aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Amero gets a new trial
A judge has granted a new trial to Julie Amero, a former substitute teacher in Norwich, Connecticut who was convicted in January on four felony counts of risking injury to minors after she was unable to prevent pornographic pop-ups from showing up on a computer in a classroom in 2004.
The city’s prosecutors did not oppose the motion for a new trial, raising the possibility that Amero will not be tried again.
The opportunity for a new day in court marks a reversal in fortune for Amero who faced sentencing this week that could have landed her in jail for forty years. Amero was convicted of endangering children after several students saw pornographic thumbnails on a computer screen.
Despite testimony that the monitor did not face the children, that Amero asked for help from other teachers and a vice principal, and that the schools IT administrator allowed the school’s filtering software to expire, Amero was found guilty.
Even more likely now that she will get off - which would hardly make up for all she’s been through. Still, for all those who have not gotten our attention, this is the plea I’ve appended to all of my Amero posts:
WE NEED A COMPUTER FORENSICS INNOCENCE PROJECT; a Barry Sheck and Peter Neufeld of the computer forensics world. We need experts who believe in the presumption of innocence and are willing to spend the time it takes to dig through logs, registry entries and hard drives to find exculpatory material when present. This is not really the first case of its kind and, unfortunately, it’s not likely be the last. Prosecutors who look for - and presume - guilt do selective searches for data supporting guilt; those accused rarely have the resources to pay computer forensics experts to counter that selective evidence.
UPDATE: Alex Eckelberry knows it’s not yet over. Still he’s relieved and points to the forensic team it took to get this obviously innocent woman off, “ This event was a testament to the power of a community of people coming together in a common cause.”
LATER: Now everyone’s talking about it.
Genarlow ruling Monday
A Georgia judge is expected to decide by Monday whether to overturn a mandatory ten-year prison sentence for a man who was convicted of having consensual oral sex with a 15-year-old girl when he was 17.
A lawyer for Genarlow Wilson now 21 argued during a brief hearing today that the sentence was “grossly disproportionate” to the crime.
Appeals lawyer B.J. Bernstein asked the court to void the sentence. But Senior Assistant Attorney General Paula Smith says a law that was passed to reduce the sentence applied in Wilson’s case cannot be applied retroactively.
Monroe County Superior Court Judge Thomas Wilson says he expects to issue a decision by noon Monday.
Net ban overturned: the antithesis of “narrowly tailored”
So said the 3rd Circuit Court as it ruled for the Pennsylvania sex-offender who appealed the ban on his using any computer network at “any location, including employment or education” forever:
The condition is the antithesis of a “narrowly tailored” sanction. The lifetime ban on all computer equipment and the Internet is the functional equivalent of prohibiting a defendant who pleads guilty to possession of magazines containing child pornography from ever possessing any books or magazines of any type during the remainder of his/her life.
We realize, of course, that the anonymous access to all kinds of information opens the door to all kinds of abuse. This case clearly illustrates the potential for abuse and victimization that is also endemic in the Internet. Here, the victims of that abuse are children who tragically become involved in the world of online child pornography. This was obviously the district court’s concern and focus in imposing this condition.
Nevertheless, we have never approved such an all-encompassing, severe and permanent restriction, and nothing on this record inspires confidence in the propriety of doing so now.
The court said try again:
This does not, of course, mean that the district court may not impose some kind of restriction on Voelker’s computer use and Internet access on remand. However, any such restrictions must be...appropriately tailored and impose no greater restriction on Voelker’s liberty than necessary.
Greenhouse gass costs of getting to the summit
MARK PHILLIPS reporting: The G8 leaders clock up a lot of air miles when they get together for these summits. And for a meeting that has global warming at the top of its agenda, they spew out a lot of greenhouse gases getting there. Seven leaders taking off from seven far-flung capitals heading for Germany. Not only do the miles add up, so do the tons of climate changing carbon dioxide produced by their planes. In some cases, multiple planes for each delegation.
John Buckley runs an outfit called Carbon Footprint, which calculates the global warming gases released by companies or households. We asked him to crunch the numbers of the G8 leaders’ travel. So how much carbon dioxide will they produce?
Mr. JOHN BUCKLEY: Three thousand seven hundred seventy one tons for this whole conference, G8 Summit.
PHILLIPS: A lot, when you compare it to the carbon footprint of the average American over a full year… By far the biggest contributor, the segment in blue, the United States. President Bush is actually visiting six countries on this trip. And with Air Force One, a separate plane for reporters, others ferrying around his limos and helicopters and smaller planes needed for some legs, US presidential trips are by far the most carbon expensive.
The CDC planes
In a new twist in the trans-Atlantic health scare triggered by tuberculosis patient Andrew Speaker, a Senate committee will hold hearings Wednesday to find out why the CDC didn’t use one of its emergency jets to bring Speaker home from Europe.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta has three private jets to use in case of an emergency. They cost $7 million a year for taxpayers, and in the last year, they were used nine times. [...]
The CDC now admits that the doctor who first talked to [Andrew] Speaker “may have said a plane was not an option” because he did not know it was. Officials say that they were considering the use of a CDC plane—or even a military plane—but that Speaker left too quickly.
The CDC planes cost $3,000 an hour to operate and are usually only used to carry CDC staff to emergency situations, but they have been used for other business. One was used regularly for political travel by Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt, until Congress started asking questions.
So the rates quoted to Andrew would have gotten him 33 to 47 hours of a CDC plane. You’d have thought that even George Bush’s government would have been able to get to Italy, pick him up and get him back to Denver in that amount of time.
Ordering the chaos of abundance that surrounds us
The typological array’s inherent ability to depict prevalence and repetition make it the perfect technique for examining the excess, redundancy, and meaningless freedom of our current age of consumption. Part of my intent with this work is to answer the question implied by the title of Robert Adams’s book What We Bought: If there is some kind of big sellout occuring, what are we getting in the deal?
The typological form achieves an uncanny synergy and resonance with this subject matter because it mimics the mental images I suspect many of us form as a way of ordering the chaos of abundance that surrounds us. We can’t help but form in our heads lists, groups and categories based on product, brand, price point, style, market segment, country of origin, etc.
To see one of these turned into a group of images lined up together can be unnerving, though. In print, they confront us in a way never possible when they’re just in our heads. We are presented with order, and while it is often an absurd, seemingly pointless order, it is one that we recognize immediately.
Via Duncan Rawlinson.
Piling on: WHO faults US health authorities
Top officials of the World Health Organization yesterday criticized U.S. health authorities’ handling of the case of a 31-year-old Atlanta lawyer with a dangerous strain of tuberculosis who defied official requests that he not take a long airplane flight.
At the least, local health officials should have told airlines to keep Andrew Speaker from boarding a plane once they concluded he was likely to defy advice and go ahead with plans to fly to Europe to be married. [...]
Georgia health department officials said yesterday they were advised by the CDC—the federal government’s chief public health agency—that local health officials should consider asking airlines to prevent Speaker from boarding a plane.
The CDC also offered two other suggestions to Georgia health officers on May 11 in response to the state’s request for advice. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection service could be notified to stop him, and health authorities in Greece, where he was to be married, could be told that he was coming their way and posed a possible health threat.
Taka Wiley, a spokeswoman for the Georgia Division of Public Health, said her department passed that advice on to the health department in Fulton County, where Speaker lived. She said she did not know whether county officials acted on any of the CDC’s suggestions. The state did not pursue them, she said, and did not know that Speaker had left the country until May 17—five days after his flight.
I still expect Gerberding will go. If the Homeland Security Admin issue takes center stage (an error, I think) she may get to go quietly after the brouhaha dies down.
Farm Bill blogging
In 2005, a Kellogg Foundation-sponsored poll conducted in Iowa, Kansas and Minnesota found clear preferences for a strict $250,000 cap on farm program payments, which is the proposed cap in the Dorgan-Grassley bill reintroduced two weeks ago. All three states are considered farm states, and both farmers and non-farmers were surveyed. You can find the poll here. [...]
[V]oters in these three states strongly endorse programs that create rural jobs, conservation programs, and nutrition programs.
But what if you survey farmers only? And shouldn’t more states be surveyed, including the South, the supposed home of vast enthusiasm for unlimited farm program checks?
Every time a farm bill rolls around, the Farm Foundation surveys agricultural producers in multiple states. This time they surveyed over 15,000 farmers and ranchers in 27 states, and they group results by state and region.
In Iowa, currently a politically key state, you find the following:
On a scale of 1-5, with 5 representing the strongest support, Iowa producers ranked “targeting support to small farms” at 3.94 and “Eliminate the Three-Entity Rule” (a key loophole in payment limits ) at 4.12 - both significantly higher than support for the payments themselves. Iowa producers ranked the importance of direct payments at 3.47, counter cyclical payments at 3.65 and loan deficiency payments at 3.75.
And while the Southern cotton and rice interests supposedly favor the glaring loopholes necessary for enormous subsidy checks, we can actually see this isn’t true. For the entire Southern region surveyed (Alabama, Texas, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida) there is substantial support for eliminating the three-entity rule and eliminating unlimited commodity loan gains-two of the most-abused loopholes in farm program payment limits.
You can find the whole poll here (2MB PDF). It is a fascinating look at farmers and ranchers’ preferences. To be objective, I should say some of the positions that the Center for Rural Affairs advocates are not viewed so favorably. But the consensus is clear on farm subsidy programs- close the loopholes and enforce a strict payment limit.
SEE ALSO: Farm Bill or Food Bill?