Friday, December 8, 2017

Sheriff Overrode Autopsy Findings to Protect Fellow Officers

Source: KQED News

Former chief forensic pathologist for San Joaquin County, Dr. Bennet Omalu, has alleged, along with his former colleague Dr. Susan Parsons, that Joaquin County sheriff/Coroner Steve Moore interfered with his work to cover up wrongful deaths that occurred in police custody or during the course of an arrest. The day before his resignation, he released a series of documents that reveal, among other things, that the sheriff labeled certain deaths in police custody as accidents rather than homicides, even when the evidence pointed to the latter, and withheld evidence of police using excessive force against suspects from Dr. Omalu. In one such instance, the California Highway Patrol withheld a taser report from Omalu in the case of Daniel Humphrey’s death. Omalu had originally attributed Humphrey’s death to a head injury he incurred while fleeing arrest on his motorcycle. It was not until two years later, when the deputy district attorney shared the taser report with him, that he learned that CHP had tasered the man 31 times. The sheriff had access to this report the day after Humphrey’s death. The sheriff would often ask Omalu to change the manner of death on his internal worksheets in cases where people had died after officers used tasers and chokeholds to subdue them. In another case, Abelino Cordova Cuevas was killed in a confrontation with Stockton police, who denied using a chokehold against the suspect. However, Omalu discovered that the man had died from asphyxiation and blunt force trauma, but the sheriff certified the death as an accident. The sheriff pulled the same stunt in the death of Filiberto Valencia, a schizophrenic man who broke into a group home and boarded himself in the bathroom. Stockton police beat him, sat on him and tased him, but the sheriff blamed his death on civilians. Similarly in the death of Samuel Augustine Jr, Omalu found that the man had suffered a traumatic brain and spinal cord injury during a confrontation with Stockton Police. He reported the manner of death as a homicide, but the sheriff objected and ruled his death an accident anyway.

Putting the sheriff in charge of coroner’s office creates an obvious conflict of interest, but it’s a common practice in California. California has taken police investigating themselves to a whole new level of stupid. In 50 of the 58 counties, the Sheriff also serves as the coroner and has the final determination over the manner of death. This confused me when I first heard about this story from Studio News, as I’m use to the Sheriff and Coroner being two different people. Even in a state as corrupt as my own, this sort of arrangement would never be allowed.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Utilitarian Case For Self-Ownership

I broach the subject of property rights quite often in my articles. I’d say probably 65% of my content is about property rights, and for a good reason. Property rights are foundational to civilization itself. The framers of our Constitution recognized this fact. The third, fourth, fifth, and 14th amendments to the constitution deal directly with issues involving property rights and the first amendment deals with property rights indirectly. For instance, the fourth amendment prohibits police from conducting ‘arbitrary searches and seizures’ and requires probable cause justification to search a person’s property. Similarly, the fifth amendment prohibits the federal government from depriving any person of their property without due process; the 14th amendment applies this same standard to state and local governments. The third amendment prohibits the government from quartering troops on private property, in peace times, without the owner’s consent. The first amendment deals indirectly with property rights by enshrining the right to freedom of assembly and freedom of the press, both of which require the recognition of property rights, especially freedom of assembly. I’d argue that the 13th amendment, the one that supposedly abolishes slavery, also deals with the subject of property rights, though not in the same manner in which we are accustomed to thinking about it. I would contend that it concerns the property one has in one’s own body and mind: self-ownership. It did after all make the once widespread practice of directly owning other people, for any reason except restitution, illegal. I’d further contend that it gave the government a legal monopoly over slavery, but this would detract from the subject at hand. My main point here is that the constitution recognizes self-ownership, not consistently mind you, but it is in writing. Of course, the constitution isn’t an infallible document; it was not handed down to James Madison by God himself in Philadelphia, so ultimately, we should defer to moral law when the constitution does err or omit certain natural rights.

Property rights arise from the division of labor; they are adopted because they are useful for the efficient allocation of resources, and nothing more. The human body is a scarce resource for which there is a demand. As strange as this may sound people’s bodies have a market value, and we know this from prior experience. Slavery, for instance, has been around for thousands of years and still persists today under the form of sex trafficking and human trafficking. People also claim ownership over others, or rather parts of them, through illegal organ harvesting, and we face the ever burgeoning problem of figuring out who owns your DNA. The principle of self-ownership isn’t just a metaphysical tautology, it’s a method for disputing competing claims over bodies. The alternatives to self-ownership are twofold; either you presume that the human body (and mind) is unowned or that people can assume ownership over others. Obviously, most people who object to self-ownership also find chattel slavery repulsive so they would choose the former alternative, but this would still place the human body in the same category as other unowned resources and imply that things like slavery and nonconsensual organ harvesting are amoral. For instance, we recognize that the act of cutting down a tree for wood is amoral in itself. We would hold a similar regard for the act of breaking stones. Saying that the human body is unowned places actions against a human body in the same category as cutting down a tree or breaking stones; it would imply that these actions are amoral in themselves. Slavery and organ harvesting would have to be considered amoral under that assumption. The only palpable option is to assume self-ownership.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

RE: Roaming Millennial On Human Rights

The problem with the debate over our rights is that no one ever brings a coherent definition of rights to the table. Doing so would require having a coherent theory of ethics, and this would further require one to understand what morality is and where it comes from. Most people don't have a coherent theory of ethics, and the debate over rights is usually a debate over gibsmedats, especially when liberals are involved. This lack of clarity over what constitutes a right is further compounded by the fact that most people approach morality and ethics in a mystical religious manner instead of in a scientific manner as they should. Conservatives and liberals alike tend to talk about morality as if it's some eternal ethereal thing that exists independent of the human mind. Roaming millennial deviates very little from this norm.

Moral Relativism Is Not The Problem

From the start of the video she confuses moral relativism with moral subjectivism. People who claim to reject moral relativism are usually moral relativists themselves. Moral relativism is the virtue ethics of Aristotle; it's habitually doing the right thing, at the right time, in the right manner, with the right intentions. It's the utilitarian ethics of Herbert Spencer and John Stuart Mill. The cardinal virtues, the law of equal liberty, and the greatest happiness principle are all relativistic. Moral relativism says certain actions are wrong except under particular circumstances. Moral subjectivism is a completely different animal. It's akin to the saying 'if it feels good do it.' This is probably the sentiment Roaming intended to address in her video.

Begging The Question

RM then defines human rights as something someone is entitled to, before abruptly drawing a dichotomy between legal rights and natural rights. This very ambiguous definition is begging the question. It does not address why people are entitled to certain things or how we arrive at these conclusions. Her explanation of natural rights similarly lacks substance. Reading an excerpt from a Wikipedia article on John Locke doesn't explain what natural rights are or where they come from. It does no justice to a theory as intricate as natural rights theory and makes the rest of her video completely pointless.

The Distinction Between Negative and Positive Rights

Skip to 8:21

The distinction between negative rights and positive rights is not as cut and dry as RM portrays and the example she gives for distinguishing between the two is completely asinine. If I became the last person in the country, morality and the concept of natural rights, would become meaningless. Morality is a social construct and rights are moral claims. They can only exist within a social context. You cannot act justly or unjustly in solitude; other people have to be around. If I was the last person on earth both sets of rights would disappear along with every other institution of society. Saying someone’s negative rights would be unaffected if everyone else vanished is just as absurd as saying the sanctity of marriage would be unaffected if everyone was a bachelor. Obviously, the very concept of marriage would be meaningless and irrelevant if married couple’s didn’t exist.

Morality Is An Adaptation

Morality wasn’t handed down by any god or government. It’s not something we sat down and reasoned ourway to. Morality is a product of human action but not of human design; it is a result of what we would call the emergent order. Just like our cultures, our norms and our markets, no one in particular creates morals, rather they result from the interactions among different people and processes over time (e.g. cultural evolution). Morality and rights are objective only in the sense that they can be arrived at by examining the objective facts of human nature. The first objective fact of human nature is that humans are social animals. Individuals don’t just pop into existence like virtual particles; their identities are formed as they are brought up through the various institutions of society, starting with the family. Morality is a product of this process; it is an adaptation to the social state. It’s what allows societies to function properly, or rather what allows people to maintain the bonds necessary for the survival of societies, and the survival of our society is in our long term self-interest.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Hawaii Re-thinking Their Gun Grabbing Scheme?

Not Really

Source: Hawaii News Now

I was first made aware of this issue by fellow content creator @choosefreedom and had planned to comment on it for the past week, but I haven’t had the time to do so until now.

For the past year, the Honolulu police department has sent letters to medical marijuana cardholders demanding that they “voluntarily” surrender any firearms they may own within 30 days. However, HPD is now reviewing this policy after further consideration. Is this a change for the better? Not really. The police department will still deny future gun permits to medical marijuana patients and steal guns from anyone they catch with a prescription. It’s not just Hawaii. The constitutional rights of potheads are at stake in every state that has legalized marijuana in some form or other. The rationale for denying second amendment rights to medical marijuana patients is that they are committing a felony offense at the federal level, and federal law stipulates that drug offenders shouldn’t be allowed to own guns. However grotesque we may think this law is, it is still true that felony drug offenders are prohibited from owning firearms. The question isn’t whether it’s true, but rather whether it’s right? In this sense it would be more appropriate to approach the subject on moral grounds rather than 2nd amendment grounds. After all, the bill of rights is not an exhaustive list of our rights. Rather than asking whether this violates the second amendment we should ask whether people should lose their constitutional rights for consuming certain plants and substances. What is the limitation of this new government power? Conceivably, the same rationale could be used as justification to deny other constitutional rights for consuming cannabis and other prohibited plants (e.g. Kratom in some states). Why not also deny people who consume prohibited plants the right to a criminal trial. The federal government already suspends the due process rights of citizens and noncitizens alike accused of terrorism. What precedent is there to prevent them from using indefinite detention against citizens accused of drug offenses. The federal government, in conjunction with police departments across the country, already deprive citizens of their property on mere suspicion that their property was involved in a crime (i.e. civil forfeiture). What is to prevent them from taking guns from people they merely suspect of using cannabis. Conceivably, medical marijuana cardholders could also have their houses arbitrarily searched for firearms from time to time. Since the government no longer respects our 4th amendment rights, they could use administrative warrants to ‘inspect’ the homes of medical marijuana cardholders. The consequence of such a law would be to deny certain people the equal rights of others for consuming a certain plant. It is basically telling them that they forfeit the same constitutional rights afforded to other Americans because they didn’t get the federal government’s permission to consume a certain plant, an act that in itself does not infringe on the rights of any other person, and given the fact that the act itself does not infringe on the rights of any other person it does not justify the forfeiting of any rights and the corresponding state violence against marijuana users.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Conservation Is A Pretext For Genocide (part 6)

Kenyan Government Continues Persecution of Sengwer tribe With EU Backing

Source: Forest Peoples Programme

More than 22 times now, our community has been forcefully evicted from our ancestral land in Embobut forest, Cherangany Hills, by the Kenya Forest Service (KFS), a government agency that is supposed to be responsible for the protection of forests in the country.

The Sengwer have been forced from their homeland since the time of British colonialism. Now they are persecuted under a different kind of colonialism: one that uses corrupt African governments, who receive financial and PR support from European NGOs, to steal land and other resources from indigenous populations under the pretext of conservation and 'sustainable development'. In this case, the Kenyan government, through the Kenyan Forest Service, has continued the genocidal campaign against the Sengwer: burning their houses, killing their livestock, and destroying their culture. The Sengwer that have been forced from Embobut forest live in squalor, often on the side of roads with no means to provide for themselves, leading to a rise in diseases and higher mortality rates. The World Bank partly supported the government land grab of Embobut forest by funding the Natural Resource and Management Project from 2007 until 2013. Now the EU is spearheading a water tower project on the same land that the Sengwer community was forced out of in 2013.

Monday, November 27, 2017

France Tells Stateless Libya To Solve A Problem France Helped Create

Fox News, of all places reported that France has taken the moral high ground and demanded that Libya's warlords come together and end the new African slave trade that was precipitated by the French led Nato bombing campaign against Qaddafi in 2011. As anyone with half a brain could have predicted, this created a power vacuum for terrorist groups, like ISIS, and human traffickers to operate. It also opened up the flood gates of Europe to African migrants, exercerbating the so called 'migrant crisis'. This is one of those rare instances where corporate media actually provides the historical context.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Abolish Occupational Licensing

Source: The Atlantic, License To Work

EMTs hold lives in their hands, yet 73 other occupations have greater average licensure burdens: barbers and cosmetologists, home entertainment installers, interior designers, log scalers, manicurists and numerous contractor designations … while the average cosmetologist must complete 386 days of training, the average EMT must complete a mere 34. Even the average tree trimmer must complete more than 16 times the amount of education and experience.

In the USSA, there doesn't seem to be any gig that you can do without needing a team of bureaucrats to sign off on it, however trivial it may be in the grand scheme of 'public safety.' For instance, to install home entertainment systems in Connecticut you have to earn a high school diploma, pay a $185 application fee, pass a test, and work as an apprentice for one year. To legally sell flowers in Louisiana, one has to pay a $189 application fee and pass a florist exam. All 50 states require a license to become a barber. On average, a prospective barber must pay $154 in fees, sit out a year for education, and pass two exams just to legally cut other peoples' hair. Even something as mundane as cutting grass for pay, something teenagers often do for recreational spending, requires a business license in a growing number of cities. The absurdity of occupational licensing laws knows no bounds. As I have reported in previous Red Tape Times posts, people have been threatened with fines and sometimes prison for offering dietary advice without the government's permission, teaching makeup without the government's permission, critiquing traffic lights without the government's permission, playing music in a bar without the government's permission, selling teeth whitening products without the government's permission, and selling home cooked meals to neighbors without the government's permission (also here). At this point, a list of jobs you're allowed to do without the government's permission would be much shorter than a list of jobs you need their permission to do. State and local governments, in conjuction with industry licensing boards, are making an ever growing number of services illegal without a government shakedown. This creates barriers for innovation, growth, and self-employment opportunities for the working class. A radical measure is needed to end this insanity: abolish occupational licensing, along with the state licensing boards that implement them and the industry lobbyists that control them. It won't be pretty, initially, but over time we will see how consumers can join together to regulate the quality of the services they're provide. The first conception may be rating systems specific to certain kinds of services, and this may evolve into private creditentialing over time. Eliminating the rigid top down structure of licensing boards would open up multiple avenues for keeping proprietors honest and competent without creating burdensome hurrdles for honest and competent people trying to become proprietors.