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A 64-year-old put his life savings in his carry-on, and U.S. Customs took it (washingtonpost.com)
324 points by dankohn1 on June 1, 2018 | hide | past | web | favorite | 266 comments



Only as I get older do I realize how incredibly bad elements of law enforcement in the US can be, and legally so. Few cops and agents are bad, but it is a system with little filtering, personally or institutionally, of the bad elements. Civil asset forfeiture is overwhelmingly unpopular, but when states try to reform it the law enforcement groups rally around it mightily. Essentially they want the right to steal money because they need money; nobody really makes a sincere argument the situation is any different than that. In Alabama they recently tried to reform it. In an op ed by the leaders of district attorneys and sheriffs, the authors wrote “What incentive would local police and sheriffs have to invest manpower, resources and time in these operations if they don't receive proceeds to cover their costs?” I dunno: it seems like if they are professional cops they should just solve crimes and such that seem important; by “investing manpower” they are not investing like a firm does but pulling resources from elsewhere to spend trying to take things from oblivious people. Also in alabama, sheriffs are allowed to take extra money from the food programs at the county jail, and they buy themselves vacation homes this way. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/alabama-sheriff-legally-pockete...


As an outside perspective, how do you quantify, that only "Few cops and agents are bad". If your job contains robbing people, I would rationally word it the other way around. Hopefully there are quite a few cops who dont follow the rules and subvert the system of organized theft. But if you take policies like civil forfeiture or for example police union cards for family members this sounds like organized crime to quite a few people not living in the US.


Well, it's criminal, and it's organized.

Classic quote from Upton Sinclair: "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!"


I don't think it matters whether few or many cops or agents are bad.

The source of harm is the forfeiture law.

With such laws in place, even a single bad actor can do enormous damage. We need to repeal the civil forfeiture laws.


"Hopefully there are quite a few cops who dont follow the rules and subvert the system of organized theft"

There is no rule that says they have to do asset forfeiture. It's a choice. One of the biggest problems in the US is that laws are not very clear and clarification is left up to the courts.


> it is a system with little filtering, personally or institutionally, of the bad elements

Wrong. It is a system that explicitly filters out the good elements.

"US Court Ruling: You Can Be “Too Smart” to Be a Cop. Police department disqualifies anyone whose IQ is “too high" (https://www.globalresearch.ca/us-court-ruled-you-can-be-too-...)

"Court OKs Barring High IQs for Cops"(https://abcnews.go.com/US/court-oks-barring-high-iqs-cops/st...)


That's the same thing as barring someone for being overqualified, isn't it?


I can't think of many jobs you'd be turned away from for being too smart.


One rationalisation is that hiring someone "too smart" for the work required means that they'll soon become bored and move on, so your effort invested in training them is wasted.


For a modern American police force in the Bay Area, for example, taking a candidate from academy entrant to fully qualified officer is a six-figure cost.

That's why many Bay Area LEOs focus their recruiting on recent graduates from other Bay Area forces.


This is exactly what I’ve heard the justification is.


"What incentive would local police and sheriffs have to invest manpower, resources and time in these operations if they don't receive proceeds to cover their costs?”

This feels to me like the end result of "govt should be run like a business!" thinking. Every election cycle we hear about govt should be run like a family budget, and getting out of debt, etc. And govt should run like a business, because that's efficient, etc.


I found this interesting article from Pew Research on how the perspective of the public sharply differs from how the police perceive the current state of affairs.

http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2017/01/11/police-views-publi...


I partially disagree with your statement that this is legal behavior by law enforcement.

It's one of those situations where IIRC the Supreme Court's relevant ruling from long ago was just plain wrong.

I think just about every sane adult agrees that this violates the Bill of Rights, regardless of any SCOTUS opinions to the contrary.


Yeah, it seems to be pretty clear. They justify it on the technicality that they are not charging you, but an inanimate object with no rights; but honestly they could do this with almost anything you own, including your own body, through reasoning which is only slightly more ludicrous.


Even "wrong" decisions have the force of law.

I haven't read any specific cases, but I wonder if 5th (and 4th) Amendment issues were raised at trial in the first place; perhaps those protections weren't even put in play properly.

[Update] an example of this concern is raised elsewhere in this thread[0].

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17211885


It amazes me when people think the government should be the go-to solution to society's problems. The government can indeed be used for good, and it has solved many problems, and regulations can be a good thing. But government should be applied very carefully, and probably as the last solution, after we see the failures of non-government solutions.

The government is all powerful. They can destroy any business, destroy any life, and seize all assets and livelihood if they desire to, even in America. But at least in America it is possible to sue the government and maybe rectify the situation, but you have to be wealthy or get a powerful ally like the Washington Post on your side.

If it upsets you that the US government is able to hurt an immigrant like is discussed in this article, then you should take a very skeptical view of government actions and also people who advocate giving the government more power. After all, many people who loved Obama's expansion of executive authority now recoil as the enemy party's control of the government reverses his non-congressional approved decisions.

The more power you give to the government, the less power the citizenry has.


Not last. Not first. Not all powerful. Not feckless.

Americans act like their government is representative of governments. It isn't. They act like everything needs to be invented there. It doesn't. They believe that America is the greatest country in the world. It isn't.

If people in America just stopped to look around at how other countries do things they'd be doubly as well run. Most parts of Europe, Japan, Canada, and many other places are well run and have a great deal of governmental involvement. America is hobbled by its own broken political system that nobody would replicate if they were starting from scratch today.

It's essentially the PHP of government systems. Dominant, but broken.


A thousand times this. I'm not saying the UK is some shining beacon of how to run a country but I do think overall our governmental systems are pretty sensible. I think being sensible might be a stereotypical English trait, but it's true.

For example you have to comply with the spirit of a law, not the exact text. Also our QC's are pretty level headed and the same goes for our police force. Nobody is overly nitpicky about things, and when they are it's sensible. At least in my experience, YMMV.

US could learn a lot if they looked outward, but I don't think that's in their nature.


You mean like arresting people when they say something the gov't doesn't like? [1] I'll take a pass, thank you.

[1]https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/arrests-for-offensive-...


I can't wrap my head around how you can see it as positive that these kind of actions would go unpunished, in the name of "freedom".

If I were harassed and bullied I'd not feel very free, but rather anxious, threatened, depressed. I'm quite happy my government takes measures to assure a certain level of personal safety, both physical and psychological.


Can be equally used to suppress anyone with an unpopular opinion.

Who is deciding what is edgy but still funny, vs what’s over the line?

What is valid criticism of people who happen to be part of a minority group, vs what is hateful and racist?

The only reason you are ok with this, is because all of your beliefs fall within the boundaries of acceptability set by the censors. And you want to be protected from the speech of people who might think or believe differently.


Receiving insults, death threats and the likes online is just "speech of people who might think or believe differently" to you, seriously?


>"insults, death threats"

There is a world of difference between these two things. To my knowledge death threats are illegal in every American state. Insulting people is generally legal, just like it should be.


It's also pretty funny how they respond, because, let's face facts here:

1) the US government attacks people for their opinions, and so does the UK government. Same with civil asset forfeiture. And it doesn't stop there. Treatment of immigrants/asylum seekers, military actions outside of the country, protection of corrupt officials, ...

2) People who defend the US government actions, whether related to freedom of speech or forfeiture, are described as unfairly naive or pro-state by Europeans.

3) People who criticize the UK government actions, essentially the same, except much lesser known, are unfairly criticizing their "trustworthy state". Forfeiture without recourse, check. Speech attacks. And let's just not investigate what the UK government has done to immigrants, because ...

To just take one particularly vile action taken by the UK government, which I challenge defenders to defend as "just" here's one:

https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2012/may/20/child-asylum-seek...

Or how about having cops deceive members of environmental groups into sex, going so far as to father children with them, then (of course) walking away. To make matters worse, the UK government decided (again, obviously) to protect the officers from normal legal responsibility requirements.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/deceived-lovers-...

Yeah, I can see why this organization doesn't want to be criticized publicly ... that's, as they say, going to go down poorly.

I don't understand this attitude in people. The US people criticize their government. This seems like a very, very good thing. Europeans, in my experience, largely have worse governments with better reputations ... They're different in various ways, although much less so in the case of the UK.

For instance, the royal house of the Netherlands has an insanely good reputation ... as long as you don't speak to people who so much as live close to them. Then they're moral abominations who constantly abuse their position in the state for utterly banal reasons (they've -literally- ordered people arrested because their children did better on a test in school than their children). And yet, fantastic reputation. But look up articles actually about them, and you will quickly realize what monsters these people are.

To judge the quality and trustworthiness of the UK police force, I encourage you to check out the exams they have officers take before entering, and realize that many officers actually fail these tests once or twice before joining. Let's just not pretend that half these people are even smart enough to know the difference between acting trustworthy and not, because that actually requires a very, very, very basic level of intelligence that clearly is not required and in many cases not present for those joining the police force.

Sometimes you can explain this through politics. For instance, US people often have a good opinion of the NHS. The NHS ! Yes, really, that NHS. WTF ? Ok, they don't charge much, true. They do seem to get accused constantly of not doing much else either and in cases ... they deserve that criticism. But OK, the US has a problem the NHS does not impose on UK'ers. So sure let's focus on the good. (Although what baffles me a bit about UK people is that they still think that something like 20 pounds or so is a lot for complex medical procedures, enough to convince many of them not to do them)

But many, many things in Europe are incredibly bad. Very little criticism, leading to good reputations which are, in quite a few cases, rather less accurate.


I would prefer being harrased and bullied rather than having to live in a country that has a legal power to punish me for what I say.


You can absolutely get punished for what you say in the US -- freedom of speech was long ago recognized as anything but absolute. You can't yell fire in a crowded theater. Obscenity (as defined in Miller v. California) is not protected by the constitution. You can't lie under oath. You can't deliberately tell lies about people (Libel). The First Amendment doesn’t protect the speech of people plotting to overthrow the government (Dennis v. United States). House Bill 347 authorized Secret Service agents to arrest anyone protesting in the president’s or vice president’s proximity.

The only difference is they've chosen to draw the line somewhere just offset from what you're used to. There's still a line in these here United States. And it's really not that different, is it?


>...You can't yell fire in a crowded theater.

Wrong.

https://www.popehat.com/2012/09/19/three-generations-of-a-ha...

>...The only difference is they've chosen to draw the line somewhere just offset from what you're used to. There's still a line in these here United States.

It looks like the US probably has the strongest free speech protections of any country in the world - that isn't a bad thing.


…right. That article bemoans the use of "shouting fire in a crowded theater" as a rhetorical device, but doesn't actually discuss the legality of such speech.

(IANAL, but there exists such a thing as depraved indifference murder: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Depraved-heart_murder)


>...but doesn't actually discuss the legality of such speech.

Well, the article discusses the origin of the idea that "shouting fire in a crowded theater" is illegal. It also points out that Brandenburg v. Ohio is the actual relevant decision.

For more context on the Brandenberg decision:

>...Charles Brandenburg, a Ku Klux Klan leader, had spoken to group members at a televised Ohio rally. He’d used inflammatory language and racial slurs. He’d called for "revengeance," which Ohio prosecutors interpreted as a call to violence. This meant, said the prosecutors, that Charles Brandenburg had broken the law.

>...Advocacy, even when it encourages law-breaking, helps the marketplace of ideas, ruled the Court. Had Brandenburg instructed followers to commit a specific crime, he’d have committed a number of offenses himself. But the First Amendment protects speech that merely advocates general, indefinite illegal action.

>With that ruling, the Court overturned the Schenck decision that had introduced "shouting fire in a crowded theater." No longer was "clear and present danger" a sufficient standard for criminalizing speech. To break the law, speech now had to incite "imminent lawless action."

>So if a court can prove that you incite imminent lawlessness by falsely shouting "fire" in a crowded theater, it can convict you. If you incite an unlawful riot, your speech is "brigaded" with illegal action, and you will have broken the law. But merely falsely shouting "fire" does not break the law, even if it risks others’ safety.

http://civil-liberties.yoexpert.com/civil-liberties-general/...


The death of a human being can certainly be regarded as unlawful. See Michelle Carter's conviction for encouraging Conrad Roy to commit suicide [1] despite the fact that Massachusetts has no law against suicide itself.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Conrad_Roy


The ruling standard is Brandenburg v. Ohio, which draws the line at incitement to "imminent lawless action." Which is to say, you have to be rallying people to start a riot right now. Doing something that is merely provocative, such as marching a neo-Nazi parade through a neighborhood of Holocaust survivors, is protected First Amendment speech.

Literally shouting fire in a crowded theater in an attempt to cause a panic and perhaps kill people, would not be protected speech, but pretty much anything less would be protected speech.


No contest here! The only thing my reply addresses is the parent's assertion that the specific example of shouting fire in a crowded theater is protected speech.


Those free speech protections have been implicated in an ongoing series of terrorist murders, which is a bad thing.

https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2014/04/17/splc-report-n...

> Almost 100 people were murdered over the last five years by registered users of Stormfront, the largest racist Web forum in the world, according to a report released today by the Southern Poverty Law Center.


>Those free speech protections have been implicated in an ongoing series of terrorist murders, which is a bad thing.

How did free speech carry out terrorist murders?


Well now that we Americans can murder people directly with words, we can merge the first and second amendments.


Not to mention the myriad of other nonsense charges they'll get you with ("loitering", "soliciting", etc) if they can't find anything specifically against your speech.

You can shout grammatically correct, sensible and lawful speech from the public street corner ("eat right! exercise! wash behind your ears!"), but if a cop simply tells you to move along and you refuse, you're still looking at being jailed.


Don't forget "born secret" Restricted Data.


The US does have that legal power so it seems to be more about where you draw the line.


You sure that isn't just a reflex "defending my country" reply?

I mean, extending on that statement, you probably also think sexual harassment, as long as it stays verbal, is OK to have in the name of freedom. As a guy you probably don't have to worry there anyways. People are driven into suicide through harassment.

And why don't you feel the same about the right to just shoot anyone at will? Clearly your government is strongly restricting your freedom there, but we probably don't Need to argue why this is a good thing.


> to punish me for what I say.

But doesn't, unless you say something reprehensible that the society you live in agrees that you stepped way over the line.


> I'm quite happy my government takes measures to assure a certain level of personal safety, both physical and psychological.

All except for terrorist attacks, which are considered part and parcel of living in a big city[1] like London (but strangely not Tokyo which has 4-5m more citizens!).

[1]https://www.standard.co.uk/news/world/new-york-explosion-sad...


Shame on you for spreading that fake news. People on HN should know better and be held to a higher standard.

> Part and parcel of living in a great global city is you’ve got to be prepared for these things, you’ve got to be vigilant, you’ve got to support the police doing an incredibly hard job. We must never accept terrorists being successful, we must never accept that terrorists can destroy our life or destroy the way we lead our lives.

Seems sensible to me.


>Part and parcel of living in a great global city is you’ve got to be prepared for these things,

Living in a city, you must be prepared for terror.

This is not how things should be.


It's not how things should be, but it's what decades of incredibly poor middle Eastern foreign policy gets you.

Being prepared for these things is not the same as saying these things are unavoidable certainties. There is quite a big distinction, along the lines of having a gun for self defense Vs having a gun to shoot someone.

He is basically saying support the police in their counter terrorism work, and report anything suspicious if you see it. Pretty much what you hear over the airport tannoys every time you fly.


So much here.

>but it's [terrorist attacks] what decades of incredibly poor middle Eastern foreign policy gets you.

You believe terrorist attacks are deserved as a result of what your government has done in the past?

>I'm quite happy my government takes measures to assure a certain level of personal safety, both physical and psychological.

Which is it? Your government is taking measures to assure your protection, or is actively provoking foreigners to kill you on your own soil?


> You believe terrorist attacks are deserved as a result of what your government has done in the past?

Nobody deserves to get hit by a car, but if you're running across a highway then what do you expect.

> Which is it? Your government is taking measures to assure your protection, or is actively provoking foreigners to kill you on your own soil?

Why are those mutually exclusive?

I would also tack on that it's mostly the USA's foreign policy that got us here (which our government decided to jump in bed with to be fair, but yours nonetheless). It's just you have a nice Atlantic ocean to buffer you from many of the concequences.


> This is not how things should be.

So you support the disarming of all US citizens, because living in fear of crime isn't how things should be?


Be prepared for unexpected events that end up as a mass casualty situation due to the high population density.


>Shame on you for spreading that fake news.

That's quite the argument!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I03IKr2TWDM

"It's part and parcel of living in a great global city..."

>Seems sensible to me.

You keep using that word...



These things come and go throughout the world over time.

The occasional terrorist attack seems better than starting a world war that invited retaliatory firebombing and nuclear bombing.

USA is taking its turn at feeling the consequences of colonial imperialism.


>The occasional terrorist attack seems better than starting a world war that invited retaliatory firebombing and nuclear bombing.

Wasn't London bombed too? What's your point? Terrorist attacks are better than world wars?


The UK has been dealing with terrorist attacks for a long time, London especially so. And it is foolish to suggest that the government takes no measures to prevent it. They take appropriate measures to prevent many attacks and to reduce the likelihood of others, but it is impossible to stop all of them.


Do you also want to lock up people who criticized the color of Trump's skin or the size of his hands? When you outlaw offending people, there's not clear boundary as to what's allowed and what's not. It creates a scary power imbalance so that people can suffer severe consequences for simply responding to an insult, or saying something innocent that's misinterpreted. If you've ever seen an insult on Twitter, those people would be criminals. All of them, not just the ones who insulted people you like. Anyone who says "cops are pigs" needs locking up too. The US has clear boundaries to what's legal to say but the UK doesn't.


If I were harassed and bullied I'd not feel very free, but rather anxious, threatened, depressed. I'm quite happy my government takes measures to assure a certain level of personal safety, both physical and psychological.

We've reached peak Poe's law.


In the UK, you can be arrested for saying absolutely anything as long as somebody who heard it claims to be offended and a policeman also agrees it's offensive. There's no boundary or guideline that you can follow.


Couple of thousand fines in a city of 8,700,000 seems sensible to me.

Not everyone values free speech quite as highly as the USA. It's important, sure, but it's not live or die. There are limits and spreading vile hate speech is one of them.

I also like the complete focus on the free speech aspect, completely ignoring the "we actually deal with racists here" aspect. How narrow minded.


“Vile hate speech” can cut both ways unfortunately. Both of us agree that racism is a bad thing. But the American South during Jim Crow declared progressive speech as “hate speech” and tried to ban it.[0] So it’s better to not empower the government to decide what is hate and what isn’t, or you may elect a government that decides what you say is hate speech.

[0] “As we have seen, during the days of slavery and later segregation, laws suppressing free speech were often aimed at abolitionists and civil rights advocates, not at slave owners or Jim Crow advocates. This reflected social and political power in local states and communities where attitudes towards race were very different than today.“ https://www.hoover.org/research/harm-hate-speech-laws


> So it’s better to not empower the government to decide what is hate and what isn’t

The government cannot just arbitrarily expand hate speech to include something which is patently not hate speech. The courts would not uphold it, neither would the judiciary or the public at large.


10 years ago, I would have argued the same about the gov't just arbitrarily expanding asset seizure laws, but here we are.


If they made it law (which strictly speaking requires parliament, not the government), the courts _would_ uphold it.


Unless you get an extreme president who stacks the courts with extreme judges...


So I would agree except judges are even elected in some places in the south. The judiciary is not always insular.


Let's keep in mind here that there are many definitions of hate speech. In Canada, it's carefully defined as speech that actually incites people to a criminal act - so racism or other "vile speech" on its own doesn't qualify, you have to be actively making a credible threat or incitement to have others commit real actions.


Couple of thousand fines in a city of 8,700,000 seems sensible to me.

As someone who values free speech, even one fine is abhorrent.


Do you speak for all people who value free speech?


I think that by his (and my) definition of "people who value free speech", yes he does - because that is a part of the definition.

Everyone values speech they like. Valuing Free Speech means valuing the speech you don't like, too.


But that's not criticising the government, you could call the government a bunch of cunts and no one is coming to arrest you. But if you harass an individual then that individual can use the government to prevent further harassment. This sort of malicious communication was illegal before the intern but now it is easier to commit it as you don't need to know where someone lives to send a letter, you can tweet them without leaving the house. In the past I imagine you had to do something pretty bad to get lots and lots of hate mail (takes a bit of effort to write the letter and send it ) but these days you could wear the wrong colour shirt and end up on the internets shit list and have your inbox or Twitter feed deluged in seconds.


I'll gladly take that, and a government that generally tries to look after its citizens, over one that is downright hostile to and steals from citizens.


I don't consider arresting and immediately sentencing an individual to 13 months in prison for broadcasting outside of a public trial to be sensible in the least.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2018/05/29...


Your source doesn't support your allegations.

> It’s illegal in Britain to report the details of some trials before they conclude

> Robinson was convicted of breaking that law last year

> He showed up with his cameraman again Friday — this time outside a restricted child-sex-abuse trial at Leeds Crown Court, for what he inaccurately announced was the verdict.

So not only was he not arrested for broadcasting generally (rather for breaking a law forbidding reporting on of trials before they conclude) but this trial was also not "public".


This revealed a bizarre feature of UK law. The facts he broadcast were taken from a local newspaper. Newspapers are allowed to report names and charges of defendants, presumably before their trial begins, but then reporting is banned until after it's over. What happens if some shop has old copies of last week's paper on the shelf? Or if it's an online newspaper that keeps all its historic articles available? It also can't stop people in other countries publishing it on the internet. The law seems kind of irrelevant and impossible to be effective.

The other day, I saw a bizarre talk on Youtube about this case by a UK and Canadian activist sitting together in the same room. At one point, the UK citizen stops talking and the Canadian takes over to tell some information. Then the UK person continues. Why? Because he could be arrested if he said it himself so he needed someone who wasn't going to the UK to say it for him.


I think your missing the context here, and falling for clickbaity anger inducing headlines.

He had a previous suspended sentence for filming inside a court a couple of months earlier. He then thought "hey, you know what's a good idea? Disobeying a judge's direct no-reporting order (to maintain the integrity of the trial) literally right outside the freaking courthouse.

I consider not giving him a slap on the wrist pretty sensible.


«judge's direct no-reporting order» I can’t seem to be able to find a source that confirms that order actually existed. Do you happen to have a credible one so I can verify it isn’t fake news?


Here's the sentencing remarks from the first case: https://www.judiciary.gov.uk/publications/committal-for-cont...

Restrictions on what can be reported while a trial is happening are common, and not unusual in England. It should be obvious that you cannot, before someone has been convicted, call them a Muslim Paedophiles or Muslim child rapists, and you can't threaten to go round their house.

After being convicted for contempt of court, and given a very clear warning not to do the samething again he does exactly the same thing again.

For a good summary of the Yaxley Lennon situation there's this from a barrister: https://thesecretbarrister.com/2018/05/25/what-has-happened-...

Here's what the judge says (but please do read the entire document):

---begin ---

The sentence, therefore, that I pass upon you, taking into account all of those matters that have been placed before me and your admissions entered via Mr. Kovalevsky, is one of three months' imprisonment which will be suspended for a period of 18 months. That will be suspended. There will be no conditions that need to be attached to that suspended sentence, but you should be under no illusions that if you commit any further offence of any kind, and that would include, I would have thought a further contempt of court by similar actions, then that sentence of three months would be activated, and that would be on top of anything else that you were given by any other court. In short, Mr. Yaxley-Lennon, turn up at another court, refer to people as "Muslim paedophiles, Muslim rapists" and so on and so forth while trials are ongoing and before there has been a finding by a jury that that is what they are, and you will find yourself inside. Do you understand? Thank you very much.

MR. KOVALEVSKY: Your Honour, may we extend our thanks for the patience with which you have heard us this afternoon.

JUDGE NORTON: I am very sorry that we have gone on so late. Thank you very much for bearing with this rather lengthy case. Thank you both very much indeed for your help. Finally, can I just say this to Mr. -- I don't know whether it is Robertson or Robson who has just left the court, or indeed to anybody in the public gallery: I hope they have heard what I have said. There are real risks in publication and there are real risks in what is put online, and I hope that everybody will respect the judgment of this court and will not be tempted to do anything which might frankly, unwittingly or otherwise, either impede this trial or might land Mr. Yaxley-Lennon, or indeed themselves, in even more trouble.



[flagged]


You mean the vile idiot who potentially ruined an ongoing trial by broadcasting sensitive details all over facebook directly outside the court, which was widely and thoroughly reported by the UK press?

I would check where you are getting your facts from.


What sensitive details did he broadcast? The entire video is on YouTube if you need to refer to it. As far as I know, he read information already published in newspapers.

Did I mention that his entire video is still on Youtube? Still sitting their "jeopardizing" the case and it hasn't been taken down. Not only that, but anybody else outside the UK could repeat the same things and publish them anywhere on the internet without a problem. The UK no-talking-about-the-trial-in-public law completely fails without draconian China-scale internet censorship.


> What sensitive details did he broadcast

He threatened witnesses; he called defendants before they were convicted "muslim child rapists"; his actions nearly caused the collapse of the trial.


What threat did he make? The closest I saw was asking some questions of two people entering the court.

He used "alleged" as all media does for people who haven't been convicted.

Here are public details of the trials already published in the UK. It includes the names, charges, and effectively the description "child rapists". How does this not risk collapsing the trial but when Tommy Robinson said it, it did? Is it simply because he said they were Muslim while the newspaper only listed their obviously Muslim-sounding names?

https://www.examiner.co.uk/news/trial-dates-set-29-people-13...


[flagged]


He wasn't jailed for "speaking about potential child grooming", he was jailed for jeopardising a trial. If you are speaking out against child grooming, doing so in a way that jeopardises trials is counter to your cause.

Furthermore, he had already received a suspended sentence for doing the same thing. He wasn't immediately jailed without warning.


No, he went to jail for directly disobeying a judge in the most direct and absolute way possible. Twice. The subject of the court case does not matter.

Also a chunk of those 13 months was from the previous suspended sentence for doing pretty much the same thing.

So yeah, I would definitely check where you get your facts from.


Your "media" was gagged - completely unable to speak about the arrest, sentencing, and secret imprisoning of one of your fellow citizens.


Until that was immediately challenged and sensibly lifted 3 days later. It was only introduced as an extension to the already existing reporting restrictions on the trial that he broke.

The judge quite sensibly didn't want that case, sure to get lots of attention, to rub off on his ongoing court case which has existing reporting restrictions.

I'm also sure America could teach us a lot about gag orders though. Stick national security infront of it and then all freedom goes out the window?


>Until that was immediately challenged and sensibly lifted 3 days later.

After he was sentenced and in jail.

Love the coarse metric of British "sensibility"! Sounds like we need a "sensibility spectrum" to measure this all against. Would really love to stack my freedom and property against that sturdy and immutable post of justice!


> After he was sentenced and in jail.

... As he should be, for breaking a court order in the most ridiculous manner. Twice.

> Would really love to stack my freedom and property against that sturdy and immutable post of justice!

You are aware that you're commenting on a post about how a citizens freedom and property where taken without any due process? And how that happens a lot? And how it's legal?

I feel like you're just looking to be triggered by something, and this man breaking two court orders gets you going, so we might as well end it here.


>UK

Your government currently arrests people for criticizing the government online, covers up child-rape gangs, arrests people for reporting on those cover ups, and mandates whether citizens should receive health care or die, regardless of whether they have the money to pay for it in a foreign country.

Your government took 1984 and used it as a blueprint. Your government see you as an actual human, they see you as their property.


> Your government currently arrests people for criticizing the government online

Citation needed - I have _never_ heard of this happening.

> covers up child-rape gangs

Mostly local government and the police, not central government (who organised an inquiry into it).

> mandates whether citizens should receive health care or die

For the NHS, _maybe_, and even then it is only limiting care on the very fringes. Nothing is stopping you going private.

> regardless of whether they have the money to pay for it in a foreign country

I assume you are referring to Ashya King, a child whom was moved from the country against medical advice (which is completely different to _you_ deciding to decline treatment--the decision is being made by the parents on behalf on the child). Furthermore, when the case was decided by the high court, it was ruled that the parents _did_ have the right to pursue that line of treatment:

> Having considered the evidence, I concluded that there was no reason to stand in the way of the parents’ proposal. In some cases, this court is faced with a dispute between medical authorities and parents who are insisting on a wholly unreasonable course of treatment, or withholding consent to an essential therapy for their child – for example, a blood transfusion. This is manifestly not such a case. The course of treatment proposed by Mr and Mrs King is entirely reasonable. [...] Both courses are reasonable and it is the parents who bear the heavy responsibility of making the decision. It is no business of this court, or any other public authority, to interfere with their decision.

https://www.judiciary.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/judg...

I don't see how that supports the notion that the government can mandate your treatment.


> > Your government currently arrests people for criticizing the government online

> Citation needed - I have _never_ heard of this happening.

A British teenager was arrested and charged for posting on Facebook that UK soldiers should go to hell.[0]

[0]: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/libertycentral/201...


OK, I don't agree with that, but attacking soldiers (and saying they "should DIE & go to HELL!" is somewhat more to just saying they should go to hell) is different to criticising the government - they are NOT the government, and saying they should die is far more than criticising them.

Furthermore, his final sentence is "Azhar Ahmed must do 240 hours of community service"[1]. Whilst I disagree with him being charged at all, that doesn't seem _grossly_ disproportionate.

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2012/oct/09/community-sentenc...


> "(and saying they "should DIE & go to HELL!" is somewhat more to just saying they should go to hell)"

Is it? It just seems redundant to me. Redundancy may be offensive, but it shouldn't be illegal!


What you have said is all spun propaganda, especially the health care bit. "Death panels" much?

I suggest you visit sometime and expand your world view.


>> mandates whether citizens should receive health care or die, regardless of whether they have the money to pay for it in a foreign country.

No, this is incorrect.

Alfie Evans was going to die. There was no treatment available for him. No-one, not even foreign doctors, were offering treatment other than end of life care.

Alfie is a human, and has human rights, and the paramountcy principle used in English courts mean that his rights are more important to the courts than the parents' rights. Everything has to be done in his best interest, and it wasn't in his best interest to take him abroad to die.

The parents had excellent top tier legal advice provided for free. They went through seven legal firms because they weren't being told what they wanted. They eventually got sucked into the Christian Legal Center - an organisation whose advice was so piss-poor they face regulation.

https://nearlylegal.co.uk/2018/04/on-the-naughty-step-the-qu...

Here's a useful blog post about what actually happened: http://www.transparencyproject.org.uk/alfie-evans-best-inter...

(This is written by a mix of people, some of them represent children and families against the state.)

Note that an important difference between the US and UK law is that in the UK the doctors propose a plan, and if the parents disagree the doctors need to go to court to get permission. This is reversed in the US. The doctors propose a plan, and if the parents disagree it is they who need to go to court to stop the doctors.


Didn't British police ignore the rape of a thousand children in one city alone?


Rotherham, which you are likely referring to, was a complete failure of the system at every level and utterly unacceptable.

It sparked 5+ inquiries, including a parliamentary one, numerous reforms and national outrage. I hope we learn from those mistakes.

I never said England was perfect, and I'm not sure why this invalidates any of the points I've made.

I could pick a few things that have happened in America that have not triggered universal outrage and a senate hearing. Like weekly school shootings.


Exactly this, you can go back and forth all day (like the judge in 2009 who went to prison for sending thousands of kids to detention facilities in exchange for $2.6M in kickbacks [1]), but it's not related in any way.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/13/us/13judge.html


I think you've just given evidence for the point made in the parent.


No. Citation? And Fox News doesn’t count



https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rotherham_child_sexual_exploit...

Get a clue, man. Denying this kind of thing doesn't help anyone, even minority groups you might fear getting tarred by association. If you can ignore the rape of thousands of children because the political ramifications of it make you uncomfortable, you're part of the problem.


Like 8/10ths of that wiki article is about various inquiries, at every level of government, all of which were either by or about the police.

You have a very funny definition of "ignore".

> If you can ignore the rape of thousands of children because the political ramifications of it make you uncomfortable, you're part of the problem.

If everyone who disagrees with your framing "ignores child rape", you're part of the problem.


> If people in America just stopped to look around at how other countries do things they'd be doubly as well run. Most parts of Europe, Japan, Canada, and many other places are well run and have a great deal of governmental involvement.

One big problem with this approach is that it basically pretends that the American citizenry is interchangeable with those of the countries you mentioned. It's not. Identity politics problems, legacies of slavery and of the colonial / revolutionary mindset are still big issues.

The people of Detroit and of Baltimore and of other ruined American cities are not the same as the people of Norway or of Japan. The solutions that work in high-intelligence, high-trust, coherent communities with strong traditions of work ethic won't work in every environment.

You want to use PHP as a metaphor? I'll use NFSv3/NIS. They're simple to run and work great on a small network where you trust everyone completely. The moment there's a malicious party at work they become hopeless and you need to either put in incredible amounts of work to try to lock them down, or switch to a much more restrictive, secure-by-default option.


>Metaphor

>small network

The population of the EU is 741.4 million, the area is 1,707,642 sq miles. There are quite a few things that are prevalent in the EU, and are nonexistent in the US (public healthcare and higher education, for starters; throw public transportation into the mix, and have a party).

Don't pretend the EU is Norway.


I'm not sure if that's what they meant, but regardless. Remember that there are plenty of places in the EU where things aren't going particular well.

I also remember online lots of grandstanding about the US's questionable policies around imigrants as compared to Europe. I haven't really heard them in a bit.


Norway isn't even in the EU.


But the same could be said of the US, people of Detroit are not the same as the people from eg. Vermont.


OK, I get it, the US being a superpower is under a microscope and every imperfection is called out so other countries can look down their nose at it. That's fine.

But what are you talking about? What could the US learn from Canada on asset forfeiture? Canada does it too! How to do it better?

And as a Canadian, saying the gov't run their is better is purely laughable.


> What could the US learn from Canada on asset forfeiture? Canada does it too! How to do it better?

So does the UK, Australia, NZ, and many other countries. But somehow only the US has wannabe-military police rambo types doing it, to stock up their SWAT vans, machine guns and other gizmos. That does not exactly inspire confidence.


Personally I prefer that US police look ugly and militaristic when they do it, since that sort of poor PR will work against them in the long run. If they presented themselves with a peaceful and calm aesthetic, the problem of asset forfeiture would be that much harder to mobilize the public against.



Not exactly just a phone call away though


Go live in the USA, and you'll see the multiple ways it's more broken than Canada. Many other friends who have moved over from other developed countries collaborate the experience.

I'm in the bay area, maybe it's just a special kind of broken that you don't see in other places in the USA, but things like flint, michigan also exist in the USA.


I do live in the US. And you know what? I think there is plenty the US has to offer that Canada doesn't. That's why I'm here.


I agree that the US offers a whole lot that other countries do not. I would disagree that the US government offers anything other governments do not.

Of course, the US government has a role in the other attractive attributes the US has, but I personally think that role is exaggerated. I think the US would still be an economically dominant world power if it had the government of, say, Germany.


>> I would disagree that the US government offers anything other governments do not.

You are very first-world centric, then. While I am no interventionist, you are discounting the role the US Military has worldwide on trade, peacekeeping, and other vital roles it actually does a good job at when it's not fucking things up (which is often).

>> I think the US would still be an economically dominant world power if it had the government of, say, Germany.

Including the racial makeup of Germany and the immigration policies?


Are you trying to suggest that the racial makeup of Germany is inferior to America? I'd say population size, geographic properties (location, climate, resources, etc) and economic history count for much more than any racial inferiority.

Germany has a population 25% as large as America, and a GDP 18% of America's. So maybe if you ignored history, geography, a potential nonlinear relationship between population and economic domination¹ you could claim this discrepancy is solely due to racial differences between the populations of America and Germany. But I'm pretty damn skeptical of that.

1: for instance https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winner-take-all_market


>> inferior

Uh, no. Just that it is vastly different and that it is a relevant data point.


Different in a way that's relevant when it comes to explaining discrepancies in economic output?


Canadians as a whole apparently disagree.

There are about ~700,000 Americans living in Canada, and also about ~700,000 Canadians living in the U.S. (see links below)

However, the U.S. population is more than 8x that of Canada. That means that on a proportional basis, Canadians are about 8x more likely to move to the U.S. than Americans are to move to Canada.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emigration_from_the_United_Sta...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immigration_to_the_United_Stat...


Maybe this says more about climate than it does about governments. Of course if that's true, that people care more about the weather than the government, maybe that in itself is saying something.


Those links offer some other interesting comparisons.

There are about 700,000 U.K. citizens living in the U.S., and only about 160,000 U.S. citizens living in the U.K. The populations are about 63 million and 320 million, respectively. On a proportional basis, one would expect to see 5x more Americans living in the U.K., but in fact, there are 4x more U.K. citizens living in the U.S.

Similar ratios apply for other countries. Germany has 1/4 the population of the U.S., but there are 5 times as many Germans living in the U.S. as there are Americans living in Germany.

Voting with your feet never lies.


The US has always had a much more liberal immigration policy for ROW. Moving to the EU as an American is nigh on impossible. If was even remotely easy I'd have done it years and years ago.

Granted, that doesn't say anything positive about the immigration policy of Germany when 30 year old children can get in and I don't stand a chance. Oh well.


what I inferred from the other post was that governments are complex... and each government has some things they do well.. and some things they do poorly (not necessarily just re: asset forfeiture). For example one could argue that the US could look at other governments to see alternatives for how to manage healthcare differently (or perhaps even just portions of it)


I'm not convinced that the US government is more broken than the others you list.

Most people killed by a government are killed not by police forces, but rather by armies, navies and air forces. And if you live in or near the US you have a lower chance of being killed in a war than if you live in or near Europe because although the US starts more small wars, it starts fewer big wars, and most people killed in war are killed in big wars.

Europe has started fewer wars and killed fewer people since 1945 than the US has, and this is a sign that Europe is safer for the average resident or neighbor than the US is, but that sign is more than cancelled out by Europe's record (and Japan's record) before 1945.

Over the centuries, most prolonged rivalries and most expensive arms races between European nations ended in a war. In contrast, the intense prolonged rivalry and extremely expensive arms race between the US and the USSR did not end in a war -- at least not a war in which the most lethal available weapons were used or in which civilians were targeted to the extent that civilians were targeted by European and Japanese governments during WW II. Surely, the USSR's government deserves some of the credit for that surprisingly good outcome, but so does the US government.

And if you want to claim that the US did not have to participate in the intense prolonged rivalry and extremely expensive arms race -- if you want to argue that the fact that it did is a sign that the US is badly governed, you have to face the fact that if it had not participated, all of Europe would've been overrun by the USSR. There was far less political will in Western Europe to prepare for yet another war than would've been necessary to resist an invasion from the USSR if the US hadn't paid for most of the preparations.

I do not conclude from this analysis that the US government is better than most governments -- only that it is not clear to me that it is definitely worse. And I think it is a mistake to draw a boundary at 1945 and claim that anything that happened before then was too long ago to have any bearing on the question of which of today's governments are better.


The older I get, the more I suspect that the problem isn’t our system, but Americans. Take something like the NYC subway. It’s a disaster while London’s Tube works fine. The usual excuses (not enough money) don’t work—the NYC metro has double the operating costs per passenger trip, even though the systems are very similar.

Maybe Americans just aren’t very good at government. This is not so crazy a concept. When I was in Tokyo I marveled at how people would walk several blocks to get to a cross walk. Here in DC, people jay walk like it’s going out of style. That’s when it hit me that it’s no surprise Metro is a disaster while Tokyo’s trains work great.


I think a major problem with it is apathy, which is abundant, and can explain most ways government works worse in America (and why there should be less of it). Granted, I still don't agree that things are oh-so-bad in the U.S. Every time we bring up an issue, the Americans and foreigners alike gasp and point fingers, but this sort of stuff happens all over the world, just maybe not this exact problem in other English speaking nations.

What this does show is that we shouldn't expect government approaches which at least somewhat function in other countries to work well in the U.S.


I'm American, but I live in the UK and am currently working on a research project for Network Rail to investigate how machine learning might be used to improve performance. So I've been reading up on rail networks in general.

The Tube is mostly great, but there are issues; the public generally doesn't see them (but I guess you've never been in London at rush hour?). The UK rail network however is a disaster. Privatization has made things worse - organizational chaos because of too many overlapping responsibilities between all the companies / not enough coordination. And the profit motive of course screws up things for what ought to be treated as a public utility. The latest disaster (the re-timetabling of GTR's services) was badly planned, managed, and executed. It's not "government" in general - my opinion is Americans in general are a lot more organized than the British in a fundamental sense.

Europe is one a model of exactly how to run things - but at a certain cost to passengers. There is enough buffer space left in the timetable to deal with possible delays or problems, and so services are relatively infrequent, but on the whole punctual. Thus passengers have to adjust their lives for that. The UK however does not do that - buffer space is eaten up to stick freight trains in whenever possible and any issues with them (plus issues with passenger trains) cascade. And UK passengers have always had train services available at the drop of a hat (metaphorically) - the social cost to move over to the EU style of doing things would make a lot of people very unhappy. The GTR disaster is an example of how socially disruptive changes are, especially when badly managed.

Japan is of course super organized, so they have train services down to the very second. The UK only labels trains as 'late' if they arrive more than 3 minutes late...

As for NYC, yeah, they have a lot of issues. Old tracks, underfunded, but mostly bad management decisions in trying to solve one problem and it snowballs - the NY Times have had some good articles on exactly what is going wrong. It is like no one has been paying attention to all the OR research in this area, but that seems to be normal - the gap between theory and what's actually is done in industry is quite large.


> The UK only labels trains as 'late' if they arrive more than 3 minutes late...

In Maryland it’s 5 minutes for commuter trains. For Amtrak it’s 15 minutes for an inter-city train, and up to hours for long haul trains.


It is the greatest country in the world, despite its problems. For example, since 2016, CNN has been attempting to destroy the Trump Presidency 24/7, without any of their reporters being harassed, disappeared, imprisoned, dying in mysterious accidents, etc.

It takes a great country for that to happen.


>> If people in America just stopped to look around at how other countries do things they'd be doubly as well run.

People in America are not generally ready to accept the immigration policies of Western Europe, nor do we have the luxury of a military power that we can free-ride off of. Your comparison is simplistic and wrong.


> The more power you give to the government, the less power the citizenry has.

Sure. So what's the solution in this particular case? Should we go full corporate and privatize border control and customs? The government has a monopoly on violence and law enforcement. Do you think privatizing this outside of government is a good idea? Do you really think this power would be less abused?

Don't pick a bad example to dismiss the whole idea of government. At least in theory people can vote out the government, or specific laws/regulations* but they can't vote out money.

*) Before dismissing my point, that only works in democracy, not oligarchy, which we have in the US. And if you're wondering how we've reached oligarchy, I may be simplifying things but it has a lot to do with the 'big government is bad' idea which has been floated around within the last century by the people hoarding most money.


Small government can also provide border controls and customs. Small, in this case might refer to the scope of the government's powers rather than the size of its budget or number of employees.

Reasonable limitations in this case might include a requirement that property seized temporarily be the subject of a criminal investigation, with a short, strict time limit for either filing charges or seeking an extension from a judge, who should be expected not to grant it without exceptional circumstances. Forfeiture of property could require a felony conviction, and if the felon isn't the owner of the property, additional proof that the owner knew it was being used illegally.

I have no illusions here: these restrictions would sometimes prevent the government from taking the assets of real criminals. That seems like a reasonable trade. The sort of criminal behaviors that civil asset forfeiture might be effective against are not such a significant threat to the stability of the USA as to justify taking the property of innocents with less legal protection than they would have in the criminal justice system.


Giving the government the ability to seize assets without any sort of hearing or due process, with the burden on the individual to prove innocence with the assumption of guilt, is obviously a bad thing. I can only imagine that it was implemented to fight the drug war.

If you agree this is a bad result, and the situation has affected lots of people, then you agree that the government is capable of doing wrong.

So you should agree that expansions of government power should be treated extremely skeptically and with serious concern.

I do not “dismiss the idea of government” and I opened my post by saying so. I’m saying that we should try and limit the government’s power by default and try not to elect and empower lawmakers who believe otherwise.


> I can only imagine that it was implemented to fight the drug war.

No, actually it comes from English common law, and has been around a long, long time.

It has been abused in recent decades (using the drug war as an excuse), but it's far from a new thing.


The problem I have with this line of argument is that's used to excuse the government of these kinds of actions. Once you believe that government is simply incapable then you stop demanding that it becomes any better.

Even what you describe, limiting the power of government, is a governmental solution. You simply have to elect people who want to make the system better rather than those who want to tear it down. It's easy to say government doesn't work and do nothing.


As I stated in the opening of my post, the government is capable of good and exists for a reason. Regulations can be good. But people should recognize how much power the government has and see issues like civil asset forefeiture as an example of what can go wrong. I’m not saying the government cannot work. I’m saying that when it doesn’t work, the result can have an overwhelming negative impact, so we should be skeptical of government solutions.


I think that's a very naive perspective brought on by the perception that the government is a big monolithic entity so when the government does something bad, its the government's fault but when a corporation does something wrong it's specifically BP or Google or just one bad apple. The target of the public's ire becomes an entity with much smaller and better defined boundaries, ignoring every other corp that is doing the same exact thing. This process is also very self reinforcing. The only reason you know so much more about government abuses of power is because government is more transparent - the very feature that makes it such a powerful tool also puts it at a PR disadvantage.

I've seen far too much unethical and down right illegal behavior by management from inside companies, especially when dealing with privatized government functions, to ever trust them to do anything that they arent forced to (essentially at gun point). While, as an immigrant, I have an extreme distrust of American law enforcement, I would rather them than any private corporation.

I say this as someone who has been on the receiving end of civil asset forfeiture. My grandparents refused to take a bunch of cash that I had brought them in case the economic situation in Russia got worse and was taken for $20k and some priceless family heirlooms on the way back through LAX. It took a year and more money in legal fees than was confiscated just so I could get back some sentimental artefacts.


I think the real resolution here is that assumption of innocence works for all the other cases and in the one case where assumption of guilt until proven innocent exists we have real trouble. Civil forfeiture laws are terrible and end up generally being selectively enforced against minorities.

Nearly everyone I speak with about civil forfeiture thinks it's a bad idea with terrible incentives, so let's just enact some common sense and fix this one little thing, eh?


If the only presented alternative to government is private corporations how is that not much worse?

The government indeed is authoritarian and people should recognise it - but at least due to historical factors the citizenry have some control over it and how it functions. For a private corporation the general public has no voice at all. You can vote in presidents and senators, you can't vote in CEOs or executives.

The more power you give to private corporations, the less power the citizenry has.

A good analogy would be prisons: government run prisons and the penal system in the US are horrific, designed to be racist and exploit the poor. But then you look at how private prisons are run and realise that they are even worse: they have a profit motive to lock up citizens.


> “But government should be applied very carefully, and probably as the last solution, after we see the failures of non-government solutions.”

You are advocating a Laissez-faire approach[0]. This is not the only view on government intervention. There are various other approaches such as developmental state[1].

I recall reading an posted to HN that discussed the success of the developmental state In the east. Cannot seem to find it now.

[0] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laissez-faire

[1] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Developmental_state


Not just immigrants... for years, various jurisdictions in the US would shakedown people passing through. If you had more than a couple hundred in cash, kiss it goodbye. There's been a little tightening of its' use in the past 2-3 years, but it needs to go away.


but that's because you have a crap government and don't hold them to high enough standards - vote in a better one and complain until they do a better job - a democratic govt is supposed to be accountable to the people, not the other way around, I don't think many Americans understand this


The more power you give to the government, the less power the citizenry has.

"People should not be afraid of their governments; governments should be afraid of their people"


A government is your guaranteed voice in making decisions about how society runs. The US government is far from perfect, good lord. But it’s the only mechanism we’ve got for keeping power in the hands of the people.


It amazes me that anytime something goes wrong with the governement, someone says: we should get rid of the government.

How about we work to improve it instead?


Human nature being what it is, people who have power want to keep that power and hopefully expand it. That includes the gov't.


>> The more power you give to the government, the less power the citizenry has.

Well, unless the citizenry controls the government. This is the case in some political systems, e.g. democracy.


I absolutely hate even the idea of "Civil Asset Forfeiture." It's even more of a bullshit legal construct than a non-living entity having first amendment rights. It's clearly a 4th Amendment violation and deserves to be challenged.

I'd be okay with freezing assets for up to say 3 months while formal charges are filed, but just taking them forever is fucking bullshit.


It is outrageous. We need a legislative fix.


I think I agree. If there isn't a conviction I'm not sure how the forfeiture can really be justified.


A huge problem here is that the government has zero skin in the game. Random people working for some three letter agency are able to plunge you into a bureaucratic labyrinth at the flick of a wrist, and even violate their own guidelines with an extremely low probability of accountability or repercussion.

For example:

> Under federal forfeiture law, the government was required to initiate a forfeiture case within 90 days after the Kazazis responded to the seizure notice. If it failed to initiate a forfeiture case within that window, it would be required to promptly return the money to the claimants.

> That deadline passed over a month ago, on April 17. CBP has not filed a forfeiture complaint; nor has it returned the money.

This kind of behavior should be severely penalized. The Kazazis should be awarded a minimum of 10x the market value of the asset, or about $570,000, and NOT to be paid out of some magic bottomless government account funded by tax dollars, but directly from whomever the head of the offending department is.

Then the horrible life experiences they're afflicting on innocent individuals might actually be bumped up from "P4 - Low priority" to "P0 - Get this shit fixed now"


Better yet, the Albanian gentleman should be deputized to seize and hold the property of the officers who flagrantly violated their oaths and his rights, garnish their paychecks, and let them wait anxiously for him to get around to telling them 'why'.


That's returning to an older conception of justice, one that is rather harsh and violent: the law of talion[0]. While it may appeal to our gut feelings, it goes against the more humane enlightened form of justice we have nowadays. I wouldn’t want to go down that road.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eye_for_an_eye


They could in fact file what is called a "Bivens claim", directly against the individual agents involved.

Whether it would make the Feds more cooperative or not, is the question.


You start holing these cops personally accountable for this or any of the massive amounts of other disgusting actions they commit on a daily basis and I guarantee this fixes itself overnight. Cop murders someone, electric chair. Cops steals money, they pay back their entire life savings. It's about time we hold public servants to a higher set of standards rather than a lower one. If only there were such incentives, they'd be guaranteed to work. But there are no consequences to police even for murder, let alone theft.


This isn't what I intended to communicate at all. Lower level personnel behaving badly is just a symptom of the real problem, and punishing them would be an easy scapegoat for higher up authority.

Just like with a toxic CEO in a company, firing some employees isn't a long term solution to fixing the culture. The leaders, the heads of the departments, is where the accountability should be.


Absolutely. The supervisors and chiefs of the cops who murder, steal, or otherwise break the law should indeed also be held accountable. But so should the actual perpetrators. Because in many of these cases, it is actually the low level cops who decide to commit crimes without any outside influence. Theft like this probably does go all the way to the top, but when cops murder unarmed, innocent people who are no threat to them, that's more on the cop committing the murder more than anyone up high.


And those scumbags are the ones that get promoted because bringing money into the system is "good police work". The rot is so embedded.


It's a criminal conspiracy - you go after the leaders and the low level thugs.


This is one of the most horrifying stories I've read in a long time.

I have a great deal of trouble even understanding what has gone so catastrophically wrong to even have this practice be a thing. Due process MUST be honored. No excuses are acceptable that "convictions are to hard, we NEED this".

Law enforcement and policing with this kind of discretion, ceases to be policing, protection of, or service to society. I will back the men and women who truly try to execute their duty with due respect and honor to those they are protecting, but institutional mechanisms like this only undermine and weaken the trust the public can have in the government.

I'll come out and say it. I'll accept a drug dealer on every corner before I'll accept the legality and morality of confiscation of assets without due process or with shortcutted due process. Our country survived just fine before the explosion in law enforcement's capability to waltz over civil rights, and it can survive without it now. If you can't get the job done with typical investigative techniques that don't include stomping on or cleverly redefining the scope of the 4th Amendment, then maybe, just maybe you're doing it wrong.

Depriving a citizen of life, liberty, and the fruits of their pursuit of happiness is SUPPOSED to be a long, ardorous task.

Vigilia pretium libertatis est.


Justice Thomas indicated [1] his severe disapproval of civil forfeiture and interest in invalidating it should a good case present itself, and so it seems that such case just turned up. I'm waiting for the supreme court case with eager anticipation.

Last time there was a potentially suitable case the victim's lawyer made a mistake of not raising the constitutional grounds (4th amendment) during the initial trial, and this formality made it impossible to mount a good appeal.

[1] http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/201...


Here's something that gets me...

A lot of Second Amendment advocates say we need the right to bear arms to protect ourselves from a tyrannical government. Well...here's your tyranny. Now where's that armed uprising?


There is a common saying: "There are four boxes to be used in the defense of liberty: soap, ballot, jury and ammo. Please use in that order."

Emphasis on Please use in that order. I can't believe this needs to be emphasized, but killing people should be a last resort. I'm glad these "2nd Amendment advocates" aren't as trigger happy as you seem to suggest they be. I don't think it's hyperbolic to say that shooting people before nonviolent options are exhausted is depraved.


Technology has obsoleted all four of those boxen. Democracy went from a metric to the model, which was then economically optimized out. Now the information flow runs the other direction - the modern political apparatus efficiently distributes public opinion rather than gathering it.

Our remaining hope is a newfound fifth - the personal computation box.


I disagree with your conclusion. While it's true technological advances have rendered many traditional forms of soap boxes obsolete, that means we need to develop new more capable soap boxes. But perhaps this is what you allude to with "the personal computation box"?

(And as for the ammo box, guerilla fighters have proven resourceful. Modern guerilla warfare and its relationship to technology is an interesting subject you can dive deep into. One must also keep in mind modern 'win' conditions for guerilla fighters, many of which don't look much like win conditions in traditional warfare. But I don't think our present situation will come to this.)


"We" just developed the most capable soap box yet - "social media". It's worsening the problem.

I expressly do not mean the computation box as a new version of soap box (ie general means for swaying opinion), but as a type of private meeting place where individuals may freely associate for their own mutually-beneficial purposes.

Guerilla warfare can only exist when there's a local consensus against an (outside) imposing military. This possibility is obviated by democracy, which guarantees that the non-military majority opinion will carry without having to shoot. It's a last defense against outside conquerors, but not domestically-grown totalitarianism.

Our modern conundrum is that opinion is being defined by mass media, and now interactive-personalized mass media (the Inception effect is powerful). The same process that has anointed this succession of hopechange-actor presidents also assures those ammo boxen are mutedly waiting for the bogeyman.


Well said.

I guess the problem is that not enough people know that civil forfeiture is a thing yet.

I'm just blown away that such a thing could ever be written into law. I think it's a pretty clear-as-day violation of our Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure.


I guess the problem is that not enough people know that civil forfeiture is a thing yet.

...or that not enough people have experienced it yet, and probably never will. There's a lot of "it won't happen to me" thinking around this, and to be honest, how many people do take large amounts of cash with them while traveling? The fact that this item is newsworthy is enough to show that it happens rarely.

I'm almost willing to bet that if the number of people affected goes high enough, there will be armed revolts; but the government is smart enough to not do that, instead preferring to strip liberties in tiny bits at a time.


> There's a lot of "it won't happen to me" thinking around this

And probably thinking "They had a reason to do it", which I don't think has shown to be the case.


> but the government is smart enough to not do that

you're talking about our government?


I haven't heard that saying before but I think it very succinctly describes an order of escalation that some people, parent comment included, might not immediately appreciate.

Additional info for anyone interested: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_boxes_of_liberty


The first 3 have long been exhausted for civil forfeiture.


I disagree and I strongly discourage you from shooting people. There is still a large portion of the public who don't know what civil forfeiture is or why it's a bad thing. If you want to make a difference the best thing you can do right is educate people.


> I disagree

He's factually correct though. I don't see how you can disagree with the fact that the supreme court already ruled these practices legal (jury), neither republicans nor democrats managed to fix the matter (ballot), and the average american showers once a day...

Stories like these have been all over the news under both republican and democratic presidents and congress - nothing changed.

Don't give people a four-step program and then act aghast they're considering to go through with it. Find a better four-step program/quote instead.


>"He's factually correct though."

It's not a fact that soap box options have been exhausted. It's merely your opinion that the soap box has been tried enough, to the point that giving up on trying to inform and persuade people is rational and/or ethical.

But... is that actually your opinion? You're here arguing online using your soap box, instead of waging a guerilla war against the system. So I think in actual fact you haven't given up on the soap box. Or at least you still see value in the soap box for purposes of inciting a rebellion?


The soap box has already been used. People don't care.

The ballot box has already been used. Both sides either take no action or work to extend the practise. People still don't care.

The jury box has already been used, the supreme court has ruled this legal. People still don't care.

If you think it's too soon to resort to the ammo box, you need to reevaluate your perspective on the government in the USA. Remember, "all it takes for evil to prevail is for good people to do nothing."


The soap box has not been exhausted. It's not something you use once or twice and then give up on. And because the soap box has not been exhausted, the ballot box has necessarily not been employed to the full extent. The ammo box is for truly extreme situations such as when the results of the ballot box are being disregarded and the courts choose not to intervene or are incapable of meaningfully intervening.

Ironically, right now, you are using the soap box and not the ammo box. You're arguing your viewpoint online instead of killing people. That's a good thing, keep at it.


At what point do you consider the soap box exhausted?


If you voted for democrats, you did the ballot box wrong. Bill Clinton made the problem worse. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=74583

He explicitly didn't want people to be able to defend themselves! "Requiring the Federal Government to provide a free attorney to anyone who wants to contest a forfeiture action would overwhelm the judicial system with frivolous claims."

"Raise the standard of proof in forfeiture cases to clear and convincing evidence." He didn't want that.

Really, why is any democrat voter complaining about this? It's their own fault.


"Really, why is any democrat voter complaining about this? It's their own fault."

It's been 21.5 years since anyone voted for Bill Clinton. Those democrats who are 39.5 years or younger have no consequent blame.

And by the way, Clinton's administration posted that opinion about 3 years after anyone had voted for Bill Clinton. The voters no longer had any input.


If voters punished parties for things they did in the past, that would be a force towards more long term thinking instead of always reacting to whatever scapegoat the rabble wants to hang today.


I don't know of any 2nd amendment advocate who suggests bearing arms against the government as an ideal first option.

If you want to see it in action in another scenario, go look up The Bundy Ranch Standoff.[1]

[1]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bundy_standoff


Have all legal and peaceful means of resolving this been exhausted? Does not seem so.


"... all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Declaration_of_I...


I thought civil asset forfeiture was outlawed around 2014/2015. Looking closer it seems that was only in a few states. I found this map from 2015

https://cdn0.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_asset/file/7195521/c...

Has much changed since then?


edit: Any changes to these laws would not apply due to the border search exception.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Border_search_exception

The supreme court basically decided you have no rights at the border.


Within 100 miles of the border, that is. Which includes most of the more populated areas of the US.


> Erald Kazazi said the ordeal has affected his father's health and turned their lives upside down. But, he said, his father's high opinion of the United States has not changed.

> “He's not going to let the actions of some employees that made a mistake in their duties change his opinion of the country,” he said.

I wish people wouldn’t put the USA on high pedestals and realize this (among other things) are very serious issues that will ultimately be our downfall if not addressed. Do people think the countries they fled from got bad overnight? No, it’s a pattern of ambivalence to corruption that led to the ultimately shitty state they are in now and we will be there faster than we think.


His father was being diplomatic. It's easier to admit you messed up once than admitting you have a systemic problem.


The system is working as designed: shield state actors from liability while increasing police powers.

A few lose their jobs or get fined, but fewer go to jail or have to account for their excesses. I really question the motives of anyone who wants to be a cop in this environment.


So the police steal as much as everyone else combined, but it's still only a few bad apples? Every last beat cop on up (especially if they are part of a union) is a bad, rotten apple. Every single one of these cops are propping up ridiculous systems of mass theft and murder orchestrated by their colleagues and their counterparts in prosecutors' offices. These people have no concept of justice or fairness or serving or protecting. I truly think the US would be better off without official police that's how detrimental they are to our society. They are one of the few groups that I can truly say keep our society from being civilized.


> the police steal as much as everyone else combined

No, that's a "fake news" myth.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/11/23/cops-...

> If you add up all the property stolen in 2014, from burglary, theft, motor vehicle theft and other means, you arrive at roughly $12.3 billion,

> The total value of asset forfeitures was more than one-third of the total value of property stolen by criminals in 2014.


But only around 20% of property stolen gets recovered (value). So the police actually take more than they recover, operating at a net negative.

And that isn't counting the wages of people working there yet...

I realize this comparison isn't fair at all - the problem appears to be that it comes to mind at all.


Is there anywhere for someone to learn about the process that exists to RECOVER civil asset forfeiture funds?


You have to sue the government body that took your funds. Get a good lawyer and pray, basically.


The government body will refuse to return the money voluntarily if you sue.[0]

[0]: https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20180508/10330739804/cbp-s...


That's a different kind of suit. The first suit to is to prove your innocence (ugh) to get the money returned. The second suit is to complain about the civil rights violations.


And what percent of the time did they EVER return all of it voluntarily?


What is the rationale behind civil forfeiture? Besides a convenient way to get more funds into the state pocket if you don’t like someone’s face?

I first saw it in The Shield (still one of my favorite shows) and remember thinking that it looks more like some army controlled region in Africa or something than a civilized country. But yeah, so does privatising prisons.


It's a legacy of the "War on Drugs". The argument was that drug dealers use money mules to move their cash, and this law would allow law enforcement to take that money, thus harming the drug trade.

Like many well-meaning laws that were hastily passed, they never thought it would be used against retirees and people buying cars with cash.


The rationale, such as it is, is that proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt is too hard, and the Constitution does not apply to civil forfeiture (civil=$$$, criminal=imprisonment). The 4th Amendment (unreasonable searches and seizures) is quietly ignored.


Is the 4th Amendment ignored, or is the threshold for search (assuming "reasonable suspicion" or something similar) just lower than for (criminal) seizure?


How is asset forfeiture not precisely the system of police bribery and police corruption that we routinely criticize "third world" countries for having?


That’s simple: with third world bribery, you pay the police for a favor. With asset forfeiture, they just take your money and don’t do anything for you.


Yeah exactly... this guy thought the crime & corruption was bad in Albania.


He was given a receipt.


Has civil asset forfiture been to the Supreme Court? It's blatantly unconstitutional, and given the current panel I'd say it has a great chance of being killed.

I do have to say, it's a well known fact trying to make it across any border with a sum of cash is a risky business. I would hope America would be an exception to that fact due to "Due Process", but even I wouldn't place a bet on that. It says very clearly on the us travel website carrying more than $10k of cash is going to get you in trouble though.

Transferring money internationally is a huge pita. I just came back from China. Good luck every trying to fund a wechat or alipay account as a Westerner.


He wasn't crossing a border, which makes it even more random. It was a domestic flight on the first leg of his trip. He had read the rules and was planning to do the proper paperwork for carrying cash at the proper place, before leaving the country.


Transferring money from China is easy via a wire. Converting RMB tO USD, on the other hand is a PITA and you won’t succeed if you don’t have the right documentation in triplicate.

You can use wechat to pay for things as a foreigner if you have a resident permit, or so I here.

Carrying more than $10k of cash is actually ok as long as you report it.


> xferring is easy via wire

No, it's not, you cannot wire it unless the recipient is a Chinese national.

> If you have a resident permit

The only requirement is a Chinese phone number which requires hours in line, a visa, facial recognition scan, and passport, and the same requirements for the bank account. Once you have a Chinese bank account, you can hook it up to wechat. The only ways to fund it are via cash however.

This was not a communication issue, I had a native speaker with me at Bank of China and China mobile.


> No, it's not, you cannot wire it unless the recipient is a Chinese national.

I’ve wired money from my Chinese account to my overseas account plenty of times. I’m most definitely not a Chinese National. I’ve also had money wired to my Chinese account before. Still, if you don’t want to wait in line, don’t go to BOC (or ICBC).

I still have a Chinese phone number also. Passport + resident permit was good enough in my case for both account and phone number. But it could have changed since I got those a few years ago.

BOC and China mobile see the worst companies to deal with. CMB (China merchant bank) isn’t an SOE so their customer service is better. Also, Unicom is better than China Mobile for foreigners.


Civil forfeiture is technically a legal action against your property, not you.

Since your property will not and cannot legally defend itself, it loses by default.


Next the government will indict the left hand of a thief, or the foot of a common brawler. Those are just body parts with no constitutional rights, so forget about habeas corpus and all that jazz. It'll be much better. Cops can just focus on arresting fists and feet and not worry about explaining themselves to juries.


Usually I like to see balance come about in due time like a pendulum slowly swinging from one side to the other, but it's stories like these that would have me understand action and revolt against the body perpetrating such morally wrong, yet supposedly legal actions. Time to call for a Robin Hood. He did not steal from the rich and give to the poor as most people think, but rather took back property and money seized by the corrupt brother of the good king who was absent and at war a distance away. Here the government allows for seizure without accountability, but the laws or whatever it is that allows this is legal?


...unpopular opinion time...

so, is anyone taking a long hard look and asking themselves, first individually and then collectively - "this situation , this and all the stuff going on in our world today, is this or is this not totally out of control?"

would be great to be able to do this without looking to some other country and saying "but that happens over there and that is way worse than this"

some of this stuff should be absolute (see intent of constitutions and similar )


This is decades old old, centuries old, millenia old problem. If one's government and by extension all those organisations which are under its umbrella are not held to the highest standards by "we the people", the citizens, then it will rapidly degrade to the lowest standards.

It can only be held to the highest standards by the active, ongoing participation of the citizens. There is no nation on this beautiful planet that is held to the highest standards because there is no agreement what the highest standards are.

As citizens, we are only interested in our specific interests and cares and whoopee-do for anyone else. As citizens, we don't care what happens elsewhere. That is someone else's problem.

It doesn't matter what kid of politics you adhere to, what philosophies or religions, most (the vast, vast majority) are only interested in what they get out of things. If the consequences of some policy, legislation, etc. will come and bite them, they don't care as long as it hasn't happened right now.

So with the lowest standards, we have corrupt or useless politicians, law enforcement, national security, commercial enterprises, government enterprises, medical treatment, education, etc. The problems continue to grow and the citizens continue to fight over the decreasing scraps left over for them. Every system on this planet is failing rapidly and will continue to go downhill.

Until people are willing to take responsibility for their choices and accept responsibility for their choices, they will be unable to do anything that is effective in making changes for the better. If you are not willing to hold yourself to a higher standard, then you cannot expect those who have responsibilities in government, business, social areas to have a higher standard.

If you are part of any organisation that has "bad apples" and you do nothing, then you are one of those "bad apples". There are no excuses, no extenuating circumstances, as long as any "bad apples" are not dealt with, the entirety of the organisation is corrupt.

So on that note, it should not be at all surprising when corrupt activities are undertaken by any government organisation and law enforcement such as the legal theft of any goods and chattels of any citizen or non-citizen. The citizens have been complicit and now the citizens have to live with that corruption and the consequences for themselves.

If we aren't doing something active to improve things then we are in full agreement with what does happen to others and then to ourselves.


John Oliver on civil asset forfeiture, satirical but shockingly real:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3kEpZWGgJks


You fill the form, you declare the cash.

It says in Terms & Conditions "if you don't register BLAH BLAH BLAH"

Choose a country that promotes freedom - Liberland, Blue Frontiers anyone?


Why do no candidates, either Dem or GOP, work to end this? Isn't the government blatantly stealing from people something both sides can get together to end?


Because then it might be construed as an attack on police funding. Politicians seek support of police unions when they're running campaigns.


God I love this country. Where else do the criminals compete with the police and the terrorists compete with our armed mentally ill mass murderers?


The agents will get a nice bonus this week... probably as good as last week and next week.


Here's a version without the paywall http://archive.is/osFHm


Need to declare that, buddy. Anything over $10k. It’s super easy for them to detect that much currency in your carryon.


Did you read the article?

Hottot said Kazazi was well aware of those requirements and planned to file his disclosure form during his four-hour layover in Newark. The form instructs travelers to file the paperwork “at the time of departure from the United States with the Customs officer in charge at any Customs port of entry or departure.”


Addressed in the article. You're supposed to declare to customs when you leave the country. He would have been leaving from Newark after a four-hour layover.

Also in the article: CBP had 90 days to respond after Kazazi decided to take the matter to federal court, but over a month after their deadline passed are still holding the money, and are refusing to comment.


The money was seized at departure of the domestic leg of this trip, before he had an opportunity to report it at the port of departure for his international leg.

https://www.fincen.gov/sites/default/files/shared/fin105_cmi...


(1) He wasn't trying to hide it.

(2) It was a domestic flight; he says he was going to declare it when boarding the international flight.

This was all in the article.

At this rate the various LEAs are going to make muggers, bankers and other professional thieves jealous.


[flagged]


buddy.


How many 64 year olds put their life savings in carry on bags? I'm not saying the CBP is innocent, but $60K in cash in a carry on is suspicious


Suspicious, sure. But people are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty. You shouldn't be able to just take someone's stuff because you are "suspicious" that they got it illegally. You should have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they got it illegally first.


Was it right or fair the money was taken? Likely not.

But, practically speaking, was it a good idea to blatantly take that much cash in a bag across a border? That's highly questionable.

I don't care who it is, government agent or not, I would just not risk it. At the end of the day, that "civil servant" is just another person - and they are liable to act in their own self-interest just like some other random individual. With such high stakes as putting your life savings on the line, it would make sense to be skeptical of anyone you make eye contact with. It's just my opinion, but I would sooner take my chances trying to smuggle the money across the border than just plainly walk through security with a bag full of cash. Unless there are specific legal/authoritative documents proving the legality of the money that's being taken across and a lawyer is traveling with me. As soon as the government seizes the money, it's an uphill battle from there.


Many, many people. Cash is the surest portable form of value, and banking can be especially complicated and expensive when international borders are involved.


Not to people who have seen banks fail. Like the elderly who watched their parent's life-savings disappear during the 1930's market crash (the FDIC insurance law was enacted afterwards). Or people who used to live in totalitarian states and cash was the best way to have savings.


Why would you risk carrying around that kind of money? What’s wrong with doing a wire transfer? Or just writing yourself a cheque?

Failing to see an honest use case for moving that much cash by hand.


I would argue "because I want to" should be enough reason.

That aside, the reasons are quite clear from the article:

"In an interview translated by his son, Kazazi said safety concerns prompted him to take cash on his trip, rather than wire the funds to a local bank.

“The crime [in Albania] is much worse than it is here,” he said. “Other people that have made large withdrawals [from Albanian banks] have had people intercept them and take their money. The exchange rates and fees are [also] excessive.”

Albanian contractors often prefer dollars and euros over the local currency, Kazazi said. For those reasons, he said, many expatriates who return to visit Albania bring large amounts of cash with them."

Folks from nations with fully functional banking and money systems don't understand this argument because they cannot envision what it means.

One potential way to think about this is to just replace cash in this situation with your favorite payment system - payment, debit & credit card and Apple / Samsung payment watch - whatever and imagine that you are in a world where i) cash does ALL the things that these systems do for you ii) these systems can, for some reason, easily have your money withdrawn from them and iii) for some reason, you get a huge discount for using cash instead of other payment systems (think the way you get cashback or purchase points from some cards)...

in this world, hard cash, especially US currency that comes with even more discount and flexibility benefits is worth the effort

but, all that aside, "because I want to" should be enough reason


Besides the points already mentioned by others (as well as in the article), writing a cheque in this situation has the problem of being able to cash it on the other side. I cannot think of a single bank (and please correct me if I'm wrong) that would allow a client, especially a new, previously unknown client, to walk in and cash a $60k international check. Without special circumstances, you'd likely be looking at an extended hold period, which would defeat the purpose in many situations.

Source: Wrote myself a check for a similar reason (not wanting to carry more than 10k across the border). Funds were held by the receiving bank for 15 business days.


15 days is not an egregious amount of time to wait to verify that $58,000 is being moved honestly.


You are correct, it is not, and I completely understand why most banks and financial institutions have this policy. My point was that if you are going on a vacation, or a trip, or business of some kind for 4 weeks with the need to take a relatively large sum of money with you, the 3 week delay would make this option less than ideal.


The article explains why. In Albanaia, where he was going, there have been issues with people pulling money out of the bank and then being robbed shortly after.

Sounds like an organized crime problem, where bank tellers are tipping off criminals about good targets.

His solution was to take it out here, where it's safe...or so he thought.


> Why would you risk carrying around that kind of money? What’s wrong with doing a wire transfer?

Mistrust of banking institutions. Several countries have, at some point in history, frozen and/or confiscated the money deposited in bank accounts (my country, for instance, had one of these in the 90s).

> Or just writing yourself a cheque?

As mentioned on many other discussions here on HN, several countries don't use checks anymore. And even when that's not the case, it's probable that they won't accept checks from another country.


Just because there are alternatives doesn't mean you can assume it is dishonest. Moving money IS an honest use case.


> Or just writing yourself a cheque?

Good luck cashing in a cheque underwritten by a US Bank in Albania.


Read the news, it's explained there fully. According to them in Albania; wiring has high fee, bad rate, and possibility to be intercepted due to corrupt system.


Well I totaly understand why he would do this. I once made an international wire transfer, because there was no other option, and the banks stripped me of 7% of the funds on fees, and completely retarded currency exhange rate.

For this guy, that would be a year of savings, which is not insignificant.

Also banks will not commit to any specific total fee amount. If you read their terms and conditions, they say that money could go via unspecified number of intermediaries, where any one of them can take a part of the money up to 5% each or some such.


Covered in like, the first few 'grafs of the article. Please don't comment without at least skimming the article.


RTFA


I hate civil forfeiture as much as the next guy, but the story of a guy from Albania carrying all his family's "life savings", including his adult son's savings (why would he give his father his life savings?), in amount of ~60k USD back to Albania because "bank wire was too risky" sounds like a cover up lie. What's more believable is that bank wire was too risky because you need to declare where the money is coming from when you send them and when you receive them, and also probably pay taxes. It just looks like a simple money laundering operation.


Anecdotal but I have walked through security and boarded US flights with much much larger amounts of cash without a single issue, no declaration, no paperwork. Not a single person bat an eye. I wonder if there is more to this story. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in court. I'm sure the USG will make a mockery of itself.


It sounds like (1) they didn't notice you did that and (2) you didn't follow proper procedure because as noted in the article you're required to declare bringing in or taking out amounts in excess of $10,000. I've never gotten a jaywalking ticket, but that doesn't meant it never happens.


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