Candidate for Orange County Sheriff Supports Shall Issue Rules for Issuing Permits

L.t Bill Hunt has received the support of Orange County's largest law enforcement union.

I will issue concealed weapons permits (CCW) to any applicant who is a law abiding resident of the county, meets state mandated requirements and is not prohibited by law from possessing a firearm. The current Sheriff promised to revamp the CCW process. There have been less than 1200 issued CCW`s in a county of 3 million. The majority have been given to reserve police officers, judges, prosecutors and to reward political supporters. I will depoliticize the process and establish an annual audit to review each application to ensure the process is unbiased, non-political and equitable.

The current sheriff and Hunt's opponent Mike Corona originally ran on a platform to make issuing permits much easier. Hunt proposes to go further. Those interested in helping out Bill Hunt can go here.

"Loose Change": Really Weird Conspiracy Theories about 911

If you want to see a weird and stupid conspiracy movie about 9/11, this is the movie that seems to be getting all the attention: Loose Change.

For example, did you know that it was a cruise missle and not an American Airlines plane that crashed into the Pentagon? Don't worry about all the witnesses. Did you know that Donald Rumsfeld just happened to be safely in his office on the OPPOSITE SIDE of the buidling when the attack occurred? That is simply just too much of a coincidence for these movie producers. Just imagive if Rumsfeld had been outside the buidling at the time! DId you know that the FBI had confiscated security video from a nearby hotel and gas station that would prove their missle theory? Here is one question: why was a missle used for the Pentagon, but commerical planes were used for the World Trade Towers?

Did you know that it was explosives and the planes that struck the buildings that brought down the World Trade Towers? People making warnings about the second tower possibly collapsing is taken as evidence that the collapses were planned in advance. They have some really weird comparisons of other towers that have had fires and not collapsed from around the world. People's statements are explained away as a result of a massive conspiracy and statements are taken out of context by these authors.

I normally wouldn't link to something like this movie, but it is just so bizarre and it is so bizarre that people take this stuff seriously that it merits some mention.

Lynn Swan Leads Rendell in Pennsylvania Governor's Race, that is until independent candidate is included

Including Russ Diamond in the race overwhelmingly takes votes from Republican Lynn Swann. With Diamond in the race, swings the overall polls seven points in Democrat Rendell's direction. This is not surprising given how similar Swann and Diamond appear to be on issues, though it also raises real questions about why Diamond would enter the race as an independent. I assume that Diamond knows that he couldn't win the Republican nomination, but is it just ego to run what will only be a spoiler race for governor?

Republican Lynn Swann, the former football star, now leads Governor Ed Rendell (D), 44% to 41%. That's the mirror image of last month's result.

All four of polls on this race conducted in 2006 have found the candidates within three points of each other. Swann has ranged from 41% of the vote to 45% in the four polls, Rendell from 41% to 46%.

However, Russ Diamond has said he will enter the race as an Independent. Diamond last year formed an organization to oppose a pay raise for state legislators (the pay raise signed by Rendell has since been repealed). He must get 67,000 valid signatures on a petition by August 1 to qualify for the November ballot.

Diamond attracts 16% of the vote if he is included in the poll at this time. Third party candidates often receive more support in early polls than they will actually receive on election day. However, the impact of Diamond's inclusion in the poll is dramatic--the overall poll results switches from a 3-point Swann lead to a 4-point Rendell lead. . . . .


Australian Gun Buyback Failure

What Mexicans think of their judicial system

Who Knew? Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are apparently big Ayn Rand enthusiasts?

"Debate over Bonds doesn't say if steroids actually work"

A Small Victory for Private Property Owners

. . . . The majority held, in a ruling that could affect how other states handle property takeovers, that the officials did not do enough when they sent certified mail to 717 North Bryan Street, telling Gary Jones that he was delinquent in his taxes, and when they published a notice of public sale in The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

As it turned out, there was no public sale, because no bids were submitted. The state was thus permitted to negotiate a private sale of the property, and it did, to one Linda Flowers. The state then sent yet another certified letter to 717 North Bryan, telling Mr. Jones that his property was about to be sold unless he paid up.

He did not pay, and Ms. Flowers bought the house in 2002 for just over $21,000, about a quarter of its fair market value. Mr. Jones learned about the sale from his daughter, who had learned about it after Ms. Flowers served an eviction notice.

The problem for Mr. Jones — and, as it turned out, for the state of Arkansas — was that he had moved out of the house in 1993, after he and his wife separated, and apparently never knew that it was about to be sold. . . . .

The majority opinion said the justices took the case to resolve a conflict among the federal circuit courts and state supreme courts on whether the Fourteenth Amendment's due-process clause requires the government to take additional reasonable steps to notify a property when notice of a tax sale is returned undelivered.

In this case, at least, the answer is "yes," the majority declared, citing the peculiarities of Mr. Jones's situation. . . . .

Is Lethal Injection Unconstitutional for Death Penalty?

The Supreme Court heard the case this week. Kennedy may very well be the swing vote on this case, and I do not take comfort from the way this question is being asked.

. . . . Justice Anthony Kennedy asked whether the state had a minimal obligation under the Constitution to investigate whether it used the most humane method. . . . .

England will try to develop a computer system that will read body language to determine whether someone is carrying a concealed handgun

I don't know about what others think, but this surely seems to me like this would get a lot of false positives.

In an attempt to tackle gun crime in the UK, researchers from Loughborough University are developing an innovative identification system that will use CCTV cameras to spot individuals carrying concealed firearms.

Starting in June, the three-year multi-environment deployable universal software application (Medusa) project aims to develop intelligent software that can detect a person carrying a concealed weapon in real time.

While it is difficult to predict if someone is carrying a gun before crime occurs, Professor Alastair Gale, head of Loughborough University's Applied Vision Research Centre and leader of Medusa, said there are a number of cues the CCTV operator can pick up. These tend to be overt and covert cues (conscious and subconscious) and they will form the base of the intelligent software at the heart of the system.

The team will examine CCTV footage of people carrying concealed firearms to identify characteristics associated with the behaviour of criminals before they commit a gun-related crime. These will include body stance, gait, movement and eye contact with cameras. Once acquired, this information will be used to develop a novel machine-learning system for behavioural interpretation. Armed with this data, the CCTV cameras will scan footage automatically and match behavioural characteristics that indicate if an individual might be carrying a gun. . . . .


Appearing on G. Gordon Liddy's Show Today

I will be on Liddy's national radio show from 11:30 to noon today. It should be fun.

More Gun Control Coming for Australia


Who says that people can't adjust their behavior when the price of gas goes up?

. . . . Opting to let employees work from home as fuel prices have risen, Florida's Kissimmee Utility Authority managed to retrieve the experience and skills of a veteran employee in the billing department who quit last year.

She now telecommutes from a new home 746 miles away.

"I love it. I'm saving gas by not having to go out to do another job," said the employee, Debbie Brandt, from her home in Forest, Virginia.

The utility's customer service workers who have take up telecommuting have proven more productive at home, handling more calls than they did when working in the office, said Jef Gray, Kissimmee's vice president of information technology.

"Here come higher fuel prices again, and again we've got folks who want to work from home and say, 'It would help me with the cost,'" he said. "It's telecommuting to the rescue. Everybody wins."

The practice of telecommuting has taken off in recent years as advances in telecommunications have enabled employees to work efficiently at home on computers and telephones. . . . .

Tony Snow, Congratulations

I wanted to say congratulations to Tony for his new appointment as White House Press Secretary. Tony is one of the nicest people that I have gotten the chance to know. He is unfailingly friendly and kind to everyone who I have seen him interact with. Traits and goodwill that I am sure will serve him well in his new job. Tony also has a strong intellectual side, and he is very smart. Given that he will be both press secretary as well as involved in policy, I think that he could make a real difference in this administration.

How to get a large set of land parcels together without Eminent Domain

Given the Supreme Court's Kelo decision earlier this year, the impression has been left that private firms need eminent domain to get large parcels of property that they need for development. Here is an example of how Apple Computer got 50 Acres together in Cupertino, California. Just showing that it can be done without eminent domain.

Assembling 50 acres of land in Silicon Valley requires more than just a big pocketbook -- it takes discretion, too. If sellers find out a multibillion-dollar company is hunting for land, they're likely to boost the asking price.

So, as with its new products, Apple was equally secretive about its plans for its second campus. . . . .

May be there was another benefit from Fox hunting in Britain

From today's WSJ (subscription needed):

Londoners are being outfoxed by foxes.

Long associated with Britain's leafy countryside, foxes now have become a common sight here. The creatures, which can trash gardens and leave a foul scent, can make unwelcome neighbors and have prompted some city folk to arm themselves with water jets and traps.

Gillian Alman has raised her fences, sprinkled pepper-laced repellents and even thrown water to scare off the fox that tears up her lawn, destroys her plants and steals shoes left outside. "He's a little demon," says Mrs. Alman, 61 years old, who lives on a street of Victorian houses in Balham, a residential district in south London. "He's so daring, he comes right up to the window and looks at us."

Robert Harris spent more than $2,000 on a new fence for his garden to keep out foxes. But they burrowed under it and continue to tear up his garden as well as gnaw through the television cable and cause Mr. Harris's West Highland terrier to bark at night. "The dog sits by the window and goes berserk," says the 80-year-old Mr. Harris, the former chairman of a theater-makeup supplier called Charles Fox. "It really is a nuisance."

For his next attack, Mr. Harris is eyeing a water-jet device that attaches to a garden hose pipe and fires water when an animal approaches.

Experts say foxes and humans increasingly are brushing up against one another as heaps of urban garbage act as a tasty lure and the city limits spread. It's too early to tell what, if any, effect a recent law limiting fox hunting is having on London's foxes. The fox has become a common feature of the city's landscape like the gray squirrel and the pigeon, both also considered by many to be urban pests.

There are an estimated 10,000 foxes living in the London area, some of them very near the financial district, Buckingham Palace, and No. 10 Downing Street, the prime minister's residence.

Opportunistic omnivores, foxes feed on pet rabbits and guinea pigs, as well as on worms, beetles, birds, rats and fruit. And they can get into spats with cats. Gardens are a particular problem. . . . .


How could this be?: "Consumer Confidence Highest in 4 Years"

Mayor Bloomberg's Conference on Guns Today

The event, which is being co-hosted by Mayor Thomas Menino of Boston, is just one strategy in Mr. Bloomberg's arsenal for cracking down on illegal guns.

Since starting his second term, the issue has been front and center for him. He has testified in Washington against legislation restricting civil use of a gun tracing database. Most recently he has created a new police task force to deal with all gun arrests with the goal of getting a better handle on how the weapons get into the city.

Mayors from Philadelphia, Trenton, Milwaukee, Dallas, Washington, D.C., and a number of other cities are all scheduled to attend the day-long event. It will include a morning symposium and a panel of "leading experts" on gun crimes.

Mr. Bloomberg is hoping the new coalition will leverage its combined force against federal legislation and what they call lax gun laws around the nation.

Gun control proponents, including those at the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, have lauded Mr. Bloomberg and said he is fighting a noble cause. Second Amendment advocates say he is going too far.

Author John Lott, who wrote "More Guns Less Crime," said the mayor is wasting his time because gun control does not lead to reduced crime. The problem, he said, is that gun control measures too often disarm law-abiding gun owners and not criminals. "At best it doesn't work," he said. "And at worst it can be counterproductive."

Bloomberg: "London Organized Crime `Out of Control,' Police Officer Says"

Reactions to what Politicians want to do on Gas

My notes: 1) there is a world market for oil. Not making purchases from the national oil reserves which is a good thing because the markets have a better incentive to figure out how much oil to store for emergencies, but these purchases are such a small percentage of total worldwide sales it will have no observable impact on prices. 2) This discussion on price gouging is of course very sad. We had a FTC report just the end of last year on this question. But more importantly, the changes in prices seem to be explained just by the changing world price of oil. 3) Government regulation might in theory make things work better, but the hysterical reaction to these oil issues show how politics makes regulations likely to cause more troubles than they could possibly solve. Finally, on something like price regulations, it seems hard even in a theoretical sense to see how the government is better at picking the right price.

With gas prices on the rise, President Bush on Tuesday offered suggestions for reducing oil costs, including increasing refinery capacity and conservation, to diversify away from oil through the use of alternative fuels like ethanol.

Under pressure from lawmakers and the public who have alleged price gouging by oil companies, the president also said he has ordered a probe of price manipulation and market speculation. On Tuesday, he also ordered a temporary halt of deliveries to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

Louisiana state House of Representatives votes unanimously to ban confiscation

From today's The Advocate:

People could head into hurricanes and civil crises packing firearms under legislation the state House of Representatives unanimously approved Monday.

House Bill 760 would forbid law enforcement from confiscating firearms from law-abiding citizens during times of civil disorder.
Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, said he was appalled that police took guns from people during the riotous days following Hurricane Katrina.

Such confiscations violated the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees the right to bear arms, he said.

He said police officers from New Orleans used Gov. Kathleen Blanco’s emergency declaration as its legal basis to seize firearms.
“It happened hundreds and hundreds of times,” Scalise said. The 911 emergency calling system was overloaded, leaving everyday people exposed, he said.

“Their only protection from the criminal element was their handgun,” Scalise said.


World Price of a Barrel of Oil Goes Up Far More than Price of Oil at Pump

Here is a very interesting graph showing how the price of gas at the pump varies with the worldwide price of a barrel of oil. The price at the pump varies less than the price of a barrel of gasoline, but it is obvious that the price at the pump has gone up much less than the price of a barrel.


Republican still ahead in Illinois Gubernatorial Race

We will see if this continues after Blagojevich's large advertising buy that I mentioned earlier:

In the race for Illinois Governor, Republican State Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka now leads Democratic Governor Rod R. Blagojevich 44% to 38%. In March, Topinka led 43% to 41%.
Topinka has now led in three of the four polls we have conducted of the race, albeit modestly for the most part. Our three-poll rolling average continues to show a tight race, with Topinka barely ahead 41%-40%. However, over the course of those three surveys, Topinka has gained ground each time.
The latest Rasmussen Reports survey of the contest was conducted April 18, a day after voters learned of a former Republican Governor's conviction on corruption charges. Blagojevich's administration is also being investigated for corruption, which the Topinka campaign has been eager to point out.
The Blagojevich campaign, for its part, has stressed Topinka's past service under the convicted governor, from whom she has sought to distance herself.

Polls on many other races can be found here. Among races that would represent a change in party control there are New Jersey Senate: Kean (R) 43% Menendez (D) 36% and Maryland Governor: O'Malley (D) by 9.