Apparently It Is Now Impossible To Beat A Speeding Ticket In Ohio

In a 5-1 decision Wednesday, Ohio’s Supreme Court upheld a speeding ticket based solely upon how fast a driver appeared to be moving. You read that right, an officer’s educated guess is now sufficient to overcome the state’s burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

Justice Maureen O’Connor (who’s running for chief justice of the Ohio Supreme Court this November) wrote (in part):

We hold that a police officer’s unaided visual estimation of a vehicle’s speed is sufficient evidence to support a conviction for speeding in violation of R.C. 4511.21(D) without independent verification of the vehicle’s speed if the officer is trained, is certified by the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy or a similar organization that develops and implements training programs to meet the needs of law enforcement professionals and the communities they serve, and is experienced in visually estimating vehicle speed.

That’s right, no independent verification, just the best guess of a highly-trained and infallible officer of the law. Thank God every police officer in Ohio is completely beyond reproach, otherwise some might abuse a law that gives such sweeping power with absolutely no accountability.

The lone dissenting vote came from Justice Terrence O’Donnell (apparently the only person on the Ohio Supreme Court with any sense) who argued the majority essentially created a standard that the police officer is always right.

This sets a dangerous precedent. In what other areas might an officer’s uncorroborated expert opinion to be admitted as incontrovertible evidence?

On the positive side, imagine the positive impact this will have on the state’s budget. Auction off all that unnecessary RADAR and LIDAR equipment! Speedometers in patrol cars will be a thing of the past!

Hopefully the ACLU (or someone) can get this insane decision before the US Supreme Court where it will be overturned. Unless they, too, have all taken leave of their senses.

Yes We Did!

Like many folks out there, I found myself more engaged in the political process this year than I’ve ever been in my 24 years of (off and on) voting. When I woke up today, something felt different, at the risk of sounding cliché, I actually have hope for the future and believe that things are going to get better. If President Obama can just undo the damage that the Bush administration has done to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, that would cement his legacy in my mind.

Dear President-elect Obama,
Please bring back Habeas Corpus. Stop the government, our government, from spying on us without just cause and without a warrant. I want to live in a nation that doesn’t torture, that doesn’t rush to war under false pretenses. I want a nation that holds its politicians, and indeed each of its citizens, accountable. Mr. Obama, you’ve talked a lot about “change” and we listened. Now show us the change. Repeal the Patriot Act. Position us, as a nation, to be at the vanguard of the coming wave of “green” technology and alternative energy. This is our “Space Race” and its implications for our future are even more profound. Give us back our freedoms and lead us to the future. That is how we, as a nation, can reaffirm our title as the greatest and most powerful nation on earth. Please, Mr. Obama, lead us there.

Greg Evans

I’m sure it’s just a coincidence… yeah, a coincidence, that’s it.

Apparently four transoceanic communications network cables have been mysteriously severed. The result of this is that internet traffic in the Middle East has been severely hampered and, according to some reports, completely halted to and from Iran. Even more interesting, what little traffic still exists is being re-routed through the US and UK, but I’m sure there’s nothing fishy going on, it’s probably just a massive series of completely unrelated coincidences.

Here’s more from Monday’s episode of Rocketboom (the pertinent part begins at about 2:15).

Also, on a completely unrelated note, here’s Wikipedia’s page on the USS Jimmy Carter, which says, in part:

Carter is roughly 100 feet (30 m) longer than the other two ships of her class. This is due to the insertion of a section known as the Multi-Mission Platform (MMP), which allows launch and recovery of ROVs and Navy SEAL forces. The plug features a fairing over a wasp-waist shaped passageway allowing crew to pass between the fore and aft sections of the hull while providing a space to store ROVs and special equipment that may need to launch and recover from the submarine. The MMP may also be used as an underwater splicing chamber for tapping of undersea fiber optic cables. This role was formerly filled by the decommissioned USS Parche (SSN-683).

Jimmy Carter, Iran… I’m sure it’s all just a massive coincidence.

Of Terrorism and the Culture of Fear

Thanks to the combined efforts of “the terrorists”, the news media, and the Bush administration, it appears that we are becoming a nation of trembling Chicken Littles frightened by our own shadows.

I just came across this AP news story by way of Boing Boing, which I will use to illustrate my point.

Basically, here’s what happened:

A Connecticut teacher thought she was alone in the school building. Two teenagers and a custodian, also thinking they were alone in the building began singing “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns N’ Roses over the PA system. Upon hearing the lyric

You know where you are?
You’re in the jungle baby
You’re gonna die

the teacher loses her mind, and fearing for her life, barricades herself in a room then notifies the authorities. Six troopers and three police dogs show up and the kids are handcuffed until the “investigation” reveals that there was no threat or danger.

Now honestly, I can undestand how that would startle, even frighten a person, but come on! Surely most rational people would immediately recognize it for exactly what it was; kids goofing off.

Similarly, apparently all it takes is a “suspicious package” or an errant piece of pipe to fling an entire community into mass-hysteria. Recently our local news reported that a man had found what he thought might be a pipe-bomb in his garage. As you can imagine, the response was immediate and overwhelming. With the help of all manner and sorts of high tech equipment, the bomb squad determined that the “device” didn’t contain any explosives. But even after this discovery, they (the reporters and law enforcement) continued to refer to it as a “pipe bomb”.

Uh, excuse me, but isn’t it the addition of explosives that makes it a “pipe bomb”? Without something that goes “boom”, it seems to me that all you really have is a pipe.

The sad thing is, as society becomes further indoctrinated into the culture of fear, this type of incident will become more commonplace and, I’m afraid, eventually accepted.

To Protect and to Serve?

I’m sure many of you are familiar with the events during the May Day Demonstrations in LA.
Everything I’ve seen points to LAPD shutting down what appeared to be a purely peaceful protest (in full riot gear, firing rubber bullets into the crowd). The amazing thing to me is that they (LAPD) didn’t manage to escalate the situation into a full-blown riot, Lord knows they tried. Oh sure, the party line is: “They’re there to prevent a riot.” That sounds good on the surface, but it sure seems to me that at least as many riots are instigated by the police as by those later labeled “rioters”.
Brad, over at the Brad Blog shot some good video, check it out.

Jesus! What sort of police state are we living in? How far do “they” have to push before We the People decide we’ve had enough and start pushing back?

Here’s another well written report of the events, from You’ll find plenty more about the events on their front page, as well.

Update 5/4: More from Boing Boing here.

Paranoia, the Destroyer

So, I was perusing my server logs (like I do) and discovered that someone from the Department of Homeland Security had found their way to my blog, via Google (and this isn’t the first time).

I don’t want to run afoul of “them” and find myself in some secret gulag somewhere being subjected to various forms of “not torture”, so I won’t divulge what search phrase landed them here.

Suffice it to say that given my predilection toward paranoid delusions/flights of fancy this information has made me feel decidedly less secure. Of course, I could just assume that someone in Homeland Security was goofing off at work and found their way here, but where’s the fun in that?

And it goes like this.

ACLU Says FBI is Spying on Religious, Protest Groups

Well… Duh! Everyone should give Steve Earle’s “Conspiracy Theory” from the Jerusalem CD a listen. I may not agree with all of Mr. Earle’s politics, but I think he’s spot-on with his “paranoia” about government intrusiveness.

What if I told you it was done with mirrors
What if I showed you it was all a lie
Better be careful, someone might hear ya
The walls have ears and the sky has eyes
What if I said you were only dreamin’
What you want to bet that all you got to do
Is open up your eyes and you’ll wake up screamin’
When you realize that it’s all come true

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The American Civil Liberties Union on Thursday accused the FBI and local police of spying on political and faith-based groups and formally
asked the government for information about such FBI surveillance.

In Freedom of Information Act requests filed in 10 states and Washington, D.C., the ACLU sought information about the FBI’s use of Joint Terrorism Task Forces and local police for what it called political surveillance. It pointed to some documented examples of task forces’ involvement in the investigation of environmental activists and anti-war protesters. “The FBI is wasting its time and our tax dollars spying on groups that criticize the government, like the Quakers in Colorado or Catholic Peace Ministries in Iowa,” said ACLU associate legal director Ann Beeson.

“Do Americans really want to return to the days when peaceful critics become the subject of government investigations?” she said. The ACLU is America’s most prominent independent advocacy group for civil liberties.

The FOIA requests seek FBI files on groups and individuals targeted for speaking out or practicing their faith.

The FBI denied using the task forces — a key element of the government’s efforts to prevent another terror attack like those on Sept. 11, 2001 — to spy on innocent individuals.

Asked about the ACLU action, an FBI spokesman said, “The FBI does not investigate individuals or groups that are engaged in exercising their constitutional rights of freedom of expression.

He added, “Only if they are engaged in criminal activity in support of a cause would we be interested in them.”

In its FOIA request, the ACLU asked for information on procedures used by the task forces for monitoring people based on their race, religious affiliation, organizational membership or participation in protest activities.