Showing posts from December 27, 2014

Origins of the Police

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[Interesting history of the invention of police forces, with illuminating cross-overs to today's problematic relationships among police, state and citizens. A long piece, with many similarities to the opening chapters of Balko's Rise of the Warrior Cop, but worth a look for sure. *RON*]
David Whitehouse, Works in Theory, 7 December 2014
In England and the United States, the police were invented within the space of just a few decades—roughly from 1825 to 1855.

The new institution was not a response to an increase in crime, and it really didn’t lead to new methods for dealing with crime. The most common way for authorities to solve a crime, before and since the invention of police, has been for someone to tell them who did it.

Besides, crime has to do with the acts of individuals, and the ruling elites who invented the police were responding to challenges posed by collective action. To put it in a nutshell: The authorities created the police …

Some States See Budgets at Risk as Oil Price Falls

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[Places like the Wall Street Journal, while acknowledging some job losses, are still basically saying "Gee ain't this cheap oil going to be swell for the economy!" This article, which describes what Canadians might call The Alberta Effect, shows that the knock-on effects are going to be more serious and widespread than the business community is willing to acknowledge. And what about all the pension and retirement funds that are still heavily invested in oil and gas? And the ongoing destabilization of Russia? *RON*]

By Manny Fernandez and Jeremy Alford, New York Times, 26 December 2014

HOUSTON — States dependent on oil and gas revenue are bracing for layoffs, slashing agency budgets and growing increasingly anxious about the ripple effect that falling oil prices may have on their local economies.

The concerns are cutting across traditional oil states like Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Alaska as well as those like North Dakota that ar…

After Scrutiny, C.I.A. Mandate Is Untouched

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[You might well say "Where's the surprise in this?", but it is surely an index of how our world has changed that it does not surprise us. *RON*]

By Mark Mazzetti, New York Times, 26 December  2014

WASHINGTON — Over a lunch in Washington in 1976, James J. Angleton, for years the ruthless chief of counterintelligence at the C.I.A., likened the agency to a medieval city occupied by an invading army.

“Only, we have been occupied by Congress,” he told a young congressional investigator. “With our files rifled, our officials humiliated, and our agents exposed.”

The spymaster had cause for worry. He had endured a public grilling about his role in domestic spying operations by a select committee headed by Senator Frank Church, a Democrat from Idaho, that spent years looking into intelligence abuses. And the Central Intelligence Agency, used to doing what it wanted while keeping Congress mostly in the dark, was in the midst of convulsions that…

NSA Drops Christmas Eve Surprise

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[The NSA admits that its analysts "deliberately ignored restrictions on their authority to spy on Americans multiple times in the past decade." Dropped into the world on Christmas Eve, doubtless with the hope that it would disappear without a ripple. See also NSA dumps incriminating documents on Christmas Eve. *RON*]

By Murtaza Hussain, The Intercept, 26 December 2014 The National Security Agency on Christmas Eve day released twelve years ofinternal oversight reports documenting abusive and improper practices by agency employees. The heavily redacted reports to the President’s Intelligence Oversight Board found that NSA employees repeatedly engaged in unauthorized surveillance of communications by American citizens, failed to follow legal guidelines regarding the retention of private information, and shared data with unauthorized recipients.

While the NSA has come under public pressure for openness since high-profile revelations by whist…

More Canadians Are Living 'Off The Grid' Than You Think

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[It's important to know that these things can be done both because there are people that will tell you this is not practical, and others who will say that only the rare oddball who would do something like this. *RON*]
By Rhianna Schmunk, Huffington Post, 26 December 2014

Kurt Cehak is one of four people who live in Port Neville, B.C. He’s spent the past four years making his own electricity and living “off the grid” alone in his wood cabin. But he wants to point out he’s not a “hermit who hates people.”

Instead, he uses his lifestyle as an example: “I think more people could benefit from the idea of making do with what you need, rather than what you want.”

Cehak, 64, lives off the Johnstone Strait, nearly 22 kilometres from the nearest town (and 200 kilometres from the bright lights of Vancouver).

Using recycled materials, he built his cabin himself on 10 acres of land, about a kilometre away from his nearest neighbour. He relies on a collection …

New Greek leader must keep austerity vow: Germany

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[You have to love how Germany no longer pretends this is an EU decision and simply warns the Greeks directly by itself. See also Food banks provide free Christmas dinners in Greece as austerity cuts bite. *RON*]

Press TV, 27 December 2014

Germany has warned that any new government in debt-ridden Greece must respect commitments made by its predecessor as the country's lawmakers failed to elect a new president, moving Athens closer to snap elections.

The comments were made by Germany’s Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble in an interview with Germany’s Bild newspaper published on Saturday.

“We will continue to help Greece along the path of difficult reforms,” said Schaeuble, adding, however, that if Greece “decides to take another path, that will be more difficult.”

On December 23, the Greek parliament rejected to elect the pro-austerity candidate, Stavros Dimas, as president in a second round of voting.

Greek lawmakers are set to vote in a dec…