A data-driven look at the devastating efficacy of a far-right judge-education program

More than 40% of US federal judges have attended Manne seminars, a notionally "bipartisan" educational conference presented by a Florida "Law and Economics" institute whose invited ideological allies explained to judges why pollution is good for minorities (polluted neighborhoods are cheaper and therefore affordable by poor people), unions are bad, monopolies are economically efficient, discrimination in punishment is economically efficient, insider trading is economically efficient, and so on. Read the rest

Bodycam footage of murderer being arrested

Police in the small English town of Burnham publicized bodycam video of an arrest they made earlier this year. Owen Pellow, 42, had called emergency services to report that his ex-partner, Lisa Marie Thornton, hurt herself. But they knew from Pellow's weird, shocked demeanor that he had hurt her and arrested him immediately. It's very creepy and unsettling. I can't quite place why it doesn't trigger apprehensions of intoxication, grief and other things you'd normally presume and I figure that's why it's so disturbing. A human wall of fear, regret, evasion and subsided rage that announces what happened as soon as the door opens.

As PC Ryan Dinham informed Pellow that he was arresting him, Pellow repeatedly asked: 'Can we save her life, can we save her life, can we save her life?'

He asked the officer: 'Is she still alive, can we go up? It is not good.'

And PC Dinham replied: 'It is not good, mate.'

Thorton died from 39 stab wounds. Pellow was convicted of murder in May. Read the rest

WestJet Airlines says no to drugs as Canada prepares to decriminalize cannabis

Last month, the Canadian Armed Forces announced its strict but reasonable policy surrounding the use of cannabis by service personnel. With Canada's decriminalization of cannabis nearly upon us, a lot of companies and organizations that deal with dangerous tasks or complicated hardware are following suit. Earlier this week, one of Canada's most popular air carriers, WestJet released its policy for when their employees will be allowed to use cannabis.

The short version of the rules: If you're a WestJet employee doing anything other than riding a phone for the company's customer service line or working at an airport check-in counter, chances are that you won't be allowed near the stuff.

From the CBC:

Spokesperson Morgan Bell said employees were notified of the changes on Tuesday morning.

She said cannabis is being treated differently than alcohol, which is banned for certain staff members within 12 hours of coming on duty.

Bell said WestJet's list of affected positions would be similar to Air Canada's, which includes flight and cabin crew members, flight dispatchers, aircraft maintenance engineers and station attendants.

The new WestJet policy also includes a prohibition on possession or distribution of cannabis on company property while on duty or attending a company social function.

Air Canada, Canada's flag carrier, has pretty much the same policy on dope, which makes me happy. In almost all instances, 12 hours is long enough for the blood alcohol level of most drinkers to dip back down to safe levels. Despite all the criminal bullshit that we've laden cannabis down with over the years, we still know comparatively little about what it does to a user's reflexes or how long it may continue to have an effect on judgement. Read the rest

Virginia towns' trick-or-treat laws threaten over-12s with jail-time

In Chesapeake, VA, trick-or-treaters over 12 face fines of $25-100 and up to six months in jail (under-12s who trick-or-treat after 8PM face fines of $10-100 and up to 30 days in jail). Read the rest

Something Awful receives legal threat over hotlinked image of Hitler fan

Christopher Sadowski is, his lawyers submit, a most accomplished photographer of... Hitler admirer Heath Campbell? The New York-based shooter is threatening to sue the website Something Awful over a photo of the nazi spotted in its forums unless they pay $6750.

The unauthorized use of my client's work threatens my client's livelihood. While Christopher Sadowski,[sic] does have the right to bring a lawsuit for damages, my client is willing to settle this in an amicable way, out of court and without a lawsuit. I was asked to contact you and see if we can negotiate a settlement and save everyone the stress and costs of going to court.

It turns out, however, that the image isn't actually posted on Something Awful. It's hotlinked from another website, Imgur, which is the image's actual host and the one providing the embedding snippet. It's still there. Sadowski's lawyers, Higbee & Associates, haven't figured it out—or maybe they have, but removing the image isn't the business plan.

Rich Kyanka (pictured above) explains:

This garbage dicked law firm generates nearly $5 million a year by encouraging photographers to sign up with their company, then performing a reverse image search for anything matching their client's submitted photos. An automated system then flags the suspected offending site, spits out a super scary legal threat based off a template, and delivers it to the site owner. Upon receiving the notice of possible legal action, many victims freak out and pay these idiots the stated arbitrary amount of cash, under the looming threat of being taken to court for $150,000.

Read the rest

America's cities sue FCC for handing billions in municipal subsidy to wireless carriers

The FCC has ordered American cities to hand discounted access to public resources for 5G access, and to operate a bureaucracy that rubberstamps applications to use city resources without delay. The FCC prices this subsidy at $2 billion. Read the rest

America's super-concentrated telcoms industry unites to sue California over Net Neutrality law

Competition scholar Tim Wu has described how industries over time become more concentrated and less competitive, as executives move sideways from one giant company to another, creating a web of backchannels that lets the companies unite to pursue their industry-wide goals rather than competing with each other to deliver better service at better prices to their customers. Read the rest

Florida man insists he only drank at stop signs

69-year-old Earle Stevens Jr. drove his car "over and over" into another motorist's vehicle at a McDonald's drive-through lane in Vero Beach, Florida. Police pulled him over, noted the smell of alcohol, and asked him about that open bottle of bourbon in the passenger seat, wrapped in brown paper.

When I asked him where he was drinking he stated, "Stop signs." He further explained that he was not drinking while the car was moving and only when he stopped for stop signs and traffic signals. I asked him again how much had had to drink today and he stated, "Four drinks." This was more than his original statement of three drinks.

Well, he'd been pulled over and the vehicle was stationary. Of course he'd had another!

He blew .15 and was charged with misdemeanor DUI, according to reports. [The Smoking Gun and The Miami Herald] Read the rest

All levels of UK government have been paralysed by Brexit

The British government has been immobilised by Brexit preparations: hundreds of millions of pounds paid by insurers to the government to rebuild from flooding are sitting idle in savings accounts because no one can spare the time to spend them; ministers won't schedule out-of-London meetings because being away during a key vote would endanger the whisper-thin Tory majority; UK workforce productivity has fallen off a cliff while workers struggle to make preparations for the uncertain future; the government is incapable of legislating because the whole calendar is filled with Brexit bills; junior ministers are barely showing up for work because they don't believe they'll have careers after Brexit; the NHS's overriding priority is Brexit preparation -- everything, from top to bottom, is crumbling. Read the rest

California's Net Neutrality bill is now law

Ajit Pai called it "illegal." EFF called it "the strongest Net Neutrality measure in the country." The telecoms companies got their employees to demand that California Governor Jerry Brown veto it. Jerry Brown just signed it. Read the rest

Dallas P.D. fires Amber Guyger, cop who entered neighbor's apartment and killed him

After first claiming it was unable to do, Dallas P.D. has fired Amber Guyger, the officer who forced her way into a neighbor's apartment and killed him, supposedly under the impression that it was her home and that he was an intruder.

Dallas Police Chief U. Reneé Hall terminated Police Officer Amber Guyger, #10702, during a hearing held September 24, 2018.

An Internal Affairs investigation concluded that on September 9, 2018, Officer Guyger, #10702, engaged in adverse conduct when she was arrested for Manslaughter.

Officer Guyger was terminated for her actions. She was hired in November 2013 and was assigned to the Southeast Patrol Division.

Under civil service rules, Officer Guyger has the right to appeal her discipline.

Guyger is trouble, but has received an alarming degree of special treatment since killing Botham Jean. Read the rest

At least two more women come forward with Kavanaugh sexual assault claims

In The New Yorker, Ronan Farrow details the account of Deborah Ramirez, who remembers a freshman party at Yale where a drunken Brett Kavanaugh got his meat out and waved it in her face

“I remember a penis being in front of my face,” she said. “I knew that’s not what I wanted, even in that state of mind.” She recalled remarking, “That’s not a real penis,” and the other students laughing at her confusion and taunting her, one encouraging her to “kiss it.” She said that she pushed the person away, touching it in the process. Ramirez, who was raised a devout Catholic, in Connecticut, said that she was shaken. “I wasn’t going to touch a penis until I was married,” she said. “I was embarrassed and ashamed and humiliated.” She remembers Kavanaugh standing to her right and laughing, pulling up his pants. “Brett was laughing,” she said. “I can still see his face, and his hips coming forward, like when you pull up your pants.”

Meanwhile, Michael Avenatti (Stormy Daniels' lawyer) says he is representing a third woman who reports serious sexual misconduct involving Kavanaugh while he was in high school. Avenatti—a showman as well as a lawyer—has put out some tantalizing clues but no specifics beyond confirming that his client is not Ramirez or Professor Christine Ford, who had two weeks ago accused Kavanaugh of trying to rape her when they were teenagers in the early 1980s.

“I represent a woman with credible information regarding Judge Kavanaugh and Mark Judge,” he wrote on Twitter. Read the rest

California farm lobby's sellout to John Deere will cost its members their right to repair

As I wrote last week, the California Farm Bureau (which lobbies for the state's farmers) struck a deal to gut the state's Right to Repair legislation, a move that will cost farmers their right to fix their own tractors and other heavy equipment. Read the rest

Supreme Court decision will rip away Dark Money's veil of secrecy

A procedural ruling by the Supreme Court this week will mean that the Federal Election Commission will be required to regulate "dark money" ads, forcing disclosure of the source of the funds for the ad. Read the rest

The Most Perfect album: musical tributes to all 27 US Constitutional amendments

For more than two years, Radiolab has been running a brilliant side-podcast called More Perfect which involves deeply reported, engaging stories about Supreme Court decisions, skilfully mixing in audio from the trials, historic or new interviews with the people involved, and commentary from scholars and activists that serve to illuminate the incredible stories behind the court decisions that have shaped life in America. Read the rest

Georgia Republican introduces legislation to kill PACER, the outrageous paywall around the US justice system

PACER (previously) is a paywall that charges you every time you look up the US's public domain Federal court records; for years, activists have railed against its existence, liberating key documents from it and putting them online for free, calling on Congress to eliminate it altogether. Read the rest

Elon Musk sued by cave rescuer he called a "child rapist" then dared to sue

Angry that cave rescuer Vernon Unsworth made fun of his ridiculous rescue submarine, Elon Musk called him a "pedo" and, later, a "child rapist," then dared him to sue over the remarks. Unsworth has filed his lawsuit.

The defamation lawsuit will extend an episode that has made even Musk’s biggest supporters squirm, with several inside Tesla, Musk’s electric automaker, questioning why he remains so committed to doubling down on what they regard as a self-inflicted embarrassment.

Unsworth is seeking more than $75,000 to compensate for the “worldwide damage” he suffered following Musk’s attacks, uttered by Musk in July to his more than 22 million Twitter followers. Unsworth, through his attorney, said Musk’s claim was baseless and lacked evidence.

“Elon Musk falsely accused Vern Unsworth of being guilty of heinous crimes,” Unsworth’s attorney, L. Lin Wood, said in a statement. “Musk’s influence and wealth cannot convert his lies into truth or protect him from accountability for his wrongdoing in a court of law.”

A similar lawsuit was filed in London, where libel laws are more plaintiff-friendly. Unsworth is British, though, and Musk's remarks are completely bonkers, so it's not as if Unsworth is forum-shopping.

Even if Musk has some oppo-research dirt on Unsworth he's been sat on all this time, and there's no evidence at all that he has, what's the point? Musk's behavior has the air of pathology about it in general, and this only reminds everyone of the whole of it. Read the rest

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