Wednesday, October 22, 2014
We need only to look at the situation in Australia today to see what could become of the motorcycle community in the US in the future. It was originally only Queensland that was enforcing, and even escalating Australias anti-Club, anti biker laws, "anti-association" laws. But now its neighbor to the south, New South Wales has begun to enforce the laws against the free association of individuals. Even though they are touted as "anti biker" laws, they are laws against "associating" with anyone who has been charged with a serious criminal offense. The way they are being enforced in Queensland makes it unlawful for family members to publicly spend time together if one has a criminal record.
This week, a news report states that the Rebels Motorcycle Club, an Australian branch of the American Club by the same name, is having their national run in Sydney. The New South Wales (NSW) police have already put the word out that if the members from Western Australia (WA) cross the border into NSW, they risk being arrested under these "anti-association" laws. The penalty is a three year jail term. For being the member of a group the government doesnt't like, and freely associating wiht other members of the same association. It's not guily BY association...it is guilt OF association.
The Australian government is already doing, to some extent, what the US government is trying to do in its case against the Mongols Nation in California. I hope wholeheartedly that people in both countries see how heinous these laws are. As well as the lengths some people will go to exploit the power the government tries to use against its people. I support the efforts of the Mongols Nation here in the US in their fight against the ATF, and also wish to express my support for the Rebels MC in Australia as they no doubt will enjoy their national run. Regardless of the hostile law enforcement arrayed against them. During the Rebels last national run in Perth, nearly 1,000 Club members came to town. With no major problems reported. Misinformation, and exploited fear used by law enforcement can threaten the civil rights of peoples around the world. In Australia today, and maybe in the US tomorrow.
To the Rebels MC members, where ever you ride. Keep on riding, and fight for your rights. You have my respect.
Catch you on the road sometime...
Saturday, October 18, 2014
It is a question of physics. Of kinetic energies and Newtons 'Laws of Motion'. The equivalent speed of the fastest impact a DOT compliant helmet has to survive is 13.4 MPH That is the speed a helmet reaches in free fall from a height of six feet. That is the speed only of the helmet dropping in a "guided" free fall, without any additional energy associated with the fall. If you factor in even a relatively low horizontal speed, impact speeds can rise dramatically. NHTSAs own independently contracted testing facilities have shown that from 1980 to 2008 over 61% of manufacturer certified DOT compliant helmets failed to passed testing.
Newton's First Law states; "An object in motion continues in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force." This is what happens inside your head (whether you are wearing a helmet or not) when your head impacts an object. Your skull will at the least, experience a rapid deceleration, or possibly a deflection to a different direction. However like all else following Newtons First Law, everything inside your skull will continue moving in the same direction and speed it had been traveling. Until it collides with the inside of your skull. Where it will then be compressed under the inertial effect, until Newtons Third Law forces your brain and other soft tissues to recoil back. This continues until the kinetic energy of the impact has been absorbed. In even simple impacts some G Forces can exceed 600 units of Gravity (G's). That is 600 times the force of gravity on a stationary object. With such forces, soft tissue, blood vessels, and brain matter can easily tear and be destroyed . Whether you are wearing a helmet or not. Motorcycle helmets can help to dampen the effects. But they cannot nullify the laws of physics. It is true, that helmets have been shown to have a statistically significant effect on head injuries. There are however, other effects of motorcycle helmets that should be considered.
The study by Dr.'s Cooter and David of the Australian Craniofacial Unit of the Royal Adelaide Hospital, "Motorcyclist Craniofacial Injury Patterns" found that "objects worn at impact on the craniofacial region (skull) may influence significantly the final fracture pattern, and this may be detrimental for some motorcyclists wearing full-face helmets." It seems that motorcyclists wearing some of the popular full face helmets while involved in crashes have, as a result of their design, "sustained fatal skull base fracturing in the absence of significant facial trauma". The helmets did their job, and protected the face and frontal lobes of the brain. But they did so at the cost of causing fatal basal fractures of the skull, and traumatically severing the pons from the medulla. Both conditions in and of themselves fatal.
These same helmets are DOT compliant, and meet the FMVSS-218 standard. However, their use exposes the rider to a significantly higher risk of fatal injuries do to anterior impacts in a crash. These helmets, which are among those mandated by the legislature to be worn by motorcyclists in Washington State, have no warning about the possible fatal consequences that accompany the use of these helmets. The States mandated use of these helmets could actually lead to fatalities in otherwise survivable crashes. Without knowledge of the risk involved; how many motorcyclists purchased these helmets, then died because of the helmet they were forced to wear to protect them?
Imagine the injuries to a person that has just been hanged, and had the knot of the noose positioned below the jawbone. The injuries are almost identical to those suffered by a significant number of motorcyclists involved in fatal crashes wearing rigid full face helmets. The real tragic irony as shown by the Cooter Study, is that those wearing more flexible full face helmets, and even open face helmets, while suffering severe facial fracturing, had a much higher rate of surviving, and a lower rate of fatal skull fractures and brain damage.
The Goldstein Study, many in the effort to eliminate the mandatory helmet law seem to take at least an initial dim view of because of its findings that helmets do afford a signifcant effect on the severity of head injury. However, if one looks closer, the study goes further and acknowledges other risks that wearing helmets in a crash have an increased effect of. One of which is; that above an average speed of 13 mph (the highest speed used in impact tests to meet FMVSS-218...coincidental?), "helmet use has a statistically significant effect which increases the severity of neck injuries." So at impacts beyond 13 mph, helmets have been shown to "exacerbate neck injuries."
Since the impact speed of 13 mph is the speed the helmet reaches falling from six feet, it is obviously a low speed impact. Roughly the same as a six foot tall man falling down and hitting his head as he walks down the sidewalk. Yet the thought of mandating helmets be worn by pedestrians is ludicrous to even be suggested. Yet to mandate the use by motorcyclists traveling at a much greater speed to wear a helmet that has only been certified by the manufacturer to be able to withstand an impact of 13.4 mph seems just as ridiculous. Especially when one realizes that the two leading causes of fatality on motorcycles, are the riders speed (kinetic energy), and blood alcohol level.
Again from the Goldstein Study; "an increase in the crash speed from 40 to 60 mph increases the probability of death from 7.1% to 36.3%." Even factoring in glancing blows to the head at those speeds, the impacts are still going to be greater than 13.4 mph, which is all the helmet is designed to withstand.
Even Professor Harry Hurt, author of the famous "Hurt Report" on traffic safety stated in an interview with KABC TV that; "As impact speeds reach 25-30 mph, no helmet in the world is going to save you." It is simply a question of physics. Given enough kinetic energy, a helmet isn't going to save your brain from being damaged due to the extreme inertial and gravimetric forces at play. Man may be able to violate mans law, but we cannot violate the laws of physics.
As a final point a NHTSA study showed that between 2000 and 2002; of all fatal motorcycle accidents, only 19% suffered fatal injuries to the head, while 81% suffered no fatal head injuries.
Now, tell me why Washington State does not allow motorcyclists to take responsibility for our own safety choices. If for example; some types of "DOT compliant" helmets put the motorcyclist at a higher risk of fatal skull and brain injuries, and if the leading cause of fatality on motorcycles is excess speed, with over 61% of "DOT compliant" helmets tested failing, then why are we even forced to wear a motorcycle helmet that is only suppose to protect us from the impact speed of a man falling to the ground from a standing position?
Catch ya on the road sometime...
Saturday, October 4, 2014
There is a motorcycle club in California that is undergoing a legal attack by the federal government. This isn't exactly newsworthy in and of itself, because the government has regularly tried to "crush" the clubs by using different statutes over the years. Each time they fail, it is only a matter of time before there is another attempt, using the lessons learned from the previous failures. This time however, the lesson was given by the presiding judge, and taken to heart by the government. Now I am not a legal expert, an attorney, or anything like that. I am merely stating what little I have been able to glean from this situation, and what it seems to mean to me.
Originally, the Feds indicted several members of the Mongols Nation, and the government began to seize items with the Clubs logo on it. The idea behind this was to destroy the Clubs sense of unity by seizing all the common identifying markings that belonged to the Club. Basically, anything that had the Clubs patch on it was open to seizure. After a member had personal property that he had bought with his own money seized, he sued in court. He had not been indicted, yet his property was being seized. The judge agreed, and overturned the seizures. But then, in its remarks as the Court rendered its decision, the Judge told the government how to be able to get around the problem that they had found themselves in. Not to indict individual members, but the entire Club as a "criminal association".
Which is what the feds did. They indicted not people, but the organization, the association. Now it is irrelevent whether or not you were indicted. The Club as a whole has been indicted. The federal government is trying to seize all items with the trademarks of the Club. Trying to seize and destroy the Club by taking its identity. Whether it is a members private property or property of the Club, no longer matters. It it has the Clubs logo or other trademarks on it, there is a possibility it can be seized to hurt the Club. Whether it is a vest with Club patch, a bike with the Clubs logo, or a car or truck. If it has the Clubs insignia on it, then it appears to be liable and open to seizure.
Why is this such a big threat? There are a few reasons. I'll go over some of them as best I can. Then think about it for yourselves, and put yourselves in the position of having to defend yourself from the government seizing your property because it has the trademark of an association that a government agency deems to be a problem to be eliminated. This whole case is about the government trying to seize control of all identifying trademarks of the group. The symbols that the group uses to distinguish itself from all others. The symbols that the association uses to identify its members from non-members. So the government is trying to make it illegal to associate with others who wish to assemble together for a mutually satisfying purpose...or so it appears to me. But wait a minute, doesn't the Bill of Rights provide for the Right to "peaceably assemble"?
If the government is going after the "association" as a criminal entity because of possible criminal activities of a group of members, and declaring all members criminals by association, does this not violate the First Amendment of the US Constitution? If this standard was applied to law enforcement, how many police forces in the nation would be free from having all their members property with a police trademark seized? Not many I am sure.
Also, by indicting the organization, the federal agencies are trying, it appears to me to circumvent the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution giving citizens "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath of affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." The feds are trying to seize anything that bears the trademark of the organization in order to destroy the identity of the group. Using as probable cause the fact you are a member of the group to issue warrants to seize your personal property because it has the organizations logo on a patch, or a sticker in the window, or painted onto the metalwork of your vehicle. Seize enough property, and members may not wish to associate with the organization anymore...thus destroying the group.
Can you imagine the uproar in todays society if these tactics were used against say, Green Peace? Seizing the property of those people showing the logo of Green Peace on their clothing, their cars, their homes. Or for that matter, if another organization was deemed too dangerous for the taste of some government agency who indicted the organization because some of its members may be invovled in some form of "criminal activity". Can you imagine the NRA becoming the target of such tasctics? The NRA logo is a trademark, as is the logo of Green Peace, as is the Club patch. If the government is allowed to; indict an organization for the activities of some of its members, and seize all property bearing the trademarked logo, then what is to stop the government from doing it again? Having set the legal precendent of being able to violate the First Amendments right to "peaceably assemble", and the Fourth Amendments Right against illegal search and seizures, what is to stop them from proceeding further and restricting or ignoring other cicil rights?
Have you ever really known the government to willingly give up power and control? This fight isn't about one motorcycle club. This fight is about the right to belong to any association, or organization, or fellowship you wish to. Without fear of your property being seized by a overzealous police agency that doesn't approve of what your group stands for. As I stated before, how many people from Green Peace would continue to support the organizations often law breaking activities and protests, if a government agency indicted the organization as a 'criminal entity' and put their own property were at risk of seizure simply because it bore the Green Peace logo?
No organization can be 100% good, or 100% bad. Because people are not 100% good or bad. As long as the government is allowed to continue with this sort of behavior, the future looks grim. The only way we can fight this, and keep it from happening again, is by supporting the club in their court fight. Writing to your Congressman, or steate Legislator won't do any good. It is all in the hands of the Federal Courts. Since it was a Federal Judge who instructed the agency on how best to create their case, it is going to be an uphill fight. If you want to support this fight to help ensure our freedoms and liberties, go to the US Defenders website, and learn more about this problem. You can also read more about this case, and the legal ramifications of this can of worms if it is allowed to be opened, by reading the information about this case involving "Intellectual Property Rights" and how the ATF is trying to destroy those rights.
It doesn't matter what patch is on your back, on your bike, your truck, or your home. If the government wins this case, and a government agency is allowed to say that group is a criminal association, you could lose it all. Think about it. The old saying; "United, We Stand...Divided, We Fall" I don't think has ever been as appropriate as it is now.
Catch you on the road sometime...