December 6, 2012

“Yeah, uhhh … I don’t think driving around with 20 pounds of drugs in my car is really a good idea”

Filed under: Law, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 12:23

What do you do when you find $175,000-worth of drugs stashed on your property?

I am standing chest-deep in a dank, muddy concrete-lined hole in Silver Lake, staring eye-level into a duffel bag full of high-grade drugs.

It smells strongly of marijuana — despite the fact that someone sealed it tightly into jars, Ziplocs and professionally vacuum-sealed pouches before THEY HID IT IN MY BACK YARD.

I am starting to panic.

I already did the full Tex-Avery-wolf AOOOOGAH! upon discovering the mammoth sackful of dope — estimated to be worth somewhere north of $175,000. My jaw already dropped. My eyes already bugged out. Now my heart is thumping my gullet. Breathing is getting iffy.

I try to speak. I think my exact words to the solar-panel technician standing equally open-mouthed next to me are something to the effect of “Holy. Fucking. SHIT!”

H/T to Matt Welch:

Toronto’s unusually expensive school maintenance costs

Filed under: Bureaucracy, Cancon, Education — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 11:33

The Toronto Star is asking the Toronto District School Board some searching questions about how much the board is paying for small maintenance jobs:

The high cost to perform tens of thousands of small jobs — hanging pictures, mounting bulletin boards and yes, more pencil sharpener installations — are costing the Toronto District School Board a small fortune, according to data obtained by the Star.

At one school, Emery Collegiate Institute in North York, a work crew was summoned to hang three pictures one day in March 2011, a job that took seven hours and cost $266. Eight days later, workers were once again called to the same school to “hang three pictures on the wall.” That time, workers billed for 24 hours at a cost to taxpayers of $857.

[. . .]

The Toronto public school board is in a cash crunch. It estimates $3 billion of work needs to be done to bring its aging schools up to an acceptable level.

About 900 workers belonging to the Maintenance and Skilled Trades Council carry out the work as part of a long-standing contract that is radically different from many other boards in Ontario, which contract out many jobs to the lowest bidders. Schools also have janitorial staff, which could do the smaller jobs that have been routinely assigned to the council workers.

Teachers have contacted the Star saying they would like to put up a shelf, a coat hook or attach a pencil sharpener but believe that they are not allowed to. “I was told flat out by my school that we are not allowed to do this work,” said one teacher, speaking on condition of anonymity because the teacher fears job repercussions for talking.

The data obtained by the Star is a mix of small jobs that appear to take too long, and big jobs that take many, many weeks. The data is raw — no conclusions are made in the data as to whether the job was done properly or on time.

H/T to Chris Selley:

NZ court allows Kim Dotcom to sue for illegal spying

Filed under: Business, Law, Liberty, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 10:01

This could get interesting quickly:

Details of the top secret international spy agency ring known as Echelon will have to be produced after a new judgment in the Kim Dotcom case.

The internet tycoon was also cleared to pursue a case for damages against the police and the Government Communications Security Bureau in a judgment which has opened the Government’s handling of the criminal copyright case for its harshest criticism yet.

[. . .]

Chief high court judge Helen Winkelmann said the GCSB would have to “confirm all entities” to which it gave information sourced through its illegal interception of Dotcom’s communications.

She said her order included “members of Echelon/Five Eyes, including any United States authority”. The Echelon network is an international intelligence network to which New Zealand and the United States are members, along with Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom.

The judgment also recorded Dotcom’s suspicions he had been spied on at least six weeks before the GCSB admitted to doing so, and sought details as to whether others had been swept up in the illegal operation.

Update: Moved the video below the fold to stop it auto-playing any time someone visited the blog main page.


Zero Hedge talks Keynes and Hayek

Filed under: Economics, Europe, Government, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 09:52

Most politicians have a time sense that lasts just about as long as the current electoral cycle. Economics doesn’t fit neatly into that kind of cramped timescale. Politicians have a lot of influence over the long-term economy, but lack the sense of involvement over that long term because they have to stay tightly focussed on the next election (or they don’t get re-elected). This is one of the systemic faults that’s landed us in the long-term problems we’re facing right now:

Salma Hayek is beautiful, rich and famous. Friedrich Hayek is a deceased Austrian economist. He wasn’t very good looking, certainly not wealthy but he did become famous — but only 20 years after his death and then only within the make believe world of nerdy economists. Fortunately for the World today, if we are lucky, Friedrich Hayek may become the most famous Hayek of them all. Until then, the World remains firmly trapped in an economic hell created by Friedrich’s (and therefore Salma’s) arch enemy — John Maynard Keynes. IceCap’s Keith Dicker points out that, as most politicians and central bankers view the World in very short time frames, to truly understand the devastation wreaked by Keynesian economics, one has to take a step back and see how the financial destruction accumulated over time. It is true that these policies initially provided sugar highs for the economy — but the 3 step cycle of cutting interest rates, cutting taxes and borrowing money to create growth has finally reached its end point. If Mr. Keynes was alive today, we are confident he would be embarrassed that his lifelong work had been so severely distorted.

[. . .]

Since WWII, the Americans, Japanese, British and Europeans have spent way more money than they owned. But that was ok because the money they borrowed wouldn’t have to be repaid until some far away day in the future.

Unfortunately the future has now arrived and today, the next generations of Americans, Japanese, British and Europeans have all plunged into a deathly debt spiral.

Today it is no coincidence that the Americans, Japanese, British and Europeans have all set interest rates as close to 0% as possible.

Also today, it is no coincidence that the Americans, Japanese, British and Europeans are all printing money.

And finally, today it is also no coincidence that the Americans, Japanese, British and Europeans ignored Friedrich Hayek and instead followed the economic principles of John Maynard Keynes.

Today the entire global economic and financial system is rooted in unwavering support for John Maynard Keynes and his beliefs in deficit spending and debt-fueled growth.

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