Later On

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

Archive for September 1st, 2017

Dinner tonight: Nigella Lawson’s Tarragon Chicken

leave a comment »

Here’s the recipe, and here are my lessons learned: Mix marinade in a bowl in the morning and marinate the chicken for a day, covered, turning it occasionally. The plastic bag in the refrigerator doesn’t work: olive oil solidifies. I could not find a “3-4 lb chicken,” if they still exist. The smallest I could find was a 6-lb chicken. It took 40 minutes.

Absolutely delicious. Definitely a repeat. Here’s a good guide to spatchcocking a chicken. I used a lot of tarragon in the marinade, and I used two lemons and 1 cup olive oil, because it’s a 6-lb chicken, not a 3-lb chicken.

Written by LeisureGuy

1 September 2017 at 7:12 pm

Posted in Food, Low carb, Recipes

Stephen Miller, James Comey and the Mystery of the Secret Hour

leave a comment »

Josh Marshall writes in the TPM Editor’s Blog:

With the news that Robert Mueller has a copy of the original letter on James Comey’s firing written by Trump aide Stephen Miller and Trump himself, we need to return to the great mystery of that lost hour on the tarmac on Air Force One.

What am I talking about? Well, with a touch of dramatic flair I’m talking about this odd and increasingly odd over time mystery about what was happening the night President Trump came back from his Bedminster villa after a weekend of stewing about James Comey and then fired Comey 36 hours later.

At the time, it just seemed like another Trump era weirdness. Air Force One landed. Jared got off the plane, put Ivanka and the kids in an SUV and then got back on the plane. And then Trump and a group of his closest aides were apparently arguing on the plane for about an hour while the traveling press cooled its heels and wondered what was going on. They never got an explanation. But after about an hour a rather disheveled President Trump got off the plane and went back to the White House. Who was there on the plane with Trump? Stephen Miller.

Here’s the key portion from my rundown from early June on the details …

4. What happened that Sunday night on Air Force One? What am I talking about? Let’s look at the timeline. We know from abundant reporting that in early May (May 6th-7th) President Trump spent the weekend at his golf resort in Bedminster, New Jersey. He apparently stewed over that weekend about Comey and came back to Washington Sunday night determined to fire him. He proceeded to do just that. He called in Rosenstein and Sessions the next day (Monday), got Rosenstein’s recommendation memo and promptly fired Comey on Tuesday (May 9th).

This we all know. But that Sunday evening return flight from New Jersey was also the night something kind of odd happened. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

1 September 2017 at 4:12 pm

The Photos the U.S. and Saudi Arabia Don’t Want You to See

leave a comment »

Nicholas Kristof has a strongly worded column in the NY Times, with a subhead “Let’s be blunt: With U.S. and U.K. complicity, the Saudi government is committing war crimes in Yemen.”

This is not a great surprise: the US itself committed war crimes in Afghanistan, though the US does not prosecute its own troops unles there is a lot of publicity. Normally, the crimes are simply ignored.

Read the article, look at the photos, and decide whether you are comfortable with what your government is doing.

Written by LeisureGuy

1 September 2017 at 3:06 pm

Make Pot Legal for Veterans With Traumatic Brain Injury

leave a comment »

Thomas James Brennan writes in the NY Times:

The explosion that wounded me during a Taliban ambush in Afghanistan in 2010 left me with a traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress. In 2012 I was medically retired from the Marine Corps because of debilitating migraines, vertigo and crippling depression. After a nine-year career, I sought care from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

At first, I didn’t object to the pills that arrived by mail: antidepressants, sedatives, amphetamines and mood stabilizers. Stuff to wake me up. Stuff to put me down. Stuff to keep me calm. Stuff to rile me up. Stuff to numb me from the effects of my wars as an infantryman in Iraq and Afghanistan. Stuff to numb me from the world all around.

The T.B.I. brings on almost daily migraines, and when they come, it’s as if the blast wave from the explosion in Afghanistan is still reverberating through my brain, shooting fresh bolts of pain through my skull, once again leaving me incapacitated. Initially the prescriptions helped — as they do for many veterans. But when I continued to feel bad, the answers from my doctors were always the same: more pills. And higher dosages. And more pills to counteract the side effects of those higher dosages. Yet none of them quite worked.

One thing did. In 2013, a friend rolled a joint and handed it to me, urging me to smoke it later. It will relieve your symptoms, he promised. That night I anxiously paced around my empty house. I hesitated to light it up because I’d always bought into the theory of weed as a “gateway drug.” But after a few tokes, I stretched out and fell asleep. I slept 10 hours instead of my usual five or six. I woke up feeling energized and well rested. I didn’t have nightmares or remember tossing or turning throughout the night, as I usually did. I was, as the comedian Katt Williams puts it, “hungry, happy, sleepy.”

With the help of my civilian psychiatrist, I began trading my pill bottles for pipes and papers. I also began to feel less numb. I started to smile more often. I thought I had found a miracle drug. There was just one problem: That drug was illegal.

In 21 states, including North Carolina, where I live, any use of marijuana is forbidden under state law. The current punishments for those who possess or cultivate cannabis — even for medical purposes — may include a felony conviction and imprisonment, loss of child custody and permanent damage to their livelihood. The V.A. encourages veterans to discuss their cannabis use with their doctors, but because cannabis is also prohibited under federal law, the V.A. cannot prescribe it in any form — thereby denying countless veterans relief to many mental health symptoms and other service-connected disabilities.

The medical benefits of marijuana for the more than 360,000 post-Sept. 11 veterans who have brain injuries are not universally recognized. (As many as one in five veterans are thought to have post-traumatic stress.) But medical experts like Dr. Frank Ochberg, a psychiatrist and former associate director of the National Institute of Mental Health, believe that “medical marijuana absolutely belongs in the pharmacy for post-traumatic stress and brain injury treatment.” The V.A., Dr. Ochberg said, “is failing veterans by not making cannabis a treatment option.”

In recent years, the V.A. has worked to reduce the number of opioids prescribed to veterans and increase the promotion of alternative therapies such as yoga and mindfulness, and it has made significant improvements in access to health care. Dr. David Shulkin, the V.A. secretary,has publicly supported the evaluation of emerging cannabis research, acknowledging that patients may benefit from marijuana use. But the department is prohibited from prescribing medical cannabis for veterans even in states where it is legal. (In those states, veterans can get prescriptions from private doctors, but at their own expense.)

Most of the major veterans groups, including the American Legion, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Veterans of Foreign Wars and Disabled American Veterans, support regulated research into the medical uses of cannabis. But the research is slow in coming: Since 1968, the University of Mississippi has been home to the only licensed facility to produce cannabis for clinical research. In March it was reported that the university’s cannabis was contaminated with lead, yeast and mold — substances that jeopardize research efficacy and patient safety. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

1 September 2017 at 11:29 am

8 Baltimore police officers indicted in federal racketeering case, accused of robbing residents

leave a comment »

Police departments continue to disappoint, though at least these 8 corrupt police officers have been indicted (although by Federal law enforcement: the Baltimore police department itself apparently just stood by). Kevin Rector, Tim Prudente, and Justin Fenton report in the Baltimore Sun:

An eighth Baltimore police officer was arrested on federal racketeering charges on Wednesday in the growing scandal that has engulfed the department’s elite gun task force.

Federal prosecutors allege that the officer, a former leader of the unit, “stole money from victims, some of whom had not committed crimes, swore out false affidavits and submitted false official incident reports.”

He did so, they allege in an indictment, while overseeing and covering for other officers committing similar crimes.

Sgt. Thomas Allers, 49, of Linthicum Heights, a member of the city Police Department since 1996, was arrested Wednesday on nine counts of robbery and extortion.

Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby said his arrest could lead prosecutors to drop charges against individuals he arrested.

Allers oversaw the Gun Trace Task Force, a special unit that investigated gun crimes, from 2013 until mid-2016. Seven other members of the unit were indicted in March on similar racketeering charges. They are accused of robbing people, filing false court paperwork and submitting fraudulent overtime claims.

Prosecutors allege that Allers stole more than $90,000 in a series of robberies and that one resident he stole from was subsequently shot and killed “because he could not repay a drug-related debt.”

They also allege that Allers covered for the other indicted officers by filing false incident reports and “obstructed law enforcement by alerting other members of the [gun task force] about potential investigations of their criminal conduct.”

Some of the incidents are alleged to have occurred as the U.S. Department of Justice was reviewing the Police Department’s actions and policies. Justice investigators reported last summer that city officers routinely practiced discriminatory and unconstitutional policing that included conducting unlawful stops and using excessive force, particularly in poor, predominantly black neighborhoods. The city and the Justice Department have agreed to a court-enforced consent decree that mandates sweeping reforms to policing.

The Police Department has also been dealing in recent weeks with the fallout from a series of body-camera videos that prosecutors and defense attorneys have flagged as questionable.

Defense attorneys say some of the videos appear to show officers planting drugs on criminal defendants. Police deny those accusations. Prosecutors have dropped or are reviewing hundreds of criminal cases related to the officers in those videos.

In announcing the indictment against Allers on Wednesday, Maryland U.S. Attorney Stephen M. Schenning urged the public to maintain its trust in police.

“As disheartening as the conduct outlined in this indictment may be,” he said in a statement, “the community needs to have confidence that dedicated law enforcement will not tolerate it.”

Allers was led in handcuffs into a federal courtroom in Baltimore on Wednesday afternoon. There, he answered questions from U.S. Magistrate Judge A. David Copperthite with “Yes, sir” and “No, sir. ”He told Copperthite that he understood the charges against him and the maximum penalties he faces if found guilty.

His attorney, Gary Proctor, declined to comment. Two women in the courtroom who said they were members of Allers’ family declined to speak about him or the case.

Allers was ordered held pending a detention hearing scheduled for Thursday morning.

Police said Wednesday that Allers had been suspended since March 1, the day the other officers were indicted.

“I condemn any and all criminal activity that erodes our trust with the community,” Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said in a statement. “We are and have been embedded with the FBI/Baltimore field office’s Public Corruption Task Force. This partnership ensures that police officers that commit criminal misconduct will face the certainty of accountability.” . ..

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

1 September 2017 at 11:03 am

Posted in Law Enforcement

Finland, Home of the $103,000 Speeding Ticket

leave a comment »

This Atlantic article by Joe Pinsker is from May 2015, but it came up recently. The idea of progressive fines (similar to progressive income tax) works well since it puts an equal bite on all offenders: the fine is stated in terms of what the offender makes. Pinsker writes:

Reima Kuisla, a Finnish businessman, was recently caught going 65 miles per hour in a 50 zone in his home country—an offense that would typically come with a fine of a couple hundred dollars, at most, in the U.S. But after Finnish police pulled Kuisla over, they pinged a federal taxpayer database to determine his income, consulted their handbook, and arrived at the amount that he was required to pay: €54,000.

The fine was so extreme because in Finland, some traffic fines, as well as fines for shoplifting and violating securities-exchange laws, are assessed based on earnings—and Kuisla’s declared income was €6.5 million per year. Exorbitant fines like this are infrequent, but not unheard of: In 2002, a Nokia executive was fined the equivalent of $103,000 for going 45 in a 30 zone on his motorcycle, and the NHL player Teemu Selanne incurred a $39,000 fine two years earlier.

“This is no constitutionally governed state,” one Finn who was fined nearly $50,000 moaned to The Wall Street Journal, “This is a land of rhinos!” Outrage among the rich—especially nonsensical, safari-invoking outrage—might be a sign that something fair is at work.

Finland’s system for calculating fines is relatively simple: It starts with an estimate of the amount of spending money a Finn has for one day, and then divides that by two—the resulting number is considered a reasonable amount of spending money to deprive the offender of. Then, based on the severity of the crime, the system has rules for how many days the offender must go without that money. Going about 15 mph over the speed limit gets you a multiplier of 12 days, and going 25 mph over carries a 22-day multiplier.

Most reckless drivers pay between €30 and €50 per day, for a total of about €400 or €500. Finland’s maximum multiplier is 120 days, but there’s no ceiling on the fines themselves—the fine is taken as a constant proportion of income whether you make €80,000 a year or €800,000.

Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Austria, France, and Switzerland also have some sliding-scale fines, or “day-fines,” in place, but in America, flat-rate fines are the norm. Since the late 80s, when day-fines were first seriously tested in the U.S., they have remained unusual and even exotic.

But to advocate for the American adoption of day-fines isn’t to engage in the standard grass-is-greener worship of Scandinavia that’s in style right now. It’s logical. Yes, day-fines might dissuade the rich from breaking the law; after all, wealthier people have been shown to drive more recklessly than those who make less money, and Steve Jobs was known to park in handicapped spots and drive around without license plates.

But more importantly, day-fines could introduce some fairness to a legal system that many have convincingly shown to be biased against the poor. Last week, the Department of Justice released a comprehensive report on how fines have been doled out in Ferguson, Missouri. “Ferguson’s law enforcement practices are shaped by the City’s focus on revenue rather than by public safety needs,” it concluded. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

1 September 2017 at 10:51 am

The rapid decline of community-oriented policing

leave a comment »

There are more videos of this encounter on YouTube (search “nurse arrested for not drawing blood”), some of which are longer and provide more context. Derek Hawkins has a report in the Washington Post:

By all accounts, the head nurse at the University of Utah Hospital’s burn unit was professional and restrained when she told a Salt Lake City police detective he wasn’t allowed to draw blood from a badly injured patient.

The detective didn’t have a warrant, first off. And the patient wasn’t conscious, so he couldn’t give consent. Without that, the detective was barred from collecting blood samples — not just by hospital policy, but by basic constitutional law.

Still, Detective Jeff Payne insisted that he be let in to take the blood, saying the nurse would be arrested and charged if she refused.

Nurse Alex Wubbels politely stood her ground. She got her supervisor on the phone so Payne could hear the decision loud and clear. “Sir,” said the supervisor, “you’re making a huge mistake because you’re threatening a nurse.”

Payne snapped. He seized hold of the nurse, shoved her out of the building and cuffed her hands behind her back. A bewildered Wubbels screamed “help me” and “you’re assaulting me” as the detective forced her into an unmarked car and accused her of interfering with an investigation.

The explosive July 26 afternoon encounter was captured on officers’ body cameras and is now the subject of an internal investigation by the police department, as the Salt Lake City Tribune reported Thursday. The videos were released by the Tribune, the Deseret News and other local media.

On top of that, Wubbels was right. The U.S. Supreme Court has explicitly ruled that blood can only be drawn from drivers for probable cause, with a warrant. . .

Continue reading.

On the bight side, the officer did not shoot the nurse. However, his actions and attitudes reflect a sea change in how police nowadays seem to view their jobs: many have taken on the role of an occupying military force.

I imagine she is likely to sue and win a large settlement, which unfortunately will not be paid by the police department but by the taxpayers.

Written by LeisureGuy

1 September 2017 at 9:02 am

%d bloggers like this: