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  • But next time there's a riot … Jonathan Turley takes to the Hill to opine on the latest information, as seen on TV: Justified shooting or fair game? Shooter of Ashli Babbitt makes shocking admission.

    "That's my job." Those three words summed up a controversial interview this week with the long-unnamed officer who shot and killed Ashli Babbitt on Jan. 6. Shortly after being cleared by the Capitol Police in the shooting, Lt. Michael Byrd went public in an NBC interview, insisting that he "saved countless lives" by shooting the unarmed protester.

    I have long expressed doubt over the Babbitt shooting, which directly contradicted standards on the use of lethal force by law enforcement. But what was breathtaking about Byrd’s interview was that he confirmed the worst suspicions about the shooting and raised serious questions over the incident reviews by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and, most recently, the Capitol Police.

    Babbitt, 35, was an Air Force veteran and ardent supporter of former President Trump. She came to Washington to protest the certification of the presidential Electoral College results and stormed into the Capitol when security lines collapsed. She had no criminal record but clearly engaged in criminal conduct that day by entering Capitol and disobeying police commands. The question, however, has been why this unarmed trespasser deserved to die.

    She didn't deserve to die. (Obligatory movie quote: "Deserve's got nothin' to do with it.") But disobeying a panicked policeman with (1) a gun and (2) poor judgment is risky business.

  • … Well, you best stay out of sight. To finish up our Beach Boys retrospective, let's check out Paul Mirengoff at Power Line: Capitol police officer defends his shooting of Babbitt.

    What did Byrd know about Babbitt and her intentions? He says “I could not fully see her hands or what was in the backpack or what the intentions are, but they [the mob] had shown violence leading up to that point.” Byrd adds that he was a aware of reports (erroneous as it turned out) of gunfire by protesters.

    If Byrd’s rendition of the facts is true, it seems to me that he was justified in shooting Babbitt. In police shootings of lawbreakers who threaten officer safety or the safety of others, it is always my position that the officer has the right to shoot. He need not wait to be certain that lives are in danger. It’s enough that the victim breaks the law, ignores police warnings, and surges forward towards the officer or those he’s charged with protecting.

    In Byrd’s account, all of these conditions are met.

    It's possible to believe that (1) Byrd shouldn't be legally punished; (2) he's had a lot of time to work on coming up with a story justifying his behavior; (3) it's easy to imagine a different situation (left-wing "protest", white cop, black victim) where the upshot would be nuclear.

  • Good question from Eric Boehm at Reason: How Many Union Members Does It Take To Operate a Train?.

    President Joe Biden's proposed $2.25 trillion infrastructure spending bill is more than just a huge barrel of federal cash for road, bridge, and rail projects. It is also a vehicle for reauthorizing America's surface transportation laws, providing an opportunity for special interests to write new rules and mandates into federal policy.

    While most of those niche fights are unremarkable, the one shaping up between the railroad industry and its labor unions presents an interesting conundrum for the Biden administration, and it could have significant ramifications for the economy and even for efforts to reduce carbon emissions. At issue: How many people does it take to drive a train?

    Labor unions such as the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers have been lobbying federal regulators to mandate that all freight trains operate with two-person crews in the cab. That's long been the standard industry practice for safety reasons. The engineer drives the train, while the rail conductor handles equipment inspections and monitors track signals. Unions worry that advanced automation will allow railroads to run safely without a second person in the engine—and they want the government to step in to protect those jobs.

    Eric reveals that Amtrak got rid of the two-person requirement back in the 1980s.

  • A puzzling headline, at the Thrillist site: America's Most Overlooked National Park Is in the Last Place You'd Expect.

    Um, actually, I would expect the most overlooked national park to be in the last place I'd expect.

Last Modified 2021-08-30 7:14 AM EST