Once the checks and balances have all been co-opted the people in power just weave webs of power and privilege that let them do whatever they want. At that point you have tyranny.
Our current Federal government can be equated to the old Soviet regime. Unaccountable police, oppressive and punitive legal system, massive gulag prison complex, secretive oligarchs holding all power. It's bad folks.
One thing people tend to forget when talking about Aaron Schwartz is that MIT did NOT want to prosecute him for anything.
But the Federal Government wanted to make a big show out of this minor case. Federal Prosecutors got their ego involved and decided to show how tough they are.
No big show or toughness for Wall St bankers. No big show or toughness for banks laundering drug money. No big show for corporate bribery or influence peddling or anything else done by the privileged executive class.
The big show and the toughness are reserved for the little guy who steps out of line. It shows all of us who's the boss.
The really tragic thing about long term copyright is that truly monumental amounts of culture, art, research and historical documents get locked into a state of limbo where they simply cannot be accessed or utilized because somebody somewhere holds copyright even though the works are not commercially available and possibly haven't been for decades.
Long term copyright would be more justifiable if it included some kind of common sense clause about works falling into the public domain after ten years or so if they are not otherwise made available by the rights holder.
But the sad reality is that nothing about copyright will change unless it meets the approval of the massive corporations that own our legislators. And corporations don't give a rats ass about culture, art, history or the general public welfare.
We should all be very frightened to think that "reaching for your waistband" is justifiable grounds for summary execution.
When you get stopped by a cop you'd better hope that your hands never move downward since any such movement could be described as "reaching for your waistband" and subject you to execution.
At this point it's clear that we need a major revamp of our so-called Justice System as it pertains to the police. Start with common sense changes such that shooting a citizen who does not even possess a weapon is a criminal act no matter what the cop was thinking or what fearful state he was in.
None of this shit can happen without the Police Unions backing up the cops, organizing the other cops to toe the party line, providing legal aid to misbehaving cops and generally acting like the mafia running a para-military gang of thugs.
Time for some serious thought about ending police unions and letting each cop hold his job independently under civilian control. Maybe then the mythical "good cops" will make themselves known and start helping weed out the "bad apples".
The really amazing thing is that the police have in fact picked a safe job.
Endless propaganda from the police and media have convinced most everybody that the police are in constant danger. Police training now reflects that same belief - making officer safety the first priority in all situations.
But nationwide statistics complied by the FBI show that a mere 27 police officers were killed by criminal action in 2013. Twenty-seven!
In the same year police killed at least 400 to 500 citizens, possibly many many more since local agencies do what they can to obscure and re-classify police killings.
Fortunately the narrative is starting to come unraveled. People are asking why police are killing at a rate 20 or 30 or more times the rate they are being killed.
All of the posters here babbling about "innocent until proven guilty in a court of law" seem to forget that celebrities are 100% creations of public perception. It's not a question of legal guilt at this point, rather a question of reputation and perception.
The pattern of accusations against Cosby is similar to the pattern of accusations against the Catholic Church in the past. Once a multitude of accusations become consistent enough they start to generate a shift in pubic perception which is what we are seeing here.
Literally nothing that I know of better illustrates how thoroughly corrupt our government at all levels has become.
No moral individual could possibly consider this to be acceptable. Government empowered goons seizing people's property at will is almost the perfect definition of tyranny.
Asset Forfeiture seems to be most abused in the red states like Texas and Georgia. Where are the legislators who are always crowing about property rights and ownership? Where are the courts that allow people to be robbed of their possessions with no due process or conviction required?
In the pre-digital past the government could always get at your papers or your info or your possessions in one way or the other if they wanted to bad enough. Digital encryption changes this and now government is freaking out.
When it comes to encryption, I think people's minds have been skewed by watching hundreds of TV shows and movies where somebody says "just give me a few minutes to crack the encryption" or "it's encrypted so I'll need a little time" or "it's encrypted but that shouldn't be a problem".
But, as somebody pointed out up-stream, encryption is real. Use a moderately complex key and encryption is essentially uncrackable without either the key or a built-in backdoor.
That's why law enforcement is so intent of getting backdoors into everything. If they don't have them it means, for the first time ever, they literally can't get access to stuff they want to see.
What a sad dysfunctional society we are. A epochal new communication system is discovered that can bring monumental advances in almost every aspect of human interaction.
So what do we do? We allow corporate monopolies to create roadblocks and toll gates and limits on this amazing technology in the name of maximizing monopolist profit.
Tiny strands of easily run fiber can bring almost endless bandwidth to everybody. But we can't have that because despicable companies like Comcast can make more profit from choking the internet than expanding it.
The great economic and political delusion of the 21st century is that we will shift most of the world's manufacturing to china allowing them to grow an immensely strong and powerful economy and then they will play by all the rules that western societies have built up over the centuries.
Sorry, but parents ARE responsible for their children and their children's actions until those children reach adulthood. This is an incredibly well-established legal principal.
There are vast hordes of really nasty little kids rampaging around the internet flinging obscenities and racial slurs right and left. Parents need to wake up to the fact that their little "angels" may be evil demons when left unsupervised online.
The people who serve in the legislatures of various nations know that, once in office, they no longer truly serve the desires of their constituents. Instead they serve the global corporate agenda.
Any attempt to cross their true masters means they would be marginalized in the future; no invites to global power conferences, no lucrative private sector jobs for them and their relatives, no campaign financing for future political campaigns.
This is why big corporations and their proxies in public office are working so relentlessly to normalize IP and trade issues through "free trade" agreements and cross-national treaties. This provides the framework that locks in corporate friendly policies.
Anonymous Coward above must be an off-duty cop performing his primary duty of protecting his brother officers.
Officer robs and assaults citizen with no criminal charges filed and he blames it on "anti-police sentiment" and the "morons" making the recording.
That cop should be in a jail cell at this moment.
Anybody care to guess how often this officer has done something like this in his 20 years on patrol? 100 times? 1000? The only thing that has changed is that he is no longer assured of getting away with it unrecorded.
Like the poster above me said, the essential problem is that there is no accountability. In fact there is a powerful structure of unaccountability that has grown in place over decades.
Anybody who works in any non-government job is held accountable for serious mistakes that conflict with the primary nature of the job. Work at a bank and make a mistake that costs the bank a million bucks and you will be fired. Work a restaurant and make a mistake that sickens a bunch of customers and you will be fired. But if you work as a cop and break the law and subvert justice and brutalize members of the public and you will be shuffled around and protected.
The only solution is to start rolling back the web of legal privilege and protection that cops have been granted. First step would be to ban police unions.
But none of this will happen because, for every one of us online who is outraged about things like this, there are 10 suburban voters who are happy to have the cops beating on "thugs" and "criminals" (which are their codewords for minorities).