David Kirkpatrick

October 14, 2009

If the Large Hadron Collider worries you …

… just hit this link for a status report.

(Hat tip: Hit & Run)

May 1, 2009

Rogue narcs in Philly

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:59 pm

IF you haven’t been following this story — Reason has been doing a bang-up job on that front — it’s worth the time to hit the link and get all the sordid details. Dirty cops and one more black mark against the war on drugs.

The real question is there will always be bad cops and even entire bad law enforcement units, but where was the oversight? That’s the question Radley Balko asks in this post.

From the link:

Previously (here and here), I blogged about a rogue narcotics unit in Philadelphia that was raiding bodegas on the flimsy excuse that the stores were selling resealable zip-lock bags that could potentially be used by drug dealers. Bodega owners say the cops were cutting the lines to surveillance cameras, then stealing cash, alcohol, cigarettes, and snack food from the stores. The Philadelphia Daily News was able to obtain footage of the cops cutting off one of the cameras during a raid, then inquiring to the store owner about whether the camera feeds went to a computer that was on or off-site.

The lingering question, here, is how this unit was able to operate like this for so long without any oversight. Why wasn’t anyone questioning the use of such aggressive tactics in searches not for drugs, but for no more than an otherwise legal product? Why did no one in the department ask why an “elite” narcotics unit was wasting its time busting immigrant shop owners with no criminal record for selling plastic bags instead of pursuing actual drug distributors?

It’s one thing to have a few rogue cops that, once caught, are fired and—hopefully—criminally charged. It’s a more wide-ranging and serious problem if there are institutional failures in the Philadelphia police department that allowed Officer Jeffrey Cujdic’s scam of terrorizing immigrant shop owners to flourish.

Now, the Daily News has published the results of its review of the search warrants obtained by Cujdik’s unit over the last several years, and the results are troubling. They find a wholesale lack of supervision of Cujdik and his men, even as complaints against them mounted.

April 14, 2009

An update on the war on drugs

Filed under: et.al., Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 6:17 pm

Yep, it’s been totally worth the cost to U.S. culture, social fabric and simple dollars.

Oh wait, not so much.

My apologies to Katherine Mangu-Ward blogging at Hit & Run for reproducing her entire post. It’s short and says everything I would. If you don’t read Reason.com and like the idea of free markets and free minds it’s worth your time to check in on a regular basis.

Katherine’s post:

The prices of hard drugs like heroin and cocaine have been declining for two decades, despite billions of drug war dollars spent to restrict supply. Then there’s this headline today on CNN.com:

Heroin cheaper than six-pack of beer

Don’t worry though. The drug war is totally working.

Via Best of the Web

December 18, 2008

Anti death penalty message from outgoing Mississippi judge

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 10:46 pm

Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Oliver Diaz, Jr., lost his re-election bid this year and soundly berated the death penalty, particularly how it is administered in Mississippi in his final death penalty opinion.

From the Hit & Run link:

Diaz has also seen the criminal justice system from the other side. During his term he was twice tried—and twice acquitted—in federal court of taking bribes, charges critics have said were politically motivated, and part of the Bush administration’s politicization of the Justice Department.  He lost his bid for reelection last November.

Mississippi actually has been surprisingly slow in executing people off Parchman Penitentiary’s death row.  But it’s not for a lack of trying.  The state has been repeatedly rebuked by the federal courts for adopting illegal jury instructions, providing insufficient and underpaid public defenders (by state law, they can receive no more than $1,000 per case), and other inadequate protections in death penalty cases. I suspect (and hope) we’ll also soon see the federal courts sending scores more cases back for a new trial because of the improper testimony Dr. Hayne and Dr. Michael West.

Reason’s Radley Balko perfectly sums up my exact thoughts on the death penalty:

I’m opposed to the death penalty not because I don’t think there are some crimes so heinous that they merit death as a punishment.  I’m opposed to it because I don’t think the government is capable of administering it fairly, competently, and with adequate protections to prevent the execution of an innocent person.

March 20, 2008

One more on Obama’s race speech

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:13 am

I totally agree with Reason’s Jesse Walker. This is the core element of the speech.

 From the link:

This morning Obama delivered a speech on the subject. It goes on endlessly, as his speeches often do, but it makes the essential, obvious point:

As imperfect as he may be, [Wright] has been like family to me. He strengthened my faith, officiated my wedding, and baptized my children. Not once in my conversations with him have I heard him talk about any ethnic group in derogatory terms, or treat whites with whom he interacted with anything but courtesy and respect. He contains within him the contradictions — the good and the bad — of the community that he has served diligently for so many years.

I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother — a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.

These people are a part of me. And they are a part of America, this country that I love.

I guess you either understand this instinctively or you don’t. And then, of course, there are the people who understand it but will continue to pretend they don’t, the better to smear Obama as a secret jihadist, Weatherman, or Farrakhanite.

Parts one here and two here.

March 1, 2008

The RIAA is really looking out for the artist

Filed under: Arts, Business, et.al. — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:53 pm

The RIAA and recording companies are certainly doing a bang-up job of protecting the artists creating every work named in every lawsuit.

Oh, you mean they’re only protecting their money, not the artist?

From Hit & Run:

Surprise! Actual musicians have gotten diddly from the $370 million copyright infringement settlement between record companies and Napster et al.

Artist managers are girding for battle with their music overlords over when their clients are going to see some of the dough negotiated last year in copyright-infringement settlements with a host of Web sites….

“Artist managers and lawyers have been wondering for months when their artists will see money from the copyright settlements and how it will be accounted for,” said lawyer John Branca, who has represented Korn, Don Henley, and The Rolling Stones, among others. “Some of them are even talking about filing lawsuits if they don’t get paid soon.”

Way to encourage and reward innovation, intellectual property law!

February 21, 2008

Scandal? McCain?

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:52 pm

Hit this link for Reason’s Hit & Run response to the McCain scandal/firestorm set off by the NY Times story. It covers the bases as good as any I’ve found. The response isn’t a rabid, gleeful takedown, and it isn’t a rabid protective shell either.

The whole NYT article is full of flash and innuendo, and fairly bereft of substance.

This is the story Team McCain was able to kill a few months ago. From what I’ve read the NYT decided to move forward when it became clear other publications were going to run the story — one they’ve been sourcing for a long time.

Take that for what you will. Maybe the Times has solid deeper dirt they aren’t willing to publish because of tenuous sourcing, or maybe this is just as smoke-and-mirrorsy as it looks.

At any rate it’s a handful of pennies on the Straight Talk Express if nothing else.

(And no, I’m not the David Kirkpatrick involved in that story. To make matters even more confusing, there’s also an editor and contributor at Fortune sharing our name. All this is even more confusing when I’m wearing my business journalist hat. Doesn’t happen all the time, but I do it every once in a while.)

Update: Here’s more good stuff from Reason (with interesting links to the New Republic take)

Update #2: It looks like the story didn’t pass the NYT ombudsman’s smell test either.

January 25, 2008

Nanny state in action NYC style

Filed under: et.al., Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 8:37 pm

The Village Voice has an article covering a proposed New York City law to outlaw any device monitoring air quality (for pretty much any toxin) without prior approval from the police in the form of a permit.

From the article:

Damn you, Osama bin Laden! Here’s another rotten thing you’ve done to us: After 9/11, untold thousands of New Yorkers bought machines that detect traces of biological, chemical, and radiological weapons. But a lot of these machines didn’t work right, and when they registered false alarms, the police had to spend millions of dollars chasing bad leads and throwing the public into a state of raw panic.

OK, none of that has actually happened. But Richard Falkenrath, the NYPD’s deputy commissioner for counterterrorism, knows that it’s just a matter of time. That’s why he and Mayor Michael Bloomberg have asked the City Council to pass a law requiring anyone who wants to own such detectors to get a permit from the police first.

(Hat tip: Hit & Run)

January 24, 2008

Afghani justice

Filed under: et.al., Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:18 pm

Here’s a post from Jacob Sullum over at Reason mag’s Hit and Run on a blasphemy case in Afghanistan. In no way can this action from Afghan officials be considered part of the enlightened, modern world.

From the article:

An Afghan court has sentenced Sayed Parwiz Kambakhsh, a 23-year-old journalism student, to death for downloading and distributing an article critical of Muhammad’s views on women’s rights. Disturbing as that news is for anyone who thought the U.S. had freed Afghanistan from the oppressive rule of brutal theocrats, the reaction of Kambakhsh’s defenders is in some ways even more troubling ( )