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For cryin’ out loud, what kind of rock have these people been living under? It wasn’t even illegal until 1978, and it still happens often enough today that pregnancy discrimination lawyers advertise on the Internet trolling for women who’ve been fired for being pregnant. Granted, since it’s illegal now, employers won’t say “I’m firing you for being pregnant”, they’ll make up some other reason, but it’s provable in enough cases to keep those lawyers in business (remember, they don’t get paid unless they win!).

As for why employers fire pregnant women: “They take too much leave time.” “The cost of child birth drives up our health insurance costs.” “I have to hire someone to do their job while they’re out on their post-pregnancy leave, might as well hire someone full-time in their place” “Mothers of young infants perform poorly in the workplace, they’re always tired and having to leave to deal with a sick baby.” Yada yada yada. Back in the days when Elizabeth Warren was fired for being pregnant, they didn’t even bother with those reasons, they just said “a mother’s place is in the home” — i.e., the Mad Men misogynists who ran everything back then were fine with women in the workplace if the women were unmarried and had no children, but the moment the woman had a child, nope.

But apparently all this current and past history just eludes some people, who continue to insist “nobody gets fired for being pregnant because it’s illegal!” Yeah right, just like nobody exceeds the speed limit because it’s illegal….

Badtux the “it ain’t even ancient history!” Penguin

Someone suggested that the cure to Tux going to the great beyond was a new cat. Well, this one isn’t new, exactly. He arrived at my doorstep in November 2018, he sort of came with the house I’m living in now. As in, he was living outside on my patio, and I brought him in. Meet Chuck the Feral:

Chuck the Feral

This cat is *so* feral…

Chuck knows how to relax, lol. He lets me pet him and pick him up, sometimes, too, mostly when he’s hungry because he knows that’s his toll for me giving him a can of Fancy Feast. But most of the time if I approach him, he goes somewhere else. Because feral. Duh.

– Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Tux the Cat, 2002-2019

Sixteen years ago I went to the Arizona Humane Society’s no-kill shelter thinking to get a pal for George the Cat. George was a loving kitty but very, very clingy. He was on my heel talking to me whenever I was anywhere in the house, talking, talking, talking. I had the feeling he was lonely when I was at work, so I walked up and down the row of cats at the Humane Society. Pickings were slim that day, they apparently hadn’t moved all the cats from their old shelter yet. But every time I went by one particular enclosure, the black teenage kitty therein would put his paw up against the window. I thought, no, too young, a kitten will drive George crazy… but then I saw the name on the enclosure: Tux.

It was karma, I thought. Badtux having a cat named Tux was just… right. So I brought him home. That was in January 2003.

He was my pal for sixteen years and a regular on this blog since the start of this blog. George the Cat adored me and only me, but Tux loved everybody. He was fearless, he would go up to anybody and say hello and ask for scritches, and he was curious. When workers came over to the house to do stuff he was always up in what they were doing asking what they were doing (and cadging scritches). When a big burly biker dude came over so I could help him work on his bike, Tux was right there, biker dude sat down in a chair while I looked up a procedure on the Internet, next thing I know I hear the biker dude was going “help?” as Tux had hopped in his lap and put his front paws on the guy’s shoulders while his rear paws were on the guy’s legs. Even hairy biker dudes couldn’t keep Tux from saying hello.

Two years ago he developed diabetes, then a little over a week ago had a flareup of IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease). While being treated for that, he acquired a viral upper respiratory infection. The drugs used to treat one illness interfered with the drugs used to treat the other illnesses, we tried everything including hospitalization with IV support but he just wasn’t improving. I brought him home Friday because it was clear that further hospitalization was pointless. The vet gave me some supportive medicine to help make him more comfortable in his final days. Overnight the upper respiratory infection became full fledged pneumonia, and when I opened the door to his room this morning he was lying in a pool of his own urine (or would have been if not for the dog training pad that had absorbed the liquid away) and meowing weakly while wheezing for breath. I took him to the vet. There was nothing left to do, so.

Tux went quietly, the veterinarian injected the sedative then the final drug into his vein as I ruffled the fur on his head. It was a quiet and dignified death, wrapped in one of his favorite cat towels that he’d slept on the previous night.

Last trip. Goodbye, old pal.

So, PG&E cut off power to thousands of people because the wind started blowing.

The #1 thing an electric utility company is supposed to do is, well, provide electricity.

The fact that PG&E cannot do so when the wind is blowing is a damning condemnation of them as an electric utility company. PG&E needs to just die, already. Break it up and sell off the parts to someone competent. I don’t know of any other electric company, anywhere else in the nation, that has to shut off the power every time the wind blows hard. It’s time to force PG&E into Chapter 13 dissolution and forced sell-off, and end this fiasco, already.

Meanwhile, this little gem from the Wall Street Journal tells us why PG&E can’t provide power:

The failure last year of a century-old transmission line that sparked a wildfire, killed 85 people and destroyed the town of Paradise wasn’t an aberration, the documents show. A year earlier, PG&E executives conceded to a state lawyer that the company needed to process many projects, all at once, to prevent system failures—a problem they said could be likened to a “pig in the python.”

Even before November’s deadly fire, the documents show, the company knew that 49 of the steel towers that carry the electrical line that failed needed to be replaced entirely.

In a 2017 internal presentation, the large San Francisco-based utility estimated that its transmission towers were an average of 68 years old. Their mean life expectancy was 65 years. The oldest steel towers were 108 years old.

Die, die, die, die, DIE, PG&E!

– Badtux the Irate Ratepayer Penguin

So, the Great Orange Shitstain just issued a decree saying California can no longer set its emissions standards under a long-standing exemption to the Clean Air Act. Here’s the problem with that: his decree both violates the legislative intent of the Act (which was to grant California the power to set standards more stringent than Federal standards, since California’s emissions standards predate the Federal standards) and violates the processes decreed by the Act.

Look: You can’t just issue a decree and repeal an exemption like that. There has to be notices. Hearings. Environmental studies showing that it will not harm the environment, and economic studies showing that it will not harm the economy, all of which can take years. *Plus*, there is no provision in the Clean Air Act for *canceling* a waiver. You can decide not to renew the waiver, but California’s waiver doesn’t expire until 2025, long after Mango Mussolini is hopefully out of office. Canceling the waiver would clearly harm the environment and be against the legislative intent of the Act. Yet the Orange Racist Russian Stooge thinks he can bypass all that by just issuing a Presidential decree like some tinpot dicator of a third world country?

Dude must think he’s Vladimir Putin. Instead of Putin’s puppet.

We’ll see whether El Presidente Naranjo gets away with it. Hopefully, the answer is “no”. We’ll see, I guess.

— Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Pray Gamble & Explode (PG&E) needs to be forced into Chapter 13 dissolution and its assets sold off to companies that are actually competent. Continuing to make rate-payers bail out this incompetent and *dangerous* company is irresponsible malpractice on the part of our state government. PG&E’s rates are double or even *triple* what rates are in most areas of the country and are the #1 reason why I don’t have an electric car — buying gasoline for a hybrid car is far cheaper than paying the disastrous rates that PG&E has extorted from the rate-payers of this state. And for those of you saying “but it’s because California is so rugged!”, average electrical rates in Nevada are *HALF* those of PG&E — even though Nevada is even more sparsely populated and rugged than most of California.

This company is incompetent, dangerous, incapable of providing electrical service for rates competitive with other electric companies, keeps blowing up or burning up parts of the state due to their incompetence, and should just die, die, die, die, die, die, die, die, DIE.

— Badtux the Irate Overcharged Penguin

Summary — A security guard, Seth Eklund, employed by Paragon Security under contract to the Federal Protective Service as a Federal Security Officer (who is still a civilian security guard, not a credentialed law officer) is sitting at a checkpoint inside an Ohio state office building where the IRS rents offices on the second floor. A Sheriff’s deputy on his lunch break shows up, wanting to see someone who sent a letter to him. The security guard says “you can’t come in here while armed” and the deputy says “what? I’m a law officer in uniform!” and the security guard says “you’re not coming in with that weapon.” Then the deputy says fine, okay, do you have a gun locker where I can safely store the weapon. The security guard says no, you need to store it in your car. The officer says he can’t do that, that violates departmental policies, can you store the weapon in a locked desk drawer? The security officer then starts getting angry and irate and screams at the officer “you need to leave!” and the officer is like, “whoa, what?” and the security guard pulls his gun on the deputy and screams “you’re under arrest!” while someone in the office behind him dials 911. The deputy then turns around, later saying “I felt he was about to shoot me, if he’s going to shoot me I want it to be in my back so it’s clear I’m not being a threat to him” and starts ambling off towards the elevator saying “okay, I’m leaving.” The security guard then runs towards the elevator and sticks his foot in it and prevents the deputy from leaving, screaming “it’s too late to leave!”

Cue *more* Sheriff’s deputies (responsible for security in the building) arriving in response to the 911 call. And shenanigans ensue as the deputies try to figure out what the literal fuck is going on, given that it’s a state office building and they thought they had authority over the entire building. They’re informed no, the IRS section of the building is a federal installation and the Federal Protective Service has authority there, not the Sheriff’s Department. They appear to accept that, then the question of, uhm, why was your guy pointing a gun at one of our guys? comes up. Past a certain point the security guard realizes, “oh shit, I didn’t have legal authority to point a gun at anybody”. You can see the panic start in his eyes as he starts panicing and whines that he needs to get back to his guard post and the deputies say “uh-uhn, we’re investigating a possible crime here, you’re not free to go.”

Whoa.

Okay, let’s deconstruct this.

Legally speaking, the area where this confrontation takes place is a gray area. The deputy never entered the area behind the security checkpoint with his firearm, and was not demonstrating criminal intent when stopped. He *may* have been guilty of violating 18 USC 930 section A, possession of a firearm in a Federal facility without criminal intent… which is a misdemeanor. He *may* have been guilty of remaining after being told to leave, which is… misdemeanor trespassing under both Ohio law and Federal law.

So, does a Federal Security Officer have the power to detain or arrest someone for misdemeanors committed in his presence? Oops, NOPE! 40 U.S. Code § 1315 gives private security contractors employed by the government ONLY the power to:

… make arrests without a warrant for any offense against the United States committed in the presence of the officer or agent or for any felony cognizable under the laws of the United States if the officer or agent has reasonable grounds to believe that the person to be arrested has committed or is committing a felony;

A misdemeanor, or even two of them… are not felonies. All that a Federal Security Officer as defined by 40 USC 1315 can do when he observes a misdemeanor is… call law enforcement to handle the situation.

OOPS!

Okay, now let’s look at the act of pulling a gun upon a person. This security guard is a private citizen, i.e., a civilian. 40 USC 1315 does not explicitly grant a right for security guards to point a gun at someone, however it would be likely covered by agency regulations that allow use of a firearm only to protect the life or safety of the FSO or others. No other use is authorized by agency regulations. A civilian pointing a gun at someone on Federal property in situations other than self defense would be simple assault. It would also be covered under Ohio law, Ohio law is similar to the law in most other states — civilians can only point a gun at a person if they feel that they are in danger of death or severe bodily harm, i.e., self defense. Otherwise it is aggravated menacing, which is roughly equivalent to the Federal simple assault crime.

Okay, so oops! Now, let’s see what happened:

What happened to the Sheriff’s deputy:

NADA. Federal prosecutors and law enforcement looked at the hazy status of where this encounter took place, and decided that pursuing misdemeanor charges against the deputy was not a wise use of their time. There have been no charges filed against the deputy.

Meanwhile, what happened to Paul Blart, Rent-a-Cop:

  1. Security agency policies and procedures only allow pulling gun out of holster in self defense. Strike 1 — Paul Blart, Rent-a-Cop is fired.
  2. Paul Blart, Rent-a-Cop, is charged with two misdemeanor counts of aggravated menacing under Ohio law, one for each time he pulled his pistol out of his holster and pointed it at the deputy. Because he was not a Federal employee, he has no sovereign immunity. Oops! Strike 2.
  3. Paul Blart, Rent-a-Cop, is sued (along with his employer) for civil rights violations, causing emotional distress, failure to properly train the security guard, etc. Again, because he was not a Federal employee, he has no sovereign immunity. Strike 3, UR OUT!

Luckily Paul Blart, Rent-a-Cop, undoubtedly lives in his mother’s basemment (he has that look about him) so he has a place to live. That’s all he has. He’s not ever going to be employed in security again, that’s for sure.

Some takeaways from all of this.

  • Private security guards are private citizens. They are not police officers. In most states they have the same power of citizens arrest as any other private citizen, i.e., they can only arrest someone for a felony occuring in their presence, or as part of enforcing “merchant’s privilege” (detaining someone for investigation of suspected shoplifting). That’s all they can do. The only thing special in most states’ laws about private security guards is the part allowing them to be armed while on duty if they are properly licensed as an armed security officer.
  • Federal law similarly classifies private security guards under contract to the Federal government as private citizens, and similarly only grants them the right to arrest someone for a felony occuring in their prescence.
  • For any non-felony crime observed by a private security guard, all they can do in most states (or in Federal installations) is call 911 just like any other private citizen.
  • Attempting to detain someone for a misdemeanor (other than the special case of “merchant’s privilege”) is not allowed by the laws of most states or by Federal law, or for that matter by the policies of most security agencies even in states like California where a “citizen’s arrest” for misdemeanors is allowed by law. All that private security guards can do in that case is call 911 just like any other private citizen.
  • If you are an armed security guard, your gun is removed from your holster only if your life (or the life of someone else) is in danger. Otherwise it stays there. You don’t brandish it, you don’t wave it around, you don’t point it at anybody, it stays in your fucking holster. If someone is too big and strong for you to safely detain, or is armed and you feel you cannot safely detain him without using your firearm, don’t. Call the police. Call for backup. Call for Mommy, even. But you pull that gun out of its holster to try to detain someone, you are fired, at the very least — there isn’t a private security company in the nation that allows that, and very few state laws allow it either (and Federal law and regulations don’t allow it either, except in certain very specific cases like, e.g., defending nuclear weapons against theft).
  • Remember that it’s just a job. Putting your life on the line isn’t part of the job. That’s why the police exist. If you feel it’s too dangerous to intervene in a situation, don’t. Call the police. If you feel it’s safe to inform the person that you’re calling the police, inform him. If he decides to leave, let him leave. It’s literally not your job to endanger your life in order to detain someone, you’re a private citizen, you’re not a cop. If someone’s life is in danger, of course use whatever force is necessary to save that person’s life, but that’s because you’re not a sociopath, not because you’re a security guard. Hopefully you’d do the same off the clock too, right?
  • And unfortunately, too many legends in their own mind think a gun is some sort of magic talisman to be waved around like a magic wand and having an armed security officer license makes you special. No. Keep the goddamn thing in the holster and behave like a reasonable adult. You’re not Dirty Harry, even Dirty Harry wasn’t Dirty Harry, it was a fucking movie already, okay? Sheesh.

Paul Blart, Mall Cop, would still be employed if he had remembered all of that — and we would be spared the hilarious entertainment value of a bunch of blockhead Sheriffs’ deputies standing around scratching their heads wondering WTF just happened here, ROFL.

– Badtux the Law Penguin