Court rules gun shop must pay millions to injured police officers

NRA dementia
NRA preaching to the choir

Badger Guns, then known as Badger Outdoors, was once the top seller of guns later used in crimes in the whole country — selling 537 guns that were recovered from crime scenes in 2005 alone, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

When 18-year-old Julius Burton was looking to get his hands on a gun in 2009, he grabbed a 21-year-old friend and headed to Badger Guns where a sales associate helped his friend correct the paperwork for purchase of a semiautomatic pistol. The friend had correctly marked the box indicating that he was purchasing the gun for Burton, who was underage. Such an exchange, known as a “straw” purchase, is illegal and the Badger Guns shop clerk helped Burton’s friend cover up that slip of honesty, as seen on footage from the store’s surveillance video from that day.

The video also showed Burton pointing to the pistol, saying, “that’s the one that I want.”

A month later, Burton would use that gun to shoot Milwaukee police Officer Bryan Norberg and now-retired Officer Graham Kunisch in the face.

Kunisch lost an eye and suffered brain injury, forcing him to retire from the police department, but along with Norberg and the city of Milwaukee, he filed a lawsuit against Badger Guns in state court, charging that the shop clerk should have known that the purchase was illegal…

In fact, the officers’ lawsuit contends that between 2007 and 2009, six other Milwaukee cops were shot by weapons sold by Badger Guns.

The jury’s finding that Badger Guns was negligent and its award of of $3.6 million for Kunisch and $1.5 million, plus another $730,000 in punitive damages, for Norberg will be appealed but for now it stands as a landmark decision…

According to the New York Times, there are at least 10 other similar cases making their way up the courts across the country, including from two other Milwaukee officers shot by guns sold by Badger Guns…

Finally,a jury has put the NRA gun-flunkies on notice that one portion of our tripartite government will respond to irresponsible politics with justice.

I sincerely doubt that a majority of Congress will have the integrity to stand up on their hind legs and vote for any legislation defending the American people from a sickness worse than typhoid fever — the dementia that convinces grown men and women to believe that a rather ordinary assemblage of bureaucrats and politicians is out to take away their sacred firearm icons.

A Democrat presidential victory combined with any reasonable sorting out of Congress should make moderately sane laws possible. I hope the voters of America have the minimum of good sense in the period 2016-2020 to make it happen.

Quakes growing in frequency, strength, near world’s biggest oil storage hub

And they’re caused by oil-production wastewater injected back into the ground!

Cushing, OK Google Maps
Click to enlarge

A sharp earthquake in central Oklahoma last weekend has raised fresh concern about the security of a vast crude oil storage complex, close to the quake’s center, that sits at the crossroads of the nation’s oil pipeline network.

The magnitude 4.5 quake struck Saturday afternoon about three miles northwest of Cushing, roughly midway between Oklahoma City and Tulsa. The town of about 8,000 people is home to the so-called Cushing Hub, a sprawling tank farm that is among the largest oil storage facilities in the world.

Oil pimps in Cushing say it is the largest.

Scientists reported in a paper published online last month that a large earthquake near the storage hub “could seriously damage storage tanks and pipelines.” Saturday’s quake continues a worrisome pattern of moderate quakes, suggesting that a large earthquake is more than a passing concern, the lead author of that study, Daniel McNamara, said in an interview.

“When we see these fault systems producing multiple magnitude 4s, we start to get concerned that it could knock into higher magnitudes,” he said. “Given the number of magnitude 4s here, it’s a high concern.”

…Major tank ruptures could cause serious environmental damage, raise the risk of fire and other disasters and disrupt the flow of oil to refineries nationwide, said Dr. McNamara, a research geophysicist at the National Earthquake Information Center in Colorado.

The Cushing quake is among the largest of thousands of temblors that have rocked central and northern Oklahoma in the past five years, largely set off by the injection of oil and gas industry wastes deep into the earth. The watery wastes effectively lubricate cracks, allowing rocks under intense pressure to slip past one another, causing quakes.

The tens of millions of barrels of injected wastewater have helped make Oklahoma the second most seismically active state, behind Alaska. Although quakes have damaged or destroyed buildings and roads and, in a few instances, injured people, regulators do not have the authority to seriously curb waste disposal, and politicians in a state dominated by the energy industry have made no move to give it to them.

The state had three earthquakes of magnitude 3 or greater in 2009. Last year, it had 585, and this year’s total exceeds that.

Politicians – and the citizens who elect those politicians – who dedicate their service to lies and those who profit from lies may have lucrative careers for as long as they last. The fools who continue to vote them back into office are leaving their children and grandchildren a heritage of nature thrown directly into imbalance by fossil fuel profiteers.

Sometimes you not only get what you want – you get what you deserve.

What people in 1900 thought the year 2000 would look like

There are few things as fascinating as seeing what people in the past dreamed about the future. “France in the Year 2000” is one example.

The series of paintings, made by Jean-Marc Côté and other French artists in 1899, 1900, 1901 and 1910, shows artist depictions of what life might look like in the year 2000. The first series of images were printed and enclosed in cigarette and cigar boxes around the time of the 1900 World Exhibition in Paris, according to the Public Domain Review, then later turned into postcards.

Cool. I love stuff like this. Sometimes folks come close.

Coal trains double up — twice as profitable or twice as dangerous?

The new trains will be twice this length 🙂

Motorists’ wait time at U.S. rail crossings may double as CSX Corp. hooks trains together to boost efficiency amid plunging demand for coal shipments.

Bulk cargo is the latest focus in CSX’s effort to improve productivity. Getting more cars behind the locomotives is one way to do that — even if a longer, heavier load spends more time on the tracks…

A one-mile (1.6-kilometer) length, at least for trains carrying a single type of cargo, is an industry rule of thumb in the U.S. CSX, the largest railroad in the eastern part of the country, is looking to make each cargo train more productive because domestic coal carloads are expected to drop about 20 percent in the last three months of the year…

The company also is looking at stretching out some sidings, the short lengths of track running parallel to a main line that enable a train to move over so another can pass. Most of those are 10,000 feet, or a little less than two miles, and may need to be lengthened to 12,000 feet…

For now, drivers trying to cross railroad tracks will have to be patient at rail crossings because most North American carriers want their locomotives to pull more cars.

Union Pacific Corp., the largest publicly traded U.S. railroad, said in July it operated trains at record length in the second quarter and Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. said its trains grew longer by 3 percent in the same quarter.

“Everybody has been pushing toward longer trains because that is one of the ways to get efficiency,” Ward said.

Am I silly for even bringing up the question of safety? I don’t imagine that doubling the length of trains can be as safe as previous. Not that we’re establishing any great records for rail safety in the United States in recent years.

Did the Bloomberg reporter think the question was unnecessary?