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CCTV Installation in Cannaught Place

CCTV Installation in Cannaught Place

https://preview.redd.it/aavrf30emjq51.jpg?width=1700&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=a72f6b21b5045caf5f03872a3d669958cd6bf802
CCTV is also known as Video Surveillance system. Now days it is useful and used practically everywhere in showrooms, walls, sensitive areas and offices. It keeps a strict watch on illegal Movements, thefts and crimes. Closed-circuit television (CCTV) installation is the use of video cameras to transmit a signal to a specific place, on a limited set of monitors. It differs from broadcast television in that the signal is not openly transmitted, though it may employ point to point (P2P), point to multipoint, or mesh wireless links. Though almost all video cameras fit this definition, the term is most often applied to those used for surveillance in areas that may need monitoring such as banks, casinos, airports, military installations, and convenience stores.
In industrial plants, CCTV installation equipment may be used to observe parts of a process from a central control room, for example when the environment is not suitable for humans. CCTV systems may operate continuously or only as required to monitor a particular event. A more advanced form of CCTV, utilizing digital video recorders (DVRs), provides recording for possibly many years, with a variety of quality and performance options and extra features (such as motion detection and email alerts). More recently, decentralized IP cameras, some equipped with megapixel sensors, support recording directly to network attached storage devices, or internal flash for completely stand-alone operation. Surveillance of the publicizing CCTV installation is particularly common in many areas around Cannaught Place.
submitted by Icy_Review_2785 to u/Icy_Review_2785 [link] [comments]

Donald Trump is not the alternative to Senator Sanders, and you need to know why.

I'd like to take a moment to address those of you considering switching their support from Bernie Sanders to Donald Trump. I've seen this sentiment around, and I think it's one that deserves further discussion.
America isn't in the best place right now. Far from the country our parents remember, our America has rampant income inequality, unemployment, citizens who cannot afford to pay their medical bills or their student loans. We've just come out of a hard recession, with a recovery that saw 95% of income gains going to the top 1%, and new stock market bubbles being inflated even as I type. There is a lot of very justified anger in this nation, and amongst it's people, and we're all fighting to protect ourselves from an insecure future.
The institutions that were created to protect us have failed us, our leaders have failed us, the establishment has failed us, and it's time for a change. This is the backdrop for the 2016 Presidential elections. The Democratic and Republican National committees have presented us with candidates that are part of the same establishment that has so wronged Americans on both sides of the political asile. The DNC gave Democrats Secretary Clinton, the RNC gave Republicans Governor Bush, and Senator Rubio, but none have been appealing to those of us looking for change. Out of this populist frustration we received two outsider candidates, candidates who want to change the political system in this country: Senator Bernie Sanders, and Mr. Donald Trump.
Both Trump and Sanders are outsiders of politics, one trying to change the government from within, the other from without. Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders reflect our frustrations, our pains, and our struggles. Indeed, we see the establishment of both parties fighting against either candidate being nominated. On the Democratic side we're forced to fight against a mute media, derisive commentary, and a DNC that only has eyes for Secretary Clinton. On the Republican side Trump supporters are faced with outright hostility from media on both the left and the right, fighting against an RNC that wants to nominate "anyone but Trump," and even commentary from international sources that have little or no place in American politics.
From the outside, both candidates have equal appeal to those voters who are frustrated with Washington business as usual, both promise reform, both promise change. It's easy to understand why someone who supports Senator Sanders could see Donald Trump as an alternative. When looking solely at the issue of governmental reform, the two seem like different sides of the same coin.
However, past anger at the establishment, the two candidates could not be more at odds with eachother. While both want to take this country in a new direction, they also want to take the country in opposite directions. I feel that these different directions are not being well articulated in the media, much less on Reddit, and I would like to address some of the subjects on which the two candidates differ.
I will try to contrast a variety of topics, but this list will be by no means exhaustive, I am choosing to reference those subjects that I think the Reddit community is primarily concerned about. Please also note that I do have a personal bias, I believe that Senator Sanders is the best choice that we have for our next President, that said, I have made a point to include direct quotations as well as source links whereever possible, in hopes of facilitating both your own research, and so you can fact check my statements.

Net Neutrality and Privacy:

Sanders:

"Bernie Sanders believes that increasingly omnipresent mass surveillance and attempts to undermine net neutrality are corrosive to democracy in America. He has voted against the Patriot Act and opposes warrantless wiretapping. In regards to net neutrality, he has co-sponsored and introduced legislation in favor of an open Internet."
Senator Sanders has voted against The Patriot Act, and it's reauthorization. He has voted against the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, and introduced the Restore Our Privacy Act to fight against overboard surveillance requests.
On why he opposed PIPA and SOPA, Senator Sanders had this to say:
“While I believe that online piracy is a serious issue, it is absolutely essential that the Internet remain open and free of censorship or the chilling effects that result in self-censorship. I will not support legislation that results in censorship or self censorship on the Internet."
Ultimately Senator Sanders came to the conclusion that both SOPA and PIPA were "too deeply flawed to continue [working on]"

Trump:

"Obama's attack on the internet [Net Neutrality] is another top down power grab. Net neutrality is the Fairness Doctrine. Will target the conservative media."
The Fairness Doctrine was a policy of the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC), introduced in 1949, that required the holders of broadcast licenses both to present controversial issues of public importance and to do so in a manner that was—in the Commission's view—honest, equitable, and balanced. The FCC eliminated the Doctrine in 1987, and in August 2011 the FCC formally removed the language that implemented the Doctrine.(Source)
It is unclear in what way Donald Trump believes that Net Neutrality and the Fairness Doctrine are similar.
The phrase "Net neutrality" does not appear on Donald Trump's official website, and the Positions page of his website has no mention of either net neutrality, or the internet. At the moment our only point of reference is the above Tweet.
This quote from the December 15th debate may offer further insights: “I would certainly be open to closing areas [of the internet] where we are at war with somebody, I sure as hell don't want to let people that want to kill us and kill our nation use our internet. Yes, sir. I am." He later clarified that he didn't mean closing down American parts of the internet, just Iraq and Syria. [As an editorial note: For better or for worse, the internet was a crucial tool in the success of the Arab Spring. Shutting down the internet in Iraq and Syria wouldn't just hurt ISIS, but also groups trying to organize against them.]
There was no mention of internet privacy on Donald Trump's official website, save their Privacy Policy.
On encryption, specifically regarding the unlocking of the San Bernadino shooter's iPhone, Donald Trump had this to say: "I agree 100% with the courts, in that case, we should open it [iPhone encryption] up. I think security over all -- we have to open it up, and we have to use our heads. We have to use common sense." Going so far as to encourage his supporters to boycott Apple until they comply with the FBI: "First of all, Apple ought to give the security for that phone, OK. What I think you ought to do is boycott Apple until such time as they give that security number."
The only mention on encryption on the official DonaldJTrump.com website is from the blog post A little touch of Trump, in which he describes the safety measures put on campaign related harddrives. There is no mention of policy regarding encryption.
Senator Sanders supports privacy rights and has fought against SOPA, PIPA, The Patriot Act, and the renewal of the Patriot act. Due to the lack of specific information on Donald Trump's website, we have to look at his statments, which would seem to indicate that he is opposed to encryption, opposed to net neutrality, and that he is willing to shut down portions of the internet in the name of national security.

On Freedom of Speech:

Sanders:

"American's right to free speech should not be proportional to their bank accounts."
Senator Sanders supports the separation of Church & State, but also strongly supports religious freedom and free expression. By the same token, Senator Sanders believes that “Bosses should not be able to impose their religious beliefs on their employees.”
Senator Sanders has been a long outspoken proponent of free speech, participating in frequent protests, and once even being arrested for it.

Trump:

"The editors at Charlie Hebdo liked poking Muslims in the eye with constant blasphemous depictions of the Prophet Muhammad. For doing so they paid an incredible and unfortunate price. But it’s important to remember that before the massacre, there was little outcry from the media establishment that such free speech was racist, insensitive or inflammatory.
Donald Trump often holds himself up as a beacon of Freedom of Speech, and is widely lauded for his willingness to say and do politically incorrect things. However, his actions may tell a different story. From The Daily Beast:
  • Trump sued his ex-wife, Ivana Trump, for $25 million in 1992–because she talked too much.
  • In 2006, Trump threatened to sue Rosie O’Donnell, then a co-host on The View, after she said he was bankrupt.
  • In 2011, rapper Mac Miller released a song called “Donald Trump,” which included the lyrics, “Take over the world when I’m on my Donald Trump shit; Look at all this money, ain’t that some shit?” Trump Tweeted at Miller to threaten a lawsuit: “Now I’m going to teach you a big boy lesson about lawsuits and finance.”
  • That same year [2011], Trump threatened to sue MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell for suggesting he was worth less than $1 billion.
  • In 2012, Trump sued Miss USA contestant Sheena Monnin after she claimed in a Facebook post that the pageant was “rigged,” because the five finalists were chosen before the pageant took place.
  • In 2013, after Trump said he would donate $5 million to charity if President Obama would release his long form birth certificate to the public, Bill Maher joked that he would give Trump $5 million if he could prove that his father was not an orangutan. Trump sent Maher a copy of his birth certificate. When Maher didn’t pay up, Trump sued him for the $5 million.
  • The same year [2013], Trump threatened legal action against Angelo Carusone, who had organized a petition to force Macy’s to stop selling Trump-branded products.
  • In 1984, Trump sued the Chicago Tribune for $500 million after the publication’s architecture critic wrote an item suggesting Chicago’s Sears Tower, then the world’s tallest building, would remain as such, despite Trump’s plan to build a taller structure in downtown Manhattan.
  • Trump threatened to sue ABC in 2005, after he learned the network was planning to produce a two-hour biopic about him and his family.
  • In 2006, Trump sued New York Times reporter Timothy L. O’Brien for saying Trump is worth $150 million to $250 million when Trump claimed, at the time, he was worth $2.7 billion.
  • In 2014, Trump sued Trump Entertainment Resorts, which he holds a 10 percent stake in, to remove his name from the Trump Taj Mahal and Trump Plaza casinos in Atlantic City, which he said did not live up to his standard of quality.
Donald Trump has filed lawsuits against authors, journalists, newspapers, cities, individuals, and even a company that he partially owns, for saying things that he didn't like, or didn't approve of. He routinely uses the threat of legal action to silence his critics.
As President: "One of the things I'm going to do if I win ... I'm going to open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money. We're going to open up those libel laws. So when The New York Times writes a hit piece which is a total disgrace or when The Washington Post, which is there for other reasons, writes a hit piece, we can sue them and win money instead of having no chance of winning because they're totally protected, we're going to open up libel laws, and we're going to have people sue you like you've never got sued before."
It should be noted that the "protections" Donald Trump speaks of are part of Freedom of the Press as defined by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
Also of note is the fact that that a private citizen can already sue a publisher for libel, so long as they can prove that the news organization knowingly published false information with malicious intent, this was decided in the 1964 Supreme Court Case of New York Times Co. v. Sullivan. Donald Trump does not need to add, remove, amend, or abridge any law to be able to sue a publisher, that is already the legal right of all American citizens.
Also, Donald Trump's campaign contract restricts the free speech of his volunteers and their employees:
  • No Disparagement. During the term of your service and at all times thereafter you hereby promise and agree not to demean or disparage publicly the Company, Mr. Trump, any Trump Company, any Family Member, or any Family Member Company or any asset any of the foregoing own, or product or service any of the foregoing offer, in each case by or in any of the Restricted Means and Contexts and to prevent your employees from doing so.
  • No Competitive Services. Until the Non-Compete Cutoff Date you promise and agree not to assist or counsel, directly or indirectly, for compensation or as a volunteer, any person that is a candidate or exploring candidacy for President of the United States other than Mr. Trump and to prevent your employees from doing so.
Theoretically these restrictions could be in place until 2024, or the end of Donald Trump's Presidency.
Senator Sanders has fought for freedom of speech his entire career, even going so far as being arrested during demonstrations and protests. Donald Trump, on the other hand, has filed numerous lawsuits attempting to silence his critics, and as President plans to make it easier to sue the press for unflattering commentary.

On climate change:

Sanders:

"Climate change is real, caused by human activity and already devastating our nation and planet. The United States must lead the world in combating climate change and transforming our energy system away from fossil fuels and toward energy efficiency and sustainability."
Senator Sanders has long fought against climate change, as well a climate denial, which has earned him a high ranking from Climate Hawks Vote, consistently scoring within the top ten percent of Senators. Senator Sanders is also one of only three presidential candidates who agreed to refuse donations from greenhouse-gas emitters. He co-sponsored the Super Pollutants Act of 2014, the Climate Protection act of 2013, the End Polluter Welfare Act, and has fought against the Keystone XL pipeline.
In terms of energy policy: Senator Sanders wants to further promote the use of renewable energy sources, improve energy efficency standards, as well as taxing habitual greenhouse gas producers.

Trump:

"The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive."
"I mean, Obama thinks it’s the number one problem of the world today. And I think it’s very low on the list. So I am not a believer, and I will, unless somebody can prove something to me, I believe there’s weather. I believe there’s change, and I believe it goes up and it goes down, and it goes up again. And it changes depending on years and centuries, but I am not a believer, and we have much bigger problems." Source
From the DonaldJTrump.com official site:
"It is a hoax. Trump does not believe climate change is real, tweeting out his skepticism with strong language and calling it a hoax on Fox News in 2014. In a 2012 Twitter post which is no longer accessible, Trump charged that the concept of climate change was created by the Chinese to suppress the U.S. economy. In addition, Trump has expressed firm opposition to wind turbines, which he sees as an environmental and aesthetic problem." Source
In regards to energy policy, Donald Trump supports nuclear energy production, opposes Cap-And-Trade, believes that job creation is dependent on cheap, readily available oil, believes we need to increase oil production, and supports natural gas Fraking.
Unfortunately Donald Trump's Position page did not mention either climate change, or energy policy.
Senator Sanders believes that climate change is the greatest threat our nation, and our world, faces. It drives up energy costs, destroys valuable resources, and promotes terrorism. Donald Trump believes that climate change is a hoax, and the century long upward trend in global temperatures is "just weather."

The minimum wage and economic inequality:

Sanders:

"Millions of Americans are working for totally inadequate wages. We must ensure that no full-time worker lives in poverty. The current federal minimum wage is starvation pay and must become a living wage. We must increase it to $15 an hour over the next several years."
The main goal of Senator Sanders career, and indeed his Presidential bid, has been to combat income inequality. Senator Sanders supports a progressive tax system, which would ask a little more of the very wealthy individuals in this country, included among them Donald Trump. Senator Sanders is outspoken about preventing corporations from skiping out on their tax bills, or even recieving unearned benefits, and has sponsored the Corporate Tax Dodging Prevention Act, and co-sponsored the Stop Corporate Inversions Act of 2015.
Unlike the millionaires and billionaires, the lobbests and SuperPACs, the special interests and the seven digit donors, Senator Sanders economic plan is centered around directly benefiting the American people. Far from the trickle down voodoo economics of the past thirty years, Bernie Sanders wants to help the poor, rather than cut taxes for the rich.

Trump:

"But, taxes too high, wages too high, ... I hate to say it, but we have to leave it [the minimum wage] the way it is," Donald Trump has said that he would not raise the minimum wage if elected as President.
The term "Minimum wage" is not found on DonaldJTrump.com.
Donald Trump's tax plan is to cut taxes and simplify the tax code, while remaining revenue neutral. [Revenue neutral means that his reforms will not result in an increase in tax revenue for the Federal Government.]
From his site:
Analysis of Donald Trump's tax plan shows that: "In its second decade, Trump's plan would lead to revenue losses of $15 trillion. Taking into account additional interest costs, the proposal would add $11.2 trillion to the national debt by 2026 and $34.1 trillion by 2036, according to the report." "The top 0.1 percent of taxpayers would receive an average tax cut of more than $1.3 million in 2017, or almost 19 percent of their after-tax income. Middle-income households would receive an average tax cut of $2,700, or 4.9 percent of their after-tax income, according to the report."
The analysis of Donald Trump's tax plan was performed by the nonpartisan Tax Policy center.
Until what time as Donald Trump tells the nation what loopholes he would close, what tax deductions he would end, and which federal programs he would cut, the above analysis is the best information we have available. Far from Senator Sanders plan, Donald Trump's tax policy would significantly cut federal revenue, increase deficits, and grow the national debt. As far as the minimum wage is concerned, Senator Sanders wants to raise it to $15/hour over the next several years, Donald Trump is content with allowing it to remain at the same rate it has been since 2009, $7.25/hour.

Foreign Policy and War:

Sanders:

“I will vote for this resolution because I believe that the use of force is one tool that we have at our disposal to fight against the horror of terrorism and mass murder. One tool but it is not our only tool, and it is something that must be used wisely… and with great discretion.“
Senator Sanders opposed the Gulf War and Desert Storm, supported the initial invasion of Afghanistan, voted against the Invasion of Iraq, opposed the 2009 troop surge, and ultimately, in 2008, voted against continued spending of the war in Afghanistan.
On ending the war in Afghanistan he had this to say: "This year alone [2011], we will spend about $100 billion on that war. In my view, it is time for the people of Afghanistan to take full responsibility for waging the war against the Taliban. While we cannot withdraw all of our troops immediately, we must bring them home as soon as possible. I appreciate the president’s announcement, but I believe that the withdrawal should occur at significantly faster speed and greater scope."
From Senator Sanders official campaign website we have these four guiding principles for foreign policy:
  1. Move away from a policy of unilateral military action, and toward a policy of emphasizing diplomacy, and ensuring the decision to go to war is a last resort.
  2. Ensure that any military action we do engage in has clear goals, is limited in scope, and whenever possible provides support to our allies in the region.
  3. Close Guantanamo Bay, rein in the National Security Agency, abolish the use of torture, and remember what truly makes America exceptional: our values.
  4. Expand our global influence by promoting fair trade, addressing global climate change, providing humanitarian relief and economic assistance, defending the rule of law, and promoting human rights.
Senator Sanders wants to end America's role as "policemen of the world," prefering diplomacy and influence over regieme change and warfare.

Trump:

"The other thing with the terrorists is you have to take out their families, when you get these terrorists, you have to take out their families. They care about their lives, don't kid yourself. When they say they don't care about their lives, you have to take out their families,"
[Killing innocent men, women, and children, is a violation of the Hague Conventions, and the Fourth Geneva Convention, and as such is considered an international war crime, and a crime against humanity.]
On Iraq: When asked by Howard Stern in 2002 if he supported the proposed invasion of Iraq, Donald Trump had this to say “Yeah I guess so." This year his opinion on the Iraq war was "By the time the war started, I was against the war, and there are articles—I mean, there are headlines in 2003 and 2004—that I was totally against the war." Due to the conflicting nature of his comments it is unclear whether Donald Trump did support the Iraq war, as he stated in 2002, or if he opposed the Iraq war, as he stated fourteen years later in 2016.
On WMDs in Iraq: On February 13th, 2016 Donald Trump believed "They lied. They said there were weapons of mass destruction. There were none and they knew there were none." On February 19th, 2016 he expanded that "I don't know if he lied or not. He could have lied. Maybe he did, maybe he didn't. I guess you'd have to ask him." Due to the conflicting nature of his comments it is unclear whether Donald Trump believes that the Bush Administration lied about WMDs, as he stated on February 13th, or if he believes that the Administration could have been speaking truthfully, as he stated on February 19th.
On Afghanistan: On October 6th, 2015, Donald Trump had this to say about Afghanistan: "We made a terrible mistake getting involved there [Afghanistan] in the first place. At some point, are they going to be there for the next 200 years? At some point what's going on? It's going to be a long time." However on October 20th of that year, his opinion was that "We made a mistake going into Iraq. I've never said we made a mistake going into Afghanistan." Due to the conflicting nature of his comments it is unclear whether Donald Trump believes that the war in Afghanistan was a mistake, as he stated on October 6th, or if he never said it was a mistake, as he stated on October 20th.
On refugees from the Syrian civil war: September 9th, 2015 "but on a humanitarian basis, you have to [accept them] ... There's no question about it. They're living in hell, and something has to be done.", September 10th, 2015 "I think we should help, but I think we should be very careful because frankly, we have very big problems. We're not gonna have a country if we don't start getting smart.", and on October 3rd, 2015 "If they come in, and if I win, they're going back. They're going back,". Due to the conflicting nature of his comments it is unclear whether Donald Trump believes that we should allow Syrian refugees into this country, as he stated on September 9th, if they aren't a cause for concern, as he stated on September 10th, or if he'll deport them back to the warzone in Syria, as he stated on October 3rd.
In terms of foreign policy positions: Donald Trump's official website focuses primarily on slowing legal and illegal immigration. Stating that he will build a wall, deport all undocumented workers, end birthright citizenship, and make legal immigration and refugee status harder to obtain.
Currently little is known about how Donald Trump would deal with problems like ISIS beyond the fact that "I would bomb the shit out of 'em. I would just bomb those suckers. That's right. I'd blow up the pipes. ... I'd blow up every single inch. There would be nothing left."
Senator Sanders supports less military intervention in wars that don't directly involve us, preferring instead to support our allies, and work within military coalitions, as compared to Donald Trump, who may or may not agree with Senator Sanders depending on when you ask him. Currently all we know about Donald Trump's foreign policy for certain is that he wants to build a wall, limit legal and illegal immigration, bomb ISIS, and bomb their families.

Electoral reform:

Sanders:

“We are moving rapidly away from our democratic heritage into an oligarchic form of society where today we are experiencing a government of the billionaires, by the billionaires, and for the billionaires.”
Senator Sanders wants to overturn Citizens United, which allows unlimited money to be funneled into electoral politics, both from sources domestic, and abroad. Pass the DISCLOSE Act, which would require political candidates to make public all their controbutions, and their source. Make election day a federal holiday, so that voters may have the day off from work to vote. End gerrymandering, which allows political parties to draw "safe districts" where their candidate cannot lose, and fight against voter suppression. Move towards publically funded elections, to allow everyone running for office an even playing field. And he wants to introduce Instant Runoff Voting, allowing third party candidates a better chance at winning elected office.
Senator Sanders' goal is to give every candidate a balanced playing field, from pushing foreign money out of election, to ending safe districts and rampant Gerrymandering, to instituting Instant Runoff Voting so that voting third party won't be tantamount to a wasted ballot.

Trump:

The phrase "electoral reform" does not appear on Donald Trump's official website.
The phrase "campaign finance reform" does not appear on Donald Trump's official website.
The phrase "DISCLOSE act" does not appear on Donald Trump's official website.
The word "gerrymandering" does not appear on Donald Trump's official website.
The phrase "citizens united" is mentioned four times on DonaldJTrump.com, stating that it was "Disasterous." [It should be noted that Donald Trump is friends with the President of Citizens United, David Bossie, and that in 2014 he donated $100,000.00 to the Citizens United Foundation.]
On the current campaign finance system, Donald Trump had this to say: "Before this, before two months ago, I was a businessman. I give to everybody. When they call, I give. And you know what? When I need something from them, two years later, three years later, I call them... And that's a broken system."
On the topic of campaign finace reform, Donald Trump explained: “I love the idea of campaign finance reform,” Unfortunately, beyond loving campaign finance reform, he hasn't explained his plan to achieve reform, nor has he cited any specific policy positions on the matter.
On disclosure of campaign finances, he has said: “One of the things you should do is everybody should be known. If somebody gives a million or two million or five million it should be known,” Unfortunately it is unknown whether or not Donald Trump supports the DISCLOSE act, as he has not commented on the matter.
On voter fraud: “This voting system is out of control. You have people, in my opinion, that are voting many, many times. They don’t want security, they don’t want cards.” [It should be noted that there is no statistical evidence to support the theory that in-person voter fraud is a significant problem in the United States.]
I was unable to find any specific policy positions in the matter of election reform, beyond Trump's willingness to overturn the Citizens United Decision. There is no information regarding Trump's position on gerrymandering, campaign finance reform, electoral reform, voting reform, or the DISCLOSE Act. This is in stark contrast to Senator Sanders, who not only has the same desire for reform that Donald Trump does, but also has specific policy positions that he supports, in addition to a plan for their implementation.
While both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump speak to the anger that many of us feel at modern institutions and established politics, one candidate has a very clear and concise plan for the direction of this country, the other does not. One candidate wants to raise the minimum wage, protect net neutrality, and combat climate change, the other does not. One candidate wants to replace unilateral war with diplomacy, the other wants to commit war crimes. One candidate respects your freedom of speech, the other might sue you if you suggest he's a millionaire and not a billionaire. One candidate has a fully funded tax plan, the other has a tax plan that would increase the budget deficit and grow the debt. One candidate wants to reform the financial system and make it fairer for 99% of Americans, the other was made a billionaire by the same financial system he claims that he wants to reform.
Before you decide to join our opposition, you should know what they believe.
submitted by OneYearSteakDay to self [link] [comments]

'Spectre' is Underrated...

First off, I know, this is probably (maybe) the millionth time you guys have seen this (but not from me). And let me just say that I don't think it's a 9/10 or anything. When I say "underrated", I mean that it's better than its 60/100 reputation. I'd give it a 75/100, myself. Here's why:
Pros:
  1. Lea Seydoux's Madeline Swann is the most effective Bond girl turn since Eva Green's Vesper Lynd - by far - and a great performance in its own right (okay, say what you want about Judi Dench's M, but come on). Any good Bond girl needs to be more than a mere damsel in distress or beauty queen. But in terms of series tradition, they DO need to be in distress - and being beautiful is also part of the job description. Seydoux brought a genuine feeling of emotional scarring to her character that made me believe her, and to sympathize with her, but also learn not to underestimate her. And she had great chemistry with Daniel Craig such that her carryover to Bond 25 has been a warmly greeted one. Did their romance happen a little too easily? Sure. But when your name is James Bond...how hard do you really have to work for it? Doesn't change the fact that Seydoux turned in a great performance in the series.
  2. Craig finally got his 'memorable henchman' in Dave Bautista's Mr. Hinx, and their fight scene on the train echoed the rougher fight arrangement of From Russia With Love. Skyfall's Patrice may have been in a good role, but he was ultimately limited in how much of an impression he made and how many 'Bond villain henchman' boxes he checked. Bautista was a massive, cunning, interestingly gimmicked (metal thumbnails and twin-barrel sidearm) relic from a bygone Bond era that I think is one of the requirements in terms of really making Daniel Craig's tenure feel like it stands beside Sean Connery's and Roger Moore's (let me just go ahead and slight Lazenby, Dalton, and Brosnan here) in terms of cinematic spectacle.
  3. Playing off of the above point, Spectre is such a retro Bond film that it feels like a 'greatest hits' with its villainous archetypes, set pieces, bad guy lairs, fight scenes, etc., it was a welcome trip down memory lane. Skyfall set up the possibility for a more 'Bond'y Daniel Craig Bond film, and Spectre paid it off. For better or worse (for better, in my eyes).
  4. Production design. From the opening in Mexico City, to Hoyte van Hoytema's classy cinematography (it rivaled Deakins' work in Skyfall, IMO), to Rome, to the set pieces, to the costuming, it's a gorgeous film to look at. They spared no expense. Every hair was in place, every 'i' dotted, every 't' crossed, and combination of practical effects and stuntwork, on-location filming, and gorgeous cinematography made for some truly gripping moments.
But, again, I don't think it's a perfect film, above reproach, or Daniel Craig's best Bond film. Elements of it are my favorite in the series, but it's a bit of an uneven experience:
Cons:
  1. Christoph Waltz's Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Unlike the majority, I actually do like Waltz's performance in this role. He was born to play a Bond villain, and maybe that's part of the issue with how he was received (because he didn't really live up to astronomical expectations), but I liked his work. And the previous 3 films really established 'personal' villains. The stories took them to personal places. So I understand the instinct here to do that...but what was the point of Blofeld and Bond sharing an origin and all that "cuckoo" stuff? I mean, I don't hate it, it didn't ruin it for me, but it's pointless. Blofeld didn't establish SPECTRE just to toy with James Bond. That's not my problem with it. The motivations for the previous films' plots are intact, and it's revealed that the financier behind all of them (and we knew that they all had financiers - or in the case of Silva highly suspected) was Blofeld and his SPECTRE organization, which he established for his own ideological reasons and personal gain. The personal history between him and Blofeld, that's why he killed his father, why the personal disdain between him and Bond. But that personal disdain amounts to nothing. The emotional angle of it is flat. It's almost irrelevant to the film, itself, where the plot is about the international 'Nine Eyes' surveillance/spy network and how this terrorist organization will benefit from it. It's solely about providing opportunity for exposition regarding Bond's characterization and for the vocal barbs between himself and Blofeld. And that's just not really enough...
  2. Bond defeats Blofeld by shooting down his helicopter...with a sidearm. Okay, sure, if you place your rounds directly on the rotary mechanism, you'll plausibly break something. But who in the world can hit a helicopter at distance, speeding away, with a short-range weapon? I need more than that, guys. That's a stretch.
  3. The number of twists and turns made it feel a bit long. The plot felt like it was over when Bond blew up Blofeld's base (also too easy). But then we have another half hour of film after that or so, give or take...
So those are my thoughts. I think Spectre is a pretty good movie, and an even better Bond film. I'd rank it:
  1. Casino Royale - 90/100
  2. Skyfall - 88/100
  3. Spectre - 75/100
  4. Quantum of Solace - 65/100
submitted by LegendInMyMind to JamesBond [link] [comments]

CCTV Camera Market Forecasts 2018 - 2025

"According to a recent market report published by Trends market research titled, “CCTV Camera Market by 2025” the global CCTV Cameramarket was valued at US$ XX.0Mn in 2018, and is expected to register a CAGR of XX% from 2018 to 2025.Demand for CCTV Camera is expected to be driven by increasing security concerns and government regulations.
CCTV Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) is the use of video cameras to transmit signal to a specific place on a designated device. It may employ point to point (P2P), point to multipoint or mesh wireless links. Applicable for surveillance in areas that may need monitoring such as banks, casinos, airports, military installations and convenience stores. CCTV systems may operate continuously or only as required to monitocapture a particular event.
Request for Report Sample: https://www.trendsmarketresearch.com/report/sample/3650
Global CCTV Camera market is categorized on the basis of Type of CCTV Camera, End-user and Technology. On the basis of Type of CCTV Camera, the market is segmented as Dome Camera, Bullet Camera, Box Camera, PTZ Camera and others. The Dome Camera segment is anticipated to register a CAGR of XX% during the forecast period. The end-user segment is segmented into Residential, Commercial, Industrial and Government.
On the basis of technology, the market is segmented as Analog CCTV Camera, IP/Network CCTV Camera and HD CCTV Camera. Analog CCTV Camera segment accounted for highest market share and was valued at US$ XX Mn in 2018. Moreover, advancements in high definition (HD) and megapixel cameras globally is going to contribute primarily to the growth of CCTV Camera market. IP/Network Camera segment is expected to register a healthy CAGR of XX% during the forecast period.
Get Request for Table of Contents: https://www.trendsmarketresearch.com/report/requesttoc/3650
This report also covers drivers, restraints and trends driving each segment and offers analysis and insights regarding the potential of CCTV Camera market in regions including North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia Pacific, and Middle East and Africa. Among the regions, Asia Pacific was the largest market for CCTV Camera accounted for over XX% of the market share in 2018. Also, demand for CCTV Camera is increasing in the markets in North America and Europe.
Key competitors in CCTV Camera market are:Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co., Ltd, Dahua Technology Co., Ltd., Bosch Security Systems, Hanwha Techwin Co. Ltd., FLIR Systems, Inc, Honeywell International Inc., CP PLUS International, Axis Communications AB, Digital Watchdog and Sony Corporation."
Make an Inquiry before Buying: https://www.trendsmarketresearch.com/checkout/3650/Single
submitted by Mackullam to u/Mackullam [link] [comments]

Donald Trump is not the alternative to Senator Sanders, and you need to know why. [Effort] [Banned from /r/SandersForPresident, so CB gets the benefits of my labor.]

I'd like to take a moment to address those of you considering switching their support from Bernie Sanders to Donald Trump. I've seen this sentiment around, and I think it's one that deserves further discussion.
America isn't in the best place right now. Far from the country our parents remember, our America has rampant income inequality, unemployment, citizens who cannot afford to pay their medical bills or their student loans. We've just come out of a hard recession, with a recovery that saw 95% of income gains going to the top 1%, and new stock market bubbles being inflated even as I type. There is a lot of very justified anger in this nation, and amongst it's people, and we're all fighting to protect ourselves from an insecure future.
The institutions that were created to protect us have failed us, our leaders have failed us, the establishment has failed us, and it's time for a change. This is the backdrop for the 2016 Presidential elections. The Democratic and Republican National committees have presented us with candidates that are part of the same establishment that has so wronged Americans on both sides of the political asile. The DNC gave Democrats Secretary Clinton, the RNC gave Republicans Governor Bush, and Senator Rubio, but none have been appealing to those of us looking for change. Out of this populist frustration we received two outsider candidates, candidates who want to change the political system in this country: Senator Bernie Sanders, and Mr. Donald Trump.
Both Trump and Sanders are outsiders of politics, one trying to change the government from within, the other from without. Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders reflect our frustrations, our pains, and our struggles. Indeed, we see the establishment of both parties fighting against either candidate being nominated. On the Democratic side we're forced to fight against a mute media, derisive commentary, and a DNC that only has eyes for Secretary Clinton. On the Republican side Trump supporters are faced with outright hostility from media on both the left and the right, fighting against an RNC that wants to nominate "anyone but Trump," and even commentary from international sources that have little or no place in American politics.
From the outside, both candidates have equal appeal to those voters who are frustrated with Washington business as usual, both promise reform, both promise change. It's easy to understand why someone who supports Senator Sanders could see Donald Trump as an alternative. When looking solely at the issue of governmental reform, the two seem like different sides of the same coin.
However, past anger at the establishment, the two candidates could not be more at odds with eachother. While both want to take this country in a new direction, they also want to take the country in opposite directions. I feel that these different directions are not being well articulated in the media, much less on Reddit, and I would like to address some of the subjects on which the two candidates differ.
I will try to contrast a variety of topics, but this list will be by no means exhaustive, I am choosing to reference those subjects that I think the Reddit community is primarily concerned about. Please also note that I do have a personal bias, I believe that Senator Sanders is the best choice that we have for our next President, that said, I have made a point to include direct quotations as well as source links whereever possible, in hopes of facilitating both your own research, and so you can fact check my statements.

Net Neutrality and Privacy:

Sanders:

"Bernie Sanders believes that increasingly omnipresent mass surveillance and attempts to undermine net neutrality are corrosive to democracy in America. He has voted against the Patriot Act and opposes warrantless wiretapping. In regards to net neutrality, he has co-sponsored and introduced legislation in favor of an open Internet."
Senator Sanders has voted against The Patriot Act, and it's reauthorization. He has voted against the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, and introduced the Restore Our Privacy Act to fight against overboard surveillance requests.
On why he opposed PIPA and SOPA, Senator Sanders had this to say:
“While I believe that online piracy is a serious issue, it is absolutely essential that the Internet remain open and free of censorship or the chilling effects that result in self-censorship. I will not support legislation that results in censorship or self censorship on the Internet."
Ultimately Senator Sanders came to the conclusion that both SOPA and PIPA were "too deeply flawed to continue [working on]"

Trump:

"Obama's attack on the internet [Net Neutrality] is another top down power grab. Net neutrality is the Fairness Doctrine. Will target the conservative media."
The Fairness Doctrine was a policy of the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC), introduced in 1949, that required the holders of broadcast licenses both to present controversial issues of public importance and to do so in a manner that was—in the Commission's view—honest, equitable, and balanced. The FCC eliminated the Doctrine in 1987, and in August 2011 the FCC formally removed the language that implemented the Doctrine.(Source)
It is unclear in what way Donald Trump believes that Net Neutrality and the Fairness Doctrine are similar.
The phrase "Net neutrality" does not appear on Donald Trump's official website, and the Positions page of his website has no mention of either net neutrality, or the internet. At the moment our only point of reference is the above Tweet.
This quote from the December 15th debate may offer further insights: “I would certainly be open to closing areas [of the internet] where we are at war with somebody, I sure as hell don't want to let people that want to kill us and kill our nation use our internet. Yes, sir. I am." He later clarified that he didn't mean closing down American parts of the internet, just Iraq and Syria. [As an editorial note: For better or for worse, the internet was a crucial tool in the success of the Arab Spring. Shutting down the internet in Iraq and Syria wouldn't just hurt ISIS, but also groups trying to organize against them.]
There was no mention of internet privacy on Donald Trump's official website, save their Privacy Policy.
On encryption, specifically regarding the unlocking of the San Bernadino shooter's iPhone, Donald Trump had this to say: "I agree 100% with the courts, in that case, we should open it [iPhone encryption] up. I think security over all -- we have to open it up, and we have to use our heads. We have to use common sense." Going so far as to encourage his supporters to boycott Apple until they comply with the FBI: "First of all, Apple ought to give the security for that phone, OK. What I think you ought to do is boycott Apple until such time as they give that security number."
The only mention on encryption on the official DonaldJTrump.com website is from the blog post A little touch of Trump, in which he describes the safety measures put on campaign related harddrives. There is no mention of policy regarding encryption.
Senator Sanders supports privacy rights and has fought against SOPA, PIPA, The Patriot Act, and the renewal of the Patriot act. Due to the lack of specific information on Donald Trump's website, we have to look at his statments, which would seem to indicate that he is opposed to encryption, opposed to net neutrality, and that he is willing to shut down portions of the internet in the name of national security.

On Freedom of Speech:

Sanders:

"American's right to free speech should not be proportional to their bank accounts."
Senator Sanders supports the separation of Church & State, but also strongly supports religious freedom and free expression. By the same token, Senator Sanders believes that “Bosses should not be able to impose their religious beliefs on their employees.”
Senator Sanders has been a long outspoken proponent of free speech, participating in frequent protests, and once even being arrested for it.

Trump:

"The editors at Charlie Hebdo liked poking Muslims in the eye with constant blasphemous depictions of the Prophet Muhammad. For doing so they paid an incredible and unfortunate price. But it’s important to remember that before the massacre, there was little outcry from the media establishment that such free speech was racist, insensitive or inflammatory.
Donald Trump often holds himself up as a beacon of Freedom of Speech, and is widely lauded for his willingness to say and do politically incorrect things. However, his actions may tell a different story. From The Daily Beast:
  • Trump sued his ex-wife, Ivana Trump, for $25 million in 1992–because she talked too much.
  • In 2006, Trump threatened to sue Rosie O’Donnell, then a co-host on The View, after she said he was bankrupt.
  • In 2011, rapper Mac Miller released a song called “Donald Trump,” which included the lyrics, “Take over the world when I’m on my Donald Trump shit; Look at all this money, ain’t that some shit?” Trump Tweeted at Miller to threaten a lawsuit: “Now I’m going to teach you a big boy lesson about lawsuits and finance.”
  • That same year [2011], Trump threatened to sue MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell for suggesting he was worth less than $1 billion.
  • In 2012, Trump sued Miss USA contestant Sheena Monnin after she claimed in a Facebook post that the pageant was “rigged,” because the five finalists were chosen before the pageant took place.
  • In 2013, after Trump said he would donate $5 million to charity if President Obama would release his long form birth certificate to the public, Bill Maher joked that he would give Trump $5 million if he could prove that his father was not an orangutan. Trump sent Maher a copy of his birth certificate. When Maher didn’t pay up, Trump sued him for the $5 million.
  • The same year [2013], Trump threatened legal action against Angelo Carusone, who had organized a petition to force Macy’s to stop selling Trump-branded products.
  • In 1984, Trump sued the Chicago Tribune for $500 million after the publication’s architecture critic wrote an item suggesting Chicago’s Sears Tower, then the world’s tallest building, would remain as such, despite Trump’s plan to build a taller structure in downtown Manhattan.
  • Trump threatened to sue ABC in 2005, after he learned the network was planning to produce a two-hour biopic about him and his family.
  • In 2006, Trump sued New York Times reporter Timothy L. O’Brien for saying Trump is worth $150 million to $250 million when Trump claimed, at the time, he was worth $2.7 billion.
  • In 2014, Trump sued Trump Entertainment Resorts, which he holds a 10 percent stake in, to remove his name from the Trump Taj Mahal and Trump Plaza casinos in Atlantic City, which he said did not live up to his standard of quality.
Donald Trump has filed lawsuits against authors, journalists, newspapers, cities, individuals, and even a company that he partially owns, for saying things that he didn't like, or didn't approve of. He routinely uses the threat of legal action to silence his critics.
As President: "One of the things I'm going to do if I win ... I'm going to open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money. We're going to open up those libel laws. So when The New York Times writes a hit piece which is a total disgrace or when The Washington Post, which is there for other reasons, writes a hit piece, we can sue them and win money instead of having no chance of winning because they're totally protected, we're going to open up libel laws, and we're going to have people sue you like you've never got sued before."
It should be noted that the "protections" Donald Trump speaks of are part of Freedom of the Press as defined by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
Also of note is the fact that that a private citizen can already sue a publisher for libel, so long as they can prove that the news organization knowingly published false information with malicious intent, this was decided in the 1964 Supreme Court Case of New York Times Co. v. Sullivan. Donald Trump does not need to add, remove, amend, or abridge any law to be able to sue a publisher, that is already the legal right of all American citizens.
Also, Donald Trump's campaign contract restricts the free speech of his volunteers and their employees:
  • No Disparagement. During the term of your service and at all times thereafter you hereby promise and agree not to demean or disparage publicly the Company, Mr. Trump, any Trump Company, any Family Member, or any Family Member Company or any asset any of the foregoing own, or product or service any of the foregoing offer, in each case by or in any of the Restricted Means and Contexts and to prevent your employees from doing so.
  • No Competitive Services. Until the Non-Compete Cutoff Date you promise and agree not to assist or counsel, directly or indirectly, for compensation or as a volunteer, any person that is a candidate or exploring candidacy for President of the United States other than Mr. Trump and to prevent your employees from doing so.
Theoretically these restrictions could be in place until 2024, or the end of Donald Trump's Presidency.
Senator Sanders has fought for freedom of speech his entire career, even going so far as being arrested during demonstrations and protests. Donald Trump, on the other hand, has filed numerous lawsuits attempting to silence his critics, and as President plans to make it easier to sue the press for unflattering commentary.

On climate change:

Sanders:

"Climate change is real, caused by human activity and already devastating our nation and planet. The United States must lead the world in combating climate change and transforming our energy system away from fossil fuels and toward energy efficiency and sustainability."
Senator Sanders has long fought against climate change, as well a climate denial, which has earned him a high ranking from Climate Hawks Vote, consistently scoring within the top ten percent of Senators. Senator Sanders is also one of only three presidential candidates who agreed to refuse donations from greenhouse-gas emitters. He co-sponsored the Super Pollutants Act of 2014, the Climate Protection act of 2013, the End Polluter Welfare Act, and has fought against the Keystone XL pipeline.
In terms of energy policy: Senator Sanders wants to further promote the use of renewable energy sources, improve energy efficency standards, as well as taxing habitual greenhouse gas producers.

Trump:

"The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive."
"I mean, Obama thinks it’s the number one problem of the world today. And I think it’s very low on the list. So I am not a believer, and I will, unless somebody can prove something to me, I believe there’s weather. I believe there’s change, and I believe it goes up and it goes down, and it goes up again. And it changes depending on years and centuries, but I am not a believer, and we have much bigger problems." Source
From the DonaldJTrump.com official site:
"It is a hoax. Trump does not believe climate change is real, tweeting out his skepticism with strong language and calling it a hoax on Fox News in 2014. In a 2012 Twitter post which is no longer accessible, Trump charged that the concept of climate change was created by the Chinese to suppress the U.S. economy. In addition, Trump has expressed firm opposition to wind turbines, which he sees as an environmental and aesthetic problem." Source
In regards to energy policy, Donald Trump supports nuclear energy production, opposes Cap-And-Trade, believes that job creation is dependent on cheap, readily available oil, believes we need to increase oil production, and supports natural gas Fraking.
Unfortunately Donald Trump's Position page did not mention either climate change, or energy policy.
Senator Sanders believes that climate change is the greatest threat our nation, and our world, faces. It drives up energy costs, destroys valuable resources, and promotes terrorism. Donald Trump believes that climate change is a hoax, and the century long upward trend in global temperatures is "just weather."

The minimum wage and economic inequality:

Sanders:

"Millions of Americans are working for totally inadequate wages. We must ensure that no full-time worker lives in poverty. The current federal minimum wage is starvation pay and must become a living wage. We must increase it to $15 an hour over the next several years."
The main goal of Senator Sanders career, and indeed his Presidential bid, has been to combat income inequality. Senator Sanders supports a progressive tax system, which would ask a little more of the very wealthy individuals in this country, included among them Donald Trump. Senator Sanders is outspoken about preventing corporations from skiping out on their tax bills, or even recieving unearned benefits, and has sponsored the Corporate Tax Dodging Prevention Act, and co-sponsored the Stop Corporate Inversions Act of 2015.
Unlike the millionaires and billionaires, the lobbests and SuperPACs, the special interests and the seven digit donors, Senator Sanders economic plan is centered around directly benefiting the American people. Far from the trickle down voodoo economics of the past thirty years, Bernie Sanders wants to help the poor, rather than cut taxes for the rich.

Trump:

"But, taxes too high, wages too high, ... I hate to say it, but we have to leave it [the minimum wage] the way it is," Donald Trump has said that he would not raise the minimum wage if elected as President.
The term "Minimum wage" is not found on DonaldJTrump.com.
Donald Trump's tax plan is to cut taxes and simplify the tax code, while remaining revenue neutral. [Revenue neutral means that his reforms will not result in an increase in tax revenue for the Federal Government.]
From his site:
Analysis of Donald Trump's tax plan shows that: "In its second decade, Trump's plan would lead to revenue losses of $15 trillion. Taking into account additional interest costs, the proposal would add $11.2 trillion to the national debt by 2026 and $34.1 trillion by 2036, according to the report." "The top 0.1 percent of taxpayers would receive an average tax cut of more than $1.3 million in 2017, or almost 19 percent of their after-tax income. Middle-income households would receive an average tax cut of $2,700, or 4.9 percent of their after-tax income, according to the report."
The analysis of Donald Trump's tax plan was performed by the nonpartisan Tax Policy center.
Until what time as Donald Trump tells the nation what loopholes he would close, what tax deductions he would end, and which federal programs he would cut, the above analysis is the best information we have available. Far from Senator Sanders plan, Donald Trump's tax policy would significantly cut federal revenue, increase deficits, and grow the national debt. As far as the minimum wage is concerned, Senator Sanders wants to raise it to $15/hour over the next several years, Donald Trump is content with allowing it to remain at the same rate it has been since 2009, $7.25/hour.

Foreign Policy and War:

Sanders:

“I will vote for this resolution because I believe that the use of force is one tool that we have at our disposal to fight against the horror of terrorism and mass murder. One tool but it is not our only tool, and it is something that must be used wisely… and with great discretion.“
Senator Sanders opposed the Gulf War and Desert Storm, supported the initial invasion of Afghanistan, voted against the Invasion of Iraq, opposed the 2009 troop surge, and ultimately, in 2008, voted against continued spending of the war in Afghanistan.
On ending the war in Afghanistan he had this to say: "This year alone [2011], we will spend about $100 billion on that war. In my view, it is time for the people of Afghanistan to take full responsibility for waging the war against the Taliban. While we cannot withdraw all of our troops immediately, we must bring them home as soon as possible. I appreciate the president’s announcement, but I believe that the withdrawal should occur at significantly faster speed and greater scope."
From Senator Sanders official campaign website we have these four guiding principles for foreign policy:
  1. Move away from a policy of unilateral military action, and toward a policy of emphasizing diplomacy, and ensuring the decision to go to war is a last resort.
  2. Ensure that any military action we do engage in has clear goals, is limited in scope, and whenever possible provides support to our allies in the region.
  3. Close Guantanamo Bay, rein in the National Security Agency, abolish the use of torture, and remember what truly makes America exceptional: our values.
  4. Expand our global influence by promoting fair trade, addressing global climate change, providing humanitarian relief and economic assistance, defending the rule of law, and promoting human rights.
Senator Sanders wants to end America's role as "policemen of the world," prefering diplomacy and influence over regieme change and warfare.

Trump:

"The other thing with the terrorists is you have to take out their families, when you get these terrorists, you have to take out their families. They care about their lives, don't kid yourself. When they say they don't care about their lives, you have to take out their families,"
[Killing innocent men, women, and children, is a violation of the Hague Conventions, and the Fourth Geneva Convention, and as such is considered an international war crime, and a crime against humanity.]
On Iraq: When asked by Howard Stern in 2002 if he supported the proposed invasion of Iraq, Donald Trump had this to say “Yeah I guess so." This year his opinion on the Iraq war was "By the time the war started, I was against the war, and there are articles—I mean, there are headlines in 2003 and 2004—that I was totally against the war." Due to the conflicting nature of his comments it is unclear whether Donald Trump did support the Iraq war, as he stated in 2002, or if he opposed the Iraq war, as he stated fourteen years later in 2016.
On WMDs in Iraq: On February 13th, 2016 Donald Trump believed "They lied. They said there were weapons of mass destruction. There were none and they knew there were none." On February 19th, 2016 he expanded that "I don't know if he lied or not. He could have lied. Maybe he did, maybe he didn't. I guess you'd have to ask him." Due to the conflicting nature of his comments it is unclear whether Donald Trump believes that the Bush Administration lied about WMDs, as he stated on February 13th, or if he believes that the Administration could have been speaking truthfully, as he stated on February 19th.
On Afghanistan: On October 6th, 2015, Donald Trump had this to say about Afghanistan: "We made a terrible mistake getting involved there [Afghanistan] in the first place. At some point, are they going to be there for the next 200 years? At some point what's going on? It's going to be a long time." However on October 20th of that year, his opinion was that "We made a mistake going into Iraq. I've never said we made a mistake going into Afghanistan." Due to the conflicting nature of his comments it is unclear whether Donald Trump believes that the war in Afghanistan was a mistake, as he stated on October 6th, or if he never said it was a mistake, as he stated on October 20th.
On refugees from the Syrian civil war: September 9th, 2015 "but on a humanitarian basis, you have to [accept them] ... There's no question about it. They're living in hell, and something has to be done.", September 10th, 2015 "I think we should help, but I think we should be very careful because frankly, we have very big problems. We're not gonna have a country if we don't start getting smart.", and on October 3rd, 2015 "If they come in, and if I win, they're going back. They're going back,". Due to the conflicting nature of his comments it is unclear whether Donald Trump believes that we should allow Syrian refugees into this country, as he stated on September 9th, if they aren't a cause for concern, as he stated on September 10th, or if he'll deport them back to the warzone in Syria, as he stated on October 3rd.
In terms of foreign policy positions: Donald Trump's official website focuses primarily on slowing legal and illegal immigration. Stating that he will build a wall, deport all undocumented workers, end birthright citizenship, and make legal immigration and refugee status harder to obtain.
Currently little is known about how Donald Trump would deal with problems like ISIS beyond the fact that "I would bomb the shit out of 'em. I would just bomb those suckers. That's right. I'd blow up the pipes. ... I'd blow up every single inch. There would be nothing left."
Senator Sanders supports less military intervention in wars that don't directly involve us, preferring instead to support our allies, and work within military coalitions, as compared to Donald Trump, who may or may not agree with Senator Sanders depending on when you ask him. Currently all we know about Donald Trump's foreign policy for certain is that he wants to build a wall, limit legal and illegal immigration, bomb ISIS, and bomb their families.

Electoral reform:

Sanders:

“We are moving rapidly away from our democratic heritage into an oligarchic form of society where today we are experiencing a government of the billionaires, by the billionaires, and for the billionaires.”
Senator Sanders wants to overturn Citizens United, which allows unlimited money to be funneled into electoral politics, both from sources domestic, and abroad. Pass the DISCLOSE Act, which would require political candidates to make public all their controbutions, and their source. Make election day a federal holiday, so that voters may have the day off from work to vote. End gerrymandering, which allows political parties to draw "safe districts" where their candidate cannot lose, and fight against voter suppression. Move towards publically funded elections, to allow everyone running for office an even playing field. And he wants to introduce Instant Runoff Voting, allowing third party candidates a better chance at winning elected office.
Senator Sanders' goal is to give every candidate a balanced playing field, from pushing foreign money out of election, to ending safe districts and rampant Gerrymandering, to instituting Instant Runoff Voting so that voting third party won't be tantamount to a wasted ballot.

Trump:

The phrase "electoral reform" does not appear on Donald Trump's official website.
The phrase "campaign finance reform" does not appear on Donald Trump's official website.
The phrase "DISCLOSE act" does not appear on Donald Trump's official website.
The word "gerrymandering" does not appear on Donald Trump's official website.
The phrase "citizens united" is mentioned four times on DonaldJTrump.com, stating that it was "Disasterous." [It should be noted that Donald Trump is friends with the President of Citizens United, David Bossie, and that in 2014 he donated $100,000.00 to the Citizens United Foundation.]
On the current campaign finance system, Donald Trump had this to say: "Before this, before two months ago, I was a businessman. I give to everybody. When they call, I give. And you know what? When I need something from them, two years later, three years later, I call them... And that's a broken system."
On the topic of campaign finace reform, Donald Trump explained: “I love the idea of campaign finance reform,” Unfortunately, beyond loving campaign finance reform, he hasn't explained his plan to achieve reform, nor has he cited any specific policy positions on the matter.
On disclosure of campaign finances, he has said: “One of the things you should do is everybody should be known. If somebody gives a million or two million or five million it should be known,” Unfortunately it is unknown whether or not Donald Trump supports the DISCLOSE act, as he has not commented on the matter.
On voter fraud: “This voting system is out of control. You have people, in my opinion, that are voting many, many times. They don’t want security, they don’t want cards.” [It should be noted that there is no statistical evidence to support the theory that in-person voter fraud is a significant problem in the United States.]
I was unable to find any specific policy positions in the matter of election reform, beyond Trump's willingness to overturn the Citizens United Decision. There is no information regarding Trump's position on gerrymandering, campaign finance reform, electoral reform, voting reform, or the DISCLOSE Act. This is in stark contrast to Senator Sanders, who not only has the same desire for reform that Donald Trump does, but also has specific policy positions that he supports, in addition to a plan for their implementation.
While both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump speak to the anger that many of us feel at modern institutions and established politics, one candidate has a very clear and concise plan for the direction of this country, the other does not. One candidate wants to raise the minimum wage, protect net neutrality, and combat climate change, the other does not. One candidate wants to replace unilateral war with diplomacy, the other wants to commit war crimes. One candidate respects your freedom of speech, the other might sue you if you suggest he's a millionaire and not a billionaire. One candidate has a fully funded tax plan, the other has a tax plan that would increase the budget deficit and grow the debt. One candidate wants to reform the financial system and make it fairer for 99% of Americans, the other was made a billionaire by the same financial system he claims that he wants to reform.
Before you decide to join our opposition, you should know what they believe.
submitted by OneYearSteakDay to circlebroke [link] [comments]

Damage Control Chapter 3

First chapter here: https://www.reddit.com/HFY/comments/cbg4gs/damage_control_chapter_1/
So, this one's going to be a deep cut. If you haven't read the novels I've done before, this story throws you in at the deep end, and it spoils at least one major plot point from the 6th novel, Skin Hunger, as well as several other major plot points from other novels. If you want to catch up with that stuff, https://hellskitchensink.com/ check it out here.
If you'd just like to jump into things, this is what matters: There are Atlanteans, an apparently fish-like race who have recently revealed themselves to humans, who have a population of approximately 50,000 and who are on the verge of extinction, and who were recently partially responsible for a near-catastrophe involving a war between a psychotic god of dreams and a primordial entity of stasis, and are trying to make amends. There is supernatural craziness. There is a top secret branch of the US Military- or possibly intelligence services, or maybe even just running loose- referred to as the Esoteric Forces of the United States.
There's a lot of damage to control.
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Chapter 3: Hel

USEF Report Dagon, section C (Culture), Paragraph 5-11, Rank HEL-6
Almost all of the 'threat' posed by the Atlanteans is, fundamentally, cultural. It is also largely unintentional. While the Atlantean capacity to develop gods is formidable compared to individual humans, their population is .001% that of humanity, and their rate of population increase is hovering at just shy of 0%. They cannot meaningfully invade us, and they sacrificed the element of surprise that could- conceivably- have let them conquer us. They are not a threat directly, and any genocidal actions on our part would not change that- The damage the Atlanteans can do has already been done.
Obviously, the reverse is not true. The Atlanteans are a very small, discreet, and largely insular minority. These have historically been poorly treated in America, and literally every other nation. While legislation has been passed to recognize them as a protected minority, the current administration has shown a certain disregard. The survival of the Atlantean culture is threatened in a number of ways, not least the possibility of a repeat of the Neanderthal extinction.
There is substantial evidence that humans and Neanderthals crossbred. This no doubt contributed to the gradual extinction of the Neanderthal. The possibility that someday the only sign remaining of the Atlanteans will be a certain cast of the eyes, a certain hair color, or a few dozen introns on the end of a DNA strand, is disconcertingly likely.
Back to the issue of culture. Atlantean culture is broadly monarchic. Because of its small population and strained resources, collectivism has been endemic. These traits are likely to fade, but because of the long lifespans and conservative attitudes of older Atlanteans, this fading is likely to take place over decades, or even centuries. Many younger Atlanteans have begun to emigrate, many of them to other countries. This is a pain in the ass for security purposes, as almost all Atlanteans have access to information that is destabilizing, but the most we can hope to do is mitigate cultural harm by encouraging their integration.
Large Atlantean populations- a thousand or more- have settled in the mouth of the Amazon River, the Thames, on the eastern shores of Puerto Rico, on the coast of New Orleans, and off the shore of Kyushu. Smaller populations- a hundred or more- have taken up shelter off Australia by Rottnest Island, the Vietnam coast near Hai Phong, in the Mozambique Channel by Madagascar, south of the Canary Islands, the Strait of Gibraltar, Copenhagen's bays, in the Baltic Sea, the Caspian Sea, and a sizable population in Lake Erie, right by Buffalo.
The largest political push that the Atlanteans have been showing is for renewable energy sources and less water pollution. The Atlantean Queen, Ku-kaili-moku-polemo, has made a dramatic push for intervention in the Pacific Trash Gyre. There have notably been no Atlantean populations settled in India or China, possibly a commentary on the state of their ecological systems and water pollution; Unfortunately, this has also been a cause for increased tensions between the two nascent superpowers and the USA.
More domestically, Atlanteans have managed to tap into the 'Crystal Spires and Togas' new age movement. While not fitting the classical Greek image of Atlanteans, their spirituality has attracted adherents to a number of small schools of meditation. While these might be uncharitably referred to as cults, the Atlantean attitude towards divinity and free will has largely kept them on the 'church' side of the divide. While the media has questioned the wisdom of Atlantean teachings being spread in the wake of the near-catastrophe last September, the EFUS attitude has been that creating a home-grown population of human divingeneers is worth the relatively small risk; We can't get this genie back in the bottle, but we can ask it for a few wishes.
Chief Researcher Cherry H. Verne
The helicopter was a misery. Loud, suspended above the ground, uncomfortably exposed. The jet, on the other hand, was a wonder. It moved through the air with only the most modest occasional turbulence, high above the clouds. I stared out of one of the windows, my breath caught in my throat as I watched the clouds drift far below, like sand dunes deep beneath the sea.
Even the fastest currents of Atlantis had been limited compared to this speed. Atlantis had been small, and centralized. The humans lived across the vast and desiccated skin of their world, and sometimes they had to get from place to place quickly. Without the advantages of being able to leap between worlds with the intercedence of their gods, they came to novel solutions. It was not as convenient, but it wound up pushing them to greater heights. We travelled at speeds where the air itself became a kind of fluid, thick and turbulent, full of currents and doldrums. It was glorious.
"Fucking son of a bitch," growled Miller. "The news got out. The Exquisition and the Peers are sending a delegation to join us. Using the goddamn Concorde. They'll be there before we will." His eyes flickered over to Smith, narrowing.
"I know you like to think of us as having our lips fastened thoroughly to the royal teat, you metallic fuck, but I loathe those imperialist assholes. Not least because we both know they will demand the death of the Archmage. I didn't leak word, and nobody I told would. On the other hand..." Her eyes drifted over to Pagan. The Major sat on the far side of the aisle in the small craft, silently listening to the conversation.
"The official policy of the Mexican Government is that any supernatural being found to be contravening the law in aid of organized crime, or taking the life of a human, is to be executed."
The unspoken subtext in that statement was clear to everyone. The Mexican authorities would not want anyone to find out about any deals they cut. They would have good reason to keep the mission a secret. So, had someone betrayed one another? Or was the presence of an Archmage just that difficult to hide? How on earth had everything devolved so quickly?
Miller groaned. "It gets worse. Chatter suggests that the Tongxinheli and the Indian Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation have learned about this, too. They're likely to get involved."
"And they are hardly known for throwing away a useful resource," said Smith, teeth gritted. "Fucking arrogant pricks. What are they thinking?"
"That the United States is unlikely to go to war over a man who, according to official statements, doesn't actually exist. They'll be out of their environment, though. They won't have access to heavy equipment- I don't care how secret the supernatural is, East Asian ordinance going off on U.S. soil is going to go over like a lead balloon. Their supernatural advantage will be..." He chewed the words for a moment, frowning. "Harder to judge. Both are capable of substantial, if inconsistent, supernatural power multipliers."
"I am sorry," I said, finally pressured by sheer curiosity. "But- these groups-"
"The Tonxinheli is a grab bag of mainland hick priests, Hong Kong triads, Tibetan monks working under duress, and Mongolian shamans, all being pressured- financially, diplomatically, or personally- by the Chinese government. The Ministry..." His face darkened.
"They feed people to monsters," said Smith. "Usually poor, or undesirable."
"No actual evidence of that," grumbled Miller, but not very loudly. "They've got some nasty alliances in the supernatural world. Blood's a lot closer to the skin, down there. Her Majesty's Most Loyal Exquisition is British. They mostly deal with faeries, because the fuckers are thick as flies over there, but we usually have close relations with them. The Peers started as an old knightly order descending from Charlemagne, and rose to prominence after World War 2 turned the Franco-German border into the largest source of Undead ever. There are rumors of a 'Bloody War' that they were involved in before that, but mostly, they're a bunch of overly religious technology-obsessed freaks."
"You are playing an incredibly brave card there, metal-boy," said Smith, an eyebrow raised.
"I did this to myself because I was suffering from severe PTSD, quadrapalegia, and had been manipulated by a psychotic monster. They did it because they thought pacts were unholy." He looked out the window, his brow wrinkled. "This is bad. This is fucked up on a scale that defies simple Murphy's Law. Everything's coming together too quickly." He shook his head. "Hope we're not putting our foot in another hornet's nest."
I tried to think of something comforting to say, some way to encourage my superior officer. None were obvious to me. I settled for patting his shoulder companionably. "What is our plan, Sergeant?"
"Twofold. We need to strike fast and hard when we get in, which means dividing." He gritted his teeth. "I hate to do this to you, not least because I want you close by where you can watch for ambushes, but I need you to check out the hotel. See what you can find out there. Any chance you can track down what supernaturals were in there?"
"I can promise nothing, but if anyone can..."
"Good." Miller nodded to the two foreign officials and the four men who had stayed silent in the back of the plane, dressed in heavy black fatigues, masks covering their faces, heavy weapons sleeved over their shoulders. The men were anonymous, but I could read them beneath those masks. Pulses of belief both strong and weak- One nostalgia, one fear, one anger, one loathing like I'd never seen, one joy and innocence, one ambivalent melancholy. I could see such things in the unguarded, and often, those who wore masks left their souls very bare indeed.
"What will you be doing, Sergeant, if I may ask?"
"The mission profile says that our man was bilking a local casino, the Treasure Chest, using... Well, they weren't entirely clear, but he'd won enough money to be odd. There's a possibility he may be going for one last big score there. Major Pagan, Jissika Smith, and I will be keeping an eye there. Privates, you'll be keeping an eye on the local traffic and making sure he doesn't rabbit without us knowing about it. If we don't find him in the next few hours, it's going to be damned near impossible to figure out where he goes. And if he goes to ground..."
He didn't have to finish the statement. This was a man who could afford to spend decades in hiding.
The plane landed in New Orleans, where we were studiously ignored by the locals. On the streets, I drew more than a few surprised glances as I walked, and even the occasional venomous look. There were a handful of Atlanteans in the city, but I did not keep my eye out for them. I slipped through the crowd without notice or care, making my way towards the hotel where the scene had been found.
The police had not yet been notified. The scene of the crime was untouched. As I entered, I was struck by several things. The lack of blood, for one thing. The fact that, aside from the now-clearly-severed arm, there was no sign of the men supposedly murdered in this room. The lingering aroma of divinity. And finally, a slender, hard-knuckled fist.
I awoke, in a large metallic room. A slender young man who nonetheless had wrinkles around the corners of his eyes from too much smiling was studying me. "Are you alright?" he asked, softly, in heavily accented English. "Sorry about the blow. Are you well?"
Had I been a person entirely unlike myself, I might have responded violently. Sent current surging through the metal walls, fried every other person within, fought and struggled. Instead, I nodded. "You didn't strike anything particularly vital. Blow to the head, but I do not feel murky, or concussed." I studied him for a moment. He was slender, not very old, and his head was shaved bare. His warm brown eyes twinkled, and he wore a loose saffron robe. He had hit me at least as hard as Miller could, and he blazed with oddly tinted belief. Practically a furnace.
The others... Three of them were humans. One of them was tall, broad-shouldered, a pair of black sunglasses over his eyes, dressed in a white business suit. A gun sat in a holster under one armpit, and a leather bag under the other. The second was dressed like a tourist, a colorful T-shirt, shorts, and sandals. He sat with the same ramrod stiffness I had seen in Pagan. The third had his hair up in a bright white turban, wrapped elegantly, with an impressive mane of black hair surrounding his face on all sides. I knew something of the significance of the garment to certain religions, but I did not recognize this specific variant off hand. This man was- I studied my memories- Latino, or Indian, judging by his features. The others were East Asian, I thought. Chinese, I decided, from the context of who was expected to get involved.
The last person in the truck was not human in the least. Nearly seven feet tall, skin black not like a human's but like a burn victim's. Wiry but with muscles like coconuts stuffed into a stocking, her proportions were almost comical, massive tusks forcing her mouth open, growing in place of her canines. A long, red tongue hung out of her mouth, dripping reddish saliva onto the floor almost constantly.
"" said the man in the tourist's clothing, "" He was speaking Mandarin Chinese. I had taken the time to learn Mandarin. The tonal nature of the language was unusual, but I had mastered it quickly.
"You are safe," said the young man who had hit me.
"What are you?" I asked, frowning as I studied him. That belief- Was it belief? Or divinity? He did not feel like a god, but he was not entirely human, either. I had read files about the human phenomenon of 'Heroes'- those who were, in a sense, gods made out of still-living humans. Was this what they looked like?
"A humble monk," he said, bowing his head once.
"" said the man who I now strongly suspected was the leader of this small group.
"Does he speak English?" I asked, feigning lack of knowledge. Their assumptions were a useful tool.
"He understands it," said the monk, giving me a warm smile. "I am more proficient, so he asks me to translate his words, so they are not misinterpreted. We are aware that the Atlanteans have made many agreements with the Americans. You more than many. We wish to offer you an alternative."
""
"You have a choice in the matter, of course. We do not intend to abduct you. But if you should wish to explore your options, to experience what another government may be willing to offer, you can."
He was elaborate. Eloquent. Trying to confuse his compatriots, whose English was not as good. I wondered about the wisdom of sending only one man who understood English so well.
"Monk," said the man in the white business suit and the sunglasses, and his English sounded like he'd spent his entire life in the south, "don't go scarin' the lady by acting all vague and odd." He stepped forward, and settled down on his heels, coming level with me, eye to eye. "The monk's in this job because the government leans on his people, because that's the only way he'll work. The Political Officer there is here to make sure that he doesn't go AWOL. But I'm here because the PRC pays damn well. What you're looking for, what you want, they can provide. You just have to be willing to work together with them."
"" asked the black-skinned creature, in some ancient and esoteric dialect of Hindi.
"" murmured the man in the turban, in the same near-forgotten language. ""
Alright, perhaps I cheat a bit in learning languages. Being able to read the soul of a man makes understanding them much easier when they speak. It was not the kind of talent I would ever broadcast. People were far more honest if they believed you could not understand them. I would hate to take that comfort from them.
"What do you want from me?" I asked, allowing a tiny hint of the trepidation and fear I felt ease into my words.
"" said the man in charge. ""
"Nothing serious. We were alerted by contacts in the US government of a..." The man with the sunglasses paused, and frowned at the monk.
"Bodhisattva?" asked the monk, amusement flickering in his eyes.
"Of a very potent being," said the man in the sunglasses, forehead wrinkled in an obvious glare at the monk. "Since your people ain't been interested in joining the PRC, they've been... understandably tense. We find out about something that could give the Americans a greater advantage. Understandably, we want to avoid that." He smiled. "And if we can persuade you to give us a greater advantage, as well..."
"I... I'm not sure. If I were to betray them- There could be repercussions. Strikes against my people."
"" said the man in charge. ""
"We just need a distraction. A chance to help this guy- Victim of at least a couple of genocides- escape from the governments that perpetuated those genocides." The man in the glasses smiled. "You know about the Westerners’ history. We never did anything like that."
I did not correct him. "How will I contact you?"
"Don't worry about that. We will know." The man in sunglasses winked as he patted me companionably on the shoulder. "Magic."
I did not detect magic. I did detect the faint spark of electricity in the tiny thing he'd planted on my shoulder. It had sunk into the slick material of the raincoat.
"" asked the political officer. The man in sunglasses smiled.
"Consider it. Whatever you're looking for, we can certainly offer it."
"I'll think about it," I said, letting the nervousness flow through my words. Disguising the planning, the certainty, that hid beneath.
I would not switch sides. There were a thousand reasons, but they all condensed down to one. The game of sides was just that: A game. It was a distraction, and in the face of annihilation, a lethal one. These humans were positioning themselves to have the strongest position on the chessboard after it had been set on fire. The most logical solution to this was to destroy them, utterly, giving them no choice but to throw their efforts behind the EFUS. It was my side- By chance, but that was reason enough.
As they stopped the truck- We had apparently been in the back of an 18-wheeler- and allowed me to return to the city, I strategized internally. If I simply alerted Miller or destroyed the scrying device, it would scare them off. Let the prey know that they had been scented. But if they committed themselves to the conflict, they would be forced to see it through. I studied the bug, and my brows knit. It was delicate, finer than an eyelash. That such a small, inconsequential thing could be used to track me, to transmit sound, was... impressive. Also annoying. I would have to avoid discharge. There was no question that something so delicate would be destroyed by the shocks I could produce.
The phone in my pocket rang. I took it out, fumbling with the interface. The phone was a phenomenal device, though a strange one. An invisible network of oracles, allowing people across the world to speak, find information, plan things. I had seen the way humans cared for theirs, placed so much belief and thought into them. The only thing that kept them from awakening was that they were fragile, and not built to last.
That was a terrible crime, to me and my people. To make a tool that was disposable. To create a tool that was never meant to be more. You built to last, because that was how you made a tool truly great, growing more potent with the years. This... I tried to think of the words to describe it. Child soldiers. Cancer-ridden fetuses. A thousand dark images.
Then I hit the 'answer' button, because it had been ringing for nearly half a minute while I stared blankly. "Yes?"
"Yeagerta! It's nearly sunset, I've called you three times, what's the news?"
I shook my head. Strategy. "I was-" I let the silence hang for just a moment, as though I was planning to tell Miller. Showing the foreign agents what they expected, a self-interested person who thought themselves loyal, who had to talk themselves into betrayal. "Distraction. It took longer than I thought to sniff out the crime scene. I'm on my way now, and I've got bad news."
"Shit. How bad?"
"Your men might not be dead. They might just be hostages."
"Aaaaah, double-shit! We tracked him down to the Treasure Chest Casino, but... Well, things are a little bit fraught here. Get here as quick as you can, I could use a voice of reason, or alternatively, another pair of fists."
"Yes, Sergeant."
I made my way to the address, up the stairs into a cheap motel, and into a doorway. I knocked twice, and the door opened. Major Pagan had a large machete in one hand, standing halfway out of her chair. She settled as she recognized me, and the ivory-handled machete disappeared like smoke in the wind. Jissika Smith had been holding a slender bone needle, carved in scrimshaw. The other three members of the room were somewhat less calm. The man and the woman in elegant evening dress were in a pact, I could tell- And the woman was visibly not human, her skin the color of silver, tall, thin, elfin, almost as tall as me. She stood with her long, delicate hands folded in front of her, the man with a drink in hand, the scent of sharp alcohol filling the air.
The last... Well, I couldn't guess at their gender... was actually quite like Miller. The lines of electricity were not as all-encompassing as in him, but still encompassed the limbs, and significant portions of the torso. They sat at the corner, a weapon still drawn. I didn't recognize it, precisely, but it hummed softly, and clearly had a right side and a wrong side. The wrong side was aimed at me.
"Fuck's sake, Anseis, you crazy bitch, she's more human than you or I am."
The weapon was slowly raised towards the ceiling. The woman, superficially, did not look particularly odd. She was delicately built, slender, with skin as pale as milk, and rich golden hair, blue eyes piercing and cold. She was androgynous to the point that Miller's description of her was the only reason I could settle on 'female', and the long leather jacket she wore seemed wholly inappropriate for the hot, muggy environs. "You were studying the crime scene. Any sign of their assailants?"
"Four demons. The archmage himself was not there. All of the demons left substantial traces of power. I'd say centuries old, at least, maybe more. I don't know what they were exactly, but..."
"Four?" said the British man, an eyebrow raised. "You could distinguish them? Hell's bells, the man has four pacts?"
"I suspect so," said Miller. "The mechanics aren't well-known, but being able to make and raise your own supernatural flying monkeys is probably going to make it simpler. So, one big, fat target, and at least four unknown bogies." He looked up. "I bet you've got a solution in place already."
"The Heinlein is within firing distance, isn't it?" said Anseis. "An obvious solution suggests itself. Archmage or not..."
"I'll accept any solutions that don't involve firing a weapon of mass destruction at a riverboat full of American citizens," said Miller.
"I'd suggest coming up behind him and slitting his throat," said the British man, a slender stiletto appearing in his hand as quickly as Pagan's machete had disappeared from hers. "But if he were that easy to take down, I suspect someone already would have."
"Three teams," said Miller. "One team evacuates the ship. That's Jissika, Punk Barnes, and Lady Featherbottom. One team confronts him- That's you and me, Anseis, we've got the best chance at surprising him or being able to take whatever he's got waiting for him. If there are any civilians hurt as collateral damage, I'm ripping you limb from limb. Then the last team- Major, and Yeagerta- You commandeer the ship. Once it's empty, you take control, move us away from the docks and out into open water."
"He may be able to escape the ship regardless," said Anseis, her eyes narrowed suspiciously.
"Yes. But he'll also be where a round from the Heinlein won't kill anyone I care about."
This brought a smile to Anseis' lips, though not to her eyes.
It was interesting, the way time skipped. It could move at a snail's pace as adrenaline and fear and violence made the brain rush, made it record every moment in brutal slow motion in the vain hope that it could make the right decisions. It could speed by like a shark through a current when nothing was happening and too much awareness would drive you mad with boredom. I observed the way the time passed, fast as lightning, until the moment when Pagan pushed open the door.
"Department of Homeland Security," I said, holding up a forgery so good that the government didn't realize it was a forgery. "We've got reports of a lone wolf terrorist on the ship. You need to evacuate immediately while we get the situation under control."
The men in the boat’s wheelhouse didn't argue. They looked happy enough for the unexpected vacation, if slightly worried about their prospects for employment tomorrow. Pagan checked the ship's controls, while I watched the screens. The British man and his fairy lady, along with Jissika, guiding the last of the passengers off of the ship. Unmooring it. The people on the ship were slowly streaming off, Miller and Anseis pushing through them, watching the crowd.
"So," said Pagan, conversationally. "You joined the EFUS. Why?"
"Chance," I said, checking for any sign of our target.
"That doesn't seem like a very good reason," said Pagan, an eyebrow lifted.
"It's why every patriot does what they do."
“Really?” She smiled. “But you were not an American. You had a choice. You came into this world, and you chose them.”
“Geographical convenience. And… I suppose… a lingering debt.” I smiled half-heartedly. “It was an American who saved our queen, and another American who offered us shelter. I am confident that any country would have done the same.”
“Optimist,” she said, and there was a wry smile on her face. I realized I was seeing her amused.
And there, in the main casino floor, in front of an unfamiliar but colorful table, a very short Native American man stood with a grin, one leg crossed in front of the other, leaning back against the table, cornered by Anseis and Sergeant Miller. He was dressed in an extremely fine black suit.
I flicked a switch, and sound came through from a black grill beneath the screen. The man- I had to assume the Archmage- was speaking. "-already in place, ready to carry out simultaneous strikes throughout Washington D.C. You're already too late to stop me. I might remember it under torture, if you want to try."
"My heart weeps," said Aneis. "I invite you to tell us, or I will shoot you-"
It was amazing how quickly things went wrong. The entire ship lurched, throwing the three agents on the ship's edge onto the dock, tearing it free of its burdens. On screen, Aneis let out a single sharp scream of rage as something huge and sharp-toothed latched onto her leg, and then she was gone, water gushing up through the jagged hole in the floor. Miller was wrestling with a small, slender girl, built like a waif, who was also apparently overpowering him in a bear-hug, while a big man with bizarrely long and well-groomed facial hair, sticking out like whiskers, lunged at him from the side. The Archmage laughed, and was gone like a shot, running for the deck.
"Things are going downhill," I said. "I'm going to go stop him from getting away."
"Hey, if you run off with him and the US starts fielding a bunch of Archmages, I'm going to gut you," Pagan said, her voice calm and matter-of-fact even as I set out onto the deck.
The short man was glaring down at the water, his arms crossed. "You are under arrest," I said.
"I don't think I am," he responded, and I blinked.
"I'm sorry to hear that. Would you rather be dead? Several of us want you dead." I studied him quietly. Were those listening to me already moving in? Had they taken the bait yet? If I could capture him...
"You know, what I don't get is, you Atlanteans were being wiped out by humans. That's why you left, right? Ever since you came back, I've been turning it over and over in my head. Why would you come back? Why would you side with the people who genocided you before?"
I blinked. "Because times change."
"Really?" He grunted. "Give me another ten thousand years to think about it, maybe I'd be ready to make peace too. But I'm not quite there yet." He judged the water again.
"I really am much faster than you in the water," I said. "Even if your abomination tries to stop me, I am definitely going to kill it, and catch you."
"My! You're very certain about that." He looked over his shoulder at me, and grinned. "I've been doing this for a very long time."
"So have I. Why?"
"Why what? There are a lot of answers."
"Why did you leave the spider there? She didn't have orders, or training. She was just an abandoned thing."
"She was a tool," said the man, still distracted. "A thing to be used, and disposed of. That's what they all are."
"Demons?"
"People." He looked up, and his grin was wide and a little bit frightening. "Oh, those two bought the 'I'm fighting for my poor benighted people' thing, but fuck my people. Fuck them all. They thought that they knew what I was. Words like Yeahnáglóshii, Skinwalker... They thought they knew what I was. They thought it was simple. That I was neglecting my duty, that I was a monster, a freak, because I didn't believe that a simple accident of birth meant that the tribe was owed my power." He looked up at me, his head tilted. "God, all of this is going right over your head, isn't it? You're like me. A freak of nature. And because you're guilty about it, you'll spend your life trying to make up for the gift you were given."
"It is funny," I said, though it was about as far from funny as it could be. "I never even considered that. I was always grateful that I could do something, anything, to help the people I loved. And while I hate demons, I could never imagine treating a tool so carelessly." I tilted my head. "Why do you do all of this?"
He grinned. "Why not?"
It was about the least heartening answer I could have gotten. “Are there really demons set to terrorize Washington?”
“Yeah. They’re called Senators. I was just fucking with those two, seeing how they’d react under stress. It’s always interesting, isn’t it? Being above them all. Watching them play their games, and knowing that you’re playing a far more interesting game.”
"Get down on the ground."
"You know, I'd fight you, but-" He winced. "Looks like three of the four demons I spent centuries cultivating, strengthening, have just died. That's a blow." He shrugged. "I can always make more, though." He turned towards me, grinning. "I can still take you on with just one."
"I'd like to see that."
He straightened his shoulders, and grinned cheerfully, lifting one arm theatrically, his sleeve slipping down to the shoulder, exposing the bronzed, wrinkled skin. "Nothing up my sleeve, and presto change-o!"
He blurred. I was already in motion as he jumped into the air, and I felt him slip through my fingers. Conservation of mass and energy did extremely strange things as he rocketed up nearly twenty feet in the shape of a small, very fluffy white bunny. A massive owl swept down out of the darkness, its divine energy muted so that I hadn't noticed it above me, and then was gone again, winging towards the swamps along the river with the archmage. I brushed my arms as I stood up, annoyed that I hadn't caught him, but watching. The ship was already shifting to follow him at a fast clip, and there was only so long a bird like that could fly.
Sergeant Miller stepped onto the ship's deck, looking well-worn. He was missing an arm, and I stared for a moment. "Sergeant, are you okay?"
"Fine, fine," he said, absently, glaring around the deck. "Tell me he didn't get away while I was putting down that fucking goonch."
"What? Oh, no. We are in pursuit." I looked forward, narrowing my eyes. "Swamp village. Old, looks abandoned. We're maybe five or six miles away from it, going at ten knots."
"Yeah?" said the sergeant, and he frowned. "Oddly detailed."
"Just keeping my eye out, Miller," I said, and hoped he understood what I was saying.
"Couldn't taze him?"
"Not at the moment, Miller."
"Huh." He nodded, his eyes on me for a very long moment.
I hated the games.
USEF Report Pallas, Appendix B (Known Accomplices), Paragraphs 69-76 Rank HEL-8
Not all of Athena's contacts and accomplices are as celebrated as the Cat of Paris. She is, after all, the Patron of Heroes, and this sometimes involves choosing people who no one would ever take for exceptional.
Atina LeRoux is on the lowest end of these. Middle-class family, relatively unremarkable childhood marked only by a brief hours-long visit to a mental institution after she told a classmate she wanted to kill herself in high school, and three years of homeschooling from the age of eleven to fourteen that apparently permanently warped her social development. She took the LSATs twice, scored surprisingly well the second time, went to a mediocre law school, barely avoided failing out, passed the Bar, and then drifted.
Her life up to this point has been marked by a distinct lack of focus or achievement. She's never done anything worth noting in the mundane sphere. She worked part-time legal work, keeping her head above water in New York City, until she moved upstate and tried starting her own practice, apparently resigned to the fact that she would spend the rest of her life in the same state of mediocrity.
When the Jiang-shi known as Li Fang Fen (See USEF Report Hsien-Ko H1 and remind me to smack whatever moron convinced me that was an appropriate code-name) walked into her office seeking defense on a murder charge, it should have been a short path to an early grave or making a pact. Humans who discover the supernatural inevitably drift towards one of these two.
Atina's only apparent talent is for paranoia. She has, in fact, managed to survive at least a handful of assassination attempts from supernatural creatures she has pissed off royally. Mostly by becoming a hermit. 90% of her socialization is with supernatural creatures at this point, with her only known pure-human contacts being her family, and some fry cook she's in an apparently unpredictable relationship with.
This is all in keeping with Pallas Athena's strategies. In chess terms, Atina is a pawn. She's capable of very little, but is also generally below notice. The chances that she will figure prominently into one of Athena's schemes is extremely low, but the whole thing about pawns is that they take you by surprise, at an angle.
Her resources are largely a surprising number of favors and control she's acquired in Binghamton, but she's still yet to put it to any particular use. As in the rest of her life, Atina LeRoux seems largely at loose ends. Aside from her connections with Jack Knife (See USEF Report Ripper FJ-5) and the Camazotz Jenny Nishi (See USEF Report Sparkly Vampires FJ-4), she has no notable power.
One lingering concern remains: The Fishbelly incident. We still don't know what exactly happened in there, and no one in Binghamton is talking about it. The working theory is that Athena intervened directly, as she's occasionally wont to do. This in spite of the complete lack of any evidence of her presence. The mummy we interrogated after the fact claimed it was the work of a dragon, apparently traumatized by the encounter and prone to confabulation. We've combed the city from top to bottom, and there's no sign of anything that could be called a dragon. Every supernatural creature we interrogate about dragons gives the same answer: They’re extinct. I’m inclined to chalk it up to trauma.
For now, I'd suggest stepping down surveillance to an occasional check-in. Given her position, means, and inclinations, Atina Leroux is a minor player.
Chief Researcher Cherry H. Verne
submitted by HellsKitchenSink to HFY [link] [comments]

Certainty

Roy "Sarge" Jovanovic lounged in his pilot's chair scrolling through ship designs, trying to find the one that would make the most tempting target. A screen to his left listed all of the transponder codes in the ship's database and the fleets with which they were associated, a screen to his right held a dizzying array of maps, graphs, news searches, and other information about shipjackings in the local sector over the past year, and the front screen showed a live feed from a scout drone's camera, floating about a klick off the port bow to give him a good view of the ship's current appearance.
Roy was the executive officer of one of the many small, unaffiliated fleets that plied the spacelanes in Human territory. Once humanity finally got around to colonizing other solar systems, seemingly everyone on Earth wanted their own slice of the interstellar pie, but not everyone had the resources for it. Where many governments and international corporations commissioned their own fleets, and the largest governments and megacorps were even able to build multiple fleets for their various departments and business units, a lot of the smaller nations and domestic companies simply didn't have the funds for more than one or two ground-to-orbit transports, if that. So dozens of independent fleets started popping up to service those needs; these fleets often came with range limitations, exorbitant fees, slow jump drives, low cargo capacities, and other annoyances, but their clients couldn't exactly afford to be picky.
He eyed a particular scatter plot to his right for a moment, pondering, then tapped a name on his left. "Hello Alibaba," he called, "Set ship identity to FENL." The ship's virtual assistant acknowledged the request with a cheerful chime. Within moments the front screen showed that the ship's hull now bore the bright and blocky red-and-green-with-yellow-highlights pattern of the Frota Estrela Nacional de Lisbon, the Portuguese starfleet, and the ship's bland flattened-oblong shape now boasted the sweeping curves associated with products of the Lisbon shipyards, thanks to some incredibly illegal nanofabricators placed strategically throughout the hull; actual physical modifications would hold up much better to EMPs and invasive sensor scans than the standard holographic emitters that freelancers generally used.
Independent fleets were hired for all sorts of tasks of all degrees of legality, depending on their individual capabilities. Sometimes they were glorified delivery drones, sometimes pirates asset acquisition specialists, sometimes scouts for colony fleets, sometimes covert assets for larger organizations who wanted to keep their hands clean. Roy's fleet, Charlie's Chameleons, was a well-equipped and experienced mercenary fleet and one of the few trusted to play the deniable-asset role, as they were doing now. While humanity was nearly a decade into the process of officially integrating with the larger galactic society and it would probably be a decade more before their laws, technology, and such were fully integrated with the other species', unsavory types had already set up shop near the borders of Human territory years before and had started to make a nuisance of themselves, and now several Human colonies were quietly starting to take steps to deal with them.
The Chameleons' current target was one Rit!tkatp, an unpronounceably-named and incredibly cunning member of a major T!ka!irtk gang that had steamrolled the other criminal organizations in several systems a few years back and was now running basically every illegal enterprise in the sector from black marketeering to smuggling to things best left unmentioned. If that gang was the Italian Mafia in Space--and they did try to cultivate that impression, to the extent that a bunch of ugly pseudo-insectoids could pull off the "gentleman criminal" look, anyway--then Rit!tkatp was their Godfather, and he had a particular penchant for shipjacking that had led the colonies of Abydos Prime, Malcor III, and Newer Zealand to hire the Chameleons to do something about it, before the gang scared away all shipping from their respective solar systems and left them cut off from the wider sector.
The virtual assistant chimed again. "Ship designation?" it asked in a dispassionate, slightly Chinese-accented voice. Roy tapped his chin and stared at his right screen, not responding. "Ship designation?" the ship asked again after a brief pause, and Roy waved a hand in irritation. "Bah, that won't work. He goes after eighty-three percent of FENL shipping in this region, but we still don't know what makes the bastard pick one ship over another and we can't afford to guess wrong."
"That's a bit long for a name, boss, and it's not Portuguese," the ship remarked, this time in a much more human-like voice and one tinged heavily with sarcasm.
Roy glared briefly in the general direction of the front viewport, trusting that the ship's ex-military AI, Karma, would have no trouble seeing his expression through one of its many cameras scattered throughout the bridge. (Having an AI on a non-military vessel was just as illegal as the transponder database and the nanofabricators. Something of a running theme with the Chameleons, really.)
"What did I say about breaking character?" he asked mildly.
"Hey, I have to play dumb when clients are around, so I have to get my snark on when I can," Karma replied. "Plus, Charlie decided on this personality when you know I like playing Siri better, so you can just deal with disappointment. And before you ask, no, I wasn't able to find any good correlations in the FENL data either, so if you haven't had any brilliant ideas in the past ten seconds you might as well try another one."
"Fine," Roy grumbled. A bit more scrolling and pondering, then: "Hello Alibaba--" "Still right here, boss." "Hello Alibaba, set ship identity to IDF." As the cheery yellow-and-blue-circles pattern of the Ikea Delivery Fleet rapidly painted itself across the hull, Karma asked, "You're thinking he might go for quantity over quality, then, boss?"
Roy glared again, then sighed, giving in. "Maybe. We know he likes the bigger consumer goods shipments, for whatever reason, but none have come through here in a while so he might go for a smaller cargo."
"Makes sense. Designation?"
"Hmm. The IDF Some Assembly Required."
"Good one, boss."
"Nobody asked you."
(The first generation of Earth starships bore exactly the kinds of names one would expect. Every country had so many ships named for historical and pop culture references--the most popular in America being Serenity, Millennium Falcon, and Enterprise among the civilian fleets and Washington, Midway, and also Enterprise among the military fleets--that even prepending ship designations wasn't enough to tell them apart. That, plus several fleets being sued into bankruptcy by Disney's intellectual property division, made most everyone change naming conventions. After First Contact, when it was discovered that a short-irreverent-phrases scheme was both unique among known spacefaring species and also incredibly irritating to quite a few of them, even the most humorless bureaucrat was happy to go along with the trend; the first few years even saw informal contests for the most innuendo-laden ship names until the diplomatic corps begged for it to stop so they wouldn't have to keep explaining the jokes to other species' fleet registrars.)
Within seconds the ship's new name was added to the hull and the ship's transponder was switched to broadcast the new identity, but Roy still wasn't satisfied. "That won't work either. They never send high-tech stuff in their midrange transports, so there's no way he wouldn't pick up the signature of the bombs or the trackers, or both."
"I think maybe you're being too paranoid, boss. T!ka!irtk scanners aren't that advanced compared to Human ones. We can probably risk it."
"Easy for you to say; if he blows us out of the sky, you can just reload from backup. Let's see. Give me SAF colors, designation Not All That Glitters. No, cancel that, same problem...."
Their wannabe Space Don Corleone was one of the best in the business. His organization operated in eighty sectors falling under at least fifteen different species' legal jurisdictions, and not once had any court managed to get any allegations to stick. Rit!tkatp worked through shell companies of shell companies, always had bullet- and plasma-proof alibis, employed legions of lawyers to ensure he never saw the inside of a law enforcement vehicle (much less a jail cell), never put his name on anything if he could help it, and never left witnesses in any state to testify against him. At least three Earth-based governments and several colonial fleets had task forces waiting on hot standby at all times to jump in, arrest the gangster, and seize his assets the moment he gave them the slightest excuse...but he never gave them that excuse, and so their ships were continually restrained by leashes of red tape and impotent fury.
The Chameleons' employers were well aware that they weren't exactly squeaky clean themselves--very few of the transponder codes they used were obtained through legal freelance work, and "aftermarket modifications" didn't begin to cover what had been done to the jump cores and shield generators of the five ships in their small but heavily-armed fleet--but figured, hey, the legitimate government forces can't do squat without evidence and it takes a thief to catch a thief, so here they were.
The next hour or so passed slowly as Roy thought up and discarded dozens of possible fake identities that might tempt Rit!tkatp into a trap, accompanied by Karma's ever-so-helpful running commentary, from the APF Free Two-Jump Shipping ("You know we don't have enough ships to fake an Amazon convoy") to the RSN Duke Duke Duke Duke of Oil ("Nah, he hasn't jacked any Saudi ships since that new petroleum refinery started up on Epsilon Eridani 3") to the RKF Package Delivers You ("He has friends in the Russian Federation and you don't speak Russian, you'd give the game away if he has native speakers in any of his picket ships") to the NSWS Beware of Drop Bears ("Come on, boss, Newer Zealand would never allow a Newer South Wales ship in their territory after that last incident").
Finally, Roy slammed a fist on his armrest, cutting off Karma's latest comment. "This isn't going to work. We're not the first ones to try something like this, and no one's ever pulled the wool over that bastard's compound eyes before. We have to try something new, but how can you possibly catch a gangster who's thought of everything!?" He dropped his head into his hands and gave a muffled order through his fingers to recall the drone and reset everything to defaults.
"You sure, boss? For what they're paying us, you really want to just let Space Tony Soprano off the hook like that?" Karma asked as the drone headed back toward its hangar and the ship's outlines flattened out into blandness. "You tell Charlie you're out of ideas and she's not going to be happy, and after all the wining-and-dining she had to do for the bigwigs on that New Phobos gig, neither is her bank account."
For a long moment, Roy just sat there, thinking, as a smile slowly grew on his face. "Bank account, huh," he murmured to himself, then lifted his head and spoke with renewed enthusiasm. "Karma, change of plans. Load up the Skreaming Skulls paint jobs on all the ships, and then I'll need to talk to the captain."
A burst of static blasted from the speakers before Karma responded, "Sorry, boss, had to do a systems check on my hearing. I could've sworn you just said the Skreaming Skulls."
"You heard me."
"The ridiculously-over-the-top space pirate getup you use when clients just want tons of property damage and for us to scare the bejesus out of whoever the target is? The one that would make me bluescreen with embarrassment if it were possible for my personality template to have gone through a goth phase in its youth? The one with absolutely zero capability for stealth or discretion whatsoever? That Skreaming Skulls?"
"That's the one."
"Are you insane? What happened to being subtle?
"Probably. And fuck 'subtle'."
"Well...you're the boss. Just don't mind me if I take a fresh backup and sync it back to base before we go."
"You do that. Now, give me a minute to write up a proposal and then ring up the captain."
A little while later, Roy leaned back comfortably as the face of Captain Charlotte "Charlie" van den Heuvel filled the screen in front of him. The pair of welding goggles perched on her forehead indicated that he'd caught her in the middle of fixing something, probably the dodgy recirculator on Chameleon One that kept breaking because they hadn't had the time or money to give the life support systems the full overhaul they needed.
"Sarge! I was beginning to think I wasn't going to hear from you today."
"I keep telling you, I hate that nickname."
"Well, tough. Captain's orders. I take it you've figured out a decoy job that'll fool every last one of those bugs?"
"Nope, not a clue!" Roy said with a cheery grin, causing the captain to lose her own grin. "Complete change of plans, and I think you'll like the new plan. I think it's time we called in the big guns."
Charlie raised an eyebrow. "We don't have big guns, Sarge. The Chameleon Base retrofit got delayed, remember?"
"Not those big guns," Roy shook his head as he sent his proposal over to her. "Those big guns."
The captain read it over, as did the instances of Karma on both Roy's ship and hers, then whistled softly. "Gutsy, and stupid, but he'll never see it coming. Gold star, Roy. I'll tell Ace, Tiny, and Eagle to prep for departure. Briefing in twenty, jets up in forty."
A space station floated in the void, far off the established spacelanes and nowhere near anything resembling a planet, or even a large asteroid. Its only company was a fleet of ships and a handful of smaller defense stations, ranging in quality from the finest models that laundered money could buy to lightly used models that had been repurposed after what was left of their prior owners had been rinsed off of the bulkheads. The former sort had been built with the sorts of odd angles and strange proportions that their T!ka!irtk owners found aesthetically appealing and other species found headache-inducing, while the latter sort had been retrofitted to that design as best as possible, and in both cases they were all decorated in a manner that appeared to be boring sheets of uniform whiteness to those inferior species whose visual organs were limited to sensing what they laughably termed the "visible" spectrum of light.
This gathering of vessels was not hidden nor kept secret in any way, despite its remoteness. On the contrary, its master Rit!tkatp delighted in welcoming all comers to enjoy the creature comforts of his station, whether their tastes lay with gambling, racing, mind-altering substances, negotiable affections, or even more exotic pursuits. All beings, from the poorest sight-seer to the most inquisitive government investigator, were invited to partake in its pleasures--provided, of course, that they did not stick their olfactory organs where they didn't belong.
On this particular occasion, Rit!tkatp, patriarch of his extended family and clutch-master of the station, reclined regally in something that only a member of his species would recognize as a chair, as two of his employees filed his dorsal phalanges and several more polished his forearm plates. The T!ka!irtk species was semi-insectoid and covered with something that wasn't quite an exoskeleton, from which protruded many bony outgrowth that served both as defensive spines and as sensory apparatus. They had four bulbous eyes, two compound eyes for seeing motion and two simple eyes for distance vision; four arms and four legs, all multi-jointed and bone-plated; and a mouth both filled with sharp teeth and ringed by pedipalps.
The memoirs of the Human diplomat who had first made contact with the T!ka!irtk famously described her first impression of them being "the result of a drunken orgy between a praying mantis, a wolf spider, and the ugliest porcupine on Earth," and if anything she was being too kind.
Rit!tkatp enjoyed surveying his domain from the control center that was the heart and brain of the station. The clatter of dice rolling in the gambling hall, the rustling of smuggled goods passing through hangars not depicted on the station blueprints, the pathetic wails of those who required encouragement to repay their loans in a timely fashion...these sounds were music to his aural receptors, the rhythm by which he lived his life.
Alas, a flashing light on the proximity sensor board informed him that the intricate symphony of station operations was shortly to be interrupted by an unplanned intermission.
"Look alive, people," the captain's voice sounded in everyone's earpiece, "we have reversion in two minutes. Remember, don't take any unnecessary risks, don't worry about picking good targets, just keep firing at anything and everything in weapons range until you get the signal, then stall as long as you can." Acknowledgements came from Chameleon One through Chameleon Five, and each ship's crew performed a few last-minute equipment checks.
"Cortana, status summary for all ship systems," Roy called. "All systems green," came the cool synthesized voice of the virtual assistant, followed by Karma's voice adding, "Except the long-range transmitters, which are...blue, I guess, since someone decided that pirates like Cortana for whatever reason. Or whatever other color you'd give a system that I'm giving extra-special attention to, so that I can transmit myself out of the mess you meatbags are about to get yourselves into."
The bridge crew laughed, one calling out, "We love you too, Karma!" as the timer ticked down toward zero. The navigator started counting down with it: "Reversion in three...two...one...now!"
Right on cue, the HMS Dead To Rights, Seasons Don't Fear The..., No Kill Like Overkill, Gallows Humor, and Do Unto Others, Repeat As Necessary of the infamous Skreaming Skulls Skwadron popped into existence in a spasm of warped spacetime and hilariously bad graffiti. Each ship immediately unloaded every railgun, missile tube, plasma launcher, and drone fighter on board at the nearest target. They'd chosen their approach vector very carefully to ensure that no civilian ships were in the line of fire, just Rit!tkatp's goons. There were likely to be few civilians around in any case, as station security didn't like having too many ships arriving or departing at any given time.
The ensuing three minutes or so were the highlight of Roy's career thus far. Nothing like blowing up bad guys with no concern for ammo limits or mission objectives to relieve some stress.
But far too soon, the party was over.
"Bad news, boss," Karma called urgently, "we've got a frigate at our two o'clock. Make that three. Make that six. Um. Make that a six and two drone carriers." Roy glanced to the tactical display, disbelieving, but the AI was right: somehow, a mere gentleman crime boss had not one, not two, but eight capital ships at his disposal--and that's just what he had within jump distance on short notice. That would certainly explain how he'd managed some of the more impossible-sounding feats attributed to him, and why most local pirate crews would refuse to cross him for any reason and also refuse to say why. Must have bribed a shipyard or something...or, hell, maybe they were a present from some species that wasn't a big fan of humanity and would love to see someone meddle with their affairs.
Vastly increased danger aside, though, it didn't change the Chameleons' mission profile. The frigates had almost reached firing distance when Ace made his move: in the most hectic region of the battle, two T!ka!irtk gunboats went charging for the No Kill Like Overkill, both sides firing volley after volley of missiles and countermeasures at each other, and only two ships came out the other side of the expanding field of shrapnel and debris that resulted from the skirmish.
On sensors, the two surviving ships were the two T!ka!irtk gunboats, one heavily damaged and one mostly fine, and the expanding hull fragments of Chameleon Three were all that was left of the fake Skreaming Skulls ship; in reality, however, one of the gunboats had been destroyed and, in the sensor-scrambling confusion, Chameleon Three had swiftly scanned its profile and transponder and taken its place. The "damaged gunboat" turned tail and limped back to "its" hangar, immediately forgotten by its fellows.
The plan at that point had been to keep blowing things up while Ace worked to keep the attention on the other four ships, but the frigates changed things. It was all the Skulls could do to avoid the capital ships' guns, and despite some amazing piloting from Tiny and crack shooting from all the Chameleon gunners they shortly found themselves captured by tractor beams and dragged helplessly within range of the station's even larger guns. The crews' former high spirits were understandably shaken, but Roy reassured the crew of Chameleon Two that if they hadn't been reduced to atoms yet they'd probably come out of this alive so just sit tight and wait and everything would be fine, and he was sure the other officers on the other Chameleon ships were telling their crews basically the same thing.
The speakers crackled to life unbidden. "You know, I was having such a good day." Rit!tkatp's smooth baritone echoed throughout the bridge--or, rather, the voice of his translator; T!ka!irtk couldn't make the appropriate sounds for any human tongue, and vice versa for humans. (Unless they were fluent in one of those African clicking languages, from what Roy had heard, but even then apparently they sounded like a dog trying to speak French.) So both species used translation devices to communicate, and fortunately he'd hooked his up directly to the comm system so they only heard the translated voice. Roy had dealt with them in person before, and the way all those conversations would go was that they'd first hear one of the bugs say something in his own language that would sound like someone firing a machine gun at a xylophone, then the translator would speak in a Human tongue, then the Humans would speak, then their own translator would fire yowling cats back at the bugs, and they'd alternate like that for the duration; it was enough to give anyone migraines.
"I slept so well, my breakfast was wriggling, my customers were happy...and now, you jump into my system, the system of a law-abiding citizen, and you commit property damage the likes of which I have never seen. I am well within my rights to confiscate your ships in recompense and send your crew back to T!ka!ir to pay off the damages with hard labor. But I am a generous and honorable being. Tell me who hired you to do this, and I may be willing to let you go. I may not even inform the authorities that you did this, so that you may remain free to continue your detestable activities elsewhere."
Roy had to hand it to him, the man was smooth. Perfect "incensed businessman" tone with a bit of "agreeable neighbor" thrown in, and only a barely-noticeable dash of "unrepentant murderer" in the mix to show he wasn't to be trifled with. He acted just as if he were talking into yet another journalist's holorecorder; he had to, since for all he knew the Skreaming Skulls were live-streaming this conversation back to their mysterious employers in the hopes of catching him admitting to something illegal. That, too, had been tried a few times before.
Before he could think of something to say Charlie responded first in the most insultingly casual tone she could manage. "No one hired us. We decided that you were scum, and your ships didn't have nearly enough holes in them, and it's a weekend, and we were bored, so why not pop in and say hi?"
Rit!tkatp didn't believe that for a moment, of course--mercenaries, do something for free?--so he and the captain traded polite, velvet-coated barbs for a bit while the newer crewmembers waited on the edge of their seats for the moment when the alien gangster tired of it and ordered them vaporized. Roy had stopped paying attention, though. He only had eyes for one tiny corner of his screens, where he waited for a message from Chameleon Three.
As soon as it came through, he grinned fiercely and accepted the data transfer attached to the message, and several minutes later--it was a pretty huge transfer--he gave the crew a thumbs up, waited for them to quiet down, and hit the transmit button while the alien gangster was still speaking.
"Have you heard of an old Earth gangster named Al Capone?" he interrupted, to an uncertain pause from Rit!tkatp. "This is your second who barges into our conversation?" he asked. At Charlie's nod he adjusted something offscreen and now appeared to be looking directly at Roy. "No, I have not. This is relevant because...?"
"Well, I was thinking you might have, since he bears a striking similarity to a Mr. Zhanpeng Lee, a bureaucrat in the office of the Minister of Finance on Xin Beijing. Also a Ms. Beatriz Gonzales, a sales director with Lockheed-Grumman Industries. And oh, I believe also Mr. Dan O'Neill, Mr. Lubo Denisov, and Ms. Sweta Chandragiri. Need I go on?"
No response from Rit!tkatp except a twitching of his pedipalps. The mentioned names were either false identities he used to do business in Human space or bribed and/or blackmailed intermediaries between real companies and his shell companies, discovered in the complete copy of the gangster's financial records taken by Chameleon Three's instance of Karma, and the twitching indicated frantic thought on the gangster's part as to how that information could have been retrieved.
Rit!tkatp wasn't stupid enough to keep his personal records on the station-wide network for any two-bit hacker to find if he or she rooted an information kiosk or gambling machine; everything was in an armored server room directly below his office, hard-linked to his office terminal and shielded from any sort of wireless access, which only he and his most trusted associates could access and in which he could withstand an assault for several hours at least. And of course there was plenty of surveillance and security teams between his enemies and his data, such that anyone trying to dash to the vault would surely be cut down before they got even one floor up from the casinos. He'd taken every reasonable precaution against every reasonable form of attack.
What his security policies did not take into account, however, was an illegally-enhanced military-grade AI gaining root access to the repair bay computers several dozen floors below his office, taking over the station's maintenance robots (glorified ten-foot-tall alien Roombas, basically, and not particularly difficult to co-opt), marking all the corridors between the hangar and his office as closed for cleaning to clear out any civilians, quietly intercepting the camera feeds from the empty hallways, and then using Chameleon Three's boarding lasers to drill straight up through all those floors and into the server room itself, at which point Karma had physical dataport access and the game was up. "Crazy flying AI with frikkin' laser beams" isn't the sort of thing usually covered by standard security policies, so Rit!tkatp could be forgiven for not anticipating that.
"You think to threaten me? In your decidedly helpless position?" Rit!tkatp demanded, still maintaining his innocent businessman air with some effort. "You think that I will be afraid of images of extracted endoskeletons and oxygen-bearing fluids on your ships? No, your Human superstitions do not apply to the T!ka!irtk. We know that death is certain, and because of this we do not fear it."
"Funny you say that," Roy continued, "since we superstitious humans have a slightly different saying. 'Nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.' And that's the striking similarity: None of those individuals pay their taxes."
Now the alien looked honestly confused. "See, I know that a businessman such as yourself would scrupulously pay your taxes, and so would any of your cover identities. Excuse me, your business associates. But you forgot one little thing. There's one backwards little country on good old Earth that's always behind the times and out of step with the rest of the civilized world called America, you might have heard of it. Those crazy Americans have all sorts of crazy policies; for god's sake, it's twenty-one-forty-fucking-seven and they still haven't switched everything to the metric system. And one of their quaint little rules involves taxes."
Charlie chimed in from Chameleon One: "You're damn right it does. See, I'm an American citizen thanks to my mother. Doesn't matter that I've never set foot on Earth in my life, or any American colonies, or hell, even an American-built space station, they take their 'citizens living abroad' thing very seriously, and every year I have to file my taxes with Uncle Sam. Every damn year. Eritrea used to require that too, but they gave up that nonsense almost a century ago. And I complain about it to my XO here every damn year, too...which worked out nicely this time, I guess."
Rit!tkatp had reached both left arms offscreen and appeared to be quietly yet frantically tapping away at a terminal, paying attention to Roy with his right eyes and his computer with his left; it was a somewhat disconcerting sight. Roy glanced over at his tactical display where he was getting a jump proximity notification, probably the same one that had the gangster all upset. Unless he was looking up Al Capone in whatever Human historical records he had access to, which was also possible. "And seeing as no fewer than one-third of your false identities have American citizenship and many of your shell corporations are registered in American colonies, well, that brings us back to Al Capone. When the government managed to show he hadn't been paying his taxes back in nineteen...whenever it was, well, that was a federal crime."
"Yes yes yes, I see your point," Rit!tkatp said hurriedly, chest plates clicking in alarm and dorsal phalanges folding outwards in frustration. "You have uncovered blackmail material on me, and now you will wish something in exchange for not alerting the Human governments, I am sure. So--"
"Nope, too late for that, sonny," Ace interrupted from Chameleon Three, his voice coming from Rit!tkatp's side of the connection since he was patched into the station's comms. "Already sent it all over. Would even have gift-wrapped it, if they had a tri-D printer in their office somewhere. Got a thank-you note back, too, ain't that sweet. Now, normally these things take something on the order of a hundred eighty business days, but I think in your case they'll make an exception. Right...about...."
Silence.
"...about...oh, come on, they said twenty minutes! Damn government bureaucracy, where's a dramatic entrance when you need one?"
More silence.
Then, flashes of light. Four unmarked ships in plain gray jumped into the system in escort formation, heading for the station. They definitely had the highly-functional-with-a-hint-of-muscle aesthetic of American ships, to Roy's eye; he thought the design was a bit boring compared to, say, the Brazilian or Italian fleets, but at least they'd stopped putting red, white, and blue stars and stripes on everything with an engine and a flat surface.
Rit!tkatp hesitated for long moments, all plates and phalanges going utterly still. "You're not thinking of resisting arrest, are you?" Roy asked mockingly. The alien glared at him with all four eyes, then spat, "If that is all the fleet your Bureau of Federal Investigators can muster, I don't see why not." The frigates dropped their tractor locks on the Chameleon ships to go engage the new Human vessels, leaving only the carriers and drone fighters (and of course the station itself) to keep them under guard.
Roy looked on with concern. Surely they didn't send just four ships? When even without the capital ships the region always swarmed with drones and the station itself could withstand a siege for days?
"That's not the FBI, buddy. They only have sub-orbital ships and no off-planet jurisdiction. Check the IFFs," Ace said smugly, and both Rit!tkatp and the Chameleons checked their tactical screens. "IRS? Io Rescue Service?" the alien said with bemused contempt. "Close, you're thinking IIRS, Io Interstellar Rescue Service. Nope, that there's the Internal Revenue Service."
On the far side of the fleet, the frigates were engaging the new arrivals. The front two ships turned out to be torpedo boats, the IRS In Triplicate and the IRS Red Tape, and they were unloading missile volleys on the frigates at a staggering pace while the support ships IRS Credit Freeze and IRS Wage Garnishment raised jamming fields and fired off the occasional EMP burst. The T!ka!irtk frigates, confident in their superior numbers, didn't even slow down as they approached the quartet of smaller ships, and so they were caught completely by surprise when three new ships jumped in right above the others, the destroyers Rapid Depreciation, Asset Liquidation, and Maximum Deductions.
"Your mere tax collectors have capital ships?" Rit!tkatp asked incredulously. Roy wasn't sure if the gangster had forgotten the Chameleons were still on the line or if he just didn't care at this point, but with glee he replied "Well, your mere civilian 'casino owners' have capital ships, so fair's fair."
The carriers were ordered to the station's defense next without even giving them time to collect all their fighters, as were the few smaller stations capable of independent movement. As soon as they were out of range of the main station's protection, though, they were ambushed by yet more ships jumping in. These ships, three frigates and five cruisers, were large enough that both Humans and T!ka!irtk could see that they weren't plain gray at all; they were actually white with thousands of tiny black boxes and tiny black text criss-crossing their hulls. Of course, thought Roy, forms and spreadsheets. Should've known.
The frigates Thorough Audit, Double Entry, and Mandatory Compliance made short work of the carriers without their drone screens to protect them, and the cruisers Let's Get Fiscal, Weighed in the Balance Sheets, Nine-Tenths of the Law, Accrual Intentions, and I've Got 1099 Problems made short work of the defense stations, both mobile and immobile.
Roy didn't know exactly what a crazed T!ka!irtk looked like right before it decided to do something incredibly reckless, but whatever expression was on Rit!tkatp's face probably qualified. The main station began firing every last weapon in the IRS fleet's direction to prevent them from approaching as its long-dormant engines slowly came to life and began propelling it far enough away from the other ships to make a jump; a few foolhardy civilian ships darted out of various hangars and began angling for jump vectors so as not to end up who-knows-where in the hands of an angry mob boss, but most decided that they'd rather not risk entering the crossfire of a major fleet engagement, thank you very much.
He may have lost his fleet, many of his henchbeings, and his untouchable status, but the alien might still escape to fight another day. Roy could hear Charlie swearing up a storm over the comms at the prospect, and he felt the same way, but they were powerless to do anything about it. The Chameleons were still close enough to the station that it had but to pivot a single gun away from bombarding the other fleet to turn them to ash, so all they could do was float there and watch it inch away to freedom.
Until, that is, one last ship jumped its way into the system right in the fleeing station's path, arriving with enough force that Roy swore he could feel the gravity waves rippling through Chameleon Two. It was a dreadnought, and the writing on its bow proudly proclaimed it to be the IRS 3949-A
On screen, Rit!tkatp stared at the dreadnought for a long moment, then drooped like a wilting leaf, all of his plates opening wide in a sign of submission. The station's guns fell silent and its engines spun down before they'd even had a chance to reach full power. Roy almost felt sorry for the bastard.
Almost.
As the dreadnought and cruisers sent out boarding shuttles and his crew started talking excitedly about sending the battle recordings to everyone they know, Roy put on a mock conciliatory tone. "Hey, buddy, don't worry." The soon-to-be-ex-gangster looked up at him with his right eyes. "Sure, you might have been involved in wire fraud, embezzlement, smuggling, theft, grand theft, bribery, robbery, burglary, murder, assassination, illegal gambling, illegal prostitution, drug running, and who knows what else on top of the major tax fraud, but at least you avoided one thing."
He leaned forward and lowered his voice, and Rit!tkatp leaned in as well.
"Count yourself lucky that you never, ever committed mail fraud, because US postal inspectors...well, those fuckers don't mess around."
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Son charged with murder after 88-year-old woman killed in Mississauga

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