scharrison's blog

SBI probe details bias and witness coaching

The News & Observer's series continues:

Problems at the lab run deeper than blood. State law puts scientists at the lab on the prosecution's team, instead of assigning them as independent seekers of fact. Analysts sometimes don't run DNA or blood tests that might threaten prosecutors' theories. And they shield themselves from scrutiny, fighting against turning over records and forbidding defense experts from observing their work.

To SBI analysts, defense attorneys are often the bad guys. Training manuals and directives paint defense attorneys as tricksters who are driven to let criminals go free. "Tell the D.A. in advance of any weaknesses in the case so that the trial of the case can be planned to minimize the weaknesses' impact," says a 2007 manual used to teach analysts how to testify in court.

Republican hypocrisy about debt

It's a popular misconception that Republicans are concerned about our nation's debt problem. It's maybe less inaccurate to say they're concerned about government debt, but that's not really their root concern either, is it? In reality, it's the collective management of our resources they are opposed to, because this puts power in the hands of the people, not (business) corporations.

How have I arrived at this conclusion, you may ask? Because of the way they approach individual (personal) debt. Not only is that kind of debt "okay", Republicans go out of their way protecting their corporate masters' freedom to enslave us with usurial and wealth-destroying practices.

Richard Burr's new favorite word: "state"

If you say it enough, people start to believe it:

“As a guy who travels the state, I think the rest of the state is envious of the success of economic development that has happened here,” Burr said. “It has been a long time coming, but this is a great model for the rest of the state to have high hopes about what else can come.”

“I try to make sure that the August break is focused on two things — businesses in the state and civic organizations,”...“It gives me a flavor for the skills that we have in the state, and it helps me with economic development to know what still needs to be done.”

Burr said that by knowing what is already here in North Carolina, he is able to better understand what the state needs.

Monster iceberg on the loose

And whatever gets in its way is going to have a bad day:

An island of ice more than four times the size of Manhattan is drifting across the Arctic Ocean after breaking off from a glacier in Greenland. Potentially in the path of this unstoppable giant are oil platforms and shipping lanes - and any collision could do untold damage.

Few images can capture the world's climate fears like a 100-square- mile chunk of ice breaking off Greenland's vast ice sheet, a reservoir of freshwater that if it collapsed would raise global sea levels by a devastating 20 feet.

NC's SBI criticized as far away as Europe

Not the kind of reputation you want to build:

Marilyn Miller, a professor of forensic science at Virginia Commonwealth University, said that forensic scientists outside of North Carolina have long been concerned about examinations and testimony offered by Deaver and his protégés. But they feel powerless to do anything.

Stuart James, one of the world's foremost experts at analyzing bloodstain patterns at crime scenes, was hired by Turner's lawyers to examine the evidence before the trial. Since Turner's acquittal, James has shown the video of the SBI experiments in workshops and conferences in the United States and Europe. Every colleague deemed the work unscientific, James said.

"They thought it was a bunch of malarkey," James said. "They were aghast at it."

New EPA mercury rules put the squeeze on Titan Cement

This news just made my week:

While the regulations issued Monday are slightly less stringent than the standards first proposed in 2009, they are much lower than the 263 pounds of annual mercury emissions Titan would be permitted to release under existing regulations.

According to the final rules, Titan's plant will only be allowed to release 21 pounds of mercury per million tons of clinker, the cooked stone product used to make cement. The plant proposed for Castle Hayne is expected to produce 2.19 million tons of clinker per year, which means the mercury limit will be roughly 46 pounds each year.

:)

NCCN Alert: public input on Falls Lake cleanup

Just received this via e-mail:

Falls Lake, a water supply for over 400,000 people and a popular lake for fishing and boating, suffers from extreme nitrogen and phosphorus pollution. A few parts of the lake are relatively healthy, but sections of the upper lake violate water quality standards as much as 80% of the time.

The Environmental Management Commission (EMC) is accepting public input (through this week) on proposed rules to clean up the lake. Environmental groups generally support the rules, but are also proposing some improvements to them.

Go here to send your own message to the Commission.

Hyperlocal newsgathering conflicts

Via Laura Leslie's Twitter feed:

Patch, or “Poach,” as someone here at Lost Remote once called it, is the network of identical hyperlocal sites that AOL is rolling out at a reported cost of well over $50 million this year.

In fact, the sites are parachuting down so fast they can’t even keep up with the list of “coming” sites on the Patch homepage; the town where we spotted the lovelies today isn’t even on the list yet, but they are advertising for writers on Craigslist.

Well, at least they aren't shaving their heads yet...

Republican Jeff Hyde's "Rafflegate"

Need some money for your campaign? Run your own lottery:

The state Democratic Party has asked the N.C. Board of Elections to investigate state senate candidate Jeff Hyde’s campaign finances, alleging the Republican did not properly account for money earned through a fundraising raffle.

Specifically, the party claims the raffle’s winner was not shown as having purchased a ticket on campaign disclosure forms. And the winner did not claim her $5,000, according to the complaint, potentially making it an illegally large campaign contribution.
Hyde is running against Don Vaughan, a first-term Democrat.

Chamber of Commerce idiocy

Mt. Airy, where two e-mails are proof of a startling trend:

At a time when tourism in Mount Airy is at an all-time high, a recent commercial starring Andy Griffith supporting President Barack Obama’s health-care plan may have an effect on tourism.

In July, 11,300 visitors came through the Mount Airy Visitors Center, a number which was up from July of last year when 8,900 tourists visited the area. However, Betty Ann Collins, president of the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce, said she has gotten at least two e-mails from people canceling any future plans to visit Mount Airy because of the commercial.

Seldom do news stories make me actually bark in laughter. Thanks.

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