A Congresswoman, Claire McCaskill, put online a tabulation of the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles sent to American police departments since 2011.
Inside, the numbers are linked to police departments with less than ten active duty police officers and, by state, how they exceed the number possessed by National Guard units. (Hint: Most state Guards units have no MRAPs.)
That document is here.
The .pdf has inspired a good number of incredulous and justifiably
ridiculing stories on the stunning reality that the Pentagon has also been shipping armored fighting vehicles to school district police forces and penny-ante community colleges.
Like this one, on Saddleback community college in Orange County, California:
With just nine full-time officers, the [Saddleback College police department] somehow managed to get an army mine-resistant ambush protected (MRAP) vehicle for…what exactly? Scaring kids who don’t put up their parking permit?
In other news today, such stories have had some effect, motivating Los Angeles Unified to claim it would be divesting itself of a number of grenade launchers given to it by the Department of Defense.
It’s become obvious that the people who run the Pentagon’s 1033 Program, which is how these things have come to be everywhere, have no shame, common sense or any recognition of what differentiates a service for the social good from one that has morphed into something quite the opposite.
Look over the document. Be amazed at the numbers.
There are many reasons to seriously consider the United States as a pariah country on the global stage, one with no serious belief in the rights of human beings other than freedoms to buy stuff and or have large weapons stockpiled and ready to use on them if they can’t.
Statistic of the day, easy:
The Payne County Sheriff’s Department in Oklahoma, with one active duty officer, has two MRAPs, the above, weighing 29 tons, being one.
Since Saturday it’s been over 100 degrees every day in Pasadena. Today set a record, between 103-104 here with a bit of humidity making it seem like 107.
Unemployable I may be, but it’s suicidal to sit in front of a computer all day when it’s like this. A lot of a/c units, everywhere, aren’t up to the job.
Nineteen year old Georgetown U. student Danny Milzman has pled guilty to “making ricin.”
Like everyone else in America, Milzman actually made castor powder, which contains some ricin.
Allegedly inspired by the Walter White character in Breaking Bad, this is another sad case, one in which a troubled student made one serious lapse in judgment. In the past, I’ve argued for diversion programs for some first-time American ricin offenders. Daniel Milzman is one such a person, not a threat to the community or his school.
Wire news indicates he could be sentenced to one to two years in jail.
From the net:
A former Georgetown University student accused of making ricin in his dorm room pleaded guilty Monday, and could face up to two years when he’s sentenced …
The amount of ricin Milzman produced was enough to kill an average person weighing 220 pounds if inhaled or injected, officials said. According to court documents, Milzman spent [about] a week researching ricin online, and watched 13 episodes of the show “Breaking Bad,” during which ricin was used as a weapon to injure or kill someone.
When sentenced, Milzman faces between 366 days and two years behind bars.
The news is in error. In Breaking Bad, Walter White “cooked” ricin to put into the meal of a drug lord who was holding him and his partner hostage in Mexico. The plot failed.
Ah, my bad. Must be the heat wave. In the final episode of Breaking Bad, Walter White finally puts his “cooked” ricin in the hot drink of a former partner in crime, apparently killing her.
Danny Milzman — from the archives.
Chagrined over having to get rid of it.
Today the New York Times ran a story that’s been floating around California for a couple weeks, fallout from the Ferguson riots and the national discussion on he arrival of heavy armored cars on American streets.
The city of Davis was perhaps not the best place to shove an MRAP into, it being the town where a peaceful student protest was painfully put down in now famous imagery of security blithely hosing down young people with pepper spray.
From the NYT:
The police department of this modest college town is among the latest California beneficiaries of surplus military equipment: a $700,000 armored car that is the “perfect vehicle,” the police chief told the City Council, “to perform rescues of victims and potential victims during active shooter incidents” …
But the City Council directed [Chief Landy Black] last month to get rid of it in the face of an uproar that had swept through this community, with many invoking the use of similar equipment by the police against protesters in Ferguson, Mo., after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager.
“This thing has a turret — it’s the kind of thing that is used in Afghanistan and Iraq,” said Dan Wolk, the mayor. “Our community is the kind of community that is not going to take well to having this kind of vehicle. We are not a crime-ridden city.”
Kudos for having the fortitude to make an emphatic stand and statement.
While some police in very large metropolitan police departments can make a case, not necessarily always a good one, about the need for what is a heavy armored fighting vehicle, most of the burgs, which is where many of them are now, can’t.
The country’s medium-sized and small towns do not need combat-tested armor nor are they likely to. Mines and artillery barrages are not coming to this country and the number of deployed MRAPs now far outweighs, out guns and out numbers the potential for terrorism or the need to be ready to put down insurrection with overwhelming force.
Fear is what has driven the spread of the MRAP. The theology is that there is always the potential for some terrible criminal or terrorist assault somewhere in America and that these are the things, along with many others, that must be around to guarantee the safety of the police and the public. It is a nationwide view that feeds itself. Under this logic there can never be an end to the acquisition and stockpiling of weapons.
This well done video, with a point — When Did Americans Become the Enemy — nicely shows the ridiculous (and really now kind of oppressive) nature of the Department of Defense’s giveaways to small town America.
The New York Times includes the argument made by in Los Angeles about the infamous North Hollywood shootout of 1997. Now seventeen years past, two bank-robbers armed with fully automatic assault rifles and kitted in bullet-resistant clothing, engaged the police in a firefight that was carried on television.
In the battle, they were killed. Eleven police officers were wounded.
However, the passage of time and history have shown this is an outlier. Not a sign of things to come but that kind of event that may happen once or twice in a lifetime. (For a laugh, re-watch the movie Predator 2. Released in 1990, it is cast in the Los Angeles of 1997, the beginning throwing the movie-viewer into a pitched battle in downtown Los Angeles, one between machine-gun and grenade armed “Colombians” and an, of course, out-gunned police detachment. Even the North Hollywood gun battle that actual year wasn’t as apocalyptic. And since, Predator 2’s Hollywood interpretation of a future LA looks increasingly anachronistic.)
Newly released information from the DoD shows that Los Angeles County police forces field nine Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles.
The Pentagon’s MRAP program was a consequence of the war based on fraud in Iraq. In essence, it was free money to arms manufacturers globally, if they could come up with vehicle impervious to roadside bombs and large buried mines.
The result of the program was a number of only roughly similar vehicles, the commonality being they were all huge, heavy, armored and expensive, ranging in price from around 700,000 to over 900,000 dollars.
Search Google images and you can see the various models like the MaxxPro or the Caiman, the latter coming in four-wheel and six wheel models, optimized for the US Marine Corps but now plainly visible in police departments.
The Davis MRAP is, I think, a MaxxPro. The link above shows the city of Guthrie’s Caiman. The town, population 10,600 or so, is in Logan County, Oklahoma.
These vehicles are a burden on the taxpayers of such towns, one of the reasons the DoD wanted to offload them while still maintaining ownership. It would seem they must be covered by a special kind of insurance and they must be maintained. Can just anyone in small town America maintain a Caiman MRAP? Where do the spare tires come from and what do they cost?
“The Council’s decision set off waves of concern among police officials across the state and highlighted the fact that California — whose crime rate, like those of many other states, is on the decline — has one of the highest concentrations of surplus military equipment in the nation,” writes the Times.
Ultimately, little will be done, except perhaps at the local level as in Davis, about MRAP distribution. Legislation to control or stop police acceptance of such things will die in Congress, as everything does.
And while the President has indicated he supports looking into whether or not DoD gear to police departments ought to be slowed, will not pursue it. The obvious reason, again, is it will immediately be a political millstone. The other side will predictably tell its base that the President, the socialist foreign-born tyrant, is trying to disarm the police.
The presence of the MRAP is not only a product of America’s Culture of Fear. It’s a WhiteManistan thing, too.
Don’t believe it. Look at all the pictures of them in police departments. Note the majority of faces, when shown.
It is within this context that the decision made by the city of Davis is a remarkable one. For various reasons, one mentioned previously,
occasionally other towns have decided they will disengage, too.
Yesterday, the Prez, addressing 9/11:
“As Americans, we don’t give in to fear, ever.”
Look, I like the man. He had to say something that at least sounded like it had some gravity and truth but this is too unfortunate a stretch.
From the wire: “[7 out of 10] of Americans are worried about the threat of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) and support military action against the terror group, according to [a CNN poll].”
After 9/11 Americans were explicitly told to be in fear. A color code system for fear was made just for that. Fear drives over half the economy. Yay, for those of you working in the national security infrastructure! Fear gave us Keith Alexander and his surveillance monster of the National Security Agency. Fear in America has given all of you over a decade of solid job security.
The United States couldn’t exist without fear in the polity: Fear of Ebola, fear of not-white people, fear of people without money and things, fear of foreign enemies in nations, tribes, little gangs, pirates, single individuals with funny names. As this week has more than adequately shown again, fear is the lubricant for the gears of America, its lifeblood, too.
Almost all the subjects I’ve written about in the last twenty years are direct consequences of the American culture and business of fear. You’ve lived it.
On a related note, everything old is new again. What were crap stories a decade ago are back. The people now responsible for bearing the public relations water of fear were in their teens when it all started. Now they’re the fresh paid idiots, lickspittles and mountebanks servanting for it. And in this country, history is a liability, the wisdom to remember the taste of the old stale bread, a character defect. More today, maybe. You’ll recognize it.
On the cybersecurity for the benefit of the 0.1 percent beat, earlier this week on a story about JP Morgan Chase being hacked, allegedly by the Russians, probably criminals:
Former NSA/U.S. Cyber Command chief and cybersecurity consultant Keith Alexander said the success of such an attack highlights just how “vulnerable” the U.S. financial sector is, and how future attacks could result in significantly more damage.
“If you can steal the data — if you can reach in that far and steal it — you can do anything else you want,” Alexander told Bloomberg. “You collapse one bank and our financial structure collapses.”
The FBI and NSA are also investigating the attack, which left behind evidence of the use of a Russian data center.
This supposedly in retaliation for US sanctions levied over the conflict in the Ukraine:
“How would you shake the United States back? Attack a bank in cyberspace,” Alexander [told a news service.]
Oh, drat! A bank has been attacked! The “financial structure” could “collapse,” like in 2007, when (ahem) the US government rushed in to save them all, including JP Morgan under Jamie Dimon because they were, er, too big to fail.
It is, as one might say, a likely story. Keith Alexander, and others at the top, have many of them.
And while the US polity has never really recovered from the Great Recession, corporate profits on Wall Street are back to an all time high. It has ended so well. So perhaps “the Russians” aren’t trying hard enough.
Speaking of JP Morgan Chase, this summer, from January in Davos where the wisest and wealthiest go every year to discuss who will be plundered next in the name of economic progress:
JPMorgan agreed last year to pay $13 billion to settle multiple government claims over dealings in mortgage securities at JPMorgan and at two banks it took over during the crisis, Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual.
It also settled other assorted cases for about $7 billion more. Those included allegations stemming from derivatives and electric power trading and sales of extra products to credit card customers.
Dimon said JPMorgan had “two really bad options” in choosing to settle or fight the cases. Going to court could have taken three or four years and the outcome could have been worse, he said.
Defending the financial system from collapse by cyberattack, a noble activity right up there with the in-house putting of anthrax in the mail to spur defense on bioterrorism.
So, explain why you’re working in cybersecurity? Rhetorical. As in banks and masses of taxpayers, that’s where the money is.
There’s no gold in keeping the crooks and malware out of the devices of lessers. The efficient process is to take their cash after it has been passed on to the government.
Bill Blunden, author of Behold a Pale Farce: Cyberwar, Threat Inflation; the Malware Industrial Complex and reader of this blog, had a letter in this week’s Times.
It addresses a story in which NATO leaders were announcing they were drawing up contingency plans against cyberattack:
You report that NATO leaders plan to update their collective defense policy to include a contingency for cyberattacks. The caveat of an agreement like this is that it assumes that NATO members are capable of identifying the actual source of an attack.
Leaked documents reveal classified government programs like Hacienda and corporate services like Ntrepid’s Internet Operations Network, which are leveraged to reroute network traffic and undermine digital trails. Furthermore, logistical signatures can be faked and forensic artifacts can be forged. In other words, when facing off against an organized, well-funded adversary, attribution is largely a lost cause.
Both national governments and private sector companies have made investments to ensure that this is the case. False flag attacks are as old as espionage and relatively simple to execute on the Internet.
In fact, they may not even be as complicated as a false flag attack.
Leaks have recently shown that Keith Alexander’s plumbers at the National Security Agency were responsible for knocking Syria off the Internet. While capable of solving the Rubik Cube puzzle in seconds they are apparently not beyond serious fucking up. Then keeping quiet about it knowing others will be blamed (no link, it’s from a Vox Media property cribbing wire news with clickbait title):
When Syria’s access to the internet was cut for two days back in 2012, it apparently wasn’t the fault of dissenting “terrorists,” as the Syrian government claimed: [It] was the fault of the US government. [In interview, Edward Snowden described what actually happend]: An elite hacking unit in the National Security Agency had reportedly been attempting to install malware on a central router within Syria — a feat that would have allowed the agency to access a good amount of the country’s internet traffic. Instead, it ended up accidentally [rendering] the router unusable, causing Syria’s internet connection to go dark.
At the time, the Assad government was blamed, accused of using the maneuver to close the internet to its citizens and others in the country’s ongoing civil war.
Repeated again, for effect: NSA elite hacking unit.
Mr. Alexander, we are well acquainted with your manner of wrenching the true cause the false way.
Or what’s new in the laboratories of clickbait today?
Ricin gets its moment:
N.I.H. Lab Search Uncovers Forgotten Ricin
WASHINGTON — The National Institutes of Health said on Friday that it had uncovered a nearly century-old container of ricin and a handful of other forgotten samples of dangerous pathogens as it combed its laboratories for improperly stored hazardous materials …
They included a bottle of ricin, a highly poisonous toxin, found in a box with microbes dating from 1914 and thought to be 85 to 100 years old, the memo said.
Ricin, which is a protein that relies on retention of its activity for its toxic quality, would never last a century in a bottle. It probably died a year or two, at most, after it was bottled, depending on conditions, leaving only debris.
Plus it was 1914. Protein chemistry was in its infancy. The sample would have been highly impure. No arguments.
The news, by AP by way of the New York Times, noted that all samples, which included other abandoned pathogens, were destroyed.
Runner-up, Vox — again.
What would happen if the Yellowstone supervolcano actually erupted?
“It would be bad. But that doesn’t mean you should start freaking out.”
How considerate to include the optimistic qualifier. In any case, the piece is littered with classic clickbait nosegold: Illustrations, illustrations, illustrations, the same illustrations, crabbed from the original source, used by every other clickbait farm doing the exact same piece.
Written by Brad Plumer, ridiculed previously for being “[on] the apocalypse beat, more or less.”
Last time, in case you forgot, this from the Vox masterclickbaiter:
“The world is on the brink of a mass extinction. Here’s how to avoid that.”
A silver lining in every cataclysm.
A German court in the city of Frankfurt banned Uber’s crowd-sourced amateur taxi service, at least for a year until a government decision can be made on how to regulate it.
This follows an earlier ban levied against Uber in Berlin.
That nationwide ban allows for substantial fines on Uber for every violation — $330,000 or six months of jail for its employees. The only catch is outside groups, in this case a taxi cab agency, have to bring individual complaints to the court which would then instruct the police to administer the punishments.
Uber, as it always does when faced with unfavorable rulings, immediately responded by vowing to continue operations in Germany.
Uber is uber the law. One almost has admiration for its libertarian 17 billion-dollar backed belligerence.
If Travis Kalanick thought he could have his lawyers appeal or tie up the judgment, he’d probably command some “employees” to start running over enemies under the reasoning that they’re hindering the future.
From the New York Times, a German assessment:
Dieter Schlenker, the chairman of Taxi Deutschland, referred to Uber’s business model as a “locust” and took aim at the company’s investors, which include Google’s venture capital unit.
“Uber operates with billions of cash from Goldman Sachs and Google, wraps itself up to look like a start-up and sells itself as the savior of the new economy,” Mr. Schlenker said.
Germany has regulation by government. Even a country with no functioning government, like Belgium, can still deal with Uber. The city of Brussels banned the service.
The United States has no actually effective government. As a consequence, along with a perverse national attitude of anything Silicon Valley over everything else no matter the social cost, there has been only spotty regional regulation of Uber.
At Salon, Andrew Leonhard declaims: Uber must be stopped.
That would be cool. However, I’m still the cynic. Nothing in the US except the size of the country and the company’s overweening ambition and capacity for self-delusion will stop it.
My impression is that Los Angeles has been too big a pill for Uber to swallow. It’s reviews are those of what you’d expect about a upper middle class snob’s amateur taxi company.
Uber benefits from fictions the US media regularly prints about it.
Like this, from the New Yorker, back in June:
Startups like Uber argue that technology can transform the casual driver into a professional. With G.P.S., anyone can navigate efficiently. Real-time passenger feedback means that drivers who consistently receive low ratings can be dropped from the service. “Tech tools have changed the whole environment,” Josh Mohrer, the general manager of Uber’s New York office, told me. The upstarts can provide a range of ride options at different price points, improve driver efficiency by matching drivers with rides more quickly, and weed out bad drivers.
Empty claims and now bog standard US tech industry bullshit. And if you read pieces on the German situation, it’s fairly obvious the courts regard it that way, too. And the benefit of this kind of business’ mythology may not be enduring when put against the company’s growing reputation as a predator generating urban social headaches faster than service that cannot be furnished by anyone else.
Los Angeles is a big place. Uber’s fortunes probably wax and wane on how beloved it is on the west side on any given weekend.
Uber is not the kind of business in which you’ll see its independent operators choosing to service the vast expanses of poor in the city 24/7.
And just how loyal are Uber’s smartphone cabbies when it sinks in its skinflint libertarian payment system doesn’t do much to fix the wear on their vehicles? And they’re not getting small bribes to poach and jam a competitor’s business?
The company’s business model would seem to be banking on being able to succeed with the turnover of a minimum-wage retail store outlet.
“Politicians like to speechify about ‘hard-working Americans,’ but in your experience, what percentage of your colleagues actually work (or worked) hard?”
Here’s what they said:
Who is working hard is a difficult concept to quantify in today’s workforce. It is easier to determine who is slacking and not producing. That should be the question.
— Lew Hundley, Salem
The problem is that our present liberal system is rewarding people for not working. Many are getting lazy and want to just live off the labor of others. That will come to an end soon.
— William K. Dettwyler, Salem
I have worked both for government and private companies. Most people work hard, although a few do not. The big difference is that in the private sector the hard workers usually advance while in government the politically correct ones advance whether they work hard or not.
— Loren Wright, Salem
Ninety-eight percent work as hard as they need to. Politicians speak of American exceptionalism, but we reward results rather than effort. We perceive the successful as hard-working rather than talented or fortunate, and the failures as shiftless or lacking ambition.
— Erin Cramer, Stayton
While there are a lot of “hard-working” people in our country, it appears the percentage is decreasing. Unions represent the work force, but spend 90 percent of their time taking care of 10 percent of the workers. And the apathetic mentality of our people seems to be growing.
— Tony Weaver, Woodburn
– The Oregon Statesman
To be fair, not everyone was characterized by this certain lack of charity. But over half the hoi polloi were.
Labor Day should be renamed Labor-Management Day. –letter to the editor in Arizona
Most Americans realize that Labor Day is about celebrating workers and their contribution to our free society, but that won’t stop union bosses from stealing the spotlight to push their own agenda. — a corporate flack pushing Right-to-Work law, in the Pensacola Union Tribune
Samuel Gompers, founder of the American Federation of Labor in 1886, said, “We want more school houses and less jails; more books and less arsenals; more learning and less vice; more constant work and less crime; more leisure and less greed; more justice and less revenge; in fact, more of the opportunities to cultivate our better natures, to make manhood more noble, womanhood more beautiful and childhood more happy and bright. These in brief are the primary demands made by the Trade Unions in the name of labor. These are the demands made by labor upon modern society and in their consideration is involved the fate of civilization.” — from the Des Moines Register
That ended well.
“We used up all of our tear gas and pepper spray.” — the Chief Operating Officer of Ferguson, Missouri
Kafka’s The Metamorphosis as allegory for US labor. You get turned into a giant beetle, are villified and injured. Then you die and get put in the trash.
Regardless of stories about Market Basket and Trader Joe’s.
From the No-Job Job Fair.
Straight from the straight-faced reporting of the New York Times comes another bit on machine gun amusement parks in and around Las Vegas.
Why? For the pleasure of WhiteManistan, freedom and the universality of the amateur video spectacle of a 9-year-old child shooting her machine gun instructor dead.
If you insist on being hopeful, that what ails the “country” can be fixed, you have a hard time keeping that mask on right now.
The NYT explains. Yes, white machine gun enthusiasts live in California, where they must feel terribly oppressed:
“We get a lot of people from California and other states that [prohibit] guns, and Europe,” Mr. Sessions [owner of the Vegas Machine Gun Experience] said. “They can own a basic firearm but not a fully automatic gun.”
The range’s most popular package is the SWAT, where for $169 a shooter can fire 50 rounds of the MP5 submachine gun, the M4 machine gun and any 9 millimeter pistol, always with a trained instructor. The deal also includes eye and hearing protection as well as a T-shirt.
“It gives them an opportunity to shoot a couple of machine guns and a handgun and they walk away pretty excited,” Mr. Sessions said. “We get married couples who come in and split a package. It’s a thrilling experience they can share together that they couldn’t do anywhere else.”
“This is about having people have a good time and putting a smile on their face,” an owner of one of the ranges told the newspaper.
“You have to ease their fears and you do that by highlighting the safety features,” another told the Times. “If they do anything wrong, you will be there to correct them.”
No, you can’t guarantee you will be there, as instructor Charles Vacca can no longer say.
There was nothing to do but retitle Dick Destiny’s Gun Nut Folk Tune as Suck on the Machine Gun. You can listen to it at SoundCloud. Be sure to read the description.
Yes, Ted Nugent has done machine gun amusements, too. YouTube has evidence. Perhaps this week’s column at World Net Daily will explain the tragedy of The Last Stop as the fault of there not being enough legal machine gun firing zones, combined with a liberal Saul Alinsky-inspired plan to make all machine gun lovers look dangerous and nuts while continuing to build the nefarious apparatus that will deprive all Americans of freedom.
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