Today I felt like doing a few bits ‘n pieces rather than a longer post. I think it’s a sign of an uncontrolled mind that every idea for a full post held little appeal to me, but I seized on a few headlines that crossed my screen.
The headline on the BBC site caught my eye …
Man Electrified By Judge Gets New Trial
Surely, I thought, they don’t mean ‘electrified’ as in … electrified? So, of course, I clicked on the story. And yes, dear friends, they did mean electrified … as in … electrified, fried.
It happened in Texas to a man named Terry Lee Morris, who stood accused of “soliciting sexual performance from a child” … a heinous crime, to be sure, but still, there are limits and laws about electrifying people in a court of law. Remember that part about “innocent until proven guilty”? It turns out that the ‘stun belts’ such as the one used to zap Mr. Morris, are often used in courtrooms in Texas. They are affixed around the legs or midsection of a suspect in court and are used to deliver a shock to the person should they become violent.
Judge George Gallagher took the concept one step further and ordered the bailiff to deliver a charge of electricity each time Mr. Morris did not, in the eyes of the judge, “answer a question properly”. Not once, but three times Judge Gallagher ordered the shocking of Mr. Morris. Morris was found guilty of one count of soliciting sexual performance from a child and was sentenced to 60 years in prison. Both the conviction and the sentence are likely fair, but the trial was anything but fair.
Last month, the appeals court ruled that Mr. Morris’ shocks and removal from the court was a violation of his constitutional right to be present and confront witnesses during his trial, and a new trial has been ordered. In part, the 42-page decision reads:
“Because the trial transcript clearly shows that the trial judge, during a heated exchanged [sic] with the defendant outside the presence of the jury, ordered his bailiff to electrocute the defendant three times with a stun belt – not for legitimate security purposes, but solely as a show of the court’s power as the defendant asked the court to stop “torturing” him – we harbor grave doubts as to whether Morris’ [trial] comported with basic constitutional mandates. As such, we have no choice but to overturn Morris’ conviction and remand for a new trial.”
The decision went on to clarify that no Texas judges are allowed to shock defendants for refusing to follow the court’s rules of decorum.
“Never before have we seen any behaviour like this, nor do we hope to ever see such behaviour again. We must speak out against it, lest we allow practices like these to affront the very dignity of the proceedings we seek to protect and lead our courts to drift from justice into barbarism.”
For now, at least, no disciplinary action has been taken against Judge Gallagher and he is still a judge.Those of you in Europe who are feeling like you’re always running a bit behind … take heart … it is not your imagination, but you truly are running behind … by about six minutes, in fact! The culprit? A dispute between Kosovo and Serbia! No, I swear I am not making this up!
Kosovo and Serbia, enemies since the war in the 1990s, share responsibility for a power grid that serves much of the European continent. Since mid-January, Kosovo has been using more power than it has been generating. Serbia was supposed to balance the grid, but failed to do so. The result? The European network’s frequency had deviated from its standard of 50 Hertz (Hz) to 49.996 Hz since mid-January, resulting in 113 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of lost energy. The end result to consumers is a lag of approximately six minutes on electric clocks that are driven by the frequency of the power system, rather than by a quartz crystal.
We are told that the balance has been restored, but that it may take several weeks before clocks in Europe catch up with the rest of the world. Just imagine the possibilities here. People fired from their jobs for being 6 minutes late, burnt meals. “I’m sorry sir, but we gave your new heart to another patient because you showed up six minutes late for your surgery.” Cows being milked late, chickens fed late … a crisis in the agricultural world as the animals are unable to adapt to being off their schedules! So many possibilities it boggles the mind.And finally, if you needed something else to worry about …China’s Tiangong-1 space station will crash to Earth within weeks
Experts say it is impossible to plot where module will re-enter the atmosphere, but the chance is higher in parts of Europe, US, Australia and New Zealand – The Guardian, 05 March 2018
“China’s first space station is expected to come crashing down to Earth within weeks, but scientists have not been able to predict where the 8.5-tonne module will hit.
The US-funded Aerospace Corporation estimates Tiangong-1 will re-enter the atmosphere during the first week of April, give or take a week. The European Space Agency says the module will come down between 24 March and 19 April.
In 2016 China admitted it had lost control of Tiangong-1 and would be unable to perform a controlled re-entry.”
But not to worry, friends. They say only very small pieces of debris will survive re-entry and hit the earth. According to the article:
“When considering the worst-case location … the probability that a specific person (ie, you) will be struck by Tiangong-1 debris is about one million times smaller than the odds of winning the Powerball jackpot.”
Well, I’m comforted, for I haven’t had much luck winning the Powerball. Oddly, even if I thought the odds were better than even of my being struck by falling space debris, I wouldn’t worry … after all, this is the Trumpian Era … what else could possibly be worse?