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Writer Peter Watts Sentenced; No Jail Time

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the new-spirit-of-openness dept.

The Courts 299

shadowbearer writes "SF writer Peter Watts, a Canadian citizen, whose story we have read about before in these pages, was sentenced three days ago in a Port Huron, MI court. There's not a lot of detail in the story, and although he is still being treated like a terrorist (cannot enter or pass through the US, DNA samples) he was not ordered to do any time in jail, was freed, and has returned home to his family. The judge in the case was, I believe, as sympathetic as the legal system would allow him to be."

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299 comments

Allahu ackbar! (2, Insightful)

Luke727 (547923) | more than 4 years ago | (#32052920)

*pushes detonator*

That's something anyway (4, Insightful)

dbIII (701233) | more than 4 years ago | (#32052926)

It shows the Judge thought it was bullshit that was a waste of taxpayers money via the court system as well.
Time to get some adult supervision at those border posts.

Re:That's something anyway (4, Insightful)

jgreco (1542031) | more than 4 years ago | (#32052952)

Adult supervision? Heck, my kids know to behave better than those guards.

Re:That's something anyway (1)

OrwellianLurker (1739950) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053010)

Adult supervision? Heck, my kids know to behave better than those guards.

My palm is resting on my face, sir. He's implying that the guards have the maturity of children.

Re:That's something anyway (4, Insightful)

Dhalka226 (559740) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053068)

And the grandparent is implying that it wouldn't even take an adult to see how horribly the guards were acting; even other children would get it.

Re:That's something anyway (1)

jgreco (1542031) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053212)

Sorry, I see how that was unclear. I was intending to question the word _adult_. I'm used to kids who are able to keep an eye on what's going on and who report bad things to their parents, or will even step in if doing so will prevent someone from getting hurt. I meant to suggest that I know some kids who would be able to supervise those guards successfully, but I see how I failed to state that clearly.

When your kids can tell the difference between rude, mean, nasty, and actual danger, it makes you wonder why border guards cannot. Sorry for any confusion.

Re:That's something anyway (2, Insightful)

OrwellianLurker (1739950) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053526)

Sorry for any confusion.

This is the internet. I expect to be confused.

Re:That's something anyway (2, Insightful)

kramerd (1227006) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053086)

To be fair, he got out of his car while it was being searched in a routine border search. Not randomly on the street, but to make sure that you have declared everything you may be bringing across borders (you should recognize that this would be reasonable). Its not like he couldn't have read up on how border crossings work prior to heading across the border to learn that his vehicle may be searched and that at no time should he leave his vehicle unless explicitly asked to do so by border patrol. Never mind that its posted 100 times in plain sight that you are to remain in your vehicle at all times.

The police response is to assume that (since they have not searched him) it is possible that he may have a weapon, especially when he gets out of his car. Pepper spray is a light sentence, and I have no reason to believe that he wasn't fighting back just because he writes SF. Neither did a jury which found him guilty of felony non-compliance (which I have to assume is the reason he was overly restrained). This law includes offenses ranging from assault and battery to simply standing too close to an officer, and his punishment is correctly somewhere in the middle (less than 2 years in prison, more than nothing).

To be accurate, however, we would have to read the judge's notes on the case to understand the judge's thought process. There is no basis for assuming that the judge thought the case was a waste of taxpayer money (if a judge thinks this, they tend to throw the case out, not wait for a jury to come back with a verdict).

simply standing too close to an officer.. (5, Informative)

jeko (179919) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053150)

"This law includes offenses ranging from assault and battery to simply standing too close to an officer..."

"Standing too close to an officer" is a crime? OK, that's about the walking definition of a bad law.

What was Watts' crime? He asked the officers what they were doing.

He didn't strike anyone. He didn't kick anyone. According to the record he didn't even use harsh language. Apparently our law enforcement community has become so vicious and cowardly they'll beat people bloody just for looking at them wrong.

Peter Watts is a geek scifi writer. Judging from his photos, he weighs about 160. My wife could smack him around. He's about as threatening as a tuna sandwich.

But somehow, these law enforcement officers felt they needed to beat him senseless, leave his blood all over the pavement, and then mace him for good measure when honestly, a wedgie probably would have been overkill.

Scifi novelists, small-town mayors, Chinese diplomats, 75-year-old grandmas, epileptics having a seizure -- Is there ANYONE law enforcement doesn't want to beat bloody before talking to them any more?

Re:simply standing too close to an officer.. (0, Troll)

kramerd (1227006) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053208)

Well, standing too close to an officer could very easily be a crime, for example if by doing so you are interefering with an investigation, or with an arrest, or stopping a police officer from otherwise completing their official duties. You obviously aren't going to get arrested for being in the next over at the doughnut shop.

For all you know, the officers in question may have reasonably believed that he had a weapon. Or that he was fighting back and needed to be restrained and that beating him senseless was the only safe solution. Or they may have been assholes. I wasn't there, I don't know. A jury found him guilty of felony non-compliance, so he must have done more than just stepped out of his car (in fact we know that he did so at border patrol, which by definition carries a higher risk for officers, so a higher reaction would be expected than in, for example, Canada).

Re:simply standing too close to an officer.. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32053264)

I dunno. Once it's been determined that it's just curiousity and not ill intent, I think the beating is more than enough punishment. No need to ladle charges on top of that, unless you're trying to legitimize the through the charges. It's kind of a pity that he's not an american citizen. I'd like to see an appeal and suit. He could certainly do those things as a foreign national, but I suspect that he'll probably just be grateful to be able to go home, and that'll be the end of it.

Re:simply standing too close to an officer.. (-1, Troll)

kramerd (1227006) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053292)

You would think with all the news about police beatings of people with curiosity that people wouldn't be curious anymore. Really, the common sense that is taught in pretty much all education is don't do things to give police a reason to wonder whether or not they should beat you, because they are within their rights to beat you well before that, as they should be, because what if you have a gun?

I recently took a defensive driving course (because my insurance offered me a sizeable discount for doing so) and they pointed out that in the little book given for drivers for the written test, it explicitly states that should you be pulled over, at no time should you exit your vehicle unless instructed to do so by the officer. There really is no excuse.

Re:simply standing too close to an officer.. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32053330)

Christ, you're an asshole.

Re:simply standing too close to an officer.. (0, Troll)

kramerd (1227006) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053394)

Thanks :)

Re:simply standing too close to an officer.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32053338)

Not to be rude, but so what?

Nobody is saying that what this guy did was smart. They're only saying that the treatment of this guy was unfair. Further, some of these laws are inane and open the door for all sorts of problems.

Re:simply standing too close to an officer.. (5, Insightful)

hldn (1085833) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053354)

because they are within their rights to beat you well before that, as they should be, because what if you have a gun?

what an idiotic statement. sorry, there's no other way to describe it.

Re:simply standing too close to an officer.. (0)

kramerd (1227006) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053438)

There are plenty of other ways to describe it. Accurate is probably the best way to describe part of a quote that you think is idiotic. I think that partially quoting me is idiotic.

If you fully quote me, you would note that this is the logic of why you don't give police a reason to beat you. As I have elsewhere pointed out, police do not and should wait for you to prove that you are a threat, they need only act when they perceive a threat. If you get out of your car after being instructed not to do so, you are a threat. You should know better. Its not nuclear physics dammit.

"HE'S COMING RIGHT FOR US!" (2, Funny)

jeko (179919) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053568)

they need only act when they perceive a threat

Dammit, Boys, IT'S A CANADIAN! Git him before they burn the White House again!

Re:simply standing too close to an officer.. (1)

SpaceLifeForm (228190) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053628)

You are an idiot.

If you don't *know* that you are not supposed to get out of your car, and you get a gun pulled on you due to that lack of information, are you really worried about getting beaten?

police do not and should wait for you to prove that you are a threat, they need only act when they perceive a threat.

They don't *wait*. You are out of touch with reality.

At this time, for the next month, there is a huge police presence going on due to stimpac money.

Lots of overtime money for the police.

Re:simply standing too close to an officer.. (0)

kramerd (1227006) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053756)

That is not what happened.

I am certain that under specific hypothetical situations I might react in various ways, but officers are not walking into wal-mart and tasering people for the sake of watching them fall down. They are waiting for a perceived threat and using these items in a manner consistent with official police policy (or they get sued and suspended or dismissed for breaking such policy).

Who cares if police are using money set aside for extra police work? I'm not saying its helping our economy, nor is it necessarily an incentive for people to enter the police field who otherwise would not remain unemployed, but if you don't like your government, run for office.

Re:simply standing too close to an officer.. (1)

pipingguy (566974) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053576)

...they pointed out that in the little book given for drivers for the written test, it explicitly states that should you be pulled over, at no time should you exit your vehicle

I have to agree with this. Even though I once did it, many years ago in friendly Toronto. It was a speeding pullover, and the cop seemed surprised.

But I guess it's difficult for some to look at situations from a cop's perspective.

On the other hand, lots of things seem like good ideas before you reach 40 and are still invulnerable.

Re:simply standing too close to an officer.. (5, Insightful)

jeko (179919) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053334)

A jury found him guilty of felony non-compliance, so he must have done more than just stepped out of his car.

Actually, from the reports, that's EXACTLY what he did, and the judge basically cut him loose for it.

he did so at border patrol, which by definition carries a higher risk for officers,

I am so sick of hearing this. Cowardice is no excuse for brutality. I grew up military. Come to one of my family dinners and let the Vietnam veterans in my family explain what a dangerous job is.

Looking at the Department of Labor statistics, being a cop is a VERY safe job. You know who gets killed on the job more often than police officers? Construction workers. Cab drivers. Fast food workers. Hotel clerks.

Hop over to the forums on "Officer.com" and listen to the boys on blue in their own words for a while. They'll tell you quite openly they feel absolutely no obligation to put themselves in harm's way for the "sheeple," and they proudly proclaim "I AM GOING HOME TONIGHT" no matter how many receptionists and secretaries have to die to make that happen.

I spent some time with the State Fire Association. Seems like everyone last one of those guys is missing an eye, ear or finger, and has a quietly proud story of how they traded that part of their body for some stranger's kid. I stand in awe of their dedication, sacrifice and courage.

The institutional cowardice and crutality of law enforcement stands in stark contrast.

Re:simply standing too close to an officer.. (0, Offtopic)

kramerd (1227006) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053384)

So you don't like police officers because their policies and procedures allow them to be safe.

Look at the job description between policeman and firefighter. One is to keep cities orderly. The other is to end fires. Gee, I wonder why one of them is perceived to be more dangerous (and only recently has become more dangerous).

Officers claim they have no obligation to put themselves in harm's way because they actually don't.

Its not cowardice, and crutality isn't a word.

Re:simply standing too close to an officer.. (5, Informative)

Sabriel (134364) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053422)

So you don't like police officers because their policies and procedures allow them to be safe.

To quote Peter himself, "... taxicab drivers suffer three times the homicide rate of any law enforcement category, that being a cabbie is the fifth-most-dangerous job in the US while Law Enforcement doesn’t even make the Top 10. If the risks associated with border patrol can be invoked to excuse the kind of violence I experienced, should we not extend the same immunity to cabbies?"

Re:simply standing too close to an officer.. (1)

kramerd (1227006) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053484)

Well, no, not really.

If you don't want to take on the risks associated with being a cab driver, get a cab with bulletproof glass separating the driver and the passengers, install a microphone for communication and door locking system and a money swivel, like they have in gas stations.

On the other hand, a cab driver is perfectly within their rights to get a conceal carry permit or train to legally carry a taser, just like police, for defensive purposes. Furthermore, innapropriate use will result in losing your ability to drive a licensed cab and may have further legal repercussions.

It seems like cab drivers just don't require gun safety or taser training, making their jobs less safe than that of a police officer. Granted, cabs aren't financed through tax dollars, but why would they be?

So much for "The Thin Blue Line..." (1)

jeko (179919) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053482)

Officers claim they have no obligation to put themselves in harm's way because they actually don't.

Thanks. I was wondering when our boys in blue would give up even the pretense of that "protect and serve" nonsense. Now we can all acknowledge them as the knuckle-dragging cowardly bullies they are, instead of "the City's Finest."

BTW, no, "crutality" isn't a word. It's a typo. Probably because I was thinking of the word "cruelty" when I was typing "brutality."

Try not to tase me for it. :-)

Re:So much for "The Thin Blue Line..." (1)

kramerd (1227006) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053558)

The protect and serve motto is a reminder of police officer's dedication to service. The purpose is to remind officers and citizens of the spirit, dedication, and professionalism of the police force.

To claim that police officers are "knuckle dragging cowardly bullies" is absurd at best. While I would never wish for you to need the services of a police officer, if you ever find yourself doing so, I assume you wouldn't make such a statement. If you ever plan on doing so, let me know when and where so I can watch.

Military family, remember? (1)

jeko (179919) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053612)

The purpose is to remind officers and citizens of the spirit, dedication, and professionalism of the police force.

'Cause God knows we're not gonna see any of that outside of the motto.

Really, Kramerd, you can tell your boys to rest easy in the squad car seats that have molded themselves to their hindquarters. We're a military family, and if I need to whistle up some help from the angry avenging terrifying Wrath of God, I'll call our women. :-)

Re:Military family, remember? (1)

kramerd (1227006) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053676)

'Cause God knows we're not gonna see any of that outside of the motto.

Not really my point. Most publicly traded companies do the same thing with mission statements (albeit with their own specific purposes). Its more of CYA than anything else. I'm fairly certain that both officers and civilians have these expectations whether its written on the patrol car or not.

Re:So much for "The Thin Blue Line..." (2, Insightful)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053806)

The protect and serve motto is a reminder of police officer's dedication to service.

The police have gone to court multiple times to fight for the right to neither protect nor serve. It may be a reminder, but if so, it's a reminder of what police were like 50 years ago, not what they are now.

Re:simply standing too close to an officer.. (1)

shadowbearer (554144) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053548)

  Interesting, I'd never really looked it up. A quick look at fatal injuries per occupation yields this chart [bls.gov] from the BLS. In the homicides category the highest numbers by a ways are in retail sales, food preparation and sales supervisors ;-?! Protective service occupations are actually a fair ways down the list.

  I assume there are different ways of looking at it, but as someone who has worked a lot of retail sales, it does make a morbid kind of sense...

  (It would be nice if they would put their statistics tables in some sort of sortable format... it's not hard...)

  I would appreciate a better link if anyone has one.

SB

 

felony non-compliance (1)

shadowbearer (554144) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053448)

  Bend over, citizen.

SB

Re:felony non-compliance (1)

kramerd (1227006) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053528)

How could I do that when I haven't left my car?

Re:simply standing too close to an officer.. (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053672)

so he must have done more than just stepped out of his car (in fact we know that he did so at border patrol, which by definition carries a higher risk for officers, so a higher reaction would be expected than in, for example, Canada).

I know you're just trolling, but I've lived on the Southern US border my whole life. The Border Patrol checkpoints are more safe than anywhere else. It's the Southern badlands laterally between the checkpoints, where the coyotes and armed narcotrafficantes smuggle their payloads, that are dangerous. There's no reason for those at the Canadian border to feel threatened enough to gang-beat a skinny punk.

Re:simply standing too close to an officer.. (0, Troll)

kramerd (1227006) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053790)

He stepped out of his car and refused to return to it when ordered to do so in an area where it was posted that one should not leave their vehicle unless instructed to do so. I'm not trolling.

You have no basis for assuming that just because Peters appears to just have been an asshole at border patrol that those guards had no reason to assume otherwise at the time. Hindsight is 50/50; you either learn from it or you don't. Peters hopefully has learned not to give police officers a reason to beat him.

The fact that the Candadien border is not the Mexican border has absolutely nothing to do with the perception of a threat. It simply means that since the criminal (he was convicted, remember) was being a criminal in english, that he probably wasn't trying to smuggle anything over the mexican border at that time.

Re:simply standing too close to an officer.. (-1, Redundant)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053298)

What he looked like is irrelevant - 140 pound meth addicts can be extremely dangerous with a pistol in their belt.

The problem is that he got out of the car. Period. At that point he was refusing to comply with the posted signs. There could be any number of reasons for this behavior, but what trained officers are supposed to do is expect the subject to do the worst possible thing - pull out a gun and start shooting. The moment he exited the vehicle he was a potential lethal threat to the officers and everyone else around.

You do not argue with someone with a gun, especially if that person is unstable. Anyone that is not paying attention to the signs saying not to leave your vehicle is obviously not thinking clearly. Put a gun in that person's belt and you now have a situation where people are going to die.

Sure, in this case it wasn't a methhead too strung out to read but someone that didn't understand the procedure. Rather than following the posted directions, he thought it was OK to get out and ask questions. Evidently when told to get back in the car he refused although this isn't exactly clear. The end result was he wasn't complying with posted instructions and was a potential threat to everyone in the facility. He was treated as a potential threat.

If you haven't been in a situation where a person wants to argue with cops and then for some unknown reason pulls out a gun, you can't understand what was going through the minds of the border agents. I suspect this happens a lot more on the Mexican border than the Canadian border and happens a lot more on the street in Chicago.

but what trained officers are supposed to do (5, Insightful)

jeko (179919) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053452)

but what trained officers are supposed to do is expect the subject to do the worst possible thing...

No. Not even soldiers are trained to do that. Civilian law enforcement is trained to use good judgement. It is more important to know when NOT to shoot than it is to know when TO shoot. Keep running Mad Max fantasies through your head like anyone who COULD pull a gun WILL pull a gun, and you end up shooting a kid for no good reason like one ex-officer I personally know.

If you haven't been in a situation where a person wants to argue with cops and then for some unknown reason pulls out a gun,

Here's another nonsense argument I'm sick of. Since you're pressing the point, yes, I have been shot at. No, it's not pleasant at all. No, the fear that someone MIGHT take a shot at you is no excuse for beating civilians bloody.

Re:simply standing too close to an officer.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32053772)

> but what trained officers are supposed to do is expect the subject to do the worst possible thing - pull out a gun and start shooting.

I think they're supposed to be prepared for that but most certainly not treat the subject as if he is going to do the worst possible thing.

Re:simply standing too close to an officer.. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32053516)

Scifi novelists, small-town mayors, Chinese diplomats, 75-year-old grandmas, epileptics having a seizure -- Is there ANYONE law enforcement doesn't want to beat bloody before talking to them any more?

Yes. Actual criminals who might actually shoot back.

Re:That's something anyway (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053180)

If you are worried about a gun shouldn't you get the occupants out of the car first? They could have handguns in their pockets but they could have a bazooka in the back seat, so keeping them in the car seems like bad tactics to me.

Re:That's something anyway (0, Troll)

kramerd (1227006) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053268)

Its not just a gun.

He could have a knife, a baseball bat in the passenger seat, he could be on drugs, he could be a terrorist, he could just be some civil rights jackass who will make a routine stop take two hours instead of two minutes (plus everyone else gets to wait). I assure you, if he has a bazooka in the back seat, one way or another, he is not getting across the border.

Meanwhile, having everyone get out of their vehicle and following a procedure to be searched (because once out of a vehicle, you must be searched) at a border is absurd. You would have to have everyone waiting in line watch a video regarding procedure (in 20 different languages), take an exam on it, and then make it a felony to do other than procedure, which, while not just ludicrously expensive, would also not make it any safer for officers or travelers.

If you are border patrol and you think someone might have gun, the phrase is "hand where I can see em while you have yours drawn and the vehicle surrounded.

Re:That's something anyway (2, Interesting)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053608)

I've questioned that action before. Basically, it's about control. It's pretty obvious if your detainee turns around in the vehicle to aim a gun. If you invite them out of the car first, it's pretty easy to get out with a gun in hand but still covered by the vehicle, and then someone's going to get dead.

    From what I remember of my training, in normal vehicle stops, you should keep complete control of the situation. This is for the officers safety. A non-combative detainee should have no problem complying.

1) Instruct the driver verbally (in person or over your loudspeaker) to turn off the vehicle.

2) Instruct them to put the keys on the dash, roof, or toss them out the window (as appropriate for the level of the stop).

3) Instruct them to keep their hands on top of the steering wheel. This could be "keep your hands where I can see them", but to avoid confusion clear instructions are to be given.

    When then approaching the vehicle, it is typical to have your holster unsnapped (as appropriate) and your hand on your sidearm. As walking up to the vehicle, you pay attention to things in the vehicle by looking through the rear and side windows.

    You should not stand in front of the driver (like by the side view mirror), but stand at the B pillar (just behind the drivers head). Make them turn their head to look at you, which puts them off center for any sort of attacks. It's hard to draw a weapon and aim behind you very quickly.

    Once satisfied with the safety of the scene, you may step forward at the officers discretion. You are opening yourself up to an unsafe position, but it may be necessary.

    The detainee is to be verbally told not to proceed with any actions which could be dangerous. That includes reaching into pockets, or putting their hands into areas of the vehicle that can't be clearly seen (such as a console box).

    Not every officer follows this protocol, and occasionally it turns out badly.

    Since I opted to not follow that as my career path, I'm never on the more dangerous side of it. Instead, I do what I would expect to be told. In an average traffic stop, I:

1) Put on my hazard lights for my safety, and to let the officer know that I am complying with his request to stop.
2) Roll down the front windows for clear visibility into the vehicle.
3) Stop the vehicle in the safest location possible (turn down a side street and stop immediately, rather than stop on a busy road.)
4) Prepare my license, registration, and proof of insurance for inspection.
5) Shut off the engine, and place the keys on the roof.
6) Place my hands on the top of the steering wheel.

    When they approach, if I am carrying a weapon (as I have been licensed for in the past), notify the officer if there are any weapons in the vehicle. I haven't been stopped when a weapon was present, but I would request to be searched and transfered to the back of their vehicle.

    Any actions which may normally seem irrelevant I request explicit permission for. This includes reaching into my pockets, opening the console box for additional paperwork, or standing up out of the car.

    Everything said must be calm, polite, and most importantly not a confession of anything. "Do you know why I pulled you over" should never be responded to with an answer. You may have been speeding, but they only noticed your taillight was burnt out. That would add a speeding ticket on top of a petty fix-it ticket, based on your spontaneous confession. "No sir" is the appropriate response. Answer every question with "yes sir", "no sir". As any good defense attorney will tell you, the minute you said something that you didn't need to, you fucked up. The best answer to any question is still "I have nothing to say without my attorney present." It may be silly for a traffic stop, but how do you know that they didn't get a call about a car matching the description of yours leaving a crime scene? "Where are you coming from?" "My house on Main Street". "Where are you going?" "To work on East Avenue". Little did you know, the suspect was seen driving away from Main Street in a similar car, and you've just told them that you are a better match for the profile.

    For politeness and comfort of the officer in the situation, the officer doesn't know who you are, other than they perceived a violation that they are stopping you for. It's also possible that they called your license plate in and read it incorrectly, so they may assume it is a felony traffic stop for a warrant, rather than just a speeding ticket. It is to calm the situation as much as possible. If the officer senses the potential for a problem, you are bringing that tension into the situation.

    Remaining polite and respecting the officers safety will do wonders for your treatment. It could mean the difference between being let go with a verbal warning, and ending up tasered and thrown on the ground to be cuffed and taken to jail. Myself, I'd prefer to be polite to someone who may be ticketing me, rather than pepper sprayed, tasered, beaten, and/or arrested.

    Sometimes they try to be bullies. I was pulled over once, and the officer only believed I had been speeding. He hadn't caught me on radar, and when he got behind me, I was 10mph below the speed limit. I was direct and polite with every answer. He did order me out of the vehicle, took me to the back of my car, patted me down, and threatened me with arrest. He did not coerce a spontaneous confession out of me, and after he realized I wouldn't break, we had a nice conversation. The conversation was just to fulfill another need for traffic stops. It's high visibility. A car pulled over with a patrol car with it's lights on will slow down other drivers to normal speeds. Maybe he was hoping in casual conversation I would admit to something, but I had nothing to admit to other than traveling on the road to go to work.

    Every officer who has worked for very long has known of someone who has ended up in a bad situation. I know of a deputy a few years ago who was doing a routine traffic stop in a "good" area. The driver had rolled a stop sign. Instead of a warning or a minor infraction ticket, the officer was shot and killed. He failed to follow proper procedure, and paid the cost for it. The vehicle was not registered to a known violent offender. They just had bad luck. I found the news report on it while writing this. The driver ran, and barricaded himself in his own apartment. He shot at the SWAT team when they tried to get him out. He was eventually shot by the SWAT team members.

    Really, LEOs are just doing their job. Most are good about it. Some are bad about it, and those are the ones we hear about most. They deal with assholes all day every day, because no one likes being confronted by the law. If you're nice to them, you may be the first one in months.

Re:That's something anyway (1)

shadowbearer (554144) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053630)

  I remember from the first time this story was posted on slashdot, that some people made the exact same comment. I agree with it*. If the officers on the scene are really nervous about the occupants of the vehicle, and want to search it without having to worry about weapons being used by those occupants, they should ask the people to step out of the vehicle, and place themselves somewhere (a "safe area") where one officer can cover them easily while the car is searched; and where if they need to be gunned down, it can be done so without endangering other innocent bystanders.

  This is how law enforcement officers just about everywhere do it, if they have any reasonable suspicion that the occupants might be dangerous. It makes sense. Get them away from the vehicle, away from places where they can hide a weapon, and somewhere they can be supervised more easily. I also seem to remember reading somewhere in that same thread that many professional law enforcement officers thought that the training given to border guards was horribly inadequate.

  Obviously this won't protect against potential "booby traps" within the vehicle itself; but that is part of the hazards of the job, regardless. It also might slow customs searches down somewhat, but so what?

  * I believe I did as well, but don't remember and am too lazy to search for it.

SB

 

Re:That's something anyway (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053240)

Its not like he couldn't have read up on how border crossings work prior to heading across the border to learn that his vehicle may be searched and that at no time should he leave his vehicle unless explicitly asked to do so by border patrol.

He's a writer, not a reader, duh!

Re:That's something anyway (-1, Troll)

tpstigers (1075021) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053320)

Check Peter's history. He has a previous conviction for being belligerent to a cop. He's a punk who thinks the 'Man' is trying to repress privileged white guys. I feel no sympathy, and I'm surprised the judge let him off so easy. Money talks, I suppose.

Re:That's something anyway (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053552)

Perhaps the judge had crossed the border recently.

I have to do it as part of my work, and I can easily believe his account.

Re:That's something anyway (1)

shadowbearer (554144) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053654)

He's a punk who thinks the 'Man' is trying to repress privileged white guys.

  You are an idiot.

SB

Re:That's something anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32053692)

Ah, the Man is trying to repress everyone.....

Re:That's something anyway (1)

WarJolt (990309) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053094)

Or more precisely the judge thinks the government is overstepping its bounds. Viva la revolution!!! I wonder if I'm on the terrorist list yet.

Re:That's something anyway (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053636)

That is a Judges job and there is no "viva la revolution" about it. Portions of government overstep their bounds all of the time and get quietly told not to treat citizens, corporations non-citizens etc in certain ways.
No conviction is pretty well equivalent to "he did it, there is a law against it but nobody in their right mind should really give a shit this time". At least that's how a lawyer explained it to me.

Re:That's something anyway (3, Insightful)

_KiTA_ (241027) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053210)

It shows the Judge thought it was bullshit that was a waste of taxpayers money via the court system as well.
Time to get some adult supervision at those border posts.

There will never be adult supervision at these border posts, TSA, or anyplace similar.

The reason is simple enough -- the powers that be know that most of these positions are complete wastes of time. They're there to placate the rubes. That's all. If you want in the US, you get in. It's not hard. It will never be hard.

In addition, very powerful, very important people put very stupid children in positions of power at these places, in order to fill up the resumes of these very stupid children before they can become the new generation of very powerful, very important people (the stupid is assumed redundant by this point).

Any form of adult supervision would break both clauses -- an adult would take one look at the extreme waste of money and energy and run screaming (or break down crying), and/or fire or penalize the very stupid children (or, more likely, attempt to and then be smacked down by the aformentioned broken down crying adults who have already given up).

It's worse than you know (1)

shadowbearer (554144) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053336)

In addition, very powerful, very important people put very stupid children in positions of power at these places, in order to fill up the resumes of these very stupid children before they can become the new generation of very powerful, very important people (the stupid is assumed redundant by this point).

  The real problem is that they can't find enough honest, decent, qualified and willing people to fill the expansion of border security positions we've had in the last ten years.

SB

Re:It's worse than you know (1)

cynyr (703126) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053752)

perhaps the pay isn't good enough? 40 hours a week should present one with livable wage from the US government. so around 30k-50k starting out, and go up from there based on inflation, and "dedication". not fucking up gets you inflation, above and byond the call gets you a raise, just like everywhere else should.

Re:That's something anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32053524)

Ah, man. So great. For getting brutalized and locked up, spending days in fear, Watts doesn't even get jailtime. Land of the free.

Just passing through... (1)

Itninja (937614) | more than 4 years ago | (#32052948)

I can see the government not wanting a man to enter or pass through the US, but it seems a little harsh to disallow a guy to enter or pass through DNA samples. I mean, sometimes you gotta pass through those DNA samples to get to critically important chromosomes.

Re:Just passing through... (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053188)

He should have patented his DNA before he entered the US.

Who Is Peter Watts?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32052954)

Seriously, who is this guy? Some third rate author that hardly anybody has heard of worthy of being news for nerds because he's writes sci-fi? Other than this predicament he got himself in, what other stories about him can I find him on here? I thought so, none.

This is such a non-story its ridiculous.

Re:Who Is Peter Watts?? (3, Funny)

binarylarry (1338699) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053062)

He writes erotic fiction based on well known science fiction properties. His latest book, Jean Luc Picard: Stone Cold Space Pimp, was amazing, I hear he won an award for it.

Re:Who Is Peter Watts?? (0, Redundant)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053194)

Oh you may have modded him funny mods but secretly you wished it were true. Who WOULDN'T buy a Startrek book titled "Stone Cold Space Pimp"?

Re:Who Is Peter Watts?? (5, Informative)

Protoslo (752870) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053766)

I owned (and had read) first editions of all five (or four and a half) of his novels before the first story about him, so I don't think that he's that obscure. There are plenty of more popular authors whose books aren't as good. And now, because of a felony "non-compliance" conviction, he will be unable to enter the United States again. That's quite a hefty punishment for getting out of your car at a border checkpoint (especially with a superfluous beatdown in the bargain). Is that the result of a "good" law? You might see him at WorldCon 2010, but he'll be SOL if he wins a Hugo in 2011 (Nevada). A felony conviction will fuck over an American citizen.

Most importantly (for slashdot), he has released all of his novels and a number of shorts for free on the web [rifters.com] under a Creative Commons license. That makes him as slashdot-worthy as Hans Reiser.

What about the cops? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32052982)

I'm guessing that they can still taser a guy for not obeying two contradictory orders and wondering aloud at what's going on?

I wish that tasers would get treated like guns, and that the cops would have to answer for each time they used them. They're less lethal, which is NOT the same as non-lethal. Even if one believes that they're safe when used properly, there are serious questions about whether they're being used properly some of the time.

And that's a damn shame, because I have had the privilege of meeting some fine police officers who don't deserve to take the flak for the trigger happy folks from this story.

Re:What about the cops? (0, Troll)

kramerd (1227006) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053122)

Cops do have to explain their use of taser just as much as their use of a baton or chemical weapon (pepper spray). It is less than that of a gun because it is not to be used in situations requiring lethal force. The decision to use a taser is dependent on the actions of the threat facing the officers, explicitly as a defensive weapon. For example, if the officer says "stay in your car" and you get out of your car, the officer is correct to use a taser. Always.

Here's the policy:

http://www.mtas.tennessee.edu/KnowledgeBase.nsf/vwebauthor/B1771739182D96E085256D550047F938 [tennessee.edu]

Re:What about the cops? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053146)

Is that "the" policy, or is it simply "a" policy?

Re:What about the cops? (1)

kramerd (1227006) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053170)

Neither.

Try reading it again, in context.

Re:What about the cops? (4, Interesting)

shadowbearer (554144) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053272)

  About twenty years ago, I once called a police officer an asshole, to his face, in front of his immediate superior. It was justified - that man was behaving like a psychotic over a minor traffic issue (jaywalking) involving a friend of mine. The officer took out his baton and threatened to "beat me into submission", at which time his superior collared him and led him back to the squad car, came back and apologized to us. The first officer was suspended without pay and later dismissed from the force as being unfit to be a law enforcement official. My friend brought suit against the local PD - it scared her pretty badly - and although she wasn't awarded damages, the verdict by the judge contributed to the officer being dismissed from the force.

  At what point do citizens lose the right in this country to speak up when they are being harassed unfairly by an official of any kind, or when they see someone else being harassed unfairly?

  Watts never offered violence (according to other witnesses; the one border patrol officer who was required to be there at the sentencing and who claimed that Watts attacked him first, Mr. Andrew Beaudry, waived his right to a victim's statement during the sentencing; that and a few other things tell me that he was probably lying about the events.

  There are enough incidents such as this that go on to suggest that perhaps we need to start scrutinizing our border guard (and LE) hiring practices in a much more thorough manner, and disciplining them when they step out of line. Yes, it's a stressful job. Yes, it has the potential of danger. But anybody wearing the uniform who loses their head when there is no real physical threat to them simply does not belong in that job .

SB

Re:What about the cops? (1)

kramerd (1227006) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053362)

That officer was terminated because he acted outside of the policy required for use of force or threat of use of force. No one is arguing that when police act outside of their abilities that such action is justified.

The situation here that occured, however, is that officers attacked a man who got out of his car in an area where he should have known not to get out his car. Quite frankly, based on that information, the officers in this situation did nothing wrong. They did not know whether or not a real physical threat existed at the time, and acted as one should; that is, as if a real threat in fact did exist.

You, on the other hand, should not have called a police officer names to his face when he was acting like a psychotic. You could have asked the supervisor to make sure that your statement that the officer in question was acting in such a manner, perhaps with examples, be placed a written police report, and gone to court and asked that the offending officer be dismissed based on such behaviour. Instead, you added fuel to the fire, so to speak. Way to be just as much of a jackass.

I realize it was twenty years ago and maybe your cellphone didnt exist, nevermind take video, but if you hadn't called him an asshole, maybe your friend wouldn't have suffered and had to file a suit. Maybe the supervisor would have recognized how the other officer was acting and taken remedial action, and maybe the psychotic might have been able to get training or help instead of dismissed. Maybe the officer would have threatened someone else twenty minutes later and the same actions would be taken. Regardless, you had no reason to agitate the officer.

Re:What about the cops? (5, Insightful)

lena_10326 (1100441) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053440)

The situation here that occured, however, is that officers attacked a man who got out of his car in an area where he should have known not to get out his car. Quite frankly, based on that information, the officers in this situation did nothing wrong. They did not know whether or not a real physical threat existed at the time, and acted as one should; that is, as if a real threat in fact did exist.

There was a time when police used violence as a last resort. It is now the first resort. It is sad that people like you and others willingly accept that.

Re:What about the cops? (-1, Flamebait)

kramerd (1227006) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053522)

There was time when police officers let drunk drivers continue to drive because "the car knows where its going."

Society has changed. People used to respect police officers, and the risk to an officer used to be much lower. This change is what is sad, not my attitude regarding the realization of how the world currently works. It is sad that officers have to resort to pepper spray or tasers because these cause less harm than beating someone senseless as a safety precaution.

How exactly have you not accepted this (willingly or begrudgingly)?

Re:What about the cops? (4, Insightful)

walshy007 (906710) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053808)

beating someone senseless as a safety precaution.

That you find this acceptable anywhere at any time 'as a precaution' speaks volumes about you more than anything else.

Society has changed. People used to respect police officers, and the risk to an officer used to be much lower.

It's still less dangerous than being a construction worker or cabbie, what effective police need to do is maintain control of the situation without resorting to physical violence. Any point where it devolves into violence where none is shown by another party is a failure on the police officers behalf.

Re:What about the cops? (1)

shadowbearer (554144) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053728)

  You, on the other hand, should not have called a police officer names to his face when he was acting like a psychotic.

  And you have obviously never been in that sort of situation, when you feel that someone you care for is being threatened unreasonably.

  The rest of your post indicates to me that either you are very young, or if not, very naive. I am neither. You really should not assume so much.

  I realize it was twenty years ago and maybe your cellphone didnt exist, nevermind take video

  Yeah, back then it was word against word *sarcasm*. In any case, this officer already had a history of abusing his authority, otherwise his supervisor would not have taken the actions he did at the time. This all came out during the civil suit, and both the judge and the officer's supervisor said that my actions at the time were correct, even if my language could have been a bit more civil.

  I have to say, that I hope you never find yourself in a similar situation. I thought much the same way as you did, before that event, and afterwards I recognized just how stupid I was being in blindly trusting anyone who holds any sort of absolute (meaning physical threat) authority over me.

SB

Re:What about the cops? (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053404)

They also increase the danger for themselves and every other law enforcement officer. Between the crimes I have personally witnessed police officers commit, the 'explanations' I have had off duty police give me for why it is OK for police to commit crimes, and witnessing police officers superior and colleges cover up crimes committed by their fellow police, I have to assume that in any physical altercation I witness between the police and anyone else, is a rogue cop.

I might be convince otherwise with evidence, but lacking evidence beyond two men in a conflict, the only rational assumption is that the person you know is a member of an organization that openly commits crimes as an matter of practice is the aggressor, and the person that you don't know commits crimes is the victim.

When the police allow members of their organization to run amok, they loose the support of the populous. That puts every officer in more danger.

some fine police officers who don't deserve (5, Insightful)

jeko (179919) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053222)

I grew up military. What I heard over and over again was that "The honor of the unit lies with each man."

You see, the fine police officers you know? They have a DUTY to police themselves. That's why "the few bad apples" argument doesn't hold up. Those fine police officers you feel sorry for? They have a duty to ARREST and TESTIFY AGAINST those bad apples.

That's why you can't say, "It's just a few bad cops." The supposedly "good" cops have an obligation to put a stop to it, and they're shirking their duties by refusing to do so.

This makes them culpable as accomplices. That's why there are no "fine police officers" any more, because if there were, they'd clean their house.

Re:some fine police officers who don't deserve (1)

indiechild (541156) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053332)

Agreed. It's a tragedy that most people don't share your stance, including members of the military, many of whom will vigorously defend fellow soldiers that massacred civilians.

Not in my house, they don't. (2, Interesting)

jeko (179919) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053368)

My Lai was a national disgrace. The Wikileaks/Reuters video depicts cold-blooded murder. You can hang them all as far as we're concerned. We don't want to share a uniform with filth like that.

DNA sample? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32052996)

more like visiting the glory hole, lol.

Common Sense (0, Flamebait)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053014)

Look, obviously to most people, this whole thing is bullshit - just like most of the US border / TSA crap.

But honestly, in "today's new world", if you give the TSA / Border Drones shit, you're going down. The lesson? Be polite, give 'em what they ask for, and say "yes, sir". Otherwise, expect a bad outcome.

Re:Common Sense (2, Insightful)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053074)

Erm...apparently, according to what I've read about this, even IF you give them what they ask for, they can fuck you over.

So...what what was the point were you trying to make again?

Re:Common Sense (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32053092)

Apparently you accept whatever garbage you read as the truth? The man was CONVICTED.

Re:Common Sense (1)

shadowbearer (554144) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053154)

  Yeah, and border guards never lie, just like cops never lie. Sure.

SB
 

Re:Common Sense (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053202)

Yeah, and border guards never lie, just like cops never lie. Sure.

You do understand that border crossings are covered by lots of CCTV, right?

Re:Common Sense (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32053566)

Yes, they are. Despite that fact, the border guards in this case did lie, claiming that Watts tried to choke one of them. The evidence showed that this was a lie. Despite the fact that the guards were lying, he still got convicted for failing to lie down quickly enough when they ordered him to (after they had already punched him in the head).

Re:Common Sense (1)

shadowbearer (554144) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053744)

  It's my understanding from what I read late last year that the videos showed that Watts was telling the truth.

  I don't know how much of that was shown in the trial, nor have I seen them myself.

SB

Re:Common Sense (3, Insightful)

Asic Eng (193332) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053296)

The man was CONVICTED.

Of being beaten up by police. It's not enough that they beat people with impunity, they want to throw them in jail for the offense of being punching bags.

Re:Common Sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32053340)

Oh. My. God.

This Canuck MANIAC is free to go out and do it again??

Who knows how many more of our border guards will suffer injury and humiliation at the hands of this one-man literary terror machine?

Once again our justice system has failed to keep us safe. Lock your doors, keep your kids inside and DON'T TRUST CANADIANS...or writers..but especially CANADIAN WRITERS!!

Re:Common Sense (1)

Protoslo (752870) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053778)

This is why I think that airplane-lavatory smoking Quatari diplomat is an American hero. If no one had diplomatic immunity, who would make humorous shoe-bomb jokes on airplanes? He should go on a tour and aggravate the Border Patrol, the LAPD, etc., keeping things in perspective for our law-enforcement professionals. Unfortunately, I fear that the humorless State Department would declare him persona non grata (that, and Quatar already pulled him from U.S. consular duty).

Re:Common Sense (5, Funny)

TheOtherChimeraTwin (697085) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053100)

Yes, indeed. If there is one take-away from all this, it is obey. Hell, if a Canadian isn't polite enough, you need to be on your best behavior. So keep your head down citizen and don't ask any questions. If beaten, be sure to thank the border guard, and try to not bleed on their uniform. They hate when you bleed on their uniform.

contradictory orders == "failure to comply" (2, Informative)

ChipMonk (711367) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053112)

Two different officers gave him contradictory orders. No matter which one he obeyed, he was "failing to comply" with the other one. On this pretense, they gave him the "bad outcome" they wanted so desperately.

That nobody involved directly with the case mentioned "entrapment" is an epic fail. His defense lawyer should be disbarred for incompetence.

Re:contradictory orders == "failure to comply" (1)

Sabriel (134364) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053498)

Au contraire, his defense lawyer should be congratulated for keeping Peter's head above the muck and mire that are the US border and legal systems. And if you read Peter's blog, he speaks incredibly highly of Doug.

Re:contradictory orders == "failure to comply" (1)

pipingguy (566974) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053658)

Can we please stop using "epic fail" as a description now? Thanks in advance.

Re:Common Sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32053198)

I'm guessing you were bullied as a child.

Re:Common Sense (4, Insightful)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053266)

Robert Heinlein used to claim that an armed society is a polite society but he was wrong. An armed society has these dangerous pockets of paranoia because police, border guards, etc expect to be shot at and consequently behave as if everybody they deal with is going to do that.

I can understand a Canadian being rather confused by this situation.

Re:Common Sense (1)

Sabriel (134364) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053532)

American society is not armed. That a minority own guns and a smaller minority take them out to go shooting on weekends, does not Heinlein's armed society make. Not even close.

Re:Common Sense (1)

shadowbearer (554144) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053786)

  An armed society will be a polite society - as long as the government and other powers that be don't try and treat the citizens like slaves.

  I can understand an American being rather confused by this situation. After all, I was born here and lived here for more than four decades, and I've watched my fellow citizens vote away their rights for what seems like a very long time.

SB

Re:Common Sense (2, Insightful)

lena_10326 (1100441) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053270)

The lesson? Be polite, give 'em what they ask for, and say "yes, sir". Otherwise, expect a bad outcome.

Paper's please... pic 1 [visibility911.com] pic 2 [wordpress.com]

Just wanted to note a couple things (4, Interesting)

shadowbearer (554144) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053080)

  I didn't read the article thoroughly enough before I posted the submission; there is more detail on the case on a link from within the story [blogspot.com] .

(It was not with the intention of gaining karma; my karma has been peaked out for years, ceased to care about it even before that)

  A note on Slashdot's submission/moderation system; I had moderator points before I posted the story, and apparently have moderator points within the story. The editors may have their reasons for allowing it, but I don't feel that it's a good idea to allow story submitters to have moderation points within a story they post. Just sayin'

  I did find this bit to perhaps be an indication of the judge's real feelings:

  He told Peter that he was a puzzle to him; that he thought he would enjoy having a pint with Peter (Peter told him he would buy; Adair said he would get the next round);

  It does sound like the judge would like to know a little more about his side of the story than what he could glean from the courtroom proceedings.

  Oh, and thanks for the minor editing Timothy, it does read better that way.

  SB

Handy "Do they think I'm a terrorist?" checklist. (2, Funny)

goodmanj (234846) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053232)

although he is still being treated like a terrorist (cannot enter or pass through the US, DNA samples)

Hi! Are you wondering if the U.S. federal government is treating you like a terrorist? Sure, we all are. Here's a handy questionnaire to find out.

Is there a Predator drone overhead firing missiles at your car?
[ ] Yes
[ ] No

If you checked "No", congratulations! The U.S. government might not trust you or want you in the country, but they're not treating you like a terrorist.

Re:Handy "Do they think I'm a terrorist?" checklis (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32053342)

Hello little retard.

Re:Handy "Do they think I'm a terrorist?" checklis (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32053556)

Damn straight.

Non-terrorists only get the 40mm cannon.

Canadians Don't Travel to United States (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32053392)

There are a million reasons to go to the USA and a million Wonderful people.

Until they actually do something about this sickness don't go - you're not welcome. If you have to go, don't stay any longer than you absolutely have to.

In my heart I think justice is being torn from the United States one senseless act at a time.

All court needs is Precedent. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32053544)

No need for jail.

But the next person down the line, better beware.

Precedent has been set. This case can now be referred to. So not only will you be breaking the "law", you'll now have to fight against judicial precedent.

Good Luck.

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