Thursday, June 10, 2021

Last Call For Droning On About Food

Here in the Cincy area, Kroger is testing grocery delivery by drone starting this week and I can't wait for the wacky stories that come out of this.

Drone-flown deliveries of groceries will start Wednesday in an area within a mile of Kroger’s Centerville store, signaling a new era in flight and grocery shopping.

The Kroger Co. has been working with a Monroe company, Drone Express, to deliver groceries via drones, and actual flights responding to customer orders will start happening this week.

Erin Rolfes, a spokeswoman for Kroger, on Monday said drone flights have been tested for several days, and deliveries will be ready to go on Wednesday.

For the first pilot program, no charge will be levied for these flights, Rolfes said. But that’s temporary. At some point, there will be charges, but Rolfes did not have a date for that.

Drone orders can be made through a web site, Deliveries will be scheduled first come, first served.

“While of course we’re all very excited about the drone piece, I think it’s one part of a larger narrative of how Kroger is really reacting to what customers are asking for and giving them that product anytime that they want, anywhere that they are,” Rolfes said. 
The drone can carry only about five pounds worth of items. Pilots will oversee the drones as they fly to customer’s homes in the prescribed area around the Marketplace store at 1095 S. Main St.

“Right now, per FAA guidance, we’re only flying the drone to deliver within one mile of the store,” Rolfes said.

Kroger and Drone Express, part of New Jersey-based TELEGRID Technologies Inc., last month first announced the pilot program to offer grocery delivery via autonomous drones.

“Everything’s going well,” said Beth Flippo, principal engineer for the Drone Express delivery service. “Wednesday we are good to go.”

The company has about 10 pilots working in Monroe and Centerville at the moment, Flippo said. The pilots work in shifts at the Centerville store, covering nights and weekends, she said

The problem of course is economies of scale here. Not every Kroger is going to be able to afford 10 drone pilots and the requisite support staff required for a one-mile delivery radius. I would only expect this to be in the nicest neighborhoods with the kind of area that can support the delivery fees, which are going to be significant when rolled out, and even then, you're going to see NIMBY folks go berserk trying to keep drones out of their neighborhood the first time a pilot drops 4 pounds of groceries on someone's car, or a drone gets vandalized, smashed, or stolen while on the ground.

No, this technology is going to get shelved until they can replace the pilots with computers at best, and at worst it'll go like the way driverless vehicles are going now: nowhere because of lawsuits, regulatory rage at Big Tech, and because the technology itself is still decades away, and the regulatory framework even further.

If we have any readers in Centerville, let me know how this is going.

Black Lives Still Matter, Con't

The Louisiana State Police are under an internal investigation into the treatment of Black suspects after Ronald Greene was stunned and beaten to death by four white cops two years ago, but as we all know, internal affairs investigations never ever find cops guilty of hurting Black folk, because that's the job description.

The same Louisiana State Police unit whose troopers stunned, punched and dragged Ronald Greene on video during a deadly 2019 arrest is now under internal investigation by a secret panel over whether its officers are systematically targeting Black motorists for abuse.

The panel, whose existence was confirmed to The Associated Press by four people familiar with it, was set up in response to Greene’s death as well as three other violent stops of Black men: one who was punched, stunned and hoisted to his feet by his hair braids in a body-camera video obtained by the AP, another who was beaten after he was handcuffed, and yet another who was slammed 18 times with a flashlight.

“Every time I told him to stop he’d hit me again,” said Aaron Bowman, whose flashlight pummeling left him with three broken ribs, a broken jaw, a broken wrist and a gash to his head that required six staples to close. “I don’t want to see this happen to nobody — not to my worst enemy.”

The panel began working a few weeks ago to review thousands of body-camera videos over the past two years involving as many as a dozen white troopers, at least four of whom were involved in Greene’s arrest.

The review is focused on Louisiana State Police Troop F, a 66-officer unit that patrols a sprawling territory in the northeastern part of the state and has become notorious in recent years for alleged acts of brutality that have resulted in felony charges against some of its troopers.

“You’d be na├»ve to think it’s limited to two or three instances. That’s why you’re seeing this audit, which is a substantial undertaking by any agency,” said Rafael Goyeneche, a former prosecutor who is president of the Metropolitan Crime Commission, a New Orleans-based watchdog group. “They’ve got to identify these people and remove them from the organization.”

Other than the federal civil rights investigation into Greene’s death, the state police panel is the only known inquiry into possible systemic abuse and racism by its troopers.

Its seven members, drawn from officials from across the State Police, are not only scouring the videos for signs of excessive force, the people told the AP, but also examining whether troopers showed racist tendencies in their traffic stops and pursuits, and whether they mislabeled body-camera videos, turned off their cameras or used other means to hide evidence from internal investigators.

It’s not clear if the panel has a deadline or if it plans to expand the inquiry to the eight other troops in the 1,200-officer state police.

The State Police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The problem with the logic that there have to be incidents of racial injustice and police brutality that Troop F is hiding is that it means all other troops are doing it too, as well as all other police departments, state and local, across the US. The only issue is the degree of guilt and the severity of the abuse.

It is systemic. This is what we mean when we say systemic racism is an unavoidable, everyday fact of being Black in America. You only live because a cop hasn't killed you yet.

But Black Lives Still Matter.

The Law Of The Lone Star

Texas Attorney General Dan Patrick is facing possible disbarment as the state's Bar Association is investigating whether Paxton's Supreme Court lawsuit to block Joe Biden's presidency was unethical.

The Texas bar association is investigating whether state Attorney General Ken Paxton’s failed efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election based on bogus claims of fraud amounted to professional misconduct.

The State Bar of Texas initially declined to take up a Democratic Party activist’s complaint that Paxton’s petitioning of the U.S. Supreme Court to block Joe Biden’s victory was frivolous and unethical. But a tribunal that oversees grievances against lawyers overturned that decision late last month and ordered the bar to look into the accusations against the Republican official.

The investigation is yet another liability for the embattled attorney general, who is facing a years-old criminal case, a separate, newer FBI investigation, and a Republican primary opponent who is seeking to make electoral hay of the various controversies. It also makes Paxton one of the highest profile lawyers to face professional blowback over their roles in Donald Trump’s effort to delegitimize his defeat.

A spokesman for the attorney general’s office did not respond to requests for comment. Paxton’s defense lawyer, Philip Hilder, declined to comment.

Kevin Moran, the 71-year-old president of the Galveston Island Democrats, shared his complaint with The Associated Press along with letters from the State Bar of Texas and the Board of Disciplinary Appeals that confirm the investigation. He said Paxton’s efforts to dismiss other states’ election results was a wasteful embarrassment for which the attorney general should lose his law license.

“He wanted to disenfranchise the voters in four other states,” said Moran. “It’s just crazy.”

Texas’ top appeals lawyer, who would usually argue the state’s cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, notably did not join Paxton in bringing the election suit. The high court threw it out.

Paxton has less than a month to reply to Moran’s claim that the lawsuit to overturn the results in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin was misleading and brought in bad faith, according to a June 3 letter from the bar. All four of the battleground states voted for Biden in November.

From there, bar staff will take up the case in a proceeding that resembles the grand jury stage of a criminal investigation. Bar investigators are empowered to question witnesses, hold hearings and issue subpoenas to determine whether a lawyer likely committed misconduct. That finding then launches a disciplinary process that could ultimately result in disbarment, suspension or a lesser punishments. A lawyer also could be found to have done nothing wrong.

The bar dismisses thousands of grievances each year and the Board of Disciplinary Appeals, 12 independent lawyers appointed by the Texas Supreme Court, overwhelmingly uphold those decisions. Reversals like that of Moran’s complaint happened less than 7% of the time last year, according to the bar’s annual report.

Claire Reynolds, a spokeswoman and lawyer for the bar, said state law prohibits the agency from commenting on complaints unless they result is public sanctions or a court action.

The bar’s investigation is confidential and likely to take months. But it draws renewed attention to Paxton’s divisive defense of Trump as he and Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush vie for the former president’s endorsement in the Republican primary to run for attorney general in 2022
While Jeb!'s son is definitely gunning for the job his uncle had in Texas and in Washington and needs Paxton out of the way, I don't see how he's going to be able to take advantage of this bar investigation in any way. Anything short of complete agreement with whatever Paxton's position is, being martyred in Trump's "noble" defense, is the end of Potted Plant's career and he knows it. 

Granted, an AG being disbarred from practicing law in the state where he resides kind of makes it impossible to do the job, but there's nothing he can do other than stay out of the way of this hurtling trainwreck.
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