Later On

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

Archive for December 2nd, 2015

Judge orders former pastor arrested for handing out jury nullification fliers

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Here’s a judge that needs to be removed from the bench and also fined. Barton Dieters reports from Big Rapids MI:

A 39-year-old former pastor was arrested and jailed in Mecosta County after he handed out fliers informing people about jury nullification in front of the county courthouse.

Keith Wood said he was handing out pamphlets from the Fully Informed Jury Association on Nov. 24 while standing on the sidewalks along Elm Street.

Wood said he was inspired by what he read online about the proposition that jurors can follow their conscience if they think a law or prosecution is patently wrong and refuse to find a defendant guilty regardless of instructions from a judge – a concept referred to as jury nullification.

“I’m a disciple of Jesus Christ,” said Wood, who explained his decision to hand out the fliers he received from the Montana-based organization. “Jesus said ‘the truth will set you free’ and I want people to know the truth.

“If you don’t use your rights, you lose them,” Wood said about why he decided to head down to the sidewalks outside the courthouse.

The flier is titled “What rights do you have as a juror that the judge won’t tell you about?”

As he was handing out the pamphlet to anyone who would take one, Wood, a father of seven, said someone came out of the courthouse and told him to come inside and talk to a judge. Wood said he asked the woman if he was being detained and then said he preferred to stay where he was.

A little while later, a court deputy came outside and told Wood that the judge wanted to talk to him, and if he refused to do so, the Big Rapids police would come and arrest him.

Wood said under threat of arrest he went inside the courthouse where former 20-year county prosecutor and newly-elected Mecosta County District Court Judge Peter Jaklevic told a deputy to “place him in custody for jury tampering.”

Wood was walked to the connecting sheriff’s department and jail. He was arrested and placed locked up with a $150,000 bond. Wood remained in jail for about 12 hours before he paid 10 percent of the bond using a credit card.

Wood was charged with jury tampering, a one-year misdemeanor and obstruction of justice, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

Wood said other than a drunk driving charge as a teen, he has never had any run-in with the law. He served for five years as a pastor in Colorado, leased cars for a few years and for the last five years has been a self-employed insurance broker.

“It’s just outrageous,” said Wood’s attorney Lansing-based David Kallman. “The
government can’t just come in and step on people’s First Amendment rights.”

Kallman said his client had no case at the court, knew of no cases and no jury had been seated at the time he was handing out the fliers.

“There was no jury to tamper with,” Kallman said.

Kallman said the judge saw people in the courthouse reading the brochures and then overstepped his bounds by ordering an arrest in violation of Wood’s rights.

Kallman said when Wood called his office, after being denied a court-appointed lawyer, he was convinced Wood was not telling him the whole story.

“I thought that there had to be more here, but there’s not,” Kallman said. . .

Continue reading.

Authoritarian to a fault.

And sometimes an effort is made to make sure someone who would be a good judge does not get appointed.

Written by Leisureguy

2 December 2015 at 9:24 pm

Another mass shooting today in Savannah GA

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Chris Thompson reports in Gawker:

The San Bernardino mass shooting wasn’t the only mass shooting today. Four people were shot in Savannah, Georgia, early this morning, reports the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Detectives believe at least two shooters were involved and have not yet publicly identified a motive in the shooting, according to the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department.

The victims are three men—Jamond Heyward, Jarrett Myers, and Jeran Washington—and one woman. The woman, Brandy Council, died from her wounds. The other victims have non-life-threatening injuries.

As pointed out by the Washington Post, shootings of this magnitude barely even register nowadays:

The local news media barely acknowledged the murder: One local television station covered it in three paragraphs.

And the world spun on. . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

2 December 2015 at 7:52 pm

Posted in Daily life, Guns

In the US, we have more than 1 mass shooting a day

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The mass shooting/terrorist attack (14 reported dead, 17 wounded) in San Bernardino today is just another US mass shooting. Jia Tolentino reports in Jezebel:

Less than a week after the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood shooting—a day during which the FBI processed two firearm background checks per second, and on which four people were shot at a restaurant in Sacramento—news of another mass shooting is rolling in. This time it’s in San Bernardino. If it seems like this happens every day in America, you’d be wrong: it happens more often than that.

This year, the Washington Post has been updating Wonkblog regularly with thenumbers on mass shootings, as compiled by a Reddit community that counts a mass shooting as “any event in which four or more people, including the gunman, are killed or injured by gunfire.” This year, there have been more shootings than days. Today, December 2, is the 336th day of the year; with this shooting, we are (at least) at 352 shootings.

The total number of shootings has already surpassed 2014’s number and will soon surpass 2013’s, a cycle which shows no signal of stopping, as America tends to respond to gun violence by buying more guns. Via the AP:

The previous record for the most background checks in a single day was Dec. 21, 2012, about a week after 20 children and six adults were shot to death in a Connecticut elementary school. The week following the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary saw the processing of 953,613 gun background checks.

There are no solutions in sight, except any number of obvious solutions that have been immediately obstructed by GOP lawmakers, like expanded background checks or bans on assault weapons that no civilian should ever desire to own. . . .

Continue reading.

The police don’t want to call it a terrorist attack, because they we would have to acknowledge that the US is regularly the site of terrorist attacks by domestic terrorists, almost all of whom are white US Christians, and the police want “terrorist” to apply only to brown foreign Muslims.

 

Written by Leisureguy

2 December 2015 at 3:33 pm

Fights between charities: ‘Wounded Warrior’ Charity Unleashes Hell—On Other Veteran Groups

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Tim Mak reports in The Daily Beast:

For a charity supposedly devoted to helping veterans, the Wounded Warrior Project spends an enormous amount of time suing or threatening to sue small nonprofits—spending resources on litigation that could otherwise be spent on the vets they profess to serve.

At issue is the Wounded Warrior Project’s brand: The charity has become particularly litigious over the use of the phrase “wounded warrior” or logos that involve silhouetted soldiers. At least seven such charities have discussed their legal problems with The Daily Beast.

The Wounded Warrior Project has become, in the words of those it’s targeted for legal action, a “bully,” more concerned about its image and increasing the size of the organization than actually providing services to wounded warriors.

“They do try to bully smaller organizations like ourselves… They get really territorial about fundraising,” said the president of one charity with the name “wounded warrior” in their title.

He asked to remain anonymous out of fear that the Wounded Warrior Project would launch legal action against his group if he spoke out. His group hasn’t been sued, but he said individuals from the WWP had pressured him to change their name. “They’re so huge. We don’t have the staying power if they come after us—you just can’t fight them.”

The Wounded Warrior Project’s latest target is the Keystone Wounded Warriors, a small, all-volunteer charity based in Pennsylvania.

How small? Keystone Wounded Warriors had a total annual revenue of just over $200,000 as recently as 2013. That’s less than the $375,000 that Wounded Warrior Project Executive Director Steven Nardizzi was personally paid in 2013.

The Keystone group was forced to spend more than two years and some $72,000 in legal fees to defend itself from the legal actions of the Wounded Warrior Project, which brings in annual revenues of close to $235 million, according to the outfit’s most recent tax forms.

“That’s money that we could have used to pick up some homes in foreclosure, remodel them, and give them back to warriors. We spent that money on defending ourselves instead,” said Keystone Wounded Warriors Executive Director Paul Spurgin, a Marine Corps Vietnam War veteran. . .

Continue reading.

Video at the link.

Written by Leisureguy

2 December 2015 at 11:03 am

Posted in Law, Philanthropy

The story of America’s deadliest police force: Kern County, California

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John Swain and Oliver Laughlin report in the Guardian:

Seventy-five years after Kern County’s leaders banned The Grapes of Wrath from their schools and libraries, complaining that John Steinbeck’s new book portrayed their policemen as “divested of sympathy or human decency or understanding”, officer Aaron Stringer placed his hands on the body of James De La Rosa without permission.

De La Rosa had just been shot dead by police officers in Bakersfield, the biggest city in this central California county, after crashing his car when they tried to pull him over. He was unarmed. Now the 22-year-old oilfield worker lay on a gurney in the successor to the coroner’s office where Tom Joad’s granma awaited a pauper’s funeral in the 1939 novel.

Stringer, a senior Bakersfield officer whose plaudits for once saving a colleague in peril had been overshadowed by his arrest for a hit-and-run while driving under the influence of prescription drugs, reached under the bloodied white sheet and tickled De La Rosa’s toes. Then, a junior officer reported to commanders, he jerked the head to one side and joked about rigor mortis.

“I love playing with dead bodies,” said Stringer.

It was only the most remarkable act in recent times by a police officer in this rugged territory, where law enforcement officers have this year killed more people relative to the population than in any other American county recorded by The Counted, a Guardian investigation into the use of deadly force by police across the US in 2015.

In all, 13 people have been killed so far this year by law enforcement officers in Kern County, which has a population of just under 875,000. During the same period, nine people were killed by the NYPD across the five counties of New York City, where almost 10 times as many people live and about 23 times as many sworn law enforcement officers patrol.

The deaths span from January to the early hours of last Sunday morning, when a man accused of firing at officers during a foot chase in downtown Bakersfield was shot and killed. One senior Bakersfield police officer has been involved in at least four deadly shootings in less than two years. Another officer separately shot dead three people within two months in 2010. Other law enforcement officers in Kern County have meanwhile been involved in deadly beatings of unarmed men, sex crimes against women and reckless car crashes resulting in criminal convictions.

“They have some fine officers here, but unfortunately they have some bullies and thugs who often run the show,” Henry Mosier, who worked for the county as a public defender for a decade before his recent retirement, said in an interview.

This series of special reports, which is based on dozens of interviews, multiple hours spent with officers on patrol, and a review of thousands of documents obtained via public records requests and courthouse searches, will shed light on how the county’s law enforcement officers became the country’s deadliest, beginning today with fatal shootings.

Six of the people killed this year in Kern County died from shots fired by officers of Bakersfield police department, who have been behind a string of controversial homicides over the past several years, including that of De La Rosa.

A couple who witnessed the 22-year-old’s death last November told police investigators a similar story: they watched officers shoot De La Rosa after he exited his car and “threw up his hands”, keeping them outstretched. It appeared he was saying “What’s up?” or even “I’m here, come arrest me,” one of the witnesses said.

The officers claimed otherwise, citing a justification whose improbability has made it a figure of ridicule in protests over police use of force since the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, last year. “They said they shot him because was he was reaching for his waistband,” said De La Rosa’s brother Joe. “Why would an individual reach for his waistband if there is no weapon there?” said their sister, Serena. “That makes no sense.”

The officers were quickly cleared of wrongdoing by an inquiry carried out by their own commanders, as has long been standard for fatal shootings by the Bakersfield police department and the Kern County sheriff’s office, the two biggest law enforcement agencies in the county.

A review by the Guardian identified . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

2 December 2015 at 10:54 am

Posted in Law Enforcement

Congress Moves Again to Block Investigation of Congressional Insider Trading

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Public approval ratings of Congress are abysmally low, and part of that is due to things like this, reported in The Intercept by Lee Fang:

Lawyers for the House of Representatives have escalated their legal fight to block the first-ever congressional insider trading investigation.

The case revolves around allegations that Brian Sutter, a former senior staff member of the Ways and Means Committee, passed along nonpublic information concerning a Medicare reimbursement rate change to a lobbyist with Greenberg Traurig in April 2013.

The information was then disclosed to a consulting firm that shared the tip with it’s financial clients. A number of the hedge funds appeared to use the insider tip to trade on stocks that would be impacted.

The Securities and Exchange Commission opened an investigation and served subpoenas on Sutter and the Ways and Means Committee.

Despite passing a bipartisan law to address the very issue of congressional insider trading — the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act, or STOCK Act of 2012 — congressional attorneys have fought the SEC investigation at every turn. First they refused to comply with the subpoenas.

Then, when the SEC sued, the House attorneys claimed that the case should not proceed because lawmakers and their staff are constitutionally protected from such inquiries. “Communications with lobbyists, of course, are a normal and routine part of Committee information-gathering,” they argued in a brief filed last year.

On November 13, U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe agreed with most of the SEC’s claims and ordered Congress to comply with the subpoena within 10 days. “Members of Congress and congressional employees are not exempt from the insider trading prohibitions arising under the securities laws,” he wrote. Gardephe reminded the attorneys that “Congress barred such claims of immunity when it adopted” the STOCK Act.

Kerry W. Kircher, the House general counsel, requested more time. Then, shortly before Thanksgiving, on November 25, he filed a motion to appeal the subpoena to the 2nd Circuit. Kircher argued that the STOCK Act did not explicitly authorize the SEC to issue subpoenas to Congress, even to investigate inside trading.

The appeal, which could obstruct the investigation or at least delay it for months, is the latest move by Congress to undermine its own ethics law. The STOCK Act remains the only significant congressional ethics reform measure passed into law since 2007. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

2 December 2015 at 10:46 am

Some interesting facts about the CEO who’s paying a $70K/year minimum salary

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He seems to have come up with this idea as a way of striking at his brother: check out the timings of events in this interesting article. The allegations of his ex-wife are interesting only insofar as they shed light on his character and personality.

Written by Leisureguy

2 December 2015 at 10:42 am

Posted in Business

Short Answers to Hard Questions About Climate Change

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The NY Times is running a series of good columns related to climate change, and one was quite useful in responding to a comment from a climate change denialist this morning. He commented that evaluating the relative risks of taking steps to combat climate change vs. doing nothing about it was an “appeal to emotions,” which of course it is not. Whenever one has to make an informed judgement of whether to undertake a significant step or not, it is entirely rather to compare the costs and the benefits of each option, and in particular to look at the risks/costs of being wrong about the choice one makes.

For example, it seems not emotional but rational to look at what happens if you’re wrong about whether climate change is indeed due to human activity, as all climatologists (i.e., scientists who have spent their careers studying the climate) agree.

In one case, in which the scientists are right and we do nothing, we bring on an existential crisis with plummeting food supplies from crop failures, devastation from rising ocean levels (which is happening now in the Marshall Islands), and the tropics becoming too hot for human life.

In the other case, in which scientists are wrong and we take steps to drastically cut carbon emissions, finding new sources of energy and changing our lifestyle to live sustainably, we end up with a different lifestyle but the planet remains habitable in the tropics, ocean level rise is halted, and so on.

It’s as if you have a medical diagnosis that requires you to lose weight and get fit. If the diagnosis is wrong and you embrace the regimen, you become lean and fit when you didn’t have to, but that is not totally bad. OTOH, if you do nothing and the diagnosis is right, you die. I don’t know about you, but I’d opt for getting lean and fit and—here’s the kicker—that’s the conservative strategy to take.

So with that in mind, take a look at Short Answers to Hard Questions about Climate Change.

Written by Leisureguy

2 December 2015 at 10:33 am

Posted in Global warming

The S1 and R1 in the same shave, with the Organic Asses’-Milk shaving soap

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SOTD 2 Dec 2015

Since I’m using the asses’-milk shaving soap, a horsehair brush seemed appropriate. The soap is excellent but the container is filled to the brim and some have found that they cannot load a brush without making a mess unless the container is partly empty—thus all the soaps sold in containers that are half full.

I think it’s worth learning to load the brush efficiently and neatly since some very nice soaps are sold in full containers—this one, for example, or Martin de Candre or Le Père Lucien or Catie’s Bubbles, and many others. I loaded the brush with no problem and no mess—it’s actually quite simple if you pay attention—and I was rewarded with the rich creamy lather that this soap produces. Two soapsAnd I have to admit that I appreciate having full containers: the empty space at the top takes too much room when you stack your soaps. A notable example: this Soap Commander container holds 6 oz, the Catie’s Bubble container alongside holds 8 oz.

The razor pairing today is the Above the Tie S1 slant, on the left, wearing a UFO handle, and their R1 regular razor, also wearing a UFO handle. I did each pass using both, and truthfully it was hard to detect the difference with my beard today. They both did a very fine job. The S1 doesn’t have a very extreme slant, of course, but I think the primary factor is that my beard is fairly normal. A better person for this test would be a guy with a tougher, thicker beard.

Three passes to a fine, smooth finish, and then a good splash of Anthony Gold’s Red Cedar aftershave, which I think would make a fine Christmas present. It’s available from The Copper Hat in Victoria BC, but it might not be shown in the on-line store, in which case just email them.

Tomorrow’s razor looks cool: the black Standard head on a red-jasper handle.

Written by Leisureguy

2 December 2015 at 10:09 am

Posted in Shaving

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