❝ Revelations about an alleged overtime scam, a wave of suspensions, and hefty pay for Massachusetts State Police troopers have sparked scrutiny of the state’s largest law enforcement agency.
But troopers’ actual earnings are much higher than previously reported, and new disclosures raise further questions about the agency’s spending, oversight, and transparency.
❝ Payroll records for an entire 140-trooper State Police division — including some of the department’s highest earners — have been hidden from public view and weren’t filed with the state comptroller for several years…
❝ The records for Troop F, which polices Logan International Airport and parts of the Seaport, among other areas, accounted for more than $32.5 million in spending last year and portray a lucrative, overtime-laden operation that outpaces the compensation totals of troopers working in other State Police divisions.
For example, Thomas J. Coffey was paid $351,774 last year, including $137,091 in overtime pay, making him the second-highest earner in the agency, behind only the former superintendent.
Coppers got these paychecks whether their overtime records were legit — or not. Some of the alleged crooks – oops, alleged cops! – put in overtime records for as many as 100 no-shows.
❝ The waters surrounding the South Pacific island nation of Samoa are prime habitat for nearly 30 species of sharks and rays, and today the government took a critical step toward protecting them. At a forum to celebrate the region’s history of strong shark conservation, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi announced that the country is designating all of its national waters a shark sanctuary—the 17th such sanctuary in the world.
The regulations ban commercial fishing and the possession, trade, and sale of sharks and shark products throughout Samoa’s 128,000-square-kilometer exclusive economic zone, and prohibits the use of fishing gear typically used to target sharks, such as wire leaders. Sharks are important to Pacific heritage and healthy marine ecosystems. Yet, at least 63 million and as many as 273 million sharks are killed every year in commercial fisheries globally.
Overdue. And all credit to the nations who have made this decision. Healthy natural environments most often include predators as part of a wholistic balance. Why – in my case – I have long opposed any hunting of predators.
The FBI issued more than 4,000 requests last year for agents from the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives to retrieve guns from people who failed background checks…
It was not immediately clear how many gun seizure requests agents successfully executed last year or how many weapons were ultimately recovered.
The American Way of Death.
Environmental and indigenous groups are cheering a landmark decision by Canada’s highest court on Friday, which ordered the Yukon Territorial Government to abide by a negotiated plan to preserve one of the largest intact wilderness areas in North America.
The Supreme Court of Canada’s unanimous decision marks the end of a three-year legal battle between the Yukon government and a coalition of indigenous First Nations and environmental groups over the future of the Peel Watershed, a wildlife-rich region of mountains and rivers that also has significant deposits of gas, coal, iron, and other minerals. Roughly the size of the Republic of Ireland, the pristine region was featured in an article in the February 2014 issue of National Geographic.
A commission made up of representatives from the First Nations and the Yukon government spent seven years negotiating the fate of the Peel Watershed via a process laid out in land claims agreements signed by Yukon First Nations and the federal and territorial governments. The commission produced a final recommendation in 2011 to keep 80 percent of the watershed roadless and off-limits to resource extractors.
Anyone think the US Supreme Court – with its supply of Republican pimps for corporate mining interests – would ever have the integrity and wisdom to produce a similar ruling here in the states?
❝ [Fake] President Donald Trump’s latest executive order aimed at implementing the hardline immigration policies he championed during his campaign has been blocked by a federal court.
US District Court Judge William Orrick issued a permanent injunction Monday blocking Trump’s executive order seeking to strip so-called sanctuary cities of federal funding.
The ruling represents a major setback to the administration’s attempts to clamp down on cities, counties and states that seek to protect undocumented immigrants who come in contact with local law enforcement from deportation by federal authorities.
❝ The ruling was also the latest instance in which a federal judge has stood in the way of Trump’s effort to implement his hardline policies on immigration, joining rulings that have blocked different portions of Trump’s travel ban and preliminary injunctions on the sanctuary cities order.
RTFA for all the gory details – including assorted whines from the White House, assorted ruling class golf clubs. Also some note taken of scholars and folks who believe in Constitutional law.
❝ The results of the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey are in. Despite the voluntary nature of the survey, 12,727,920 (79.5%) eligible Australians voted.
By a margin of 61.6% to 38.4%, Australians have said “yes” to the proposition:
Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?
❝ To permit same-sex marriage, parliament must amend the Marriage Act 1961…
The definition of marriage can be simply changed by removing the words “a man and a woman” and replacing them with “two people”.
Such a change will have flow-on effects throughout Australian society. For example, celebrants will be free to officiate at legal wedding ceremonies for same-sex couples. State and territory authorities will be empowered to register same-sex marriages.
❝ Most significantly, same-sex couples will have equality of choice in how they want to formalise relationships. Those who choose to marry will be entitled to the legal benefits of marriage.
This will engage much of the usual anti-democratic sophistry and histrionics beloved of bigots and True Believers. One can only hope that the Australian Parliament will recognize the forward-looking spirit of this poll as meaningful – and predictive of the spirit of voters come the next election.
Most folks hope the bill sorting things out in legalese will be kept simple and to the point. Human rights are for all humans. Spirits in the sky are entitled to have their opinions voiced by folks who believe in such. They have no standing in civil liberties, civil rights.
#1: More guns don’t make you safer
#2: Shootings are more frequent
#3: Restricting sales works
#4: Background checks work
❝ In most restrictive background checks performed in developed countries, citizens are required to train for gun handling, obtain a license for hunting or provide proof of membership to a shooting range.
Individuals must prove that they do not belong to any “prohibited group,” such as the mentally ill, criminals, children or those at high risk of committing violent crime, such as individuals with a police record of threatening the life of another.
❝ Here’s the bottom line. With these provisions, most U.S. active shooters would have been denied the purchase of a firearm.
Please, RTFA for all the points examined by Frederic Lemieux. At a minimum, you may learn a few new facts about the reality of American background checks.
#5: Not all mass shootings are terrorism
#6: Historical comparisons may be flawed
❝ The education department is rescinding Obama-era guidelines, a move survivors and advocates have long feared.
❝ On Friday the Department of Education announced it would rescind the Obama administration’s 2011 guidelines on schools’ responsibilities under Title IX, a move advocates have long feared would discourage survivors from reporting assault and encourage schools to use unfair or ineffective investigation practices.
Schools do need to do a better job of responding to sexual assault allegations and protecting students. But DeVos’s approach — which has included taking advice from those who have questioned and targeted sexual assault survivors — is likely to do more harm than good…
❝ In a speech at George Mason University, Betsy DeVos listed a number of situations in which she argued that “the failed system” put in place by the Obama administration had resulted in inequities either for survivors or for students accused of sexual assault. And she argued that “overreach” by schools and “the heavy hand of Washington” had ruined the lives of survivors and the accused alike…
Even before this announcement, the education department had sent strong signals that enforcing the 2011 letter wasn’t a priority. The department announced this summer that it would no longer require investigators to collect data on schools’ past behavior as part of civil rights investigations. This indicates to schools that the department will be less thorough in looking into whether they are following the guidelines or not.
Blaming the victim is back in fashion in Congress and the White House. Trump installing Betsy DeVos in charge of Education at the Cabinet level pretty much assured that.