Category Archives: Politics

Breaking news: European water isn’t wet

In a move that is beyond stupid, the European Food Safety Authority has decided that sellers of water in the EU can no longer claim that their drinking water helps to protect against dehydration. So I guess that all those times I was out either surveying or excavating in the deserts of California, Nevada and Arizona, sometimes in temperatures of over 110° F, drinking lots of water didn’t help me even a little bit? What was it that kept me from dying? The sand?

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DHS wants hotel guests to report people with cars

That’s the only message I can deduce from the announcements that they’ve started running in hotels. The “suspicious person” shown in the video would appear, to any bystanders, to simply be getting something out of the trunk of his car. So I guess that anybody driving, or at least anybody carrying things in their trunk, is a potential terrorist.

Security theater again, obviously. In this case, though, I hope that a lot of people do follow through and report everybody they see opening up the trunk of a car. Considering that these messages are playing at motels, that should keep the DHS investigators so busy they won’t have time to screw us up any further.

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A train bound for nowhere

According to a new poll, about two-thirds of Californians now oppose the high-speed rail project that was authorized by voters in 2008. Normally I’d say I’ve never seen a train I didn’t like, but in this case I’m inclined to agree with the majority. It’s hideously expensive, for one thing, and isn’t projected to be complete until 2026. And given that this is a government project, it’s a sure bet that it will take much longer and cost much more than projected.

When privately owned railroads are built, the first segment to be constructed is nearly always chosen with an eye toward generating revenue as soon as possible. Given the chosen route of the California high-speed rail line, either Los Angeles to San Diego or maybe San Francisco to San Jose should be built first. Instead, the plan is to begin constructing the line between Fresno and Bakersfield. This already is enough to show that it’s being built by morons.

Another major problem is that, due to federal safety regulations, high-speed trains in the United States have to be massively heavier than their European or Japanese counterparts. (A good summary of the problem can be found here.) This makes them slower and more expensive, as well as more polluting. Those regulations are a significant part of the reason the Acela Express only averages about 70 mph over the length of its route.

Currently, no passenger train is allowed to exceed 150 mph (the Acela’s maximum) except under special conditions, which won’t exist on the California high-speed route. The average speed end to end will, obviously, be significantly lower. What that ultimately means, is that the rail line is unlikely to be fast enough to compete with airlines. It will just be a huge money pit.

(Don’t even get me started on the Desert Xpress. Las Vegas to Victorville! Are you freakin’ kidding me?)

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Filed under Politics, Railroad

Freedom of Speech

Apparently doesn’t exist on the University of Wisconsin – Stout campus. It seems that academic freedom there doesn’t include the freedom to say anything the boss disagrees with.

UWS Chancellor Charles W. Sorensen, as shown by his own email response to FIRE, is both a moron and a petty tin-plated wannabe dictator. That goes double for UWS Police Chief Lisa A. Walter, who is grossly unqualified for her job if she knows so little about Constitutionally protected free speech. And no, I’m not an attorney. But Ken at Popehat is, and his response to this outrage is even more vehemently worded than mine.

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Sometimes the good guys win

It looks like more and more courts are not going along with police departments that try to stop citizens from recording police officers in public. Just the other day, the First Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling that not only is recording the police an activity that is protected under the First Amendment, but that the officers who wrongfully arrested a Massachusetts man for doing so can be sued.

However, it looks like the state of Illinois didn’t get the message. As reported by NBC Wabash affiliate, the state attorney general is trying to send a man to prison for doing exactly the same thing. In this case, if the facts are as reported, the violation is so blatant that both the attorney general and the arresting officer(s) really ought to face arrest and prison themselves. However, I will be quite happy if the First Circuit Court precedent results in them being sued for everything they’ve got. This “we watch you, you don’t watch us” crap needs to stop NOW.

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Making up the law as they go

Apparently that’s what the Long Beach (California) PD is doing, according to this story. Taking pictures of something that a police officer doesn’t find pretty (“with no apparent esthetic value”) is considered suspicious behavior, sufficient to justify detaining the photographer. I’m not an attorney, but it sounds like what they’re doing is a Terry stop. This is less burdensome that being arrested, certainly, but it is still an intrusion that needs to be carefully controlled. Not only is it offensive for a law abiding person to be detained without good cause, but needless investigation of innocent people takes police time away from other, more useful activities.

Since the department acknowledges that police officers are given no training in what qualifies as “esthetic,” we must assume it’s based on the personal preferences of each officer. It’s difficult to imagine how such a standard could possibly be defended in court. Even more so when the list of “suspicious” behaviors also includes looking through binoculars, taking notes, and inquiring about an establishment’s hours of operation. (Will business owners now be told not to post the hours they are open, lest that information somehow be used by terrorists? That would seem to be as reasonable as anything else in this policy.)

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BATFE firearms trafficking: What could possibly go wrong?

Well, apart from this, that is. Including the Brian Terry murder, at least twelve violent crimes in the United States have been linked to guns that the BATFE knowingly allowed to go to criminals. The number of crimes in Mexico connected to this program is unknown, but almost certainly a lot higher. And there’s no telling how many innocent people will be robbed, raped, or murdered with guns that were allowed to “walk” before they are all finally recovered.

This is way past being a regrettable mistake. High ranking people in the BATFE and the Justice Department absolutely need to go to prison for this.

 

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Protecting us from drugs

Even medically necessary drugs, it seems, are a danger that the TSA must work hard to defend against.

I know this is a terrible thing to say, but things have reached the point where, if somebody were to be arrested for beating up a TSA screener at an airport, and I were on the jury, I would most likely not convict that person, even if I was convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that they were guilty.

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Making us all safer

It appears that the TSA allowed a somebody with a stun gun to slip past their watchful vigil and get onto a flight from Boston to Newark. According to the news report, the stun gun was left in a seat pocket. I guess the screeners were too busy feeling the private parts of children to pat attention to anything else. If these enhanced screenings were actually making our planes safer, I would still say it’s not worth the price. But clearly the TSA can’t even offer that excuse.

I have frankly come to the conclusion that if there were ever any honorable people working at this disgusting agency, they would have been forced by their own consciences to quit long before now. Everybody working for the TSA, from John Pistole down to the newest raw recruit, should be publicly shamed, and the agency itself needs to be disbanded.

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Quote of the day

“Roger Clemens goes on trial for lying . . . to politicians. Which is a bit like putting a woman on trial for flashing her breasts at a stripper.” – The Agitator

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