Michael Dunn testifying livestream today

September 30, 2014

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Good morning:

The prosecution rested its case yesterday against Michael Dunn.

The defense called Michael Knox, the former Jacksonville Police Department crime scene investigator. Testifying as an expert witness on crime scene reconstruction, he said he had no doubt that “the right rear passenger door to the Durango was open when Dunn opened fire, and it’s his personal opinion that the lower half of Davis’ body was out of the vehicle at that time.”

Dr. Stacey Simons, a pathologist and former medical examiner who autopsied Jordan Davis’s body, testified that he was sitting in the back seat leaning away from the back door when Dunn fired the fatal shot.

The defense is attempting to persuade the jury that Knox is more qualified to accurately inform the jury about Jordan Davis’s position when he was shot.

The jury will have to decide whom to believe.

Meanwhile, Dunn is on the stand now.

Catch the livestream here.


Police officer shot in #Ferguson last night

September 28, 2014

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Good morning:

A police officer was shot in the arm last night in Ferguson while investigating a possible burglary at a community center. The shooter was one of two suspects who fled the scene evading arrest. The shooting does not appear to be related to the protests and the officer was not seriously injured.

For more information, go here.

In case you missed it, Ferguson policed chief, Tom Jackson’s apology to the citizens of Ferguson for his butchery of the Michael Brown investigation was scornfully rejected and his effort to march with the protesters Thursday night provoked loud objections, some pushing and shoving and a few arrests.

So I am nominating Chief Jackson for a Darwin Award.

Some people really are too stupid to pour piss out of a boot.

Meanwhile, the clock is ticking on the St. Louis County prosecutor’s effort to prevent the grand jury from indicting Officer Darren Wilson for murdering Michael Brown.

The whole world is watching.


Judge Healey dismisses juror today in Michael Dunn retrial

September 27, 2014

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Good evening:

Crane and I are safely out of Kentucky and settling in at a new location that we are not going to identify due to continuing concerns about our safety. We still do not have ongoing reliable access to the internet, which is why you have not heard from us recently. We hope to have that problem solved within the next few days.

The most interesting incident today occurred when Judge Healey dismissed Juror #4 because of an article published in Folio Weekly titled, An Interview with a Dunn Jury reject.

Leslie Coursey at ActionNewsJax.com has the story,

A former Folio staffer who was a potential juror but did not make the final cut heard the juror criticize State Attorney Angela Corey during jury selection, according to Folio.

Here’s the quote from the Folio article:

“A 400-pound white schoolteacher who was sitting by me really hated [Corey’s] humor, and made the joke that ‘she would have a hard time proving to a court that I am fat; there would still be reasonable doubt.’”

The Folio writer confirmed to Action News at 12:35 p.m. that it was his article that led to the dismissal of juror #4.

The juror is a white male.

There are two black jurors.

Rhonda Rourer testified today, sobbing as she did before. In the unsurprising-news department, she is no longer engaged to Michael Dunn.

The trial, which is being live-streamed, will resume on Monday.


Ebola Best and Worst-Case Scenarios

September 24, 2014

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Good morning:

Jury selection continues today in the Michael Dunn retrial.

Crane and I are sitting across from each other in a McDonald’s where we are enjoying free coffee and WiFi. We have reached our destination and we will get hooked up to the internet tomorrow afternoon. We will resume regular posting late tomorrow or Friday.

Crane just posted an article at Firedoglake updating readers on the Ebola epidemic. Read it below.

Meanwhile, jury selection continues today in the Michael Dunn retrial.

Ebola Best and Worst-Case Scenarios

By Crane-Station

On Tuesday, the CDC issued a report based on an epidemiological model, that projected a top-range (worst-case) estimate of Ebola cases in West Africa- what the number could reach – by January 20, 2015 – as well as a best-case scenario. Voa News explains:

Between 550,000 and 1.4 million people in West Africa could be infected with the Ebola virus by January 20, 2015, according to a report issued on Tuesday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The top range of the estimate, 1.4 million, assumes that the number of cases officially cited so far, 5864 according to the count kept by the World Health Organization, is significantly underreported, and that it is likely that 2.5 times as many cases, or nearly 20,000, have in fact occurred.

The CDC epidemiological model is based on August numbers, and do not take into consideration the recent US government announcement that it will send 3000 troops into Africa as part of the Ebola relief effort. The best-case projection involves getting 70 percent of the patients into facilities where risk of transmission is reduced, as well as burying the dead safely, which could potentially bring the epidemic to an end by January 20.

Extensive, immediate actions- such as those already stated- can bring the epidemic to a tipping point to start a rapid decline in cases,” CDC said in a statement.

Voa News is also reporting that in Liberia, the number of Ebola cases has been doubling every few weeks, posing a threat to the social, economic and political fabric of the country, as it impacts forestry, mining and agriculture.

In the meantime, experimental Ebola drugs will be tested in West Africa. Ebola is an RNA viral infection with no current cure. Details regarding the testing are “under discussion.” Apparently, three drug companies are working with WHO, to develop fast-track protocols.

Also, since Ebola does spread through bodily fluids, and since it can be transmitted from a dying and dead victim to the living, safe burial practices are a concern. Scientific American explains:

Unlike most pathogens, which cannot survive long on a corpse, however, Ebola does remain infectious after a person dies– for how long remains unknown. WHO notes that men who have survived the disease can still transmit the virus through their semen for up to seven weeks after recovery, providing a glimpse into the longevity of this potent pathogen.

In July, Smithsonian addressed the issue of culture, burial practices, and generalized mistrust that occurs, when strangers from another culture and country come to Africa, to retrieve, bag and disinfect loved ones, who are victims of Ebola:

Telling people that they can’t bury their family members according to tradition can be agonizing, and in order to reassure the living and prevent further infections, health workers follow strict guidelines when disposing of bodies. The WHO’s typical burial guidelines for emergency situations extort (sic) workers to prioritize the living over the dead and discourage mass burials, which can be incredibly demoralizing.

References:
CDC – Ebola- Ebola Virus Disease- What’s New

New Modeling Tool for Response to Ebola Virus Disease


Open Thread Discussion

September 19, 2014

Friday, September 19, 2014

Good afternoon:

We are on the move and will be available on a hit-and-miss basis until the end of next week.

I will be posting from hot spots, such as McDonald’s until we reach our next destination.

Jury selection starts Monday in the Michael Dunn retrial. I doubt there will be live coverage.

Assuming they are able to seat a jury without having to bring in jurors from another judicial district, the opening statements should take place on Wednesday or possibly Thursday.

The trial is expected to last two weeks.

The defense argued a motion yesterday to prevent the medical examiner from testifying about the position Jordan Davis was in when he was shot.

As you may recall, Dunn testified at the trial that Jordan opened the back door and got out when he shot him. The medical examiner, who has since moved on to another job, testified that he was leaning away from the back door toward the driver’s side and passenger sitting behind the driver when he was shot.

She has performed some experiments since the trial and will be testifying that Dunn’s version of the shooting is impossible. His lawyer is seeking to bar that testimony on the ground that she is unqualified to express an opinion on that matter.

That argument is ridiculous because medical examiners routinely autopsy victims who die of gunshot wounds and know more about bullet wounds that anybody else.

The defense will be calling Michael Knox, the self-described forensic expert from Jacksonville whom LLMPapa embarrassed in the run-up to the Zimmerman trial. According to the defense, he is more qualified than the the medical examiner because he is a firearms expert.

HaHaHaHa.

He is going to say that Jordan Davis was out of the back seat when shot and he has prepared a video reconstruction of the shooting to prove it.

Should be interesting to watch the cross examination.

BTW, I do not believe there is any chance that Judge Healey will rule that the medical examiner is not qualified to express her opinion.

If he does, the scoreboard behind the judge will light up with:

Error Judge

The pool is open. Feel fee to discuss the Dunn retrial or any other topic.


Just because we are natural born killers does not mean we are not good people

September 18, 2014

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Good morning:

The significance of the recent scientific study published in Nature, which found that chimpanzees are natural-born killers, is that killing has a genetic basis. They did not learn that behavior from humans or choose to be that way. They are genetically predisposed to kill because, via natural selection, that predisposition has resulted in a competitive advantage for scarce resources and reproduction compared to chimpanzees that do not have that predisposition.

We need only look to our own culture and past to realize that we have the same genetic predisposition.

The Boston Globe reports:

It can be tempting to take a dark view of the violent behavior of chimpanzees, but Joan Silk, a professor in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change at Arizona State University, said discovering the origins of human behaviors in other animals is not the same as learning our destiny.

“How do animals resolve conflict is interesting,” Silk said. “How do animals find out ways to cooperate? Those are general principles from which we can learn a lot, but it doesn’t mean we’re expecting them to be the same across species. I study baboons, and I love them dearly, but they do all kinds of things I think are sort of uncivilized. If they were my kids, I’d be very distressed.”

We are finally beginning to understand that human behavior has a genetic basis. That is, we are predisposed to act in certain ways, despite our race, ethnicity, language and culture.

A predisposition to kill when vital resources are scarce is a competitive advantage. In times of plenty, it’s a competitive disadvantage.

Empathy is a competitive advantage during times of scarcity because survival is enhanced by living in a peer-to-peer cooperative relationship with others.

Individuals cannot long survive unless they belong to a group and groups cannot survive without the informed consent and cooperation of their individual members.

Mutual respect and dignity promote harmony and cooperation in times of scarcity and plenty.

Greed and exploitation of others never do. They promote discord and ultimately cause chaos.

This is why living the Golden Rule and democracy are a better model for living than a corporation that exploits other people and the environment for profit and has no accountability for the harm it causes.

Survival of the fittest is not a law. It’s only a prediction of the outcome of a fight.


Letty Owings, Age 89, Recalls More New Orleans History

September 17, 2014

Letty Owings, age 89 and the author of this post, recalls history, customs and experiences in New Orleans in 1958-1959.

New Orleans Mardi Gras

No chapter on New Orleans would be complete without something about the Mardi Gras experience. We knew about the big parade, but beyond that we knew nothing of the festival. The secrets and functions of the city that revolves around a carnival remain obscure to outsiders. Mardi Gras is not just a celebration, it is a way of life meshed with social structure and status. Anyone who is anyone belongs to a krewe, an organization built on social status, occupation and ancestry. All year long each krewe prepares for the season which ushers in the balls and the parades.

The first balls begin on New Year’s Eve. Generally the functions closest to the New Year have the least prestige. That statement has many variations, so I should not be dogmatic with my pronouncement about the worst first. The parades, mostly at night, happen more and more frequently as the weeks approach the “real” Mardi Gras on Shrove Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. As an aside—“Shrove” days are set aside for celebration and excesses not allowed during Lent.

The date of Mardi Gras is strictly governed by the length of Lent in any given year. As Lent approaches, the parades pick up both in number as well as in prestige. People line the streets to view the floats and catch the trinkets thrown to the crowd by masked revelers. Why a cheap pair of beads thrown from a float takes on the mark of a status symbol is hard to say. It all has to do with the spirit of the occasion when good sense gets exchanged for excitement. I have still in a box somewhere the beads and trinkets we caught from the parades.

After a season of fever-pitch excitement and parades and balls, the Tuesday before Lent comes at last. This is the Mardi Gras tourists know about. Two Krewes are left to do their thing, Rex and Comus. Both Krewes parade in their finery, and their awesome collection of real jewels and royal robes. All participants remain masked until the Rex and Comus ball when the King (Rex, of course) and Queen are revealed to the public. Always the distinctive honor goes to well-known socialites of New Orleans. Few people ever get invited to the Rex and Comus affair. In fact, few outsiders or non-members of krewes ever get to go to one of the balls. Essentially they are closed affairs.

After the revelry and costuming and marching bands and drunkenness in the streets, at the stroke of midnight when Tuesday turns to Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent, the doors close and the ball stops. The celebration is over until next New Years Eve. But even at that time, many are beginning to plan the next year’s floats and balls.

Most persons outside New Orleans who go to the city to experience Mardi Gras, see only the last day parades and the wild confusion. That is not all there is, but in order to see the real thing, residence in the city for a time is a necessity. Even then, the rituals and preparations are mostly kept from outsiders. We were fortunate in that our quarreling neighbors who belonged to a krewe wanted our oldest daughter to experience the real thing. I made her a formal and off she went. At the balls, all men are masked. The women have a card signed by different gentlemen who care to dance with them.

A flood

Besides Mardi Gras, New Orleans has floods. Since most of the area is below sea level and since it is often in the path of winds and water from hurricanes, the saucer-like shape of the area guarantees water build up. One day in early 1959, the city had twelve inches of rain in twelve hours. Ray was on duty at the hospital and had to stay there. Our yard began to fill and water crept up to the single step that separated us from the rising deluge. Neighbors took it in stride. Some had to leave, but most stayed since they had seen it all before. Some innovative person ran a motor boat down the street and pitched a bathroom plunger to those who needed the instrument. I had no use for a plunger since the sewer was filling up the kitchen sink. In the aftermath of the water, we all lined up for typhoid shots. Small wonder we did not all get the plague or something equally wicked.

Lest I make the weather and the city in general sound too horrid, I must say that when spring came in February, everything burst into bloom. Flowers and trees grew profusely in the semi-tropical, damp climate. Spanish moss floated from the limbs of the magnificent oaks. New Orleans could be the most beautiful city anyone could hope for. That was one face. It could also be smelly and hot and filthy. That was the other way to look at it. We would always cherish the experience of learning about one more culture in this vast, multicultural land of ours.

End note-
Letty’s previous post related post on New Orleans is titled,
Public Schools in New Orleans 1958-1959.
Also, if you are interested in reading any of our co-authored essays about the Great Depression era, I am happy to get you links in the thread. Please keep an eye out for the next interesting history post, where she is planning to address the subject of cockroaches in the South.


Jury selection will be the most important part of the Michael Dunn retrial

September 16, 2014

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Good afternoon:

Jury selection will be the most important part of the Michael Dunn retrial, which is scheduled to start next Monday. To have any chance to convict Michael Dunn of murdering Jordan Davis, the prosecution must screen for, identify and exclude any prospective juror who believes that it’s reasonable to assume that:

(1) a black 16 to 21-year-old male who likes to listen to loud rap music is an angry thug;

(2) a black 16 to 21-year-old male who lips off at an adult white male who orders him to turn down the volume is an angry thug;

(3) a black 16 to 21-year-old male who cranks up the volume after being ordered to turn it down is an angry thug;

(4) it’s reasonable for an adult white male to assume that an angry black thug who confronts him is armed and intends to kill or seriously hurt him; and

(5) it’s reasonably necessary for an adult white male to use deadly force in self-defense to prevent an angry black thug from killing or seriously injuring him.

The best way to determine if any prospective jurors hold these views is to ask them a series of hypothetical questions to discover if they fear black 16 to 21-year-old males.

For example, if you were walking down a sidewalk by yourself and saw a black 16 to 21-year-old male walking toward you, would you,

(a) continue walking toward him and ignore him;

(b) continue walking toward him and greet him;

(c) cross the street and walk down the other side; or

(d) turn around and walk the other way?

The use of hypothetical questions is the best way to uncover racial prejudice.

Can you think of any other hypothetical questions that you might ask during voir dire?

Finally, if you were a prosecutor, would you rather try this case to a judge according to the procedure followed in South Africa?

Would your answer change, if you were defense counsel?

The most important disputed questions of fact in the case are whether Jordan Davis was armed or had something that looked like a weapon in his hands, and if he was attempting to get out of the back seat of the SUV when Dunn squeezed off multiple shots at him.

FYI: Judge Healey denied a defense motion for a change of venue, preferring to take a wait-and-see approach to see if the extensive publicity about the shooting and the first trial has made it impossible to seat a twelve-person jury that can fairly and impartially decide the case (i.e., jurors have already formed an opinion about what the outcome should be). Once chosen, the jury will be sequestered.

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Jury selection starts next Monday in Michael Dunn case

September 15, 2014

Monday, September 15, 2014

Good evening:

Jury selection starts next Monday in Michael Dunn case.

Time to gear up for the Michael Dunn retrial.

What do you think is going to happen?


Reeva Steenkamp: To the living we owe respect but to the dead we owe only the truth

September 13, 2014

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Good afternoon:

The Guardian is reporting today:

The parents of Reeva Steenkamp expressed anger and disbelief on Friday after Oscar Pistorius was formally acquitted of their daughter’s murder, insisting: “Justice was not served.”

Amid growing discontent in South Africa at the verdict, the Steenkamps criticised judge Thokozile Masipa for being too lenient on the athlete, who was instead convicted of culpable homicide, the South African equivalent of manslaughter, and granted bail.

“This verdict is not justice for Reeva,” her mother, June Steenkamp, told NBC News. “I just want the truth.”

I agree.

Yesterday, I identified the core weakness in Judge Masipa’s decision acquitting Oscar Pistorius of murder and convicting him of culpable (manslaughter) homicide.

Under South African law, however, a judge cannot base a verdict on circumstantial evidence alone unless no inference except guilt can reasonably be drawn from it.

Her conclusion makes sense when viewed through the prism of the legal rules that she applied. However, it makes no sense to be forced into accepting a liar’s statement about his knowledge and intent when it is contrary to common experience and he has a powerful motive to lie.

I did not believe Oscar Pistorius because he lied during much of his testimony and I do not believe his story about shooting into the cubicle without making certain she was not there. He should not benefit because he killed the only witness who could contradict him.

1. The door to the cubicle was locked;

2. She had her phone with her;

3. Her bladder was empty;

4. There was no urine in the toilet bowl; and

5. Pistorius never mentioned hearing the toilet flush.

That’s all the circumstantial evidence that I need to confirm my belief that he lied.

“To the living we owe respect, but to the dead we owe only the truth.”

Voltaire


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