Tuesday, June 18, 2002

Headline: “Spam Museum Set to Open in Minnesota.” Hey, I’ve got news for you: the entire state of Minnesota is a spam museum.

Interesting but semi-comprehensible piece in Salon on the recent expansion of the FBI’s phone-tapping capabilities. It seems that as of the end of this month it will have access to more information than before (they’re using the increase in digital over analog technologies to quietly acquire much more data while pretending it’s the same thing as the old pen taps), despite it’s previous attempt having lost in court. This time it did it the old fashioned way, through bribery. Seems Congress appropriated $500 million to help phone companies make changes under the US Patriot Act, but left disbursement up to the FBI, which used it to leverage deals with phone companies giving it information the court had ruled it couldn’t have.

The Hindu nationalist ruling party of India will nominate as the next president (which makes him a certainty) a Muslim. The guy who was in charge of the nuclear bomb program, who has no political experience, but the office doesn’t really require it. Presumably his designing a weapon to kill lots of Muslims makes up for him actually being one, like Werner von Braun (if you don’t get that reference, feel free to call up Kevin, who will be happy to sing you the song).

The NY Times says that Pakistan is holding American citizens, and has US permission not to check their identities too quickly, to give them more time to torture information out of them. I believe I said some time ago that most of the torturing was going to be sub-contracted, and so it has proved.

The Supreme Court rules 6-3 that it’s ok for cops boarding buses to conduct random searches not to tell people that they have a right to refuse. Kennedy wrote the majority opinion, entirely from the perspective of non-criminals, who are always happy to cooperate with the police for their own safety and for the safety of others, and so certainly don’t feel coerced. Hell, in San Francisco guys go up to cops all the time and ask to be searched, purely in the interests of public safety, but maybe that’s not what Kennedy had in mind. Now anyone with the brains god gave gravel understands that someone concealing cocaine, as in this case, would only
have allowed a search if he did in fact feel coerced and/or did not know his rights. Since the decision was not about the searches themselves, it was only about whether cops are permitted to conceal the lack of a legal mandate for their actions, to actively deceive people. And now the Supes are in collusion with this deception, because really why should it ever decide against informing people of their rights--if only just to be safe? Why would it ever be a good thing for people not to know their rights?

Condoleezza Rice says the Palestinian government is “corrupt and cavorts with terror.”


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