Tuesday, January 31, 2006

'Tis not wise to defy a Judge's order and post pictures on the net

In a clear example of how not to defy a Judge's order(From the Detroit Free Press):

The judge had chastised nine students caught drinking at a Troy high school prom last spring. That would be the end of it, he figured.

It was, until Judge Michael Martone stumbled across a Web site weeks after the students had been sentenced to probation. Leering back at him from his computer screen were some of the same students from Troy Athens High School, now in college.

On the site, they were giving him the finger. They were toasting him with cups of beer and chugging shots of Jagermeister liqueur. They were posing with beer cans stacked almost to the ceiling, and retching into toilets at Michigan State University.

A judge's contempt power can be either "ruthless or toothless". Mocking the order and the judge, online no less, that you cannot drink while under probation for a minor in possession charge is a certain way to feel the ruthless side of a judge's contempt power.

One can understand why the Judge ordered these minors to refrain from alcohol use. Nevermind that its against the law for minors to consume alcohol, if they so lack basic judgmental skills when not under the influence that they post pictures of themselves drinking and mocking the court's order, one can only wonder at how dumb they can be under the influence.

Oh, and the penalty for their contempt? The sentences ranged from 10 to 30 days in jail.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Netflix Gripes

As I've written before, I'm a subscriber to, and generally a fan of, Netflix. Usually I'm very pleased with their service, at least until recently.

It seems to me that the level of service they provide is declining.

Every one of the last three discs I was sent had problems:

1. The first Disc failed to arrive, after a 5 day estimated arrival time from the date it was shipped. Netflix usual arrival time is one day after shipping.

2. One disc had a small crack in it, along with a matching crack in the disc sleeve. There were no obvious tears in the envelope so it appears it was sent in its cracked state. The crack made it unplayable.

3. One disc was cracked completely through from center to edge. Once again you can't play such a broken disc.

I also noticed that Netflix instead of shipping new titles the same day they receive the return, typically will not ship until the next day, which obviously slows down the service considerably.

So out of three discs, one never arrived and two were broken. Not good. I've seen an increase in cracked/severely scratched DVDs from Netflix recently, some so broken that they actually folded themselves in half once removed from the sleeve. Anyone else having a similar experience?

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Michael Moore Bank Bandit Busted

Not actually Michael Moore, but on first glance it certainly looks like him:

They apparently have caught the guy, otherwise Moore is taking up a new career.

Local police and FBI agents are investigating to see if the man who robbed an Okemos bank Friday is the "Michael Moore bandit."

An armed man drove away in a gray 1990s BMW after robbing National City Bank, 2260 Jolly Oak Road, at about 1 p.m. Friday, Meridian Township police Sgt. Al Spencer said.

Police would not release what the man was armed with or how much money he took but said he gave a bank teller a note requesting money.

No one was hurt, Meridian Township police Sgt. Greg Frenger said.

The next day a man was arrested for the armed robbery of a Key Bank in Ypsilanti Township, Washtenaw County Sheriff's Commander David Egeler said.

Source: The Statenews

Conservatives win a minority government in Canada

As the Toronto Star Reports, the Conservatives have won a minotrity govenrment in the election.

Interestingly, the onservatives were completely shut out of Toronto, failing to win any seats in the ridsings there, and very few seats in the surrounding suburbs. This failure to win Toronto seats, is not surprising given the incredible pro-Liberal tilt of the Toronto Star, along with its editorials of gloom and doom should the Conservatives win.

The Maritime provinces having been beat down by the Liberals on multiple occaisions (who can forget Chretein threatening them if they failed to elect the liberals there?), like a battered wife voted fot the Liberals yet again.

For a nicely done website showing the results that can be broken down to a riding-by- riding basis, you can check out the election results here.

Unfortunately this resulted in the Conservatives formiung a minority government, which will likely dilute the Coservative program. Given there is no other right of center party (even as the Conservatives are truly only slightly right of center themselves)to form a coalition with governing should be interesting to say the least. Either the Conservatives will move cautiously and make alliances where they can, or move boldly and when defeated request a larger mandate in order to enact some badly needed reforms. My bet is they will begin cautiously in order to make the current Liberal scare tactics evaporate.

However, one area the Conservatives should move boldly in is forging a stronger relationship with the US and repair the damage caused by the Liberals' anti-american rhetoric of this past election cycle.

Hopefully with clean government the Conservatives will be able to win a majority in the next election. Good luck and may Canada be a better place due to their governance.

Friday, January 20, 2006

DOJ's white paper on NSA surveillance program

The US Department of Justice has released a white paper detailing the legal authorities for the NSA surveillance program (source: Findlaw).

The paper heavily relies upon the Authorization for Use of Military Force, and points out the power of the Executive to act under the Youngstown Supreme Court case analysis. Further, the analysis points out that the surveillance program does not violate the FISA statute, and as it intercepts international communications going into and out of the United States fits with the already established special needs exceptions to the Fourth Amendment.

its a well-written and convincing document that many of those who are misinformed about the surveillance program should read.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Detroit ordinance banning selling tickets for or below value is overturned

From the Detroit News:
A federal judge declared the city of Detroit's ban on selling tickets at or below face value to events unconstitutional Wednesday -- a ruling that could cost the city more than $1.5 million. Detroit's ordinance applied to such ticket sales within 500 feet of sporting and music venues.

"The city offers no explanation how the (anti-scalping) ordinance with its broad reach directly advances its alleged interest in traffic safety and security," U.S. District Judge John Corbett O'Meara wrote in a 17-page opinion.

"Therefore, the ordinance is unconstitutional."

The judge's order on the city's ordinance has no effect on state law and the companion city ordinance that bans scalping tickets above face value.

Some of the examples of the heavy-handedness involved in enforcing this improper ordinance is incredible. It also made buying such tickets illegal as well:
Wayne Schreck had sought to buy two tickets to a Thanksgiving Day game at Ford Field. Instead, he got a ticket from the police.

. . .

Others who attempted to buy tickets also were cited and fined. One Kentucky resident drove to watch a 2003 Michigan State University basketball game in Detroit with his wife. She attended with their only ticket; he was detained for three hours by police after he attempted to buy a ticket from an undercover officer, Cecil said.
One would have thought that with Detroit's growing violent crime rate the Police would focus more on the violent criminals rather than going after people trying to buy sporting events tickets. Then again, there was far more revenue to be made from citing these ticket buyers and sellers than .

A class action for all those victimized by this law is ongoing, and it looks like the City will be facing millions in damages, especially as it continued to enforce the law even after a Federal Magistrate issued a preliminary ruling holding it unconstitutional.

Did the Liberals manufacture an incident with the US for political gain?

It's starting to look that way.
Check out Paul Martin's Spat With The US - Was It A Setup? at Small Dead Animals for details.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

As predicted the Anti-American Card Comes out

As I mentioned in a previous post, whenever a Canadian politician thinks he's losing he pulls out the Anti-American card.

Indeed, the liberals and Prime Minister Martin, on the verge of being defeated, began playing anti-american advertising for his campaign:

Trailing in polls, Canadian premier plays anti-Bush card
With a militant drumbeat and an ominous tone, a campaign ad here warns that election of Conservative Party leader Stephen Harper "would bring a smile to George W. Bush's face."

Well behind in the polls heading into a parliamentary election, the governing Liberal Party led by Prime Minister Paul Martin brought what in Canadian politics is a most damning indictment: Martin's opponent is too close to the Americans, the party's ads say.

"Mr. Harper, the United States is our neighbor, not our nation," warns one.

Harper is "pro-Iraqi war, anti-Kyoto, socially conservative ... Bush's new best friend," says another ad Yet another ad speculates that Harper may have received illegal campaign funds from American conservatives. The ads are running before an election in which Martin's party appears likely to lose its hold on the government. After Christmas, the Conservatives, the main opposition, jumped suddenly from behind and lead the Liberals by 10 percentage points, 38 percent to 28 percent, according to a poll for the Globe and Mail newspaper.

Roman Coins found in British Field

Old Roman coins dug up in field
From the BBC:
A handful of ancient Roman coins have been dug up in a playing field in West Wickham, near Bromley, south London.

The artefacts may have been thrown into water for good luck by superstitious Romans, an archaeologist suggested.

They were discovered at the Sparrow's Den field during work by Thames Water to reduce flooding risk from sewers.

The low denomination coins, two of which depict Roman emperors Constantine and Diocletian, are said to date back to the Third and Fourth Centuries.
The BBC has a nice picture of one of the coins in uncleaned condition, to give you an example of what they look like when they are discovered.

It must be nice to be in a country where ancient coins are inadvertantly dug up out of the ground every now and then.

Hat Tip: London News and Things of Muse

Nagin's "God Wants a Chocolate City"

As reported by the Associated Press and posted on Breitbart.com:
Nagin also promised that New Orleans will be a "chocolate" city again. Many of the city's black neighborhoods were heavily damaged by Katrina.

"It's time for us to come together. It's time for us to rebuild New Orleans _ the one that should be a chocolate New Orleans," the mayor said. "This city will be a majority African American city. It's the way God wants it to be. You can't have New Orleans no other way. It wouldn't be New Orleans."
One would think that invoking God's will after a veritable "Act of God" hammered the city (including the heavily "chocolate" sections) is presumptuous as to the true nature of God's will. So now not only does Pat Roberston know God's will, but so does Nagin. The two deserve each other and both are about as credible as authorities on what God wants. Mind you, niehter Pat Robertson nor God left 500 buses to be washed out when they could have been used to get people out of the city, and they both certainly didn't drop the ball on Nagin's lacksadasical and incompetent disaster planning.

Interestingly, neither of the major Detroit local papers feature the chocolate city comment.
The Detroit News buries Nagin's comments but leaves out the chocolate line11 paragraphs down in a story on Martin Luther King commemorations throughout the United States.
New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin called on black people to rebuild the city, which was more than 60 percent black before Katrina displaced about three-quarters of its population.

"This city will be a majority African American city," Nagin told a crowd at City Hall. "It's the way God wants it to be. You can't have New Orleans no other way. It wouldn't be New Orleans."

The Detroit Free Press does not mention Nagin's comments at all. One would think such an assinine comment would be of interest to Detroiters.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Coin: A Legionary Denarius of Septimius Severus

193-211 AD, Legionary denarius, Rome, 193 AD, 2.98g. BM-7, C-256 (10 Fr.), RIC-2.
On the Reverse: LEG I ADIVT TR P COS Legionary eagle between two standards.
On the Obverse: Head of Septimius right, bearded with diadem.
Condition: Good VF

The support of the Legions was vital for the Emperors of Rome to maintain, and a great deal of the coins produced by Rome went to pay the soldiers to ensure their loyalty.

To that end many of the coins struck featured the Emperor's military virtues and appealed to the loyalty of the armies.

Few emperors struck coins that actually named the Legions. Mark Anthony, while not a Roman Emperor was the first to issue a series of Legionary Denarius, and his series are the most famous. The later Roman Emperors Gallienus and Septimius Severus also struck coins naming individual legions. In Severus' case the legions depicted on the coins were those that supported him in the civil war of 193-194 CE.

This Coin honors Legio I Adiutirx. It is currently for sale, along with a number of other of Severus' Legionary Denarii by Harlan J. Berk in the Company's current bid or buy sale. This coin has a top buy price of $550.00

The Severus legionary series is the scarcer of the legionary denarius issues and such a group of them being offered for sale is quite a rare occurrence.

Michigan Spammer heading to Jail

In a first under the CAN-SPAM Act, a Michigan resident will likely receive jail time for spamming. As reported in the Detroit News: Feds to send spammer to slammer
A West Bloomfield man, the lead defendant in the nation's first anti-spam prosecution brought under a 2004 law, has reached a plea deal that will result in at least two years in prison.

Daniel J. Lin is expected to plead guilty in U.S. District Court on Tuesday to three felony counts, including two charges of fraud in connection with electronic mail, according to a court filing and his Detroit attorney, Juan Mateo.

Lin was charged with three other West Bloomfield men in April 2004 with sending millions of illegal spam e-mails.
Interestingly enough, Lin was also charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm and that charge will be a part of the plea agreement.

While its a positive step, considering this is just the result of the first prosecution since 2003, its time for the Feds to step up prosecuting spammers. One down, many more sources of spam flooding my inbox to go.

Update (1/17/06): Blogger Expatriate Owl emails that one of the problems with CAN-SPAM is that it lacks a private right of action allowing those who are spammed to sue the spammers. I couldn't agree more. Instead of the having just the Federal Government, with its relatively limited resources to worry about (after all the FBI has more important things to investigate than spammers) imagine if the spammers could be sued by everyone to whom they sent spam illegally to. I'd think the amount of spam would drop dramatically.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The second to last refuge of Canadian Political Scoundrels: The American Card

As pointed out by Instapundit, the first refuge of Canadian Political Scoundrels is of course Gun Control.

The second of course, is playing the anti-American card:
In one of the more electrifying moments of the two-hour debate, Martin lashed out at Harper over "the basic value gap" between them, and said the Tory leader wanted to foist "American conservative values on Canada. "America is our neighbour, not our nation" thundered Martin.
From the Toronto Star, itself a bastion of anti-Americanism.

Whether the crass attempt to invoke standard Canadian knee-jerk reaction to flee in horror from anyone or any policy labelled pro-American or American-like will pay off is too early to tell, but its certainly a calculated gambit to shed attention from the unending tide of Liberal Party corruption scandals in Canada.

Expect to hear Prime Minister Martin continue to use the term American in a derogatory fashion thoroughout his campaign. Not a particularly wise idea to be so negative about your largest trading partner and largest, closest neighbor, but in Canada its good political pandering.

Michigan Civil Rights Initiative Ballot Draft Language Released

In the Article Ballot Truth The Detroit Free Press Reports that the
State Elections Director Chris Thomas has developed a fair description of the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative [as follows:] "a proposal to amend the state Constitution to ban affirmative action programs that give preferential treatment to groups or individuals based on their race, gender, color, ethnicity or national origin for public employment, education or contracting purposes."

Interestingly the Freep points out that this is the first time such a proposal mentions banning both affirmative action and preferential treatment, the Free Press editorial notes that
The brief history of such proposals is that when they mention only ending affirmative action, they fail; when they mention only ending "preferential treatment," they pass. Michigan would be the first state to combine both aspects.
Of course, the Freep can't fail to get in a snide remark at the Michigan Civil Rights Initiaive, calling it "deceptively named". How ending government discrimination based on sex, race and ethnicity is somehow not a civil rights initiative is unexplained by the Free Press Editorial. Now that is deceptive on the Free Press' part.

Friday, January 06, 2006

What not to do when approached by Police

As reported in the Macomb Daily: Woman in high-speed chase sues police for shooting her: Bullets paralyze driver; attorney says cops used excessive force

By Jameson Cook
Macomb Daily Staff Writer

A woman who was left a paraplegic after being shot several times by Warren police in the moments following a high-speed car chase has accused officers of using excessive force in a lawsuit filed in Macomb County Circuit Court.

Carmen Mattera recently sued the city of Warren and police officers Paul Houtos, Kenneth Marsee, Richard James Schnur and Greg Booten for the Jan. 4, 2003, shooting incident on Interstate 696 near the Oakland-Macomb counties border. She claims violations of her constitutional right to due process, equal protection, and to enjoy life and liberty.

"Why did they fill her car with bullets?" her attorney, Ira Saperstein, told The Macomb Daily. "Why were they shooting at her 30 or 40 times? They have her car surrounded. She can't go anywhere.

. . .

Mattera, 45, a Warren native who had been living in Roseville, was charged with two counts of attempted murder, fleeing police and assault with a dangerous weapon, among other offenses. She was found "not guilty by reason of insanity" about 10 months later following a 1-day bench trial in front of Macomb County Circuit Judge Donald Miller.


The incident began as a family dispute regarding her parents that went from her to her brother's residence on Martin Road in Roseville. Her brother, nine years older than her, called police, saying that his sister had pointed a gun at him and had fled in a Chevy Malibu.
Ok here's the Big Mistake #1 that led to all the others: Threatening a family member (or anyone else for that matter) with a gun is a definite way to atttract police interest.
Mattera refused to stop for police on Gratiot Avenue, speeding away at speeds up to 110 mph first on westbound I-696 then on eastbound I-696, where Madison Heights police used "stop sticks" to puncture the tires of her car and caused it to crash into a freeway wall.
Here's Mistake Number 2: When those red and blue lights appear in your rearview mirror, pull over to the right and STOP.
Officers Houtos and Marsee said they fired their guns in response to seeing smoke or a fire flash coming from the end of the barrel of the .38-caliber handgun being held by Mattera in the car. Schnur testified in a 37th District Court hearing that he approached the vehicle to find a bleeding Mattera lying across the front seat with a revolver in her hand.

"She turned her head in my direction and raised the gun directly at me," Schnur testified. He yelled to fellow officers that she had a gun, and he fired "three or four" rounds in her direction as he retreated.
Mistake Number 3: Pointing a firearm at a police officer leads to a definite downward spiral.
More than 400 rounds of ammunition for her handgun were found in her car. Mattera told the psychologist that she had kept all of her belongings in her car because she had been transient.

Saperstein said that he can show that Mattera did not fire her gun first, and even if she did, the police officers' response was excessive.

"They say she fired one time, which I'm going to show was impossible," he said.

He argued that even though Mattera's brother told police his sister was armed, police "didn't know she had a gun."
Wow, the "he hit me back first theory" not a typical winner but anything can happen. Nevermind the police were told she had a gun, which certainly would make them a bit concerned about approaching a driver of a car which had tried to elude them.
Mattera's brother also had told police over the telephone that his sister was bipolar.
Ok, we can understand she's not in a normal frame of mind, after all being found not guilty by reason of insanity is pretty clear. She certainly should never have had a gun.

Now try to square her attorneys statements that "he can show that Mattera did not fire her gun first, and even if she did, the police officers' response was excessive." with her statement below:
She says that after her vehicle crashed on I-696, "I stayed in the vehicle and saw them draw their weapons. I got down in the seat of the car because they drew their weapons. They opened fire and I saw the bullets going in and out of the car. I was hit with quite a few of them. I brought out my pistol and I fired in the air and fired wide, not to hit anybody. I saw that it was doing no good, so I quit doing it."
That would be Mistake Number 4, even accepting what she said as true, especially when it doesn't make a lot of sense at all, you don't "brought out my pistol and I fired in the air and fired wide, not to hit anybody." when police approach your car after you just crashed after fleeing them, you drop the gun and put your hands up in plain sight.

Its a sad case of a violent, mentally disturbed person and the police being forced to protect themselves and the public. A disturbing incident that should never have occurred as she should have been institutionalized, but certainly not a matter when there is police wrongdoing or grounds for a lawsuit.