Lack of confidence in police honesty

The Baltimore Sun reports on a new grand jury convened to prepare a report suggesting ways to restore public confidence in the Baltimore Department.

As evidence that this is a problem worthy of its attention, McCurdy told the grand jury about two recent cases in which city judges doubted the word of police officers.

In the past two weeks, two weapons violations cases have crumbled - and convicted felons who admitted carrying loaded revolvers were able to avoid five-year prison sentences - because judges believed the guns might have been discovered illegally.

Clickety-clack of keyboard can give you away

Freedom to Tinker summarizes a paper on snooping typed information by analyzing a recording of the typing sounds.

The recovered text gets about 90% of the words right and is said to be "quite readable". While passwords don’t have the same statistical properties as ordinary text, as long as the password-typing is accompanied by enough English-typing the algorithm can come up with a short list of possible passwords, which almost always includes the correct one.

"Sounds let eavesdroppers determine what you're typing" plus "cellphone companies can remotely install software to activate the microphone when the user is not making a call" equals "a creepy feeling up and down my spine".

Mike Tidwell: "Get Used To It: New Orleans is Our Future"

I'm not quite sure when I first heard about how a hurricane like Katrina could destroy New Orleans; I know it was at least a few years ago. Mike Tidwell wrote a book about it in 2003: Bayou Farewell: The Rich Life and Tragic Death of Louisiana's Cajun Coast. No one paid much attention to the book then, but since Katrina struck, he's been on "Meet the Press", CNN (three times), Fox, MSNBC, CBS, and NPR. He says, "[M]y main objective in all of these interviews is to raise awareness of how climate change will soon turn every coastal city in the world into a New Orleans unless we make a rapid switch to clean, renewable energy."

Since he pretty much hit it on the nose before, sounds like it might be a good idea to listen to him now, no? Read his essay, which makes clear just how much of the Katrina tragedy was a result of poor environmental policy, here.

Hunter S. Thompon's last dispatch

Reuters reports on an apparent suicide note from Hunter S. Thompson. Perhaps the last thing he wrote:

The brief message, scrawled in black marker and titled "Football Season Is Over" (an apparent reference to the end of the NFL season he avidly followed as fan), reads as follows:

"No More Games. No More bombs. No More Walking. No More Fun. No More Swimming. 67. That is 17 years past 50. 17 more than I needed or wanted. Boring. I am always bitchy. No Fun -- for anybody. 67. You are getting Greedy. Act your old age. Relax -- This won't hurt."

Personal rememberance of 9/11

Fourth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks today. I thought I'd post some things I've previously written. First, a little previously unpublished piece I wrote on the first anniversary:


Sept 11 2002

The Bards of 9/11

The show must go on.

Here it is, one year later. I'm back at the bar where I spent most of the day on that fateful famous Tuesday. I had a gig that day, my regular Tuesday evening gig at Leadbetter's. After spending the morning and early afternoon glued, like much of the nation, to CNN, I realized that I had an appointment to play music.

To play! Music! What a trivial activity at such a time. I wondered if I should bother, if anyone cared. But I also wanted to go somewhere, be around other people - a common impulse that day. So I threw my gear into the Toyota and drove down to Fells Point.

Cuts for farm conservation programs and food assistance

Congress has been ordered to cut $3 billion from farm and nutritional programs by the Bush Administration. Of course, they're not thinking of cutting the billions of corporate welfare that flows to agribusiness concerns, but instead planning on cutting farm conservation programs and food assistance for hundreds of thousands of poor people.

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley (R) has proposed an Senate bill 385, an modest amendment to USDA appropriations that would cap federal subsidies to corporate farms at a quarter-million dollars per year and thus leave more funding for protecting hungry people and the land itself. You can write your Senator to support this bill through OCA's website.

My new short-term hero: guy who yelled "Go Fuck Yourself, Mr. Cheney!"

Originally saw this on the Daily Show. Seems VP Dick Cheney was touring the second Gulf region he and George have helped to destroy, and while the cameras were on him, one of the locals summed up the resident's feelings for him with the same invitation Cheney delivered to Patrick Leahy a while back: "Go fuck yourself, Mr Cheney!"

I want to buy that man a beer.

Google: web says Bush == failure

Nothing quite like Google for reading the thoughts of the world as expressed on the web. Try a Google search on the word "failure" and what's the first entry? The official White House web site's biography of the George W. Bush.

That would be a lot funnier if it wasn't for the thousands of people left dead, maimed, or destitute because of Bush's criminal and incompetent behavior. But hey - a Google search for "impeachment" brings up www.VoteToImpeach.org, former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark's organization devoted to giving W the treatment he has so richly earned.

You know, it occurs to me that in a few months, after all the Katrina refugees have at least been fed, families reunited, and have roofs over their heads again, the impeachment of George W. Bush would make a great Christmas gift to them.

Federal court: Bush has authority to make you disappear

A federal appeals court has ruled that all the government has to do to make inconveniences like due process go away, is label you a "suspected enemy combatant". They can then hold you indefinitely without charge, even if you are a United States citizen.

Yet another bold step forward by our government in freeing itself from hindrances like the Constitution.

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