Don’t speak ill of those in charge

Posted on August 2nd, 2009 by bile
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In medieval English law, the crime of “high treason” included the offense of “compassing” (or imagining) “the death of our lord the king, of his lady our queen, or of their eldest son and heir.”

The equivalent practice in imperial America consists of making any comment, however flippant or implausible, that can be construed by professional paranoids in federal employ as expressing even a transient interest in harming the holy person of the President.

As American statism curdles into outright totalitarianism, it’s becoming a crime in some jurisdictions to express violent or hostile intentions toward the state’s armed enforcement agents.

Antavio Johnson of Lakeland, Florida was recently sentenced to two years in prison for a purported crime described as “corruption by threat of public servant.” His “offense” was to record a rap number (the word “song” is inapposite) entitled “Kill Me A Cop,” in which the parolee mentioned by name specific police officers with whom he quite obviously had serious grievances.

Johnson’s rap offering was posted last February on the MySpace page of Hood Certified Entertainment, a record label catering to a particular slice of the hip-hop market.

It’s never a good idea to harbor, much less express, a desire to murder another human being (the Sermon on the Mount describes this as a sin as grave as the act itself). But in a society in which freedom of speech is supposedly protected by law, this cannot be considered a crime.

Furthermore, it’s not necessary to threaten or even to criticize the police in order to find one’s self in jail facing charges of “threatening” those poor, cringing little creatures.

Elisha Strom, a 34-year-old blogger from Virgina, is currently in the Albemarle Charlottesville Regional Jail on a charge of seeking to “coerce, intimidate, or harass” police officers by publishing the address of an undercover narcotics agent on her blog, “I HeArTE JADE.”

The title of that blog refers to the Jefferson Area Drug Enforcement (JADE) task force, whose personnel and activities have been subjected to whimsical mockery therein.

If convicted of the offense, which is a sixth degree felony under the recently revised state statute, Strom would face a mandatory six-month jail sentence.

Mrs. Strom became interested in the doings of the JADE Task Force because one of its members was involved in the arrest of her husband Kevin, who was found guilty  of possessing child pornography. She points out that the statute’s applicability depends on proving that the personal information she published — which is publicly available — was provided to readers with the intent to “harass” or “intimidate” a given police officer.

Motorhome Diaries denied access to Canada due ultimately to Jones County incident

Posted on July 23rd, 2009 by bile
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(07/23/2009 04:49:55 PM) JDTalley: At the Canadian Border for 3+ hours. Vehicle searched. Video deleted. K9 called. Still waiting to be released. #MHD

(07/23/2009 04:53:02 PM) JDTalley: I’m told that Miguel Begin, supervisor of agent 17258 who is holding us here, can be reached at 819.876.7821 x112 #FR33 #MHD

Xaq Fixx has called into Free Talk Live. Will be updating with a post.

Looking for pornography and “heinous propaganda.”

Accused of spreading misinformation by one of the agents.

Camera was taken and footage deleted by Canadian border. Told that if they filmed again they would be arrested. Had laptops taken.

Box of Alliance of the Libertarian Left pamphlets and such was confiscated.

Jason and Pete from Motorhome Diaries have been detained at the Canadian border leaving Vermont on I-91. They have been there for the last 4 hours, MARV has been searched by both state agents and the K-9 patrol. The MHD Guys were filming as the neared the check point, but the video was deleted and they were informed if they continued to film, record, or take pictures they would be arrested.

A box of literature from the Alliance of the Libertarian Left was taken, and a copy of Crispin Sartwell’s “Against the State” was left out on the counter. The RV was ransacked but thankfully not to the point it was in Jones County, Mississippi. Their laptops are now in the possession of the state agents, and those agents are reading about fr33 Agents, The Free State Project, and Jason & Pete’s former employer. One agent has accused them of ’spreading misinformation.’

The guys have been told that the state agents are looking for “Pornography or Heinous Propaganda.” When asked for a definition of “Heinous Propaganda” or the applicable statute they were told it was available online, but they don’t have computers or Internet access.

The agent that is holding them hostage is Agent number 17258, and his supervisor, Miguel Begin (sp?) can be reached at 819.876.7821 x112. Stay Tuned for further updates.

Update: Jason and Pete have been denied entry into Canada, citing the Jones County incident.  Now waiting to go back through US Border patrol.

(07/23/2009 06:47:59 PM) JDTalley: I’m denied entry into Canada along with @peteeyre. Jones County cited.#MHD

(07/23/2009 07:13:11 PM) JDTalley: And now we get to drive through U.S. Border security.

(07/23/2009 08:05:37 PM) ammueller: just got off the phone with @MHDiaries they are getting some distance from the border thugs and calling me back. But said they are ok!

July 23rd, 2009 at 10:31 pm: Motorhome Diaries: Banned in Canada!

Not to be out done by the UK, France steps up surveillance state

Posted on May 20th, 2009 by bile
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Having just passed its super-controversial Création et Internet “graduated response” law, you might think the French government would take at least a brief break from riling up the “internautes.” Instead, the government is prepping a new crime bill that will, among other things, mandate Internet censorship at the ISP level, legalize government spyware, and create a massive meta-database of citizen information called “Pericles.”

French newspaper Le Monde has the details on the new law, dubbed “Loppsi 2.” Together with the recent Dadvsi law (which banned DRM circumvention) and Création et Internet (which disconnects repeat online copyright infringers), Loppsi 2 will “fix” France’s various cybersecurity issues.

Think of the children

Loppsi 2 allows the state to install software that can “observe, collect, record, save, and transmit” keystrokes from computers on which it is installed. In essence, it allows for government-installed Trojans for a period of four months; a judge can extend this period for four months more.

In the US, the FBI has used similar techniques for several years, installing a program called CIPAV on suspects’ computers to record and transmit “pen register” data back to investigators.

Under Loppsi 2, French ISPs would also need to participate in a Web censorship regime that initially appears targeted at child pornography. Critics like Jean-Michel Planche, who advises the French government on Internet issues, are already calling the new bill the end of an open and neutral Internet.

Finally, the bill allows for a database called “Pericles” that can pull together information from various existing French databases to create a “super-dossier” on people. According to Le Monde, such a database could contain all sorts of crucial, personal information, and sounds certain to set off the same debates that have taken place in the US whenever similar projects have been floated.

Oh—and did we mention that Loppsi 2 funds all sorts of other crime-fighting techniques, including automated camera systems that record the license plates of cars passing by on the motorway?

Taken together, the Loppsi 2 draft shows just how serious the Sarkozy government is about getting some control over this crazy Internet thing that all the kids are using now. Actually, this is a situation playing out in most developed countries at the moment, and it’s not yet clear whether a global consensus will emerge on how to deal with law enforcement challenges on the ‘Net.

Numerous countries in Europe already run Internet child porn blacklists; massive government databases exist or are being developed just about everywhere; graduated response laws are slowly moving into the mainstream. France just seems more interested than most in adopting all of these ideas in the shortest possible timeframe.

Porn likely safe in California for the time being

Posted on August 13th, 2008 by bile
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Online porn has been spared an XXXL tax, proposed last spring by Assemblyman Charles Calderon (D.-some town where no one buys porn). When even state Republicans wouldn’t back the 25 percent tax on adult entertainment, including streaming and downloaded Internet content, Calderon’s argument that those who produce and consume porn need to pay for its “harms” on the community started to fell apart. This week, the bill got tied up in the Appropriations Committee, from whence it’s believed to be unlikely to emerge before the close of the legislative session on November 30. The term is “held under submission,” and it has nothing to do with anything going on inside’s headquarters in the Mission District.

I didn’t really believe this would pass. There is no way the industry would stand for a 25% hit. I don’t know where they’d move to but it’d likely be quick.

I’d really like to have Calderon run through the list of harms pornography supposedly causes and the quantitative analysis to back it up. Likely he’s done the former but not the latter.

California proposal to lay a 25% tax on porn appears unlikely to pass

Posted on May 20th, 2008 by bile
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Even in the face of an estimated $20 billion budget deficit, a bill that would raise revenues by imposing a 25% tax on earnings of the pornography industry is meeting with stiff resistance in the California legislature, with opponents claiming it would drive a multi-billion-dollar industry out of the state.

The bill, AB 2914, authored by Assemblyman Charles Calderon, D-Whittier, would levy a 25% tax on gross revenues from the sale of pornographic magazines, photos, books, films and videotapes, and on the gross earnings of live sexually explicit entertainment and pay-per-view pornography provided to hotel guests.

According to a legislative analysis of the bill, it could raise up to $665 million a year in new revenues for the financially strapped state.

“AB 2914 would tax adult entertainment and adult entertainment venues in a manner similar to the way in which cigarettes and alcohol are already taxed in this state,” said Calderon in the legislative analysis. “Currently, these two products are taxed at higher rates, and the additional revenues are used to address the negative effects of their use. This measure would tax adult entertainment in a comparable manner, with the intent to use the funds to address the various secondary effects associated with the production and consumption of adult entertainment. The secondary effects of production are especially noteworthy as California is the capital of the adult entertainment industry in the United States.”

Money raised by the new tax would be used for “law enforcement, testing and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, treatment for drug and alcohol abuse, health care and mental health treatment,” said Calderon. “AB 2914 does not make a judgment on the adult entertainment industry. It merely asks the industry to help mitigate some of its ancillary effects in the state that is its production capital, not unlike the state already does with alcohol and cigarettes.”

At a May 12 hearing, opponents testified that imposing a 25% tax on porn industry profits could drive the business out of California, at a cost in jobs and other revenues of as much as $3.5 billion. It would have an especially hard impact, witnesses testified, on the San Fernando Valley, said to be the “porn capital of the world.”

Republicans in the legislature have indicated they would vote against the bill because it is a tax increase and they oppose any tax increase of any stripe. Under state law, tax increases require a 2/3 majority of both houses of the legislature.

Following the May 12 hearing, Calderon’s bill was referred to the “suspense file” of the Assembly Committee on Revenue and Taxation. Although theoretically the bill could be taken out of the suspense file and considered again, the move most likely means the measure is dead for this session of the legislature.

I like that super majority law. Though it’s likely a super majority of a quorum which is less than half of the membership.

Perhaps instead of raising taxes, borrowing or raiding some other funds… I have a suggestion for the California state government. Cut spending. It’s amazing how quickly your bills drop when you just stop taking on debt you don’t need.

As for the proposed tax. As with just about every tax it will harm the industry and likely push it out of state. It just wouldn’t make sense to stay. By some accounts a single DVD could be taxed upwards of 5 times in its creation. No one would stand for that. Then you revenue stream dries up and you’re strapped for cash again sometime down the road. These people have less economic sense then a cup of coffee.