Bruce Schneier on "CYA Security"

The inimitable Bruce Schneier just posted about how the response to the LA bomb theats was an incident of "CYA security" -- the purpose of which is not to make a community more secure but to insulate authorities from blame: He first discussed that topic back in 2007, and the post remains all to relevant:

CYA Security - Schneier on Security (www.schneier.com)

If someone left a backpack full of explosives in a crowded movie theater, or detonated a truck bomb in the middle of a tunnel, no one would demand to know why the police hadn't noticed it beforehand. But if a weird device with blinking lights and wires turned out to be a bomb -- what every movie bomb looks like -- there would be inquiries and demands for resignations. It took the police two weeks to notice the Mooninite blinkies, but once they did, they overreacted because their jobs were at stake.

This is "Cover Your Ass" security, and unfortunately it's very common.

Flint, Michigan declares lead poisoning emergency

In Flint, Mich., there’s so much lead in children’s blood that a state of emergency is declared (Washington Post)

The mayor — elected after her predecessor, Dayne Walling, experienced fallout from his administration’s handling of the water problems — said in the statement that she was seeking support from the federal government to deal with the “irreversible” effects of lead exposure on the city’s children. Weaver thinks that these health consequences will lead to a greater need for special education and mental health services, as well as developments in the juvenile justice system.

“Do we meet the criteria [for a disaster area]? I don’t know,” she told Michigan Live. But Weaver doesn’t think the city can receive the help it needs without alerting federal officials to the urgency of the matter.

...

Rubio polling ahead of Clinton, is even among young voters

Nominating Clinton is suicide for the Dems, but they seem determined to do it.

Why Young Voters May Choose Marco Rubio Over Hillary Clinton (Slate Magazine)

As with other groups that lean Democratic, Rubio doesn’t have to win young voters. He just can’t afford to lose them all....

A new NBC poll reveals just that. The headline number shows the Florida senator with the win: At this moment, if all adults had to choose, Rubio would beat Clinton, 48 percent to 45 percent. And while Clinton has an advantage with blacks and Latinos, she ties Rubio among Americans who are 18 to 34 years old, 45 percent to 45 percent....[I]t comes as Team Clinton fights for support among millennials—and young women in particular—who aren’t thrilled with Hillary, even as she vies to be the first female president.

NC small town bans solar farms over ridiculous fears

The only problem with democracy is the people. (But it's an even worse problem in every other system we've come up with.)

Woodland rejects solar farm (www.roanoke-chowannewsherald.com)

During the public comment period preceding the rezoning vote, citizens expressed distrust and fear of the solar panels.

Calling out the militia in Maryland in 1942

At the always interesting blog "The Volokh Conspiracy", David Kopel has dug up a 1942 decree by Maryland governor Herbert O’Conor calling on armed citizens to serve in a reserve militia to defend the state against Axis "parachute troops, saboteurs, or organized raiding parties" or the actions of "enemy sympathizers within our State". It's notable for its plain statement that volunteers would be expected to provide their own weapons and would be expected to have basic competence with them -- even at this relatively recent date when the standing army was well-established as a tool of American imperialism and the foundations of the military-industrial complex had been laid.

This is what the "well-regulated militia" in Amendment II means -- a citizen body familiar with the use of arms is necessary for the security of the nation. ("Well-regulated" here does not have the meaning of "subject to extenisve regulatory law" but rather "effective and precise" -- in the same way that a mechanical timepiece is "regulated". In order to have people familiar with arms, it is necessary for the people to have them. Therefore, the Second Amendment tells us, the new nation shall not interfere with the vitally important -- not just for individual liberty but for the security of the nation -- natural right of the people to arm themselves.

Misplaced planes and the incompetence of businesses

747s are rather large and expensive pieces of equipment. It takes a major screwup to misplace one. Yet some company (perhaps Swift Air Cargo left *three* of them sitting around in Kuala Lumpur.

Free-market fundamentalists are fond of claiming that the private sector is more efficient and competent than the government. I have to wonder if such people have ever worked in the private sector. Incompetence is the rule everywhere, from government agencies to Fortune 500 companies to microbusinesses. And that should leave us concerned about not just allocating too much power to the state but also about creating powerful state-backed legal structures like "corporations" -- or even "property" itself -- which can let incompetence steamroll over people.

Kuala Lumpur airport seeks owner of 'abandoned' jets - BBC News (BBC News)

Officials at Malaysia's main airport have taken out a newspaper advert seeking the owner of three Boeing 747 jets they say have been left unclaimed.

The notice said if the owners "fail to collect the aircraft within 14 days..., we reserve the right to sell or otherwise dispose of the aircraft".

It said fees for landing and parking were also owed.

An airport official was quoted as saying they had tried to contact the jets' last known owners.

"I don't know why they are not responding. There could be many reasons. Sometimes it could be because they have no money to continue operations," Zainol Mohd Isa, general manager of Malaysia Airports, told AFP.

Oklahoma City cop Daniel Holtzclaw convicted of using position to commit rape

When you create a criminal class by means of laws prohibiting consensual acts, you create a class ripe for exploitation by cops. The blame for this lies not just with the monstrous Holtzclaw and whoever of his colleagues covered for him and maintained the blue wall of silence, but with every legislator who voted for criminalizing drug use and prostitution and every voter who supported such laws.

Former Police Officer Daniel Holtzclaw Found Guilty Of Rape (BuzzFeed)

Former Oklahoma City Police Officer Daniel Holtzclaw has been found guilty of multiple counts of rape — first and second degree — as well as sexual battery, procuring lewd exhibition, and forcible oral sodomy.

Holtzclaw has been on trial since Nov. 2. He was accused of sexually assaulting 13 women in the community he patrolled from December 2013 to June 2014. His 36 charges ranged from stalking and indecent exposure to forcible sodomy and rape. Of the 36, he was found guilty of 18.

...Prosecutors say that Holtzclaw deliberately chose women he thought were unlikely to be believed — black women with criminal records from an impoverished neighborhood.

Six of the women alleged that Holtzclaw raped them — he was found guilty of four of the six charges. He was found not guilty of a handful of the lesser charges, including two rape charges, one rape by instrumentation charge, four sexual battery charges, three forcible oral sodomy charges, five procuring lewd exhibition charges, and one charge each of burglary, stalking, and indecent exposure.

...

The defense pointed out that most of these women had criminal records — charges related to prostitution, drugs, assault and battery — and that some had provided police over the years with multiple aliases, social security numbers, phone numbers, and birthdates.

Lebanon Valley College's Lynch building not named for lynching

As the article points out, African-American U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch (who is a terrible person who has defended civil forfeiture, let banksters off the hook, been a part of the War on Drugs, and generally been a willing cog in the human meatgrinder known to mankind as the American "criminal justice" system -- but that's another rant) is also named "Lynch". By coincidence, or sometimes distant family ties, some people have the same name as people who did awful things.

People with aspirations of intellectualism -- e.g., college students -- ought to be able to deal with that fact. This is a very different case than, for example, the proposed renaming of Byrd Stadium, where the building's namesake stands accused of significant misbehavior.

Naming of Lebanon Valley College's Lynch building questioned amid equality push (PennLive.com)

Students at the private college in Annville have demanded administrators remove or modify Dr. Clyde A. Lynch's last name, as it appears on a campus hall, due to the associated racial connotations.

...

But while their remaining demands...appeared warmly received at Friday's forum...a call to change the name of Lynch Memorial Hall has been decidedly more controversial, both at the school and beyond.

In the days that followed, commenters on pennlive.com leapt to defend Lynch, who served as the college's president from 1932 to 1950 when he died in office, saying he's been unfairly dragged into the fray by this modern-day movement.

Cory Doctorow: The no-fly list really is a no-brainer

I've been trying to make this point to friends who are firearm prohibitionists. The "terrorist watch list" is a thing that should not even exist; if you have evidence then arrest and charge the person, otherwise leave them alone. That's due process 101. It's sad that so many on both the so-called "left" and "right" are so willing to throw that basic value under the bus.

Indeed, the whole concept of background checks is based on a list of bad guys. But if you have a list of people you can' t trust with access to firearms, you have a list of people who need to be under supervision -- prison, parole, probation, or mandatory psychiatric care. It's the responsibility of those supervisors to keep those people away from guns, not the responsibility of someone selling Grandpa's old hunting rifle at an estate sale.

The no-fly list really is a no-brainer (Boing Boing)

Whatever you think of gun control, Obama's assertion that "Closing the No-Fly List loophole is a no-brainer" is pretty brainless.

The no-fly list, a notorious, secretive, evidence-free zone in which Americans and foreigners alike are denied the freedom of movement based on secret, sloppy evidence that no is allowed to see or refute, is a terrible proxy for "people who should be treated as suspicious."

Washington Post concedes the obvious, style guide OKs singular "they"

The prohibition on singular "they" always struck me as the same sort of pointless and incorrect overcorrection as the ban on split infinitives (I dare to boldly split them) and terminal prepositions (a sort of nonsense I won't put up with).

The Washington Post Style Guide Now Accepts Singular ‘They’ (Mental Floss)

Proponents of singular they have long argued that the prohibition makes no sense. Not only is it natural, it has been used in English for centuries. It’s in the King James Bible. Authors like Chaucer, Shakespeare, Swift, Austen, Thackeray, and Shaw used it. Before the production of school textbooks for grammar in the 19th century, no one complained about it or even noticed it. Avoiding it is awkward or necessitates sexist language.

Now, in the most recent update to The Washington Post style guide, singular they has been given official approval. Post copy editor Bill Walsh explains that he personally accepted singular they many years ago, but had stopped short of allowing it in the paper. He finally decided to endorse it in house style after coming to the conclusion that it is “the only sensible solution to English’s lack of a gender-neutral third-person singular personal pronoun.”

Other institutions are sure to follow suit.... The news of the acceptance of singular they may cause a little stir, but nobody will notice the change in action, as Walsh says, “I suspect that the singular they will go largely unnoticed even by those who oppose it on principle. We’ve used it before, if inadvertently, and I’ve never heard a complaint.”

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