Benefits from Smoking

Fox News has a funny discussion here: Smoking increases testosterone and makes men more virile. Generally it is useful in preventing the onslaught of "Man'opause." The number one reason that men have less testosterone then their fathers is because of a decrease in smoking. Smoking thus helps increase memory, muscle mass, and a whole string of other things.

Man saved by his iPod nano

Sowell on Friedman

Please read Sowell's discussion of Friedman:

Milton Friedman was one of the very few intellectuals with both genius and common sense. He could express himself at the highest analytical levels to his fellow economists in academic publications and still write popular books such as "Capitalism and Freedom" and "Free to Choose" that could be understood by people who knew nothing about economics. Indeed, his television series, "Free to Choose," was readily understandable even by people who don’t read books. . . ..

It is hard to think about what this world would be like with out Friedman. Everything from vouchers to the negative income tax to ending the military draft to properly evaluating the impact of the FDA to even the withholding on income taxes is due to Friedman. Even more important is how Friedman taught people that economic freedom improves the quality of life.

Glenn Beck's "Exposed" on YouTube

Glenn Beck's "Exposed" on YouTube can be found here. It is well worth watching. I really wonder whether the Democrats would have actually lost seats in both the Senate and House if the news had covered these threats this way before the election.

CBS2 still fighting to find out about Chicago's mysterious missing murder count

Crimefilenews keeps us up to date Chicago's attempt to hide murders. CBS2 has more on the story: here. CBS's reporter Pam Zekman is one gutsy reporter. It is still amazing that the other reporters at this press conference have still not written anything on the story. The video at the CBS website is worth watching. The Police Supt. response to her questions are pretty entertaining, if sad.

Finally FDA Lifts Ban on Silicone Breast Implants

Fox News has a discussion of all the medical studies done on breast implants.

The AP has a less balanced discussion. In any case, it is one case where political correctness has lost out to science.

The government ended a 14-year virtual ban on silicone-gel breast implants Friday despite lingering safety concerns, making the devices available to tens of thousands of women who have clamored for them.

The Food and Drug Administration approved the silicone-gel implants made by Inamed Corp., now part of Allergan Inc., and Mentor Corp., the two California companies said. . . .

The action opens the implants to much wider use by women seeking to reconstruct or augment their breasts. Since 1992, the silicone implants had been available only as part of research studies.

Silicone-gel breast implants first went on the market in 1962, before the FDA required proof that all medical devices be safe and effective. Thirty years later, they were banned amid misgivings about their safety.

At the time, there were worries about a possible connection to a variety of diseases, including cancer and lupus. Alarming cases of ruptures added to the concern. . . .

There are a couple of issues here. Does the implant itself affect people's health? No. Surgery that requires putting people to sleep has some minimal risks, but so do lots of things in life. The question is whether people can make these decisions for themselves. Finally, let me note, I am not advocating that anyone has these implants, but I think that people should be able to make these decisions from themselves. Similarly, if people want to convince women not to do this surgery, more power to them. But convincing people not to do this and banning the surgery because of false claims of danger are two different things.

Here is a question. Why is it that some people think that women should be able to have an abortion without any restrictions, but those same people do not think that women should be able to make the decision over whether they can put something like a breast implant in their body? It would seem that they should feel even more strongly about letting women have breast implants than abortion. It is a cleaner question in terms of letting women do what they want with their own body since a fetus or baby or whatever one calls it, at least complicates the question to some degree.


Milton Friedman Dies

This is very sad. One of the dominate intellectual figures of the last century.

Ed Rendell: One week after the election, Rendell drops his campaign promises on increasing taxes

Rendell campaigned this fall on his record of cutting taxes. Never mind that he was the one who fought hard for tax increases. Note also that Rendell said during the campaign that he opposed an increase in the state gasoline tax:

August 29, 2006 . . . Gov. Ed Rendell said yesterday that he would not support an increase in the state gasoline tax to help raise $866 million to $2.2 billion to rebuild roads and bridges in Pennsylvania and get mass transit agencies in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia out of debt. . . .

Well that was then. Now that the election is an entire week behind us, Rendell's opposition seems to have disappeared. The Philadelphia Inquirer ran this under the headline that "A taxing ride may be ahead for Pa.":

Nov. 14, 2006 . . .The commission's report recommends raising the state wholesale fuel tax by 11.5 cents per gallon - all or part it could be passed on to consumers - and hiking vehicle registration and license fees, although the amounts were not specified. That, coupled with $120 million in efficiencies, should net about $900 million more per year for roads and bridges, Biehler said. . . . He praised the commission's work, but stopped short of endorsing it. His spokeswoman, Kate Philips, said he intends use the commission's recommendations as a blueprint.

Another newspaper, the Pottstown Mercury, puts it pretty bluntly:
Nov. 14, 2006 . . .Don’t you feel like a jerk right about now for re-electing Rendell? This is the thanks you get? He is going to raise the gas tax and make you pay a higher mortgage. The Associated Press calculates the typical driver will pay $84 more a year to cover the higher gas tax and fee increases. The proposed realty transfer tax increase would add about $60 a year to a 30-year, $150,000 mortgage for homeowners, according to The Associated Press. . . .

Here is one question: Why isn't the media mentioning that during the campaign Rendell promised not to raise the gas tax?


Where is the news coverage on Chicago's missing murder count?

WBBM had two amazing stories on the Chicago police department reclassifying murders so that its murder rate would look lower. I can't find other news coverage on these amazing charges. Where is the news coverage in Chicago on this?

Past notes on this:
More on Chicago hiding murders to keep down official murder rate
A real scandal in Chicago's crime statistics


Is Chicago hiding murders to keep down official murder rate?

Why is it only WBBM-TV that is covering this case? The anchor correctly described this as "shocking." Whether it is incompetence or something intentional, it would appear to be newsworthy. I guess that we will see if the Tribune and Sun-Times cover this tomorrow.

"I think it's outrageous. It's dishonest it's deceiving the public," said Mary Powers of Citizens Alert.

Powers says she was shocked by CBS 2's disclosures that some cases are in limbo because of major disputes between the medical examiner's office and the police over how people died.

Take the case of Jeffrey Head found dead in his apartment in 2004.

"His hands was behind his back like this, and a plastic bag over his head," said the victim's brother, Earl Head.

Police officials say they believe Head killed himself attempting a form of sexual gratification.

But in this autopsy report the pathologist documents serious injuries including a fractured windpipe and hemorrhages on both sides of his head, injuries too severe to be self-inflicted.

The pathologist concluded Head died of strangulation and suffocation -- a homicide. It is a conclusion the police dispute.

"It's not right and they aren't doing their job as they should," said Earl Head.

Police officials deny it, saying Head's case and others were correctly classified by detectives as death investigations.

When asked if police carry cases as death investigations to keep the homicide count down, Michael Chasen, Deputy Chief of Detectives, said, "Absolutely not. They never hold a case to eliminate a homicide. We just don't do that." . . .

The original discussion and links are here.

Chad cracks down on Illegal Firearms

Chad imposed a crackdown on illegal firearms on Tuesday as a state of emergency took effect to curb ethnic violence that has killed hundreds of people and fueled calls to send international peacekeepers to the region.

Chad's government imposed a state of emergency from midnight on Monday across large swathes of the central African country, including eastern zones where attacks on villages by armed raiders on horseback this month have killed hundreds.

African Union chairman Denis Sassou Nguesso, president of nearby Congo Republic, joined a chorus of demands for a U.N. force to protect civilians in Chad and Central African Republic from violence spilling over from Sudan's Darfur region. . . .

The state of emergency gave regional governors wide-ranging powers to ensure security, including a ban on unauthorized firearms. Chad shares with Sudan a warrior tradition and a history of violent clan warfare and carrying arms is common.

"Those illegally holding weapons of war, whoever they are, must immediately hand them over to the competent authorities. Those refusing will risk exemplary punishment," Prime Minister Pascal Yoadimnadji said in an address to the nation.

Aaron sent me this comment when he sent me this link.

The cycle continues: Outside UN member countries supply arms to warlords, civil unrest with some civilians managing to hold their own, confiscate the guns from the civilians, civilians slaughtered, blame the guns, blame not enough UN power. Sad. Pray for those on the ground in Chad.


I thought that Abramoff was a Republican Problem

NY Times just doesn't get it on Drug Price Controls

The problem isn't that the government can force down drug prices, the problem is that they will. Why even bother giving the drug companies a patten on the drug if the government can then force down the price?

There is no guarantee that government negotiators would do better. Medicare’s chief actuary concluded last year that the government would be unlikely to get bigger discounts, and the head of the Congressional Budget Office judged in 2004 that for most drugs that was true. . . .

"Lumpy" Lambert Foils Robbery with Pistol

Another example where the criminal runs away rather than fights when a citizen is able to defend themselves:

A Knox County commissioner known for his pro-gun stance says he aborted an armed robbery at his car dealership Saturday with the aid of his .380-caliber pistol.

Greg "Lumpy" Lambert, who represents the 6th District in northwest Knox County, said he was at Advantage Auto Sales on Clinton Highway early Saturday afternoon when a young man began acting suspicious while test-driving a 2005 Ford Focus. . . .

"I think we probably leveled our sights close to the same time," Lambert said. "I think I got a bit of a drop on him. I told him to drop his weapon, and he said he didn't want any trouble."

Stackhouse didn't ask for money or issue any demands, Lambert said. "I didn't give him a chance to," he said.

Lambert said he convinced the young man to lay down his weapon and then told him to leave the premises, but not before letting him know he'd probably "be arrested at some point."

Lambert said that Stackhouse, who left his driver's license inside the building, departed the property the same way he'd come - on foot.

"It was a tense situation, and a little scary," Lambert said.

The Knox County Sheriff's Office investigated the case, Lambert said, and Stackhouse was finally located early Sunday using information from his driver's license. . . .

A real scandal in Chicago's crime statistics

Crimefilenews has some amazing details on the city of Chicago apparently hiding the number of murders. The WBBM-TV story is entitled "Are Police Hiding Homicides to Make the CIty Seem Safer?" and is pretty hard hitting. WIth all the other corruption problems in Chicago have been bad, these corruption claims really hit home. Using a conservative approach and really just taking the most obvious cases, WBBM found 80 murders that the police reclassified as not being murders. The Medical Examiner said that the police claims reclassifying these murders as not being murders are simply involving: "The police are out of their area of expertise." The Anchors on the news show were right to say "this is just stunning." If this doesn't cause a national sensation, the press will really be in the tank for Daily.

I’m going to offer my thoughts about tonight’s WBBM-TV report questioning hidden homicides in Chicago.

The Chicago Police Department only turned over to WBBM-TV a handful of the 80 plus cases where the Medical Examiner’s records disputed the department’s conclusions. Perhaps a Federal Grand Jury should investigate the records that the department refused to turn over. Covering up murders if that's true are as bad as it could get. The potential implications here are beyond horrendous. . . .


"Mich. Supreme Court Weighs Requiring ID To Vote'

I hope that the logic of the claims over photo ID disenfranchising voters will be really questioned. There is no attempt to link up the people without ID to see if they would get IDs or whether they wouldn't vote even if they did have an ID. Those who don't have a driver license or other photo ID might not feel that they need one. Look at Mexico. You had a huge percentage of the population taking the time under very trying conditions to get a photo ID to vote when they had to do so.

. . . No form of identification is now required to vote in Michigan.

The high court has agreed to issue an advisory opinion requested by the Republican-controlled state House, which means both sides of the issue were argued by Attorney General Mike Cox's office on Monday.

Assistant Attorney General Susan Leffler said requiring photo ID is a small burden for voters who often are asked to show ID in their everyday lives. She argued that making those without an ID sign an affidavit isn't much to ask to help prevent fraud and ensure confidence in the electoral process.

"I can't imagine a less minimal burden," Leffler said.

But Assistant Attorney General Ron Robinson said the law, which he called a "wolf in sheep's clothing," could harm 350,000 registered voters who don't have a driver's license or state-issued ID card. The law would automatically subject voters without identification to a challenge -- an inconvenient and embarrassing delay, Robinson said.

"This is an extreme response to a problem that does not exist in Michigan," he said of the ID requirement.

In response to a question from Justice Michael Cavanagh, Leffler acknowledged there's no evidence of widespread voter fraud but rather a "concern" about it.

Some justices on the GOP-controlled court questioned whether voters having to submit affidavits would automatically be challenged under the law. Justice Stephen Markman also said lawmakers have wanted to give registered voters who don't have an ID a state-issued card free of charge.

"Is it too much of a burden to get a free ID card and remember to bring it to the polls?" Markman asked. . . .

Possible problem with voting machine

"The AP is reporting that Randy Wooten, mayoral candidate for Waldenburg Arkansas (a town of eighty people) discovered that the electronic voting system hadn't registered the one vote he knew had been cast for him ... because he cast it himself. The Machine gave him zero votes. That would be an error rate of 3%, counting the actual votes cast - 18 and 18 for a total of 36." . . .

"Poinsett County Election Commissioner Junaway Payne said the issue had been discussed but no action taken yet. 'It's our understanding from talking with the secretary of state's office that a court order would have to be obtained in order to open the machine and check the totals,' Payne said. 'The votes were cast on an electronic voting machine, but paper ballots were available.'"

Thanks to Jeff Koch for sending this to me. I am somewhat dubious about this, but it should be looked into further.

Testimony of Suzanna Gratia Hupp

Video of Suzanna Gratia Hupp testifying before congress. The quality of the picture is not the best, but if you haven't seen her testimony before, you have to see for yourself how powerful she is. I have seen her talk a few times, and she is always very powerful.


"Furor over Study of Failed Aussie Gun Buy-Up"

The Australian Gun Buy-Up, like the Canadian gun registration program, is a monumental boondoggle, wasting hundreds of millions of dollars.

The New GUN WEEK, November 10, 2006, Page 1

Furor over Study of Failed Aussie Gun Buy-Up
by Dave Workman, Senior Editor

There is thunder Down Under in the wake of a study published in the British Journal of Criminology that asserts the
nearly $500 million spent on Australia’s gun “buy-up” precipitated by the 1996 Port Arthur massacre has had no measurable effect on that nation’s homicide rate.

At least part of the controversy swirls around the fact that the study’s authors, Dr. Jeannine Baker and Samara
McPhedran are members of gun organizations, a fact they reportedly disclosed up front to render moot any allegations that they were merely pawns of the gun lobby.

However, The Sydney Morning Herald noted, “The significance of the article was not who had written it but the fact it
had been published in a respected journal after the regular rigorous process of being peer reviewed.”

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, more than 600,000 firearms were taken in by the government, which at least
partly reimbursed their value to the unfortunate gunowners who had to surrender their firearms—primarily
semi-automatic rifles and pump shotguns—under gun laws passed after Martin Bryant went on a rampage, killing 35 people and wounding 18 others.

But Baker and McPhedran turned out what Don Weatherburn, director of the New South Wales Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, called a study that was “well conducted and published in an internationally respected, peer-reviewed journal.”

“It would be unfair to accuse the authors of ‘cooking the books’ to achieve a certain result,” Weatherburn wrote in a Morning Herald Op-Ed article.

But Simon Chapman, a professor of Public Health at the University of Sydney, said in a recent radio interview that the Baker-McPhedran research should not be taken seriously. Speaking to Daniel Hoare with Australia’s National Radio, Chapman insisted tougher gun laws are needed on the island continent.

“We need to look at tightening up gun laws on hand guns,” Chapman argued. “There has been a proliferation of handguns in recent years, but I think generally speaking, one can say that the gun law situation in Australia remains one of the toughest in the world. And that’s to the great disappointment of the gun lobby in Australia and internationally.”

But Baker, in the same report, fired back: “In 1996 we were told that taking the ... buying back those civilian firearms, off those licensed firearms owners would make society safer and it would reduce firearm deaths. The evidence isn’t there to support that.

“The whole point was we were looking at the National Firearms Agreement,” she said, “which was the turning point or the sort of pivot point that we were examining. In terms of mass murder, there have been mass murders since Port Arthur. They haven’t been with a firearm.”

Baker further observed, “If the money spent on gun control in 1996 had been spent on suicide prevention programs or mental health programs, we would have saved a lot more lives.” . . .

Thanks to Jack Anderson for sending this to me.

"Home Invasion Ends In Deadly Shooting"

With Dems in control, "high hopes" that Federal Assault Weapons ban will be renewed

Unfortunately, I think that this is correct. It was only through heroic efforts by Tom Delay in the House of Representatives that the Assault Weapons Ban was not renewed and allowed to sunset in 2004. Bush would have signed it. The Senate would have passed it. Now there is nothing in the way of passing this. Nothing that is except logic and the fact that there is not a single academic study showing that these laws at either the federal or state level have reduced violent crime rates.

At the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, the leading gun-control advocacy group, President Paul Helmke has high hopes for the assault weapons ban — and he can list races where candidates backed by his group defeated those supported by the National Rifle Assn.

But Helmke, a former Republican mayor of Fort Wayne, Ind., acknowledged that his challenge was to convince Democrats that his cause was not "radioactive." Many Democratic strategists have come to believe that supporting gun-control laws alienates rural voters and many independents.

"Guns are a tricky issue," Helmke said. "But the elections show there's nothing to be afraid of." . . .

Thanks very much to Rich for sending this to me.

Legal right to arm oneself in jail?

This is a pretty weird judicial decision, but it also points out that EVEN INSIDE A JAIL you can not depend upon the police to always be present to protect you.

In a death penalty case involving the fatal stabbing of one prison inmate by another, Judge Pamela North instructed the jury that a person may arm himself "in reasonable anticipation of an attack."

After hearing that, the jury acquitted Robert McFarlin of first-degree murder in the 2004 death of Damon Bowie, who was stabbed five times on the sidelines of a basketball game at the Maryland House of Correction in Jessup.

McFarlin claimed he armed himself with a knife because he believed there was a "hit" out on him. The jury convicted him of the lesser crime of second-degree murder, which doesn't carry the death penalty.

We try to tread lightly in criticizing judges, who are vastly more knowledgeable about the law than we can ever be. But this is flat-out illogical. So now, no matter what prison rules say, it can be OK for jailed felons to carry weapons? . . .

Who should pay taxes?

From Dad29 in Wisconsin, we find that a state legislator in the state, who appears upset about the newly passed ban on same sex marriage, believes that:
"Erpenbach said he does not understand how the state can expect same-sex couples to continue paying taxes and being lawful citizens when they are denied protections and benefits afforded to married couples."

As Dad29 points out, this novel reasoning could apply to all sorts of rights that people feel that the government has taken away from them.