Thursday Open Thread

Your turn. Here's an open thread, all topics welcome.

< Rana Sentencing: Judge Rejects Terror Enhancement | Chicago to Pay $32 Million Settlement in Police Misconduct Claims >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    Defense attorneys delay locating victim's (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by caseyOR on Thu Jan 17, 2013 at 06:17:41 PM EST

    This is a big story here today. A 17 year old boy, Parish Bennette, who was charged with the murder of his girlfriend, accepted a plea deal that sends him to prison for 18 years on a charge of first degree manslaughter. The victim's family, who was not consulted about the plea deal and found out by chance, is angry about the deal. They believe Bennette murdered their girl and should be punished for first degree murder.

    The real shock in court today was the admission by the defense attorneys that the reason it took four months for Bennette to tell police where he had dumped the girl's body was that his attorneys told him to keep quiet about the location of the body.

    The girl's family, and many other people, are outraged that the defense put the girl's family through those four months of agony. The family organized search parties and combed the area where the body was thought to be for that entire four months.

    What I don't understand is why the defense attorneys kept that information quiet for those four months. It must be a defense strategy, but what would the goal be?

    Today in court the defense attorney apologized to the girl's family for the extended pain his decision caused them. The family rejected his apology.

    TSA ending its contract with Rapiscan (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by shoephone on Fri Jan 18, 2013 at 02:31:43 AM EST
    The TSA is replacing the controversial scanning machines with new ones from L-3 Communications.

    The Rapiscan scanner uses low-level X-rays to create what looks like a naked image of screened passengers to target weapons hidden under the clothes.

    A second type of TSA scanner, built by L-3 Communications Holdings, uses radio waves and shows hidden objects on an avatar images on a screen -- not on an image of a passenger.

    TSA gave Rapiscan until June 2013 to come up with a software upgrade to prevent the scanner from projecting the naked image. TSA officials said Rapiscan won't be able to meet that deadline.

    Poor Michael Chertoff. He'll have to make his billion$ hawking some other company's creepy product. But...how do we know the L-3 scanner won't be found have radiowave issues as well...? When it comes to the TSA and DHS, let's just say I will wait for further information from other sources before drawing conclusions.

    So that TSA woman (none / 0) (#9)
    by brodie on Fri Jan 18, 2013 at 07:03:16 AM EST
    at LAX/United I was grumbling to as I was about to enter the scanning machine -- "Oh boy, more x-rays" -- was right.  Those were in fact radio waves.  I thought she'd been misinformed or was just feeding me some soft propaganda.

    A definite improvement by the looks of it, allegedly comparable to radio waves from cell phones.

    This kinda frequent flyer in recent times just hopes all the accumulated x-ray scatter machine exposure over the past year is medically trivial, as they claimed. I'm still skeptical.  But I always preferred that risk to some dude putting his paws on my sensitive areas.  Plus I was never sure about how I would react -- threaten to deck the dude or skip the threat and just go straight to the physical violence.


    It's all radio waves, i.e., electro-magnetic ... (none / 0) (#11)
    by unitron on Fri Jan 18, 2013 at 10:46:19 AM EST

    X-rays are a sub-set way up there in frequency, which means way down there in wavelength.

    What EM does to you depends on field strength, duration, and wavelength/frequency.

    As frequency goes up, wavelength goes down, and vice versa.

    As frequency increases, you go from infrared to visible light to ultraviolet to X-radiation to gamma rays.

    Stuff like radio and television and wi-fi and cell phones and all that are way down below infrared, with microwaves in between.


    Cuts to domestic and social insurance (5.00 / 2) (#10)
    by MO Blue on Fri Jan 18, 2013 at 09:52:42 AM EST
    programs needed to help subsidize corporate fraud.

    As if more evidence was needed that Wall Street has rigged the game in its favor, the IRS is going to allow the banks that engaged in a massive nationwide program of mortgage fraud to write off their settlement:

    Consumer advocates have complained that U.S. mortgage lenders are getting off easy in a deal to settle charges that they wrongfully foreclosed on many homeowners.

    Now it turns out the deal is even sweeter for the lenders than it appears: Taxpayers will subsidize them for the money they're ponying up.

    The Internal Revenue Service regards the lenders' compensation to homeowners as a cost incurred in the course of doing business. Result: It's fully tax-deductible. link

    Where'd I leave that pitchfork?... (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by unitron on Fri Jan 18, 2013 at 10:52:08 AM EST
    ...Anybody gotta spare torch?

    It's a concert night... (none / 0) (#15)
    by kdog on Fri Jan 18, 2013 at 11:07:21 AM EST
    so I've got three torches burning a hole in my pocket, begging for a spark.  Unlike banksters I like sharing the wealth;)

    Funny...If I rob a bank, can I write off the 25-Life sentence as a business expense and get back to robbing banks?


    I don't own a tumbril, (none / 0) (#17)
    by Zorba on Fri Jan 18, 2013 at 12:06:55 PM EST
    but I do have a hay wagon that could be used in a pinch.
    I can also start encoding some names into my knitting.
    (Kidding!  Kidding!  I would never advocate for anyone to receive the "ultimate penalty.")

    New armed school guard leaves gun (5.00 / 3) (#23)
    by Anne on Fri Jan 18, 2013 at 02:04:01 PM EST
    in school bathroom...I wish I was making that up:

       A prosecutor in Lapeer, Michigan says, "No harm, no foul," after a charter school took the National Rifle Association's (NRA) advice and hired a armed security guard who promptly left his handgun unattended in a student bathroom.

        Chatfield School co-directors Matt Young and Bill Kraly announced last week that they had hired retired Lapeer County Sheriff's Dept. firearms instructor Clark Arnold as a security guard in response to the December mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

        "It's a tremendous asset to the safety of our students," Young told WNEM in a report that aired on Tuesday.

    But by Wednesday, the school had admitted to The Flint Journal that the retired firearms instructor had made a "made a breach in security protocol" and left his unloaded handgun unattended in the school restroom "for a few moments."


    But, hey - no problem - the gun wasn't loaded...so, not only could it not have harmed a student, but it wouldn't have been much use against an armed intruder, either.

    ::rolling eyes::

    "No harm, no foul" ?!? (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by Yman on Fri Jan 18, 2013 at 02:38:31 PM EST

    Olus, I'm not buying ... (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by Yman on Fri Jan 18, 2013 at 02:41:28 PM EST
    ... the "unloaded" story.  Why would a school hire an armed security guard and former firearms instructor to walk around with an unloaded gun?

    He was a pitcher in Little League, (none / 0) (#29)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Fri Jan 18, 2013 at 03:38:00 PM EST
    he plan was to throw it at a bad guy.

    Or... (5.00 / 1) (#30)
    by ScottW714 on Fri Jan 18, 2013 at 03:47:06 PM EST
    ...a student takes it and at some future time figures out he can actually buy bullets.

    Which proves (5.00 / 3) (#45)
    by jbindc on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 09:45:55 AM EST
    That if someone trained in firearms and firearms safety can make this kind of mistake, what should we expect from some random Joe?

    Two Feel Good Stories for the Weekend (5.00 / 2) (#31)
    by ScottW714 on Fri Jan 18, 2013 at 04:02:56 PM EST
    The first is this 3 legged dog caught on camera stealing a dog roll from a grocery store.  The video had me cracking up.
    Viva la Canine Anarchy !!!

    The other story is of a man who outsourced his job to someone in China so he could watch cat videos and visit Ebay at work.  Paid the outsoursee $50k, company paid him hundreds of thousands.  Got great reviews and was only discovered when security wondered why someone from China was logging in every day. My hero, the man who profited from outsourcing his own job.

    2nd amendment to protect slavery? (5.00 / 1) (#32)
    by observed on Fri Jan 18, 2013 at 04:55:34 PM EST
    This is a fascinating read.
    The thesis of the article discussed there is that the "well-regulated" militias of the 2nd amendment were in fact the slave patrols of Southern States.

    Very interesting indeed. (5.00 / 1) (#33)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Fri Jan 18, 2013 at 05:28:58 PM EST
    Wiki mentions it as well:
    Experience in America prior to the U.S. Constitution
    Ideals that helped to inspire the Second Amendment in part are symbolized by the minutemen.[25]

    In no particular order, early American settlers viewed the right to arms and/or the right to bear arms and/or state militias as important for one or more of these purposes:[26][27][28][29][30][31][32][33]

        enabling the people to organize a militia system.
        participating in law enforcement;
        deterring tyrannical government;[34]
        repelling invasion;
        suppressing insurrection, allegedly including slave revolts;[35]
        facilitating a natural right of self-defense;

    Which of these considerations were thought of as most important and ultimately found expression in the Second Amendment is disputed. Some of these purposes were explicitly mentioned in early state constitutions; for example, the Pennsylvania Constitution of 1776 asserted that, "the people have a right to bear arms for the defence of themselves and the state".[36]

    Justice Stevens noted ... (none / 0) (#36)
    by Yman on Fri Jan 18, 2013 at 07:06:54 PM EST
    ... that, the Second Amendment was notable for the "omission of any statement of purpose related to the right to use firearms for hunting or personal self-defense" which was present in the Declarations of Rights of Pennsylvania and Vermont.

    Matt Yglesias, who I admit I think is kind of a (5.00 / 1) (#35)
    by caseyOR on Fri Jan 18, 2013 at 06:59:22 PM EST
    dope, explains in this Slate article why those who want to cut and/or eliminate Social Security are right. And he is really talking about Democrats here. Democrats who resent old people on SS and want to cut benefits.

    It boils down to a belief that greedy old people who don't work do not contribute to the economy.

    The important thing to note about this hatred is that it's not unjustified. The haters aren't wrong. I loved both of my grandmothers, but they spent a lot of years just sitting around consuming goods and services while producing nothing of economic value. Retired people don't boost The Economy. Trimming their cost of living adjustments does. The more you trim, the more boost you get. Doing the reverse of Social Security and saying that everyone over the age of 65 has to write a check to the government or be turned into Soylent Green would boost The Economy even more.

    The answer, according to Yglesias, is to make the old ones work and write checks to the government. Cut their benefits and make 'em work (who thinks they will be able to find jobs?) and we will all see a big boost to the Economy.

    Like I said, I think he is a dope. Sadly for the rest of us, Yglesisas is what passes for a liberal commentator these days.

    Kind of a dope? (5.00 / 2) (#37)
    by Zorba on Fri Jan 18, 2013 at 07:15:15 PM EST
    KIND of a dope?  Was he serious, or being snarky and writing an article that could have easily been published in The Onion???
    If he was being at all serious, he totally ignores all the money that his grandparents paid into the system, expecting that there would be something for them when they retired.
    He also ignores all the physically demanding jobs out there that would be difficult, nay, even impossible, for elderly people to perform.
    And he also ignores the fact that, if older people kept on working ad infinitum (assuming they weren't laid off because long-time workers tend to make a higher salary than new workers), there would be fewer jobs for the younger workers to move into.
    Please tell me he was writing a totally sarcastic piece.  Because if not, he is a total d0uche canoe.

    Unless I have completely lost any (5.00 / 1) (#40)
    by caseyOR on Fri Jan 18, 2013 at 08:31:59 PM EST
    ability to recognize sarcasm and snark, and I don't think I have, I would have to say that Yglesias was very serious.

    He fancies himself one of Very Serious People. Which, IMO, makes him a scourge on the public discourse.


    Well, then (5.00 / 1) (#44)
    by Zorba on Fri Jan 18, 2013 at 11:01:49 PM EST
    he is, indeed, a total d0uche canoe.

    Speaking of producing nothing of value... (5.00 / 4) (#38)
    by Mr Natural on Fri Jan 18, 2013 at 07:21:21 PM EST
    ... Yglesias should try reading his own prattlings.

    That would assume (5.00 / 2) (#39)
    by Zorba on Fri Jan 18, 2013 at 07:41:52 PM EST
    that he could actually read, with anything approaching comprehension.   ;-)

    Wow. (5.00 / 1) (#41)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Fri Jan 18, 2013 at 08:57:35 PM EST
    I don't know quite where to begin. For starters, I think you're being far too charitable in describing Matt Yglesias as "kind of a dope." I've long felt that he personifies everything that's wrong about the Beltway media horse. He's an insufferable little phuquing snot.

    I'd like to invite Matt to L.A., where I'd meet him and then drive him up to my mother's house in Pasadena, whereupon I'd tie his arms firmly behind him and hoist him upright into the air from the garage rafters, while my mother, aunt and the day residents of the nearby St. Rita's Senior Center take turns treating him like a piñata.


    From our "Lipstick on a Pig" file: (none / 0) (#1)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Thu Jan 17, 2013 at 05:21:59 PM EST
    American Airlines, my most unfavorite air carrier EVAH!, unveiled a new logo and livery for its aircraft today, to coincide with the company's expected emergence from bankruptcy this year.

    I don't care if they repaint their entire fleet to resemble prominent works of art from The Louvre -- I'm still not ever setting foot in one of their planes, as long as I have any say in the matter.

    Yeah, and I think I prefer (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by brodie on Thu Jan 17, 2013 at 08:05:14 PM EST
    sitting on a seat which actually stays bolted to the cabin floor.

    Gonna stick with United, thank you -- provided I can avoid one of their newfangled Dreamliner® 787s, the ones where you get smoke inside the cabin but not from cigarettes.  Funny, I was on a plane coupla nights ago, the day the news was breaking about JAL suspending their 787 fleet for maintenance/battery issues, and United was still running their pre-flight proud propaganda video about having purchased dozens of these turkeys for their fleet.

    Yet UAL tends to get me there in one piece and on time, even if I must pay a little extra for their Economy Plus® seats, the ones where you actually have room for the legs and don't end up with deep vein thrombosis after a 3 hour flight.


    When traveling to the west coast, ... (none / 0) (#7)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Thu Jan 17, 2013 at 09:25:48 PM EST
    ... I prefer Hawaiian Airlines. But for destinations beyond there, I fly United.

    The one thing that I've found disconcerting about United's service out here, though, has been their decision since the Continental merger on flights between here and the west coast to use a lot more B-737ER aircraft, which have narrower seats and aisles than do widebodies such as 767s, 777s, and A-330s (Airbus).

    Now, I don't mind flying on a 737 for a one- or two-hour flight. But for five-plus hours, a 737 becomes an awfully long plane ride.

    I was in San Francisco last October awaiting my flight home on a United 737, when I heard this woman behind me say, "Oh, my God, no!" When I asked her what was wrong, she said while pointing toward the gate window that she just got off that very same aircraft only 20 minutes earlier, on a flight from Washington-Dulles. She disembarked, and dutifully went to check the boards for her connecting flight to HNL, only to be steered back to the very same gate.

    Like her, I could not fathom spending 11 hours on a 737, flying from Washington, D.C. to Honolulu. We've gotten spoiled for years out here, because most airlines flew widebodies exclusively. Nowadays, a lot more cost-conscious, United's actually increasing the number of flights between here and California, but is using narrow-body 737s and 757s for the additional service. Ugh.


    American is big and bad in Miami too. (none / 0) (#2)
    by fishcamp on Thu Jan 17, 2013 at 05:48:31 PM EST
    They go to Costa Rica several times a day and the other airlines going south from Miami get quite strange.  We have LACSA, TACA, and the ever popular SANSA.

    They're a lousy airline, IMHO. (none / 0) (#5)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Thu Jan 17, 2013 at 06:44:55 PM EST
    Okay, yeah, I hold grudges against corporations.

     Over a decade ago, what should've been a one-stop trip from Honolulu to Philadelphia via Dallas-Fort Worth for the National Conference of State Legislatures convention turned into a 30-hour ordeal for me, with stops in San Francisco, Chicago-ORD and Baltimore -- culminating in a taxi ride from BWI to the Greyhound terminal in downtown Baltimore and a bus ride to downtown Philly, all at my own additional expense.

    On the return, they cancelled my flight from PHL to DFW and re-routed me again through ORD and LAX, whereupon my evening flight from LAX to HNL was cancelled. Had I not had family in Pasadena, I'd have been stranded overnight in the airport; American officials made no offer to pay for lodging nearby, even when I asked.

    Given that I paid what was then a premium coach fare of over $1,200 for this trip on what turned out to be Hell's national airline, American's rude and unapologetic behavior sealed the deal for me, and I've never flown them again.

    When it comes to customer satisfaction, a good experience is often much appreciated and then quickly forgotten, while a bad experience lingers on in human memory and inevitably goes viral. People who work in the service / hospitality industries, such as hotels and airlines, ought to always remember that.


    BTW Lance is on Oprah tonight. (none / 0) (#3)
    by fishcamp on Thu Jan 17, 2013 at 06:09:41 PM EST

    Joe Paterno Movie (none / 0) (#12)
    by ScottW714 on Fri Jan 18, 2013 at 10:50:39 AM EST
    The Scarface team of director Brian De Palma and Al Pacino are re-teaming for Happy Valley, the working title of a film that will tell the story of Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno.

    Wall Street producer Edward R. Pressman has optioned the bestselling book Paterno by Joe Posnanski. Dave McKenna (American History X and Blow) is making a deal to write the script. The Edward R. Pressman Film Corporation is backing the project.


    I hope this film is better than ... (none / 0) (#20)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Fri Jan 18, 2013 at 01:41:52 PM EST
    ... the last Brian DePalma-helmed effort I saw, "The Black Dahlia." Ostensibly based on on James Ellroy's wonderful but very intricate novel about one of the most infamous cold cases of the 20th century, DePalma ensured that the original victim, Elizabeth Short (aka The Black Dahlia) was now butchered figuratively, in addition to literally.

    I mean, "The Black Dahlia" had everything going for it: a great director; a really great cast with Hillary Swank, Scarlett Johannson, Aaron Eckhart and Josh Hartnett; a chilling real-life plot that just screams "Film noir!" at you, and even a beguiling trailer that invites you on a walk on the wild side across the seedy underbelly of 1940s-era Los Angeles.

    Well, that trailer turned out to be the best part of the whole enterprise. What I saw onscreen that night was a cheesy and sleazy melodrama with subpar performances that inexplicably (but perhaps inevitably) devolved into high camp over the final third of the movie, all of which left me wondering "Why, DePalma? Why?" when I left the theatre that night.


    This is typical of De Palma, (none / 0) (#22)
    by shoephone on Fri Jan 18, 2013 at 01:53:22 PM EST
    whom I consider to be one of the masters of exploitation. And Pacino became a shameless ham two decades ago.

    Actually, ... (none / 0) (#34)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Fri Jan 18, 2013 at 06:05:47 PM EST
    "Say hello to my little friend!"

    ... that was almost three decades ago! "Scarface" was first released in 1984. I was in college, and the movie was all the rage back then.

    And after I saw it, I knew what Ricky Ricardo would've been like had he been a major drug kingpin on "I Love Lucy," instead of just a bandleader.


    Pacino did a fine portrayal (none / 0) (#42)
    by oculus on Fri Jan 18, 2013 at 09:02:23 PM EST
    of Shylock. I thought he would chew up the scenery but he surprised me v

    LINK (none / 0) (#13)
    by ScottW714 on Fri Jan 18, 2013 at 10:51:52 AM EST
    Why guns are harmful to safety of kids (none / 0) (#16)
    by Politalkix on Fri Jan 18, 2013 at 11:58:47 AM EST
    Such intrigue at the Bolshoi! (none / 0) (#18)
    by shoephone on Fri Jan 18, 2013 at 01:08:48 PM EST
    The Bolshoi's artistic director, Sergi Filin, had acid thrown in his face last night. The suspected cause? Infighting and bitterness among the dancers. He has third degree burns and may lose his eyesight.

    The theatre's executive director, Anatoly Iksanov, told Russian television that Mr Filin was "uncompromising" in his management style.

    "If he thought a performer was unready to play a certain role, or incapable of it, he would not let the performer do it," he said.

    Tensions at the Bolshoi over its artistic programme have been widely reported in Russian media.

    In 2011 two ballet stars - Natalia Osipova and Ivan Vasiliev - resigned in protest at the Bolshoi's new repertoire.

    I guess the Cold War had it purposes: in the old days, an unhappy Bolshoi dancer could just pay someone to get them snuck onto a plane bound for the U.S. and American Ballet Theater.

    Eeeeek! (5.00 / 1) (#27)
    by Zorba on Fri Jan 18, 2013 at 03:25:15 PM EST
    How horrible!
    I don't care whether he was a jerk or not.  No matter.  Acid thrown in your face?  Just horrible, absolutely horrible.  

    I thought this only happened (none / 0) (#43)
    by oculus on Fri Jan 18, 2013 at 09:04:52 PM EST
    to females who appeared in public sans hijab. .

    What a horrific thing to do to someone! (none / 0) (#21)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Fri Jan 18, 2013 at 01:51:43 PM EST
    And over what -- ballet? Poetic justice demands that the dancer(s) responsible for this should pay by having both their feet broken with a sledgehammer.

    Obama campaign to become non profit org (none / 0) (#19)
    by Politalkix on Fri Jan 18, 2013 at 01:37:14 PM EST
    PomPom.org? (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by nycstray on Fri Jan 18, 2013 at 02:46:48 PM EST
    Do not know (none / 0) (#46)
    by Politalkix on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 09:58:27 AM EST
    but if someone is looking for a Kvetching-Is-My-Life.org kind of non profit org, they may be disappointed.

    You must have me confused (none / 0) (#47)
    by nycstray on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 12:55:15 PM EST
    with someone else re:Kvetching-Is-My-Life.org . . .

    So you don't know if the site is just to promote what O wants or if it will be more activist and not always agree with him . . . ?


    I think it says right there in the first paragraph (5.00 / 1) (#49)
    by sj on Mon Jan 21, 2013 at 09:45:31 AM EST
    The former Obama campaign will become a non-profit that will advocate for the president's policies, the first such transition for a major political organization
    Emphasis mine.

    So, yay.  All that campaign know-how now focused on the Grand Bargain.  I can hardly wait.


    More on the new organization (5.00 / 1) (#50)
    by MO Blue on Mon Jan 21, 2013 at 10:18:13 AM EST
    CNN has confirmed that Obama for America will transform into a non-profit, tax-exempt group, that will attempt to leverage the re-election campaign's powerful grassroots organization and social media operation, as well as its rich voter database and vast email distribution list, to build up public support for the president as he pushes for agreements over the debt ceiling and the federal budget, gun control legislation, immigration reform, and other objectives.
    Jim Messina, who steered the 2012 Obama re-election campaign, will serve as national chairman of the new group, as first reported earlier this month.

    Not everyone is sure that the agenda will depend on what volunteers want.

    Adam Green of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a left-leaning group which seeks to motivate grassroots support for political causes, said the re-formed OFA could be a positive development.

    "If the president uses the gun fight as a model, proposes bold policies that fight corporate interests, and rallies the public behind those policies through OFA, he will be very successful," Green said. "If he cuts a bad deal with corporate interests and asks the grassroots to ratify that bad deal, the power of his email list will shrivel as people look for other places to put their activism."



    It will be based on policy activism (none / 0) (#48)
    by Politalkix on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 02:04:17 PM EST
    The article I linked also mentioned that. The way the organization will look in the future will depend on what volunteers want. Inputs are constantly sought. Gun violence and immigration legislation as well as the fiscal fight are important issues right now.

    Sorry (5.00 / 2) (#28)
    by Zorba on Fri Jan 18, 2013 at 03:30:45 PM EST
    "OFA," whether it's "Obama for America" or "Organizing for America" or whatever, they ain't getting a dime from me.