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Scene above:  Constitution Island, where Revolutionary War forts still exist, as photographed from Trophy Point, United States Military Academy, West Point, New York
 

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JANUARY 29,  2023

THOSE INGENIOUS AMERICANS:  Give 'em a problem, they'll solve it.  From Fox Business: 

Lowe's Companies, Inc. has innovated – and successfully tested – a new system geared towards tackling organized retail crime in a frictionless and almost invisible manner. 

It's called Project Unlock, and it's a proof-of-concept system that underscores how there are methods to solving this industry-wide problem without having to lock up every product on the shelf, Lowe's Chief Digital and Information Officer Seemantini Godbole told FOX Business in an exclusive interview. 

On average, there was a 26.5% increase in organized retail crime in 2021, costing the industry almost $100 billion, according to the latest data from the National Retail Federation (NRF). 

So far, the solution has been to lock up products, which Godbole says is "disrupting an enjoyable experience that customers rightfully should have." 

"As you can see, all the retailers are locking down stuff and putting physical locks on the product," Godbole said. "We said you know, we wish we had digital locks…we could enable and disable with technology. 

Project Unlock was created, and demonstrated at the NRF's 2023 expo in New York City last week, to prove that technology can be leveraged to solve organized retail crime without hindering the shopping experience for law-abiding citizens.  

Over the last 12 to 18 months, Lowe's Innovation Labs has been testing out the system which utilizes RFID [Radio Frequency Identity] chips, scanners and blockchain. 

If implemented, it would render a stolen tool inoperable which would discourage bad actors and in turn, keep employees safe, according to Godbole. 

To work, manufactures would first have to embed a wireless RFID (Radio Frequency Identity) chip into a power tool product. The chip is already pre-loaded with the item's serial number. It is also embedded in the box’s barcode. 

The product is set to inoperable up until the moment the customer pays for it. An RFID scanner at the register would then read the chip and activate the tool for use.  

"Only products that are legitimately purchased are activated," according to Lowe's Innovation Labs. "If a power tool is stolen, it won’t work, which makes it less valuable to steal." 

If implemented, the idea is that word will spread "pretty quickly that stealing these tools this way is not worth it because it'll never work," Godbole said. 

COMMENT:  Now that's innovation.  I hope it succeeds.  Frustrate the criminals!  Maintain law and order!  Free the shelves!

January 29, 2023       Permalink

 

SHORT TAKES ON THE DRIFTING WRECKAGE

THIS JUST IN:  I wanted to be sure you saw this first.  Be alert.  Don't be embarrassed.   From FOX:    The Twitter account for the Associated Press apologized for a recent tweet suggesting that "the French" was a "dehumanizing" term, acknowledging that it "caused unintended offense."  The AP official account tweeted Friday morning, "The use of ‘the French’ in this tweet by @AP was inappropriate and has caused unintended offense. An updated tweet is upcoming."
The original tweet that put the AP in hot water with social media users came from the @APStylebook account on Thursday. It suggested doing away with "dehumanizing ‘the’ labels," including "the poor" and, inexplicably, "the French."  It read, "We recommend avoiding general and often dehumanizing ‘the’ labels such as the poor, the mentally ill, the French, the disabled, the college-educated. Instead, use wording such as people with mental illnesses. And use these descriptions only when clearly relevant."  This latest bit of language policing backfired on social media. Many users trashed the AP, with some of them noting that the stylebook’s post had insulted French people despite its intention to respect them.  Video game designer Jordan Mechner commented, "I wonder what people with French nationality, I mean, people who are from France and live there, or who live somewhere else but still identify with France, will make of this?"  I'm just relieved the AP ran this apology.  I had visions of a crisis between the United States and France.  As I understand it, Paris had already asked that the Statue of Liberty be returned.  Once again, as in yesteryear, the term "French fries" was threatened.  I hope this is now all behind us.

OH DEAR, OH DEAR.  AS FACTS COME IN, THE STORY CHANGES I'D BEEN WONDERING WHY NO ONE WAS QUESTIONING THE POLICE CHIEF:  From the New York Post:   The chief of police in Memphis in charge of the five officers who fatally beat and tasered motorist Tyre Nichols was fired from a previous law enforcement job after a botched probe.  Cerelyn “CJ” Davis became the first female police chief in Memphis’s history in 2021 and is currently in the international spotlight after five cops brutally beat Tyre Nichols.  She was fired from the Atlanta police department in 2008 for her alleged involvement in a sex crimes investigation into the husband of an Atlanta police sergeant, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.  Two detectives accused Davis of telling them not to investigate Terrill Marion Crane, who was married to sergeant Tonya Crane after the police department obtained photos of him with underage girls.  A federal grand jury later indicted Terrill Crane on child pornography. He pleaded guilty to one count of child pornography in 2009, the newspaper reported.  This doesn't mean that Chief Davis is guilty of anything now, but it's important to know the backgrounds of those who play a major role in news stories.  As Memphis chief of police, she is directly responsible for the policies and training of the department.

January 29, 2023       Permalink

 

 

JANUARY 27-28,  2023

A GUIDE TO UNDERSTANDING:  Jonathan Turley, of the George Washington University school of law, is one of the best and most understandable legal commentators we have.  You can see him often at Fox News.  In the hours since release of the deeply disturbing video from Memphis, he has published an analysis of the event that I recommend to all readers.   From the New York Post: 

The release of the videos from the lethal arrest of Tyre Nichols, 29, is shocking for its lack of professional tactics and procedures. This looks like adrenaline-filled rage … from the officers. At certain points, it is the suspect who sounds to be trying to de-escalate the situation. 

It is unfortunately not unique. In physical encounters, officers can escalate violence and lose control with lethal consequences. 

The footage helps establish a number of legal points. The force is clearly and undeniably excessive. It was a complete breakdown of training and supervision. 

It is hard to look at this tape objectively and analytically given the emotional impact of the scene. Yet, the footage helps establish a number of legal points. 

There is both a state and federal investigation ongoing and the tapes will help and hurt aspects of those cases. 

There is ample basis for taking a second-degree murder case to trial. However, the tape also shows where the defense is likely to go in the coming weeks. 

The officers are not just facing second-degree murder charges but a whole slew of charges from aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping to official oppression. The aggravated assault and official oppression charges are amply supported by the videotape. The defense will likely focus on controlling the damage rather than leave the case unscathed.

The defense is likely to attack the second-degree murder charge because there was a rapid escalation and a defendant fled. While the beatings on the tape could well justify most people fleeing in fear, second-degree murder is “a knowing killing of another.” It does not require premeditation. The officers appear out of control but the counsel will argue that they did not knowingly or intentionally try to kill Nichols. Indeed, his death may have been caused in part by the delay in medical aid.  

The aggravated kidnapping could also face a challenge. Usually, an invalid stop or arrest is not treated as kidnapping, particularly after a suspect allegedly flees. 

Finally, the “one size fits all” charges for five officers could prove problematic. The officers are not using the same level of force. The worst acts include an officer positioning himself to get a clear shot to kick Nichols in the face as two officers struggle with him on the ground. 

Most horrific cases tend to look monolithic at the outset. However, more granular details emerge over time that can differentiate the conduct of individual officers. The detail on these tapes shows different conduct and levels of force that a jury will have to balance. 
The tapes would initially appear to show a death caused by excessive force rather than racial animus. However, this case was quickly framed in racial terms. That is not unique to our hair-triggered commentary and coverage. 

This month, when a man killed 10 people and injured 10 others in Southern California, politicians and pundits rushed forward to declare the attack a hate crime. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer denounced the “bigotry and hate” of the crime. 

Politicians did not wait to learn that it was committed by an Asian American with a history of mental illness who claimed to be “the president of Tokyo.” 

Similar comments followed the death of Nichols before it was revealed that all of the officers are also African-American. 

That is why the move of the Justice Department to open a civil rights investigation is surprising. While denouncing this killing, Police chief Cerelyn “CJ” Davis told the public that the race of the officers “takes off the table that issues and problems in law enforcement [are] about race.” 

There was a general rule that such civil rights investigations would follow state investigations and charges. That rule was discarded by the Obama Administration in cases like the killing of Trayvon Martin. After the fanfare of the investigation, the Administration quietly shut it down and did not bring any charges. 

COMMENT:   Please read the whole thing, and other good commentaries.  An observer charged that CNN has hyped its coverage of this tragedy as if it were the Super Bowl.  I'm afraid that's true.  It is the role of the knowledgeable commentator, like Jonathan Turley,  to supply the sober context that will make the legal case understandable, and to do so in an informed, neutral manner.  This contribution is sorely needed.

January 28, 2023       Permalink

 

OH HOW EMBARRASSING:  I just hate to see it.  All that hype about electric cars going down the drain.  What a waste of public relations talent.  From PJ Media: 

The Biden administration is always telling us that the best thing we can do is buy an electric vehicle. In fact, various members of the administration treat it almost flippantly — it’s a no-brainer that you should buy an expensive electric car or two. Doing so will rescue the planet from certain environmental collapse and will save you loads of money, even though the average cost of an electric vehicle was $66,000 as of August of last year.

Plenty of people are falling for it, and it’s easy to see why. The siren song of the tax credit is hard to ignore, and the idea of not having to contend with rising prices at the gas pump is attractive. But is it all true?

To quote Kissy Suzuki in You Only Live Twice, “Think again, please.” It just so happens that, for now, it’s actually cheaper to drive 100 miles in a gas-powered vehicle, also known as an internal combustion engine (ICE), than in an electric vehicle.

Ryan Erik King at Jalopnik reports that “a recent report from the Anderson Economic Group (AEG) found that fueling costs from mid-priced ICE-powered vehicles are lower than similarly priced electric vehicles. Combustion drivers pay about $11.29 per 100 miles on the road. EV drivers who charge up at home spend about $11.60 per 100 miles.”
It gets even more delicious when you take into account those commercial chargers that pop up in a lot of places.

“The price difference is more dramatic for those who mainly recharge at stations,” King writes. “Frequent charging station users pay $14.40 per 100 miles.”

According to the report from AEG, the numbers are slightly different depending on the type of vehicle:

• Mid-priced vehicles−In this market segment, fueling ICE vehicles was more economical than comparable EVs in the 4th quarter, regardless of charging primarily at home or commercially.

• Luxury cars−Drivers of high-end electric vehicles still enjoyed a significant fueling cost advantage, but the gap narrowed in Q4. Assuming mostly home charging, the cost benefit to fuel a luxury EV vs. a luxury ICE car dropped from $11.20 per 100 miles to $7.56.

• Pickup trucks, entry-priced cars−ICE vehicles are still the only widely available options in these two segments.

COMMENT:  Frankly, I object to all this false economic posturing.  I mean, what does it truly matter?  We all know that the real reasons for buying an electric car are to impress your liberal boss at work or to really impress the admissions director of the college your kid wants to attend.  Just pull up to Barack Obama University in your Zapmobile and watch the gates open.

January 27, 2023       Permalink

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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