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.


Oscar Pistorius Trial Week 5, Day 21, Open Thread

April 11, 2014

Prosecutor Gerrie Nell continues to cross examine Oscar Pistorius today.

This is an open thread. We welcome thoughts, comments, and questions. I will update with additional clips.

If you have any thoughts on other cases, please share them here.


America’s D+ Infrastructure

April 9, 2014

by Crane-Station

Every four years, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) issues a report card based on the A-F grading system, for America’s infrastructure. Infrastructure involves more than the 65,000 US bridges in need of repair, or the potholes that ate Indianapolis. America earned a D+ average across sixteen categories according to eight criteria: capacity, condition, funding, future need, operation and maintenance, public safety, resilience, and innovation.

The Infrastructure report card is here. The grades:

Aviation D
Bridges C+
Dams D
Drinking Water D
Energy D+
Hazardous Waste D
Inland Waterways D-
Levees D-
Ports C
Public Parks and Recreation C-
Rail C+
Roads D
Schools D
Solid Waste B-
Transit D
Wastewater D

How are we doing today?

While America spends huge amounts of money on non-emergency or made up issues, like surveillance or hollowing out America or keeping alligators off the football field, the place is falling apart. The D+ average reflects a crisis in America’s infrastructure. But just when you think things cannot get any worse, they do. For example:

Schools received a D grade. One must get a shovel and dig to get this low, but yesterday the Washington Post reports Koch brothers help Kansas lawmakers strip teachers of tenure. Here’s what these egregious horrendous human beings did:

The Kansas legislature just passed legislation that strips teachers of tenure and the right to due process, a move pushed by conservative lawmakers who were forced by a state Supreme Court ruling to provide more funding to poor school districts and wanted to get something out of the deal. After stripping teachers of their tenure, legislators had a brief discussion about jewelry.

So, after screwing teachers and school children, who have no money and no political clout, the discussion that the taxpayers were funding progressed to more important things like personal jewelry. Brought to you by ALEC and the Koch Brothers, that gets an F. Since there is no longer tenure, I can not imagine that a teacher could lose much by explaining how a bill becomes law, and also explaining why 40 children are sharing one schoolbook, and who proposed the bill.

Every two minutes in America, a water pipe breaks. If you own the home on top of the broken pipe, you must pay for the repair, even if the pipes were installed decades before your arrival. Seven trillion gallons of treated drinking water are lost yearly in the US, due to leaking pipes, and leaking pipes can lead to mold and other serious property damage. The customer pays for the chemicals to treat the water, as well as the pumps, pipes and electricity to run the pumps, but there is no note on the water bill that says you are paying for lost water due to failing infrastructure.

Energy’s D+ is notable because my husband and I are one of many residents in an area spanning several states, with a power bill horror story. At first I thought our power bill, which was suddenly higher than God, was a mistake, but then we began asking others, and in many cases the electric bill matches the rent, or exceeds it. While some companies claim “polar vortex,” we believe the residential customer is absorbing the cost of aging structure in the electricity grid.

Bridges earned a C+, with one in nine reported as structurally deficient, carrying more than two hundred million travelers each day. A United States Structurally Deficient Bridges on the National Highway Systems map from the Department of Transportation is here, and things are not looking up. According to an audit released Tuesday in Louisiana, the transportation department couldn’t exactly prove it had inspected 16 percent of the bridges in the state, and several hundred others were late in inspection or deficient in other ways. The pdf audit is here.

Hazardous waste received a D grade. Last week, Mercury News reported that home improvement giant Lowe’s was ordered to pay 18 million in fines for illegal hazardous waste disposal:

OAKLAND — Home improvement giant Lowe’s has been ordered to pay $18 million for illegally disposing hazardous waste, including pesticides, batteries, fluorescent bulbs and other toxic materials, following a civil enforcement action filed Tuesday in Alameda County Superior Court.

Amazing that it’s just Lowe’s. There is an old saying among dumpster divers: “You would not believe what people throw away.” That includes businesses, utilities, and if you are a history buff, there’s Drum Mountain , or even things like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

In news from Hanford, Donna Busche, a safety whistleblower who was fired from Hanford in February, had warned of dangers involving, among other things, vapors that sickened 24 workers in March. Hanford is home to 56 million gallons of the most toxic waste in the US in 177 underground storage tanks, and is known for plutonium production for the WWII ‘Fat Man’ atomic bomb in B-Reactor. Last week, the Atomic Heritage Foundation launched a virtual tour of B-Reactor, called Ranger in Your Pocket.

What are your thoughts on the infrastructure report card? Choose one of the sixteen subjects and rant and rave accordingly. There is little way to go but up, but are things improving, or is America’s infrastructure summed in the movie line,

Dean Vernon Wormer: Mr. Blu…Mr. Blutarsky… zero… point… zero.

On a lighter note, the Decorah Eagles have three beautiful chicks. The Live Cam is here.

cross posted at MyFDL/Firedoglake


Driverless Cars

April 3, 2014

posted by Crane-Station

On Monday, five days after Toyota reached a record-breaking 1.2 billion dollar settlement with the Department of Justice regarding sudden uncontrolled acceleration allegations, RAND Corporation’s James Anderson held a congressional briefing to present information for policymakers and to discuss the benefits of — you guessed it — self-driving vehicles.

Tanya Snyder of USA Streetsblog, summarizes the briefing in an article titled “How the Self-Driving Car Could Spell the End of Parking Craters:”

At a Congressional briefing this week, the RAND Corporation’s James Anderson, author of a recent report on the prospects for autonomous vehicles, said he is convinced that while there are advantages and disadvantages to driverless cars, ‘the societal benefits exceed the costs.’

The best possible scenario involves a fleet of shared driverless cars and the elimination of private vehicle ownership. Cars would be in constant use, so the amount of land reserved for parking could be greatly reduced. Even if driverless car technology comes on the market soon, however, that version of the future may never arrive.

Driverless cars will park themselves, reducing the need for parking space. Also, they will accelerate and brake more efficiently than humans, increasing fuel efficiency. The cars will have sensors that will allow them to drive closer together, possibly decreasing congestion. Safety “is considered to be the most clear-cut benefit of self-driving cars.”

Car “autopilot” technology is partially here, with some automated functions like cruise control in current working form on public roads. Several automakers have been working with companies like Google, and have progressed to a point where it is time for policymakers to figure out who would be liable, for example, for a crash. Ozy.com writes:

Sorting out who would be responsible for such an incident is one of the hairiest challenges for policymakers, and their success depends on lawmakers getting that policy right.

Not only are there few answers so far, but there isn’t even clarity on who is in charge of setting the rules — and that’s setting up the sort of Washington turf wars that are famous for grinding things to a halt.

Policymakers will need to delve into the specifics soon, given the progress automakers and companies like Google have made in advancing driverless cars. Audi spokesman Brad Stertz says his company could roll out the first iteration of driverless cars by 2019.

The RAND Corporation research publication authored by James Anderson and titled Autonomous Vehicle Technology: A Guide for Policymakers says that full-scale commercial introduction of “truly autonomous (including driverless)” cars is predicted to occur within five to twenty years. Florida, Michigan, California, Nevada and DC already have some policies in place for testing these vehicles on public roads. The vehicles were featured in Las Vegas at CES 2014, the technology trade show.

There are also potential drawbacks. For one thing, driverless cars are data guzzlers, and who has access to the data and how it will be handled is yet unknown.

John Gould, of the Wall Street Journal explains that the self-driving car will collect an enormous amount of information using technology both inside and outside the vehicle: cameras, radar, lidar (remote sensing using laser), sonar, GPS, bumper sensors, vehicle-to-vehicle wireless communication, rooftop sensors, side sensors, and GPS sensors on the antenna.

The driverless car is a rolling data farmer, which may be wonderful in theory but a privacy and cyber security nightmare in reality. Other potential drawbacks include liability and regulatory issues.

For the Rand study, “Anderson and his colleagues reviewed the current literature on the subject and conducted interviews with 30 stakeholders, including automobile manufacturers, technology companies, communications providers, representatives from state regulatory agencies and others.” One voice, however, seemed to be oddly missing: the average commuter who drives a car. I emailed a DC resident and asked what he thought of driverless cars. He said:

Read the rest of this entry »


IPCC WG2 2014 Climate Change Report

April 3, 2014

posted by Crane-Station. Cross posted at Firedoglake.

On Monday, Working Group II of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued its report on the current state of scientific knowledge about the changing climate. The report did not mince words: extreme weather events are already occurring and catalyzed by carbon emissions. The good news is that adaptation is possible, if communities and governments immediately and aggressively pursue adaptation and mitigation.

If the climate extremes continue unabated, systems that will be impacted are:

  • availability of water, and clean water.
  • There will be negative impacts on crop yields, especially in the lower latitudes. We have already seen the devastating effects of drought to agriculture, for example.
  • Migration of species. As species move away from areas that impact survival and reproduction, they face new challenges and difficulties in the new locations, specifically, difficulty living together with new species.
  • There will be greater instance of disease, morbidity and mortality; the urban poor are especially at risk.
  • Lowline coastal areas could be vulnerable to extreme weather events, and even catastrophic damage.
  • Conflict can be exacerbated, compromising territorial integrity, and leading to displacement.

The key to our survival will be the extent to which we are willing to mitigate, and adapt. The upcoming working group 3 will talk about emissions of greenhouse gases. We simply have no more excuses , according to this IPCC Review. Everyone has a reason to care about it.

The IPCC Report scientists expressed particular concern with the marine environments. The report is large, and it states in the beginning that everyone should have good reason to be concerned with the findings, and pay close attention to Working Group 3’s Report that will be issued later this year, addressing adaptation and mitigation. Reading between the lines, our governments are currently insufficiently prepared for the reality of a changing climate that is impacting our food, water, health and survival.

Related:

The world is not ready for the impacts of climate change, including more extreme weather and the likelihood that populated parts of the planet could be rendered uninhabitable, says the planet’s leading body of climate scientists in a major new UN report. (National Geographic)


Open Thread 3/26/2014

March 26, 2014

posted by Crane-Station

Good evening! Fred and I are sharing a computer currently. We believe we have worked out a truce, as well as a schedule, so that we can both post without killing each other. I will be posting again on Friday. In the upcoming weeks, I am hoping to post some historical essays from the 1930s and 1940s, as my parents are kind enough to share them. I will also address other topics.

Here are some things we have been discussing, at this site:

1. Today I did see one article from Byron Williams at Huffington Post, titled, There Is No Comparison Between Zimmerman and Alexander. I found it unusual that after a couple of hours, there were no comments. That may have changed by now, but I am wondering if this is an indication that internet traffic overall is lower than it has been, or if people are kind of avoiding the topic of Zimmerman, at this point.

There is no comparison between Alexander and Zimmerman for many reasons. State prosecutor Angela Corey has demonstrated competence in little more than getting a conviction in the Dunn case, but not exactly a conviction for killing, but rather for Dunn’s firing at but not killing, three of four teenagers. Corey will re-try Marissa Alexander, and go for 60 years this time around. She also claims that she will retry Dunn, and what is interesting at this point is, it does not look like there will be a continuance. The trial is scheduled for May.

2. #MH370

27th March, 2014: 10.45am (AEDT)

Search and recovery operation for Malaysia Airlines aircraft: Update 21
*All times are expressed in Australian Eastern Daylight Saving Time (AEDT). Please note all times are
approximate.

Today’s search and recovery operation in the Australian Search and Rescue Region for Malaysia
Airlines flight MH370 is now underway.

Search activities today will involve a total of 11 aircraft and five ships.

Today’s search is split into two areas within the same proximity covering a cumulative 78,000 square
kilometres.

Two Royal Australian Air Force AP-3C Orions, a Chinese Ilyushin IL-76, a Japanese Gulfstream jet, a
US Navy P-8 Poseidon and a Japanese P-3 Orion will fly sorties throughout the day

Media Release

3. Craig Michael Wood, charged with kidnapping and murder of Hailey Owens in Springfield, Missouri, appeared in court for the first time today.
Accused murderer Craig Wood appears in courtroom for first time

4. Kendrick Johnson. We believe that Kendrick Johnson was most likely murdered. There appear to be no additional articles addressing an email confession, but we will continue to watch.

This is an open thread, please join and share thoughts, videos, music…whatever is on your mind. Here are a couple of videos, if you care to watch. The hat tip for the first goes to yellowsnapdragon at Firedoglake, who shared it yesterday. It is Ode to Joy, a flash mob, in Odessa:

Published on Mar 24, 2014
Flash mob: Odessa Musicians for Peace and Brotherhood.
Флэшмоб: Одесские Музыканты за Мир и Братство.

(Official Video). Saturday, March 22, 2014, 10:29 am. Odessa Fish Market (‘Privoz’). Members of the Odessa Philharmonic Orchestra and Odessa Opera Chorus, Hobart Earle, conductor, perform music from Beethoven’s 9th symphony.

After the devastation of the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Tohoku The Inoue Brothers travelled to the region to start a project with some of the affected local artisans. The result of this collaboration is their “Made in Tohoku” collection.
Credits
A FILM BY The Inoue Brothers – theinouebrothers.net
DIRECTED BY Joppe Rog – jopperog.com
SECOND CAMERA BY Lennert Rog – lennertrog.com
MUSIC BY Sorenious Bonk – soreniousbonk.co.uk
PRODUCTION Present Plus – presentplus.com/


Rogue Group Reveals Plan to Clean up Crime Labs, Bogus DUID Laws

March 17, 2014

by Crane-Station

A group in far Western Kentucky calling itself ‘Nobody Talks, Everybody Walks,’ neither drinks nor uses drugs but is nonetheless fed up with Fourth Amendment roadside no-suspicion stops and DUI arrests and crime lab corruption, and has a solid plan to be consistent with the Commonwealth’s goal, which is, after all, to keep everybody honest.

The group members all have the cleanest blood you could possibly imagine, so the plan is to 1) generate guaranteed fucked up ridiculous unsupported unreasonable profile stops by having 1000 cars with out-of-state plates from California, Oregon, and the Weedbowl states Washington and Colorado driving the set speed limits all around town, obeying all traffic laws at any given time, and 2), when stopped invariably by the McCracken County Sheriff, on suspicion of DUI because you are from Seattle or God-forbid Boulder or worse yet: Los Angeles, hand over license, current insurance, registration, and then politely and firmly demand on the spot chemical blood test presumptive screening and quantification of: 6000 known drugs, all known religions, all major philosophies and three theories of the universe of choice.

Each person will carry several Physicians Desk References (PDRs), because it may be simpler to hand the arresting officer one of those and say, “I would like quantification, please, preferably on LC-MS-MS, but surely you have learned to work a GC/MS machine sometime in the last 20 years, haven’t you? If not, please send my blood to NMS Labs in Willow Grove, PA. Basically what I am looking for here officer is, a yellow book pages of zeros, for jury trial. Because we are going to jury trial, of course.”

Meanwhile all cars in the program have sophisticated data systems reflecting speed and direction at any given time so the officers can’t tell huge ass lies about the recordings in court, and likewise the prosecutors can’t testify either, as they usually do, without being under oath or subject to cross examination, because sometime officers do forget their lines. There is working audio visual inside the car and out, of course, and this is special: A rolling FBI crime Lab van on scene with redundant equipment, including capability to draw blood before the officer spikes your second sample. The pre-stop sample will be drawn from an indwelling central line. The after-stop sample will go to a CLIA-regulated clinical independant lab.

The group will stop state police lab analysts from coming into court and speculating about little green men on the lawn or the moon being made or green cheese, or anything outside their scope, especially if it is clinical. No trauma. No ACLS. No current vent setting theories for ARDS. And no clinical effects of drugs, especially ones that they claim they have never seen before and cannot find with a goddamn map.

No field sobriety tests whatsoever, absolutely no urine under any circumstances at all. Quantitative blood for everything under the sun. No guilty plea. Jury trial. Continuance to get the chain of evidence. Continuance to get the bench notes. Continuance to get the calibration papers. Demand to see the ISO-9000 compliance quality assurance documents. The proof of education documents for the lab tech, proof of continuing education.

This will be excruciating for the Commonwealth, of course. Too bad. They want more testing, by God us citizens are here and ready to comply with it. But there’s one condition. In fact, there are two. You want more testing? We get quantification on everything you want, from a reputable lab. Most sensitive limits of detection available. The citizens will obey the law. The Commonwealth will not get 50 bites at the apple, they will have to do 6000 tests up front. That’s the deal. We are here to comply. We will not play reindeer games with later-on fill-in-the-blank perjury.

The rogue group estimates that McCracken County may be broke in approximately 20 minutes because this will put a stop to the guilty plea extortion railroad mill once and for all. The group recently spoiled a dipstick cannabis guilty plea extortion scam in another town where officers were showing defendants a control dipstick, claiming cannabis was in the urine, so the defendants were guilty.

The current theme will feature West Coast a ‘dirty hippie’ theme that McCracken County Sheriffs will be absolutely helpless facing; they will be pulling law-abiding citizens over nonstop 24/7. Dreadlocks. Animal print pants, rolled up pants. Thongs. There will be a Lamborghini Veneno in Silver with red trim driven by a blond trannie in beautiful leather boots, driving the speed limit even though the car cruises at 200 MPH. In the back seat is a lone riding crop, and the designer CA tag says 2L8IWON. Subarus. Backpacks.Tie-die. Head bands. T-shirts, that say odd things, like, “There’s nervous and then there’s nervous;” “Failed the HGN;” “watery and bloodshot;” “nervous and fidgety,” and “unusual, disturbing and suspicious.”

Weed bumper stickers, things that say stuff like “free speech zone.” Roller blades. Bikes. Guitars. Bubble tea. Bags from the Pleasure Chest in West Hollywood. Designer sunglasses. Tons of music. Grateful Dead tie die. A faded receipt receipt from Michell Brother’s in San Francisco. CDs on tape. Books.

“Our current group of dirty hippies headed out to Kentucky to obey the law and get pulled over for no reasonable suspicion DUI includes a group of Jet Propulsion Laboratory Workers with PhDs in Physics from Caltech who designed their own badass interior trunk of their state of the art car to basically rove McCracken County like that thing on Mars. These guys are the same ones who pull those insanely amazing Rose Bowl scoreboard pranks every year and in that vein, they’ll cull all the data from the 911 tower and every cop car in the county and every nonworking body mike and dash cam video before you can say “lose the exculpatory evidence.”

“We have doctors out the ass, who are all volunteering to head out to Kentucky to obey the law, and testify as actual experts in clinical medicine, they have all agreed to allow the Commonwealth to put on its state crime lab analyst to pose as a clinical expert and then, it will essentially be sharks a a frenzy including, in no particular order, world class published experts in clinical medicine/internal medicine/critical care/toxicology from UCSF, USC Keck USC University, UCLA, UC Davis, Cedars Sinai, Loma Linda, UC San Diego, OHSU, Denver General, U of WA. While we are at it, we will swing by the CDC in Atlanta and pick up some law abiding hippie epidemiologists/toxicologists, and basically walk around Emory picking up PhDs in Organic Chemistry who have been working with things like extraction and GC/MS since Jesus was a baby.

“We anticipate a bogus profile stop at least every 15 minutes around the clock, they’ll be on their knees looking for cannabis in the hippie blood,” says the new director. “They’ll spend multiple thousands upon thousands searching for that molecule and they may as well piss up a rope because it won’t be there. And we know they really really want to work very hard to find evidence to prove guilt. We think our program will help them, in their expensive, frustrating and futile search.”

Volunteers are donating time, skills, and supplies to the program, which is catching on everywhere. A man in Missouri said, “This was so much fun, stinging the cops, hell I never wanted to drink again. We all went to cruise control, and they damn near went out of business, between that and the no more DUIs. We took control back of our rights and our town.”


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