Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Smart Phones Claim Another Life

Another young life has been tragically cut short, thanks to that incarnation of pure evil known as the smart phone....

Cynthia Silva had always instructed her daughter to keep one of her earbuds out when she spoke on her cell phone or listened to music. She figured that if the teenager tuned out her surroundings, she'd be robbed of the gadget.

Silva had no idea cell phone distraction was powerful enough to end her daughter's life on the train tracks near their home.

But a growing problem that has caught the attention of federal safety officials and train operators played out Monday evening in San Leandro, where 18-year-old Brittney Silva - a college-bound high school senior - was struck by an Amtrak train as she spoke on her phone, just yards from her home.

A man tried to warn the teenager as the train approached at 5:55 p.m. along Hesperian Boulevard, but she "did not respond to the witness, possibly as a result of her not being able to hear him," said San Leandro police Lt. Rick DeCosta.

'Upset and distracted'

Brittney Silva had been using earphones while apparently talking with her father, with whom she was having an argument, said her stepfather, Brian Crist. "She was upset and distracted," he said.
The teenager was found 50 yards south of the intersection. Her bright pink phone, which Crist had bought her, was found nearby.

Witnesses told police that the railroad crossing arms were functioning properly at the time of the collision. The southbound Capitol Corridor train came to a stop several hundred yards after the impact, and none of the 83 people aboard was hurt.

Silva was no stranger to danger on the tracks, as Amtrak trains pass by her home daily. Still, she apparently lost herself in her phone call.

"I've told my kids time and time and time again until I was blue in the face - and I will tell all of the youngsters out there - when you're walking down the street and you got your headphones on, keep one headphone in and one headphone out so you can hear the world around you," Cynthia Silva said Tuesday.

"Because I believe that if she had listened to me and done what I said, she would have heard the train coming."

Makeshift memorial

A friend of the victim's, 18-year-old Lillian McLean, suggested that Brittney Silva was like many cell phone users: "When she has her headphones in," she said, "she's just in her own little world."
Another friend, 17-year-old Theresa Lavoy, said, "It really taught me that I really need to listen to my surroundings and not just be doing my own thing, because you really can't see the train coming from over here."

The two left flowers at a makeshift memorial along the tracks. During their visit, an Amtrak train hurtled past, sounding its horn. Students at San Leandro High, where earphones are banned, wrote messages of remembrance.

Friends and family mourned the loss of a teenager who they said loved roller coasters, horror movies and animals and overcame a difficult home life to push herself in school and study calculus and chemistry.

She had been accepted to UC Santa Cruz, Humboldt State University and California State University East Bay in Hayward. She had hoped to become a marine biologist or obstetrician to "bring babies into this world," Cynthia Silva said. Her daughter had just opened up her own bank account and had begun a job at a yogurt shop in Dublin.

"She had the whole world in the palm of her hand," she said through tears.
Melody Silva, 11, said her sister "was very nice. She was very respectful, and everyone loved her. She would always dance, and she would always give me great advice about life."

Accidents rising

There are no definitive statistics on the number of distracted cell phone users who have been hit and killed by trains, but authorities say accidents involving pedestrians on cell phones are clearly on the rise.

More than 1,500 pedestrians were treated in emergency rooms in 2010 for injuries suffered while walking and using cell phones, double the numbers from five years before, according to a nationwide survey. More than half of the adult cell phone users in a Pew Research Center survey in 2012 reported bumping into or being bumped by a distracted cell phone user.

Silva's death is the second cell-phone-related train fatality of a teen in the East Bay in recent months. In March, 14-year-old Jenna Betti was killed by a Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway freight train in Martinez after she tried to retrieve a cell phone she had dropped on the tracks.
Despite public awareness campaigns focused on pedestrians being distracted by cell phones, "more and more people are being distracted around train tracks," said Amtrak spokeswoman VernaƩ Graham.

With a high number of both train lines and open track crossings, California leads the nation in pedestrian fatalities on train tracks each year, said Peter Aadland, executive director of California Operation Lifesaver, which is part of a national rail safety education group.
In 2013, there were 119 deaths on the tracks, compared with 112 the previous year. The statistics cover accidents but do not include suicides.

"I would say that for all these fatalities, they're virtually all preventable," Aadland said. "Anytime you're around a train, a heightened level of awareness to make decisions is encouraged."

Disregarding dangers

Many people don't realize how fast trains are going and think they can beat a train, while some regard a railroad right-of-way as a park where they can jog along the tracks or walk their dogs, experts say.
In some case, pedestrians ignore crossing arms and flashing lights to cross tracks after a train has passed, only to be hit and killed by a train traveling in the opposite direction.

I see it all the time... people driving or walking distracted, too caught up in their fucking gadgets to pay attention to what is going on more than two feet in front of their faces.  And now, another beautiful young woman is dead, because of these 3x5 inch death devices.

Fuck you Apple, Samsung, and all of you purveyors of death!  

Parents... DO NOT GIVE YOUR CHILDREN SMART PHONES.  You may as well just give them razor blades to slit their own wrists with.  Smart phones make people STUPID.  How many more children must die?  How much more proof do you need???

Richard Allen Davis Deathwatch: Day 6,497

Richard Allen Davis - sadly - is still alive.

And leave it to the criminal-loving liberals at the New York Times to praise the killers among us...

SAN QUENTIN, Calif. — It is not every newspaper editor who can point to a black-and-white surveillance photograph from a 1996 bank robbery and say that he was the robber.

But then again, The San Quentin News — which was recently honored by a chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists for “accomplishing extraordinary journalism under extraordinary circumstances” — is hardly a typical newspaper.

Founded in 1940 and then revived as a serious journalistic enterprise six years ago, the monthly News, which bills itself as “The Pulse of San Quentin,” is the state’s only inmate-produced newspaper and one of the few in the world. The paper’s 15 staff members, all of them male felons, write from the unusual perspective of having served an estimated 297 ½ years collectively for burglary, murder, home invasion, conspiracy and, in one case, a Ponzi scheme.

In a notorious prison best known for its death row, the men are committed to what Juan Haines, the 56-year-old managing editor, who is serving 55 years to life for that 1996 bank robbery, calls “boots on the ground” journalism, accomplished without cellphones or direct Internet access. “It’s about being heard in a place that’s literally shut off from the world,” he said.

From their newsroom trailer next to the prison yard, where inmates work out amid spectacular views, the reporters and editors delve into issues at “the Q,” as San Quentin State Prison is sometimes called, as well as those far beyond its walls. They have covered a hunger strike, crowding in California’s women’s prisons and a federal court order concerning mental health care for California death row inmates.
But the paper specializes in stories that can be written only by journalists with a “uniquely visceral understanding of the criminal justice system,” said Arnulfo T. Garcia, the paper’s editor in chief, who is serving 65 years to life for a long list of crimes that includes burglary, robbery and skipping bail to flee to Mexico.

Lately, the paper seems to be gathering momentum. Editors, who sometimes work through dinner over ramen noodles, are talking about expanding the current circulation of 11,500. Students from the Center for Nonprofit and Public Leadership at the University of California, Berkeley, have helped them develop a 12-year business plan that would increase the number of paid subscribers to help subsidize the free copies for inmates.

This year, the Northern California chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists gave The San Quentin News one of its James Madison Freedom of Information Awards.

Some people find the possibility of a higher profile alarming. Marc Klaas, president of the KlaasKids Foundation, whose 12-year-old daughter, Polly, was kidnapped at knife point from a sleepover and murdered in 1993, said that he was “vehemently opposed” to an inmate-produced publication being accessible to the public.

“These men are behind bars for a reason — so we can be protected from them,” Mr. Klaas said. “I don’t think that criminals serving time should have the opportunity to influence the hearts and minds of law-abiding citizens.” Richard Allen Davis, convicted in 1996 in the murder of Polly Klaas, is on death row at San Quentin.

Robert L. Ayers Jr., a former San Quentin warden who retired in 2008, said that positive outlets were important for prisoners. He said he decided to revive the publication as a quality journalistic endeavor rather than what he called an “inmate rant rag.”

“When they get involved and see they’re accomplishing something, that could be the one positive tick mark in the ‘good’ column for them,” he said. In learning how to write, he added, “they start expressing themselves in ways other than physical or violent means.”

The paper’s recent coverage has included an article about an inmate who was denied a compassionate release (“Judge Slams the Door on Cancer Patient, 81”) and a profile of transgender inmates that highlighted the lack of availability of bras at men’s prisons.

One inmate on the staff, Glenn Padgett, 50, said that his work felt redemptive. “I’m just trying to give back, to deal with the rips and tears I’ve made in the universe,” said Mr. Padgett, known as Luke, who, at age 33, stabbed a man to death and set fire to his home to cover up the killing.

Prison officials vet all the content. This year, the news operation was suspended for 45 days after a photograph of a Shakespearean play performance was swapped without approval. This prompted Watani Stiner, a columnist, to write, “We are once again reminded that we are prisoners first and journalists second.” (Mr. Stiner, 66, escaped in 1974 from San Quentin, where he was serving a life sentence for conspiracy to commit murder in the shooting deaths of two Black Panthers, and fled the country. Asked by a visitor how he escaped, he replied, “Real fast.”)

Like a small-town paper — San Quentin has a population of 3,855 — The News covers sports (including the San Quentin Giants and the A’s), arts and entertainment, new babies born to the paper’s advisers, folksy holiday greetings and man-on-the-street interviews, San Quentin-style. “We can go right into the yard and get a quote about how inmates are affected by policy decisions,” Mr. Haines, the managing editor, said. Its issues are typically 20 pages and are available online. A yearly subscription costs $40 for members of the public.

The paper is distributed to 17 prisons in addition to San Quentin, where it is considered a must-read by correctional officers. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation does not pay for printing or distribution; the paper survives on grants, donations and subscriptions. A team of outside volunteer advisers — including students from the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, led by William Drummond, a former Los Angeles Times reporter — provides editorial and research assistance. So does Richard Lindsey, a former staff member who was paroled last year and now combs through studies from the Vera Institute of Justice, the Pew Research Center and other sources on the web. He delivers his research on a flash drive to the prison’s public information officer, who passes it on to the paper’s staff.

“The leading public health problem in prison is boredom,” said Franklin E. Zimring, a law professor and criminologist at the University of California, Berkeley. The newspaper, he said, “is an operational antidepressant that keeps its participants structured and psychologically well organized.”

Inmates are often drawn to stories that prompt self-reflection. In an interview, one correctional officer described a call he had received from a friend who said, “Your baby’s dead.” That was how the officer had learned that his 19-year-old son had been murdered in a case of mistaken identity.

“I know I was out there perpetuating the same hate,” said Richard Richardson, a news designer who was convicted of a gang-related home invasion and other crimes. “I don’t want people to think we’re not thinking about our victims. Because we are."

I will still - no matter where I am - race to Petaluma and drink a toast with the natives when that sub-human son-of-a-bitch dies and goes to hell!

Another Milleniel Asshole Gets Too Much Press

Hot on the heels of Sarah Slocum - the world's first official "Glasshole" - comes Pleasant Hill city clerk Kim Lehmkuhl, another eminently-entitled milleniel who proves you don't have to be male to be an utter dickhead...

The Pleasant Hill city clerk, accused of spending her time Tweeting during City Council meetings instead of keeping minutes, has resigned with a blistering e-mail in which she wishes the city good luck in finding a “schmuck” to take what she described as an awful job.

Kim Lehmkuhl had denied she was slacking off on the job and doing nothing but playing around on Twitter. Her critics simply don’t understand the medium, she said.

In an e-mail Monday to Mayor Tim Flaherty announcing her resignation, effective immediately, she wrote, “This has been an atrocious, incredibly depressing and mind-numbingly inane experience I would not wish on anyone. I wish the city the best of luck in finding some schmuck eager to transcribe every last misogynistic joke, self-indulgent anecdote and pathetic pandering attempt by council, and every tinfoil hat conspiracy theory, racist aside, and NIMBY asshattery from the lovely council meeting frequent flyers, without which, surely our democracy could not flourish.”

Lehmkul had been the subject of a recall effort after city officials said she had failed to provide minutes for up to a year. She later produced minutes for some of those meetings.

She had been known for Tweeting during council meetings, with posts that included personal observations.

Lehmkuhl took a job in Washington, D.C., with Working America, an affiliate of the AFL-CIO that represents non-union workers, according to her Twitter account. The Twitter account she had used as city clerk has been taken down.

What an ASSHOLE.  Do your job you fucking bitch!  It really isn't that hard.  It's not like you had a lot to do, or that what you had to do was really that hard.  It's just that you're a spoiled fucking brat who can't be bothered to do what you were elected to do.

So now she has a job.  At a union.  Representing non-union employees.  Sounds like your typical Left-wing doublespeak.  Expect this hole to rise through the ranks - and I do mean rank - quickly.  She's the perfect combination of ruthless ambition, shoddy ethics, and non-existent morals.  The wave of the future.