Category: Law

Copper parks in tall grass after stopping motorcycle — car goes up in flames

A witness to the intense fire said the police officer pulled over a speeding motorbike rider at the intersection of Wivenhoe-Somerset Drive and Northbrook Parkway near Mount Glorious but when the bike took off again, it looked like the officer tried to give chase.

“Next minute the bloody cop car drives down the bank,” truck driver David Hunn said…

The Logan resident, who’d been out for a ride on his own motorbike, said the bike rider had stopped about 50 metres up the road.

He said by the time the police officer had “scrambled” up the bank and yelled at the rider to stop, there was smoke coming from the long grass under the unmarked car, likely from the hot exhaust pipe.

The 65-year-old said it was only minutes before flames had completely engulfed the car, which was eventually left a blackened shell.

“It was long grass so the car was basically nestled in the grass,” Mr Hunn said.

“It just caught fire straight away basically.”…

Mr Hunn described the stretch of road coming down from Mount Glorious as “a racetrack at the best of times” and accused both the motorcyclist and policeman of driving like maniacs.

“The bike came around me and I thought ‘shit he’s going quick’,” he said,

“The next minute, the bloody car came past me with no siren on. He was going like a bat out of hell.”

Mr Hunn said according to the rider’s friends they were going as much as 180km/h and the police car was catching up with the bike.

He said the officer caught up with the bike at the T-intersection, where he cut him off and attempted to block him in…

“If he’d kept the speed down a bit and saw which way it was going, he could have had the posse out and waiting for him because a bloody radio’s quicker than a bloody motorbike.”

A mate of mine down in Oz sent me this. Don’t know how he stopped laughing long enough to press the send key.

Yes, he’s a biker.

Thanks, Honeyman

EU court ruling says US privacy protection sucks

The Atlantic Ocean just got a little wider. The European Court of Justice’s latest ruling has determined that the US “does not afford an adequate level of protection of personal data”.

The case brought against Facebook over the potential for US government snooping on European citizens’ data, throws the differences in internet culture into stark relief. But those differences have been growing for some time.

Also reflecting comparable difference between thoughtful Americans and corporate/government hacks.

Until Tuesday, it had been US companies – principally Google and Facebook – that had been driving the wedge in. In 2012 Google enraged European privacy regulators by declaring that it would unite data from its different services, mashing different privacy agreements into one. (The row is still going on.)

Then in 2014 the European Court of Justice declared that Google, as a “data processor” was covered by the data protection principles, and so must remove links about people from its search index that were “outdated, incorrect or irrelevant” (though with exceptions for public figures). Google has implemented the so-called “right to be forgotten” more or less, but the ruling infuriated many in the US…

Now the ECJ has ruled again, and once more highlighted the gulf in attitudes either side of the pond. “Safe harbour” ostensibly means that a European citizen’s personal data being processed by a US company on US-based computers is under the same protections as if it were still in Europe on a European-owned system. But the ECJ says it doesn’t protect that data from US government snooping – and so cannot be allowed.

The problem with safe harbour is that the US government now treats any data on computers of US-owned companies anywhere in the world as fair game for examination. Microsoft, in fact, is vigorously appealing a court case won (in the US) by the US government, which asserts that it has the right to access data held in one of the company’s Irish data centres. Safe harbour applied, in theory, to US companies but not to the US government; now the edifice has come crashing down…

Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group, commented: “In the face of the Snowden revelations, it is clear that safe harbour is not worth the paper its written on. We need a new agreement that will protect EU citizens from mass surveillance by the NSA.”…

In the longer term, the bigger problem will be the gap that is opening between the US and Europe. Privacy policies with teeth, the “right to be forgotten”, the desire to keep data inside Europe – all are at odds with the US’s treatment of data, which is more cavalier…Will Europe act as the example for the US to follow? History suggests not – which means the cultural gap is going to get wider.

I have to agree with Charles Arthur’s conclusions. The battle standard has been raised in the US by many organizations and individuals, even a few corporations – notably Apple. The rest of the tech industry will be guided by the almighty dollar and that may be aid and comfort to the rest of us.

Uncle Sugar may want to maintain a self-appointed right to snoop on everyone on Earth – while whining about cyber-spying. The ultimate in hypocrisy. But, just like the fiasco we went through in early days of global online communications – government prohibitions banning the sale of ordinary office software to keep those Dangerous Furriners from stealing our secrets :) – the paranoia of American politicians will end up limiting profits of American companies more than anything else. That won’t be allowed to last.

Coppers shoot man in his driveway – recording them with his smartphone

Sanchez’ father pointing out bullet holes in his garage

An innocent bystander who was holding a cell phone on his own property was shot last week, with officers saying they perceived an “imminent threat” because they mistook his phone for a gun, according to several news reports.

Almost as standard an excuse as “the dog ate my homework”.

Danny Sanchez of Rancho Cordova, California, the unarmed man who was shot by police, reportedly underwent surgery Friday to remove bullet fragments from his leg. The officers who shot at him are reportedly on paid leave while the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department investigates the shooting.

The incident happened Thursday when Sanchez’s next-door neighbor, Ben Ledford, was allegedly “firing up to 100 machine gun rounds at a home across the street, killing a dog inside the house,” CBS Sacramento reported. Ledford surrendered to police, but officers fired at Sanchez after they saw him stand at the edge of his open garage and extend his hand out with an object—which turned out to be his cell phone…

“He was yelling, ‘Dad I’m shot, I’m shot,’ so I grabbed him inside and closed the garage door,” said the man’s father, John Sanchez…”I put a tourniquet around his leg and a clean towel.” Danny Sanchez was apparently either taking pictures or video of police.

Police “told him they were sorry that he got shot and everything, that they made a mistake,” John Sanchez told CBS Sacramento. There were bullet holes in Sanchez’s garage and car.

Officers thought there “was an imminent threat to themselves and blah, blah, blah,” and “discharged their weapons based on what they perceived at the time,” Sgt. Jason Ramos told KCRA. Sanchez’s home was searched and he was “detained briefly” for questioning, but he is not facing charges, the report said.

The point was made, eh? Try to photograph your local copper in action – justified or not – you may get shot.

Court rules EPA wrongly approved insecticide toxic to honeybees

Just a reminder it’s also wild aster season here in New Mexico :)

A U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled…the Environmental Protection Agency erred in allowing the insecticide sulfoxaflor on the market in 2013, overturning the federal approval of the chemical and providing a major victory for environmentalists.

A three-judge panel said the insecticide could hasten an already “alarming” decline in bees, adding the information the EPA used to approve the Dow AgroSciences insecticide was based on “flawed and limited” data and “not supported by substantial evidence.”…

Without sufficient data, the EPA has no real idea whether sulfoxaflor will cause unreasonable adverse effects on bees,” the court said.

Beekeepers and related organizations challenged the EPA’s approval of sulfoxaflor, an insect neurotoxin used on crops including citrus, cotton and vegetables. Dow AgroSciences, a division of Dow Chemical, uses the chemical in products that include Transform and Closer insecticides.

“It’s a complete victory for the beekeepers we represent,” said Greg Loarie, a lawyer for the American Honey Producers Association, the American Beekeeping Federation and other plaintiffs in the case. “The EPA has not been very vigilant.”

As an aside, the final paragraph in the article [should you click through] is bullshit. Environmentalists include pesticides as one of several causes of the demise of honeybees in the US. Not the sole cause.

SuperHero of the day

Meet “Buddie” – who consumes only the best buds

Metropolis has Superman, Gotham City has Batman, and now Ohio has a superhero of its very own. However, some critics wish it were somebody else — anybody else.

Meet Buddie, the caped crusader enlisted by ResponsibleOhio to aid in the fight to legalize marijuana in the Buckeye State. You’ll recognize him by his green-and-white costume, marijuana leaf-like gloves, washboard abs, half-closed eyes and blinding smile. Oh, and by the enormous marijuana bud that serves as his head.

He’ll probably never volunteer for anyone’s army. Unless Uncle Sugar is planning on invading somewhere with a long green growing season.

Parrot detained by coppers over obscene language

Police in India said a parrot detained on allegations of shouting obscenities at an elderly woman refused to utter a single word for officers.

Chandrapur district police said the parrot, Hariyal, was detained at the police station in Rajura, Maharashtra, after Janabai Sakharkar, 85, told investigators the parrot would shout obscene words and phrases at her whenever she would pass by the home of its owner, her stepson.

Sakharkar told police she believes her stepson, Suresh, trained the parrot to shout obscenities at her because of an ongoing land dispute between the family members.

Police said the parrot did not speak in front of officers, even when confronted by Sakharkar…

Police said they decided not to return Hariyal to his owner and instead put the bird in the care of forest department officials for rehabilitation.

You have the right to remain silent…

Ohio voters get to decide on marijuana legalization in November

Ohio citizens will vote on whether to legalize recreational and medicinal marijuana use in November, a decision that could concentrate the state’s legal marijuana business to 10 growers.

Ohio’s secretary of state Jon Husted said…that a measure to legalize marijuana had collected enough signatures to appear on the ballot in the state’s 3 November election.

The measure includes a provision that would allow only 10 growers to grow and sell pot commercially.

Critics, including the state legislature, say this could create a monopoly. The legislature added a measure, called Issue 2, to the ballot that would block monopolies from operating in Ohio.

According to Husted, if both measures are approved, the one introduced by the legislature would take precedence.

Pro-legalization group ResponsibleOhio executive director Ian James celebrated the news in a statement.

“Drug dealers don’t care about doing what’s best for our state and its citizens,” James said. “By reforming marijuana laws in November, we’ll provide compassionate care to sick Ohioans, bring money back to our local communities and establish a new industry with limitless economic development opportunities.”

Hope they can make it – or try again in 2016 if this try fails. Presidential elections turn out the most significant cross-section of voters – which would give a progressive move like decriminalizing weed a better chance.

Off-peak elections like the coming turn out the higher proportion of folks afraid of change as a general rule. We’ll see. Good luck, Ohio.

Supreme Court asked to rule on secret plan to cut cell service?

The Supreme Court was asked in a petition to force the government to disclose the US clandestine plan to disable cell service during emergencies.

The case concerns Standard Operating Procedure 303. A federal appeals court in May said the government did not have to release its full contents because the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) allows the authorities to withhold records if they would “endanger” public safety.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center told the high court’s justices Tuesday that the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit’s decision created a new “catchall provision that can be used in any case involving records related to domestic and national security programs.”

The privacy group had demanded the documents from the Department of Homeland Security in 2011 following the shuttering of cell service in the San Francisco Bay Area subway system to quell a protest. The Department of Homeland Security refused to divulge the documents associated with SOP 303, which the appeals court described as a “unified voluntary process for the orderly shut-down and restoration of wireless services during critical emergencies such as the threat of radio-activated improvised explosive devices.”

Under the direction of the so-called National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee, SOP 303 allows for the shuttering of wireless networks “within a localized area, such as a tunnel or bridge, and within an entire metropolitan area.”

So, what are the specifics of this regulation? Demonstrations for peace and justice or riots and anarchy in the streets? And who ultimately gets to make the determination to invoke SOP 303? Some New York City precinct commander or a bureaucrat in DHS, faceless or otherwise?