"Burglar is shot by store owner"

GREENCASTLE - An Antrim Township mini-mart owner who has been the victim of several recent burglaries shot an intruder during a confrontation early Thursday, according to Pennsylvania State Police.

Merlony Colaco, 29, has seen his Molly Pitcher Mini-Mart at 13640 Molly Pitcher Highway burglarized more than half a dozen times since March.

Colaco has owned the store for a year and a half. The first year was relatively tranquil, but in March the establishment was robbed four times in 14 days. In one incident, Colaco held a woman at bay with a gun until police arrived.

On Thursday at 1:46 a.m., Colaco pulled the trigger when Thomas Philip Candeloro Jr. allegedly approached him after breaking in a side door.

“I shot him because he was coming at me,” said Colaco this morning. “I didn't shoot him because he was stealing the cigarettes.”

Colaco said he has never shot a gun in his life and believes his actions were in self-defense. . . .



San Francisco Makes it More Difficult for People to Defend Themselves

For those in San Francisco who really believe that this is the solution: "San Francisco residents will be required to keep their guns in lock boxes or have trigger locks on their firearms under a law signed Wednesday by Mayor Gavin Newsom. "

See this:
"these storage requirements appear to impair people?s ability to use guns defensively. Because accidental shooters also tend to be the ones most likely to violate the new law, safe storage laws increase violent and property crimes against low risk citizens with no observable offsetting benefit in terms of reduced accidents or suicides. During the first five full years after the passage of the safe storage laws, the group of fifteen states that adopted these laws faced an annual average increase of over 300 more murders, 3,860 more rapes, 24,650 more robberies, and over 25,000 more aggravated assaults. On average, the annual costs borne by victims averaged over $2.6 billion as a result of lost productivity, out-of-pocket expenses, medical bills, and property losses."

Well, at least San Francisco has almost eliminated the need for self defens. Here is an news article from the end of 2005: "San Francisco Murder Rate Highest In 10 Years"


A thought on bridges collapsing

Given the tragedy yesterday and all the discussion about it, I just thought that I would look up the number of major bridges in the US. One source, even if the source is of questionable reliability, puts the number at 467. (I didn't count all the covered bridges, though there certainly seems like a lot of those. I also only did one faset count so that I might be off by a couple.) In any case, I think that it has been something like 17 years since the last bridge collapse. 1/(467*17)= 1/7939 is the rate per year that a major bridge collapses. I guess that the rate is a little higher than I would have thought, but the number hopefully gives one some perspective. If the list that I am using is incomplete, the rate of collapses will be lower than what I report.

I am not putting this up to minimize the tragedy, but to give some perspective. Especially since everyone is going to extrapolate from this into claiming that something needs to be done instantly across the entire country.


Insights from John Fund at Political Diary

On Senator Patrick Leahy recent comments on Justice Roberts:

. . . . "I think in his actions and the actions in which he has joined, he has made the court an arm of the Republican Party," Mr. Leahy said. "They (the Republicans) say they don't want an activist Supreme Court, but this is the most activist Supreme Court we have ever seen, running roughshod over the Constitution, like Plessy v. Ferguson did."

Those are fighting words. In the infamous Plessy case, the Supreme Court in 1896 declared that states could practice racial segregation under the "separate but equal" doctrine. The decision was finally overturned in 1954 in the famous Brown v. Board of Education decision that led to the desegregation of many of the nation's schools.

Mr. Leahy is comparing that history with a five-to-four decision that Mr. Roberts joined in last month which declared that it was impermissible for governments to use race in the assignment of children to public schools. Many legal scholars believed the Roberts court was acting in the finest tradition of Martin Luther King Jr., who declared in his 1963 "March on Washington" speech that he longed for the day when people would be "judged by the content of their character, rather than the color of their skin." While Mr. Roberts didn't quote King, he clearly shared those sentiments when he wrote: "The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race."

Rather than at least grant Mr. Roberts has an honest disagreement, Mr. Leahy has chosen to smear him. As for President Bush, the Vermont Democrat was openly contemptuous of his court choices. "I am not sure the president realizes what he has done with the court. He was told by Dick Cheney and others, 'This is what you are going to do.'" . . .

On the "ethics reform" legislation before the Senate

Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid has brokered an ethics reform bill that is a travesty when it comes to shining light on earmarks, the pork barrel projects members slip into bills without any real scrutiny. Mr. Reid, for instance, made sure that he retained the right to decide what qualifies as an earmark instead of giving that responsibility to the nonpartisan Senate parliamentarian. . . . .


Problems with discretionary concealed handgun permits

SaysUncle in his piece on "Like you and me, only better" notes how not everyone is treated equally when there is discretion in granting permits. Note my book doesn't say that permits increased in New York City, just that it was higher than most people might think.


New York Times concerned about Wall Street Journal's objectivity

If we were in any other business, a risky takeover of a powerful competitor might lead to celebration. Not in our business. Good journalism, which is an essential part of American democracy, thrives on competition.

More than anything, competition makes our work better — more ambitious, more in-depth, more honest. When Americans are served by many different, responsible, competing news outlets, they can make more informed judgments. That is why we, and so many others, are paying such anxious attention to Rupert Murdoch’s purchase of Dow Jones & Company and its crown jewel, The Wall Street Journal. . . .

Well, on the plus side at least the New York Times will maintain its objectivity. That should be a real boon for the NY Times circulation, right? Personally, I think that the news pages of the WSJ have a left wing tilt. I could see the problem for objectivity if the news stories moved to the middle.


Coverage of Concealed Carry in Philadelphia Inquirer

A month ago, with her frustration mounting over all the guns and killing, she shredded her own gun permit. She won't seek to renew it, she says. . . .

This woman is understandably upset about what appears to be gang shootings in Philadelphia. But it would have been nice if the Philadelphia Inquirer could have had some discussion of whether this response by a law-abiding citizen to disarm herself made any sense.


The Pacific Legal Foundation tries to reign in some nutsy interpretations of the Endangered Species Act

"Are salmon really endangered?" (Statesman Journal, Salem, Oregon) An interesting part of the article is here:

But how do you define hatchery and naturally spawned fish as different species? There are no biological or genetic differences, the only way you can tell the fish apart is a clipped fin on hatchery fish. Environmental groups claim that some hatchery fish behave differently, but that is hard to take seriously. Why ignore all hatchery fish just because some behave differently?

But think where that logic ultimately leads. By defining different species based on behavior, how many different species of humans do you think that there would be?

The claimed distinction largely stems from hatchery and natural fish survival rates. Hatchery fish have a higher survival rate from egg to smolt, but a lower survival rate from smolt to adult. Yet, that is hardly surprising. Many of the weaker naturally spawned fish have already died off so that there are fewer of them to die off in the next stage. In the past, the government’s policies have lurched from one extreme to another. . . .



Heritage Talk Available Here

The talk that I gave at the Heritage Foundation can be found here. Hopefully it provides a quick understanding of economics is and how powerful of a tool it is. For those with Windows and Windows Media Player you can watch the presentation here.


Another Review of Freedomnomics

Phil Miller over at Market Power has a review of Freedomnomics:

John Lott has given us a book that gives an important perspective on the workings and intricacies of markets and what happens when private citizens are economically free.

John Palmer has more thoughts here and Stephen Karlson has his comments here.


Talk at the Heritage Foundation Today

I will be giving a talk today at the Heritage Foundation at noon on my new book Freedomnomics. It is my understanding that C-SPAN's Book TV will be covering the event for broadcast at a later date.

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First Gore, now Bloomberg

First it was Al Gore using something like 20 times more energy than the average household in just one of his four or five mansions. Then it was Gore's frequent use of private jets. Now Mayor Bloomberg's reputation for being green is being tarnished.

He is public transportation’s loudest cheerleader, boasting that he takes the subway “virtually every day.” He has told residents who complain about overcrowded trains to “get real” and he constantly encourages New Yorkers to follow his environmentally friendly example.

But Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s commute is not your average straphanger’s ride.

On mornings that he takes the subway from home, Mr. Bloomberg is picked up at his Upper East Side town house by a pair of king-size Chevrolet Suburbans. The mayor is driven 22 blocks to the subway station at 59th Street and Lexington Avenue, where he can board an express train to City Hall. His drivers zip past his neighborhood station, a local subway stop a five-minute walk away. . . . .

Personally, given Bloomberg's value of time, I don't begrudge him doing things to shorten his trip. But I didn't think that was the environmental thing to do.


Man stops two pit bulls attacking his dog by using his gun

From Gainesville, Florida:

A Gainesville man awoke to the sounds of a dog fight early Monday. When he walked outside, he found his dog locked in the jaws of a large pit bull.

"I'm sound asleep and my wife says there's a dog fight in the yard," said Fletcher Sutton, 58. "And within 90 seconds I find myself standing in the yard in my bathrobe with a knife in one hand, a gun in the other and a dog dead between my legs."

Sutton and his grandson, Robert Koehler, 16, reacted quickly when they found their 110-pound Labrador-Mastiff mix being attacked by two pit bulls, the larger of which had clamped down on the dog's neck.

"We tried to beat him off, we tried to kick him off, and it was like it was to the death," Sutton said.

Lt. Scott Meffen with the Gainesville Police Department said they arrived at the home, 2415 SE 11th Ave., around 7:30 a.m. Monday to find a large black pit bull shot twice in the head. Sutton's dog had wounds to his neck and two front legs from the fight.



Another Review of Freedomnomics

Another review of Freedomnomics can be found here. Thanks to John Palmer at the University of Western Ontario for reading the book.

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A cure for headaches -- at least it works for some people

John Tierney has the answer here in the middle of this quote:

thanks to psychologists at the University of Texas at Austin, we can at last count the whys. After asking nearly 2,000 people why they’d had sex, the researchers have assembled and categorized a total of 237 reasons — everything from “I wanted to feel closer to God” to “I was drunk.” They even found a few people who claimed to have been motivated by the desire to have a child. . . .

Who knew, for instance, that a headache had any erotic significance except as an excuse for saying no? But some respondents of both sexes explained that they’d had sex “to get rid of a headache.” It’s No. 173 on the list.

Others said they did it to “help me fall asleep,” “make my partner feel powerful,” “burn calories,” “return a favor,” “keep warm,” “hurt an enemy” or “change the topic of conversation.” The lamest may have been, “It seemed like good exercise,” although there is also this: “Someone dared me.” . . . .


Michigan judge stopped with loaded gun at airport


England: How Socialized Medicine Saves Money

New Piece in National Review

Abortion and Crime — by John R. Lott Jr.
One has an effect on the other, but it may not be the effect you think.

Violent crime in the United States shot up like a rocket after 1960. From 1960 to 1991, reported violent crime increased by an incredible 372 percent. This disturbing trend was seen across the country, with robbery peaking in 1991 and rape and aggravated assault following in 1992. But then something unexpected happened: Between 1991 and 2000, rates of violent crime and property crime fell sharply, dropping by 33 percent and 30 percent, respectively. Murder rates were stable up to 1991, but then plunged by a steep 44 percent.

Several plausible explanations have been advanced for the drop during the 1990s. Some stress law-enforcement measures, such as higher arrest and conviction rates, longer prison sentences, “broken windows” police strategies, and the death penalty. Others emphasize right-to-carry laws for concealed handguns, a strong economy, or the waning of the crack-cocaine epidemic.

Of all the explanations, perhaps the most controversial is the one that attributes lower crime rates in the ’90s to Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision to mandate legalized abortion. . . . .

This piece requires a subscription, though it is largely based on the discussion that I have on this issue in my book, Freedomnomics.

By the way, in the same issue Ramesh Ponnuru has a useful discussion on the gun control debate, though I believe that he is a little too optimistic.

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Hillary seeks to set up Public Service Academy

U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton said Saturday that, if elected president, she will call on "a new generation of Americans to serve." . . .

Clinton, who has been elected to the U.S. Senate twice from New York, said she wants to create a public service academy designed to inspire young Americans to serve others. . . . .

Has she heard of public policy schools? The Harris School at the University of Chicago, the Kennedy School at Harvard, Wharton's Public Policy and Management Department, etc. What does she think universities in general do regarding social science or public policy studies? What is her concern over the content of the classes at these places? Obviously the vast majority of faculty are liberals, but does she think that the Federal government needs more direct control over what is taught in these schools? This seems like an attempt by Clinton to have even more control over what is taught to students who are planning on making a career of working in government.

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One of the many penalties some criminals face: Lost inheritance

PARTY princess Paris Hilton is $60 million out of pocket after her billionaire grandfather - appalled by her jail term for drink-driving offences - axed her inheritance.

Family patriarch Barron Hilton was already embarrassed by his granddaughter's wild behaviour - notably when her home sex video was leaked on the internet.

But the 79-year-old considered her 23-day sentence last month the last straw. . . . .

People who are disinherited because of criminal activity face an essentially almost impossible road in challenging that decision in court. If you thought that Paris' prison term was already harsh for the type of crime that she had committed, add $60 million to that penalty.

Thanks to Alex Robson for sending this story to me.

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I guess that the Cuban Athletes Just Haven't Had a Chance to See Michael Moore's New Movie

Cost-Benefit Analysis: What is the implicit value that Animal Rights Activists Place on a Mouse's happiness?

Scientists have created the world’s first schizophrenic mice in an attempt to gain a better understanding of the illness. . . . .

Animal rights campaigners have condemned the research, saying that it is morally repugnant to create an animal doomed to mental suffering.

The mice were created by modifying their DNA to mimic a mutant gene first found in a Scottish family with a high incidence of schizophrenia, which affects about one in every 100 people. The mice’s brains were found to have features similar to those of humans with schizophrenia, such as depression and hyperactivity.

“These mutant mice may provide an important new tool for further study of the combinations of factors that underlie mental illnesses like schizophrenia and mood disorders,” said Takatoshi Hikida, of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, a leading researcher. . . . .

One the one hand you have a disease that reportedly affects one in a hundred people. Even say that it is just people in Europe and the US who are affected, so we may be talking about say 8 million out of 800 or so million. On the other hand, possibly say 8,000 mice will be breed with this mutant gene (admittedly it may be fewer, but I am just picking an easy number here). Let us also assume that this research will only lead to a cure with a one percent chance. That means that animal rights activists would have to place a ten fold greater weight on the happiness of these mice than they do on people. My guess is that my numbers here are greatly weighted in favor of making the animal rights activists look reasonable (especially regarding the number of people affected by the disease), though on the other hand I may be too optimistic on this approach solving the problem (I really don't know). If you believe that the probability of this approach curing people is only one-tenth of one percent, the animal rights activists would be placing an equal weight on the happiness of both mice and people. Is this really serious thought? I don't even know that the term happiness applies to mice since it requires that they be self aware and I guess that I have a hard time believing that is the case.