Archive for June 26, 2008

60-Year-Old Teacher Charged with Having Sex with Student

Oh, great.  Another instance of a pervert teacher:

PALM BAY, FL — A Palm Bay teacher is facing charges after police say she had sex with a 17-year-old student.

60-year-old Adrienne Laflamme was arrested on Wednesday and charged with 15 counts of having sex with a minor and one count of filing a false police report.

Police say Laflamme was arrested after the boy’s mother complained she had a four-week long relationship.

Laflamme, who taught at the Brevard County Juvenile Detention Center, reportedly would pick the boy up from his house.

Police say Laflamme and the teen had sex at least 15 times.

They say one of those times involved another teenage boy.

Police say Laflamme lent her car to the boy while on vacation, but filed a report saying it was stolen after finding out she was being investigated.

Source: FirstCoastNews.com

What the hell is wrong with these people?  If you want to feel like somebody loves you, get a dog.  If you want to engage in intercourse, pick up men (or women) of legal age. 

 

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Alternative Fuels and Sugar

Amyris first studied the highest performing compounds of diesel, gasoline and jet fuel, then tinkered with the genetic structures of E. coli and yeast to produce bioequivalents, Renninger says, leveraging the same cutting-edge technology previously employed to produce pharmaceutical-quality medicines at commodity-level prices. The company recently announced a deal with the Brazilian sugar and ethanol manufacturer Crystalsev to launch a joint facility south of São Paulo, giving Amyris access to 2 million tons of sugar to feed its mutated strains of yeast. It projects commercial production of some 30 million gallons of diesel as early as 2010, with production of gasoline and jet fuel roughly one and two years behind, respectively.

LS9 plans to open a pilot facility this summer and a 50- to 100-million-gallon plant three years later, producing a drop-in replacement for diesel, as well as a biocrude to be processed in traditional refineries. Rogue scientist J. Craig Venter, who helped lead an international consortium of scientists to map the human genome, has announced plans to engineer bacteria able to create hydrocarbons not just from sugars, but from CO2 pulled straight from the atmosphere.

“If you look at where sugar cane is in Brazil, or at where biomass will be here in the near future, we’re pretty confident that we can compete with oil around the $50-a-barrel range,” Pal says. “The key driver of the cost really is the cost of raw materials.”

For the moment, microbial hydrocarbons, like ethanol, rely on an inexpensive supply of simple sugars to convert into fuel. In the United States, that supply has traditionally come from the starches found in corn kernels, a feedstock with questionable environmental benefits and marginal economic ones. Until technologies exist to easily derive sugars from tough cellulosic material, such as corn’s remaining stalks, leaves and cobs, companies like LS9 and Amyris are likely to feed their fuels with sugar cane—a relatively green source of easy-to-use sucrose, albeit one with limited domestic potential.

As the world continues to consume some 150 million gallons of oil every hour, any potentially game-changing solutions will need not only to work, but to work cheaply and at truly massive scales.

“We could be harvesting on a sustainable basis over a billion tons of dry biomass in the United States if we got serious about it, and that would get us somewhere close to 30 percent of our liquid transportation fuels,” NREL’s McMillan says. “So while sucrose is undoubtedly part of the solution, to really get that huge volume impact, you have to go to those cellulosic feedstocks.”

Source:  Popular Mechanics

One of the reasons that I am concerned with Governor Crist’s plan to acquire so much land from U.S. Sugar Corp. is the importance of sugar in making biofuels until such time as we have cellulosic feedstocks.  The world sugar price will increase as sugar is diverted to biofuels.  Would it be better for the environment for more rainforest to be converted to sugar plantations, or to utilize the land already in sugar plantations?

I do not wish to have governmental officials point at press releases and articles and say “There’s no need for searching for oil!  We have biofuels!”  Well, we already know what happens to biofuels in the event of a drought, flood, or even a damaging frost.  I would prefer that we have a steady, albeit diversified, fuel supply.

I take umbrage at the people blithely asserting that dry biomass has no value.  Yes, it does.  It is used for building soil, preventing erosion, and for wildlife cover.   

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Heller Affirmed!

SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
Syllabus
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA ET AL. v. HELLER
CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR
THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUIT
No. 07–290. Argued March 18, 2008—Decided June 26, 2008

District of Columbia law bans handgun possession by making it a crime to carry an unregistered firearm and prohibiting the registration of handguns; provides separately that no person may carry an unlicensed handgun, but authorizes the police chief to issue 1-year licenses; and requires residents to keep lawfully owned firearms unloaded and dissembled or bound by a trigger lock or similar device.

Respondent Heller, a D. C. special policeman, applied to register a handgun he wished to keep at home, but the District refused. He filed this suit seeking, on Second Amendment grounds, to enjoin the city from enforcing the bar on handgun registration, the licensing requirement insofar as it prohibits carrying an unlicensed firearm in the home, and the trigger-lock requirement insofar as it prohibits the use of functional firearms in the home. The District Court dismissed the suit, but the D. C. Circuit reversed, holding that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to possess firearms and that the city’s total ban on handguns, as well as its requirement that firearms in the home be kept nonfunctional even when necessary for self-defense, violated that right.

Held:

1. The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home. Pp. 2–53.

(a) The Amendment’s prefatory clause announces a purpose, but does not limit or expand the scope of the second part, the operative clause. The operative clause’s text and history demonstrate that it connotes an individual right to keep and bear arms. Pp. 2–22.

(b) The prefatory clause comports with the Court’s interpretation of the operative clause. The “militia” comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense. The Antifederalists feared that the Federal Government would disarm the people in order to disable this citizens’ militia, enabling a politicized standing army or a select militia to rule. The response was to deny Congress power to abridge the ancient right of individuals to keep and bear arms, so that the ideal of a citizens’ militia would be preserved. Pp. 22–28.

(c) The Court’s interpretation is confirmed by analogous armsbearing rights in state constitutions that preceded and immediately followed the Second Amendment. Pp. 28–30.

(d) The Second Amendment’s drafting history, while of dubious interpretive worth, reveals three state Second Amendment proposals that unequivocally referred to an individual right to bear arms. Pp. 30–32.

(e) Interpretation of the Second Amendment by scholars, courts and legislators, from immediately after its ratification through the late 19th century also supports the Court’s conclusion. Pp. 32–47.

(f) None of the Court’s precedents forecloses the Court’s interpretation. Neither United States v. Cruikshank, 92 U. S. 542, 553, nor Presser v. Illinois, 116 U. S. 252, 264–265, refutes the individual rights interpretation. United States v. Miller, 307 U. S. 174, does not limit the right to keep and bear arms to militia purposes, but rather limits the type of weapon to which the right applies to those used by the militia, i.e., those in common use for lawful purposes. Pp. 47–54.

2. Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose: For example, concealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendmentor state analogues. The Court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms. Miller’s holding that the sorts of weapons protected are those “in common use at the time” finds support in the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons. Pp. 54–56.

3. The handgun ban and the trigger-lock requirement (as applied to self-defense) violate the Second Amendment. The District’s total ban on handgun possession in the home amounts to a prohibition on an entire class of “arms” that Americans overwhelmingly choose for the lawful purpose of self-defense. Under any of the standards of scrutiny the Court has applied to enumerated constitutional rights, this prohibition—in the place where the importance of the lawful defense of self, family, and property is most acute—would fail constitutional muster. Similarly, the requirement that any lawful firearm in the home be disassembled or bound by a trigger lock makes it impossible for citizens to use arms for the core lawful purpose of self-defense and is hence unconstitutional. Because Heller conceded at oral argument that the D. C. licensing law is permissible if it is not enforced arbitrarily and capriciously, the Court assumes that a license will satisfy his prayer for relief and does not address the licensing requirement. Assuming he is not disqualified from exercising Second Amendment rights, the District must permit Heller to register his handgun and must issue him a license to carry it in the home. Pp. 56–64.
478 F. 3d 370, affirmed.

SCALIA, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which ROBERTS,
C. J., and KENNEDY, THOMAS, and ALITO, JJ., joined. STEVENS, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which SOUTER, GINSBURG, and BREYER, JJ.,
joined. BREYER, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which STEVENS,
SOUTER, and GINSBURG, JJ., joined.

Read the opinions (pdf file) here:

Looks like I don’t have to uphold my oath to defend the constitution THIS week.  It is frightening to see how close the Supreme Court decision was to banning the right of self-defense in the dissenting view:

In my view, there simply is no untouchable constitutional right guaranteed by the Second Amendment to keep loaded handguns in the house in crime-ridden urban areas.

Spoken like a true liberal who has never had to live in a crime-ridden urban area!  So, how are they supposed to protect their families from the thugs that break in intent on rape, robbery, and perhaps murder?  Give them a stern talking to?  Tell them they’re going to call the police and the thugs will be in really big trouble then? Inform them that they’ll go on a sex offender list?  Set bear traps at the entrances (oh, wait, that’s illegal, too).

The dissenting opinion read to me like a textbook blend of elitism and nanny statism.  After all, why is it that the dwellers in the crime-ridden urban areas cannot be trusted to have a handgun inside their house?  Is it because they are intellectually less well suited to make the decision to protect themselves than somebody in the suburbs? Sounds rather condescending to me.  “There, there, poverty stricken person.  Don’t you bother worrying about self-protection, big brother will be there to vigorously prosecute your violator/murderer; that is, if he’s ever caught.” Perhaps urban dwellers are all latent criminals. 

The argument “but what about the safety of the children?” is specious.  What about parental responsibility?

This should have been a unanimous decision. That four justices voted to abrogate the constitution is very troubling.

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Deputies and Suspects Rescued from Swamp

BRADFORD COUNTY, FL — The Clearwater Coast Guard and other agencies helped rescue several police deputies deep in a Bradford County swamp. Bradford County Sheriff Bob Milner tells First Coast News a routine traffic stop lead to the rescue.

It began in Starke around 7 p.m. Wednesday when officers making a traffic stop recognized a passenger with felony warrants from three counties.

The suspects took off, and the chase ended miles away in the woods near Keystone Heights when the car crashed. The deputies then used bloodhounds and tracked the two men deep into the Santa Fe swamp.

“It’s incredibly demanding and very very difficult to get out of. Some people try to compare it to quicksand. I don’t know if that’s a good analogy but as you indicated, as tired as they were, it’s very difficult to move,” said Sheriff Milner.

A coast guard helicopter from Clearwater worked alongside the Alachua County chopper to rescue the deputies and suspects from the sticky muck.

One K-9 was slightly injured.

Both suspects are now in jail.

Source: First Coast News

I’ve had some experience with this muck. I’ve been out rounding up hawgs before, had a huge hawg* run straight at me and knock me flat into it. The muck forms a suction holding your foot/leg down firmly in the mud, and it takes quite a bit of effort to break it.

*These weren’t little sissy pigs of the size that get sent to market. These were 700 + lb., waist tall, breeding sows and boars. When SwampMan finally arrived to help me up, he was yelling at me “why didn’t you MOVE when that hawg was charging you?” with the answer being, of course, that I couldn’t. I was stuck deep in the muck. If I would have had rubber boots on, I could have slipped my feet out but unfortunately, these were of the lace-up snake boot variety.

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Female Corrections Officer Killed by Inmate

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — A female corrections officer was killed at the Tomoka Correctional Institution, the Florida Department of Corrections reported.

WKMG-TV learned a man serving two life sentences for rape and kidnapping, Enoch Hall, 39, is suspected of killing veteran corrections officer Donna Fitzgerald Wednesday night.

Prison officials released a statement after the incident.

An inmate has been identified as the suspect and is in confinement at this time,” department representative Greti Plessinger told the Daytona Beach News Journal.

“Words cannot express the sorrow I feel over the loss of our correctional officer,” Department of Corrections Secretary Walter McNeil said. “The entire department grieves the murder of one of our finest officers and we pray for the victim’s family during this difficult time.”

The Tomoka facility opened in 1981 and houses about 1,200 inmates ranging from minimum security to violent felons.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement and Volusia County Sheriff’s Office is assisting in the investigation.

Source: News4Jax.com

I hope this isn’t a case of substituting technology and shorting manpower again. Automation isn’t a substitute for having backup.

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Broken-Legged Ram Weightbearing Again

One of the pasture rams somehow acquired a broken leg. How, I dunno. I previously witnessed a sheep that was sleeping with a foreleg under the fence get startled by a sudden loud noise (neighbor’s peacock), lept to her feet regardless of the fence that her leg was still under, and snapped her leg between the shoulder and the knee. This broken-legged ram, one of the slaughter rams that I’m going to take off one of these days*, is more gracile than sturdy, and therefore I had him marked for my freezer, and soon.

When I found him in the pasture, lower leg swollen and held off the ground in obvious pain, I was going to splint it as I had done previously and successfully with the broken-legged ewe. A 3-legged ram can run surprisingly fast. I didn’t want him to injure the leg further, so I left him alone. My only concession to his injury was bringing some hay into the barn every couple days along with some supplemental corn but, with the ongoing dry spell, the pasture was in pretty poor shape anyway and everybody could use the extra food.

During the last week, he’s been venturing out to pasture to graze with his flock mates again. He’s doing some weightbearing on the injured limb, although still walking with a limp. He’s about half the width of the other rams but, if the pasture improves with some rain, should rapidly put on weight.

Here’s the problem, though. Those rams should have been shipped off a couple of years ago but, due to dog attacks on my pregnant ewes, I had hardly ANY sheep left to keep the pastures eaten. The horse will, of course, eat grass but turns her nose up at forbs (broad-leaved plants), the sheep’s favorite. The ewes that were left were either very old and not carrying lambs that year because I hadn’t put them with the rams, and some very young ewes. In the meantime, I’ve lost another ewe this spring due to grass tetany.

I don’t want to bring in new genetics/sheep because I’ll have to go up north. Every time I’ve brought sheep in from out of state, I’ve had casualties**. Blue tongue virus is endemic here. The parasite problem is incredible. This little closed flock I have has been culled repeatedly for susceptibility to Florida super parasites and the result is that, even with worm-laden pastures, I never have to worm. Not even the lambs. It may take me 10 or more years, though, to get my ewe flock back to its original size barring further dog attacks.

In the meantime, the rams are keeping the weeds down, but….the feed is getting too expensive. *sigh* They come when called. They fight each other to see which ram gets to walk on either side of me. They’ve become individuals despite my best efforts to see them as walking meat. If we start getting rainy seasons again like we’ve had in the past, I wouldn’t have enough sheep to keep the growth in check. I’ll hold off on hauling the rams to auction for slaughter, again, and perhaps it will rain.

Yeah, I know. They aren’t really livestock at this point. They’re really pets.

*It doesn’t really seem very sporting to eat a ram that is so determined to live and survived what could have been a fatal accident in another sheep.

**I’ve never had casualties/bad luck sheep from AnnaRae Hodgin’s Tunis flock, which is what convinced me that Tunis were the sheep for me!

Photograph from Tunis Sheep Organization History.

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