has been able to expand the pool of greater fools is to lower interest rates to near-zero, drop down payments to 3% and loosen previously-prudent lending standards.

The Housing "Recovery" in Four Charts (May 27, 2014)

These tricks extend the Ponzi for a cycle by artifically expanding the pool of greater fools, but that pool is not infinite. (Foreign buyers are currently enlarging the pool, but their participation is dependent on the Ponzi schemes in their home economies not blowing up.)

The stock market has been made the official metric of the nation's economic health; too bad it's a Ponzi scheme. Financial bubbles are what economist Robert Shiller calls "naturally occurring Ponzis" because the psychology of ever-rising prices and profits fuels an inflow of greater fools that sustains the bubble until all available greater fools have sunk their cash and credit into the bubble.

Here is what a market that is increasingly dominated by Ponzi bubbles looks like: this is the S&P 500 (SPX):


(source: Gordon T. Long, Macro Analytics)

Depending on blowing the next bubble to temporarily prop up the economy is the height of foolhardy shortsightedness. Yet that's our Status Quo, increasingly dependent on inflating bubbles to evince "economic strength" when the Ponzi paint will soon peel off the rotten wood of the real economy.




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Europe Agrees To Disagree Over New Russian Sanctions

As usual, Europe is talking out of both sides of its mouth (or other orifices). On the one hand, we are told:

  • EU foreign ministers failed to agree new sanctions against Russia at a Brussels meeting

And on the other hand:

  • Dutch minister says EU imposing new sanctions on officials over Russia

So – which is it Europe?

The FT reports from 1052ET…

EU foreign ministers failed to agree new sanctions against Russia at a Brussels meeting on Tuesday and instead tasked their diplomats to explore possible wider-ranging measures this week.

Although such measures could include cutting off access to Europe’s capital markets and an arms embargo, they would be contingent on whether Russia fails to cooperate in the future, not on past behaviour – like ties to the downing of MH17, reports the FT’s Peter Spiegel in Brussels.

And The AP reports at 1054ET…

Dutch minister says EU is imposing new sanctions on officials over Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

The Germans remain the most anxious of the repurcussions…

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said that while Berlin was still willing to talk with Russia, greater economic pressure was needed to make Moscow change course.

 

“I say we remain open to defusing the situation with all political and diplomatic means but it will be necessary to accompany this willingness with higher pressure, which also means sharper measures,” he told reporters on arrival.

And Britain the most aggressive…

Britain’s new Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said he would urge fellow ministers to “send a very clear and strong signal to Russia today”.

Along with Lithuania…

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius said it was “time to name names” and to put Ukraine’s breakaway republics of Luhansk and Donetsk on the EU’s list of terrorist organizations.

*  *  *
Dis-united States of Europe…




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Hottest June on Record, Says National Climatic Data Center

Temperature TrendThe National Climatic Data
Center at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has
released its global average temperature figures for June 2014. The
NCDC reports:

  • The combined average temperature over global land and ocean
    surfaces for June 2014 was the highest on record for the month, at
    0.72°C (1.30°F) above the 20th century average of 15.5°C
    (59.9°F).
  • The global land surface temperature was 0.95°C (1.71°F) above
    the 20th century average of 13.3°C (55.9°F), the seventh
    highest for June on record.
  • For the ocean, the June global sea surface temperature was
    0.64°C (1.15°F) above the 20th century average of 16.4°C
    (61.5°F), the highest for June on record and the highest departure
    from average for any month.
  • The combined global land and ocean average surface temperature
    for the January–June period (year-to-date) was 0.67°C (1.21°F)
    above the 20th century average of 13.5°C (56.3°F), tying
    with 2002 as the third warmest such period on record.

This is in contrast with the global temperature trends reported
by University of Alabama in Huntsville climatologists John Christy
and Roy Spencer who find that
June 2014 was the fourth warmest
in the satellite record. They
note:

The global average temperature for June was 0.30 C (about 0.54
degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than seasonal norms for the month, warm
enough to tie June 2013 for fourth warmest. (The warmest June was
in 1998, during the “El Niño of the century.” Global average
temperatures in June 1998 were 0.51 C [about 0.92 degrees F] warmer
than normal.)

Below is a comparison of global temperature trends through May
2014 between the two satellite datasets (UAH and RSS) and the three
leading surface datasets including the NCDC one.

Temperature Comparison

For more background, see my article, “Did
Federal Climate Scientists Fudge Temperature Data to Make It
Warmer?

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Bolivia Lowers Legal Age of Employment to Help Poor Families

Children working in an American factory in the early 1900s.Bolivia
has lowered its
minimum age of employment from 14 to 10-years-old
, giving it
the distinction of being the nation with the lowest legal age of
employment. But while the idea of tiny tots slaving away for payday
may make some queasy, it’s actually a positive step
for one of the
poorest countries
 in Latin America.  

And the legislators in Bolivia recognize that:

The bill’s sponsors say lowering the minimum work age from 14
simply acknowledges a reality: Many poor families in Bolivia have
no other choice than for their kids to work.

However, the bill, they say, does offer working children
safeguards.

Child
labor already exists in Bolivia
, and it’s difficult to fight
it. Rather than persecute it, we want to protect the rights and
guarantee the labor security of children,” said Sen. Adolfo
Mendoza, one of the bill’s sponsors.

Under the legislation, 10-year-olds will be able to work as long
as they are under parental supervision and also attend school. It
sets 12 as the minimum age for a child to work under contract.
Those children would also have to attend school.

Of course, not everyone views this as a positive step for the
country and the kids. Before the bill became law, three
organizations against the legislation sent
a letter to Bolivia’s president telling him not to sign the bill
and pointing out that the country has signed treaties to the
contrary
. The letter argues:

If children as young as 12 are permitted to work, they will miss
out on education during the very formative years of their
development and risk being trapped in repetitive tasks, eroding
their skills and prospective employability in future. In this
process they would inadvertently enter into the vicious cycle of
poverty and illiteracy which would not be easy to dismantle. Child
labour as a double edged dagger could further deprive adults from
decent working conditions because employers will always prefer
children over adults for they do not demand minimum wages and
cannot stand up for their rights.

These organizations may mean well, but they’re missing one big
point: banning
child labor doesn’t make
 it
disappear
. Nor does it miraculously pull families out of
poverty and give them the opportunity to send their kids to school,
as
David Boaz of the Cato Institute points out

If we say that the United States should abolish child labor in
very poor countries, then what will happen to these children? …
They’re not suddenly going to go to the country day school. …
They may be out selling their bodies on the street. That is not an
improvement over working in a t-shirt factory.

In fact, when India banned employing children under the age of
14 in manufacturing,
reasearchers found that child wages actually decreased and child
labor increased.

In an ideal world, children would spend everyday learning,
playing, and generally having the sort of childhood
of Kevin
Arnold in The Wonder Years
. But we don’t live an ideal world,
and therefore goverments shouldn’t take away a child’s best
alternative to poverty.

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In Potentially “Lethal Blow” For Obamacare, US Appeals Court Finds Insurance Subsidies Invalid In Most States

It may be back to square 1 for Obamacare.

Moments ago, in what NBC classified as a “potentially lethal blow to Obamacare” a federal appeals court has ruled that the federal government may not subsidize health insurance plans bought by people in states that decided not to set up their own marketplaces under Obamacare. The law clearly says that states are to set up the exchanges. But 34 states opted not to, and the federal government took over in those states. The court ruled that federal government may not pay subsidies for insurance plans in those states.

As the Hill reports further, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals said the Affordable Care Act does not permit the IRS to distribute premium subsidies in the federal ObamaCare exchange, meaning those consumers must bear the full cost of their insurance.

But… they said socialism is for the greater good!?

The 2-1 decision by the three-judge panel in Halbig v. Burwell sets up a major legal showdown that conservatives believe could deal a fatal blow to President Obama’s healthcare law.

And here is where the government’s appeal process is sure to benefit from the NSA’s treasure trove of dirt on all those judges who dared to throw a spike in the suboptimally greased wheels of government wealth redistribution:

The government is expected to appeal the ruling to the full D.C. Circuit, but even if the administration triumphs there, the case appears destined for the Supreme Court.

 

The appeals court’s decision tossed out the ObamaCare subsidies on the grounds that the statutory language of the Affordable Care Act does not explicitly allow enrollees on the federal exchanges to receive premium tax credits.

 

“Because we conclude that the ACA unambiguously restricts the section 36B subsidy to insurance purchased on Exchanges ‘established by the State,’ we reverse the district court and vacate the IRS’s regulation,” the court said.

 

Previous courts rejected that argument, saying Congress’s clear intent was to provide the subsidy help to everyone in the system.

And now, the time for a diversionary war has clearly come.




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Rising Wages Where? Real Wages Post First Annual Decline Since 2012

For all the talk about “noisy inflation” this and “rising prices are good for the economy” that, what the Fed’s cheerleading squad continues to ignore is the one most important inflation the US economy needs in order to actually have a sustainable recovery instead of centrally-planned stagflation: wage inflation.

So while bullish pundits keep referring to some mythical CEO survey promising wage will increase any day now, just not today, the BLS released its most recent real wage (adjusted for inflation) report moments ago, showing that not only did the average real hourly wage remain flat for the second month in a row at $10.29, the lowest level since September 2013, but posted the first annual decline since October 2012.

And a longer-term chart showing where real average wages have gone in the past five years (spoiler alert: nowhere).

In short: any minute now on those rising wages… Just not right now.




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