Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Fire Truck Pulls Into Gas Station

I don't know what was happening here, but it was an interesting scene of the fire truck overwhelming the gas station with the ambulance sitting quietly at the side.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Solar Eclipse at 99%

My best shot at 99% of totality. Amazing how much light there still is with 1% of the sun uncovered.

The Lord was gracious to give us a clear sky.

I did a run through with cloudy morning sky yesterday, and the settings were very different.

I set up another camera just to film the backyard, but it didn't get much. I couldn't set it to manual so it kept changing the settings automatically and there is no clear darkening on the video as there was in person.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Shame on Jeff Sessions for Increasing Government Use of Asset Forfeiture

Attorney General Jeff Sessions
In a terrible move for justice and individual rights against government overreach, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the federal government will increase the use of asset forfeiture
"Speaking at a National District Attorneys Association conference in Minneapolis Monday, Sessions said state and local law enforcement could expect changes from U.S. Attorneys in several areas: increased prosecution of gun crimes, immigration offenses, gang activity, and prescription drug abuse, as well as increased asset seizure by the federal government. 
"'[W]e hope to issue this week a new directive on asset forfeiture—especially for drug traffickers,' Sessions said. 'With care and professionalism, we plan to develop policies to increase forfeitures. No criminal should be allowed to keep the proceeds of their crime. Adoptive forfeitures are appropriate as is sharing with our partners.'"
What Sessions is promoting and expanding is the program that allows federal law enforcement officers or their local and state police partners to seize any property or monies they think might be involved in illegal activity. The person whose funds/property have been seized has to go to court to prove innocence. And the funds or proceeds from property seized goes into the pocket of the agency doing the seizing.  So, the incentive for law enforcement to anticipate that money or property is involved in illegal activity and seize it is high.

Senator Mike Lee
On the other hand, Senator Mike Lee, a principled conservative, still condemns the governmental abuses the asset forfeiture program allows.
"Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), a consistent Republican advocate for reforming asset forfeiture laws, said in a statement to Reason Monday: 'As Justice Thomas has previously said, there are serious constitutional concerns regarding modern civil asset forfeiture practices. The Department has an obligation to consider due process constraints in crafting its civil asset forfeiture policies.'
Lee was referring to conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas' notable dissent* in an asset forfeiture case this June. Thomas wrote that forfeiture operations "frequently target the poor and other groups least able to defend their interests in forfeiture proceedings."
Justice Clarence Thomas
Unfortunately, Jeff Sessions continues to show his bankruptcy on conservative and limited government issues as he did on this issue while still a senator.
*"As Thomas explained in Leonard v. Texas, 'this system—where police can seize property with limited judicial oversight and retain it for their own use—has led to egregious and well-chronicled abuses.' For one thing, 'because the law enforcement entity responsible for seizing the property often keeps it, these entities have strong incentives to pursue forfeiture.' For another, this sort of police abuse disproportionately harms disadvantaged groups. 'These forfeiture operations frequently target the poor and other groups least able to defend their interests in forfeiture proceedings,' he observed. 'Perversely, these same groups are often the most burdened by forfeiture. They are more likely to use cash than alternative forms of payment, like credit cards, which may be less susceptible to forfeiture. And they are more likely to suffer in their daily lives while they litigate for the return of a critical item of property, such as a car or a home.'"

Link to Leonard v. Texas opinion.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Homelessness in Portland

I've noticed more individual family homeless setups as I'm driving around.

One was very neat and tidy. (photo to the right)

Another was a makeshift affair that didn't last more than a day because it was on business property that had a reasonable amount of traffic. (photos below)

I'm conflicted on this. My heart goes out to those who are mentally ill but have been "freed" by the state of Oregon to live on the streets. And to those caught in personal circumstances (even of their own disfunctional making) that have alienated them from family and friends. And then there are those caught in the web of alcoholism or drug addiction who are too often a menace to those around them.

I have a younger friend in none of the above categories who has lived out of his car for three to four years now. He had a small reseller business for awhile that he had office space for and has done heavy day labor work. But, neither of them gave him the sort of income that could pay the high rent of a place to live in Portland thanks to Portland governmental policies that have vastly driven up the cost of housing. On the other hand, business space rent is low in comparison to living space. Actually, he could have lived very nicely in his business space (about $250/month).

I don't know what the answer is besides the government getting out of the way of housing/shelter construction. But, I personally like and support outreaches like Portland Rescue Mission and Union Gospel Mission. I wish more churches and Christians gave to expand those sorts of ministries.

My friend keeps neat and clean through places that allow him to use their showers and has found outreaches that provide meals when he needs them. The winter time is worst. I was out driving on one of the cold nights last winter, and my car heater didn't heat up warmer than lukewarm during a 40 minute freeway drive. So, a car provides some relief, but not a lot.

I was glad some churches opened their facilities on some of the colder nights and appalled that Multnomah County hasn't used the Wapato Jail facility for that sort of help or donated it to an organization that would use it to help the homeless. Instead Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury tweets out praise for organizations that actually do open their facilities though she let her facilities like Wapato sit vacant.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Time to Buy a U S Parks Senior Pass

If you are 62 or over and don't have a national parks senior pass, you should consider getting one.

It costs $10 and is good for your lifetime and allows you and up to three other adults (children under 16 always free) in your vehicle into national parks for free.

The price is going up to $80 sometime this year. A friend told me the hike will be beginning in July, but what I could find online just says sometime in 2017.

Here's a link to what it does: About the Senior Pass

Here's a list of sites that issue the pass for $10.00.

If you don't want to go out to get it, you can order it online at the usgs.gov store for $20.00 ($15.00 for the packet and $5.00 shipping).

You have to provide ID that you are 62 or over. You can upload a copy of your passport or driver's license on a link they provide.

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Media Research Center Takes the One Step Forward Two Steps Back Approach

I usually think Brent Bozell is a good thinker even when I don't agree with him. But, his Media Research Center (MRC--which runs Newsbusters on my sidebar) stepped in it this time.

Bozell was upset because USAA stopped advertising on the Sean Hannity show. So, MRC mobilized people to complain to USAA.
Brent Bozell, president of the conservative Media Research Center, said he wasn’t surprised by USAA’s decision, “given the avalanche” of protests. His group was behind mobilizing that backlash, and said its members generated more than 1,600 phone calls to USAA within 48 hours.
“They did the right think in going back on that show,” he said, “and so long as the other side isn’t participating in personal smears, they should participate on those shows, too.”
Only he and MRC didn't investigate USAA's reasoning. USAA wanted to stay away from "opinion-based programs". So, they pulled advertising from Hannity but also Rachel Maddow and Chris Matthews and Jake Tapper.
As some of you may know, we have recently come under scrutiny for pulling ads from “Hannity” on Fox News and other opinion-based programs, including: “The Rachel Maddow Show” and “Hardball with Chris Matthews” on MSNBC and “The Lead” with Jake Tapper on CNN. Our long-standing advertising policy has been not to advertise on opinion-based shows to avoid any suggestion of bias or support for one set of views over another. [from USAA 5/30/17 email]
Now, interestingly enough, though Bozell said USAA should participate in the other shows too, MRC recently launched an initiative to harass sponsors of shows specifically including those of Maddow and Chris Matthews.
"Today we are putting ten shows, and their major corporate sponsors on notice that we are watching their every move. Additionally, we will be publicly listing the advertisers of these programs and asking them to defend their decision to continue airing ads on these shows. Every time one of their on-air personalities go beyond political commentary and engage in smear and hate, we are going to unleash an army of activists to contact these advertisers by phone and through social media to ask them why they are advertising on programs that are so biased, repulsive and morally bankrupt." [emphasis added]
So, MRC's pressure resulted in renewed advertising for Hannity but also for Maddow and Chris Matthews. One step forward, two steps back. Not the smartest MRC strategy.