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June 16, 2009

Florida cops used "wonder dog" to jail innocent people for a combined 50 years

How many more innocent people were wrongly jailed because of 'wonder dog'? -- OrlandoSentinel.com
[Harass the Wonder Dog] could supposedly do things no other dog could: tracking scents months later and even across water, according to his handler, John Preston. If it sounds hard to believe, there's a good reason. After providing prosecutors with testimony for years, Preston was finally discredited by a judge who had the sense to do what others had not: test the dog for himself. But not until after Preston and his dog had appeared in dozens of cases. We know that at least three of those cases were overturned — after the defendants collectively spent more than a half-century in prison.
Florida is refusing to look at the other people put away by the cop's (and dog's) testimony, arguing that it's on the convicted who are sitting in prison to petition their cases.

The War for Healthcare is ON!

Robert Reich's Blog: The Healthcare War is Now Official
Yesterday the American Medical Association came out against a public option for health care. And yesterday the President reaffirmed his support for it. The next weeks will show what Obama is made of -- whether he's willing and able to take on the most formidable lobbying coalition he has faced so far on an issue that will define his presidency. And make no mistake: A public option large enough to have bargaining leverage to drive down drug prices and private-insurance premiums is the defining issue of universal health care. It's the only way to make health care affordable. It's the only way to prevent Medicare and Medicaid from eating up future federal budgets. An ersatz public option -- whether Kent Conrad's non-profit cooperatives, Olympia Snowe's "trigger," or regulated state-run plans -- won't do squat. The last president to successfully take on the giant health care lobbies was LBJ. He got Medicare and Medicaid enacted because he weighed into the details, twisted congressional arms, threatened and cajoled, drew lines in the sand, and went to war against the AMA and the other giant lobbyists standing in the way. The question now is how much LBJ is in Barack Obama.

Small Pennsylvania Town Seeks to Pre-Emptively Ban Coal Mining to Save Their Town

Pennsylvania Town Fights Big Coal on Mining Rights | CommonDreams.org This is pretty interesting. The town is arguing that the practices of the coal mining corporations would destroy their town by polluting the water table, diverting rivers, draining ponds and collapsing the land their homes stand upon. The mining corporations claim the town is violating their corporate rights. The town claims the corporations can't exert their rights at the expense of the town. This will be an interesting one to watch.
Blaine Township, a community of 600 about 40 miles southwest of Pittsburgh, hopes to trigger a legal battle that could determine the rights of municipalities throughout the United States to control corporate activity. Some legal experts say the township is highly unlikely to win that fight. For now the dispute is in federal district court, where major energy companies have sued the township over three ordinances that would ban coal mining and require companies in any business to disclose their activities to local officials. . . . In Blaine, residents are seeking to prevent coal mining -- which they expect to begin there in 2011 -- because they fear it will ruin their houses and disrupt water supplies, as they say it has in surrounding areas. They want to block longwall mining, a technique that rips tons of coal from underground without putting anything in its place, causing the land above to sag. The practice, which has been used in coal-rich southwest Pennsylvania since the 1970s, has cracked the walls, roofs and basements of homes and opened fissures in the land, diverting or draining creeks and ponds. In neighboring Morris Township, Tammy Bowman pointed to a pile of broken wood and concrete -- all that's left of an outbuilding she said was destroyed by shifting ground from mining beneath her 19th century farmhouse.

SF Public Library launches plan to waive fines in exchange for good stories

City Insider : Dog Ate My Library Book
Recently, borrowers with overdue books were allowed to bring them back without paying fines - which max out at $5 per book - but they had to tell the library why they were tardy. A group of second-graders said they were too busy rescuing marine mammals. One woman said she just couldn't part with a beautiful early 20th century book with good-feeling paper and plate illustrations. It looked so posh on her shelf. Another blamed his sister. After they had a falling out, she "accidentally" left a copy of the movie Babe that she had checked out in his name, tucked into his stack of DVDs. Hmmmmm.