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Tell me how you think this story ends.   An armed drunk decides to go boating, leaves his gun on the dock, causes $300 damage to the marina by driving in a prohibited area, and then passes out while on the water.   The fire department finds him and tows him back; meanwhile the police have been called.    They were planning on giving the man his gun back but one of them had the brilliant insight that giving a loaded weapon to a drunk might be just a little dangerous, so they decide to talk to him first.  

Fire personnel towed his boat back to the marina and arranged for his girlfriend to come pick him up. But two Tacoma police officers had also responded and tried to assess Dearth's mental state before giving him his gun back.  "Dearth initially ignored them but became verbally aggressive, accusing them of taking his firearm and demanding that they return it to him... He became physically aggressive and generally belligerent when he was not allowed to leave on his own. The officers decided to hang on to the weapon, and at one point, Dearth grabbed an officer's wrist and threatened to punch him in the face"  

You won't believe what happened next.   (#16 is a shocker!)

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Cologne or toy gun?

Police on Thursday said the shooting was justified as a teen standing next to Jamar Nicholson was holding a replica gun, and they believed he was about to shoot.
Thursday evening, Nicholson told KCAL9’s Laurie Perez that he never saw a gun, replica or not.

He told Perez he isn’t sure why police opened fire.

“I was so scared because,  you know, I never been shot at before,” Nicholson said....

The 15-year-old freshman, who’s involved in more than one police and city mentoring program and says he’s up for an internship at the mayor’s office, won’t draw comparisons to other recent police shootings of young black men, though he is upset by what he saw as rough treatment.

“The only time they apologized to me personally was when they were uncuffing me from the bed and saying we made a mistake,” said Nicholson.

At the risk of causing outrage fatigue, you need to see this article from the L.A. Times.   The unarmed teen who was mistakenly shot in the back by police who thought that his friend was pointing a gun at him says that he never saw a toy gun.   His friend was squirting him with a bottle of Cologne.    

The circumstances make more sense now.   The police shout at a kid to "drop the gun" and the kid doesn't respond because he isn't even holding a gun, so they shoot at him and hit the guy they were supposedly trying to protect.   (How likely is it that you are going to drive by just as a homicide is about to take place?   Has that ever happened to a police officer?)

Have the police stooped so low as to start planting toy guns when they screw up?   I wouldn't want to think so, but I have no idea why this good kid who wasn't even stealing cigarillos or trying to sell loose cigarettes, or throwing rocks, or sitting in a car, or doing anything else from our ever-expanding list of capital crimes would have a reason to lie.  

And what is this nonsense about "uncuffing him from the bed?"  Why the heck was he handcuffed in the first place?  Oh I know -- if the police shoot you, you must be the bad guy, especially if your skin is a hair darker than the prevailing acceptable skin tone for your area.

Tragically,  the bullet in his back that his causing him so much pain is "too dangerous to remove at this time" according to his doctors.   Guns not only kill, they hurt.

Edit: From the policeman's side of the story

The officer who fired his weapon told investigators that he didn’t see the orange tip of the gun that allows gun owners to know a weapon is a replica at first glance....

According to one police source — not authorized to speak on-the-record — the officer said the person holding the gun — also a teen and a friend of the 15-year-old who was shot —  was also standing in the shooting position. He said the teen whirled around and aimed the gun directly at the teenager.

I didn't see the orange tip

There are a few things that bother me about this explanation.  

First, the gun is hyper-realistic but it has an orange tip like all toys are supposed to.   This seems to be a contradiction.   I have seen a picture of the supposed toy gun, and the orange tip is quite visible.   It was supposedly out in plain view because the gunman was in the "shooting position."

More importantly, was our "gunman" in the "shooting position" when the officer encountered him, or did he "whirl around" and "point the gun directly" at the bystander whom the police then so helpfully shot?   These words were put in place to make the officer's actions seem more urgent, but they are contradictory.  

Most importantly, since our victim was shot in the back it means that is back was turned to the policeman.   However, since the "gunman" "whirled around", it would mean that his back was also to the policemen.  So how did the policemen see the gun?

This seems a bit like the story is being Dan Rathered.  

I really have no reason to doubt our victim's story -- which is that he asked the friend to squirt him with perfume (kids these days...)  I suspect the police mistook the cologne bottle for a gun.  Considering that they mistook the "victim" for the "gunman" and claim to have not noticed the orange tip of the fake gun, pretty much anything is possible.  

Keep in mind that there are no criminals here; these are just ordinary good kids (although I bet Fox news is working on that...)


War in the age of Facebook is hard.

As debate grows over the extremism of some armed factions battling to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime, an incendiary illustration on the Facebook page of one such group leaves little doubt where its leaders envision the uprising ending – with masked Islamic fighters marching through Washington, D.C., as the U.S. Capitol burns in the background.
Remember, the Bill under consideration would require us to "change the momentum" on the battlefield in favor of these rebels.

Sat Aug 31, 2013 at 11:03 AM PDT


by Orcas George

Say what you like about Obama but he is a masterful politician.   I am listening to one of the most beautiful punts in the history of politics.    He has kicked that hot potato right into the laps of Congress and UN.    Damn, I am in awe.  

 I wish the Seahawks had a punter that good...


First off, chemical weapons are among the most appalling weapons that mankind has come up with.   The elimination of chemical weapons should be a priority for the international community, along with nuclear weapons, landmines, cluster bombs and other appalling weapons.   What I am trying to get at here is if you think that some weapons are so "beyond the pale" that they should never be used in any circumstance.

This is a serious question and I don't want to get derailed into the rights and wrongs of Israel vs Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, or any of the other conflicts over the years.

According to US intelligence, Israel has an arsenal of chemical weapons in addition to what is at least a small nuclear arsenal.   Israel, like Syria, is not a signatory to the treaty on chemical weapons use.

Israel is surrounded by countries with large populations, and many believe that "the Muslims" are implacably hostile to the idea of Israel and is really just waiting for the day that they can push Israel into the sea and do horrible things.   Just for comparison, Israel has a population of 8 million and Iran has a population of 76 million.    If you look at the Iran/Iraq war, both countries had the ability to put very large number of troops under arms which led to casualties in the millions.    (The response of the international community to Iraq's use of chemical weapons in this war is instructive.)  

So take your pick of a hostile neighbor for Israel.   The historical tactics for the use of relatively untrained soldiers against a technically superior enemy is to overwhelm the enemy by numbers.   This tactic has been used as long as men have fought and while it leads to a lot of casualties, it can be very effective.   This is why poison gas was invented as a military tactic.

Assume that Israel has a hostile neighbor committed to destroying it at all costs, with a fanatical population willing to die for their beliefs.    Assume again that despite the odds (or maybe not; China overwhelmed technically superior US forces in Korea by intelligent use of numerical superiority) the implacable enemy is achieving success and are closing in on the Tel Aviv.    The consequences  would be horrific.

So you are a commander in Tel Aviv facing, say, 6 million enraged enemy (backed by better trained troops) and unaccountably your air force has failed you.    (You have discovered that relying on high-tech tools makes you vulnerable to hacking, and Israel is not the only country with talented programmers.)  

You have a supply of sarin available to use as a last resort.

Do you let Tel Aviv be destroyed because chemical weapons are immoral?   Do you use nuclear weapons because that is somehow better?  Is anything fair when facing an existential threat?  Do you adhere to every jot and tiddle of International law? (Shush, I know about 242.)    What is your choice?

If not, how is your position any different than Assad's?   From his point of view, Syria is facing an existential threat.   It has been well documented that at least some of the rebels are committing atrocities, so from his point of view this is not an academic question.

I really am interested in your views, because I'm pretty sure that most people would use anything at their disposal to save their own city.   I'd be willing to bet that if this scenario happened, a large number of people here would support whatever Israel did.  

Now, for the interesting question.     Suppose that the Israeli commander did decide to use a bit of Sarin to save Tel Aviv.   What should the US do in response?


How do we punish Israel for saving Tel Aviv?

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This is the last thing that any engineer wants to see -- somebody "let the smoke out."
An employee of SecuraPlane, who actually makes the batteries used in the 787 (I'll explain below the orange smoke) was fired, allegedly for "pointing out dangerous shortcomings in the design of an electrical component Securaplane was designing for Boeing’s new 787."

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While we were all enthralled by the drama in Washington over the fiscal cliff, Shell Oil slipped us a belated Christmas present.    As you may know, Shell is drilling exploratory wells in the environmentally sensitive Beaufort sea, which happens to have some of the worst weather on the planet.    They bought an old drill rig that was about to be scrapped, refitted it, and took it up to Alaska with a companion to see if mankind can conquer mother nature and win the mother lode of oil profits.

One minor flaw with the plan is that the Beaufort sea freezes over in winter, so the rigs have to be towed back to a safe harbor.   However, they do not want to miss a day of drilling time so they push the window of safe transit (never large in Alaska even in the 'summer') as far as possible.  

Somehow this ended up with them deciding to tow the drill rig known as "Kulluk" from Dutch Harbor to Seattle in January.    It is a big rig and it tows very slowly.   I'm not a professional captain but even I could have told them what would happen; 50 knot winds are common off of Sitka in the summer!   In the winter, hurricane-force winds don't even make the local news.

Now that the rig is hard aground on an exposed shore of a rocky, volcanic island (not sandy gravel as the press release claims) they are making cheerful noises about pulling it out with a big cable.   I'm not a professional tugboat captian but even I can tell them how likely that is to succeed.    

Sitkalidak Island is now in the news for the first time in about 200 years.   Previously it was in the news for the massacre of natives by the Russians, now it is the massacare of the native's livelyhood by their fellow citizens.,

Follow the story and my speculations after the orange blob of petrochemicals.

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OK, this is getting weird.   If Jill Kelley was not in the employ of a foreign intelligence service then the world's spy agencies have collectively suffered a dereliction of duty.

As we know today, General Petraus's successor in Afghanistan is a man named General John Allen who also happens to be in line for promotion to Commander of the United State European Command and Supreme Allied Commander, Europe.    

It probably goes without saying that both General Petraus of the CIA and General Allen would be top targets for foreign intelligence operations -- especially by countries in the Middle East.   Knowing details of US actions there would be of benefit to many countries; some allies, some nominal allies and some considered to be enemies.

The fact that socialite Jill Kelley's maiden name is Khawam and that she was born in Lebanon to Maronite Christian parents should raise eyebrows a bit.   (Note that the Maronite Christians were allies of Israel in the Lebanese Civil War/Lebanon invasion.)   The fact that she and her husband were willing to go into debt to throw lavish parties for high level officers who are involved in the Middle East should make even the most resolute anti-CTers among us pause.   The further fact that she is identified as an unofficial liason between top American Generals and unspecified Middle Eastern contacts, well...

Detail past the secret symbol.


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I know that it is the job of partisans to be disgusted by the other party, and I have spent years watching the gocha's on both sides with a degree of cynicism.    I have certainly posted my share of intemperate statements about George W. Bush, who while one of the most catastrophic Presidents in U.S history was probably not literally a sociopath.

However, Romney's support -- now made explicit -- of Republican politican Richard Mourdock after he joined the Republican list of rape supporters is a low unequaled in American politics -- yet Romney calls this a "defining election."  

The Romney campaign tells CNN reporter Jim Acosta that “we’ve not asked [Richard Mourdock's] campaign to pull” an ad Romney cut this week asking voters to “join me in supporting Richard Mourdock for U.S. Senate.” And a subsequent campaign statement confirmed that “[w]e disagree on the policy regarding exceptions for rape and incest but still support him.” Watch Romney’s ad supporting Mourdock:
While I do not believe that Romney considers pregnancy from rape to be a "gift from god" for the campaign to continue to support a candidate who does makes me wonder what a Republican would have to say to lose Romney's support.   Keep in mind that this is a man who built a campaign around a (misqoute) of Obama in a speech, and is now trying to argue that the Obama administration didn't use the right words to describe the attack on our Embassy in Lybia.   If words are so incredibly important to them, what does it say that the support candidates who seem to delight in talking about sexual violence?

With all of the handwringing about a terror attack in Lybia, it is worth reminding people that Osama Bin Laden was not the only terrorist leader who was killed by the Obama administration -- directly or indirectly.

While I admit that I was always reflexively skeptical about claims that Libya's leader Muammar Gadaffi was responsible for the terrorist attack on Pan Am Flight 103 which killed 270 innocent civilians, in 2003 Gadaffi admitted that the Lybian government was behind the attack although denied that he gave the orders -- a difficult thing to believe in a country as controlled as Lybia was.   During the revolution, defecting intelligence officers confirmed that Gadaffi did in fact give the order as a retaliation for a whole host of conflicts between Lybia and the United States involving the Gulf if Sidra

Gadaffi also allegedly ordered the bombing of a Berlin nightclub and and the attack on Pan Am flight 73 (which killed 23 people) as part of his war against the US and its interests.

The Bush administration normalized relations with Gadaffi in order to get oil concessions, never mind that Gadaffi was a terrorist leader in ways that Saddam never dreamed of being.

Obama had Gadaffi killed.

This is not a very good diary because I have to run (dealing with burgler issues) but it needs to be said, and said better by somebody who knows how to embed pictures.   This puts Bengazi into context.


Today sucked.   We came back from a few days of enjoying the eeriely nice weather here in WA (the trees are under a lot of water stress but the sunshine is nice) and came home to a burglery in progress.  

I won't go into details but we confronted the burgler (not a good idea) and got the licence number (good idea.)   Eventually the police obtained what we consider to be very solid proof of the burglary.

I do not know what we can expect from here.   The burgler is in custody.  It is a PITA to go to court (different island) but we will do it.   They know where we live and we know where they live.     More than one involved but one in custody.    A lot of expensive stuff was stolen while we were away but we caught the person only with much less expensive stuff.    The police seemed to think that whether or not it was actually my property that they were parked on was important, I don't know why.    I heard but did not see them inside of my house; we confronted them at their car (or rather they confronted us.)

I'm rambling.   Still shaken; unknown to me they were in my house at the same time as me, armed with a knife stolen from my house; if I had not decided that I was hearing rats and didn't want to bother going upstairs this could have had a different outcome.   They damn near drove over my wife getting away.

Oh yeah, this was not a person of color nor somebody young.

Is this case going to go anywhere?  

Oh yeah, those who think the world ended because you think Obama sucked at a debate?   Go to hell.


Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 12:56 PM PDT

Breaking: debate questions leaked

by Orcas George

The Romney camp is crying foul because  a copy of Candy Crowley's proposed questions for the debate between President Obama and Governor Romney has been leaked to the internet.   The link was taken down, but I obtained a copy.   It makes for interesting reading after the orange squiggle of doom.

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