20 Sep 2014
Baloo the bear, Leo the lion, and Shere Khan the tiger were found locked in a basement undernourished and abused. The trio was originally owned by a drug dealer who didn’t properly care for them, leading to neglect and poor health. In 2001, Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary, a nonprofit that cares for animals in need, came to the rescue, and took them to Locust Grove, Georgia, where they were treated for injuries. They could have been separated but since at the moment of the rescue they were already friends, the sanctuary decided to keep them together. The abuse they suffered together as babies has bonded them into a loving brotherhood that does not recognize species.
Illinois judge rules police entitled to Swat raid over parody Twitter account -- Swat team burst into Peoria house looking for source of parody Twitter account that had upset town’s mayor
The police hadn’t even come for him. When four fully-armed officers of a Swat team burst into Jacob Elliott’s house in Peoria, Illinois in April they were looking for the source of a parody Twitter feed that had upset the town’s mayor by poking fun at him.
It transpired that one of Elliott’s housemates, Jon Daniel, had created the fake Twitter account, @peoriamayor, and so incensed the real-life official, Jim Ardis, with his make-believe account of drug binges and sex orgies that the police were dispatched. Elliott was just a bystander in the affair, but that didn’t stop the Swat team searching his bedroom, looking under his pillow and in a closet where they discovered a bag of marijuana and dope-smoking paraphernalia.
Elliott now faces charges of felony marijuana possession. He has also become the subject of one of the more paradoxical – if not parody – questions in American jurisprudence: can a citizen be prosecuted for dope possession when the police were raiding his home looking for a fake Twitter account?
A Peoria judge this week ruled that the police were entitled to raid the house on North University Street on 15 April under the town’s “false personation” law which makes it illegal to pass yourself off as a public official. Judge Thomas Keith found that police had probable cause to believe they would find materials relevant to the Twitter feed such as computers or flash drives used to create it.
Daniel created the social media feed when he was bored one night and thought he would amuse himself and a handful of friends by deriding the mayor. In a stream of fake comments in 140 characters, he portrayed Ardis as a Tequila-sodden, sex- and drug-addicted oaf. “Im bout to climb the civic center and do some lines on the roof who’s in,” one tweet said.
Daniel was never charged as the local prosecutor decided that “false personation” could only be committed in the flesh rather than through cyberspace. But his housemate, Elliott, still has the marijuana rap hanging over him and this week’s court ruling means that his attempt to have his charges dismissed on grounds that the original police raid was mistaken has failed.
Meanwhile, Daniel has turned the law back against the authorities in Peoria, a town with a population of 120,000. With the help of the ACLU he has filed a lawsuit against the town for wrongful arrest.
“You can’t do terrorist type of things or threaten people. But a simple joke, a parody, mocking somebody, that’s obviously not illegal,” he told Associated Press.
19 Sep 2014
The Federal Bureau of Investigation announced this week that it will start reporting crimes of animal cruelty as a separate offense under its uniform reporting system, leading the way for more comprehensive statistics on animal abuse.
Previously, crimes against animals were recorded under a generic “all other offense” category in the Uniform Crime Report, widely considered the most comprehensive source of crime statistics in the United States. Starting next year, animal cruelty would be reported as a distinct category, along with major offenses like murder, assault and arson crimes.
Under the changes, animal cruelty would be considered a crime against society and a “Type A” offense with four categories: simple/gross neglect, intentional abuse and torture, organized abuse (such as dog and cock fighting) and animal sexual abuse.
According to the FBI, the official definition of animal cruelty will be:
Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly taking an action that mistreats or kills any animal without just cause, such as torturing, tormenting, mutilation, maiming, poisoning, or abandonment. Included are instances of duty to provide care, e.g., shelter, food, water, care if sick or injured; transporting or confining an animal in a manner likely to cause injury or death; causing an animal to fight with another; inflicting excessive or repeated unnecessary pain or suffering, e.g., uses objects to beat or injure an animal. This definition does not include proper maintenance of animals for show or sport; use of animals for food, lawful hunting, fishing or trapping.
Animal rights groups had been lobbying for the change for more than a decade, according to the Animal Welfare Institute. The FBI adopted the changes after that group and the National Sheriff’s Association proposed animal cruelty be listed as a separate offense in the National Incident Based Reporting System, from which the Uniform Crime Report is generated, according to Stephen G. Fischer, an FBI spokesman.
New Jersey’s animal welfare community welcomed the news.
Victor “Buddy” Amato, chief law enforcement officer for the Monmouth County SPCA, said his agency has been providing statistics to the FBI for years, which were put to use for internal analyses.
“(Now) they’re going to the next level, which is great,” Amato said. “People are taking animal cruelty more and more seriously. It’s a violent crime, and if it goes unchecked, it leads to bigger things.”
Kepler Chevreux, a French investment bank, has produced a fascinating analysis that has dramatic implications for the global oil industry. The investment bank estimates that $100 billion invested in either wind energy or solar energy – and deployed as energy for light and commercial vehicles – will produce significantly more energy than that same $100 billion invested in oil.
The implications, needless to say, are dramatic. It would signal the end of Big Oil, and the demise of an industry that has dominated the global economy and geo-politics, for the last few decades. And the need for it to reshape its business model around renewables, as we discuss here.
“If we are right, the implications would be momentous,” writes Kepler Chevreux analyst Mark Lewis.
“It would mean that the oil industry faces the risk of stranded assets not only under a scenario of falling oil prices brought about by the structurally lower demand entailed by a future tightening of climate policy, but also under a scenario of rising oil prices brought about by increasingly constrained supply. “
The main argument from Lewis is that oil prices could stay so low that it is no longer economic to bring in high cost new oil fields. But even if the oil price does rise, it will not be able to compete with renewables such as solar and wind.
The most striking conclusion is that by using wind or solar to charge electric vehicles, more energy is produced per dollar invested than with oil – in the case of onshore wind, it is four times as much energy for the same amount of money.
So how does Lewis produce his numbers?
He has developed a new concept of the energy return on capital invested (EROCI) for a potential outlay today of $US100bn. He asks how much energy would $US100bn purchase if invested in oil on the one hand, or in solar PV and wind energy on the other?
Table 1 above shows our calculations for the amount of gross and net energy that can be obtained from investing $US100bn in 2014 (i.e. based on current economics). In all cases, the calculations are based on a one-off investment with no reinvestment taken into account.
He defines gross energy as the amount of primary energy available before it is converted into useful energy in final consumption. Net energy, however, is the amount of energy available for final consumption after taking into account energy conversion and energy transmission losses. This includes the energy available for powering oil-fired cars and electric vehicles.
For oil, he has assumed investment opportunities in new projects with full breakeven costs (all- in capital costs, operating costs, and any royalties payable) of $US75/bbl and $US100/bbl, as these cover breakeven cost levels in the upper quartile of the industry cost curve and will account for a very significant share of the new investment opportunities. He assumes two different potential lifetimes for new oil projects (ten and 20 years), as some projects (e.g. deep-water) have shorter lifetimes than others (e.g. conventional onshore and oil sands).
For renewables, he assumes capital costs of $US3bn/GW for solar PV (Ed: seems high), $US1.5bn for offshore wind, and $US4.5bn/GW for offshore wind. He assumes annual load factors of 13% for solar, 25% for onshore wind, and 40% for offshore wind. All renewables investments are assumed to have project lifetimes of 20 years. (ED: In Australia, solar has a load factor of 18 per cent, wind is more than 35 per cent).
As table 1 shows, the gross energy of oil is higher than all the renewable sources over a 10 year period. But over 20 years, the relative economics of renewables improve, and onshore wind actually yields slightly more gross energy annually over 20 years than oil at a price of $US75/bbl and nearly 40 per cent more than oil at $US100/bbl (117TWh versus 85TWh).
However, if the analysis takes into account net energy yield, and the growing take-up of electric vehicles, then the picture is markedly different.
Internal combustion engines lose 75-80 per cent of the energy value of the oil input, while for EVs, converting electrical energy into battery-stored chemical energy and then back into electrical energy loses 25- 30 per cent of the original power input.
Lewis has therefore assumed a net energy yield from oil of 25%, and a net energy yield from renewable electricity for use in EVs of 70%. He has also adjusted for transmission losses – 2.5% transmission losses for solar PV, 5% for onshore wind, and 7.5% for offshore wind.
This means that the net energy yield for EVs powered by solar PV is here assumed to be 67.5%, for EVs powered by onshore wind 65%, and for EVs powered by offshore wind 62.5%. He assumes 10% capital-cost reduction in real terms by 2035 versus 2020 for wind, and for solar PV and offshore wind cost reductions of 15% to 2020 and a further 15% to 2035.
Should the National Football League suspend or ban any player caught assaulting a wife or girlfriend? That seems to be the conventional wisdom since video emerged of running back Ray Rice knocking his wife unconscious in an elevator, even as reports surface that many more NFL players have domestic-abuse records.
While I have no particular objection to a suspension of any length for such players, the public focus on NFL policy seems strange and misplaced to me. Despite my general preference for reducing the prison population, an extremely strong person rendering a much smaller, weaker person unconscious with his fists, as Rice did, is a situation where prison is particularly appropriate. More generally, clear evidence of domestic abuse is something that ought to result inlegal sanction. Employers aren't a good stand in for prosecutors, juries, and judges.
Should ex-convicts who abused their partners be denied employment forever? I think not. Our notion should be that they've paid their debt to society in prison. Pressure on the NFL to take a harder line against domestic abuse comes in the context of a society where the crime isn't adequately punished, so I totally understand it. Observing anti-NFL rhetoric, you'd nevertheless get the impression that other employers monitor and sanction domestic abuse incidents by employees. While I have nothing against pressuring the NFL to go beyond what the typical employer does, I fear that vilifying the league has the effect of misleading the public into a belief that it is out of step with general norms on this issue. Domestic violence is less common among NFL players than the general population.
And there is another American profession that has a significantly more alarming problem with domestic abuse. I'd urge everyone who believes in zero tolerance for NFL employees caught beating their wives or girlfriends to direct as much attention—or ideally, even more attention—at police officers who assault their partners. Several studies have found that the romantic partners of police officers suffer domestic abuse at rates significantly higher than the general population. And while all partner abuse is unacceptable, it is especially problematic when domestic abusers are literally the people that battered and abused women are supposed to call for help.
If there's any job that domestic abuse should disqualify a person from holding, isn't it the one job that gives you a lethal weapon, trains you to stalk people without their noticing, and relies on your judgment and discretion to protect the abused against domestic abusers?
The opprobrium heaped on the NFL for failing to suspend or terminate domestic abusers, and the virtual absence of similar pressure directed at police departments, leads me to believe that many people don't know the extent of domestic abuse among officers. This is somewhat surprising, since a country shocked by Ray Rice's actions ought to be even more horrified by the most egregious examples of domestic abuse among police officers. Their stories end in death.
There's the recently retired 30-year veteran police officer who shot his wife and then himself in Colorado Springs earlier this summer. There's Tacoma Police Chief David Brame, who perpetrated another murder-suicide in April. (Update: it's in fact the tenth anniversary of this crime, which I missed in the ABC story.) Also in April, an Indiana news station reported on "Sgt. Ryan Anders, a narcotics officer," who "broke into his ex-wife's home and fatally shot her. He then turned the gun on himself." In February, "Dallas police confirmed ... that a Crandall police officer shot and killed his wife before killing himself." Last year, a Nevada police officer killed his wife, his son, and then himself. And Joshua Boren, a Utah police officer, "killed his wife, their two children, his mother-in-law and then himself" after receiving "text messages ... hours earlier threatening to leave him and take their kids and confronting him for raping her." That isn't an exhaustive survey, just a quick roundup of recent stories gleaned from the first couple pages of Google results. And statistics about "blue" domestic abuse are shocking in their own way.
On Friday, May 9, 2014, just after 5:30am in Killeen, Texas, Marvin Louis Guy was the target of a no knock raid.
The officers were looking for drugs, yet none were found in the home. There was some questionable paraphernalia, but nothing indicative of drug dealing- or anything damning enough for a reasonable person to feel the need to take an officers life.
Unfortunately the danger of no-knock raids is real. just ask the parents of baby Bou or the family of Detective Dinwiddie.
Detective Dinwiddie was one of the SWAT officers who broke into Guy’s house on May 9th, based on a seemingly bogus informant tip off about drugs being dealt from the home.
Likely alarmed by the men climbing through his windows at 5:30 in the morning, Guy and his wife sought to protect themselves and their property and fired on the intruders- in self defense.
Dinwiddie, along with three other officers were shot while attempting to breach the windows to the home, according to the department’s press release.
“The TRU was beginning to breach the window when the 49 year old male inside, opened fire striking four officers.”
Since the shooting occurred during the break in, a reasonable person would assume they had not yet identified themselves as police officers. How on earth is this not self defense?
Prosecutors are now seeking the death penalty against Guy. He is charged with capital murder in Dinwiddie’s death, as well as three counts of attempted capital murder for firing on the other officers during the shootout, injuring one other officer. Body armor protected others who were hit.
This announcement, given by the prosecutor in open court, comes one day after Governor Rick Perry presented Dinwiddie’s family with the Star of Texas award. This award is given out each year to police and first responders killed or injured in the line of duty, the Killeen Daily Herald reported.
Let’s flash back to December, in Texas, for a moment.
On December 19, also just before 6am, Burleson County Sgt. Adam Sowders, led a team in a no-knock marijuana raid on Henry Goedrich Magee’s mobile home in Somerville.
Also startled by these intruders, Magee opened fire, fearing for the safety of himself and his then pregnant girlfriend.
Sowders was unfortunately killed among the chaos.
Read more at http://thefreethoughtproject.com/prosecutor-seeking-death-penalty-officer-killed-knock-raid/
The flu took the lives of more than 100 children in the U.S. last flu season, and most of those kids didn’t get a flu shot.
That’s according to a new report by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, aimed to encourage Americans to get vaccinated now. The flu kills up to approximately 36,000 people each year, but less than half of the population gets an annual flu shot. That’s something the CDC wants to change.
“Flu hit young and middle-aged adults hard last year and just over 100 children died,” Dr. William Schaffner of Vanderbilt University told NBC News. “There is simply no reason to take the risk.”
Ninety percent of the children who died did not receive flu shot, according to the CDC’s Director Dr. Tom Frieden. He and other health officials gathered this week at a briefing sponsored by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases to discuss plans for the 2014-15 flu season.
The CDC recommends everyone 6 months and older get the flu shot. So far this year, just a third of young and middle-aged adults have taken the plunge.
Whatever the reason — fear of needles, worry that the vaccine can actually give you the flu or indifference — far too many people are failing to get the flu shot, and that translates to an uncomfortably large group of children who are at risk to contract the virus.
This year, the CDC will have 150 million doses of the vaccine available to the public. New laws require that insurance cover 100 percent of the cost, negating the out-of-pocket expense. And those with needle phobia can instead opt for a nasal spray or a new “needle-free” method that uses a jet to force the vaccine through the skin.
“Influenza vaccines are safe, plentiful and we have more vaccine options than ever before — at least one is right for everyone,” Schaffner said at the briefing. “People should not wait to get vaccinated if their first choice is not available.”
The CDC is also recommending that children ages 2 to 8 receive the nasal spray vaccine this year, as new evidence suggests this method is more effective for this age group, according to USA Today. Last year, just 55 percent of children ages 5 to 17 got vaccinated.