Category: Law

Drunken narc shoots pals in tussle over gun


One of the two shooting victims on the way to hospital

Cops swatted a .40-caliber Glock out of a drunken state narcotics agent’s hand Friday night after he shot two drinking buddies on the Upper West Side, authorities and witnesses said.

Amsterdam Ave. erupted in gunfire and blood-curdling screams just after 9 p.m. when Victor Zambrano Jr., 49, shot a 31-year-old woman in the left foot and the woman’s 42-year-old boyfriend in the right calf during an argument over his weapon…

The three pals had been drinking together and were walking on Amsterdam Ave. near W. 82nd St. when the woman asked the New York State Bureau of Narcotics enforcement agent for his pistol, a police source said.

Zambrano handed it over, but quickly demandegd it back, cop sources said. As the argument became increasingly heated, the agent fired a round. The bullet ricocheted off the concrete and hit both the woman and her boyfriend…

As diners along Amsterdam Ave.’s restaurant row ducked for cover, the narcotics investigator bolted.

The boyfriend chased after him, and Zambrano allegedly turned to shoot but misfired — causing a live round to fall to the ground as he ran toward W. 83rd St., stunned witnesses said…

It was not entirely clear why the woman wanted Zambrano’s gun, but early reports suggested she was concerned about his intoxication level.

Someday, I hope to read a stupid tale like this and no one will try to excuse dangerous behavior by saying, “he was just drunk and things got out of hand!”

You have some sort of idea what happens when you drink – or drink too much. You have the responsibillity and supposedly enough smarts to make decisions on your own. Like should I drink or not? Should I bring my gun with me when I’m out drinking? You are responsible for your own decisions.

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Air Force now ignores separation of church and state — UPDATED

An airman stationed at Creech Air Force Base in Indian Springs, Nevada, was prohibited from re-enlisting in the U.S. military last month for omitting the words “so help me God” from a service oath he was required to recite and for refusing to sign the oath containing the same words on his enlistment form, according to the American Humanist Association (AHA).

In a letter of complaint sent to the Air Force’s inspector general on Tuesday, the Appignani Humanist Legal Center, the AHA’s legal wing, said the airman — who is an atheist — “was told that his options were to say ‘so help me God’ or to leave the Air Force.’”

The AHA, which describes itself as “advocating values and equality for humanists, atheists and freethinkers,” characterized the ultimatum as a civil rights violation and demanded the Air Force correct the matter.

“Requiring [redacted] to take an oath containing this religious affirmation violates his clearly established constitutional rights under the First Amendment. This letter demands that you immediately allow [redacted] to re-enlist using a secular affirmation,” the letter stated.

“The Air Force cannot compel anyone to swear to God as a condition of enlistment,” AHA attorney Monica Miller said. “Doing so violates the establishment clause and the free exercise clause of the First Amendment.”

“Numerous cases affirm that atheists have the right to omit theistic language from enlistment or re-enlistment contracts,” she added…

…Until October 2013, Air Force Instruction 36-2606, under which the enlistment oath falls, stipulated that “airmen may omit the words ‘so help me God,’ if desired for personal reasons,” The Air Force Times reported.

On Oct. 30, 2013, the Air Force appears to have quietly done away with that option. “The relevant section of that AFI now only lists the active-duty oath of enlistment, without giving airmen any option to choose not to swear an oath to a deity,” the Air Force Times said.

You know, just because George W. Bush is out of office doesn’t mean all the idiots in government – and our military – are out looking for honest jobs. You still have to keep on eye on the clowns who would dilute and destroy what constitutional rights we have – for whatever out-of-date ideology they seem to need as a snuggy-wuggy.

UPDATE: He won!

Did you think buying influence in DC was limited to lobbyists?


STATOIL drill rig — Norway poured $24 million or more in recent years into Washington think tanks

The agreement signed last year by the Norway Ministry of Foreign Affairs was explicit: For $5 million, Norway’s partner in Washington would push top officials at the White House, at the Treasury Department and in Congress to double spending on a United States foreign aid program.

But the recipient of the cash was not one of the many Beltway lobbying firms that work every year on behalf of foreign governments.

It was the Center for Global Development, a nonprofit research organization, or think tank, one of many such groups in Washington that lawmakers, government officials and the news media have long relied on to provide independent policy analysis and scholarship.

More than a dozen prominent Washington research groups have received tens of millions of dollars from foreign governments in recent years while pushing United States government officials to adopt policies that often reflect the donors’ priorities, an investigation by The New York Times has found.

The money is increasingly transforming the once-staid think-tank world into a muscular arm of foreign governments’ lobbying in Washington. And it has set off troubling questions about intellectual freedom: Some scholars say they have been pressured to reach conclusions friendly to the government financing the research.

The think tanks do not disclose the terms of the agreements they have reached with foreign governments. And they have not registered with the United States government as representatives of the donor countries, an omission that appears, in some cases, to be a violation of federal law, according to several legal specialists who examined the agreements at the request of The Times.

As a result, policy makers who rely on think tanks are often unaware of the role of foreign governments in funding the research.

Or so NY TIMES reporters would have us believe.

RTFA for the details. They’ve done a solid job of research and display it in scholarly fashion.

I just wouldn’t be so kind to our politicians. I don’t think they care a whole boatload where money and “advice” originate. Regardless of blather and bluster about ethics and ideology, most of the hacks in Congress will accommodate whomever offers them enough temple gold.

Ohio’s voting restrictions blocked by federal judge — Republicans weep!

A federal judge has blocked an Ohio law limiting early voting and ordered the state elections supervisor to set additional voting days for November’s election.

Civil rights advocates filed suit against the law, passed in February, which eliminated the “Golden Week” voting period where voters could register and cast a ballot on the same day. They also challenged a directive from the state Secretary of State Jon Husted, to cut Sunday and evening early voting hours.

Republican dedication to overturning every aspect of “One person, one vote” is praiseworthy only in the eyes of cruds who hate democracy in action.

Under Economus’ order, early voting will begin September 30, instead of October 7. He also ordered Husted to expand evening hours and add another Sunday to the schedule.

Proponents of the changes said their goal was – a crock of lies. But plaintiffs, including the Ohio chapters of the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said the cuts were discriminatory, since they particularly impacted minority voters.

Blacks in Cayahoga County, the state’s most populous, cast 56 percent of the county’s early votes in 2008, even thought they made up just 28 percent of the population. And in 2012, more than 157,000 people voted on days that were due to be eliminated in 2014.

Of course, the rightwing creep who is in charge of taking suffrage away from non-white voters will appeal the decision. Sooner or later, the Republican Party may as well change their name to the White Citizens Council.

Married couples who smoke pot have less domestic violence

Hip American Gothic

Looking at couples over the first nine years of marriage, the study found:

• More frequent marijuana use by husbands and wives (two-to-three times per month or more often) predicted less frequent intimate partner violence (IPV) perpetration by husbands.

• Husbands’ marijuana use also predicted less frequent IPV perpetration by wives.

Couples in which both spouses used marijuana frequently reported the least frequent IPV perpetration.

• The relationship between marijuana use and reduced partner violence was most evident among women who did not have histories of prior antisocial behavior.

The study’s lead author is Philip H. Smith, PhD, a recent doctoral graduate of the UB School of Public Health and Health Professions and now associate research scientist in the Department of Psychiatry at Yale University.

It is based on research data collected by lead investigator Kenneth Leonard, PhD, director of the UB Research Institute on Addictions. The study was supported by a grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism to Leonard and a grant to Smith from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Exactly the sort of scientific research that can benefit society and law. Guaranteed to be ignored by the overwhelming majority of our lawmakers – and the idjits who vote for them.

Still, the important part is that scientists are unrelenting in their curiosity, the quest for knowledge regardless of opposition from Philistines.

Reality TV – coppers kill “COPS” crew member

Omaha police say officers who opened fire while disrupting a robbery killed a crew member with the Cops television show and the suspect, who was carrying a pellet gun.

Police Chief Todd Schmaderer said Wednesday that witnesses and officers thought the robbery suspect’s Airsoft handgun was real, but that it fires only plastic pellets.

Schmaderer said he believes the three officers involved acted properly during the attempted robbery Tuesday at a fast-food restaurant in midtown Omaha.

Schmaderer says 38-year-old Bryce Dion who worked for Langley Productions and the suspect, 32-year-old Cortez Washington, were killed…

Schmaderer said the incident will be investigated and all three officers are on leave.

Using a realistic pellet gun wouldn’t be any defense for the robbery – or the police response to what looked like an armed and dangerous robbery in progress.

What will be truly important to deal with is that now investigators know the thief was using a pellet gun – the bullet that killed a member of the film crew could only have come from one of the patrolmen.

Realistic count of homicides by police = about 1100 per year

…The U.S. government doesn’t track how many people are killed by the police. The FBI tracks “justifiable” police homicides, which it reports to be about 400 per year, but that tally is an undercount.

Given this vacuum, attention has recently turned to some excellent nongovernmental attempts to compile this data, including the Fatal Encounters database, the recently created Gun Violence Archive and a new database created by Deadspin.

But one recent effort stood out for its apparent comprehensiveness: The Killed By Police Facebook page, which aggregates links to news articles on police-related killings and keeps a running tally on the number of victims. The creator of the page does not seek to determine whether police killings are justifiable; each post “merely documents the occurrence of a death.” He told FiveThirtyEight that he was an instructor on nonviolent physical-intervention techniques and that he prefers to remain anonymous.

Killed by Police had listed more than 1,450 deaths caused by law-enforcement officers since its launch, on May 1, 2013, through Sunday. That works out to about three per day, or 1,100 a year.

The page doesn’t claim that this is a comprehensive count, but it could be useful — like the count from the FBI’s annual Supplementary Homicide Report is useful — for setting a baseline number of police killings, as long as important caveats are acknowledged. For one, any database drawn from news sites relies on the assumption that the reports are accurate…

RTFA for an interesting examination of how the folks at fivethirtyeight.com went about their statistical task. They’re one of the most reliable, self-checking survey sources in the nation along with the Pew Foundation.

Obama orders review of militarizing local coppers

President Obama has ordered a review of the government’s decade-old policy of sending military equipment to local police departments across the country…

Federal officials began reconsidering civilian police department’s use of such equipment — including body armor, mine-resistant armored trucks, silencers and automatic rifles — following the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri. Local police used military-style equipment during violent clashes with demonstrators protesting the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a white police officer…

During widespread coverage of the Ferguson unrest, the public has absorbed images of heavily armed police, snipers trained on protesters and tear gas plumes.

“This equipment flowed to local police forces because they were increasingly being asked to assist in counterterrorism. But displays of force in response to mostly peaceful demonstrations can be counterproductive,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement.

“It makes sense to take a look at whether military-style equipment is being acquired for the right purposes and whether there is proper training on when and how to deploy it,” Holder said…

As the country concludes its longest wartime period, the military has turned over thousands of surplus weapons and armored trucks to local police who often trained alongside the military.

A report by the American Civil Liberties Union in June said police agencies had become “excessively militarized,” with officers using training and equipment designed for the battlefield on city streets. The report found the amount of goods transferred through the military surplus program rose in value from $1 million in 1990 to nearly $450 million in 2013.

RTFA for details, examples.

IMHO, this crap follows logically from the War on Drugs becoming a War on All Citizens – especially as reactionaries and bigots get wedgies over ordinary folks moving in a progressive direction. From broad acceptance of civil rights for everyone including gays and lesbians – to the wave of decriminalization heading to a crest over the sillyass prohibition of cannabis.

The bottom of the lumpen that didn’t qualify for civilian jobs – who therefore joined the military – who still don’t qualify for a lifetime gig after being demobbed, jump at the chance to become some kind of copper. Maybe they fit in because the PD chiefs are racist. Maybe they don’t even qualify for that level of policing and sink down to lower economic levels, border cop or even TSA. But, whatever road, they’re already accustomed to treating every civilian as a furriner who isn’t white Christian enough to be a proper American.

Thanks, Mike