Tuesday, May 30, 2006

This is why I love the job...

Kid is driving up to a local convenience store to visit his friend, who happens to be a cashier at the store.

As the kid pulls into the parking lot, he sees a critter with a case of beer under each arm burst out the door and start legging it down the street.

Kid promptly whips a U-turn in the parking lot, pulls up next to the sprinting subject and hollers: "Get in!"

Critter heaves his booze into the back seat and jumps in. Critter says, "Thanks, man!"

Kids sayeth, "No problem" and continues driving. Critter looks about and discovers that they are on a course back to the convenience store. Critter says, "Hey, man, we can't go back there!"

Kid says, "How else are you going to return the beer you stole?"

Critter promptly takes off his shirt and throws it in the kids face, then bails out of the still-moving vehicle, bounces along the pavement a bit, before climbing to his feet and staggering down the road.

Kid slams the vehicle into 'P', hops out and promptly performs a bee-yoo-ti-ful tackle (remembering to keep his shoulders up and exploding off that last step before contact) and the two commence tussling in the street.

The critters actual getaway driver chooses that moment to remember that There Was Something Important I Was Supposed To Be Doing, and goes looking for the critter, turns down the road, sees the dust-up and attempts to bounce the kid off the bumper.

Fortunately, she missed both the kid and her supposed Pookie.

At this time, two private citizens -- either truck drivers or bikers, depending on who's writing the report -- see the tussel and decide to do their Civic Duty (or figure that this one is too good to miss) and they land on the critter like the Fist of God.

Critters getaway driver promptly slaps the stick into 'R' and does her damndest to bounce her rear bumper off of somebody, anybody in the pile. Causing the critter to shift from "Help me! Help! Do something! Get them off me!" to "****! Goddamnit! Don't do that ****! Crazy ***** almost hit me!"

Unfortunately, the pleas fall on deaf ears, and she takes another shot, only to strike out for the third time, and disappear down the street, but not before both of the Samaritans got the license plate number, make and model, and description of the driver.

When PD got to the scene, the critter allegedly begged them, in tones most piteous, to get him away from the kid and his cohorts -- even if it meant going to jail.

Because the critter managed to land a couple of punches on the kid and the Samaritans during the tussle, he got charged with Robbery (Felony 2).

When the judge set the bond, the critter objected to the 'high' amount. Judge asked -- out of curiosity -- why he thought the bond was too high, and the critter said, I quote: "They whupped my ass!"

Fighting back a smile, the judge responded: "And from appearances it seems like they did a workmanlike job, too."

"They can't just whup a mans ass for no reason!"

"Mr Critter, I want you to listen very closely. I want you to consider this incident not so much as an ass-whipping, but rather as a hint from God that next time you should pay for your beer. Bond stands. Good day."

I love Texas.

LawDog

Monday, May 29, 2006

Saturday, May 27, 2006

The Official DD214 of Jesse MacBeth

Through the efforts of various folks on the Internet, the official DD214 of infamous Chairborne Ranger Jesse MacBeth has come to light. No "additions" via Microsoft products, no crayon scribblings, no bushwa. His Social Security Number has been blanked out, as has the name and address of his nearest living relative. The rest of the information is true and correct, to the best of my knowledge.

As a translating service for those who may be somewhat less than fluent in military speak, kindly accept my services:
Box 4a and b: The highest rank and paygrade achieved is Private, E1. This is entry level, indeed, it is the lowest rank/paygrade possible.

Box 8a: Last Duty Assignment. Basic Combat Training Brigade, Delta Company, Second Battalion, 47th Infantry. This means his last and final duty station was Basic Bloody Training.

Box 11: Primary Specialty. None. Zip. Zero. Nada. He has never been trained to do a single sodding thing in the U.S. Army.

Box 12: Record of Service. He swore in on the first of May, 2003. He was discharged on the 13th of June, 2003. One month and thirteen days --TOTAL -- of service in the U.S. military.

I think that pretty much says all that needs to be said on the matter.




I suggest that you keep your little Squeal butt out of Texas, Jesse. Tampering with a Gov't document is a felony here, as is forgery.

LawDog

Enter The Scambaiter

If you haven't already read my post regarding Advance Fee Fraud/419 scams, read it first.

It's the one just below this one. Go, I'll wait.

Read it? Good.

Irritating, isn't it? Multi-million-dollar-a-year criminal actions, and pretty much safe for the critters doing the crime.

*snort*

One of the things that restore my faith in human nature is that in reaction to these criminals, a fair number of ordinary citizens have decided to Do Something About 419 Scammers.

Individual folks -- and some loose networks -- have decided that if the 419 scammer is busy trying to scam somebody who knows what he is, and isn't going to fall for his bushwa, then the scammer is wasting time he could be using on a genuine victim.

Plus, once the scammer realizes that he's been had, he'll be that much more suspicious of potential victims, and is liable to drop a genuine victim, thinking he's about to get had again.

Using a sense of justice and outrage, spiced with more than a bit of mischief, these people who bait the 419 scammers (scambaiters) have, in recent years, caused untold losses to scammers, and have no doubt been the reason behind temper tantrums, ulcers, heart-burn, and have generally made life considerably more difficult for those who make money through 419 scams.

This is how scambaiting works:

Here is our scammer -- called a 'mugu' in the lexicon of the scambaiter, from the Igbo word for 'victim' or 'fool' -- he is sitting in a Internet cafe in Lagos, sending out the opening letter to about 1200 e-mail addresses.

Which costs him money. Internet cafes in Nigeria charge by the hour.

Anyhoo, one of those e-mail addresses just happens to be an anonymous account belonging to Your Humble Scribe.

I am bored? Mwa-haa-haa! I send an e-mail back to the critter announcing that 10 per cent of 30 million dollars is more than generous and I would be happy to help him with his problem.

The scammer thinks this looks good, but sends me an e-mail asking who I am, and would I send a telephone number?

He gets one back telling him that my name is Mr. C. Ashton Smith and that I own an aquarium supply shop outside of Dunwich, New England. Due to an unfortunate accident involving a Lesser Crested Puffer fish and a tube of Alka-Seltzer, I am deaf and thus do not own a phone.

'Bout four hours later, I receive a flowery e-mail from someone purporting to be a barrister (lawyer), who wishes me well, assures me that the money is safe, yet who would like me to send him a scan of my drivers license "for his records".

Since I have no intention of allowing any drivers license of mine to be used as aid in the scamming of future innocents, I quite happily attach a 4.5 meg download textfile of random letters and numbers to my return e-mail, titled: "Drivers License". Remembering that the scamming bastard on the other end is paying for his Internet time by the hour, I even giggle a bit.

I get a response, thanking me. He then delicately mentions that there are bank fees and penalties, which could be dealt with if I could send him $100 American.

I would be glad to help my new-found friend, although I am not clear on the mechanics of sending money over-seas, could he perhaps, instruct me?

Since his English is as murky as his scruples, it takes three sets of e-mails, before I am confident, and I still 'accidently' send him the MoneyGram form I was supposed to fill out.

That gets resolved, I send him a scan of a fake MoneyGram form with a random control number, he happily goes to the local office -- and I'll be hornswoggled! That's not a valid Control Number.

More e-mails follow, he keeps getting turned down at the MoneyGram office, and then I tell him that due to the problems we're having, the local MoneyGram Office wants him to fill out the attached Security Form, before he can pick up the money.

It uses a complex, lengthy and very confusing algorithim to produce a Control Number. The form, and the number produced are, of course, fake.

He follows the instructions, gets a number, MoneyGram turns him down. I tell him its's obviously not my fault -- he filled out the form, try again.

Still no good, I tell him I don't trust his MoneyGram company anymore, and I'll just send a cashiers check by UPS.

Unfortunately, I have erred and sent the check to an office in a city 800 miles away on the far side of a war zone. Silly me.

Apparently, the scammer borrowed a car from his Oga (which he probably paid through the sinuses for), bought the gas, bribed his way past military patrols, checkpoints and other bribable types, dodged militia gunfire...
...only to discover that the address is NOT an office building, and UPS has never, ever delivered anything there ...
...and he has to do a reverse of the trip over.

Probably wound up catching a beat-down from his Oga, too, if I know my power structures in Nigeria.

The last e-mail from the little bastard was an enraged shriek, cursing me, my family and informing me that God would do his worst to me on Judgement Day.

*snicker*

So, what did I accomplish? Other than walking around with a smirk for a month?

1) The time he spent trying to con me out of money, he wasn't working on conning your grandmother, aunt, or anyone else that would fall for his line of bushwa;

2) The next time someone "doesn't quite understand", something goes a little wrong with his computer, or there's any kind of hitch in progress, he's going to wonder if he's being baited again, and may drop his victim altogether just to be safe;

3) The resources he spent trying to con me are used up and not going to be available to con the next person; and

4) I cost him money that is no longer available for him to use in conning his next victim.

All good uses of my time, as far as I'm concerned.

If scambaiting interests you, I suggest going the 419eater.com. Those folks are dedicated to doing Bad Things To 419 Scammers, and will happily offer you guidance, advice, mentoring and resources if you should wish to bait your very own mugu.

Be safe.

LawDog

Friday, May 26, 2006

Advance Fee Fraud a/k/a 419 Scams

Show of paws here: who has NOT received an unsolicited, poorly spelled, grammatically painful, ALL CAPS e-mail:

-- Informing you that some schmuck in a Third World African country managed to scam several million dollars before dying tragically, and somebody needs your help to get the money out of the country before the gummint gets its greasy little paws on it?

-- From/involving Mariam Abacha, and her unlucky passel of crumb-snatchers?

-- Rich expatriates meeting their messy end on the Sagbama Express Road, but leaving a trunk full of money with nobody to claim it?

-- Somebody discovering they've got esophageal cancer, and want to get right with God by donating their earthly riches and can you help?

Congratulations -- you've had a brief touch with the murky world of Advance Fee Fraud; also called the 419 scam.

Theoretically, the 419 scam gets its numerical moniker from Section 419 of the Nigerian Penal Code which concerns fraud.

That's the story, anyway. Having lived in Nigeria, I have serious doubts as to whether or not they've actually got a Penal Code, much less one covering fraud, but that's neither here nor there.

419 scams are a major money-maker for various Third World countries. Conservative estimates place reported victim losses at hundreds of millions of dollars per year. Factoring in the folks who don't report their losses out of embarrassment, or other reasons, and the 419 scam edges close to the billion-dollar-a-year mark.

Since money and politics go together like peanut-butter and jelly, it should come as no surprise that the organized 419 groups have a fairly healthy amount of leverage in Third World politics, indeed many Third World dignitaries were the Oga (boss) of a 419 ring before oozing over to the political side of the house.

This, plus the international nature of the 419 scam, plus the relative anonymity of the World Wide Web; makes investigation of Advance Fee Fraud difficult, actually arresting and prosecuting scammers bloody difficult, and seeing them actually punished next to impossible.

The actual mechanics of the fraud are fairly simple.

It begins with an entry level guyman (scammer) who is hired to visit the various guestbooks found throughout the Internet. From these, he will cull hundreds, or thousands, or more, e-mail addresses.

Once he has a good list of addys, he will copy-and-paste a letter crafted by someone else and supplied to him by his organization, and send that letter to all the addresses. As an example, we will say that this letter purports to be from a lawyer who represents a person who allegedly has in their possession 30 million dollars American.

The letter is a heart-wrencher, describing how the Government is going to take away his money, and how he needs the assistance of a foreigner to get his money out of the country. It goes on further to promise that the foreigner who aids in this endeavour will receive a certain percentage of the total as payment for services rendered.

Say, 10 percent, "risky free".

Of the thousand or so people this is sent to, several may respond. The original scammer is in charge of seeing how dedicated these potential victims are.

Of the several initial respondents, one or two will believe the scam. This is when that victims contact information gets passed up the chain.

The next guyman in line will now send e-mails asking for phone numbers, official letters with letterheads, drivers licenses or other forms of ID. Usually, this is disguised as a matter of trust: the scammers tells the victim he wants a scanned copy of his/her DL to prove that the victim is a worthy, dependable person.

In reality, any scans of offical documents, ID cards, letterheads and such are passed on to the forgery part of the 419 operation, to make documents to aid in other scams. Usually, an offical ID will be offered by the scammer in trade, (I'll show you mine, if you'll show me yours). The ID beign offered by the scammer having been conned out of a previous victim.

Once this is done, the money-making part starts. The scammer will contact the victim, remind them of the massive amount of money waiting for them, but sorrowfully affirm that there are unpaid court costs. Could you send $100?

The victim, thinking of the millions of dollars he/she is going to receive as payment in the future, sends the cash -- usually by Western Union or MoneyGram.

In return, the scammer sends an offical-looking bank documents, signed and sealed (letterhead adapted from a letterhead scammed out of a previous victim), informing the victim that the money is ready to be transferred to his name.

Oh, but there's a problem. This news is usually delivered by phone, if the scammer has managed to get a phone number from the victim. A corrupt government official has discovered what is transpiring. He could ruin the whole thing. He may be amenable, however, to a small bribe, and what is $200 American weighed against the vast riches that will be yours...?

The money is sent, in return, the victim gets another offical-looking notice saying that the Govenrment of Nigeria has approved the transaction.

Next, the scammer states that the money has been transferred to a foreign bank on Nigerian soil -- along with more official-looking documentation, congratulations, and so forth ... Oh, he hates to be a noodge, but all this running around uses up gasoline, and gas being as expensive as you know it is, would it be possible to get a small stipend for all this work...?

And so on, and so forth. Up to the part where the scammer informs the victim that the money is ready to be transferred to his/her bank account, and would you mind sending the bank account number, along with passcodes -- only to verify identity, of course!

It would be amusing, if it weren't for the fact that people lose thousands of dollars -- or more -- in small amounts to these critters. Death by a thousand cuts.

And it's not only the loss of money. Victims have been kidnapped and ransomed in the past, and some have been beaten or killed.

Lest you think that such a scam would only work on people who are crooked anyway, the first Nigerian 419 scam I ever encountered involved a little old lady who had been told that the orphaned children of Mariam Abacha needed her aid to get out of the country before enemies of their dead parents completed vengeance and murdered the orphans.

She wound up sending several thousand dollars, thinking she was getting these poor orphans out of the orphanarium, paying off corrupt orphange staff, bribing customs officials to look the other way, buying the plane tickets to get the poor, terrified sprogs onto the Freedom Bird to the safety of another nation...

She lost several thousand dollars for all the best reasons.

419 scams: Don't get suckered by them. For further education, clicky:

http://home.rica.net/alphae/419coal/

http://www.secretservice.gov/alert419.shtml

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/07/09/419_scam_anatomy/

http://www.419scams.com/

Or use the search engine of your choice, by inputting "419 scam" or "advance fee fraud"

LawDog

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Sooper Sekret Skwirls

Boy, young Jesse MacB***h MacBeth sure opened hisself a can of worms, didn't he?

It's nice to see a poser getting what he deserve, but let us not forget that there are others just like him still running around out there like:
1) Micah Wright -- who also claimed to be a Ranger/inflicting atrocities on Iraqi civilians despite the fact that the closest he ever came to military service was not making it all the way through ROTC.

2) Jimmy Massey, who was actually in the military, and whose sorry-arsed claim to fame is hanging onto Cindy Sheehan's apron strings and slandering the U.S. military by telling bloody stories of atrocities commited or witnessed-- despite the fact that his unit had no less than three embedded civilian reporters (one a cameraman) who neither saw, nor took pictures of any atrocities.

*sigh*

As I have mentioned previously, we run across these idiots on a weekly basis in Law Enforcement. And that was before the current dust-up started. Now, with the public emphasis on the military, I'm afraid that we'll see more-and-more of the little bastards coming out of the woodwork.

Coupla years ago I'm swinging through Central Booking, and I notice Reno -- good friend of mine, and my usual wingman -- leaning on the wall and laughing his butt off.

Across from him is our main holding tank, and in it, hanging onto the bars like a sloth, is an older gentleman who looks like he's about to cry.

I kind of pause, and Reno sees me, points at the gentleman in the tank and says: "Tell him what you just told me!"

The gentleman, who is hanging onto the bars with great desperation, legs trailing piteously behind him, declares, "I'm a veteran! You can't treat me this way! I served in Vietnam in the Air Force Rangers!"

Reno dissolves into hysterics.

For those of you who maybe aren't quite up to speed on various military units, or the current Poser de Jour, the Rangers are an Army outfit. I feel one of my eyebrows kind of slide up, and I say, gently, "Are you sure you weren't Army, rather than Air Force?"

This is apparently an insult too great to be borne, as the gentleman (still clinging to the bars) yelps, "You can't treat a veteran this way! I'll have you know, it's a Capital Offense to make fun of a U.S. veteran."

I feel my other eyebrow slide up. I look at Reno, who is wiping tears, and I say, somewhat incredulously: "Capital offense? You mean, I can get the death penalty for making fun of a veteran?"

"Yes!" thunders the gentleman in holding, "Title 17, US Code makes it a Capital Federal Offense to make fun of a veteran."

Reno practically collapses. He's laughing so hard, I'm starting to get worried. And something sounds vaguely ... familiar ... about Title 17. Almost like ...

It between gusts of laughter, Reno gasps, "If we rent him ... and then charge people money to see him ... the Fibbies are gonna bust us!"

That's where I've heard Title 17 before. I turn to the gentleman in the front tank and gently say, "If you're going to threaten us, don't use the legal fine print at the front of a rental movie to do so. And why the hell are you hanging off the bars like that?"

"I'm crippled, you dumb ****!" shrieks the gentleman, "I got hit by an RPG at Dien Bien Phu! I CAN'T WALK!"

"That's funny," I respond, "I didn't realize the French Foreign Legion had an Air Force, much less Rangers in it."

"You're making fun of me," shrieketh the critter, "That's a Capital Offense!"

"Only if we charge people money to watch us do it, apparently" I answered, absent-mindedly, "Reno, what is the goofball here for?"

"Evading!" whoops my buddy, "He led PD on a six block foot-chase and then kicked out a cruiser window!"

"You're still making fun of me! That's a Capital Offense!"

*sigh*

Of course, not only do we get the military posers, we get the DEA wanabis. I have lost count of the number of critters who have informed me that they are actually on a secret DEA mission, and that I really need to turn them loose before I get into trouble.

Really early one morning I pulled over a car that had crossed the double yellow line one his way through town.

I figured -- given the hour -- that the driver was probably just sleepy, so I pulled him over so that I could sharpen his awareness some, and to point him in the general direction of a coffeepot.

He was somewhat nervous when I walked up to the window, but I chalked that one up to having been pulled over. I explained who I was, informed him that I had pulled him over for crossing the double yellow lines in the middle of town, and asked if he had any emergfencies that I needed to know about.

He stuttered some, and I let him simmer a bit before asking for his license and registration. He dug them out, I went back to the cruiser, ran the DL, sat there for a bit, then walked back up to his window and asked him if he wsa awake now.

"Yes, sir," he replied.

"Good, good," sayeth I, "There are several convenience..."

He interrupted, "I'm undercover with the DEA, so you can't ask to search the car."

I blinked for a moment. Looked down the highway. No other cars to be seen. Looked the other way. Still the only two cars in sight.

I look at the driver. "What?"

He shoots me a sideways glance, clinging to the steering wheel like a baby clinging to it's mama, "I'm an undercover informant on a Federal case. This is out of your league. You can't search the car. Besides, the dope isn't mine, it belongs to the Feds. You can't interfere with a DEA investigation."

I look at him for a while, say, "Don't go anywhere" and amble back to my cruiser.

"Car 14, Dispatch."

"Dispatch."

"I'm going to guess that you don't have any outraged Fed types on the phone or teletype right now."

"What?"

"Are there any phone calls or teletypes I need to know about?"

"Ms. Frickert reported the newspaper boy for pulling into her driveway, again."

"Ah. Anything else?"

"Negative."

"Santa Claus really, really likes me. Send a wrecker to my location, please."

"Oooo-kay..."

It's the little things.

LawDog

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Comments:

From Sgt. H:

In light of your recent post about "former Special Forces" poseurs, have you been looking in on the story of Jesse Macbeth and his claims? Your bit on the SF180 was a wee bit prophetic.

*snicker*

One of the CAPERS investigators from the local PD pulled that one up in our briefing room. I got to see a still shot from the supposed 'interview' and read some of his claims. We were taking bets on how fast the MilBlog community would turn this kid inside out.

I believe the phrase "school of piranha on a carcass" was used.

We also were betting on how extensive his criminal history was -- not IF he had a CCH, but how long it was -- and if there were any outstanding warrants at this time.

The facts that his outstanding warrants involve Domestic Violence don't surprise me in the least -- I believe I mentioned that in an earlier post on the subject.

Off-topic, but from a quick overview of the blog, I see that SGT H. is a scambaiter. Bless your heart, SGT, and keep up the good work. I've been prepping to comment on Nigerian 419 scams and scambaiting, before the mobile license plate reader thing came up.

Hopefully, I'll get my 419 post up before the weekend.


From militaryson2000:

I was shooting on 30 acres that I owne and thats not annexed yet and happens to be right next to a shopping centre (no lawdog I was not sniping the people commin out of The Good Book Store with coppies of Da Vince Code) I was fireing into a 25ft thick dam with .308 .223 .45 and .40 nothing thats going to go through 25 ft of earth. I was supprised to see 5 police cars show up on my property. they were responding to a shots fired call from a concerned citizen. I explained that it was county and that it was ok. I was told that they were told by dispatch the same thing that it was county and it was ok for shooting....so why tf were they there why did they come After being told by dispatch that it was ok? I was done shooting and packed up but is there anything that you would want someone to do that would put you more at ease in a similar situation aka lots of loaded guns and a shots fired call? I can try callin dispatch and tellin them whats goin on but I would like to hear what your thoughts are. other than follow the officers instructions I know to me it sounds kinda obvious but someone might overlook it.

Hullo, and thanks for reading the blog.

A couple of things should probably be mentioned here:
1) Theoretically, anytime a citizen calls in a report, an officer should respond. I understand that this doesn't always happen, but it really should. Since this was out in the county, it probably means that the responding officers belonged tot he County Sheriff. Since the County Sheriff is an elected position, if John Q. Citizen calls in a report, and nobody takes his report seriously (by not showing up), this means thta an irritated John Q. Citizen can show up at the Sheriff's office, point out that a) he's a voter; and b) he voted for the Sheriff last election, but didn't think he was gonna get ignored like this...

The High Sheriff is going to want to know why the Cares of this Concerned Citizen Weren't Taken Seriously By Those Under His Command.

See how this goes? The Sheriff knows that his deputies have calls backing up, and that the call was probably nothing, but the Sheriff doesn't win elections by dismissing the calls of his constituents.

2) Just because it is legal to shoot on that land, it doesn't necessarily follow that the shooting being done is legal.

There have been occasions when violent felons have obtained firearms from recreational shooters, and I'm sure that Michael Platt and William Matix (among others) practised their gun skills once in a while.

Hate to have run up on those two plinking while I was driving a marked cruiser.

Anyhoo, I wouldn't become all too concerned about the response.

T'were I you, I'd call the S.O. and see where the local citizenry does it's shooting. Usually there's an unofficial place where everyone goes to shoot, and I'd see about doing my plinking there.

I might caution you about shooting near a shopping centre anymore. In this Modern Age, too many parents use the local shopping centre as the default daycare option. Unattended kids hear gunfire, get curious (because guns ARE fascinating) and decide to sneak over and take a gander at real, live guns.

Which could be a recipe for an unpleasantness. Especially if the sneaky route takes them over, or around, the dam you mentioned.

Hope that helps.

Again, thanks for reading.

LawDog

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Disquietude, part 2 - references

AutoVu Technologies

Civica Software and PlateScan

TAG-NABIT

G2Tactics

INEX Technologies

PIPS Technology, Inc.

Remington Elsag LLC

There may be some differences between what I learned and what is on the company websites, but there should be enough there for y'all to come to your own conclusions.

LawDog

Disquietude, part 1

I would imagine that a good many folks are aware of the new digital license plate reading equipment and software. You may even be aware that there are several vendors competing for lucrative city/county/state/federal agency contracts.

What you may not have been aware of -- I wasn't -- is the new designs which are intended for mobile use. In other words, they are mounted in/on patrol cars.

Impressive technology. The infra-red cameras are capable of reading license plates at triple digit speeds AND across up to four lanes of traffic AND at angles which I would not have believed capable, at up to 1,500 different license plates per minute per eight hour shift. Automatically.

At first glance, this new technology seems quite the boon for law enforcement. It's basically a program to read license plates and compare them to a list (stolen vehicles, vehicles involved in felonies, etc.), and if there's a match, to alert the officer.

Unfortunately, read above where I point out that there are several vendors in competition. That's when things go head-long into the khazi.

To make the purchase of this very expensive equipment more palatable for various government agencies, the companies have added expanded capabilities along with bells and whistles.

Doesn't sound very bad, does it?

Well, one of the first extras added seems to have been the ubiquitous GPS receiver.

Ah, I see the light dawning.

The feature is called 'Geo-fencing'. In a nutshell, 'Geo-fencing' is simply inputting a GPS location cross-indexed with a list of license plates that shouldn't be anywhere near the location. For instance, the GPS coordinates of a school, cross-indexed with the license plates of your local sex offenders. Or the GPS coordinates of a house, indexed with the license plates belonging to Protective Order suspects.

Doesn't sound too bad, until you realize that the co-ordinats and the index can be whatever the local agency deems necessary.

Yeah.

It gets worse. With the addition of a simple seach-capable data-base, these systems become, and I quote: "An invaluable investigation tool."

Each patrol car so equipped automatically, and without the input of the officer driving, scans every license plate the patrol car passes, moving or parked. From shift start to shift end. With a max capability up to 1,500 plates a minute. Some of which can read plates across four lanes of busy highway. Some of the higher end models take a picture of the car attached to the plate.

Depending on the model, this information is sent to the central database: either continually, periodically or at the end of the shift, depending on how much money your agency is willing to spend.

Once in said database, anyone who has access can search the database by license plate number, location, time of day, or other variable or combination of variables.

This part of the system is being marketed by telling agencies that if the agencies involved in the D.C. sniper events had had the system, they could possibly have caught the suspects much sooner.

I can see how this system would be a godsend to investigators. Find a vehicle involved in a murder, and with a series of keystrokes know its exact location at an exact time with a picture every time that vehicle passed -- or was passed by -- a patrol car. Invaluable information.

Dream come true, eh?

I think it's a screaming nightmare.

Enough patrol cars retrofitted with one of these systems and -- deliberately or not -- the government will have a record of where each and every car in the area is at least once per shift.

The potential for abuse is awe-inspiring. I have dealt with several officers who had the mistaken impression that TCIC also functioned as a date service; what they could have done with this system makes me physically ill.

Got a sneaking suspicion about the little lady? Give her license plate number to your buddy the cop and find out exactly where she's been, at what time for the past how-ever-long the system has been in use.

Don't like guns? Run one of your patrol cars through gunshop parking lots, and see where else those plates have been. It's for the children, right?

So far, sources tell me that these mobile systems are in use at:
Long Beach PD, CA;
Anne Arundel Co. PD, MD; and
Yonkers PD, NY.

I am informed that agency feedback has been "enthusiastic".

The fact that I have never heard of this system until now causes the Smell Test alarms to go off.

Nietzsche said: "Those who fight monsters should take care that in the process they do not become monsters."

Way too close to the monster for me.

LawDog

postscript:
Of course, I could just be paranoid. No one else who was enlightened about this at the time I was seemed to be any kind of worried about it.

I don't care. I don't like it. I don't like what a nation-wide linking of the location database in each department will spawn.

LawDog

Monday, May 22, 2006

I am ... disquieted.

I have been exposed to an off-the-shelf technology that is designed to be installed in police cruisers, and if what I have been told is correct, has been installed in cruisers.

Not to put too fine of a face on it, I am disturbed by this.

I am familiar with the concept of 'vapourware' -- a company promising a technology that it is not yet capable of delivering -- so I shall hold off on a full-blown rant, until I have: 1) Gotten a nights sleep; and
2) Received independent verification of facts I have been given.

So.

I am for bed, full report to be made sometime tomorrow.

LawDog

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Don't come crying to me when history repeats itself...

Well, N'Awleans re-elected Ray Nagin as mayor.

You know, just when I think that humanity can't surprise me anymore, up jumps a village full of idiots to prove me wrong.

*sigh*

During the height of the Katrina debacle, I stumbled across the hurricane contingency plan for New Orleans.

The city of New Orleans not only did not follow their own guidelines for what to do in case of a hit by a hurricane, they actively violated their own plan by doing things specifically warned against in the plan.

Remember all those school busses window deep in the Ray Nagin Memorial Motor Pool?

The word y'all're looking for is "incompetence". "Ineptitude" is also apt.

Matter-of-fact, the only thing he did which wasn't incompetent was that tap-dancing, smoke-and-mirros act where he managed to shift the results of his own incompetence onto the Federal Government.

And the Media let him. Instead of asking, you know, investigative questions:

"Mayor Nagin, your own plan calls for the evacuation of residents using school busses. Why were none of the school busses used?"

"It's Bush's fault! Where is the Federal Government?"

"Mayor Nagin, your own disater plan calls for using certain schools as hurricane shelters, and you were specifically warned against using the Superdome as a shelter. Why did you authorize the use of the Superdome?"

"The Federal Gummint needs to get their butts down here! Oh my God, the horror!"

*sigh*

A lot of those deaths during- and post-Katrina are laid four-square at Nagins feet, but I guess that doesn't matter to the residents of the Big Easy.

I worked my butt off arranging for supplies to be sent to New Orleans and the rest of the Gulf Coast; I kept up lines of contact between our officers who volunteered their holiday time to help and family and command here; and I wound up hip-deep in N'Awlins refugees who got sent to our fair neighborhood.

It ain't gonna happen again.

Mark my words: This season or next, there's going to be a hummer of a hurricane hit on or near enough to what's left of New Orleans.

Y'all re-elected that incompetent idiot, y'all can sink or swim on your own this time. I wash my hands of the mess.

LawDog

Friday, May 19, 2006

Meditations on Price Gouging.

Just got back from filling up Ye Olde Faithful Steed.

Ye Gods and little fishies: $2.78 a gallon.

I am given to understand that the Gummint, in its Infinite Wisserdom, has decided to chastise the oil companies for 'Price Gouging'.

Being a curious chap, I decided to look and see what percentage of the price of a gallon of gasoline went where.

In 2004, the average price per gallon of gasoline was $1.85.

Of that $1.85:
47% bought the crude oil.
18% was refining cost and profits.
23% was Federal and State taxes.
12% went to distribution and marketing.

Those are averaged figures, of course.

Refining cost and profits: 18% - average.
Taxes: 23% - average.

*blink, blink*

23% is okay, but 18% is gouging? Isn't that kind of bass-ackwards?

Since those are average figures from last year, let's see waht I can find out specifically for my fair State.

In Texas, today, of the $2.78 I just got done paying, 20 cents was Texas State Taxes and 18.4 cents belonged to the Federal Government.

20 gallons @ 38.4 cents a gallon comes to...get my boots off here...carry the little piggy...$7.68.

While I was buying 20 gallons of gasoline, the various government offices were helping themselves to $7.68 out of my wallet.

Seven dollars and sixty-eight cents per twenty gallons.

Yeah, there may be gouging going on, but I think the gouging is being euphemistically referred to as "taxes".

LawDog

One hundred degrees.

And it's only the middle of May. August is going to be a right proper kick in the shorts.

*sigh*

Take:

2 cups of sugar
2 cups of water
6 sprigs of mint, gently bruised.

Mix the sugar and water together, and boil for five minutes. Cool, add the mint sprigs and place in the 'fridge overnight.

When required, take some mint leaves(how many depends on how much minty-ness you're looking for, I go for two or three) and gently crush them on the inside of a glass. Leave at the bottom of the glass, fill with crushed ice and add one table spoon of the syrup mix. Top with two ounces of good bourbon (I prefer Maker's Mark). Stir rapidly, and garnish with a sprig of mint.

Voila! Mint julep.

LawDog

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

And yet, no high-speed disassembly...

Well, whole bunch of folks seem to be getting their Hanes into a half-hitch over the movie, The DaVinci Code.

The Indian Government put a temporary kibosh on the release of the movie in that country, due to complaints. One old boy who heads the Catholic Secular Forum has done started a hunger-strike in protest.

In South Korea, Christian groups have gone to court, seeking an injunction to block any screenings of the movie. The court refused to grant said injunction, so a whole buncha folks plan to boycott it.

In the Phillipines, the gummint came this }{ close to giving the movie an 'X' rating, instead giving it the dreaded NC-16, as did Singapore.

However, the part that just drops my jaw is that the National Organization for Albinism and Hypopigmentation (?!?-Ed.) has got a case of the hips towards the movie, because the Main Bad Dude apparently sports one extreme case of 'moon-tan', as my Dear Old Dad once put it. Believe it or not, but they have actually "expressed unhappiness" with the potrayal of an albino in the movie.

So. Here we have a something-over-two-hour movie which deliberately runs counter to the accepted view of the Chief Religious Figure of a Major Religion -- and yet there are no bombs going off.

No riots. No burning cars.

Let's face it -- the Christians are letting us down here.

Heck, run some editorial cartoons involving Mahomet and the Muslims turn a couple of major European cities into something strongly resembling a frat house full of chimpanzees on methamphetamine.

Given that, one would think that two-plus hours of widescreen video running counter to Christian orthodoxy ought to good for at least two bombings.

No?

A torched car?

No?

Can we at least get the Pope to chew a couple of Alka-Seltzer before venting his spleen to the Main Stream Media?

No?

The best you can do is boycotts, lawsuits, hungerstrikes and "expressing unhappiness"?

*sigh*

Spoilsports.

LawDog

***DISCLAIMER***
The preceding post contains examples of sarcasm. No, I didn't actually think that Christians were going to riot like Muslims because of a movie.

LawDog

Felony Chicken

Two whole chickens.
Two cans of beer.
Garlic, limes, poultry seasoning.
Your favorite BBQ rub.

Take your chickens. Make sure they are defrosted, and the giblets are removed. Fire up your BBQ grill, find two buddies, hand each buddy one beer with instructions to lower the level of beer in the can by one-third.

Rub the outside of the chickens generously with your BBQ rub. Sprinkle poultry seasoning on the inside of the birds.

Smack your buddies on the back of the head, and retrieve your now half-full cans of beer.

Crush and dump one clove of garlic into each can. It's going to fizz, it's okay.

Split your lime into quarters and place two quarters on top of each can of beer.

Grease the outside of your beer cans, and insert your chickens onto the beer cans, so that the two legs of the chicken form a tripod with the beer can being the third leg.

Wait for the inevitable jokes. ("You know, 'Dog, in some States that would be a felony...")

Carefully place the upright chickens on the grill, close the lid and cook until the juice runs clear at the joints.

Carefully remove the chickens and cans from the grill and very carefully un-violate the chickens.

Slice and serve.

LawDog

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

NICS

Under the National Instant Criminal Background Check System there are three responses when one tries to purchase a firearm.

1)Proceed. This means you are on the side of angels, and may leave with your newly-purchased firearm. This is the "10-minute wait" many of my readers were referring to in the 'Comments' section of my last inarticulate scream of rage.

2)Deny. You have been a Very Bad Boy, and are forbidden from owing or purchasing a firearm due any one of a possible multitude of sins.

3)Delay. Welcome to my world. When a Delay flag pops up on a NICS check, this means that (theoretically) a NICS Examiner begins a hand search of records to ensure the potential purchaser (me) isn't a Bad Dog. To quote from the NICS website:
"When a transaction is DELAYED, the FBI NICS Examiner begins extensive research on the potential prohibitor. When the research is complete, the FBI NICS Examiner calls the FFL and gives a PROCEED or DENY decision on the firearm transaction."

*sigh*

The FBI kindly posted a website explaining exactly how long someone (me) has to wait if a Delay flag pops up. Notice the 'Sell' date if someone (me) gets his rights infringed on a Monday: It's bloody well Friday.

*sigh*

The theory used to be that I kept getting the Delay response because someone might have used my name as an alias on a criminal history, or there's a felon wandering about with my name.

That one doesn't fly, because the combination of my first and last names is about as Gaelic as you can get. You might find someone with my first AND last names in Scotland or Ireland, but you're not going to find them in the Good Old U.S. of A. Besides, I work in Law Enforcement. I've run my name and every possible combination of my name through TCIC and NCIC and it always comes back clear.

Then it was decided that I was getting delayed because I refused to put my Social Security Number on the 4473. That theory got blown out of the water when I finally knuckled under and started putting my SSN on the 4473's. Still kept getting delayed.

The current theory involves my Place of Birth. I think that every time I write 'MALTA' in the box for Place of Birth, I might as well break out the sack lunch.

*sigh*

Back to private transactions. No muss, no fuss, and I can go shooting that same damned day.

LawDog

Monday, May 15, 2006

"Instant Check" my sweet Aunt Fanny.

While I have not lived an entirely saintly existence -- to tell the truth, more often than not I've danced with the Devil in the pale moonlight -- I have no felonies on my record, nor do I have any misdemeanors, nor any arrests other than a slew of "going-a-skosh-faster-than-the-posted-limit" tickets. All of which have been paid cheerfully and on time.

I have been a peace officer in good standing (more or less) for the past thirteen years. I've never been targetted for any civil rights violations by the Fan Belt Inspectors and local Infernal Affairs doesn't have any more than the standard employment folder on me.

I served the United States of America for two enlistments, with no Article 15's, or courts martial; and no more than my fair share of counseling statements -- and I have the Honorable Discharge to prove it.

During my enlistments, I achieved and maintained a security clearance, as required by my assigned duties, and had said security clearance vetted fairly frequently.

I have been checked, microscoped, back-grounded, verified and polygraphed right down to my DNA not once, not twice, but several times. The Federal Government, Texas State Government and various county gov'ts have never, ever found anything in my past history, psyche, habits or sub-conscious to ever even hint that I am anything other than a fine, upstanding example of knightly virtue.

So.

Can someone, anyone, tell me Why. The Hell. Can't I Bloody Well. Take Home A Sodding Gun THE SAME GODS-BE-DAMNED DAY I BUY IT??!

Huh? Someone? WHY?

Ever since that stupid excuse for public self-gratification called the "Brady Instant Check" got shoved down our throats by Little Sarah One-Note and her horde of syphilitic suck-ups I have had to wait five sodding days AFTER I lay my money on the counter before I am allowed to pick up my property.

Every Shiva-be-damned time. Every time.

And it's passed the "Irritation" stage, and heading well into "Pissing Me The Hell Off" country.

We were solemnly PROMISED that the Brady Check would inconvenience the Bad Guys.

Well, what in the name of buggering hell ELSE do I need to do to prove I'm a Good Guy? Huh? What? What-sodding-else do I have to do?

And just what in the name of Kali's Ten Teats are the proctologists at the Federal Bureau of Instigation going to find on a Brady Check that they missed during a security clearance investigation? Huh? What?

If a five-day Brady check is more thorough than the investigation required for a Top Secret clearance, then I am jolly well here to tell you that the nuclear weapons program for the United States is well-and-truly buggered into a cocked hat.

Now, having to wait a time or two, I can understand. I don't like it, but I'll tolerate it.

EVERY GODSDAMNED TIME???!

GIVE ME MY DAMNED PROPERTY!

IF I HAD WANTED TO PICK UP THE GUN FRIDAY, I'D HAVE JOLLY WELL PAID FOR IT ON FRIDAY!

ARRGGHH!

Two-bit, four-flushing, dirt-stupid, mono-synaptic, twinkle-toed, nostril-digging, booger-chewing, gauch-eyed, disease-ridden, vermin-infested, inbred, lily-livered, sheep-shagging, arse-picking, trough-swilling, blood-sucking, butt-kissing, parasitic catamites!

I'd pimp-slap every gun-grabbing legiscritter on Capitol Hill, but I don't want to splatter cow manure over half of Virginia.

Every fecking time I see Schumer, or Kennedy or Feinstein, or any of the rest of them, I am flat awe-struck that somebody, somewhere, not only managed to stack dung that high, but also managed to get it to speak.

I'd name them as their mother's shame, but considering that some random invertebrate probably vomited them forth onto a handy rock like a handful of small, greasy, hairballs from hell, I sincerely doubt that the concept of 'mother' has ever tickled that one paltry neuron weeping all alone in the vast, bitter darkness betwixt their ear flaps.

Friday.

****!

LawDog

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Waa-HOO!

By way of Rich Lucibella, who (I think) got it from Kevin McClung, we have a documentary on the ancient art of Kabumei.

This is funny stuff. Which means that I am a sick, sick person. But we already knew that.

Enjoy!

LawDog

Bit of a puzzler.

As a drift through Blog World, I am noticing the occasional:

"I won't vote for Bush again"

announcement popping up here and there.

I have to wonder...is this wry humor? Is it a poetic statement about policy, or is the punchline to a joke I've not run across yet?

Since this is President Bush's second term, and since the Twenty-Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States is, to the best of my knowledge, still in force, it tends to go without saying that no one is going to be voting for Bush again, so there must be something else at work here.

If anyone knows what I'm missing, please let me know. In the meantime, investigations will continue.

LawDog

Mission creep

Mission creep: the expansion of a project or mission beyond its original goals, often after initial successes.

"Mission creep" is a military term, used with disapproval, and usually ends with a final catastrophic failure. It is the inevitable result of politicians with agendas meddling where they shouldn't.

Which brings us to the NSA and their phone database.

In my view, things are never as good a the optimists say, but they're never as bad as the pessimists say.

Right now, in my opinion, the NSA database probably isn't as bad as the NSA detractors are claiming. It's also probably not as benign as the NSA apologists are claiming, either.

However, it is not the present that concerns me. It is the future, and here's where the dreaded mission creep comes into play.

Right now -- today -- this database is (we hope) designed for, and being used, to track and develop intelligence on foreign terrorists. All well and good.

And -- when it works -- what of tomorrow? The NSA database worked so well on foreign terrorist networks, why not apply it to domestic terror networks? Terrorists, right? Surely no one could take offence at intelligence being gathered on terrorists, no matter if they're foreign or domestic...

Bearing in mind, of course, that some folks in government consider the National Rifle Association to be allied with terrorists, if not an outright terrorist organisation.

I should have my phone calls tapped because I'm a Life Member of the NRA?

"Oh, come on, 'Dog," I hear you say, "No one is going to go that far."

No one thought that an American government would go so far as to steal guns from American citizens who had been flung headlong into a Third World hellhole without government aid, citizens who needed their guns for simple survival, yet I give you New Orleans, Louisiana (post Katrina) and a thousand or so stolen guns.

Yes, I am pro-gun and anti-gun-control, which may colour my perceptions a bit, so let me give you another scenario:

The NSA database has worked well in gathering intelligence on foreign terror networks. Foreign-based narco-trafficking rings do every bit as much damage to America as terrorists. Both are outside the United States, so let's use the database to form intelligence on narcotics trafficking.

Which works so well, let's use it for domestic narcotics enforcement. They're criminals, right?

Which, due to mission creep, winds up with us phone-tapping Joe Schmuck due to his $10-dollar-a-day pot habit.

Remembering that mission creep tends to end with a "final, catastrophic failure"...

Trust me, it there's any program that could be considered the King of Mission Creep, it would be at least one (probably more) of the various U.S. State drug policies.

So. The NSA phone number database ... may ... be a good idea. What it is going to become, what it will become, due to Mission Creep makes it a Very Bad Idea, and it should be scrapped. Immediately, if not sooner.

LawDog