Assorted Stupidity #131

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  • “You only get this chance once,” Eduardo Moreno allegedly said this week. The chance to do what, you ask? Why, to try to crash the train you’re driving into a Navy hospital ship to expose a government conspiracy, of course. I think it’d be more accurate to say that you will, at most, only get one chance to do that. In any event, Moreno seized his chance on Tuesday, when, prosecutors say, acting on the spur of the moment he deliberately ran a train off the tracks near the Port of Los Angeles in an effort to crash into the USNS Mercy. The ship is there so its 1,000 beds can help ease the burden on local hospitals—or is it? According to Moreno, the ship’s presence is “suspicious” and he doesn’t believe it’s for “what they say it’s for.” (He didn’t say what he says it’s for.) “People don’t know what’s going on here,” Moreno said. “Now they will.” But they don’t.
  • The report says Moreno was “charged with one count of train wrecking.” This seemed oddly specific, and I think it actually refers to 18 U.S.C. section 1992, which is entitled “Terrorist attacks and other violence against railroad carriers and against mass transportation systems on land, on water, or through the air.” According to the legislative history, the same section was once entitled simply “Wrecking trains,” so I think this is probably it. These days, of course, everything has to be larded up with extra words, most importantly “terrorist.” This is not an improvement.
  • If you’re thinking it would probably be hard to hit a ship with a train, one being waterborne and the other pretty much land-only, I think you are correct. Moreno, at least, did not even get close. “The train crashed into a concrete barrier at the end of the track, smashed through a steel barrier and a chain-link fence, slid through one parking lot and then a second lot filled with gravel and hit a second chain-link fence,” finally coming to rest more than two football fields away from the dock. Officials said security cameras”shows Moreno holding a lighted flare during the incident,” either because this wasn’t dangerous enough already or because he didn’t think anyone would notice otherwise.
  • “This is not a lawsuit,” L.A. Superior Court Judge Barbara Meiers said in court on January 31 (Law360), which wasn’t a good sign for the plaintiff at all. Syed Husain had sued his ex-girlfriend for fraud and breach of contract, claiming he spent lots of money on her during their relationship only to have her break up with him. His lawyer insisted that a 2018 promise she made was detailed enough to be enforceable, but the judge appeared to disagree. “Counsel, please, you’ve got to be kidding me,” Meiers said, which is one of the statements upon which I base that conclusion, along with, “Maybe he’s a fool, but that’s not a basis for a lawsuit.” The judge granted a motion for change of venue that, for some reason, the defendant didn’t withdraw when she heard how things were going.
  • If it’s a crime to “knowingly possess a firearm,” and the law defines “firearm” in a certain way (here, a gun with a barrel less than 16 inches long), do prosecutors have to prove that you knew the legal definition of “firearm” at the time you possessed it? In Massachusetts, and probably everywhere, the answer is no.
  • In February I reminded you (again) that it defeats the purpose of using a fake identity if police are also looking for the person you’re pretending to be. I should have mentioned that it’s also a problem if the name you give police is that of a well-known celebrity, if you are not in fact that person. Last month, police in New Mexico stopped a car they believed to be stolen, whereupon the driver informed them that she was Beyoncé Knowles. “Unfortunately for [the driver],” the report states, “the arresting officer [had] previously interacted with [her] and knew her true identity.” Also, he probably knows who Beyoncé is, and as you can see here, there is very little chance that anyone would confuse the two.