Later On

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

Archive for November 26th, 2014

Texas “justice”

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This report is staggering:

A Texas judge on Tuesday ruled that no additional DNA testing is warranted in the case of condemned inmate Rodney Reed, sentenced to die for the 1996 murder of 19-year-old Stacey Stites.

Since Reed’s 1998 conviction for Stites’ murder, new evidence has emerged suggesting that investigators failed to sufficiently examine Stites’ fiance Jimmy Fennell—a Texas cop who has a long history of criminal violence and is now serving a prison term for kidnapping and improper sexual contact with a detainee, who says Fennell raped her—as a suspect. The Intercept reported this month that several of Stites’ relatives now believe Reed is innocent, and that Fennell has been repeatedly accused in the past of sexually predatory behavior.

Although numerous pieces of evidence in the case have never been tested—including two torn lengths of the braided leather belt that was used to strangle Stites—Judge Doug Shaver concluded that even if that testing had been done at the time of Reed’s 1998 trial, there is “no reasonable probability” that Reed’s jurors would have acquitted him of the crime. He described Reed’s request for DNA testing as an effort to unreasonably delay his impending execution. . . .

Continue reading.

Later in the article:

Assistant Attorney General Matthew Ottoway argued Tuesday afternoon that testing is unnecessary now because the Stites case was closed in 1998, when Reed was convicted and sentenced to die. “[This is] not a whodunnit case—Rodney Reed did it,” Ottoway said. “And it’s offensive to suggest that someone else is guilty.”

Offensive?! I see something “offensive,” all right, and it’s the idea that the verdict in a trial cannot possibly be wrong, when we have seen over and over again that innocent men have been convicted, have been sentenced to death. The man who cannot see what is plain is truly deluded and embracing a fiction. I think we should go with reality, and get a good strong grip on it.

Written by LeisureGuy

26 November 2014 at 2:22 pm

Posted in Law

Saying “More guns = more gun violence” is not only simplistic but factually incorrect

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Take a look at this graph, which I got from Jack in Amsterdam:

Guns-in-developed-countries-800x430

As you see, simply increasing guns does not increase violence: it goes both ways.

That graph is one of several in a very interesting article in Raw Story.

Just to be explicit: I myself believed and have undoubtedly said that increasing the number of guns in circulation will increase the violence. I tended to look at high-gun-ownership combined with high-gun-violence countries (Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, et al.), but as the chart clearly shows, some countries with relatively high presence of guns have relatively low levels of gun violence. So something else is going on.

OTOH, it seems pretty clear that having more guns in a country whose culture is open to violence is not a good idea. Some countries seem to be able to handle guns, others clearly cannot.

Written by LeisureGuy

26 November 2014 at 2:08 pm

Posted in Guns

Very cogent letter regarding on-campus sexual assault from student-newspaper editors to president of Eckherd

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Extremely well argued. Well worth reading—especially in light of the ubiquity of colleges covering up (and misunderstanding) sexual assault.

Written by LeisureGuy

26 November 2014 at 1:15 pm

Posted in Daily life, Education, Law

Justice Scalia Explains What Was Wrong With The Ferguson Grand Jury

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Judd Legum posts at ThinkProgress:

On Monday, Prosecutor Bob McCulloch announced that a grand jury had decided not to indict Darren Wilson, the officer who killed Michael Brown. But that decision was the result of a process that turned the purpose of a grand jury on its head.

Justice Antonin Scalia, in the 1992 Supreme Court case of United States v. Williams, explained what the role of a grand jury has been for hundreds of years.

It is the grand jury’s function not ‘to enquire … upon what foundation [the charge may be] denied,’ or otherwise to try the suspect’s defenses, but only to examine ‘upon what foundation [the charge] is made’ by the prosecutor. Respublica v. Shaffer, 1 Dall. 236 (O. T. Phila. 1788); see also F. Wharton, Criminal Pleading and Practice § 360, pp. 248-249 (8th ed. 1880). As a consequence, neither in this country nor in England has the suspect under investigation by the grand jury ever been thought to have a right to testify or to have exculpatory evidence presented.

This passage was first highlighted by attorney Ian Samuel, a former clerk to Justice Scalia.

In contrast, McCulloch allowed Wilson to testify for hours before the grand jury and presented them with every scrap of exculpatory evidence available. In his press conference, McCulloch said that the grand jury did not indict because eyewitness testimony that established Wilson was acting in self-defense was contradicted by other exculpatory evidence. What McCulloch didn’t say is that he was under no obligation to present such evidence to the grand jury. The only reason one would present such evidence is to reduce the chances that the grand jury would indict Darren Wilson.

Compare Justice Scalia’s description of the role of the grand jury to what the prosecutors told the Ferguson grand jury before they started their deliberations:

And you must find probable cause to believe that Darren Wilson did not act in lawful self-defense and you must find probable cause to believe that Darren Wilson did not use lawful force in making an arrest. If you find those things, which is kind of like finding a negative, you cannot return an indictment on anything or true bill unless you find both of those things. Because both are complete defenses to any offense and they both have been raised in his, in the evidence.

As Justice Scalia explained the evidence to support these “complete defenses,” including Wilson’s testimony, was only included by McCulloch by ignoring how grand juries historically work.

There were several eyewitness accounts that strongly suggested Wilson did not act in self-defense. McCulloch could have, and his critics say should have, presented that evidence to the grand jury and likely returned an indictment in days, not months. It’s a low bar, which is why virtually all grand juries return indictments.

But McCulloch chose a different path.

Written by LeisureGuy

26 November 2014 at 1:03 pm

Posted in Law, Law Enforcement

Some links on dietary choices

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First a couple of interesting links about eating a diet low in carbohydrates (very low) and high in fat, keeping protein at the normal level.

A man in Sweden who has had Type 1 diabetes since he was 10 and who is now 45 found that his overall health improved substantially after taking up a LCHF diet 5 years ago. Here’s his story. It’s a detailed report and anyone who has some familiarity with Type 1 diabetes will find it intriguing.

A report on the very serious health effects of a diet high in sugar, particularly refined sugar. Sugar will stay in American diets because the sugar industry owns the key members of Congress and has lots of funds to fight anything that might threaten their profits. (They really don’t care about health issues: the focus is profit.)

James McWilliams in Pacific Standard talks about the benefits of eating less—not only for our health, but for the environment. While eating less is not the full answer, it certainly doesn’t hurt. One benefit of the LCHF diet is that it makes it noticeably easier to eat less: feelings of satiety persist longer. One passage from the article:

There’s a correlation between being obese and being poor. As I have argued, the reasons for this correlation are due to the politics of scarcity. The sensation of scarcity—not necessarily physical scarcity but psychological scarcity—promotes the consumption of a lot of food. In fact, the underlying fear of scarcity makes it nearly impossible not to eat heaps of cheap and easily accessible junk.

Well-educated foodies, those who dominate the high-profiled discussions and read Pacific Standard and Modern Farmer and Cook’s Illustrated, are in relative dietary control. Too many of the working poor are not—and it’s not because they are weak or morally inferior or stupid, but because they live lives terrorized by scarcity. This reality may be the most critical problem we face when it comes to reforming the standard American diet.

Written by LeisureGuy

26 November 2014 at 1:01 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, Low carb

Good round-up of police-related links by Radley Balko

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Some good articles at the links. From the Washington Post:

Written by LeisureGuy

26 November 2014 at 12:34 pm

Posted in Law, Law Enforcement

What if it was Russia and China invading and Bombing? The Blindness of MSM and Washington

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Very interesting post by Tom Englehardt at Informed Comment:

Let’s play a game, the kind that makes no sense on this single-superpower planet of ours. For a moment, do your best to suspend disbelief and imagine that there’s another superpower, great power, or even regional power somewhere that, between 2001 and 2003, launched two major wars in the Greater Middle East. We’re talking about full-scale invasions, long-term occupations, and nation-building programs, first in Afghanistan and then in Iraq.

In both countries, that power quickly succeeded in its stated objective of “regime change,” only to find itself mired in deadly conflicts with modestly armed minority insurgencies that it simply couldn’t win. In each country, to the tune of billions and billions of dollars, it built up a humongous army and allied “security” forces, poured money into “reconstruction” projects (most of which proved disasters of corruption and incompetence), and spent trillions of dollars of national treasure.

Having imagined that, ask yourself: How well did all of that turn out for this other power?  In Afghanistan, a recent news story highlights something of what was accomplished.  Though that country took slot 175out of 177 on Transparency International’s 2013 Corruption Perceptions Index, though its security forces continue to suffer grievous casualties, and though parts of the country are falling to a strengthening Taliban insurgency, it has for some years proudly held a firm grip on one record: Afghanistan is the leading narco-state on planet Earth.

In 2013, it upped its opium poppy cultivation by 36%, its opium production by almost 50%, and drug profits soared. Preliminary figures for this year, recently released by the U.N., indicate that opium cultivation has risen by another 7% and opium production by 17%, both to historic highs, as Afghanistan itself has become “one of the world’s most addicted societies.”

Meanwhile, where there once was Iraq (171st on that index of kleptocracies), there is now a Shiite government in Baghdad defended by acollapsed army and sectarian militias, a de facto Kurdish state to the north, and, in the third of the country in-between, a newly proclaimed “caliphate” run by a terror movement so brutal it’s establishing records for pure bloodiness.  It’s headed by men whose West Point was a military prison run by that same great power and its bloodthirstiness is funded in part by captured oil fields and refineries.

In other words, after 13 years of doing its damnedest, on one side of the Greater Middle East this power has somehow overseen the rise of the dominant narco-state on the planet with monopoly control over 80%90%of the global opium supply and 75% of the heroin. On the other side of the region, it’s been complicit in the creation of the first terrorist mini-oil state in history, a post-al-Qaeda triumph of extreme jihadism.

A Fraudulent Election and a Collapsed Army

Though I have no doubt that the fantasy of relocating Washington’s deeds to Beijing, Moscow, Tehran, or any other capital crumbled paragraphs ago, take a moment for one more experiment.  If this had been the work of any other power we thought less well of than we do of ourselves, imagine the blazing headlines right now.  Conjure up — and it shouldn’t be hard — what the usual war hawks would be spouting in Congress, what the usual suspects on the Sunday morning talk shows might be saying, and what stories cable news networks from CNN to Fox would be carrying.

You know perfectly well that the denunciations of such global behavior would be blistering, that the assorted pundits and talking heads would be excoriating, that the fear and hysteria over that heroin and those terrorists crossing our border would be somewhere in the stratosphere.  You would hear words like “evil” and “barbaric.”  It would be implied, or stated outright, that this avalanche of disaster was no happenstance but planned by that same grim power with its hand on the trigger these last 13 years, in part to harm the interests of the United States.  We would never hear the end of it.

Instead, the recent reports about Afghanistan’s bumper crop of opium poppies slipped by in the media like a ship on a dark ocean.  No blame was laid, no responsibility mentioned.  There were neither blazing headlines, nor angry jeremiads, nor blistering comments — none of the things that would have been commonplace if the Russians, the Chinese, or the Iranians had been responsible.

Just about no one in the mainstream excoriates or blames Washington for the 13 years leading up to this. . .

Continue reading.

Read the whole thing. The cumulative effect of all the things the US has done and continues to do will amaze and dismay you.

Written by LeisureGuy

26 November 2014 at 12:03 pm

Formula One Engine Tech Is Trickling Down to Regular Cars

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Very interesting article on engine-train innovation. The Eldest has been a big F1 fan and gone to a few of the races.

Written by LeisureGuy

26 November 2014 at 11:58 am

Posted in Business, Technology

Perfect shave from Tech Gillette wearing a Feather blade

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SOTD 26 Nov 2014

A really terrific shave today. The Simpson Persian Jar made an instant good lather from the Los Angles Shaving Soap Company’s shaving soap. I got this one from MaggardRazors.com, and I understand that LASSC uses this wider-mouth tub for Maggard—and I do like the wider mouth, as it helps in the loading.

And, you’ll note, the soap comes to the brim of the tub. That turns out not to be a problem for my loading technique—one dripping wet brush, then one shake of the brush and start loading—but some do prefer empty space at the top of the container. I suppose if I keep using it, I’ll soon have some empty space there.

The Tech with a Feather blade is a very fine razor indeed. No wonder Gillette made millions of them. Three passes, BBS result, no trace of a nick.

A good splash of Fine’s American Blend, and we get ready for the holiday.

Written by LeisureGuy

26 November 2014 at 11:36 am

Posted in Shaving

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