Friday, December 21, 2007

End of the Week Roundup

Blogging here has been a little slow this week, so let's round up a few items I haven't had time to write about in more detail:

Just one more thing before you evacuate
Several readers sent notice of what has to be the most absurd idea I've heard from emergency planners since 9/11: Criminal background checks prior to an evacuation! Texas gave AT&T the contract to perform such checks, and evacuees will wear wristbands with RFIDs so they can be tracked and their past analyzed by officials. This is a solution looking for a problem, or maybe just an excuse to hand out a fat, unnecessary contract. When has there ever been an issue with sex offenders, e.g., assaulting someone during an evacuation on a bus?! I've never heard of such a thing. According to Wired, "what’s not explained is where all the sex-offenders and parolees end up? Their own facility? I’ll bet communities are just lining up to host that type of “special needs” shelter." No kidding! Does anybody remember when Houston tried to evacuate during Hurricane Rita and we wound up with cars running out of gas en masse on the highways out of town? We have no solution to THAT problem, but somehow this foolishness is going to make things better.

Death house chaplain now an abolitionist
Rev. Carroll Pickett witnessed dozens of executions as a Texas prison chaplain, including men he believed innocent when they were killed. Now he's a death penalty abolitionist. Read why.

UT law clinic intervenes in child murderer's case
Doc Berman points to this article in the National Law Journal about a South Carolina case being appealed to the US Supreme Court by a UT Austin law school clinic on behalf of a boy who killed his grandparents when he was twelve and received a thirty year sentence.

Harris County ships more inmates to Crawfishlandia
With voters having rejected a new jail in November, Harris County plans to outsource an additional 200 county jail inmates to a private firm in Louisiana, in addition to 400 local inmates already housed there, we learn from Texas Prison Bidness.

School holidays lead to spike in graffiti
The El Paso Times documents a steep rise in graffiti around town since school let out for the holidays. I'll bet that's a pretty predictable trend that probably holds true every year.

Clemens snitch still uncorroborated
A potential corroborating source for the Mitchell report's allegation that Roger Clemens used steriods turned out to be a bust: The "Grimsley affidavit" had long been rumored to include Clemens, which has been cited by some as possible corroboration for claims by an informant that the Cy Young winner used performance enhancing drugs. I'm willing to bet the Rocket's absence in this document won't make nearly the same national press as did his inclusion in the Mitchell report, confirming a common pattern: Informants' uncorroborated accusations are nearly always given more media play than later debunking arguments or retractions, meaning for those accused, often significant damage has already been done. Did McNamee name Clemens because he, too, had heard the Grimsley rumors and thought he was handing Sen. Mitchell somebody they already knew about? There's just no way to know.


Catonya said...

And here I thought time was a vital factor in executing successful emergency evacuations... (waited in line at the DMV lately?)
silly me.

oh - and ftr, I'd much rather be on a crowded bus with a sex offender than a pickpocket in this type situation.

Anonymous said...

Pretty soon everyone in Texas will have a criminal history. A criminal history check in an emergency is going to end up depriving folks of their constitutional rights.

There will be a law suit, a bunch of lawyers and judges will be employed for a long time and absolutely nothing will be made better.

What was the stated purpose of this AT&T contract again? Besides the RFID tags, what do they plan to actually do?

Anonymous said...

It is all about money!!! Money for friends of the elected officials. You can put Rick - Pay Me Off - Perry at the top of the list! It does not have to do anything except put our tax dollars in the right pocket!