Patterico's Pontifications

8/22/2014

How to Get Obama’s Attention

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:52 am

Saw this one on the Twitters and wanted to pass it along.

Screen Shot 2014-08-22 at 7.50.02 AM

The beheading of James Foley was a tragedy. Now watch this drive.

Is the Ideal Patent Reform to Eliminate Patents?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:42 am

Can you stand a non-Ferguson, non-ISIS, non-Obama post?

We should consider abolishing patents entirely.

Ken White tells us about the newest and most outrageous ploy by a patent troll: suing the lawyer that is trying to stop their abusive activity. A troll is an ugly monster who sits under a bridge and demands a toll for people to cross it, even though he provides no service whatsoever. A patent troll is an ugly monster who registers a ridiculous, overbroad patent, and then goes around suing and demanding cash settlements from people who do standard activities that he claims infringes on his patent.

The classic example is the guy who claims he invented podcasting. As I recall the story, he read stories from magazines and put them on cassette tapes, and filed a patent for this. In 2009, he “updated” the patent to include downloads from URLs on the Web. So now, if you are a podcaster, this guy might sue you — even though his supposedly original invention contributed zero to modern-day podcasting. For example, he sued Adam Carolla, thought to be the most successful podcaster in existence — and Carolla recently settled with him.

Abusive litigation is one hallmark of the patent troll, and in 2008 this very blog noted (for example) someone suing a patent troll tracker for defamation. Suits over patents tend to take place in the Eastern District of Texas. There is a little town there called Marshall that has numerous unoccupied office spaces which serve as the headquarters for plenty of “inventors” and their companies. The jurisdiction famously caters to patent trolls.

So there’s your background. Ken’s news is that one patent troll company is suing, not just the company that owns the patent, but their lawyer as well. Ken says: “Landmark Technologies has been widely described as a patent troll based on its model of demanding payments from businesses that accept credit cards online.” Landmark has sued eBay and eBay’s lawyer. Why eBay’s lawyer? Because he attempted to have the Patent Office re-examine Landmark’s patents. They claim this constituted any number of a laundry list of torts. As Ken points out, the Patent Office agreed with the lawyer as to one of the patents, and (by agreeing to re-examine them) showed that they believed there was a substantial question as to the others.

We’ve seen this type of abusive litigation, including suing lawyers who try to help victims, before. Hint: et-bray imberlin-kay.

Ken says: “However, the fact that patent trolls are willing to abuse the system like this — and lawyers are willing to help them — demonstrates the need for substantial patent reform.” Yes, I agree.

May I suggest abolishing patents?

Stephan Kinsella of AgainstMonopoly.org has argued that patents do not, in fact, encourage innovation. Instead, they cost the economy hundreds of billions of dollars, stifling innovation and creating a sort of oligopoly. I find his arguments convincing. The empirical evidence appears to contradict the notion that we need to use government power to restrict how ideas are used, or we will get no new ideas. I don’t have time for a full exposition here, but wanted to mention the idea to get a discussion going.

Also: Ferguson! ISIS! Obama!

Gratitude Expressed

Filed under: General — Dana @ 6:07 am

[guest post by Dana]

Dr. Kent Brantley was released from Emory University Hospital yesterday. In his statement to the press, he eloquently expressed his heartfelt gratitude to the many people involved in his recovery, as well as God for seeing him through this ordeal. It was a good reminder to me that there is something greater than mere mortal man at work in this universe and that all is not random chaos and luck of the draw. I was also reminded that for the believer whose life is hidden in Christ, no matter the circumstances being faced, it is possible to more than endure with and because of grace. To the faithful like Dr. Brantley, to live is Christ, to die is gain becomes a profoundly real truth as it is worked out in their lives.

“Today is a miraculous day. I am thrilled to be alive, to be well and to be reunited with my family. As a medical missionary, I never imagined myself in this position. When my family and I moved to Liberia last October to begin a two-year term working with Samaritan’s Purse, Ebola was not on the radar. We moved to Liberia because God called us to serve the people of Liberia.

“In March, when we got word that Ebola was in Guinea and had spread to Liberia, we began preparing for the worst. We didn’t receive our first Ebola patient until June, but when she arrived, we were ready. During the course of June and July, the number of Ebola patients increased steadily, and our amazing crew at ELWA Hospital took care of each patient with great care and compassion. We also took every precaution to protect ourselves from this dreaded disease by following MSF and WHO guidelines for safety.

“After taking Amber and our children to the airport to return to the States on Sunday morning, July 20, I poured myself into my work even more than before—transferring patients to our new, bigger isolation unit; training and orienting new staff; and working with our Human Resources officer to fill our staffing needs. Three days later, on Wednesday, July 23, I woke up feeling under the weather, and then my life took an unexpected turn as I was diagnosed with Ebola Virus Disease. As I lay in my bed in Liberia for the following nine days, getting sicker and weaker each day, I prayed that God would help me to be faithful even in my illness, and I prayed that in my life or in my death, He would be glorified.

Above all, I am forever thankful to God for sparing my life and am glad for any attention my sickness has attracted for the plight of West Africa in the midst of this epidemic. Please continue to pray for Liberia and the people of West Africa, and encourage those in positions of leadership and influence to do everything possible to bring this Ebola outbreak to an end. Thank you.”

It is likely that because of Dr. Brantley’s contraction of Ebola (and subsequent recovery), more attention has been and will continue to be given to working on a vaccine, which in turn could lead to a slowdown and even eventual eradication of Ebola outbreaks. Full circle.

–Dana

8/21/2014

Fertile Ground For Terrorists

Filed under: General — Dana @ 8:52 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Right about now, no matter which way one looks, everything is just madness. Witness the strange intersection of ISIS and Ferguson: ISIS militants are closely following the situation in Ferguson and manipulatively playing on the angry frustration of blacks to join them. Even terrorists understand the potential in never letting a crisis go to waste. For where there is a crisis, there is opportunity. They are using social media to get their message across.

The Islamic State and other jihadist movements are using the events outside St. Louis as propaganda against the West. One argument they’ve been making for years is that racism and discrimination are rampant in some parts of the West, and they’re hoping the Ferguson riots could help recruit black Americans. “In Islam there is no racism, and we think black people will wake up and follow the example of Malcolm X and others who understood that this way is the only way to justice,” said Abu Mansour, who lives in Germany and is also a follower of the Islamic State.

All of the jihadists interviewed said Brown’s death confirms their beliefs that blacks are seen as second-class citizens by whites and especially by the police. “I think that blacks in the U.S. will look more towards Islam,” said Anjem Choudary from Great Britain, co-founder of the banned “al-­Muhajiroun” group.

Further:

According to Site Intelligence Group, an organization that tracks the online activity of terrorists, the accounts have mainly addressed the black community, arguing that blacks are victims of “democracy while promising less discrimination under Shari’ah law.”

Adding to the madness, self-proclaimed jihadist Mujahid Miski posted under the #FergusonUnderIS hashtag:

“Justice and Equality is under the Shari’ah law. You’ll never get it under Democracy.”

So while Ferguson is now on the ISIS radar, we also find out that the messy illegal immigration situation we face is also contributing to the development of future terrorists.

According to the utterly irrational and mad Democratic State Representative and candidate for U.S. representative Pat Murphy, if a pathway to citizenship is not granted to the illegals crossing our southern borders, they will likely become terrorists:

“They’re not from Mexico, they’re coming from further south,” Murphy continued. “We need to make sure that when we’re talking about these children we need to treat them like they’re our children or our grandchildren. If they’re gonna be refugees, which several of them are going to be, we need to make sure that we have—one, we take care of them, and we create a pathway for citizenship and set up education for them so they don’t become the same problem that we’re currently having in the Middle East—that they’ll be terrorists a generation from now.”

Like I said, everywhere one looks, it’s just madness.

–Dana

New Republic: This Crazy Law In Missouri (Oh, and Almost Every Other State) Puts the Burden on the Prosecution!!!

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:57 pm

At The New Republic, Yishai Schwartz has an unintentionally hilarious article titled Convicting Darren Wilson Will Be Basically Impossible, with a deck headline reading: “You can thank Missouri law for that.” Stupid Missouri law! Let’s see what Missouri does special that is different from other states. Here I am going to quote from the original version of the piece, which I found at FreeRepublic — because, as you will soon see, they kinda sorta goofed up the central premise of the piece and ended up having to rewrite huge swaths of it to fix the mistake:

But these cultural biases are only part of the story of why a conviction will be near-impossible. The central reason is Missouri state law. Throughout history, claims of self-defense and compelling police activity have served as justifications for the use of deadly force. Most people intuitively understand that self-preservation is a basic right and that police must sometimes use violence to protect society and apprehend criminals. But generally, we expect situations of justified violence and legal killing to be the rare exception, and most people would probably imagine that policemen and citizens raising claims of justifiable homicide must meet a substantive burden of proof. But in Missouri, these justifications barely require any evidence at all.

In other states, claims of self-defense need to be proven as more likely than not, or in legal speak, to a “preponderance of the evidence.” It’s still the state’s obligation to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the defendant actually killed the victim. But once that’s established, the prosecution doesn’t also have to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the killing wasn’t justified. That’s because justifications—like self-defense—require the accused to make an active case, called an “affirmative defense,” that the circumstances were exceptional. The logic here is simple: As a rule, homicide is a crime and justification is reserved for extraordinary cases. Once the state has proven that a defendant did in fact kill someone, it should be the accused’s obligation to prove his or her actions were justified.

Not in Missouri. Instead, as long as there is a modicum of evidence and reasonable plausibility in support of a self-defense claim, a court must accept the claim and acquit the accused. The prosecution must not only prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime, but also disprove a defendant’s claim of self-defense to the same high standard. Under Missouri law, all a citizen claiming self-defense or a police officer claiming to have fired while pursuing a dangerous criminal need do is “inject the issue of justification.” In other words, he only needs to produce some evidence (his own testimony counts) supporting the claim. Once he does so, “any reasonable doubt on the issue requires a finding for the defendant.” In Missouri, the burden doesn’t budge an inch, even after we know that the defendant has killed the victim. It doesn’t matter that there is certainty that Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown. As long as there is still the slightest possibility that Wilson acted in his own defense, Missouri law favors Wilson.

Stupid Missouri with its stupid unique outlier of a rule putting the burden on the prosecution!

Note the link to “other states” having a different rule. It goes to the statute in Ohio, which has a different rule. Well, guess what? Ohio is the only state in the union that clearly applies a different rule. That’s right: the stupid Missouri rule that The New Republic says is going to free Darren Wilson is the law in at least 48, and arguably 49, states (and the District of Columbia). Eugene Volokh wrote about this back during the Zimmerman case:

Who should bear the burden of proving or disproving self-defense in criminal cases, and by what quantum (preponderance of the evidence, clear and convincing evidence, or beyond a reasonable doubt), is an interesting question. But on this point, Florida law is precisely the same as in nearly all other states: In 49 of the 50 states [UPDATE: I would now say it's 48½], once the defense introduces any evidence of possible self-defense, the prosecution must disprove self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt.

This wasn’t always the rule. The English common law rule at the time of the Framing was that the defense must prove self-defense by a preponderance of the evidence, and Ohio still follows that rule; the Supreme Court has held (Martin v. Ohio (1987)) that placing this burden on the accused is constitutional. But to my knowledge, only Ohio still takes the view — all the other states do not. [See UPDATE below for one other state, Louisiana, in which some courts in some situations also take this view.]

. . . .

[I]f you’re focusing on what is the view in “most other states” on the burden and quantum of proof in self-defense cases, then you should note that Florida is entirely in line with that view.

UPDATE (July 30, 2013): It turns out that there’s one other state in which some courts follow the Ohio rule in some situations — Louisiana. The Louisiana Supreme Court made clear that it follows the majority rule in homicide cases, and some lower appellate courts do the same in non-homicide cases, but other appellate courts follow the Ohio rule in non-homicide cases, and the Louisiana Supreme Court has yet to resolve the conflict. See State v. Glover, 106 So. 3d 129, 137-38 (La. Ct. App. 2012) for more details.

The New Republic piece now bears this note at the bottom of the piece:

Correction and update: A previous version of this article implied that Missouri’s low burden for self-defense claims made it an outlier among U.S. states. Although historically, many states required defendants to actively prove a justification defense (and Ohio still does), in the last few decades most other states have moved away from Ohio’s approach and resemble Missouri’s. The legal situation is therefore perhaps even more troubling than originally implied. The language of the story has been updated to reflect this.

Indeed it has. The rewriting is extensive and amusing. The previous sentence “The central reason is Missouri state law” now reads “The central reason is a recent trend in many states’ criminal laws.” (Try “virtually all” instead of “many.”) The previous sentence “But in Missouri, these justifications barely require any evidence at all” now says “in states like Missouri” instead of just “Missouri.” The previous sentence “Not in Missouri” now becomes “Not in most states today, including Missouri.”

The piece still says it’s different in “other states” (plural) with only a link to Ohio — which is, again, the only state in the union that clearly and consistently puts the burden on the defendant.

The post closes by saying:

Within reason, legal protections for, and presumptions in favor of, policemen acting in the line of duty make sense. Society has chosen to give these men and women guns, after all. And if we expect these officers to put their lives on the line, we owe them some measure of trust and due deference. But trust cannot become a license to kill. We have a word for a situation where killing is the default, where violence is so expected that the burden is no longer on a killer to prove his actions are justified. That word is war. It has no place in suburban St. Louis.

No, the word for a situation where the burden is on the prosecution to disprove self-defense is “America.” With the exception of Ohio and possibly Louisiana in some cases, that is the norm, and it’s hardly a shocking one in American jurisprudence: the burden of proof is on the prosecution. CRAZY!!!!11!!11!ELEVENTY!!

I understand this rule bothers people who want to presume cops guilty when they kill someone. But that’s our system — and lefties like Yishai Schwartz generally like it, until it runs up against their preferred outcomes. Then, the system can go hang — and so, it seems, can basic research.

Police Reported a Week Ago That Officer Was Injured After Altercation With Michael Brown, Plus, A New Shooting

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:41 am

Yesterday, I linked a report concerning anonymous claims that the officer who shot Michael Brown sustained an eye fracture, and expressed some skepticism, saying: “Ferguson P.D. never mentioned it before.” While it’s true (as far as I know) that the department never mentioned a fractured eye socket before, a correspondent writes to tell me that on August 13, which is now over one week ago, Reuters reported that the officer had sustained an injury to his face:

Police Chief Thomas Jackson told a news conference the unidentified officer was treated at a hospital for swelling on the side of his face, one of the few details released about events surrounding the Saturday night shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

Again, this is not as clear or convincing as a fractured eye socket, which is what is now being reported, albeit so far only by anonymous sources. But my correspondent also notes that the police department is being told by the federal government not to release certain information. For example, they initially did not release the video due to special pleading from DoJ. The Huffington Post recently reported:

CNN revealed on Saturday that the Department of Justice found out about the video earlier this week and asked police not to make it public.

Interestingly, this tidbit was removed from the CNN article linked by HuffPo — but the news lives on in a CNN reporter’s Twitter feed:


So who knows what else police have been instructed — sorry, “asked” — not to say by the feds? It’s possible Governor Jay “Darren Wilson must be vigorously prosecuted” Nixon got in on the act as well.

Meanwhile, there has been another shooting, and this one is on video. Don’t watch it if such things disturb you. Police had received calls about a man with a knife acting erratically. When they arrived at the scene, Kajieme Powell had the knife and walked towards police, yelling “Shoot me now!” He then walked to his left and then again towards one of the officers. You can see what happened here:

Initial police reports described the guy as coming within 3-4 feet of the police and holding the knife in an “overhand grip.” The video shows that is inaccurate. Powell is a little further away than 3-4 feet when he is shot. Exactly how far away is tough to tell from the video — maybe 8-10 feet? He is not holding the knife above his head, but at his side. Nevertheless, you do hear Powell screaming “Shoot me now! Shoot me now, motherfucker!” You hear officers yelling for him to drop the knife, and he does not obey their instructions.

Jack Dunphy, the pseudonymous L.A. cop and talented writer, used to be a guest poster here at patterico.com. He once wrote a post titled Come at a Cop With a Knife, Expect to Be Shot. Some people who are completely clueless about the danger posed by knife-wielding assailants are saying the cops should have used tasers. Are you kidding me? People kill people with knives. I am going to go out on a limb here and declare that Powell should have dropped the knife and complied with the officers’ orders. Instead, he approached them screaming “Shoot me now, motherfuckers!” Not a wise move. If I were on a jury, based on that video, I’d vote that the cops had the right to shoot Powell.

8/20/2014

Compare and Contrast

Filed under: General — Dana @ 7:16 pm

[guest post by Dana]

After the ghastly news of the ISIS beheading, Jim Geraghty pointed out a significant and telling difference in the response of two world leaders:

Over there: “U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron cut short his summer vacation to return to London and chair urgent meetings on the threat posed by ISIS in Iraq and Syria, calling the video ‘shocking and depraved.’”

Over here: President Obama went back to his vacation on Martha’s Vineyard Tuesday evening following less than 48 hours in Washington, leaving people puzzled over why he came back in the first place.

Obama’s two days in Washington were mostly quiet, and concluded with the president receiving his daily national security briefing in the morning, and joining Vice President Biden to huddle with members of his economic team in the afternoon.

–Dana

Anonymous Report: Officer Who Shot Michael Brown Suffered Fracture to Eye Socket in Confrontation

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:53 am

Tough to know what to make of this, since it’s based on anonymous sources and Ferguson P.D. never mentioned it before.

Then again, their messaging has been, shall we say, somewhat imperfect.

ISIS Beheads Journalist James Foley on Video

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:47 am

Just awful. The video was apparently on YouTube yesterday but was removed by Google, and Twitter has begun suspending accounts that share images of the beheading.

Poking around Twitter and the blogs, it seems that most people seem to be in agreement that this is the right thing to do. I guess I am an outlier here, but while I certainly understand the concerns of those who don’t want such images out there, it’s my personal view that violence should be confronted head-on. I think videos of what happened at the World Trade Center should be available. When Nick Berg was beheaded, over ten years ago, I believed people should have the ability to view that video.

For what it’s worth, at least one version of the video (which I assume is the same one pulled yesterday, though I have no way of knowing it) has popped back up on YouTube and was linked by Ben Howe on Twitter. If you want to view it, Howe’s tweet is here — at least until Howe gets suspended from Twitter, or the new upload of the video is pulled by Google.

If you don’t want to watch it (and I can’t blame you), I have a brief description below. If even that is too much, go on to the next post. I’ll bury the description under the fold.

But I would like to note, authorities are trying to determine whether the voice of Foley’s murderer — a man who speaks proper English with a British accent — was one of the people we released from Guantanamo.

R.I.P. James Foley. This is just horrible.

P.S. Apparently the Obama administration had been warned before the release of the video of the threat to Foley’s life, as well as threats to a second journalist, Steven Sotloff, also depicted alive in the video.

(more…)

8/19/2014

NYT: “…Doesn’t Seem To Rise To The Level Of A Criminal Act. . .” .

Filed under: General — Dana @ 7:56 pm

[guest post by Dana]

I realize I’m late to this and that a number of you are already caught up, but I’m going to post it anyway.

The New York Times joined in the chorus of liberals who are not supportive of the indictment against Rick Perry. Amusingly, from the get-go, they felt compelled to reassure readers they still do not like nor approve of Perry one little bit before casting doubt on the proceedings against him:

Gov. Rick Perry of Texas is one of the least thoughtful and most damaging state leaders in America, having done great harm to immigrants, abortion clinics and people without health insurance during his 14 years in office. But bad political judgment is not necessarily a felony, and the indictment handed up against him on Friday — given the facts so far — appears to be the product of an overzealous prosecution.

The editorial then moves on to the indictment:

Mr. Perry should have left the matter [of Lehmberg’s resignation] to the courts, where both a criminal and a civil attempt to have her removed failed, or to the voters.

But his ill-advised veto still doesn’t seem to rise to the level of a criminal act. . . .

Governors and presidents threaten vetoes and engage in horse-trading all the time to get what they want, but for that kind of political activity to become criminal requires far more evidence than has been revealed in the Perry case so far.

Also today, Perry turned himself in, and looking rather dapper, had his mug shot taken.

“I’m going to fight this injustice with every fiber of my being. And we will prevail,” Perry said before walking inside the building, where he set off a metal detector but didn’t break stride, heading straight to a first-floor office to have his fingerprints taken and stand for the mug shot.

I’ve got to say, the man wears defiance well.

Untitled-2

(h/t elissa for mug shot)

–Dana

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