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Outrageous HSBC Settlement Proves the Drug War is a Joke If you've ever been arrested on a drug charge, if you've ever spent even a day in jail for having a stem of marijuana in your pocket or "drug paraphernalia" in your gym bag, Assistant Attorney General and longtime Bill Clinton pal Lanny Breuer has a message for you: Bite me.
Breuer this week signed off on a settlement deal with the British banking giant HSBC that is the ultimate insult to every ordinary person who's ever had his life altered by a narcotics charge. Despite the fact that HSBC admitted to laundering billions of dollars for Colombian and Mexican drug cartels (among others) and violating a host of important banking laws (from the Bank Secrecy Act to the Trading With the Enemy Act), Breuer and his Justice Department elected not to pursue criminal prosecutions of the bank, opting instead for a "record" financial settlement of $1.9 billion, which as one analyst noted is about five weeks of income for the bank.
The banks' laundering transactions were so brazen that the NSA probably could have spotted them from space. Breuer admitted that drug dealers would sometimes come to HSBC's Mexican branches and "deposit hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, in a single day, into a single account, using boxes designed to fit the precise dimensions of the teller windows."
This bears repeating: in order to more efficiently move as much illegal money as possible into the "legitimate" banking institution HSBC, drug dealers specifically designed boxes to fit through the bank's teller windows. Tony Montana's henchmen marching dufflebags of cash into the fictional "American City Bank" in Miami was actually more subtle than what the cartels were doing when they washed their cash through one of Britain's most storied financial institutions. (Rolling Stone)
Can Drug-Sniffing Dog Prompt Home Search? You can already hear all the likely jokes at the Supreme Court, about the justices going to the dogs. But the issue being argued Wednesday is deadly serious: whether police can take a trained drug-detection dog up to a house to smell for drugs inside, and if the dog alerts, use that to justify a search of the home.
In the case before the court, the four-legged cop was named Franky, and as a result of his nose, his human police partner charged Joelis Jardines with trafficking in more than 25 pounds of marijuana.
In the fall of 2006, police in Florida got an anonymous crime-stoppers tip that there was illegal drug activity at the Jardines home. A month later, police officers took Franky to the house and walked him up to the front porch. When the dog alerted for drugs, the police got a warrant, found marijuana growing inside and arrested Jardines. The Florida Supreme Court ruled that the dog sniff was an illegal search and thus could not justify a warrant. Now the state has appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, and the case poses tricky issues for both law enforcement and privacy advocates. (National Public Radio)
Why Eugenics Will Always Fail I don't think I'm taking a bold stance by saying that any real attempt at eugenics is indefensible. Practically speaking, though, eugenics is just as much of a bust as it is morally. We can't positively select for "better people," and we may face dire consequences if we try to weed out genetic problems, too.
"Should" is a rather vague English word. Saying we "shouldn't" do something can mean that it is immoral to do it or that it won't have the desired result. When it comes to eugenics, we tend to circle around the first kind of "shouldn't," without paying attention to the second. Eugenics programs of the past have lead to attempted genocide, mass sterilization, and garden variety needless suffering. There are plenty of reasons for people to cut off the conversation about eugenics at the moral. Too often, though, that leaves the practical drawbacks unexamined. Beyond the possibility of bungling the job, there are concrete reasons why eugenics just wouldn't work. (io9)
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