Today in History – OJ acquitted

I wanted to title the post OJ gets away with murder, but then I figure someone would accuse me of slandering the man (or is it libeling – I never can keep them straight and I’m too lazy to check which is in print and which is verbal), and I just wanted a humorous title. So I’ll stick to what we know, and leave the hypothesizing to water-cooler chat groups.

Today in 1995, after only 4 hours of deliberation, the jury in the OJ Simpson murder trial returned with a not guilty verdict. I remember the event well enough, because about 90% of the folks in the office where I worked all went into our large conference room to watch the broadcast. I sat with my supervisor talking about work instead. When someone else on the way to watch the reading of the verdict asked if I was going to come watch, I responded “No, I already know they are going to say not guilty.” He was amazed I could think Simpson was not guilty. I pointed out to him that I didn’t say he was not guilty, but rather that the jury would find him not guilty. And my reasoning was simple (and correct, thankfully) – no one would convict a well known and well liked man of a double murder with the harsh penalty that verdict would carry. I simply didn’t believe the people on that jury would announce in that short a time a guilty penalty against someone who came across as a generally likeable person.

At the end of a sensational trial, former football star O.J. Simpson is acquitted of the brutal 1994 double murder of his estranged wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman. In the epic 252-day trial, Simpson’s “dream team” of lawyers employed creative and controversial methods to convince jurors that Simpson’s guilt had not been proved “beyond a reasonable doubt,” thus surmounting what the prosecution called a “mountain of evidence” implicating him as the murderer.

Orenthal James Simpson–a Heisman Trophy winner, star running back with the Buffalo Bills, and popular television personality–married Nicole Brown in 1985. He reportedly regularly abused his wife and in 1989 pleaded no contest to a charge of spousal battery. In 1992, she left him and filed for divorce. On the night of June 12, 1994, Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman were stabbed and slashed to death in the front yard of Mrs. Simpson’s condominium in Brentwood, Los Angeles. By June 17, police had gathered enough evidence to charge O.J. Simpson with the murders.

Simpson had no alibi for the time frame of the murders. Some 40 minutes after the murders were committed, a limousine driver sent to take Simpson to the airport saw a man in dark clothing hurrying up the drive of his Rockingham estate. A few minutes later, Simpson spoke to the driver though the gate phone and let him in. During the previous 25 minutes, the driver had repeatedly called the house and received no answer.

. . .

In polls, a majority of African Americans believed Simpson to be innocent of the crime, while white America was confident of his guilt. However, the jury–made up of nine African Americans, two whites, and one Hispanic–was not so divided; they took just four hours of deliberation to reach the verdict of not guilty on both murder charges. On October 3, 1995, an estimated 140 million Americans listened in on radio or watched on television as the verdict was delivered.

In February 1997, Simpson was found liable for several charges related to the murders in a civil trial and was forced to award $33.5 million in compensatory and punitive damages to the victims’ families. However, with few assets remaining after his long and costly legal battle, he has avoided paying the damages.

I would like to point out that after the trail, Simpson said he would not rest until the real murderer was found. Since then, he has been seen frequenting numerous golf courses in Florida. I have to assume this means he thinks the real murderer is a golfer who has taken up residence in Florida.

[tags]OJ Simpson acquitted today in 1995, Today in History[/tags]

Nintendo reveals possibly final bit of Wii puzzle

WTF? The latest feature Nintendo is revealing for the Wii is Mii? Yes, Nintendo is letting the world know that on the Wii, you can now have Mii, and each Mii is specific to each me, for each channel. In other words – custom avatars.

After months of secrecy, Nintendo unveiled the Wii’s remaining features at a series of press events around the world last month. In addition to the much-rumored prices and release dates, the system’s last secret was revealed to be the Wii Channels system. Key amongst the various channels is the ability to create your own virtual avatar in teh Mii channel, and play that character in titles like Wii Sports.

But hey, you can have a custom avatar in each Mii channel, so when you are playing Super-Party-Combat-Fight-Game-Mario 8, you can look different than when you are playing Ninja-Fighting-Robot-Pirate-Monkey-Puzzle-Stealthfest 3. And yes, I totally made those games up. I want a Wii, stupid name be damned. And Nintendo does some hella fine games, honestly. I think the Wii is going to do quite well over it’s lifetime. But touting avatars which can vary per channel seems a bit questionable as a great big super-secret feature to me.

[tags]Nintendo Wii to feature Mii, Wii avatars variable across channels[/tags]

More Coulrophobia news

Another of the many posts I make thanks to co-workers and friends.

So, if you are coulrophobic, what’s one thing you don’t want to see happen? Well, perhaps you’d be unhappy to find a clown running for mayor.

A real clown is running for mayor of Alameda, and even his sister won’t vote for him.

Kenneth Kahn, 41, a professional joker known as “Kenny the Clown,” admits he’s running a long-shot campaign for City Hall’s top spot. Kahn has not previously run for an elected position and has never sat on a public board.

“People ask me, ‘Do we really want to elect a clown for mayor of the city?'” he said. “I say, ‘That’s an excellent question.'”

Kahn’s mother, Barbara, said her son doesn’t have a chance, and Sylvia Kahn, a teacher, said her brother’s candidacy is a “mockery of our system.”

Plus, there’s that whole issue of being scared of your mayor because of that funny make-up he wears. But I suppose that’s probably not the issue most folks focus on.

[tags]Coulrophobia, More news for coulrophobics, A real clown for mayor[/tags]

Wacko kills kids in Amish school building

I was taking a nap yesterday. I had asked my mother to call me at a certain time to wake me up so I wouldn’t be late for work. When she called, she told me about this nutjob who had taken over an Amish school in Pennsylvania. I didn’t have time to post about it before leaving for work, but I think it is important to point out when crazy people do crazy things. I can’t post about all of them, but this is so fucked up, I can’t *not* post about it.

A 32-year-old truck driver walked into a one-room Amish schoolhouse Monday, binding and shooting three girls execution-style before killing himself, police said.

Eight other girls were wounded in the attack, which police said appeared to be a revenge killing for an incident that occurred two decades ago.

. . .

The gunman, Charles Carl Roberts IV, was armed with three guns, a stun gun, two knives and a bag holding 600 rounds of ammunition, Miller said.

He was also carrying an assortment of tools and other items, including toilet paper, that led police to believe he was prepared for an extended standoff

. . .

The Bart, Pennsylvania, resident had three children, and left several notes for his family “along the lines of suicide notes,” Miller said.

The notes were “rambling” and “didn’t make much sense,” Miller said.

Roberts did not respond when police at the scene attempted to communicate with him, and troopers were preparing to storm the schoolhouse before the shooting began, Miller said.

Roberts’ wife tried to call him when she found the notes, Miller said. He returned the call on his cell phone, told her he wouldn’t be coming home and “that he was acting out to achieve revenge for something that happened 20 years ago.”

The article goes on, detailing the storming of the school by police, the shootings that happened during the stand-off, some information on the apparent plans for a lengthy stand-off, and a little of what the police know about the attacker.

Finding out what happened 20 years ago that made this person feel sufficiently slighted to shoot execution style several young girls won’t bring them back to life, but it will be interesting to hear, I’m sure. Unfortunately, what we will hear from this incident is more politicians spewing forth the need for gun control. The trouble with that viewpoint is this person could have done this attack just fine without the guns. The real problem in this attack is the attacker, not the weapon of choice. Find out why the attacks occurred – taking away the guns wouldn’t stop them, just changed his attack method.

[tags]Nutjob attacks Amish shool – kills girls, Crazy in PA[/tags]

Hysterics over H.R. 6166 – Military Commissions Act of 2006

While catching up on much of my geek reading for the day, I stumbled on this boingboing article about the newly enacted bill H.R. 6166 – what many are calling the US torture law or something to that effect. In it, the person who sent boingboing the article tries to induce hysteria by claiming that because of the bill, non-allegiance to the President makes one a terrorist. Given my newfound interest in knowing the difference between reality and the state of existence each major US political party tries to present as reality, I figured this was something worth learning about. So I follow the link to bill H.R. 6166, print out the version as passed through the House (hint:it prints out soooo much nicer if you copy the entire text, paste is into Word, and print out that verion), and start reading.

I don’t find anywhere in the bill that people who don’t ally themselves with the President are defined as terrorist. I don’t ally myself with our current President, so this is a point that really matters to me. There is a Sec. 950v. Crimes triable by military commissions section where article (26) WRONGFULLY AIDING THE ENEMY *might* be something which one could consider as somehow tangential to seeming like what Eris Siva (the submitter of the article to boingboing) is saying, but not really. That article says any person subject to that chapter of the bill who knowingly and intentionally aids a US enemy in breach of allegiance or duty to the US is subject to the bill. But that ‘any person subject to’ the chapter qualifier matters. In a preceeding section, it is made clear that these articles only apply to “Any alien unlawful enemy combatant” throughout the bill.

So I go back to the boingboing article, hoping to find comments from other readers which would help me understand how I am being labelled a terrorist for not showing allegiance to the President, and I find that Josh Larios has seen and written about the same problems I saw:

HR 6166 is bad enough for what it actually _does_ say. There’s really no need to make up new things to be alarmed about. Specifically, the bill does _not_ define non-allegiance to Bush (or to the office of the President) as terrorism.

The text of the bill says: “Any person subject to this chapter who, in breach of an allegiance or duty to the United States, knowingly and intentionally aids an enemy of the United States, or one of the co-belligerents of the enemy, shall be punished as a military commission under this chapter may direct.”

The important bit is “subject to this chapter”. Section 948c of the bill defines who is subject to this chapter as “[a]ny alien unlawful enemy combatant”. Previously, in section 948a, it defines “alien” as “a person who is not a citizen of the United States”. The authors of the article you’ve linked to have taken the “breach of allegiance” snippet as proof that the bill is aimed at US citizens, when the text of the bill clearly indicates otherwise.

Section 948d of the bill lays out the jurisdiction as follows: “A military commission under this chapter shall have jurisdiction to try any offense made punishable by this chapter or the law of war when committed by an alien unlawful enemy combatant before, on, or after September 11, 2001.”

The “breach of allegiance” excerpt is as meaningful as “before, on, or after September 11, 2001”. That is to say, not at all. I cannot see any reasonable interpretation of the text of the bill that includes non-allegiance to the president (by a US citizen — who else would have any allegiance to the president?) equating to terrorism.

Folks, there are problems with this bill. There are things I don’t like in it. I believe this bill will be found unconstitutional due to it’s explicit denial of the judicial branch’s rights to speak on matters of law. I don’t like that through this law, anyone accused of anything covered by the bill can be held without information necessary to form a defense. I think the bill as passed explicitly defines as an unlawful enemy comtatant (and therefore subject to the rules in the bill) everyone which the White House has labelled an unlawful enemy combatant prior to passage of the bill.

But let’s focus on what is actually wrong with the bill, and not make up crap in an attempt to induce hysteria. As with every other far-reaching law ever passed by Congress, this will be used in ways it shouldn’t be. And there will be abuses of the law due to lack of clarity on some points. But nowhere in the bill does it state anything that would allow one to be labelled a terrorist for non-allegiance to the President. So let’s just deal with what is wrong with the bill, try to keep the things in the bill that are good, and stop with the spreading of falsehoods, OK?

[tags]Military Commissions Act of 2006, Bill H.R. 6166, Author claims US torture bill makes non-allegiance to President a terrorist act[/tags]