Oscar Pistorius: The defense case continues with expert testimony

April 16, 2014

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Good morning:

The direct, cross-examination and redirect examination of Oscar Pistorius concluded yesterday. Roger Dixon, a defense expert is on the stand. His direct examination by defense counsel resumes this morning. He testified yesterday regarding the crime scene.

Prior to the resumption of his testimony, the judge granted the prosecution’s application for a postponement of the trial (we call it a motion to continue the trial) commencing tomorrow, April 17, through May 4th. The trial will resume May 5th.

UPDATE: I am mistaken about when the break starts because they are in session tomorrow.

The continuance was requested by the prosecution because this case has lasted much longer than counsel predicted and Gerrie Nell’s co-counsel has another criminal case scheduled for trial that involves defendants in custody in an apartheid matter. The application was not opposed by the defense counsel. Since Pistorius is free on bail and the scheduling conflict was not reasonably foreseeable (and there is no jury to worry about), the judge granted the request. After today the trial will resume on Monday, May 5th.

Crane-Station and I are sharing a computer and she is hosting a session on another website today. Therefore, we have to pass the computer back and forth. We regret and apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

Please follow along and join us in the comments. We urge you to not forget to make a donation, if you appreciate the time and effort we spend on your behalf.

Thank you,

Fred

Session One:

Session Two:

Session 3


Conflict Minerals

April 16, 2014

by Crane-Station

On Monday, the US Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia issued a ruling in National Association Of Manufacturers, Et Al.,v. Securities And Exchange Commission(SEC). Citing freedom of speech, the court ruled that companies cannot be compelled to disclose whether the minerals they use to manufacture their products came from “conflict mineral” areas.

Conflict minerals involve tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold, and are often associated with electronics devices, or the Information Technology (IT) industry. The term refers to minerals that are mined in the remote eastern Congo region of Africa, in unregulated mines under conditions of armed conflict and human rights abuses. Warlords obtain and profit from the minerals utilizing rape, child labor, child soldiers, extortion and other business methods that are legendary for human exploitation, including slavery, torture and murder by starvation. In addition, the real profiteers of the literal gold mine do not live in the Congo. Rather, many of them live here.

Congress responded in 2010 to the human rights catastrophe with the Dodd-Frank Consumer Protection Act, requiring the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to initiate regulations compelling companies to disclose whether or not the minerals originated from a conflict-free area. The SEC Conflict Minerals Rule was set to require manufacturers to disclose conflict mineral information on their websites and file a report with the SEC with full compliance this year.

The manufacturers responded by suing the SEC in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia claiming that their first amendment right to freedom of expression is violated by a rule that compels them to disclose unfavorable information that might hurt their bottom line. The district court rejected their argument and granted summary judgment for the SEC and the ACLU. The Manufacturer’s Association appealed to the US Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

The Court writes (at page 20):

Products and minerals do not fight conflicts. The label “conflict free” is a metaphor that conveys moral responsibility for the Congo war. It requires an issuer to tell consumers that its products are ethically tainted, even if they only indirectly finance armed groups. An issuer, including an issuer who condemns the atrocities of the Congo war in the strongest terms, may disagree with that assessment of its moral responsibility. And it may convey that “message” through “silence.” See Hurley, 515 U.S. at 573. By compelling an issuer to confess blood on its hands, the statute interferes with that exercise of the freedom of speech under the First Amendment.
See id.

Hogwash! Silence is not disclosure. Up is not down. The First Amendment protects our freedom to express our opinions and it protects the freedom of the press so that we have the necessary information to form evidence based opinions and vote intelligently. In other words, the First Amendment protects the public’s right to know. It was never intended to protect silence.

The Fifth Amendment protects silence. A person cannot be compelled to testify against himself in a criminal case. It does not protect a corporation like a tobacco company from disclosing that cigarettes are harmful to health and may cause cancer. Likewise, since a company’s decisions about sourcing in its supply chain can impact the funding of conflict, it must be able to make informed choices about conflict minerals in its supply. Furthermore, “conflict free” is not a metaphor. It is a yes or a no to a question.

Our right to know is what this case is about. We have a right to know if products we buy are available for purchase as a result of outlaws, thieves, murderers-for-hire, rapists and butchers specializing in human rights violations conducting their business.

That said, it is likely that the SEC will seek an en banc review in this case, as the ruling issued on Monday was not unanimous. One of the justices held back, pending the outcome of en banc review in a similar case that has to do with disclosure in meat labeling.

Amazingly enough, today is Emancipation Day, a holiday in Washington DC to mark the anniversary of the signing of the Compensated Emancipation Act, which president Abraham Lincoln signed on April 16, 1862.

Related:

Conflict-free smelters and refiners

Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition -EICC – Extractives and Conflict Minerals Resources


Gerrie Nell continues to cross-examine Oscar Pistorius 4/15/2014

April 15, 2014

Session one:

Session Two:

Session Three:

Session Four:

Tuesday, April 14, 2014

Good morning:

The deconstruction of Oscar Pistorius’s implausible version of events continues.

Due to the six hour time difference between Capetown and New York, three sessions of the trial today have been completed.

Begin watching with the first session and join us in the comments.


Deconstruction of Oscar Pistorius continues in Capetown courtroom

April 14, 2014

Monday, April 14, 2014

Good morning:

We have the first two sessions of the Pistorius trial today from Capetown, South Africa courtesy of youtube. They are 6 hours ahead of New York City, so it’s 2 pm there.

Crane and I will be watching along with you, beginning with Session 1.

Here’s Session 2.

Here is Session 3.

Here’s Pistorius’s bail affidavit that the prosecutor is using as a prior inconsistent statement under oath. The prosecutor confronts Pistorius with the affidavit every time his testimony varies from what he said in his affidavit. This is one of the most effective ways to cross examine a witness. Each inconsistency sets up the argument, was the witness lying then or is he lying now?

Oscar Pistorius trial: affidavit from bail hearing – in full

In other news today, the police have arrested 73-year-old Frasier Glenn Cross Jr. for shooting to death a 14-year-old boy and his grandfather in the parking lot at the Jewish Community Center in Kansas City and one elderly woman at its assisted living center.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has announced that Cross is an alias for Frasier Glenn Miller, the former Grand Dragon of the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.

He is alleged to have said to police, “Heil Hitler,” when they placed him in a patrol vehicle.

Evidently, this is the way Mr. Miller decided to celebrate the beginning of Passover.

The Jewish Community Center is a welcoming place to people of all faiths. For example, the 14-year-old boy and his grandfather were Methodists.

We will be keeping a close watch on this case. I am guessing that it may be prosecuted by the feds as a hate crime.

Mr. Miller should be having an initial appearance sometime today.

Incidentally, the Southern Poverty Law Center also lists Cliven Bundy as a right wing domestic terrorist.

Now that the batteries have expired and the black boxes have turned silent, the search for MH370 goes underwater today with the Bluefin 21 searching the ocean bottom for the wreckage.

We’ll see you in the comments and please do not forget to make a donation today if you have not already done so.

Fred


Where We Were When FDR Passed Away

April 13, 2014

by Crane-Station

USS Lacerta (AKA-29). The Lacerta was an Artemis-class attack cargo ship. (photo: wikipedia)

Ray Owings, age 91, and Letty Owings, age 89, recall their memories before and after April 12, 1945, when US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) passed away. FDR was elected for four consecutive terms, and remains the only president ever to serve more than eight years.

Letty shares:

When Roosevelt was elected in 1933, my mother didn’t have voting rites, or at least that was how the culture viewed things at the time. At that time and in that community, women did not vote, even though legally, they could. My dad and my grandfather rode together in the buggy, to vote. My dad voted for incumbent Herbert Hoover, because Hoover was the popular candidate in the small German farming community where we lived, in Missouri. But then, FDR got it.

In the coming years our lives became one leader, and one direction, and that direction was the war. When Ray got his orders in 1944, he brought me a dozen roses, to tell me. I ran out of the house to greet him. But, I was wearing slacks, and my mother followed me, irate, because she did not think that a man should see a woman wearing slacks. That is how our world has changed.

I was in front of the wind charger radio when I heard of FDR’s passing.

Ray was in the Pacific.

Ray shares:

In Fort Pierce, Florida in 1944 I was training a boat group of 160 men. They thought I was mean. I thought they were the dregs, but they turned out to be good. In December 1944, I got my orders, and we reported to the USS Lacerta. She was just being finished and they were loading stores in Norfolk, Virginia.

We cleared Norfolk on January 18, 1945 and sailed to Cuba and then the Panama Canal before heading to Pearl Harbor where we loaded hospital crew and cargo for Guadalcanal, in the Solomon Islands. There is so much water in the world. On February 23, 1945 we crossed the equator and the international date line at the same time. On February 27, we arrived in Guadalcanal, unloaded cargo and picked up a group of Marines: a 155mm Howitzer artillery group, for the Okinawa invasion.

We departed Saipan on March 27 and began to prepare for invasion. On April 1, we unloaded Marines from Guadalcanal onto the west side of Okinawa, where they joined others. There were kamikaze and also, kamikaze boats around us. The marine group on the beach needed ammunition desperately, and we lowered the boats to deliver the shells. A typhoon was close to us, the water was real rough, with 10-12 foot waves, and we were the only boat group at that time to be unloading. It was difficult in the rough seas, but we were able to do it.

We departed Okinawa on April 9, 1945 for Saipan, and on our way there, we heard on the ship’s radio that Roosevelt had died. When we arrived in Saipan on April 20, I learned by a signal sent to the ship, that my first daughter had been born, in March.

Letty adds:

There was a time when right and wrong all got changed, a time when the rules of war and the international laws all went up in the air and generals fought with one another about how to fight.

Prior to this and during the Great Depression, a man, a poor man, approached my grandfather, another poor man, at a farmers’ gathering. Radio was a recent invention. The man asked a question. It was not a question about finance. The man asked simply, “Can you help me understand the world?”


Cliven Bundy is a craven thief and right wing terrorist

April 13, 2014

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Good morning:

Cliven Bundy is a thief and a right-wing domestic terrorist who belongs in prison. For more than 20 years he has grazed his cattle on our land without our permission and without paying us any fees. Neighboring ranchers paid their fees and have grazed their cattle with our permission.

Yesterday, the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) that manages our lands surrendered without a fight to Cliven Bundy and his followers who threatened to use deadly force in resisting the BLM’s effort to enforce a federal court order to seize his trespassing cattle and sell them at auction to satisfy the debt he owes for trespassing on our lands and refusing to pay the grazing fees.

April 12, 2014 is a dark day in U.S. history because it is the day that our government surrendered to the right wing hate machine.

I do not doubt that neighboring ranchers will follow his example and refuse to pay their fees.

I do not doubt that Cliven Bundy’s victory will embolden other right wing wackos to take similar action.

Contrast how law enforcement authorities have reacted with violent aggression against peaceful people protesting against the tyranny of the criminal banksters and the richest 1% of our people who, as majority shareholders, own control and profit from their acts of financial terrorism.

Contrast Bundy’s victory with what is happening to Cecily McMillan.

She is a 25-year-old student and activist who was arrested two years ago during an Occupy Wall Street demonstration in Manhattan. Without any provocation, police attacked and beat her until she went into a seizure. When she felt someone grab her right breast from behind during the attack, she threw her elbow catching a cop under the eye. She is being prosecuted for assaulting a police officer, a class D felony with a possible seven-year prison term. Her trial began this week.

Contrast Cliven Bundy’s victory with our government’s focus on prosecuting whistleblowers whose only “crime” is informing us what our government is doing to us and to other innocent people all over the world.

Contrast our government’s treatment of the poor cutting food stamps and heating assistance during a depression.

Our government has become another face of the right wing hate machine and you and I are its enemy.

If you doubt what I say, tune in to what is happening on twitter where an orgy of hatred has been unleashed.

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If you appreciate what we do, please make a donation today.

Fred


#MH370: Search update for Saturday, April 12

April 12, 2014

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Good morning:

A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777

Acoustic data analysis continues.

No pings from the black boxes have been detected since the towed pinger locator detected signals on Tuesday. The previously reported signals picked up by the sonar buoys have been analyzed and excluded as electronic signals from the black boxes.

The Chief Coordinator of the Joint Agency Coordination Centre, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston (Ret’d), said an initial assessment of the possible signal detected by a RAAF AP-3C Orion aircraft yesterday afternoon has been determined as not related to an aircraft underwater locator beacon.

“The Australian Joint Acoustic Analysis Centre has analysed the acoustic data and confirmed that the signal reported in the vicinity of the Australian Defence Vessel Ocean Shield is unlikely to be related to the aircraft black boxes,” Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston (Ret’d), said.

Here’s the media release for today.

Media Release
12 April 2014—am

Up to nine military aircraft, one civil aircraft and 14 ships will assist in today’s search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

Today the Australian Maritime Safety Authority has planned a visual search area totalling approximately 41,393 square kilometres. The centre of the search areas lies approximately 2331 kilometres north west of Perth.

Today, Australian Defence Vessel Ocean Shield continues more focused sweeps with the Towed Pinger Locator to try and locate further signals related to the aircraft’s black boxes. The AP-3C Orions continue their acoustic search, working in conjunction with Ocean Shield. The oceanographic ship HMS Echo is also working in the area with Ocean Shield. This work continues in an effort to narrow the underwater search area for when the Autonomous Underwater Vehicle is deployed. There have been no confirmed acoustic detections over the past 24 hours.

The weather forecast for today is 10 knot south easterly winds with isolated showers, sea swells up to one metre and visibility of five kilometres in showers.

Aircraft and ships reported spotting a number of objects during yesterday’s search, but only a small number were able to be recovered. None of the recovered items were confirmed to be associated with MH370.

The underwater search area is approximately 14,800 feet below the surface of the ocean and about the same size as the city of Los Angeles. That’s why they are going to continue to listen for pings until they are satisfied that the batteries have expired. The more pings they detect, the easier it will be to shrink the search area and locate the black boxes.

The Bluefin 21′s sonar can scan only about 100 meters to each side and its lights can only illuminate a few meters. The maximum depth at which it can operate is 4,500 meters and some areas of the search zone are deeper. Because of these limitations, they will continue to listen for pings until they are satisfied that they know the location of the black boxes or the batteries have died. The boxes are not going anywhere, so they are not going to risk losing or damaging the Bluefin 21 during a premature dive.

The searchers are also concerned about the firmness of the ocean bottom, which they believe to be composed of a layer of silt, approximately 75 feet deep. They fear the wreckage, including the black boxes, may have disappeared into the silt muffling and misdirecting the pings while also making it difficult to see any wreckage.

You are up to date.

Photo by Aero Icarus released under a Creative Commons Share Alike license.

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If you appreciate what we do, please make a donation today. If everyone who has not made a donation were to donate $5 or $10 we would not have to ask for any donations.

Thank you,

Fred


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