If you buy hydroponic garden supplies, that may be probable cause for a SWAT raid

Radley Balko at the Washington Post wrote (a few months ago, and set to post on 4/21 because these were 4/20 raids):

In April 2012, a Kansas SWAT team raided the home of Robert and Addie Harte, their 7-year-old daughter and their 13-year-old son. The couple, both former CIA analysts, awoke to pounding at the door. When Robert Harte answered, SWAT agents flooded the home… The family was then held at gunpoint for more than two hours while the police searched their home. Though they claimed to be looking for evidence of a major marijuana growing operation, they later stated that they knew within about 20 minutes that they wouldn’t find any such operation. So they switched to search for evidence of  “personal use.” They found no evidence of any criminal activity.

The investigation leading to the raid began at least seven months earlier, when Robert Harte and his son went to a gardening store to purchase supplies to grow hydroponic tomatoes for a school project. A state trooper had been positioned in the store parking lot to collect the license plate numbers of customers, compile them into a spreadsheet, then send the spreadsheets to local sheriff’s departments for further investigation. Yes,merely shopping at a gardening store could make you the target of a criminaldrug investigation. [link]

Why mobile money has had only limited penetration in rural Africa

[The author paints a decidedly more pessimistic picture of the impact of mobile money in rural Africa than most accounts]

Agents must process a certain volume of transactions each day to make a profit, which has kept the average M-Pesa transaction as high as $27. This means serving low-income rural areas, where is therefore just not economical for them, and they go where the money is. Not great news if you’re living on on a few dollars a day and wish to make sub-$2 transactions.

 Let’s say, for a dedicated agent, who earns 100% of his income from transactions, the fixed monthly cost is between 150 and $250. Taking a percentage of each transaction, that agent would have to process over $20,000 in transactions just to break even. Doing that on single dollar transactions, he would be required to process two transactions a minute, eight hours a day, seven days a week. [link]