Freedom must be accountable

From CNN:

(CNN) — Almost one year after water for more than 300,000 West Virginia residents was contaminated because of a chemical spill, six former officials for the company responsible for the leak are facing federal charges…

The Freedom Industries president at the time was Gary Southern, 53, who was indicted on charges of negligent discharge of a pollutant in violation of the Clean Water Act, among other alleged violations. He also faces separate federal charges of wire and bankruptcy fraud. If convicted on all charges, he could face nearly 70 years in prison.

Three former owners of Freedom Industries were also indicted. Dennis P. Farrell, 58, William E. Tis, 60, and Charles E. Herzing, 63, were indicted on charges of negligent discharge of a pollutant and negligent discharge of refuse matter. They face up to three years in prison.

The indictment for Southern, Farrell, Tis and Herzing alleged that their company failed to make sure the tank holding MCHM was inspected for cracks and to keep it maintained. The indictment alleges that these four men approved funding “only for those projects that would result in increased business revenue for Freedom, or that were immediately necessary for required equipment maintenance.”

Two other men who worked for Freedom Industries at the time — Michael Burdette and Robert Reynolds — also face charges that they violated the Clean Water Act.

An indictment does not imply guilt or even mean that anyone will ultimately be held responsible for the panic that was put on the residents of West Virginia who couldn’t use the water coming from their faucet for weeks.  There will likely be legal maneuvering and wrangling well into 2016 in this case, so I don’t expect anything to happen quickly.

It’s one thing for an accident to happen and a spill like this take place.  I think that it should be a criminal act if someone purposefully neglects safety for dangerous chemicals and such that have the potential of causing great harm or massive damage within a community.  I don’t think there should be overburdening rules that keep businesses from profiting, but that profit should not come at the expense of the health and/or lives of people living nearby.

The courts will have to decide whether their actions were criminal or not.  For those who were harmed or displaced by this, hopefully they’ll feel like someone’s fighting on their behalf because those responsible for causing this may end up having to bear the responsibility of their actions.

Am I racist


On one of the blogs where I participate in conversation, I had an exchange with another blog regular last night.  Normally, I wouldn’t mention things from other areas, but I really want to know if I appear racist to anyone who reads my blog?

I’m serious in asking this question because I don’t know how others perceive my words or statements without someone telling me.  I don’t harbor any ill feelings towards any groups no matter what their makeup consists of.  As a Black American, I can honestly say that I harbor no ill feelings or thoughts towards KKK members, and that’s after being verbally threatened by people when I was much, much younger.

Here’s the dialogue that transpired, and I want your honest opinion.  Do I appear racist in my response to the statement addressed at me?

Brosephus:  First, it was the immigration declaration.  Then, there is the Cuba announcement today.  Now this…

“WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is cutting short prison time for eight drug convicts under a new policy designed to reduce harsh sentences under outdated guidelines.

The eight commutations are the first under a new administration policy designed to reduce the nation’s bulging prison population and grant leniency to nonviolent drug offenders sentenced to double-digit terms.

The president also is pardoning 12 other convicts for a variety of offenses.

Administration officials say they expect Obama to grant more clemency petitions in his final two years in office under the changed policy. The changes aren’t limited to drug offenders, but they are the main target.”

Seems like he’s said Eff it since there’s no more elections.  Balls to the walls…  There’s going to be a lot of screeching and caterwauling over the next two years.

Respondent:  And so his presidential legacy spirals down the toilet for historians to record. Sad for Black America but then he was only half Black. There’s far better full blooded Black people out there.

(B)“Sad for Black America but then he was only half Black.”

And what exactly is that supposed to mean?  All Blacks are judged by the actions of one person?  Seriously??

I’ll believe that just as soon as I hear you suggest that Charles Manson is sad for White America.

Obama’s true legacy won’t be known until we’re all worm feed.  Anything else is pure speculation, but thanks for the laugh.  I’ll give you credit for being consistent with the doom and gloom report.

[R]:  Man you sure are into distortions…How did your first paragraph and next sentence in anyway relate to what I posted? I’ll give you a C- minus grade in propaganda as I’ve been through escape and evasion school circa 1965 Pickle Meadow at Bridgeport CA.

(B):  I was asking a question for clarification on your part.  You appear to be trying to lay guilt on Black America for your perceived opinion of one Black man.  If that’s not what you were trying to convey, then forgive me.  However that’s exactly what your words read like….

“And so his presidential legacy spirals down the toilet for historians to record. Sad for Black America but then he was only half Black.”

How is that supposed to be interpreted then, if I distorted it?

[R]:  And so his presidential legacy spirals down the toilet for historians to record. Sad for Black America but then he was only half Black. There’s far better full blooded Black people out there. And so you must not have read my full post. Capish?

(B):  I read your full post.  I’m trying to figure out how his presidential legacy has anything to do with Black America.  He’s not the president of Black America any more than Bush, Clinton, Reagan, or any previous president was the president for White America.

No, I don’t capich why you’re trying to tie his presidential term to Black America.

[R]:  I didn’t try to to tie his presidential term to Black America. If you didn’t read my entire post and still make your stand than you can stand there because I have no further patience with you. I’m beginning to believe that you’re a racist and that’s troubling when you’re depicting yourself as a federal law enforcement officer.

(B):  Believe what you want to believe.  You’re going to do that anyway, and you’ve more than proven that several times.  I asked a question for clarification.  I even said to forgive me if that was not what you were trying to convey.  Obviously, that part of my post blew straight over your head.

The way you phrased your post made it sound as though Black America should be sad because you think Obama is a failure.  You’ve never explained why Black America should be sad for your perceived failure of Obama.

It doesn’t matter whether he’s half Black or there’s far better “full blooded Black people” (your exact words) out there.  THAT sounds like some racist type thinking, but keep on projecting.

Have a good evening, and I’ll be sure to work extra hard to protect America, you included.

Now, I’ve tried to keep my employment away from what I write here, and that’s for good reason.  In my line of work, I’m never off the clock.  Anything I say or do reflects upon my character and judgement 24/7/365, and that can have grave implications to my employment.

I try to avoid getting into heated debates online strictly to avoid ever saying anything that could be misinterpreted or misconstrued as something that I didn’t intend to say or suggest.  My career is that important to me that I try to protect my image and project a good image no matter what situation I’m involved with.

After reading that, could you come to the conclusion that I’m racist or appear to be racist?  Is there anything that I said that could show me to be harboring hatred towards anyone?  Let me know your honest opinion.  I seriously want to know.

Change in US Cuban relations

With a few words, President Obama has further eased restrictions on Cuba.  This isn’t his first time in doing so either.  That said, he can’t end the embargo as only Congress can do that by repealing the laws that codified it.

I had to do some reading on the whole embargo thing as I wasn’t even a twinkle in my mother’s eye when the whole thing went down.  As long as I’ve been living, Cuba has been a no-no for Americans, and Cubans have gotten special immigration treatment if they reach American soil.  That seems like it is going to change, and as all other things, time would have eventually caused it if no other politician had stepped forward to do so.  It will be only a matter of time before we have a Congress full of people who were born after everything went down between America and Cuba.

I can’t say I understand the pro or anti feelings over this as this isn’t something that I have an emotional attachment to.  Logically, I don’t see a justification for an embargo when it’s blamed on Cuba being a communist country.  We’ve traded and dealt with China and Russia for decades, even though both countries have their own vendettas against the US.  We’ve exported most of our manufacturing capacity to China in the time we’ve had the embargo against Cuba.

Some people frame the treatment of Cuba because of the treatment of people there by the Castro regime.  They’ve been brutal towards their own, but so has China and Russia.  They’ve persecuted and executed dissidents, and so have China and Russia.  Excuse my youthful naivety, but why penalize the little guy while we reward the big guys in billions of dollars annually?

There are going to be people who agree with Obama, and there will be those who disagree.  After all, the sun did rise in the East this morning.  I’d bet that many people my age and younger who have no connection to Cuba really don’t understand why we’ve continued the embargo this long anyway.

Whether anything good comes from this will be revealed in due time.  You can’t go on forever hating someone as that hate will eventually consume you and change who you are.  If we’re the “great spreaders of democracy”, what better way to show that is there than doing what Obama did?  As far as I can tell, he’s basically made it legal for people to bring $400 worth of Cuban goods back to America, including $100 worth of cigars and rum.  Anything beyond that has to be done by Congress, and I don’t expect the Do Nothing Crowd to change their ways anytime soon.

Federal lawsuit filed by the family of John Crawford III

Surprised: The video shows John Crawford III, 22, turn towards officers a split second before he falls to the floor. Caption and photo courtesy of UK Daily Mail Online

From The Grio:

CINCINNATI (AP) — The family of a black man fatally shot by a white police officer as he held an air rifle inside a Wal-Mart filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday charging negligence and violation of the man’s civil rights.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court against the Ohio city of Beavercreek, the two Beavercreek officers involved, the police chief and Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

John Crawford III was shot Aug. 5 inside the store. Police responded after someone called the 911 emergency dispatch number and reported Crawford was waving what appeared to be a firearm.

A grand jury concluded the shooting was justified.

Under most circumstances, a lawsuit charging a violation of civil rights has a very high hurdle to jump, and these cases are quite hard to win.  There has to be pretty much overwhelming evidence of the deprivation of rights in order for the lawsuit to be successful.  Depending on how the lawyers try this case, I think they have a better chance at success over most of the other debated police shootings that have been dominating the media lately.

The reason why I think this case has a better than normal chance of success is based on Ohio law and two particular amendments to the US Constitution.  According to Ohio law, open carry is legal.  There is no exact statute that legalizes open carry, but within the Ohio Revised Code, it is permitted under ORC 9.68, which reads in part:

(A) The individual right to keep and bear arms, being a fundamental individual right that predates the United States Constitution and Ohio Constitution, and being a constitutionally protected right in every part of Ohio, the general assembly finds the need to provide uniform laws throughout the state regulating the ownership, possession, purchase, other acquisition, transport, storage, carrying, sale, or other transfer of firearms, their components, and their ammunition. Except as specifically provided by the United States Constitution, Ohio Constitution, state law, or federal law, a person, without further license, permission, restriction, delay, or process, may own, possess, purchase, sell, transfer, transport, store, or keep any firearm, part of a firearm, its components, and its ammunition.

(B) In addition to any other relief provided, the court shall award costs and reasonable attorney fees to any person, group, or entity that prevails in a challenge to an ordinance, rule, or regulation as being in conflict with this section.

(C) As used in this section:

(1) The possession, transporting, or carrying of firearms, their components, or their ammunition include, but are not limited to, the possession, transporting, or carrying, openly or concealed on a person’s person or concealed ready at hand, of firearms, their components, or their ammunition.

From my perspective, the family has a good chance at proving that Crawford’s 2nd and 4th Amendment rights were violated.  Based on the OCR, his 2nd Amendment rights were violated because he was well within Ohio law by openly carrying a gun.  I have not seen anything that shows Wal-Mart has explicitly posted no gun signs or have any rules preventing open carry within their stores.  As a matter of fact, some open carry people staged a rally after his death inside the very store where he was killed.

As for the violation of his 4th Amendment rights, it revolves around the unreasonable seizure and right to be seized without probable cause.  Legally, the shooting of Crawford constitutes a seizure.  The government has to prove that the action of shooting, or seizing, of Crawford outweighs his rights to not be shot or seized.  There has to be probable cause to detain Crawford at that moment, and one thing in the favor of the government is the urgency of the 911 call claiming that he was pointing the gun and threatening people.  Something that could likely be held against the government is the lack of panicked people, screaming, or even gunfire as the officers approached the area where Crawford was standing.  The latter is why I think the family has a decent shot of proving violation of the 4th.

This will not be an easy case to prove as violation of civil rights is never an easy task.  It’s easy to Monday morning quarterback this incident and point out things that went wrong.  The officer’s actions, however, won’t be subject to MMQ critique.  The officer’s actions have to be reasonable and justified from an officer’s perspective in order for them to be considered ok.  It will be interesting to see how this case progresses.  I imagine the family of Tamir Rice will be paying attention as well as his case would basically fall along the same lines.

Tactical Santa returns

From WSB-TV Atlanta:


Families will be able to snap a photo with Santa Claus and a firearm of their choice at a Sandy Springs gun range Saturday.

Sandy Springs Gun Club and Range will host the event where families can pose with Saint Nick and their choice of an AK-47, AR-15 or FN-SCAR-17.

Gun range co-owner Robyn Workman Marzullo said they have already gotten positive feedback from customers about the upcoming event.

“It’s not trying to send a message,” said Marzullo. “It’s just about having a good time, getting into the holiday spirit and giving back to the community.”

Families are encouraged to bring canned food to the event. All donations will benefit the Sandy Springs Community Assistance Center.

I like guns, I like Santa, and I like helping worthy causes.  That said, I don’t know if I’d let my kids pose with Santa holding an AK-47, AR-15 or FN-SCAR-17 in that photo.  Besides the fact that my oldest child is only 6 and is not allowed to put her hands on a gun, the idea seems to be one that leads to those family photos that people end up laughing at later on in my view.  I refuse to let my family become an internet meme.

This place isn’t the first to do such an event either.  Doing a search on Google to find the news article, several different articles came up of a shop in Arizona doing the same thing back in 2011.   The funniest thing I found is that searching for Tactical Santa returned this image amongst others:

Now, that’s not the guy that was pictured coming down the chimney when I was growing up.  If this Santa were coming down the chimney in the middle of the night, I wouldn’t suspect him of dropping off presents more than I’d expect him to be taking presents with him.  Then again, I grew up in the “hood”, and armed intruders in the middle of the night were not considered “friendlies”.

If guns are your thing, you’ll like this event.  I hope that Sandy Springs Gun Club and Range get a good turnout to help the food drive.  I’ve already taken the little ones to see Santa.  The Santa we visit doesn’t pack heat, unless he has some hot chocolate.