Archive for August 2008

I Moved the Blog

August 15, 2008

I’m trying Blogger for a while.

Over there I’ve written about

Joseph Edward Duncan III

Obama and Biden

Guns

Bartering for sex

Troy Davis, Finland shooting, Stonehenge, Bruce Springsteen, George Michael,

Bigfoot Found?

August 15, 2008

After a couple days around the internet, the story has reached the mainstream. CNN reports on it today.

The carcass of the furry half-man, half-ape is 7 feet, 7 inches tall and weighs more than 500 pounds, they say. However, the two are not disclosing the exact location of their discovery in order to protect the remaining creatures.

The N.Y. Times has the story too.

Indeed, Mr. Dyer said he and his partner, Matthew Whitton, saw three more of the beasts nearby as they dragged the body of said creature out of the woods. Moreover, Mr. Dyer says he has video clips and photographs to prove it.

I’m usually open to these things, but I don’t find these two stories very credible.

What do you think?

Tasered to Death

August 14, 2008

CNN reports on the indictment of former police officer, Scott Nugent, who tasered a man nine times while he was handcuffed.  Baron “Scooter” Pikes, 21 years old, died of those wounds.

A coroner’s report found that Pikes was handcuffed and on the ground when first stunned with a Taser and might have been dead before the last two 50,000-volt shocks were delivered.

What is it with all the taser stories lately? (H/T digby at Hullabaloo) That’s just one example, especially grotesque because they’re talking about kids.  But, if you google this subject, there’s more there than you can shake a taser at. 

I’m often accused of being too soft on criminals, too compassionate, a charge which I usually dispute.  But this case makes me think.  The law enforcement person who excessively uses a taser gun on someone, becomes the criminal himself.  Why don’t I have empathy for him? It usually happens as the culmination of a chase or otherwise stressful situation. Emotions are running high. These are the same types of mitigating circumstances I often use to excuse criminal behaviour.

The reason I have little compassion for this is because it represents abuse of power in its most heinous form. Everyone abuses power, teachers, office managers, parents.  But when law enforcement people do it, it’s bad news. This case in New Orleans where Scooter Pikes lost his life, not unlike the famous Abner Louima travesty, is a sensational front-page story.  But, it makes me wonder, what does it say about cops in general?  And, what’s the answer: more psychological testing? That might be a good place to start.

Department of Homeland Security – USA PATRIOT Act

August 13, 2008

The New York Times ran an incredible story today about Mr. Hiu Lui Ng, who died in custody.  It seems Mr. Ng was a far cry from the stereotypical illegal alien you read about.  Yet, he didn’t have his documents in order, got swept up in the system, and ended up dead.

Something is very wrong with a system that is so drunk on its own power that this kind of thing not only can happen, but does happen all too frequently.  Mr. Ng was an integrated member of society married to an American citizen.  Just imagine all those anonymous detainees who have no one to speak up for them.

The USA PATRIOT Act is an acronym for “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001.”  (As soon as I stop laughing I can continue.)  One of its provisions is this:

[it] enhances the discretion of law enforcement and immigration authorities in detaining and deporting immigrants suspected of terrorism-related acts

I’m not sure if Mr. Ng’s arrest was justified literally by this provision, but I’ll but the spirit of it played a part. Law enforcement people have always had a difficult time resisting power abuse, but now it’s much worse.  What ever happened to America, the land of the free and the home of the brave?

Robert Chambers – Preppie Killer / Coke Dealer

August 12, 2008

CNN reports on the latest trouble for Robert Chambers. He was arrested last year for selling cocaine to a police officer, sentencing is this week. Back in 1986, he was practically a household name when he strangled Jennifer Levin in Central Park. His defense was based in part upon the claim that they’d engaged in consensual rough sex and she ended up dead. The autopsy report, however, didn’t lend credibility to the story. According to it, she had bruises and bite marks on her body. But, isn’t that what you get from rough sex? Why hasn’t he killed again? It makes me wonder if perhaps he was telling the truth.

News Chomp has a number of photos of Chambers and his new girlfriend. She doesn’t seem to have any bruises on her neck.

Wikipedia has a very unflattering description of Robert. There’s quite a bit of background, though, which made me wonder even more. As a kid, he couldn’t get along in school. He was thrown out of university for theft. He committed petty crimes and got into drugs and alcohol. Later in prison, same thing, he just couldn’t get along. He actually ended up doing his entire 15-year sentence, for getting in so much trouble on the inside. Once released, he went back to the drugs and alcohol.

To me, he doesn’t seem like a killer. He seems like an addict who’s never learned how to get along in society. What do you do with a guy like that? I don’t know. I don’t have an answer for that any more than I do for my claim that there are too many guns in the society.

Some of my friends accuse me of being too compassionate towards criminals. In this particular case I am compassionate because this guy is an alcoholic and drug addict who is going to do more time now for selling coke and resisting arrest than he did for killing somebody. Let me put it this way. Don’t you think Robert Chambers is in a different category than Michael Rodriguez and George Rivas who made up part of the Texas Seven? I certainly do.

Yet, despite my compassion for Robert, I stand with the family of the slain Jennifer Levin and I applaud their efforts on behalf of victims.

Ellen Levin became an activist for victims’ rights, helping to secure the passage of 13 pieces of legislation

Neil Diamond – The Marathon Man

August 12, 2008

The New York Times has an interesting story about pop legend Neil Diamond. Apparently, he’s doing pretty well these days.

Always a strong concert draw, he has been making more money on the road than ever before, grossing $168 million over his last three tours, according to Billboard.

I feel like I grew up with his music, the early hits in the 60s and 70s are imbedded in my brain forever, but at the mention of his name I think of the following unforgettable scene from Pulp Fiction. You know the one. Uma Thurman is so great. John Travolta is at his best during those three scenes in the bathroom: “You see, this is a moral test of one’s self, whether or not you can maintain loyalty, because being loyal is very important.”

 

Obama’s Birth Certificate

August 11, 2008

The blog Politics Coast to Coast with the LA. Times, has a good story about the question of citizenship. Naturally in the savagery of a hotly contested presidential race, anything and everything will come up.  Earlier on, apparently, John McCain’s having been born in the Panama Canal Zone was questioned. Throughout the campaign there’ve been a number of attempts to hurt Barack Obama using his unusual ancestry against him.

Fight the Smears has used the simple and minimalist approach. One unusual thing I got a kick out of  is at the bottom of their page.  It says, “Powered by Truth.” Sounds more like some of our conservative friends, doesn’t it?

The conservative blog Texas Darlin are the ones really trying to stir up the dirt. To me it sounds like more desperate straw-clutching by the McCain folks, but it is worrying. This kind of thing could take on a life of its own and do damage.  I only hope I’m not contributing to it.

What’s your opinion? We’d like to know.