Sunday, May 31, 2015
NYTimes | In Stanislaus County, as in many counties in California and across the United States, law-enforcement officers keep a database of individuals that they have identified as gang members. From their point of view, these lists are vital and necessary, but activists argue that they can be discriminatory. Researchers have found that white gang membership tends to be underestimated and undercounted, while the opposite is true for black and Latino youth. In 1997, California created a statewide database, called CalGang, and by 2012, according to documents obtained by the Youth Justice Coalition, there were more than 200,000 individuals named in it (roughly the same number as the population of Modesto), including some as young as 10. Statewide, 66 percent were Latino, and one in 10 of all African-Americans in Los Angeles County between the ages of 20 and 24 were on the list.
When the STEP Act became law, there were dissenting voices, some of them unsurprising, like the American Civil Liberties Union. But there were others you might not expect: Among law-enforcement authorities, for example, there were concerns that the STEP Act could be applied too broadly. Wes McBride, a retired sergeant of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the executive director of the California Gang Investigators Association, told me that although he has come to see the law as valuable, he was initially skeptical. “We thought the original writing of that bill was bad,” he said. “It made being a gang member a crime, and that flies in the face of the Constitution, in my mind. What’s to stop the Boy Scouts from being considered a gang?” Shortly after the STEP Act went into effect, The Los Angeles Times quoted an anonymous law-enforcement official expressing concern: “I realize that we have to do something, but when you have carte blanche, it’s difficult not to abuse it.”
A quarter of a century later, this point is still being raised. Manohar Raju, a lawyer who manages the felony unit at the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office, told me he has seen prosecutors’ use of gang enhancements go up in recent years. Young men and women are bundled into the broad category of “gang member” all the time, based on photos like the ones shown at Sebourn’s trial; based on their wearing this color or that one; based, essentially, on a misunderstanding of how difficult these neighborhoods really are for youth. “Posing in a picture, acting cool or acting tough can be a navigation strategy,” Raju said. “That may not mean they want problems; in fact, it may mean the opposite.”
According to Raju, weak cases can seem stronger when prosecutors introduce gang enhancements. Instead of concrete evidence related to the criminal charge, gang allegations permit prosecutors to introduce potentially inflammatory information that might otherwise be legally irrelevant. “Now we’re looking at: what did some other person do six months earlier or six years earlier,” Raju said. “Your client may not have anything to do with them, but they both have some connection to some name or symbol.” In other cases, the very threat of the gang enhancement can often be enough to persuade a defendant to accept a plea bargain. Given the lengthy sentences that can result, a trial might not be worth the risk.
Roughly 7 percent of California’s prison population, around 115,000 people, is serving extra time because of gang enhancements; given that the state has been ordered by the Supreme Court to reduce its prison overcrowding, this is hardly an insignificant figure. According to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, nearly half of those convicted with gang enhancements are serving an additional 10 years or more. Black and Latino inmates account for more than 90 percent of inmates with gang enhancements; fewer than 3 percent are white.
physorg | "If we want to understand why men are much more likely to perpetrate crimes than women, why offending peaks during late adolescence and early adulthood, and why crime is often related to the experience of social and economic disadvantage, then we need to consider the selection pressures faced by our species in ancestral environments," says Dr Durrant.
"Around 90 percent of homicides are perpetrated by males and most of those are directed against other males. We argue that humans largely follow a pattern of sexual selection similar to what we see in other mammalian species." He says this includes males competing for access to status and resources which in evolutionary terms would have led to increased reproductive success.
"It is important to recognise, however, that there is nothing inevitable about male violence—although risk-taking and fighting is one way that males obtain status, there are alternative routes that separate us from other mammals, such as demonstrating skills, valuable knowledge and prosocial behaviour," says Dr Durrant. "It would make sense, then, to focus on policies and programmes that enable males to pursue status through non-violent means."
Early social environments have a strong impact too, he says. Young children who are exposed to dangerous and unpredictable environments will adapt their behaviour rapidly in anticipation of an unsafe future. "This is a period where individuals will shift their behavioural strategy to one that involves more risk taking and competition," says Dr Durrant. "This makes early intervention crucial, in order to shift individuals along more pro-social pathways."
Although frequent media coverage of crime can tend to make us think that violent and antisocial behaviours are rife in society, humans are actually a remarkably cooperative and prosocial species, says Dr Durrant. This reflects a long evolutionary history of living in small groups where antisocial behaviour is punished by group members.
Saturday, May 30, 2015
hoskinsoncharles | From time to time, I enjoy investing an afternoon considering politics and the state of affairs here in the United States. Our country is the first hyperpower forcing all other nations to consider us in whatever policy happens to be the day's grock. This reality is divorced from ethical or moral metrics and the war on drugs is no different.
For whatever reason (religious, practical, dystopian, etc), policymakers in the United States have continuously decided to label a behavior or substance as dangerous to the social fabric™ of our society. Prohibition is the standard example and its spectacular failure is somehow forgotten. We saw and acknowledge the rise of the modern mafia. We saw the decentralized nature of resistance through bootleggers (some say one who's kid become president) and the FBI form to stop the bootleggers empowering J. Edgar Hoover to terrorize two generations of Americans via illegal spying and blackmail (including Martin Luther King). Yet why have no lessons been learned?
The war of drugs is a leviathan that has imprisoned millions of Americans (vastly disportionate for minorities), formed massive bureaucracies such as the DEA and their state equivalents, and like Hoover's FBI slowly transformed society to both militarize the police and make their actions somehow ok. Where in this process have we asked what the goal exactly is? Why are we as a country destroying families, imprisoning millions and treating addicts as hardened criminals? Why have we created an industry that robs us of our constitutional rights and turns our police force into something resembling the Stasi?
I honestly don't have a good answer. There is perhaps an historical context that could be explored and used to synthetically explain why we are somehow comfortable as a nation using a plato like ideal social fabric™ to justify incarcerating millions for non-violent crimes. Yet this leaves a putrid taste in my mouth.
renew patriot act with blanket application to all politicians, judges, flag officers and members of the senior executive service...,
firstlook | Even in the security-über alles climate that followed 9/11, the Patriot Act was recognized as an extreme and radical expansion of government surveillance powers. That’s why “sunset provisions” were attached to several of its key provisions: meaning they would expire automatically unless Congress renewed them every five years. But in 2005 and then again in 2010, the Bush and Obama administrations demanded their renewal, and Congress overwhelmingly complied with only token opposition from civil libertarians.
That has all changed in the post-Snowden era. The most controversial provisions of the Patriot Act are scheduled to “sunset” on June 1, and there is almost no chance for a straight-up, reform-free authorization. The Obama White House has endorsed the so-called “reform” bill called the USA Freedom Act, which passed the House by an overwhelming majority. Yet the bill fell three votes short in the Senate last week, rendering it very unclear what will happen as the deadline rapidly approaches.
Unlike many privacy and civil liberties groups, the ACLU has refrained from endorsing the USA Freedom Act and instead is advocating for allowing the Patriot Act provisions to sunset — i.e., to die a long overdue death rather than being “reformed.” Meanwhile, almost all of the 86 “no” votes in the House were based on the argument that the USA Freedom Act either does not go far enough in limiting the NSA or that it actually makes things worse.
I spoke yesterday with the ACLU’s Deputy Legal Director, Jameel Jaffer, about what is likely going to happen as the June 1 deadline approaches, whether the USA Freedom Act is a net positive for privacy supporters, and what all of this reform means for Edward Snowden’s status. The discussion is roughly 20 minutes and can be heard on the player below; a transcript is also provided.
Friday, May 29, 2015
yourdosage | To some extent, a bias to favor the self, where the self could be people who look like me, people who act like me, people who have the same taste as me, is a very strong human bias. It’s what one would expect from a creature like us who evolved from natural selection, but it has terrible consequences (3).
So, is the human’s inclination to form irrational biases an unavoidable biological characteristic of the human race? We are born with an innate ability to discriminate, and genocide is, it can logically be argued, a consequence of such biological predispositions. We identify a difference, say the varying width of a nose, and cling to those similar to ourselves while alienating the other group. In Rwanda, when Europeans introduced differing Rwandan “ethnicities” based on barely differing physical characteristics, the Rwandans were receptive. Why would a nation of people allow outsiders to introduce ideas that divide their society? It seems strange and a bit too simplistic to blame it solely on conformist values. Rwandans’ conformity played a large role in causing the genocide, but I also believe that it is human nature to discriminate. It is undeniable because as time goes on, genocide has not disappeared from society’s landscape. If there were not some biological cause, all types of discrimination would have disappeared years ago, as we would learn from our mistakes. Genocide’s continual occurrence in history can be attributed to the human desire to distinguish between “us and them” and an innate need to punish the different.
In Zistel’s “Remembering to Forget” she identifies “chosen amnesia” as a result of the Rwandan genocide. Chosen amnesia is the conscious decision of Rwandans, both Hutu and Tutsi, to forget the causes of the genocide. All too recent memories of war and genocide ware on the minds of all Rwandans, many of whom were soldiers and victims themselves; therefore, chosen amnesia seems to be the only “strategy to cope with living in proximity to ‘killers’ or ‘traitors’”(132). They must rely on each other regardless of Hutu of Tutsi affiliation because their home has been destroyed by war. In the wake of mass destruction and widespread death, it has become extremely difficult for any Rwandan to access necessary resources, such as food and water. Rwandans have indicated through their ability to conveniently “forget” the many crimes committed against humanity that their will to survive is stronger than the hatred contained in their hearts. The lingering problems plaguing Rwanda, such as trauma, depression, and HIV/AIDS, affect all Rwandans, not one specific group. As a result, putting differences aside is a necessary measure for the recovery and survival of Rwanda. Thus, the tensions leading up to the genocide were forgotten in hopes for peaceful coexistence. Although the intentions are ultimately good, chosen amnesia impairs Rwanda’s chances for full recovery and enables similar situations to arise in the future.
physorg | According to a longitudinal study following more than 1,000 homeless Australians and those at risk of homelessness, 42 percent of people released from prison, juvenile detention or remand in the past 6 months were found to be homeless.
The findings are presented in the Journeys Home Research Report No. 6, written by the Melbourne Institute and commissioned by the Department of Social Services.
Contributing report author Dr Julie Moschion from the University of Melbourne said that the study found that the longer the time spent in prison the longer the individual was likely to be homeless.
"The connections between prison time and homelessness suggest that there is a further role for policy makers to prevent the cycle between crime and homelessness," said Dr Moschion.
"We also found that rates of homelessness were higher for those who experienced physical and sexual violence."
Risky drinkers and those using illegal drugs like marijuana are more likely to be homeless and stay homeless for longer periods of time.
"Over the 30 month survey period, of those experiencing homelessness, 44 percent are in this situation for less than 6 months," said Dr Moschion.
Multiple spells of homelessness are also relatively common with 40 percent of those experiencing homelessness cycling in and out of homelessness.
On average, males were homeless for a larger proportion of the survey period (23%) than females were (13%). Family contact was also found to be important factor in preventing homelessness as well as assisting individuals out of homelessness.
The report found that rates of homelessness are also higher in areas with higher housing costs. Those who moved to areas with cheaper housing are more likely to exit homelessness.
The report includes three types of homelessness: those without conventional accommodation; those moving frequently between temporary accommodation and people staying in boarding houses on a medium to long-term basis.
Thursday, May 28, 2015
westhunt | Humans exhibit a diversity of strategy “choices” that are solutions to the allocation problem between mating and parenting. Males can devote most of their effort to mating effort, usually involving competition with other males. Male commitment to parenting effort is not common in mammals but there are familiar examples like beavers, coyotes, gibbons, and some humans. In the jargon the polar strategies of male mammals are called “cad” and “dad” strategies.
Females have a more restricted set of strategy choices because of their engineered commitment to parenting. At one extreme a human female can seek a dadly male who provides resources like food and protection to their joint offspring. At the other extreme, a human female can pay little or no attention to her mate choice, instead letting the guys work things out. In the jargon these female alternatives are called “coy” and “fast”.
You can find a more detailed account of this game between the human sexes works in a chapter of our book (that the editor discarded as “too academic”) on our website here. Briefly we are likely to find dad males/coy females in ecological situations where male labor and resources are critical for successful reproduction. Think of labor-intensive agriculture, European peasants and Asian farmers, as examples. In the United States in the past, “working class” meant stable mated pairs who together provisioned and cared for children. An archetype of working class in American television was Archie Bunker.
Social organization with cad males and fast females is found prominently among tropical gardeners where women provide most of the food for themselves and their children as well as for the men, who are often just parasites on the women. The euphemism in economics for these societies is “female farming systems”. These share many characteristics with our industrial “underclass” in which women have no ecological force pushing them into long term stable pair bonds.
Notice that in each of the above descriptions there are two hands clapping: in cad/fast social systems neither a coy female nor a dad male does very well while in dad/coy systems neither a fast females nor a cad male does very well. The two polar social types are deeply rooted in contemporary politics. The zany feminism of the 1980s (“a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle”) precisely advocated the cad/fast setup. Our religious right with its chatter about “the natural family” and “stable marriages” and the like pushes hard for a dad/coy world.
Back to our social engineers who know biology. They share a goal of a society in which dad males mate with coy females because children enjoy the care and security of a stable home and streets safe from gunfire. The new policy is simple: welfare payments are to be given only to males.
This policy would mimic, they think, the ecology of most dad/coy societies. How would this work out? In a new post we can imagine how the new policy can be modified when the engineers are given a sense of human decency and responsibility for human well being.
HuffPo | Without the video from the cases of Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and Walter Scott, these cases and many others would have gone uninvestigated and unnoticed; with many holding staunchly to the belief that whatever is written in a police report is fact. Still, even with these cases, large public outcry, and overwhelming evidence, there is still mistrust and demonization of the people decrying their treatment by law enforcement. The bias is so bad, in fact, that as opposed to doing further investigation into the claims of misconduct on a larger, more comprehensive scale, such as those seen in our video above, local law makers and states have attempted to curtail the filming of law enforcement that bolsters the claims.
That's right. Instead of admitting that the state of policing in this country is hugely problematic and working with communities to fully uncover depths of the problem, many are systematically working to cover up any trace that a problem exists. Some of the more notable attempts as of late:
· Just this March, Texas State Rep. Jason Villalba(R) tried to pass a law in Texas that would make it a class B misdemeanor to film police within 100 feet if they have their handgun out.
· In Missouri, State Senator Doug Libla opposed a bill that required police to wear body cameras. Instead, he proposed his own bill, that not only didn't require body cameras, but would have exempted all footage of police encounters from state open records laws.
· Twelve states have adopted what is known as a two party consent eavesdropping law that police have successfully used to confiscate and arrest anyone filming them on duty. These laws simply mean that if someone, including police, has "a reasonable expectation of privacy" when they are filmed, they have to give their consent to be recorded.
The problem, of course, is that public servants, such as police, should NOT have a reasonable expectation of privacy while performing their public duties, in public spaces, amongst the public. It IS punishable to interfere with an arrest or their work, as it should be. But if all protocol is being followed, filming should not be considered interference.
Luckily, the Supreme Court seems to agree that outlawing citizens' right to film is not constitutional. The First, Seventh, Ninth, and Eleventh Circuit Courts of Appeal and New Jersey have determined that forbidding the video and audio recording of police officers and public servants IS ILLEGAL under the First Amendment. SCOTUS refuses to hear the cases because they have ceded to these precedents set by the lower courts.
So why is this still an issue? Why are we still arguing and attempting to legislate something that has already been proven unconstitutional? Why was the man who filmed the arrest of Freddie Gray in Baltimore arrested, with no probable cause, along with countless others over the years?
We know that even if arrested and convicted of an eavesdropping law, few cases would ever hold up in appellate court. But that's not the point. The point is the mere THREAT of being put through the legal system is enough of an intimidation tactic to dissuade people from being brave and doing this civic duty. Not to mention that the legal process takes a ton of time. If in that time, the footage of police brutality can be inadmissible in, say, a homicide case, it was well worth the loss on appeal for that city government.
All of these tactics are tools in the politics of oppression; ways to keep control and disempower the average citizen. These are not laws about protecting the public or creating a more just society.
rollingstone | Broken Windows has left a major footprint on modern American society, primarily on the 65 million or so people who have criminal records in this country. That's a population roughly the size of France.
You can easily find the collateral damage from this vast illegal war on crime just by walking into certain neighborhoods and asking. From bad arrests to beatings to broken bones, there are enough horror stories to fill a thousand Ken Burns documentaries. But good luck finding any of that misconduct and abuse on an official record. What you mostly find when you search are a lot of convictions and a whole lot of statistical noise. The dirt, as it often is in this country, is mostly hidden away.
The real problem with Broken Windows is that it brings the same attitude to neighborhoods that corrections officers bring to prisons. "You have guys locked up for serious crimes, you're supposed to be controlling them," says Anthony Miranda. "But in neighborhoods, you're not supposed to be controlling people. You're supposed to be working with them. You're supposed to be serving them. And that attitude is what's missing."
As a former minority officer, Miranda says he and others like him are especially motivated to find solutions: "We're on both sides. We're in the force, but we also live in these neighborhoods. So we need to find an answer."
But the numbers game has rotted the police system to the point where it can't see the forest for the trees. "They don't see it," says Miranda. "They're too ignorant, and it's a shame."
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
nature | Groups of humans have always slaughtered those who belong to other groups. The twentieth century was shot through with numerous examples, from the genocides of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey and of Jews in Nazi Europe to the massacres of ethnic rivals in civil wars in Rwanda and Bosnia during the 1990s. Today, the fundamentalist group ISIS is spooking the world with its willingness to butcher others who do not adhere to its extremist form of Islam.
Attempts to understand such events tend to focus on political reasons. But a conference in Paris last month dared to ask a different question: how, biologically speaking, do normally non-violent and psychologically stable people overcome the instinctive human aversion to killing when faced with circumstances of war or extremism? What drives them to participate in acts of genocide? This is arguably the biggest challenge for interdisciplinary dialogue across the fields that consider brain and behaviour.
All human behaviours originate in the brain, which computes cognitive and emotional information to decide what to do. So what, precisely, happens in that organ at the moment that a person’s natural abhorrence of harming others is computed out of the equation?
The organizers of last month’s conference at the Paris Institute of Advanced Studies — ‘The Brains that Pull the Triggers’ — deserve credit for even posing this question. It goes against another human instinct: to consider evil in moral rather than biological terms, as if identifying a biological signature in the brain might somehow be exploited as an excuse to absolve a person of his or her responsibility.
Neuroscientists have studied the abnormal condition of psychopathy in addition to components of normal cognition — such as the recognition of emotions in the faces of others — that may have a bearing on the problem. And psychologists and sociologists have looked at the behaviour of ordinary individuals who identify themselves with particular groups and align their behaviour with that group.
thinkprogress | Murray has written a terrible book. It is at once credulous of fringe thinkers and contemptuous of American democracy. Yet he has also written a deeply revealing book about the nature of conservatism in the age of Obama. When President Ronald Reagan was in office, he spoke with the confidence of a man who believed that the American people were on his side. Reagan pledged to appoint judges who support “judicial restraint,” a testament to Reagan’s belief that he did not need the unelected judiciary to enact conservative policies, and his administration’s understanding of the Constitution was decidedly moderate when compared to the ideas of men such as Barnett, Epstein and Greve.
Since then, however, the Republican Party has lost Reagan’s self-confidence. Instead, they reflexively turn to the judiciary when they are unable to win battles on health care, immigration, the environment, or a myriad of other issues. Democracy, as McConnell said in 2011, no longer works to give conservatives what they want.
Yet this strategy has yielded only mixed success. The Supreme Court rendered a key prong of Obamacare optional, but they kept the bulk of the law in place. Religious objectors enjoy a right to opt-out of federal birth control rules, but the rules still bind most employers. A high-profile Supreme Court attack on the Environmental Protection Agency barely ended with a whimper. Republicans dominate the Supreme Court, but these justices do sometimes temper their Republicanism with obedience to the law and the Constitution.
By The People, by contrast, bypasses the law entirely. It abandons even the trappings of a legitimate constitutional process, and instead places government in the hands of billionaires loyal only to an anti-government agenda. It is, in many ways, the perfection of post-Obama conservatism, barely even bothering to pay lip service to the notion that the American people should be governed by the people they elect.
But By The People is also more than an unintentional indictment of conservatism, it’s also a warning for liberals. In a 1993 tribute to the late Justice Thurgood Marshall, future Justice Elena Kagan wrote about a case, Torres v. Oakland Scavenger Co., that came before the Court during her year clerking for the legendary civil rights advocate. The case involved whether an employment discrimination suit would fail because a lawyer’s secretary accidentally omitted the name of one of the plaintiffs from a court filing. Kagan and her fellow clerks pleaded with Marshall to say that this accident was not fatal, but Marshall refused, citing the essential role that obedience to legal rules play in protecting the least fortunate:
The Justice referred in our conversation to his own years of trying civil rights claims. All you could hope for, he remarked, was that a court didn’t rule against you for illegitimate reasons; you couldn’t hope, and you had no right to expect, that a court would bend the rules in your favor. Indeed, the Justice continued, it was the very existence of rules — along with the judiciary’s felt obligation to adhere to them — that best protected unpopular parties. Contrary to some conservative critiques, Justice Marshall believed devoutly — believed in a near-mystical sense — in the rule of law. He had no trouble writing the Torres opinion.
Men and women who seek to lift up the poor and the downtrodden, in other words, must rely on the law to do so. And this very enterprise depends on the law itself being afforded deference and legitimacy by officials who would rather disregard it. Meanwhile, men and women such as Murray, who wish to shield the already powerful from the forces of government, may do so either by making the law more favorable to the most fortunate or by tearing down the institution of law itself. In a state of nature, the strong man always eats first.
This is why liberalism is an inherently more challenging project than conservatism. Liberals must constantly fight a two-front war — supporting laws that extend opportunity broadly while simultaneously recognizing the legitimacy of many laws that undermine this goal. Charles Murray, meanwhile, can work within the edifices of government or he can simply decide to tear the entire edifice down.
historynewsnetwork | It has a dreary name: "On the tail risk of violent conflict and its underestimation." But this new paper by social scientists Pasquale Cirillo and Nassim Nicholas Taleb could rewrite the history of violence.
It takes direct aim at the thesis of Harvard evolutionary psychologist Steven Pinker in the 2011 bestseller, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined. The paper's already making waves. On his Twitter page Harvard's Niall Ferguson calls it "hugely important."
In the paper Taleb, the author of The Black Swan, the blockbuster book that alerted economists to the importance of unexpected events, argues that "Violence is much more severe than it seems from conventional analyses and the prevailing 'long peace' theory which claims that violence has declined."
Contrary to current discussions, all statistical pictures thus obtained show that 1) the risk of violent conflict has not been decreasing, but is rather underestimated by techniques relying on naive year-on-year changes in the mean, or using sample mean as an estimator of the true mean of an extremely fat-tailed phenomenon; 2) armed conflicts have memoryless inter-arrival times, thus incompatible with the idea of a time trend. Our analysis uses 1) raw data, as recorded and estimated by historians; 2) a naive transformation, used by certain historians and sociologists, which rescales past conflicts and casualties with respect to the actual population; 3) more importantly, a log transformation to account for the fact that the number of casualties in a conflict cannot be larger than the world population.
The authors base their article on the methods of extreme value theory.
alternet | Mega-family superstar, Josh Duggar, has resigned his position as lobbyist for the Family Research Council after In Touch Magazine published a police report confirming that JimBob and Michelle Duggar of TLC’s “19 Kids and Counting” fame’s oldest son confessed to molesting several female minors in 2002 - 2003.
According to the 2006 police report, Duggar family patriarch, JimBob actively covered up Josh’s confession and neglected to notify authorities or provide professional help for Josh and/or his victims. To make matters worse, Josh’s pregnant wife, Anna Duggar, believes her husband is a changed man and continues - along with the couple’s three young children - to live with an admitted child sex offender. And to top it all off, the Duggar family publicly declared that God used the tragic situation to draw their family closer to Him.
Jesus Friggin’ Christ, what a mess! As a former Quiverfull believer, I recognize in this Duggar family debacle several essential beliefs which are widely held amongst fundamentalist Christians which shackle True Believer’s™ common sense to an outdated and irrelevant god-myth and seriously impair their ability to make sound moral choices.
JimBob and Michelle Duggar live in a fantasy world of their own making, and they believe that, just like in the fairy tales, they all will live happily ever after. While confessing to not being a perfect family, and admitting their family faces challenges and struggles every day, the Duggars are convinced “that dark and difficult time caused [the family] to seek God like never before,” which in their minds, means the molestation really wasn’t so bad, and in fact, has turned out to be a kind of blessing in disguise since each one of them “drew closer to God,” as a result of “something so terrible.”
According to the “eternally happy ending” story which the Duggars are telling themselves, the little girls whom Josh allegedly groped and fondled are not victims or even survivors of sexual abuse, but are instead equated with the “highly favored” Old Testament Joseph whose brothers sold him into slavery: What Satan meant for evil, God used for good.
Suffering in this life is insignificant - even trifling - compared to the faith-strengthening and soul-saving purpose of trials which will be richly rewarded with eternal life in Heaven … so praise the fucking Lord for whatever misery He sends to you and your children.
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
agingrebel | The unnamed Cossack’s account is layered with and given the same credibility as ludicrous statements made by Waco police spokesman W. Patrick Swanton. The Post also has discovered the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives report, “OMGs and the Military 2014,” which was published last July 1 and first reported here last July 11. The Bandidos are mentioned 26 times in the report. The Cossacks are not mentioned once. The Iron Order, the “law abiding motorcycle club” is mentioned eight times. The Post uses the ATF report to substantiate a claim by the Waco police that “the Bandidos, the most notorious biker gang in Texas,” are arming themselves “with grenades and C4 explosives.” Not some Bandidos but “the Bandidos.”
The Post’s story raises at least as many questions as it answers.
For example, the Post states that two large packs of outlaw bikers travelled to Waco. The Post says there were 70 Cossacks and 100 Bandidos but it neglects to mention how many Texas Highway Patrol cruisers and how many Texas Department of Public Safety helicopters followed the packs. Anyone who has ever ridden in a large pack probably has the same question. Where were the helicopters? Where were the police who followed the big packs into the Central Texas Market Place shopping center?
According to the Post, the Bandidos made a disturbance at and shot up their own event. Whether the Bandidos is the preeminent club in Texas or not, the club thinks it is. The COCI meeting had at least the tacit approval of the Bandidos and most one percenter motorcycle clubs in the world, when placed in a similar situation, would assume responsibility for keeping the event violence free.
According to the Post: “A Bandido with a patch identifying him as sergeant-at-arms of the same chapter threw a punch at Richard Matthew Jordan II, 31, known as ‘Richie,’ who was from Pasadena, Tex. Jordan punched the guy back. ‘“At that point in time, the sergeant in arms shot Richie point-blank,’ the Cossack said.”
Really? In front of at least 22 sworn peace officers? In broad daylight? In a location that was obviously well-surveilled by video cameras?
“Then all the Bandidos standing in the parking lot started pulling guns and shooting at us,” the Cossack chapter president told the Post. Really? Without a thought to what their legal defense would be? In broad daylight in front of numerous police?
The anonymous Cossack told the Post, “Three of our guys went down instantly. They caught a couple more that tripped and fell, and Bandidos were shooting at them.” In other words, the police stood and watched as Bandidos executed five Cossacks? Does that pass the smell test?
Presumably, the Post verified that its anonymous source was actually a Cossack club officer and an eyewitness. But it is unclear how he escaped and it is equally unclear how and why he started talking to a freelance writer named Tim Madigan.
The Post’s story reads like a federal racketeering indictment so the biggest question of all is whether the source is working for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Has he been debriefed by the ATF? Is he under arrest now? Is he working for the government now? Was he working for the government eight days ago? Why is this man talking?
guardian | Every day, indigent Americans are ripped from their homes and their communities and forced into jails of varying degrees of dysfunction and decay. The US supreme court ruled three decades ago that it is unconstitutional to imprison people because they cannot afford to pay debts. The ruling, however, hasn’t ended the practice of jailing people for unpaid government fees and fines.
In 2010, the ACLU found that courts across the nation regularly deny Americans proper consideration of their financial position and throw them into jail over fines they could never hope to pay. As a result, local jails nationwide have transformed into modern-day “debtors’ prisons” overcrowded with indigent people whose only punishable offense is being poor. The effects are devastating.
This growing phenomenon funnels poor Americans into the criminal justice system with sentences that disrupt their lives, too often trapping them in a damning cycle of poverty and incarceration that far outlasts their initial conviction. These practices have a disparate impact on communities of color in the United States.
Consider 19-year-old Kevin Thompson, a black teenager in DeKalb County, Georgia, who was jailed simply because he was unable to pay $838 in fines and fees associated with a routine traffic citation. Though only half of DeKalb County’s residents are black, nearly all probationers jailed for failure to pay by its recorders court, which handles minor offenses like traffic misdemeanors, are black. The ACLU filed a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of Mr Thompson and reached a settlement with the county that included a number of new reform measures aimed at preventing others from facing the same unconstitutional treatment.
Jail sentences like those imposed on Mr Thompson and Mr Staten aren’t just unjust – they’re also costly. The ACLU’s 2010 report In for a Penny found that individuals incarcerated for failure to pay often cost the state more than they owe. The report identifies one individual whose incarceration in New Orleans cost more than six times his $498 debt. So why are we stuck with this senseless system?
NYTimes | Illinois is facing one of the worst fiscal crises of any state in recent decades, largely because it has mismanaged its pension system.
The shortfalls could potentially mean sharply higher taxes and cuts in spending. And even though the state’s highest court just this month threw out a landmark plan to cut worker and retiree benefits, some lawmakers say they may have to find another way to make those reductions as well.
Illinois’s problems resonate well beyond its borders. Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Kentucky are among the states confronting similar problems, and to them, Illinois is a model of what can go wrong — with political intransigence, mounting costs and a complicated legal terrain.
The state faces a range of problems. Illinois has one of the worst-funded pension systems in the nation. Chicago also has a pension crisis, leading Moody’s Investors Service to downgrade its credit rating to junk status on May 12, potentially threatening the city’s ability to borrow.
And the state faces an expected budget deficit of $6 billion, which it needs to address quickly. With just days before a legislative deadline, the new Republican governor, who ran on cutting costs and holding down taxes, is at odds with Democrats who hold a veto-proof supermajority in the legislature.
“Really, it’s not a clear road map at this point,” the governor, Bruce Rauner, said of solving the pension crisis.
“We have to make big decisions,” Mr. Rauner told reporters. “The state is in dire financial straits. Chicago is in big, big challenges. And everybody’s a little bit on edge.”
Monday, May 25, 2015
reuters | Nash was awarded the Nobel Prize for economics in 1994 for his work on game theory and the mathematics of decision-making.
The film "A Beautiful Mind" was loosely based on his battle with schizophrenia.
Nash received his Ph.D. from Princeton in 1950 and spent much of his career there and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
He began experiencing what he described as "mental disturbances" in 1959 after marrying Alicia, a MIT physics major who was then pregnant, according to his biography on the Nobel Prize website.
"I was disturbed in this way for a very long period of time, like 25 years," Nash said in a 2004 video interview on the Nobel website.
He stressed that his was an unusual case, as he was able eventually stop taking medication and return to normal activities and his research.
The 2001 movie represented an "artistic" take on his experience, giving insight into mental illness but not accurately portraying the nature of his delusions, Nash said in the interview.
"John's remarkable achievements inspired generations of mathematicians, economists and scientists who were influenced by his brilliant, groundbreaking work in game theory," Princeton University President Christopher Eisgruber said in a statement.
"The story of his life with Alicia moved millions of readers and moviegoers who marveled at their courage in the face of daunting challenges," he added.
Nash and his wife were living in Princeton Junction, New Jersey, New Jersey police said.
wikipedia | Evolutionary game theory (EGT) is the application of game theory to evolving populations of lifeforms in biology. EGT is useful in this context by defining a framework of contests, strategies, and analytics into which Darwinian competition can be modelled. EGT originated in 1973 with John Maynard Smith and George R. Price's formalisation of the way in which such contests can be analysed as "strategies" and the mathematical criteria that can be used to predict the resulting prevalence of such competing strategies.
Evolutionary game theory differs from classical game theory by focusing more on the dynamics of strategy change as influenced not solely by the quality of the various competing strategies, but by the effect of the frequency with which those various competing strategies are found in the population.
Evolutionary game theory has proven itself to be invaluable in helping to explain many complex and challenging aspects of biology. It has been particularly helpful in establishing the basis of altruistic behaviours within the context of Darwinian process. Despite its origin and original purpose, evolutionary game theory has become of increasing interest to economists, sociologists, anthropologists, and philosophers.
The most classic game (and Maynard Smith's starting point) is the Hawk Dove game. The game was conceived to analyse the animal contest problem highlighted by Lorenz and Tinbergen. It is a contest over a non-shareable resource. The contestants can be either a Hawk or a Dove. These are not two separate species of bird; they are two subtypes of one species with two different types of strategy (two different morphs). The term Hawk Dove was coined by Maynard Smith because he did his work during the Vietnam War when political views fell into one of these two camps. The strategy of the Hawk (a fighter strategy) is to first display aggression, then escalate into a fight until he either wins or is injured. The strategy of the Dove (fight avoider) is to first display aggression but if faced with major escalation by an opponent to run for safety. If not faced with this level of escalation the Dove will attempt to share the resource.
|meets Hawk||meets Dove|
|if Hawk||V/2 - C/2||V|
Given that the resource is given the value V, the damage from losing a fight is given cost C:
- If a Hawk meets a Dove he gets the full resource V to himself
- If a Hawk meets a Hawk – half the time he wins, half the time he loses…so his average outcome is then V/2 minus C/2
- If a Dove meets a Hawk he will back off and get nothing - 0
- If a Dove meets a Dove both share the resource and get V/2
The actual payoff however depends on the probability of meeting a Hawk or Dove, which in turn is a representation of the percentage of Hawks and Doves in the population when a particular contest takes place. But that population makeup in turn is determined by the results of all of the previous contests before the present contest- it is a continuous iterative process where the resultant population of the previous contest becomes the input population to the next contest. If the cost of losing C is greater than the value of winning V (the normal situation in the natural world) the mathematics ends in an ESS – an evolutionarily stable strategy situation having a mix of the two strategies where the population of Hawks is V/C. The population will progress back to this equilibrium point if any new Hawks or Doves make a temporary perturbation in the population. The solution of the Hawk Dove Game explains why most animal contests involve only “ritual fighting behaviours” in contests rather than outright battles. The result does not at all depend on “good of the species” behaviours as suggested by Lorenz, but solely on the implication of actions of “selfish genes”.
Sunday, May 24, 2015
WaPo | Richie was the first to die, then Diesel, then Dog.
Whatever else they were in life, the men with the biker nicknames were Cossacks, loud and proud and riders in a Texas motorcycle gang. And that’s what got them killed, shot to death in a brawl with a rival gang in the parking lot of a Texas “breastaurant” that advertised hot waitresses and cold beer.
“I saw the first three of our guys fall, and we started running,” said their brother in arms, another Cossack, who said he was there May 17 when the shooting started at the Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco. Nine bikers died, 18 were wounded and more than 170 landed in jail.
The Cossack, president of a North Texas chapter of the motorcycle gang, asked not to be identified because he is now in hiding and said he fears for his life. He is a rare eyewitness speaking publicly about the Waco massacre, one of the worst eruptions of biker-gang violence in U.S. history.
The bulletin warns that Bandidos who serve in the U.S. military may be “supplying the gang with grenades and C4 explosives” to target officials and their families with car bombs, the network reported.
A spokesman for the Waco police, Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton, said police had received an increasing number of threats in recent days. “We are taking the necessary precautions,” he said.
U.S. military ties to the Bandidos and other biker gangs were detailed in a U.S. Justice Department report published last year that concluded the gangs were using “active-duty military personnel and U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) contractors and employees to spread their tentacles across the United States.”
The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives study, first reported by the Intercept, concludes that biker gangs have recruited scores of employees of federal, state and local governments, police and firefighters, National Guardsmen and reservists, some of them with government security clearances, to help them “maim and murder” in support of their “insatiable appetite for dominance.”
despite being exponentially more violent than prison gangs or street gangs most bikers aren't murderous drug running kingpins...,
DallasMorningNews | Harold Pollack is co-director of the University of Chicago Crime Lab and an expert on gangs and guns. Just as important, he lives in a city where urban violence is so entrenched that Mayor Rahm Emanuel began his second term Monday with a speech warning that the city may lose an entire generation of children to gang violence.
So how would Pollack compare outlaw motorcycle gangs, like those that got into a gun battle Sunday in Waco, with urban street gangs, such as those that commit terror in Chicago? Here’s his take, courtesy of The Marshall Project:
#1 The number of perps involved in the Waco shootout – not to mention the nine deaths – far exceeds the typical urban gang-related shooting. “I have never encountered a gang incident in Chicago remotely like this.”
#2 Urban gangs and their criminal organizations rarely get into gun battles with police.
#3 Outlaw biker gangs are rarely found in big media centers. Given our expectations regarding race and geographic location of people who perpetrate crime, biker gangs are perceived as more “curiosity” than threat. That must change.
#4 100 weapons at one crime scene is absolutely remarkable.
#5 Biker gangs have far-flung connections, particularly in South and Central America.
Money quote: “If these biker gang members were non-white, I think this would cause a national freakout.”
My take: Outlaw biker gangs are homegrown terrorists. That doesn’t mean everyone who walked into that Twin Peaks Sunday is an outlaw or a homegrown terrorist. But those who weren’t should be charged with stupidity for associating with bikers who clearly are.
Saturday, May 23, 2015
thenation | the US bombed Cambodia, a sovereign nation Washington was not at war with, from 1965 to 1973. When Nixon and Kissinger entered the White House in early 1969, they greatly intensified (in terms of bombing rate and amount of munitions dropped) and expanded (in terms of extent of territory targeted) the air assault. They did so both because Cambodia reportedly housed the headquarters of the National Liberation Front and because they wanted to send a message to Hanoi that Nixon was “mad” and unpredictable. Between 1969 and 1973, the US dropped at least 500,000 tons of bombs on Cambodia, killing over 100,000 Khmer civilians, according to Ben Kiernan, the founding director of Yale’s Cambodian Genocide Program. Broadly speaking, Nixon’s and Kissinger’s Cambodia bombing comprised two named operations. The first, Operation Menu, ran from March 18, 1969, to May 1970. The second, Operation Freedom Deal, ran from May 1970 to August 1973. Menu was the phase that was most secret, carried out with the deception protocol put into place by Kissinger. Freedom was less covert, justified by requests for support from the Cambodian government to fight the growing insurgency. Still, the extent and intensity of Freedom Deal was under-reported in the US press, which was often fed confusing and mixed messages by the administration.
It wasn’t until 1973 that Congress and journalists began to investigate Operation Menu, around the same moment that the Watergate scandal was unfolding. At the time, some members of Congress were “convinced that the secret bombing of Cambodia will emerge as another, perhaps more dangerous, facet of the Watergate scandal,” as Hersh, then a New York Times reporter, wrote in July of that year.
But investigators couldn’t identify the person (it was Kissinger) in Nixon’s staff that presided over the cover-up nor find the link (Sitton) connecting the conspiracy to the White House. “Who ordered the falsification of the records?” one senator asked General Creighton Abrams, the commander of military operations in Vietnam. “I just do not know,” he answered.
Hersh didn’t give up. Nixon resigned, Ford finished his term, and Kissinger left office in 1977 having largely escaped association with Watergate. Compared to the preverbal thuggery of the rest of Nixon’s inner circle—Haldeman, Ehrlichman, Mitchell—not to mention actual thugs like G. Gordon Liddy, Kissinger’s reputation was intact: “prodigiously intelligent, articulate, talented, witty, captivating and imposing man…. he is not mean-spirited, he seems drawn to telling the truth, and he wants to serve his country well. He also appears to have a historical vision,” as none other than The New Yorker’s William Shawn wrote (in 1973).
Hersh, though, kept digging, researching a book that still remains the defining portrait of Kissinger. As Colonel Sitton, recalling his encounter with Hersh, said: Hersh “was so upset with Kissinger’s first book he had decided to write an exposé, a counter if you will.” Sitton here is referring to Kissinger’s The White House Years. Published in 1979, that first volume of Kissinger’s memoirs won the National Book Award for history. Today, most honest historians would place it in the category of fantasy. In it, Kissinger devotes, as he does in nearly every subsequent book he’s written, a good many pages distorting the catastrophe he helped visit on Cambodia.
Hersh “countered” in 1983 with The Price of Power: Kissinger in the Nixon White House. An “authorized” biography of Kissinger will be out soon, but Hersh’s Kissinger is still the one to top. He gives us the defining portrait of the man as a preening paranoid, tacking between ruthlessness and sycophancy to advance his career, cursing his fate and letting fly the B-52s. Small in his vanities and shabby in his motives, Kissinger, in Hersh’s hands, is nonetheless Shakespearean, because the pettiness gets played out on a world stage with epic consequences. The Price of Power covers all of Kissinger’s many transgressions—from Bangladesh to Chile, from wiretapping his own staff to giving Suharto the greenlight to invade Timor.
But the secret bombing of Cambodia is the book’s centerpiece, fueling the paranoia that drives Nixon’s downfall.
doj | Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs (OMGs) are organizations whose members use their motorcycle clubs as conduits for criminal enterprises. OMGs are highly structured criminal organizations whose members engage in criminal activities such as violent crime, weapons trafficking, and drug trafficking. There are more than 300 active OMGs within the United States, ranging in size from single chapters with five or six members to hundreds of chapters with thousands of members worldwide. The Hells Angels, Mongols, Bandidos, Outlaws, and Sons of Silence pose a serious national domestic threat and conduct the majority of criminal activity linked to OMGs, especially activity relating to drug-trafficking and, more specifically, to cross-border drug smuggling. Because of their transnational scope, these OMGs are able to coordinate drug smuggling operations in partnership with major international drug-trafficking organizations (DTOs).
Dale sent me a link to some interesting pictures on Thursday, pictures that I think may have had something to do with my little epiphany about the nature of the thugs and the peculiar parasitic outlaw subculture quietly tolerated in our midst. The characters mugging in this picture are not in fact samurai, as much as the characters dressing up in leathers and riding around on Harley Davidson motorcycles are not in fact warriors. These are peasants dressed-up and posed in found armor - you can see it in their faces as well as in the unsheathed steel slung across the 2nd from the left's shoulder.
My introduction to Edo culture was as romanticized and artificial as it could be, coming from a teenage encounter with the book Shogun compounded and instantiated by the presence of a genuine Japanese martial arts studio on the outskirts of my neighborhood that preserved, highlighted, and sought to faithfully transmit a cultural and religious ethos embodied - at least in part - in the warrior's arts. Better to watch the period series Zatoichi and be reminded how bleak, predatory, brutal and crimey every installment was inclined to be, and to remember that there was a reason that the samurai put aside their old and lethal religion and imposed the Meiji restoration upon Japan.
angels, bandidos, outlaws, and pagans: the evolution of organized crime among the big four 1% motorcycle clubs
angelo.edu | This paper outlines the evolution of the Big Four one percent motorcycle clubs—Hell’s Angels, Bandidos, Outlaws, and Pagans—from near-groups to well-organized criminal confederations. The insights of criminological theory unify a variety of journalistic and scientic sources into a holistic picture of the development of these organizations. The interaction of members’ psychological needs with group dynamics and mainstream social forces lead to periods of expansion as core values shift to emphasize dominance over rivals. The resulting interclub tensions encourage the creation of organized criminal enterprises but also attract police attention. Internecine rivalries were eventually subordinated to these enterprises as their profit potential was recognized and intergroup warfare took its toll. Core biker values were reasserted as certain aspects of club operation became less countercultural in order to assure the future of the subculture and its basic components.
Friday, May 22, 2015
DallasNews | The real name for this is mindless, idiot violence. The correct term for the people involved is criminals so stupid they shot and stabbed one another in a chain-store shopping center where ordinary citizens go to eat lunch, browse sporting goods, shop for sofas.
“Thug” might be a little too smart for this bunch. And while we’re at it, “biker” and “outlaw” may be a little too romantic.
Los Angeles writer Donald Charles Davis, who blogs about the “1 percenter lifestyle” under the pseudonym “The Aging Rebel,” elegantly describes gang-affiliated bikers as “brotherhoods of men who have left themselves no choice but to stand apart from the world at large.”
Oh, those daring outlaws, the ghostly remnants of a manly frontier spirit that “stands apart” from a culture made soft by iPads and wine tastings and women who talk back. TV and Hunter S. Thompson-addled journalists have turned “MC clubs” into the last of the Marlboro men.
Except they’re not. Take away the motorcycles and the vests (“cuts”) and the hieroglyphic patches and you have your basic gang-banger. A thug. A dum-dum so besotted by his own sense of “badness” that he’ll shoot someone over some perceived act of “disrespect” — walking into the wrong bar, wearing the wrong color, sporting the wrong patch.
Sure, you can call that “bad.” You can also call it “dangerously stupid.”
“These guys become very violent to each other very quickly over nothing,” said McClennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara. “Very quickly over nothing” is a woefully inadequate reason for a broken jaw or a knife in the gut or a gunshot to the head.
Davis (“Aging Rebel”) is a gifted writer, but if you read some of the 1 percenter comments to his blog post about the Waco shootings, you’ll find something scary but drearily familiar.
You’ll find the contemporary flavor of bunker-brained craziness that’s poisoning everyday culture: vicious hatred of government, contempt for ordinary citizens (“sheeple”), manic belief in elaborate conspiracy theories.
One online scenario that’s floating around the Waco shootings is this: Law enforcement orchestrated the Sunday killings, sending undercover cops disguised as bikers into the bar to start a fight. Once the fight spilled outside, SWAT teams opened fire, deliberately slaughtering members of the brave brotherhood who dare to stand apart.
That’s a level of paranoid delusion I find a lot more alarming than an academic debate over who we can or can’t call a “thug.”
Time | “Motorcycle clubs are function of military service, period,” declares William Dulaney, who is both national president of Hell on Wheels Motorcycle Club and a professor of organizational communication at Air University, located on Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama. “Chain of command is very strictly adhered to. Its’ about identity for a group of people who, outside this social structure, don’t have much identity. You’re talking about a core identity to a bunch of warriors.”
And yet, even as Harley sales soared and weekend warriors, known derisively by outlaw clubs as RUBs, or rich urban bikers, crowded highways, the clubs that started it all lost a lot of their juice. “Back in the ’80s, or like 1995, dude, gangland, no doubt about it,” Dulaney says. “But those days are gone. ” Federal RICO prosecutions and other law enforcement efforts have dramatically reduced the criminal threat level from outlaw groups, as perhaps has aging. Dulaney now numbers himself among the older generation, and understands the violence in Waco as a problem of kids these days.
“They don’t have years and years if not decades in the subculture, understanding that there is hierarchy,” he says. Young bucks may enjoy the swagger of wearing a leather vest, but they fail to respect the full import of the patches, or “colors,” sewn on the back, he says. The diamond-shaped patch reading “1%” denotes the wearer as a member of the outlaw elite. And the place name — “Texas” — sewn at the base of the vest in the embroidered crescent bikers call the bottom rocker, announces more than a claim on turf.
“The way to understand the bottom rocker, with 1 percenters, is it’s territory, yeah, but it’s responsibility,” Dulaney says. “Because they have responsibility to enforce peaceful coexistence in that area. Because if they don’t, law enforcement will come in and be all over you.”
NYTimes | In much of Brazil, proponents of harsh policing tactics are growing stronger.
Responding to widespread fears in a crime-weary country with more homicides than any other — 50,108 in 2012, according to the United Nations — conservative politicians with law enforcement backgrounds and tough talk on crime collected huge vote counts in recent state and federal elections, bolstering what is often called Brazil’s “bullet caucus” in Congress.
Some bullet caucus members openly celebrate the number of people they killed while patrolling the streets. One rising political star, Paulo Telhada, boasted of killing more than 30 people as a police officer in São Paulo, saying in a recent interview he felt “no pity for thugs.”
“There are parts of the middle class that accept killings by the police as a legitimate practice,” said Ivan C. Marques, director of Instituto Sou da Paz, a group that tracks police issues.
In the state of Rio alone, the police killed at least 563 people in 2014, a 35 percent increase from the year before, according to the state’s Institute of Public Security.
That is significantly more than the F.B.I. recorded for the entire United States, which has a population about 20 times as large as that of Rio State.
Researchers say the reasons for the large numbers of police killings are varied. To begin with, poorly trained and poorly paid police forces in crime-plagued slums are often imbued with a shoot-first instinct stemming from a mixture of fear, paranoia and a sense of impunity.
Some elite units, like the Police Special Operations Battalion in Rio, openly advertise, and even glorify, their lethality. The unit’s symbol is a skull and crossed pistols.
But analysts say such squads are merely the sharp end of larger policing systems in which criminals, or people perceived to be criminals, are considered undesirable elements who cannot be reformed.
As drug gangs control many prisons in Brazil, arresting criminals and sending them to jail is viewed by some police officers as feeding the growth of crime, not reducing it.
Many cases involving the police are registered as “resistance killings” or “deaths in police confrontation,” though rights groups say that the episodes often amount to summary executions.