Later On

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

Archive for August 10th, 2017

Can a better night’s sleep in a ‘hipster’ bus replace flying?

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Perfect for the awkward distances. But that we have come to that. Peter Holley describes it in the Washington Post:

Picture this: Your boss asks you to make a last-second trip to a city a few hundred miles away for a meeting tomorrow morning.

So how do you get there?

You could take an early-morning regional flight, but frequent delays on small carriers might mean you risk missing your meeting and spending more time on the tarmac than in the air.

You could spend a few hundred bucks on a train ticket, but don’t expect to get much sleep ahead of your meeting. You could also drive your own car, but that means confronting traffic jams and an exhausting night on the road.

For many people, moving between major hubs that are just far enough away to create complications — think Los Angeles to San Francisco, for instance — is a regular travel headache.

Tom Currier calls it the “500-mile problem” and now, the Silicon Valley entrepreneur and his partner, Gaetano Crupi, say they have a solution. It’s called “Cabin” — a double-decker, luxury bus line with WiFi, a comfy lounge and sleeping pods that offer the same pressed sheets you’ll find at the Ritz Carlton.

Cabin began making overnight trips between Los Angeles and San Francisco last month. There’s nothing particularly innovative about packing people into a bus and moving them from one place to another after dark. But Currier argues that the company’s emphasis on providing passengers with a good night’s sleep separates Cabin from other forms of transportation. He says it allows the company to capitalize on Silicon Valley’s belief that a growing number of people will leap at any convenient opportunity to avoid driving as society begins to flirt with autonomous modes of transportation.

He compares the overnight bus ride to “teleportation.”

“We’re taking these 300-500 mile trips and turning them into an experience where you’re basically checking into a hotel in one city and then checking out of a hotel in another city,” Currier said. “And when you combine our service with Uber and Lyft in our destination cities, you’re replacing the need for having a car entirely.” . . .

Continue reading. There’s more.


Written by LeisureGuy

10 August 2017 at 8:01 pm

We are totally in a very bad Wonderland now: Look at why McMasters is on the outs with Trump

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Written by LeisureGuy

10 August 2017 at 5:08 pm

Trump administration doesn’t want investment advisers to have to act in the best interests of their clients

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Now why on earth would they oppose a rule requiring investment advisers to act in the best interests of their clients? I suppose they want to make it legal for investment advisers to profit by advising bad decisions. Am I missing something?

Sylvan Lane reports in The Hill:

The Labor Department is seeking an 18-month delay of an Obama-era rule for investment advisers, according to court documents filed Wednesday.

In response to a lawsuit over the rule, agency officials told the court they have asked the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to delay implementing the rule until July 2019.

The rule places tougher standards on financial advisers, creating a legal requirement that they act in the best interests of their clients. The rule requires advisers to tell clients when they get a commission for selling certain investment products. It is intended to prevent advisers from hiding conflicts of interest that could hurt each client’s bottom line. The rule was set to go into effect in in January 2018.

Business lobbying groups and the investment industry fiercely oppose the rule issued in 2016 under former President Obama, arguing it would drive up the cost of financial advice and push many Americans out of the investment market. They have challenged the rule in court.

But progressive lawmakers and consumer watchdogs have defended the rule, which is prized by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta oversaw a review of the rule but decided earlier this year that he had no legal basis to delay or amend the rule on his own.

Investment advisers had been bracing for the rule’s implementation but could get a reprieve from the OMB.

Written by LeisureGuy

10 August 2017 at 4:10 pm

An active graph of temperature anomalies by country, 1900-2016

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Blue is cool, yellow is warm, red is hot. Watch how it picks up:

Written by LeisureGuy

10 August 2017 at 12:52 pm

Posted in Global warming, Video

No-knock raids like the one against Paul Manafort are more common than you think

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Radley Balko comments in a column:

The news Wednesday that the FBI waged a no-knock raid against former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort has generated discussion about these raids. The consensus in this case seems to be that the early-morning no-knock raid is a good indication that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has strong evidence of criminal wrongdoing, and that he feared Manafort might have destroyed some of that evidence if he had not sent FBI agents to retrieve it.

Unfortunately, the discussions have included broad generalizations that, although perhaps technically accurate, give a misleading impression of how no-knock raids are typically utilized. This CNN segment with legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin is an example:

Around the 4:30 mark, Toobin says, “Magistrate judges don’t give authorizations for searches of people’s homes lightly. I mean, this is a big deal.”

Toobin’s comment is technically true, if you analyze it in the context of an investigation into someone such as Manafort — a wealthy politician who once held a powerful position. Those sorts of people aren’t typically subjected to early-morning no-knock raids. But lots of other people are. And these sorts of comments not only erase their experience, but they also give a false impression of how and against whom these tactics are used.

They’re used, for example, against people such as the woman and her 3-year-old daughter who were held at gunpoint after FBI agents entered her home by taking a chainsaw to her door. They were looking for a drug dealer who lived in the building. They had the wrong apartment. They’re used against families such as the three children in New Mexico injured by flash grenades when FBI agents conducted a no-knock raid on their father, who was suspected of being a street-level drug dealer. Or the Quincy, Mass., couple raided last year by FBI agents and local police who took a battering ram to their door and ransacked their home. The agents found nothing incriminating and left a search warrant that included only the home’s address.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) also weighed in on the Manafort raid, with a series of tweets.

These tweets are technically true, provided you limit your pool of “targets” to people like Manafort. But again, that paints a misleading picture of how these tactics are used. They aren’t typically used against people like Manafort, and for most people against whom they are used, the target isn’t given a chance to cooperate. As for judges, I’ll let former federal prosecutor Ken White at Popehat elaborate:

In the federal system, federal agents present search warrant applications to United States Magistrate Judges for review. Magistrate Judges aren’t nominated by the President and confirmed by Congress like United States District Court judges — they are appointed by other federal judges for set terms, and have a reduced level of authority and responsibility. They do a lot of the unglamorous day-to-day work of the federal judiciary.

The magistrate judge reviews the search warrant application and, almost always, signs the warrant approving it . . .  I think that magistrates can be a little rubber-stampy at times. But probable cause is a pretty low bar.

Emphasis mine. “Almost always.” White adds that federal courts are generally better than state courts at scrutinizing warrants, and that federal prosecutors are typically better at reviewing warrants than district attorneys. But he adds that the most scrutinized warrants are in complex, white-collar cases. If Mueller does bring a case against Manafort, it will undoubtedly be complex. So again, in that context, comments such as those from Toobin and Blumenthal aren’t technically wrong, but they give the impression that all federal warrants for no-knock raids are carefully scrutinized and waged against only people for whom there is a significant amount of incriminating evidence. For most such warrants, that just isn’t true.

Move from the FBI to the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the problem only grows. From the mid-1990s through about 2010, the DEA conducted hundreds of full-on SWAT raids of medical marijuana clinics in states that have legalized the drug for medicinal purposes. These businesses were technically breaking federal law. But they weren’t heavily armed drug dealers. They were businesses licensed by the states in which they were operating. Through the 2000s, the DEA also sent SWAT teams to raid the offices of doctors whom drug cops suspected of over-prescribing opioid painkillers. Whatever you make of the current opioid crisis, these weren’t well-armed kingpins. They were doctors operating in the open.

But the more typical targets of a no-knock DEA raid aren’t doctors, medical marijuana clinics or kingpins. They’re people accused of low-level drug crimes. The evidence can be flimsy, or indiscriminate. The DEA will sometimes join state and local police to conduct multiple, even dozens of raids in a single city or neighborhood. Those raids might produce enough illicit drugs, cash or guns to make them seem worthwhile, but the sheer size of the operations can rope in innocent people, too. In one such case we covered here at The Watch, an elderly Detroit woman and her daughter were raided and roughed up by masked DEA agents during a massive sweep of the city’s Eight Mile neighborhood. The women never got their day in court because the DEA never revealed the identities of the masked agents.

A quick list of other incidents that come to mind:

  • DEA agents shot a New Hampshire woman through the arm as she was picking up her infant grandchild during a botched raid looking for diverted oxycodone. They had the wrong residence.
  • In 2011, DEA and San Francisco police raided a UC-Hastings law professor under the mistaken belief that he was growing marijuana.
  • In 2013, DEA agents and local officials raided an Illinois woman’s home based on evidence that she had shopped at a hydroponic store and that a substance in her trash came up positive for marijuana on a drug field test. Regular readers will know that such tests have notoriously high error rates.
  • In 2012, the DEA defended in federal court the practice of agents pointing their guns at children’s heads during drug raids. In that particular case, the agents had raided the wrong home, due to the sloppy recording of a license plate. Presumably, a federal magistrate signed off on the warrant.

Finally, most federal drug raids are also carried out not by a well-trained DEA or FBI SWAT team, but by multi-jurisdictional narcotics task forces, or local cops participating in the Justice Department’s adoption program.  . .

Continue reading.

There’s a lot more. The US is sliding toward being a police state.

Written by LeisureGuy

10 August 2017 at 11:42 am

Some law-enforcement links from Radley Balko

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Full list of links is here. Some of them:

  • In 10 states, prosecutors can withhold evidence from defense attorneys until just before trial, a practice that can prevent suspects from adequately defending themselves.
  • Sheriff’s deputies who stole drugs from an evidence locker and then tried to sell it get sentenced to … probation. In explaining the sentence, U.S. District Judge Lawrence Joseph O’Neill, a former police officer, cited, among other things, the “unwavering support” of the officers’ wives.
  • An eclectic group of supporters has lined up behind the Techdirt website, which is under attack by the same predatory lawyer who brought down Gawker. Good to see. Techdirt has long been a destination for insightful and important reporting and analysis of civil liberties issues.
  • In the age of the plea bargain, innocence is irrelevant.
  • Colorado man faces felony charges for “sexting” with a teenage girl, even though actually having sex with her would have been legal.
  • Baltimore police kept a suspect in jail for more than a year after DNA tests cleared him. He was awarded $2.3 million.
  • The Raleigh News & Observer, one of the best investigative newspapers in the country, takes an in-depth look at 51 jailhouse deaths over five years in North Carolina.

Written by LeisureGuy

10 August 2017 at 11:19 am

Posted in Law Enforcement

If Russia is an oligarchy, then so is the US

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The above chart is from an interesting post by Kevin Drum. Check it out.

Written by LeisureGuy

10 August 2017 at 11:17 am

Posted in Daily life

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