Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for November 17th, 2014

Why Marijuana Legalization Is Winning

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Interesting article by Maia Szalavitz at Substance.com (an interesting site in itself):

When I first started writing about drugs in the mid-’80s—before I got into recovery in 1988—it was almost impossible to imagine an America where four states and DC have legalized recreational marijuana use, 58% of Florida midterm voters just cast their ballots in favor of legalizing medical use (the measure needed 60% to pass), and California passed a ballot initiative to lowerdrug and other nonviolent crime sentences. (Nineteen other states have legalized medical marijuana.)

The magnitude of the change is hard to understand without knowing a bit of recent history—and if we are going to continue to move toward rational drug policy, knowing where we’ve been and how it has changed is critical. I offer this perspective through the lens of my own experience covering the drug war for nearly 30 years.

My first national column was called, embarrassingly enough, “Piss Patrol.” I was assigned by High Times to write about corporate urine testing policies, starting around 1987, presumably as a service to stoned readers who were considering their employment options.

Over the next few years, the media would spill so much ink and airtime demonizing crack cocaine that by 1989, 64% of people polled by CBS News said that drugs were the country’s biggest problem—and Republicans and Democrats began tripping over one another to race to pass the harshest possible drug sentencing laws.

High Times itself was targeted by the DEA with frequent demands for its list of subscribers and raids on all of its biggest advertisers of growing supplies, nearly forcing the magazine to close.

Testifying before Congress, LAPD chief Daryl Gates said that casual drug users “ought to be taken out and shot,” [dare I say this is a stereotypical police attitude: the police in general seem to hate the Constitution – LG] and the DARE drug prevention program he founded saw nothing ominous in encouraging kids to turn their parents in to the police if they used drugs. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall warned in a prescient 1989 dissent in a urine testing case that “there is no drug exception to the Constitution,” although Congress and the rest of the legal establishment apparently begged to differ.

Even today, police can confiscate cash and property they suspect to be involved in drug crimes, without convicting the owners and with virtual impunity. The surveillance revelations about the NSA’s spying on American citizens include cases where that agency has shared information with the DEA that was gathered from phones and computers without a warrant. In fact, the DEA has an official policy of basically lying to defense attorneys—and sometimes even prosecutors and judges—about the source of this data.

Yet even before the rage to pass tough drug laws took off in the 1980s, law enforcement efforts like mandatory minimum sentences were known to be ineffective. The federal government had quietly overturned one set of mandatory drug sentences in the late ‘60s—since they had clearly failed to prevent the late ‘60s.

And New York City would never have been one of the capitals of crack if the 15-to-life “Rockefeller law” mandatory sentences for selling even powder cocaine, which had been in place here since the mid-‘70s, actually suppressed drug use.

As is clear from this brief summary, for most of my adult life, the idea of a rational drug policy seemed literally to be a pipe dream (a term, by the way, from opium dens). So how did we go, in just a few years, from seeing drug users as demon enemies in a war who must be locked up to having the drug czar drop the military language and even speak at last month’s National Harm Reduction Conference in Baltimore?

Many factors are clearly playing a role. Two of the most obvious are . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 November 2014 at 5:52 pm

Posted in Drug laws

Got Milk? Might Not Be Doing You Much Good

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Since we started the low-carb, high-fat mode of eating, we have had little dairy. The Wife likes a small bowl of yogurt in the evening, and I like to have sour cream (and heavy cream) on hand for cooking, and butter is still used, but the daily drinking of glasses of milk has vanished altogether.

And now Aaron Carroll notes in the NY Times that we’re not missing much:

Almost no one will dispute that when a baby is born, breast milk is the best nutrition a mother can provide. All mammals nurse their young, and breast milk benefits a newborn infant in ways above and beyond nutrition. In fact, until 1 to 2 years of age, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the World Health Organization, the Institute of Medicine and more promote breast-feeding as optimal.

Unfortunately, breast-feeding until that age is often difficult, if not impossible, because mothers have to return to work, and children go off to preschool or day care. So we often replace human milk with the milk of cows or other animals. But at a certain point, we have to acknowledge that we are the only mammals on the planet that continue to consume milk after childhood, often in great amounts.

More and more evidence is surfacing, however, that milk consumption may not only be unhelpful, it might also be detrimental. This is in spite of the fact that the United States Department of Agriculture and other organizations advocate that even adults should drink at least three cups a day.

More than 10,000 years ago, when human beings began to domesticate animals, no adults or older children consumed milk. Many people don’t drink it today because they are lactose intolerant. They do just fine.

But if you believe the advertising of the dairy industry, and the recommendations of many scientific bodies, they are missing out on some fantastic benefits to milk consumption: that milk is good for bones, contains calcium and vitamin D, and “does a body good.”

There’s not a lot of evidence for such claims.

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 November 2014 at 5:06 pm

Posted in Business, Food, Health, Science

Interesting interview on the effects of racism blindness

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Well worth reading and thinking about, though not easy.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 November 2014 at 4:53 pm

Posted in Daily life, Education

Secret Tapes Hint at Turmoil in New York Fed Team Monitoring JPMorgan

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The NY Fed seems to be as shot through with corruption as the SEC, and that’s saying something. Jake Bernstein reports at ProPublica:

As the Federal Reserve Bank of New York moved to beef up its oversight of Wall Street two years ago, the team charged with supervising the nation’s largest bank, JPMorgan Chase, was in turmoil.

New York Fed examiners embedded at JPMorgan complained about being blocked from doing their jobs. In frustration, some requested transfers. Top New York Fed managers knew about the problems, according to interviews and secret recordings of internal meetings obtained by ProPublica. Similar frustrations had surfaced among examiners at other banks as well.

“You’re not the only one experiencing difficulties at an institution,” one New York Fed manager told Carmen Segarra, an examiner stationed at Goldman Sachs who made the surreptitious recordings. “You’ve heard about all the issues at JPMorgan.”

[In the article at the link, you can hear one of the recordings at this point – LG]

Listen to more excerpts of the Carmen Segarra tapes »

In meetings in early 2012, the manager, Johnathan Kim, described how bosses in the JPMorgan team had stymied examiners by blocking access to bank information and constraining independent inquiries in ways that “grinds everything to a halt.”

The revelations of internal strife add new details to the summary of an investigation by the Federal Reserve Board’s inspector general into the New York Fed’s supervision of JPMorgan before the “London Whale” trading scandal. The disastrous series of trades, which became public in April 2012, cost JPMorgan $7 billion in losses, settlements and fines and forced it to admit to securities law violations.

In the summary of its two-year investigation, which was released last month, the IG stopped short of saying the New York Fed could have detected the trading risk before it blew up. Still, it chastised the bank, saying it had identified risky activities in JPMorgan’s investment office years earlier but didn’t follow up or tell the bank’s primary regulator, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), as procedures demanded.

The IG’s office has withheld its full investigation report, saying it contained information that was “confidential” and “privileged.” A spokesman declined to provide even a page count.

The New York Fed declined to respond to detailed questions. JPMorgan also declined to comment.

The IG’s summary offered only a glimpse into the job performance of what is arguably the most important U.S. financial regulator. The New York Fed’s primary responsibility is to protect the safety and soundness of the financial system. After the 2008 financial crisis, Congress gave the Federal Reserve System the task of supervising the biggest and most complex financial institutions whose failure could disrupt the economy. Because of its location, the New York Fed has direct responsibility for many of Wall Street’s biggest players. Yet its supervisory culture has been slow to adapt, as ProPublica and This American Life recently reported. . .

Continue reading.

Note how much is kept from the public. I suspect the whole truth would be horrifying, given what we’ve already learned.

Do read the whole thing. It’s clear that this has been FUBAR.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 November 2014 at 3:41 pm

Once again we see how hard it is to give up slave labor: California Tells Court It Can’t Release Inmates Early Because It Would Lose Cheap Prison Labor

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Read the article in ThinkProgress by Nicole Flatow. The conclusion:

. . . The incentives of this wildfire and other labor programs seemingly is in conflict with the goal of reducing U.S. reliance on mass incarceration. But the federal judges overseeing this litigation were nonetheless sensitive to the state’s need for inmate firefighters. That’s why they ordered the state to offer 2-for-1 credits only to those many inmates who weren’t eligible for the wildfire program. This way, inmates who were eligible would still be incentivized to choose fighting wildfires, while those that weren’t could choose other rehabilitative work programs to reduce their sentence.

The Department of Corrections didn’t like this idea, either. It argued that offering 2.-for-1 credits to any inmates who perform other prison would mean more minimum security inmates would be released earlier, and they wouldn’t have as large of a labor pool. They would still need to fill those jobs by drawing candidates who could otherwise work fighting wildfires, and would be “forced to draw down its fire camp population to fill these vital MSF [Minimum Support Facility] positions.” In other words, they didn’t want to have to hire full-time employees to perform any of the work that inmates are now performing.

The plaintiffs had this to say in response: “Defendants baldly assert that if the labor pool for their garage, garbage, and city park crews is reduced, then ‘CDCR would be forced to draw-down its fire camp population to fill these vital MSF positions.’ That is a red herring; Defendants would not be “forced” to do anything. They could hire public employees to perform tasks like garbage collection, garage work and recycling … ”

In a short order Friday, the federal court seemingly agreed with this argument, ordering California to expand its 2-for-1 credits program.

California’s resistance to the initial federal court order is not surprising. Despite making some real strides in reducing its prison population relative to other states, the state has fought court orders every step of the way, as Gov. Jerry Brown claimed that the prisons were on the verge of being “gold plated.” But its newest line of argument reveals another obstacle to prison reform that may affect many other states without a court order for reform.

 

Written by LeisureGuy

17 November 2014 at 3:18 pm

Posted in Government, Law

The dirty deals made by the Reagan administration

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Giving arms to Iran (then as now a US foe) in exchange for hostages, smuggling drugs to get money to (illegally) fund the Contras in Nicaragua—it was a heady time for the GOP until it fell apart.

This article discusses the hip-hop take on the activity, but the comments are more interesting than the article, at least for someone who is ignorant of hip-hop. For example:

ramparts:
I read an interesting review recently in The LA Times on the new movie, “Kill The Messenger”, with great interest, as it reminded me of a young man I met back in the late 1990′s who was a neighbor of mine (I used to take care of his dog while he was out of town, which always creates strong bonds with their owners). I knew he had been a Navy Seal who had abruptly chosen to leave the service and one evening over beers I asked him why he left.

The story I was told in answer to my casual question could have been the subject of a movie like “Messenger”. He said that he had been assigned as a machine gunner on a navy helicopter which flew a mission in Columbia to pick up a large load of cocaine from a local drug cartel. When the crew landed to unload the coke the officer in charge at the scene was none other than the infamous Oliver North, whom he described as an overly officious and unpleasant fellow.

The story takes a surreal turn when the man telling me the story describes how he and another member of the helicopter crew stashed a few packages of the cocaine cargo for themselves to later attempt to sell in nearby Miami, figuring this was going to be their big retirement fund opportunity. Not being very sophisticated drug dealers they quickly got caught by local drug enforcement cops, whereupon they advised during interrogation back at the police station that a call be made to their military commanders to inform them of what was going on.

What happened after that was a predictably classic cover-up. The military sent personnel to pick the boys up and no criminal charges were made against them, the matter being treated officially as never having happened at all. The two miscreants were then brought before Oliver North, who was understandably furious at them for stealing part of his drug stash, and issued all sorts of all sorts of threats as to reprisals. The two errant Seals, knowing exactly that North’s plans were to use the coke to raise money for the Contras in Nicaragua, responded by laughing in his face and daring him to do anything to formally discipline them, which would necessarily have brought his nefarious drug scheme out into the open.

Col. North, of course, had to let the incident go unpunished, however he told them that their best course was to request an honorable discharge ASAP from the military, as he would see to it that their futures in the navy were not going to be pleasant. So that’s how my friend came to retire to civilian life.

I’m anxious to see the new movie, “Shoot The Messenger”, so that I’ll be able to connect some of the dots of my former friend’s story to see how it related to The Big Picture.

And this one, with a lot of links:

threejack:
Gary Webb  wrote/nailed this story dead on the head through his “Dark Alliance series back in the mid 90’s.  He correctly claimed (about CIA involvement in cocaine trafficking into the US) written for the San Jose Mercury News and later published as a book. In the three-part series, Webb investigated Nicaraguans linked to the CIA-backed Contras who had smuggled cocaine into the U.S. Their smuggled cocaine was distributed as crack cocaine in Los Angeles, with the profits funneled back to the Contras. Webb also alleged that this influx of Nicaraguan-supplied cocaine sparked, and significantly fueled, the widespread crack cocaine epidemic that swept through many U.S. cities during the 1980s. According to Webb, the CIA was aware of the cocaine transactions and the large shipments of drugs into the U.S. by Contra personnel. Webb charged that the Reagan administration shielded inner-city drug dealers from prosecution in order to raise money for the Contras, especially after Congress passed the Boland Amendment, which prohibited direct Contra funding.

Investigative reporting at a level seldom seen these days and for his troubles he was generally besmirched by the NY Times, LA Times and even his employer, the San Jose Mercury.  He was fired, black balled  and ultimately took his own life in 2004.

Clearly not a good idea to pull on a Conservative icon’s cape apparently…

It is however great to see Mr. Webb’s work gaining some vindication of late and the former  alleged sainthood of Reagan showing more than a few chinks in the armour…

More to come I’m sure…

And one more:

fridgelogic:
I am a former CBC TV investigative reporter. I have seen documentation (from a book proposal by a former WaPo bureau chief, now dead, for Little, Brown c1992) was clear enough that (had I pitched it) we could’ve gotten to air (meaning litigation-proof) that places VP GHW Bush in an office in the White House basement, running Iran-Contra’s cocaine trade. 

Bob Parry did indeed land this story and was lucky enough—unlike Gary Webb—not to have been incinerated by a cabal of his peers when he had the story. For more on this, read Russ Baker’s masterful BUSH FAMILY SECRETS. It’s an anatomy of US power politics like few others.

As for serving military personnel co-opted into USG crimes (like the SEAL mentioned in the Oliver North story below), here’s one I know is true: I’ve seen the videos of the men whose lives were ruined (vanished from Pentagon pension lists, for one) by their adventurousness.

Both were involved in the movement of gold on a USAF base in the American southwest, got drunk, and liberated not just a few gold bars but the story itself…which was that German looted gold had been smuggled into the US with seal crates of Nazi weapons systems, marked TOP SECRET. These guys weren’t just ruined: they were *disappeared*. Un-people.

Back to Reagan: he may well have been a figurehead while Bush Sr ran the joint (after having deep-sixed the real CIA horror stories after Helms/Church Committee hearings). Perhaps his conscience was as damaged as his concsciousness, perhaps a good thing given the US horror stemming from the cocaine trade and the maybe million Iraqi dead….but who’s counting?

LBJ was in a whole different universe for sheer corruption. (Even his circumspect biographer Robert Caro admits as much.) And yes, the base from where these gold stories emanate  were built while LBJ was the senator (the biggest crook in Congressional history) *in charge of investigating Pentagon corruption* as well as personally being a wholly owned subsidiary himself of KBR, the military construction giant known today as (ta da) Halliburton.

These are the kind of stories that bubble up—after having been covered up—when average folks come to realize the empire (never mind the emperor) has no clothes.

I find it totally credible that such a stew of unsavory and illegal and wrong-headed activity was going on when Reagan was president, because Reagan was (quite famously) contemptuous of government and government initiatives. Since he believed the government is no good, he (and his people) doubtless thought that they were acting as governments always act: dishonestly and secretively.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 November 2014 at 3:08 pm

Posted in Drug laws, Government

Incidence of marijuana poisoning miniscule compared to other substances

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marijuana-poisoning

From this article by Chritopher Ingraham, which begins:

The most politically potent arguments against marijuana legalization have focused on the effects of looser marijuana laws on teens and children. Opponents say that legalization will lead to increased use among teens (so far it hasn’t), and recite the drug war mantra that it will “send the wrong message” (if so, it appears that kids aren’t listening).

Colorado’s market for edible marijuana products – pot-infused baked goods, candies, beverages and the like – has been a particular area of concern. The accidental ingestion of edibles by kids has received a huge amount of media attention. One widely-reported study found that the number of kids under 12 who were admitted to the E.R. for accidental pot ingestion in Colorado jumped from zero to 14 after the state liberalized medical marijuana laws in October 2009. More recently, the Denver Post reported on a “surge in kids” accidentally eating pot from 2013 to 2014.

Stories like these are a big part of the push for tougher packaging requirements on Colorado’s edibles, the Associated Press’s Kristen Wyatt reported this weekend. The Colorado Health Department is planning to recommend that new edible projects are subject to “pre-market approval” by a new commission. Previously, the department had recommended a total ban on the sale of edible products, only to hastily withdraw the proposal shortly after it was made public.

According to the AP, the department wrote that it “remains concerned that there are products on the market that so closely resemble children’s candy that it can entice children to experiment with marijuana.” These concerns are understandable, but they’re blown far out of proportion to the actual numbers.

Marijuana baked goods have been around for nearly as long as marijuana. And marijuana candy has been around for well over a decade, at least. And regardless of the delivery method – whether via edibles or smokes – cases of children being unintentionally exposed to marijuana are vanishingly rare.

Let’s zoom out to the national picture to take a look. The American Association of Poison Control Centers maintains the National Poison Data System, a near-realtime database of literally every call made to a poison control center in the U.S. Their most recent annual report, reflecting data from 2012, allows us to see the number of reported poisoning cases for marijuana, and to compare this to other common drugs and household substances, including over the counter painkillers, diaper creams, and contact lens fluid. . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 November 2014 at 12:55 pm

Posted in Daily life, Drug laws

Is Texas getting ready to execute an innocent man for a murder committed by a bad cop, now in prison?

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Texas has already executed one innocent man, whose children perished in an accidental fire, so I doubt that executing innocents is a big deal in that state. Still, it’s an interesting story with some twists and turns, recounted in The Intercept by Jordan Smith:

On a late October night in 2007, 20-year-old Connie Lear was playing cards and drinking with friends at an apartment complex just outside Austin, Texas, when she caught her fiance playing footsie under the table with another woman. Lear stormed out; her fiance followed her to the parking lot, where they got into a shouting match. Neighbors called the police.

Among the cops who arrived at the scene was Jimmy Lewis Fennell, Jr., a 34-year-old police sergeant with the Georgetown, Texas, Police Department. Lear’s fiance was handcuffed and taken into custody by other officers, leaving her alone with Fennell. “I said, where are they going?” Lear recalls, “And I started crying at this point.” Fennell assured her that her fiance was not under arrest; he was merely being taken to a nearby hotel to calm down and sober up. But “I kept throwing a fit and raising hell,” Lear recalls, “and finally Fennell said, ‘well I’ll take you to him then.’”

But that’s not where they went. Instead, Fennell pulled into a well-lit public recreation area. They got out, and Fennell slammed Lear up against the back of his squad car and held her down. He took off his duty belt and laid it on the trunk, calmly pointing out each of the weapons and tools he carried with him. “Then he took his gun, removed it…[and] laid it on the trunk against my head,” she said. “And he raped me.”When he was finished, Fennell made a threat: if she ever dared to report what happened, and if he ever went to prison for it, when he got out he would hunt her down and kill her. He then drove Lear back to the apartment complex where he gave her his business card and said he would be back to see her again — the next evening, in fact, after his kid’s soccer game.

Lear was terrified. Nevertheless, she called 911 and reported the attack. But before the ambulance arrived, Fennell returned, along with other officers. She ran but they caught up with her, taking her phone, and forcing her into a police car. There, she says, she was told to face the in-car camera and say that she’d made up the story about Fennell’s attack. She did. She was then taken to jail for public intoxication.

Despite his attempt to cover up his crime, Fennell was eventually arrested and ultimately pleaded guilty to kidnapping and improper sexual contact with a person in custody. He received a ten-year sentence and is currently slated for release in September 2018. Lear also filed a civil suit against Fennell and the City of Georgetown, which was settled for $100,000. But for her, the story doesn’t end there. Fennell’s arrest prompted several other women to come forward alleging similar threats and assaults, including one additional rape. These episodes had either never been reported or else were swept under the rug by local law enforcement. Together these incidents revealed a portrait of Fennell as a dangerous man who abused his police credentials with impunity.

In the meantime, Lear kept her identity a secret, mainly out of fear of Fennell and his fellow officers. Although Lear eventually told her story anonymously, she recently decided it was time to come forward, revealing her identity to The Intercept for the first time. She did so because she believes she can help reveal the truth about a harrowing and even more serious crime, committed against a different Texas woman. Eleven years before he raped and threatened to kill Lear, Fennell’s own fiancee, 19-year-old Stacy Stites, was found brutally murdered along a country road in Bastrop, Texas. That crime eventually sent a man to death row. His name is Rodney Reed—and he is scheduled to die in January. Lear, like many people who have followed the case in Texas —believe that Reed is innocent. And they believe that the real killer is Jimmy Fennell.

Connie Lear is not alone in coming forward now that an execution date has been set. Nearly a dozen people related to Stites, many of whom have had doubts about the case for years, are breaking their own silence, calling for Reed’s life to be spared. One is Stites’ cousin, Judy Mitchell, who is convinced Fennell is the real killer. “I just know he did [it],” she told The Intercept. “We’ve got to do something to stop this execution.” . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 November 2014 at 11:50 am

Posted in Law, Law Enforcement

The Coming Blackout Epidemic

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Interesting article in Motherboard by Nafeez Ahmed:

​Industrialized countries face a future of increasingly severe blackouts, a new study warns, due to the proliferation of extreme weather events, the transition to unconventional fossil fuels, and fragile national grids that cannot keep up with rocketing energy demand.

“We need a fundamental re-think about how electricity is generated and distributed and who controls this,” said lead author Prof Hugh Byrd of Lincoln University, a specialist in international energy policy and urban sustainability. “It is not in the interests of the privatized power industry to encourage less electricity consumption.”

Every year, millions of people around the world experience major electricity blackouts, but the country that has endured more blackouts than any other industrialized nation is the United States. Over the last decade, the number of power failures affecting over 50,000 Americans has more than doubled, according to federal data.

THE LOOMING POWER FAILURE EPIDEMIC

The paper published this September in Routledge’s Journal of Urban Technology points out that 50 major power outages have afflicted 26 countries in the last decade alone, driven by rapid population growth in concentrated urban areas and a rampant “addiction” to high-consumption lifestyles dependent on electric appliances.

Study authors Hugh Byrd and Prof Steve Matthewman of Auckland University, a sociologist of disaster risk, argue that

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 November 2014 at 11:00 am

Why Uber loves Obamacare

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Jason Millman has an interesting article in the Washington Post:

As Obamacare’s second-ever enrollment period getsunderway, the program has a big cheerleader in Silicon Valley: the chief executive of Uber, the ambitious ridesharing company that lets private car owners overnight become professional drivers.

Travis Kalanick, also a co-founder of Uber, said the health-care law has been “huge” for his business. By creating a functioning individual market for health insurance, people have more flexibility to pursue the jobs they want, Kalanick said.

“The democratization of those types of benefits allow people to have more flexible ways to make a living,” Kalanick said during a Friday night dinner for reporters, according to Buzzfeed. “They don’t have to be working for The Man.”

More than half of insured Americans still get their coverage through the workplace, though the rate has been declining over the past decade. Drivers for Uber are classified as independent contractors, so the company does not offer them insurance. 

Kalanick’s comments highlight one of the arguments that supporters of the Affordable Care Act make for the law. By making it easier and more affordable for people to buy health insurance coverage on their own, people won’t have to stay in jobs they don’t want just for the health benefits.

This concept is known as “job lock,” and we have some idea just how prevalent it is. About 27 percent of employees cited workplace health insurance as the main reason for staying in their jobs or not retiring, according to 2004 survey from the Employee Benefit Research Institute.  A 2008 Harvard Business School study found about 11 million people stayed in their jobs just for the health insurance.

For a company like Uber, this also isn’t just about people not having to stay in jobs they don’t like to get health care. It’s also about people being able to jobs they do like that don’t provide health care.

But there’s also flipside to Kalanick’s argument. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 November 2014 at 10:45 am

Posted in Business, Healthcare

Small government = More workers killed and maimed

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Businesses quite obviously will comply with safety regulations that protect their employees only if they are forced to, by laws and (more important) by inspections, since business also routinely ignore the law if heeding the law has a negative impact on profits. (Cf. Don Blankenship’s recent indictment after years of his ignoring the law (and the fines).) So “small government” comes with a high price tag: tainted food, unsafe transportation, workers killed, and so on.

Bryce Covert reports at ThinkProgress:

On Saturday morning, four workers died at a DuPont chemical plant that manufactures the pesticide Lannate in La Porte, Texas after a leak of the poisonous gas methyl mercaptan. A fifth was hospitalized but later released. The plant hasn’t been visited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration since 2007.

Such a deadly accident without an explosion or fire is unusual, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Methyl mercaptan is subject to a number of federal environmental and safety regulations. But those regulations did not ensure that the plant was a safe place to work. It was last inspected by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) seven years ago, when it was issued two serious violations for the safe management of highly hazardous chemicals, which could result in toxic or explosive risks. It was fined $1,700 for one and $1,800 for the other, although the latter was later reduced to $1,700.

The plant is also out of compliance with hazardous waste management and air emissions standards from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), according torecords reviewed by the Wall Street Journal. The agency brought formal enforcement actions against it for violations in 2012 and 2014, resulting in $117,375 in penalties. DuPont is also in discussions with the EPA and Justice Department about these issues at the La Porte plant, which began after a 2008 inspection.

And over the last five years, the plant was cited for violating state law at least two dozen times by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, according to a review of state records by the Texas Tribune, for failures related to performing routine safety inspections, keeping equipment in working order, and preventing pollution leaks. Most recently, it released 36,500 pounds of sulfur dioxide over the course of three hours in September, well above the allowed limit, and in August last year it leaked 40 pounds of chlorine. Some of the more serious citations resulted in fines of a few thousand dollars.

In a statement about the incident, DuPont said, “There are no words to fully express the loss we feel or the concern and sympathy we extend to the families of the four employees who died on November 15, and their co-workers,” adding, “We are working closely with local, state and federal authorities as they conduct a thorough investigation into the incident, which will take some time. As part of that investigation, we are conducting our own top-to-bottom review of this incident and we will share what we learn with the relevant authorities.” The federal Chemical Safety Board (CSB) has alreadydispatched a seven-person team to the plant to investigate.

The CSB has previously inspected accidents at four other DuPont facilities, including two fatal ones. The company also settled a case brought by federal prosecutors that alleged it violated the Clean Air Act between 2006 and 2010 at a plant in Belle West, Virginia. One incident resulted in a worker’s death thanks to exposure to a toxic gas.

But DuPont is far from the only company that puts workers at risk. In 2012, 4,628 workers were killed on the job, and the fatality rate has stayed steady for the past four years. Workers also reported 3.8 million work-related injuries and illnesses. Last year saw some workplace accidents similar to the DuPont one: a West, Texas fertilizer plant, which hadn’t seen an OSHA inspector since 1985, exploded and killed 14 people; a Louisiana chemical plant, which hadn’t been inspected in two decades, exploded and killed one person while injuring 73; and a grain plant that had never been inspectedexploded and killed one person.

OSHA inspections are rare across all industries. The agency has just 1,955 inspectors for the 8 million workplaces under its purview and one inspector for every 67,847 workers, meaning a given plant will see a federal inspector once every 139 years and a state inspector every 79 years. Agencies also often don’t communicate or coordinate with each other, as in the case of the West, Texas fertilizer plant, which was overseen by six different regulators but still fell through the cracks.

To be clear, I’m not saying that corporations do not care about the lives of their employees. I’m sure they do. They just don’t care to the degree that they are willing to spend money to protect those lives, and indeed are not even willing to follow the law to protect those lives. They love their workers, but they love profits much, much more.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 November 2014 at 10:42 am

Fascinating look at NSA hardware for surveillance and spying

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A long but quite interesting article (with lots of photos) in Motherboard by Lucy Teitler:

Spy device

Last August, at Defcon, the hacker conference in Las Vegas, a boyish 40-year-old engineer and security researcher named Michael Ossmann stood on the stage of a lecture hall, about to detail a stunning new set of tools designed for spying on a wealth of electronic devices.

As quiet descended over an eager audience of hundreds of hackers, Ossmann stopped and issued a warning. “If you don’t want to hear about leaked classified information, you can leave now,” he told the crowd.

Ossmann was acknowledging a legal barrier: if you’re a government employee, you’re prevented by law from reading or hearing about leaked classified information. And leaked classified information, it turned out, was precisely the basis of his research.

Ossmann paused to see if anyone was getting out of their seats. As he peered out into the audience, he said that it was an opportune moment for a friendly game of “Spot the Fed.” (From where I was on the mezzanine of the giant lecture hall, I didn’t see anyone get up).

Then, with the patience and attention to detail of a likeable college science professor, he explained to the audience just how he had engineered the kind of surveillance devices that, six months earlier, only a select group of spies had even known were possible.

THE ANT FARM

It all began just after Christmas 2013, when a peculiar 48-page gadget catalog appeared on the website of Der Spiegel. The top of each page contained a string of letters, beginning with “TOP SECRET.”

Six months earlier, the German newspaper had been one of a number of media outlets to publish thousands of classified documents disclosed by Edward Snowden. But this document wasn’t like the others.

The leaked file, authored around 2008 by a group at the National Security Agency known as the Advanced Network Technology (ANT) division, was a list of spy devices designed for getting what it called “the ungettable.”

These tools weren’t made for the controversial blanket surveillance that had captured the world’s imagination and stirred its outrage. They were for use in more targeted and, in some cases, more dazzling attacks: gadgets meant to be secreted deep inside specific computers or telephones or walls, spying on the world’s most secure systems—in some cases, even when they weren’t connected to the internet. These devices were for the kind of old-fashioned spying that we almost forgot about in 2013: surveilling foreign governments and agents, terrorists, criminals, and perhaps some unintended victims.

“For nearly every lock, ANT seems to have a key in its toolbox,” wrote Jacob Appelbaum, the American privacy activist and security researcher, in Der Spiegel. “And no matter what walls companies erect, the NSA’s specialists seem already to have gotten past them.”

It wasn’t clear how the catalog was leaked, but after the debacle over the NSA’s tapping of Angela Merkel’s “handy,” the decision to publish the document in Germany must have left more than a few American officials—and technology executives—grimacing.

Five thousand miles away in Colorado, however, Michael Ossmann was delighted. Ossmann had spent much of his career taking apart, designing, and hacking together radio electronics himself, mainly in the hope of trying to find their vulnerabilities and figure out how to protect them from people who might want to interfere with or spy on them.

To him, the document was like a late Christmas present—a kind of cyberspy’s Sharper Image catalog, chock full of capabilities and code names that would not disappoint fans of espionage literature.

There’s a bugged set of mobile phones called PICASSO that can secretly record audio at any time (cost: $2,000), and software called MONKEYCALENDAR that transmits a mobile phone’s location by hidden text message ($0). A USB plug codenamed COTTONMOUTH is designed to capture data as soon as it’s plugged in to a device (as much as $1.25 million for 50 of them), and CANDYGRAM, a set of fake base stations for hijacking cell phone calls, can be yours for a mere $40,000 apiece (if you’re the right “you”). . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 November 2014 at 9:37 am

Posted in NSA, Technology

Why Is American Teaching So Bad?

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An interesting review in NY Review of Books by Jonathan Zimmerman of three books on education:

The Teacher Wars: A History of America’s Most Embattled Profession
by Dana Goldstein<
Doubleday, 349 pp., $26.95

Building a Better Teacher: How Teaching Works (and How to Teach It to Everyone)
by Elizabeth Green
Norton, 372 pp., $27.95<

Getting Schooled: The Reeducation of an American Teacher
by Garret Keizer
Metropolitan, 302 pp., $27.00

In 1853, the most important man in nineteenth-century American education gave a speech praising female teachers. Horace Mann was the head of the growing common school system in Massachusetts, where women teachers already outnumbered men by four to one. That helped save money for taxpayers, because school districts could pay women less than their male counterparts. It also capitalized on women’s natural instincts and abilities, Mann argued, converting America’s formerly chaotic, male-led classrooms into domiciles of love and order. “How divinely does she come,” he declared, extolling the female teacher,

her head encircled with a halo of heavenly light, her feet sweetening the earth on which she treads, and the celestial radiance of her benignity making vice begin its work of repentance through very envy of the beauty of virtue!

In a rapidly industrializing nation, in which there were many perils of poverty and violence, as well as opportunity, schools needed to inculcate thrift, civility, and self-control in the young. And the most obvious candidates to provide this instruction were women, whose delicate constitutions prevented them from pursuing other kinds of work outside the home.

The same year, in an adjacent state, the most important woman in nineteenth-century American politics gave a speech denouncing men like Horace Mann. Susan B. Anthony had taught school for over a decade but had become tired of its deadening routines; she also resented the nineteen-year-old man who was hired to supervise her, at a higher salary than she could hope to earn. In her first recorded public address, to the New York State Teachers’ Association, Anthony argued that the profession would never achieve parity with others if men continued to regard it as a feminine domain:

Do you not see that so long as society says a woman is incompetent to be a lawyer, minister, or doctor, but has ample ability to be a teacher, that every man of you who chooses this profession tacitly acknowledges that he has no more brains than a woman?

Anthony asked the association’s male-only leaders: “And this, too, is the reason that teaching is a less lucrative position, as here men must compete with the cheap labor of women?” Privately, Anthony’s feminist comrade Elizabeth Cady Stanton condemned “schoolmarms” who had attended specialized “normal schools” for teachers—not the more demanding liberal arts colleges, which were starting to open their doors to women. The normal schools were also a brainchild of Mann and others of his generation. Teachers who defended the second-rate teacher-training institutions they had attended were “an infernal set of fools,” Stanton told Anthony. Indeed, Stanton concluded, the entire teaching profession was “a pool of intellectual stagnation.”

Both of these episodes are recounted by Dana Goldstein in The Teacher Wars, her impressive new history of teachers in the United States. For two centuries, as Goldstein makes clear, Americans have simultaneously lauded teachers’ moral virtue and deplored their lack of adequate knowledge and skills. But debate over teaching has shifted sharply over the past two decades, when public education became much more narrowly academic in focus and purpose. Thanks to the No Child Left Behind law passed under the Bush administration in 2001, schools are now rewarded or penalized based on their students’ performance on standardized tests. More recently, the federal Race to the Top program sponsored by the Obama administration encouraged schools to use students’ test scores in evaluating individual teachers. The primary responsibility of teachers is no longer to encourage good behavior in future citizens, as Horace Mann insisted. Instead, it’s to ensure that they get the right answers on a high-stakes test.

The shift in goals has unfortunately done nothing to alter the tedious, anti-intellectual practices of American teaching. If anything, the strong commitment to “academic” goals has probably made teaching less academic—so far as the quality of learning is concerned—and more routinized than it was before. When teachers were hired for their inborn ability to “nurture” schoolchildren, many derided or disregarded their intellectual capacities. Now we’ve created a system that is so firmly tied to scholastic achievement—as narrowly defined by standardized tests—that no serious scholar would want to teach in it.

Who becomes a teacher in America? The answer keeps changing, and not in ways that should make any of us proud. In the first half of the twentieth century, as Goldstein notes, bookish urban immigrants used the profession to catapult themselves into the middle class. During the Great Depression, especially, teaching attracted people of outstanding academic achievement—including some with Ph.D.s—who couldn’t get work elsewhere. Since the 1960s, however, the proportion of top college students who have entered the field has steadily declined. Part of the reason lay in the feminist movement, which created new occupational opportunities for women outside of teaching. Rather than enhancing the profession’s status, as Susan B. Anthony had predicted a century earlier, this harmed it considerably, as many high-achieving women went into other professions.

The profession was also harmed by the campaign for racial integration, which closed all-black schools and threw thousands of experienced African-American teachers out of work. Those teachers had often achieved much within black school systems and then found themselves without jobs. By 1980, Texas Monthly published an award-winning article showing that public school teachers in Houston and Dallas scored lower on reading and math tests than the average sixteen-year-old in nearby suburbs did. It also reported that students of teacher education at Southwest Texas State University—where future president Lyndon Johnson received his teaching degree—were functionally illiterate. Teacher preparation, the article concluded, was “a hoax and an educational disgrace.”

The Texas exposé caught the eye of a Princeton student named . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 November 2014 at 9:20 am

Posted in Education, Government

When Government Succeeds

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Good column by Krugman:

The great American Ebola freakout of 2014 seems to be over. The disease is still ravaging Africa, and as with any epidemic, there’s always a risk of a renewed outbreak. But there haven’t been any new U.S. cases for a while, and popular anxiety is fading fast.

Before we move on, however, let’s try to learn something from the panic.

When the freakout was at its peak, Ebola wasn’t just a disease — it was a political metaphor. It was, specifically, held up by America’s right wing as a symbol of government failure. The usual suspects claimed that the Obama administration was falling down on the job, but more than that, they insisted that conventional policy was incapable of dealing with the situation. Leading Republicans suggested ignoring everything we know about disease control and resorting to extreme measures like travel bans, while mocking claims that health officials knew what they were doing.

Guess what: Those officials actually did know what they were doing. The real lesson of the Ebola story is that sometimes public policy is succeeding even while partisans are screaming about failure. And it’s not the only recent story along those lines.

Here’s another: Remember Solyndra? It was a renewable-energy firm that borrowed money using Department of Energy guarantees, then went bust, costing the Treasury $528 million. And conservatives have pounded on that loss relentlessly, turning it into a symbol of what they claim is rampant crony capitalism and a huge waste of taxpayer money.

Defenders of the energy program tried in vain to point out that anyone who makes a lot of investments, whether it’s the government or a private venture capitalist, is going to see some of those investments go bad. For example, Warren Buffett is an investing legend, with good reason — but even he has had his share of lemons, like the $873 million loss he announced earlier this year on his investment in a Texas energy company. Yes, that’s half again as big as the federal loss on Solyndra.

The question is not whether the Department of Energy has made some bad loans — if it hasn’t, it’s not taking enough risks. It’s whether it has a pattern of bad loans. And the answer, it turns out, is no. Last week the department revealed that the program that included Solyndra is, in fact, on track to return profits of $5 billion or more.

Then there’s health reform. As usual, much of the national dialogue over the Affordable Care Act is being dominated by fake scandals drummed up by the enemies of reform. But if you look at the actual results so far, they’re remarkably good. The number of Americans without health insurance hasdropped sharply, with around 10 million of the previously uninsured now covered; the program’s costs remain below expectations, with averagepremium rises for next year well below historical rates of increase; and a new Gallup survey finds that the newly insured are very satisfied with their coverage. By any normal standards, this is a dramatic example of policy success, verging on policy triumph.

One last item: Remember all the mockery of Obama administration assertions that budget deficits, which soared during the financial crisis, would come down as the economy recovered? Surely the exploding costs of Obamacare, combined with a stimulus program that would become a perpetual boondoggle, would lead to vast amounts of red ink, right? Well, no — the deficit has indeed come down rapidly, and as a share of G.D.P. it’s back down to pre-crisis levels.

The moral of these stories is . . .

Continue reading.

Also worth reading, a brief blog post by Krugman: Contractionary Policies Are Contractionary

Written by LeisureGuy

17 November 2014 at 9:16 am

H2O to Go: Bike Bottle Makes Water from Thin Air as You Cycle

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Cute idea.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 November 2014 at 9:07 am

Posted in Technology

Taking better photos with your cellphone: The Manfrotto table-top tripod

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Well reviewed in Cool Tools—and note the Glif, a tripod mount for cellphones.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 November 2014 at 8:57 am

Posted in Daily life, Technology

How the courts trap people who were convicted by bad forensics

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The American system of justice needs some serious work. Radley Balko reports in the Washington Post this morning:

In a short opinion issued last week, a three-judge panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit unanimously upheld a federal district judge’s ruling against Louisiana prisoner James Koon, who in 1996 was convicted of killing an infant and sentenced to life in prison.

The medical examiner who testified against Koon was Steven Hayne, a controversial figure about whom I’ve written at length over the last eight or so years. The panel rejected Koon’s petition for a new trial based on what Koon claimed was newly discovered evidence that calls Hayne’s credibility into question.

The rejection itself was nothing new. Despite Hayne’s impossible workload (over about 20 years he performed on average 1,200 to 1,800 autopsies per year, by his own admission), his lack of board certification, and the fact that he has on multiple occasions given testimony that other medical examiners have said ranged from implausible to malpractice, to date no court has rejected Hayne as an expert witness. While some courts have overturned a handful of convictions that were based on his testimony, they’ve only done so in the most egregious instances. Where Hayne has given plausible testimony, or even implausible-but-not-completely-nutty testimony, the courts have generally refused to intervene.But if Hayne isn’t a credible witness, he isn’t a credible witness. If he has shown that he’s willing to say outrageous things in a few cases, has lied about his certification, and has been shown to be sloppy and unprofessional in his work, the cases in which he gave plausible but debatable testimony (and was opposed by a more competent medical examiner) should be seen just as tainted as those in which his testimony was transparently ridiculous.

So far, the courts haven’t agreed. But a two-word phrase makes last week’s ruling different than all of the others.

The evidence shows the witness for Louisiana, Dr. Steven Hayne, a now-discredited Mississippi coroner, lied about his qualifications as an expert and thus gave unreliable testimony about the cause of death.

To my knowledge, this is the first time a court has acknowledged that Hayne has been broadly “discredited.” The acknowledgment is significant because of what the panel does next. Under federal law, in order to obtain a new trial based on newly discovered evidence, a convicted person must show that the evidence is either new or could not have been discovered at trial, that had the evidence been available at trial the jury would likely have convicted, and must file his petition based on the new evidence within a year of when the evidence “could have been discovered through the exercise of due diligence.”

The federal district court judge who first ruled on Koon’s petition determined that despite the evidence that Hayne has been discredited, Koon is not eligible for a new trial because the evidence about Hayne’s credibility problems became available several years prior to when Koon filed his claim: in July 2012. The Fifth Circuit panel agreed. . .

Continue reading.

Later in the column:

To be clear: I have no opinion about Koon’s guilt or innocence. I know nothing of the state’s case against him. But this ruling addresses only the matter of Hayne, and it finds that because Koon missed his deadline, it simply doesn’t matter that Hayne may not be a credible witness.

To explain why this is so unjust, some background is in order: Since the onset of DNA testing in the 1990s, we’ve been slowly learning that our criminal justice system frequently comes up short when it comes to keeping junk science and quack experts out of the courtroom. The landmark 2009 National Academy of Sciences report on forensics was clear on this point. From bite mark matching to hair and fiber analysis to “shaken baby syndrome,” the courts have done a poor job of demanding that experts be qualified and credible, theories be grounded in science, and statements of certainty be verified with statistical sampling before allowing such expertise to be heard by a jury.

And while the criminal justice system can’t seem to keep bad science out of its courtrooms during trial, once someone has been convicted, the same system then puts a premium on the “finality” of a guilty verdict. It’s a point Congress and past presidents have hammered home over the years by revising the federal criminal code to limit habeas appeals in federal court. In order to get relief from a federal court in post-conviction, a convicted person today not only needs overwhelming evidence of innocence, they must also show that this evidence is either new or was undiscoverable at the time of trial, and they must file their petition for within a year of the new evidence becoming available.

The problem with these laws with respect to bad scientific evidence is that science doesn’t operate on deadlines. Science is a process. Most forensic specialties aren’t actually sciences at all, but disciplines that were developed in police agencies and crime labs — not in the interest of pursuing knowledge, but in the interest of helping police solve crimes. Many fields of forensics, especially pattern-matching disciplines like fingerprinting, ballistics, and fiber matching, can’t calculate a statistical margin for error. That doesn’t mean they have no evidentiary value at all (although that’s true of some of these fields). It just means that they’ve never been subjected to scientific inquiry. Their underlying assumptions have never been tested. But these assumptions and the conclusions upon which the analysts base them are often presented to juries as science.  The practitioners in these fields  also often give testimony that expresses levels of certainty for which there is no statistical support. That is also a problem.

By contrast, DNA testing is steeped in science. DNA profiling was developed by scientists, with extensive scientific review. You’ll rarely if ever see two analysts disagree over a DNA profile the way you’ll often see, say, two bite mark experts or blood spatter analysts disagree over crime scene photos. Because we know how DNA markers are distributed over the human population, DNA analysis has a quantifiable margin for error. Barring tainted evidence or human manipulation, that margin is very, very small, though it’s still there, and it’s still acknowledged. A bad forensic analyst will often testify about his or her certainty about a match. A DNA analyst will testify about probabilities. Consequently, DNA evidence is one of the few ways the courts will let a wrongly convicted person get over the high barriers to a new trial or exoneration once a case is in post-conviction.

But DNA testing is also why we now know that many of those forensic specialties are flawed. It has shown that defendants were actually innocent in cases in which a bite mark expert or blood spatter expert or hair analysis expert said without equivocation that the defendant was guilty. Unfortunately, this has not been enough to get the federal courts to reconsider convictions in cases for which the primary evidence was from one of those same fields (or a disturbing number of cases, from thesame expert), but for which DNA wasn’t a factor. . .

And later still:

The Fifth Circuit has now apparently decided that Dr. Steven Hayne is no longer a credible witness. But when did the court reach that conclusion? And how was James Koons supposed to know?

Consider the following:

1. Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood still defends Steven Hayne as a credible witness.

2. To this day, Hayne still testifies as an expert witness in Mississippi’s courts. He has effectively been barred from testifying for the state in new cases by a state law requiring such experts to be board-certified in forensic pathology. But he can still testify in retrials of old cases for which he performed the autopsy. He’s still defended as credible in state briefs. And he now sometimes testifies for the defense and in civil cases. (Bizarrely, this has led to situations — including the recent publicized trial of Pebbelz Da Model — in which the same state that has been defending Hayne in court briefs attempts to discredit him by using the same attacks on his credibility that it dismisses in those briefs.)

3. It’s true that the Mississippi Supreme Court tossed Hayne’s testimony in the previously mentioned Tyler Edmonds case. One would think Hayne’s testimony in that case would have been enough to discredit him, and perhaps provide a point at which the click on new evidence could begin ticking. (Hayne preposterously claimed that he could tell by the bullet wounds in the victim that two people were holding the gun that fired those bullets — thus confirming the prosecution’s theory that a brother and sister simultaneously killed the sister’ husband in his sleep.) But in the same opinion, the court explicitly noted that its ruling applied only to that case, and that as far as the court was concerned, Hayne was still a credible witness.

4. In fact, just months after the Edmonds decision in 2007, a federal district court judge in the same Fifth Circuit where the appeals court issued last week’s opinion made the same declaration.

The petitioner also claims that he has discovered new evidence that Dr. Hayne, who testified as an expert on behalf of the state at trial, should not have been allowed to testify as an expert in forensic pathology. The petitioner’s new evidence claim arises out of a recent state court decision, in which the state supreme court found that Dr. Hayne should not have been allowed to testify to a matter beyond his expertise-based on the facts in that case. The court did not however, conclude that Dr. Hayne was not an expert in the field of forensic pathology. Instead, the court found that the particular opinion offered by Dr. Hayne in the Edmonds case should not have been allowed without any scientific testing to support it. The petitioner refers to Justice Diaz’s concurring opinion in Edmonds-in which Justice Diaz stated his belief that Dr. Hayne should not have been qualified as an expert. This expressed belief by a single Mississippi Supreme Court Justice, however, was not the finding of the majority-and does not constitute ‘new evidence’ for purposes of § 2244(d)(1)(D). As such, the petitioner’s arguments in support of use of the factual predicate exception must fail.

5. . .

It’s a long and thorough column and I hope it will cause some to consider reforms.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 November 2014 at 8:44 am

Posted in Law, Law Enforcement

Great shave to start the week

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SOTD 17 Nov 2014

A very nice shave indeed, and I’m beginning to think the humpback slant design is better than the torqued approach. But that’s probably in YMMV territory.

First, a very nice lather from the Omega R&B boar brush and Maggard Razors London Barbershop. I do have to say I like a full tub rather than one half empty. I understand the theory—that the space in the tub above the soap helps in loading—but the theory is wrong: look at English soaps such as Trumper, Truefitt & Hill, TOBS, D.R. Harris: those soaps come up to the rim of the tub, and they are easy to load. Similarly, Strop Shoppe fills their tubs and present no problem in loading. I hope the half-empty tub approach will gradually die away and we can get full (even if shorter) tubs. The wasted height is a drain on shelf space for those who stack their soaps.

Three passes with the Shavecraft #102, still using the same Lab Blue blade, and I had an excellent shave even if not quite BBS: probably time to change the blade.

A splash of D.R. Harris Pink aftershave, which this morning did indeed seem to have a rose fragrance. My sense of smell really is weak.

And the week begins: the last week before Thanksgiving. We’re going with rack of lamb for Thanksgiving this year, and I think for Xmas we’ll have a roast capon.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 November 2014 at 8:31 am

Posted in Shaving

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