Tag: Policing

Illinois Takes Steps to Fix Policing in the State

It’s not as extensive as it could be, there were some last minute bad cop favoring amendments, but the Illinois police reform bill has made it to the Governor’s desk, who has announced his support for the bill.

The way that we know that this is a good bill is that the police unions are completely losing their shit over this, as well they should.

The high points of the bill are:

  • Expanding a database of police misconduct and requiring that those records be kept.
  • The elimination of cash bail.
  • Reduces the scope unions to negotiate disciplinary and certification issues.
  • Resisting arrest citations must include the predicate charge for the original arrest.
  • Expanded reporting on killings and applications of force.
  • Whistleblower protections.
  • Bans the use of military equipment.
  • Requires that redistricting on the state level be based on permanent locations, and not where someone is incarcerated.
  • Applies tighter standards to the use of force.
  • Narrows the felony murder statute.
  • Expands the list of crimes that would result in an officer being decertified.
  • Adds a duty to intervene for officers who witness police misconduct.

Unfortunagely, two of the best portions got dropped at the last minute:

  • Eliminating qualified immunity for police officers, which means that bad cops with bad records (see the NYPD’s David “Bullethead” Grieco) are going to have to spend lots of money for liability insurance.
  • Completely eliminating the right to collective bargaining for the police on discipline matters. 

All in all, a very good bill, but I still want qualified immunity gone.

Would Have Been Better to Address This Early

It turns out that the FBI is conducting background checks on National Guardsmen in the Capitol for the inauguration to make sure that a right-wing terrorist is not embedded in the force.

White Nationalists and their Talibaptist Christian Dominionist brethren have been infiltrating the US State Security Apparatus, both the military (particularly the USAF) and law enforcement.

It comes as no surprise that they are concerned about a random soldier might choose the occasion to engage in assassination.

Getting these folks out of these institutions may be the most important national security issue of the next decade:

U.S. defense officials say the federal government is conducting insider-threat screening on the 25,000 National Guard troops who have begun flowing into the nation’s capital to secure the inauguration, as concerns intensify about extremism in the ranks.

The extra precaution comes after a number of pro-Trump rioters involved in storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 turned out to have military ties, raising questions about extremist sentiment within the armed forces. Dozens of people on a terrorist watch list were in Washington as the deadly riot unfolded.

A U.S. defense official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive preparations, said the Army is working with the FBI to vet all service members supporting the inauguration. The Army maintains awareness of threats but does not collect domestic intelligence itself, the official said. It was not immediately clear how extensive the FBI vetting of the military personnel would be.

As the great Walt Kelly noted, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” 

It is going to take a very long time to fix this.

Holy Dueling Narratives, Batman

Last week, I wrote about how the CEO of Pfizer may have timed their vaccine announcement to maximize his profit at prescheduled stock sales.

Today I discover that it wasn’t just Pfizer, it was Moderna and Novavax as well:

Pfizer, Moderna, Novavax: executives at several American laboratories developing COVID-19 vaccines have recently pocketed millions of dollars by selling shares in their companies—raising questions about the propriety of such a move in the midst of a national health crisis.

On the very day that pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced preliminary data showing its vaccine was 90 percent effective against the coronavirus, its chief executive Albert Bourla sold shares worth $5.6 million.

There was nothing illegal about this, Pfizer said: the sale took place according to rules allowing company heads to sell shares under predetermined criteria, at a date or for a price set in advance, to avoid any suspicion of insider training.

Under the same rules, several Moderna officials have sold shares worth more than $100 million in recent months.

That company has not placed a single product on the market since its creation in 2010, but the federal government has committed to paying it up to $2.5 billion if its vaccine proves effective.


Accountable US, a nonpartisan taxpayers’ advocacy group, has calculated that from the start of the federally coordinated effort to develop vaccines on May 15 until August 31, officials at five made more than $145 million by selling shares.

Meanwhile, over at Moon of Alabama, we have an account of how Anthony Fauci, big Pharma, and the FDA conspired to f%$# Donald Trump’s reelection chances

Personally, I’m on the side of greedy pharma execs, because of Occam’s Razor, but I am a cynic:


During the summer Trump had been hopeful that a vaccine against the Covid-19 disease could be announced before the election. It would have been proof that his strategy to (not) fight the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic had at least one success. The announcement of a vaccine was part of President Trump’s planned ‘October surprises’ to win the election.

Trump’s summer hope that a vaccine success could be announced during October was not unreasonable. Two important vaccines candidate, one from Pfizer with BioNTech and one from Moderna, had been successful tested in their first phases and were ready launch their large phase 3 trials.

In a phase 3 vaccine trial several ten thousand people are put into two groups. The people in one group receive the vaccine, the people in the other one a placebo. One then has to wait and see how many people will get the disease. At certain points a statistical team will look at those cases and check how many occurred in each group. The differences of the number of people in each group who catch the disease is a scale for the vaccines efficacy. For a known group size one can estimate in advance after how many disease cases determinations should be made to show statistical significance.


The time plan, on which Trump was certainly briefed, foresaw that the first interim analysis would likely occur in late September or early October.

However Pfizer did not publish any results when the first two interim analysis points were met. On November 9, after the election, Pfizer announced very positive results at the third interim analysis point:

As an aside, I read Moon of Alabama regularly, they regularly have top drawer commentary, particularly on the Middle East, and while they are sometimes contrarian for its own sake, Michael Kinsley disease, and it sometimes tends to be just a bit conspiratorial, they are well worth the read.

This Was Forseeable

The PRC is threatening to detain US Citizens in China in retaliation for the US detention of Chinese scholars

This was foreseeable, particularly given that the US prosecutions appear in some cases to be largely pretextual and politically motivated:

Chinese officials have told the Trump administration that security officers in China might detain American citizens if the Justice Department proceeds with prosecutions of arrested scholars who are members of the Chinese military, American officials said.

The Chinese officials conveyed the messages starting this summer, when the Justice Department intensified efforts to arrest and charge the scholars, mainly with providing false information on their visa applications, the American officials said. U.S. law enforcement officials say at least five Chinese scholars who have been arrested in recent months did not disclose their military affiliations on visa applications and might have been trying to conduct industrial espionage in research centers.

American officials said they thought the Chinese officials were serious about the threats. The State Department has reiterated travel warnings as a result, they said. Western officials and human rights advocates have said for years that the Chinese police and other security agencies engage in arbitrary detentions.

This is not a surprise.

Police are the Same Everywhere

And by that, I mean, as Yanis Varoufakis notes, that they are objectively pro-Fascist.

He is talking about Greece, but the same thing happens in the US, France, Germany, the UK, former Soviet Republics, etc.

Perhaps the only police force that MIGHT not tilt toward Nazis is the Saint Petersburg constabulary, but that is an accident of history, specifically the 872 day Siege of Leningrad.

I rather imagine that even in the former Leningrad, the police are still reactionary:

October 7 was a good day for democrats. The Greek Court of Appeals upheld the convictions of the leaders of Golden Dawn, the only openly Nazi party to have won seats in any parliament since the 1940s, on charges of murder, grievous bodily harm, and directing a criminal organization. A crowd of 20,000 Athenians celebrated outside the court.

Our celebration lasted precisely 40 seconds, before the police dispersed us with teargas. Gasping for air, my wife and I tried to join hundreds of others struggling to escape via a narrow street leading to the safety of nearby Mount Lycabettus. A dozen riot police were there, firing gas canisters into the fleeing crowd. I pleaded with their commanding officer to stop. “There is no purpose in gassing people trying to go home,” I told him calmly. He swore at me. When I produced my parliamentary ID card, his response startled me: “Yet another reason to fuck you.”

The conviction of Greece’s Nazi leaders is a decisive victory against the revival of far-right extremism in Europe. But while they were being sent to prison, their ideas, manners, and hatred of parliamentary democracy were in police uniform, terrorizing the streets.

A week later, a police internal affairs officer interviewed me as part of an investigation triggered by my testimony. I could not recognize the riot policeman’s face, because I was unable to breathe or see properly at the time of the incident. But I did recognize one thing: the look of calm loathing in his eyes – a look that reminded me of Kapnias, once a trained Gestapo interrogator.


When I met him in 1991, I had assumed that figures like Kapnias were relics that would disappear one funeral at a time. I was wrong. A sense of permanent defeat, hopelessness, and widespread humiliation create an environment in which Nazism’s dormant DNA reawakens. Once Greek society was immersed in wholesale indignity, following our state’s bankruptcy in 2010, a new generation of Nazis, with Kapnias’s look in their eyes, took their seats in Parliament. Now, most of them are in prison for heinous crimes. But that look remains in the eyes of too many, not all of them in uniform.

At this I’m inclined to believe that law enforcement is INHERENTLY pro-Fascist, and pro-Nazi.  It just comes with the job.

About F%$#ing Time

Yesterday, the California AFL-CIO released a resolution stating that they intend to disaffiliate with police and border patrol unions, citing how both perpetuate racial and economic injustice, as well as violent oppression. They write in the resolution:

“The California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO, will continue to build and support the movement for income equality by confronting racial and economic injustice and commits to vanquish oppression, authoritarianism, and cruelty in all their form, disassociating from unions who perpetuate these acts of violence. (i.e., police unions and the border patrol union) and expel from this body any member or affiliate who is a member of any Fascist or White Supremacist organization or member or affiliate who pursues policies and/or activities directed toward the purposes of any Fascist or otherwise White Supremacist Ideology.”

The resolution is the first one in the nation passed by a state AFL-CIO board and could be a sign of things to come.

Seeing as how police departments have always been the sharp (and enthusiastic) end of the spear when it comes time to suppress organized labor, this should be a no-brainer for the national union.

Tweet of the Day

I choose Frankenstein, the monster who is intelligent but feared only due to his appearance—who argues to his own creator that he is a living being with a right to happiness, and is driven to violence only by that man’s cruelty and drive to exterminate his life. pic.twitter.com/GFA19Fa8HM

— Matt Bors (@MattBors) July 2, 2020

This is a wonderful take-down of right-wing political cartoonist by non-hack cartoonist Matt Bors.

Corruption Much?

The DNC has allowed Michael Bloomberg to buy his way into the next series of debates.

This is an artifact of Bloomberg’s large donations to state parties as well as the large amount of money that he is dropping on political ads, which generates a similarly large amount of commissions for political consultants.

It sucks, but maybe Bloomberg will be destroyed in the debates for his history of racist policies and hostile work environments:

The Democratic National Committee is drastically revising its criteria to participate in primary debates after New Hampshire, doubling the polling threshold and eliminating the individual donor requirement, which could pave the way for former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg to make the stage beginning in mid-February.

Candidates will need to earn at least 10 percent in four polls released from Jan. 15 to Feb. 18, or 12 percent in two polls conducted in Nevada or South Carolina, in order to participate in the Feb. 19 debate in Las Vegas. Any candidate who earns at least one delegate to the national convention in either the Iowa caucuses or New Hampshire primary will also qualify for the Nevada debate.


Not everyone is thrilled that Bloomberg — who has hit 10 percent in only one of the requisite four polls released so far — could be on stage after the donor threshold was eliminated.

“To now change the rules in the middle of the game to accommodate Mike Bloomberg, who is trying to buy his way into the Democratic nomination, is wrong,” Jeff Weaver, a senior adviser to Sanders, told POLITICO as the rules were being announced.

I agree with Mr. Weaver.

Elections Have Consequences

When Wesley Bell defeated the ferociously corrupt Bob McCulloch in the election for St. Louis Counting Prosecuting Attorney, basically the county DA, he promised greater accountability for law enforcement.

Well, now he has created a unit dedicated to investigating wrongful convictions and police misconduct.

I hope that this includes a review of McCulloch and his lieutenants before the statute of limitations expires as well.

I guarantee that you will find prosecutors have knowing submitted false testimony, because that’s what McCulloch did in the Michael Brown case:

St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell, who was elected last year on a radical reform platform, has taken a huge new step in that direction, establishing a unit to tackle wrongful conditions and abuse by the police.

The Conviction and Incident Review Unit, whose staff will report directly to Bell, will review past convictions where defendants claimed innocence as well as investigate police shootings and allegations of police misconduct.


For Bell — a former public defender, municipal judge, court prosecutor, and son of a cop — the inspiration came from those efforts as well as his personal experiences. “I’ve been practicing for 18 years,” he said in an interview with The Intercept, “and so I knew that there’s things that needed to be done differently.”

Bell campaigned on using data-driven research to reform the criminal justice system, including establishing an independent unit to review past convictions, a process that his predecessor Bob McCulloch did not have a system for. McCulloch had a reputation for being uncomfortably close with law enforcement, and the community’s distrust of him was only exacerbated following Officer Darren Wilson’s fatal August 2014 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Against the wishes of the community, protesters, and activists — including the NAACP — McCulloch declined to appoint a special prosecutor in the case of Brown’s murder. The community channeled anger with the handling of Brown’s case into organizing power that propelled Bell to victory.


The unit’s independence is crucial, said Nina Morrison, senior litigation counsel at the Innocence Project; she has represented numerous clients who have become exonerated, thanks in part to the work of conviction integrity units. 

It’s not enough to exonerate those who are innocent, you also need to prosecute people who break the law to close cases.

This is What Happens When Government Plays Footsie with Real Estate Developers

The plans for a new FBI headquarters have been scrapped.

As much as I hope that a new headquarters would remove the name of J. Edgar Hoover, this was rather complex deal, which involves various “incentives” from competing state and local governments and a byzantine property swap for services to lower cost, and as such, it seemed to be a recipe for a fiasco:

The federal government is canceling the search for a new FBI headquarters, according to officials familiar with the decision, putting a more than decade-long effort by the bureau to move out of the crumbling J. Edgar Hoover Building back at square one.

The decision follows years of failed attempts by federal officials to persuade Congress to fully back a plan for a campus in the Washington suburbs paid for by trading away the Hoover Building to a real estate developer and putting up nearly $2 billion in taxpayer funds to cover the remaining cost.

Officials from the General Services Administration, which manages federal real estate, said they plan to announce the cancellation in a phone call with bidders and in meetings on Capitol Hill on Tuesday morning. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to disclose the decision before it was announced.

For years, FBI officials have raised alarms that the decrepit conditions at Hoover constitute serious security concerns. But the plan to replace the building grew mired in a pit of government dysfunction and escalating costs with no end in sight.


The GSA’s unconventional strategy of trying to offset the development cost by trading the Hoover Building downtown to the winning bidder was aimed at saving the government money but became a laborious and expensive complication.

As the search dragged on, both the federal government and developers bidding on the project began to bear inordinate costs.

Real estate companies pursuing the deal spent years and millions of dollars attempting to make their case for the project. The GSA, meanwhile, is housing many of the bureau’s 9,500 headquarters employees using expensive short-term leases at about a dozen locations throughout the Washington region because the staff long ago outgrew the Hoover Building.


President Barack Obama had sought $1.4 billion toward construction of the project, but in May, Congress left it underfunded by more than a half-billion dollars. Congressional leaders had pulled together $523 million toward the project and possibly $315 million more through transfers of existing funds previously meant for other uses.

That was on top of $390 million that had been previously appropriated for the project.

Then in June, House appropriators rescinded $200 million from the project, drawing exasperation from local officials who have been pushing for the government to decide among three final locations: Greenbelt, Md., Land­over, Md., or Springfield, Va.

At the time the House took back the $200 million, Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) and Rep. Anthony G. Brown (D-Md.) called the decision “reprehensible.”


Acting GSA administrator Timothy Horne is scheduled to testify before a House subcommittee Wednesday at a hearing about “Maximizing Taxpayer Returns and Reducing Waste in Real Estate.”

Hopefully, he will be aggressively questioned, because a cost more than $1½ billion for the building AFTER giving away some of the most attractive real estate in indicates that, “Maximizing Taxpayer Returns and Reducing Waste in Real Estate,” is not a governing principle here.

Not a Surprise

British police have now announced that the Manchester suicide bomber did not have aid in manufacturing his device, all 22 people originally taken into custody without charges being filed:

Manchester bomber Salman Abedi was likely to have built the device that killed 22 people alone at his flat, police have said.

Officers said there was now a “deep understanding” of Abedi’s movements in the weeks leading up to the attack.

The head of counter terrorism said it was “less clear” whether he had obtained and stored all the materials or if others were “complicit”.

All 22 people arrested over the attack have been released without charge.

Det Ch Supt Russ Jackson said Greater Manchester Police now had details of Abedi’s movements in the weeks leading up to the Manchester Arena bombing.

These included how the chemicals to build the bomb were obtained and where he put the device together.

Reports are that the bomber used the explosive TATP, which seems to be a favorite of would be bombers because:

  • Instructions on its manufacture are easily available on the internet. (Don’t Google it. You will probably end up on some TLA’s watch list)
  • Its precursors are readily available, and their purchase does not raise red flags as a result.
  • Manufacture is less difficult than making beer from from the original grains.
  • It is not detected by common explosive detection, because it contains no nitrogen. 

I would however note that TATP what is best described as some truly nasty sh%$, as it is extremely unstable, and even if you don’t accidentally blow yourself up, it degrades over a relatively short period of time without some sort of post processing with a stabilizing compound, so its use in conventional military or commercial explosives applications are extremely limited.

Still, it’s just about perfect for a not particularly well trained lone wolf suicide attacker, because it’s an easy to make yourself dead with a very loud noise.

Don’t Worry, Trump Will Pick Someone Worse

Joe Liberman has withdrawn his name from consideration for the next FBI Director.

He cited conflicts of interests, he works at a law firm that represents Trump, as the reason.

I’m not sure how you could find anyone worse to run the agency, but I have faith that Trump has the ability to do so.

I’m thinking that he will appoint Roger “Ratf%$#er” Stone.