Obama plans on making the Keating Five Scandal an issue for McCain

Obama today "warned that controversial issues such as McCain’s ties to the Keating Five savings and loan scandal are fair game."

This from a 2000 article in Slate:

The Senate Ethics Committee probe of the Keating Five began in November 1990, and committee Special Counsel Robert Bennett recommended that McCain and Glenn be dropped from the investigation. They were not. McCain believes Democrats on the committee blocked Bennett's recommendation because he was the lone Keating Five Republican.

In February 1991, the Senate Ethics Committee found McCain and Glenn to be the least blameworthy of the five senators. (McCain and Glenn attended the meetings but did nothing else to influence the regulators.) McCain was guilty of nothing more than "poor judgment," the committee said, and declared his actions were not "improper nor attended with gross negligence." McCain considered the committee's judgment to be "full exoneration," and he contributed $112,000 (the amount raised for him by Keating) to the U.S. Treasury.

A new type of campaign by Obama?

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How schools are trying to teach basic math

Talk about making math needlessly complicated and inefficiently time consuming. This reminds of the jargon that ends up getting into most professions, but I would bet that if there were real competition in education, it would be much harder for these inefficient teaching methods to take root.


A useful editorial on whether more gun control is the solution in Philly

Here is a piece in the Philly Daily News:

Who freed the cop-killers?

Once again, a Philadelphia police officer has been shot and killed by a criminal who should have been in prison instead of free to commit more mayhem and destruction.
Over the last two years, I've written more than a dozen columns about the murders committed by repeat offenders already convicted of a violent felony (sometimes murder) who spent little or no time in prison.

These columns always ask why those in the criminal system - judges, police, lawyers, probation officers, parole boards, prison officials and elected politicians - aren't held responsible for permitting such people to roam free. Unfortunately, nothing happens - except more people are murdered.

This time it was Philadelphia Police Sgt. Stephen Liczbinski, shot and killed responding to a bank robbery in Port Richmond.

All three suspects in the killing - Howard Cain, Levon T. Warner, Eric Floyd - have convictions for violent felonies.

Warner was sentenced in 1997 to 7 1/2 to 15 years on a robbery charge, one to 5 for possessing an instrument of crime and five to 10 for criminal conspiracy.

Cain was convicted in 1996 of four counts of robbery, carrying firearms without a license and criminal conspiracy. He was sentenced to five to 10 years for each robbery charge, two to four on the other charges. He had also been arrested for aggravated assault, carrying firearms without a license and reckless endangerment.

Floyd was sentenced to five to 10 years in 1995 for robbery and rearrested in 1999 for violating parole. He was released early, and convicted again in 2001 for two robberies in Lancaster.

Yet Mayor Nutter repeats the usual sophistry about guns. Hizzoner said, "That officer was assassinated on the streets of Philadelphia. There was nothing that could have protected him - that weapon penetrates vehicles." . . .

Thanks to Gus Cotey for sending this link to me.

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Computer technology making it easier to catch some criminals

A Mac with a built in camera was able to catch some criminals.

A tech-savvy White Plains woman whose apartment was burglarized solved the crime herself after she was able to log on to her stolen laptop, photograph one of the suspects with it and get photos of another, police said. . . . .

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Texas may review its concealed handgun permit system to speed things up and reduce costs

THe Houston Chronicle has this:

AUSTIN — State Rep. Joe Driver plans to send in his concealed handgun license renewal this week even though it doesn't expire until September.

Driver, chairman of the House Law Enforcement Committee, knows that the Department of Public Safety is 30 to 80 days behind in processing applications because of an unexpected increase in demand for licenses this year.

He doesn't want to be caught like other gun owners around the state with expired licenses.

Driver, R-Garland, said DPS will stress the need for early renewals in notices it sends out six months before a person's license expires.

DPS said it was caught off-guard by the tremendous increase — a 39 percent spike in April compared to a year ago — in applications and is paying overtime and hiring temporary workers to reduce the backlog. . . .

Driver said he also wants to know if DPS is making money on the licenses. It costs $140 for the original license, or $70 for persons over 60.

Renewals cost $70, or $35 for senior citizens.

Driver said the Legislature may need to look at changes in the fingerprinting requirements.

He said many older applicants are more difficult to fingerprint because of changes in aging skin, something which the 61-year-old lawmaker recently experienced firsthand. . . . .

Recent changes to the concealed carry law may be prompting more people to get their licenses, which have been available since 1996.

Last year, the Legislature ensured the privacy of license holders by exempting them from state public information laws.

They also provided reduced and waived fees for veterans and military members.

Another law was designed to clarify that Texans can keep a concealed gun while traveling in their vehicles, whether they hold a license or not. . . . .

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Ed Rendell, Nutter and Congressman Joe Sestak pushing to renew the Assault Weapons Ban

Sebastian over at Snowflakes in Hell has the scope on this.

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Are the Federal Election Laws keeping Clinton in the race?

John Fund has this interesting bit at today's WSJ's Political Diary:

Why is she still running? That's what Democrats are asking about Hillary Clinton in the wake of her disappointing performance in Tuesday's primaries.

One explanation is that something could always turn up once again to knock Mr. Obama off-stride, just as happened with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Mr. Obama's infamous "bitter" comments. Another possible reason is that she can't afford to leave the race. So far, Mrs. Clinton has loaned over $11 million of her own money into the campaign and still has substantial debts, including $4.5 million to her former chief strategist Mark Penn.

A little-known provision of the McCain-Feingold election law makes her exit a difficult question. If she hopes to get paid back for the money she lent her campaign, she can only accept repayment until the date of the Democratic convention in August. After that she can only accept a maximum of $250,000 from contributors.

"If she wants to be repaid, she'd have to move on that between now and the national convention," former Federal Election Commission chairman Michael Toner told U.S. News & World Report. The longer Mrs. Clinton stays in the race, the greater the chance she can still find some donors who have not already given her the maximum contribution allowed by law. Should she drop out, her chances of raising money from anyone effectively become zero. . . .

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My Son Maxim responsible for 20/20 segment tonight

My son Maxim pitched the 20/20 segment tonight that deals with markets predicting the outcome of elections. The show airs at 10 pm EDT on ABC.

Foretelling the Future: Online Prediction Markets
Skittish About the Stock Market? Try Trading Election Results Instead

May 9, 2008 —

Who will win the Democratic nomination? Who will be the next president? When might Britney Spears go back to rehab? And who will be the next "American Idol"?

Don't look for guidance from TV pundits or gossip magazines. Instead, go to the Web site where people are putting their money where their mouths are: Intrade.com.

Intrade is a futures market, just like commodities markets where people make trades betting on the future prices of things like oil, gold and pork bellies. On Intrade, thousands of people bet on the outcomes of current events.

Watch the story today on "20/20" at 10 p.m. ET . . . .

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CNN has bizarre gun regulation case

Lou Dobbs has the story here.

Thanks to Zachary Gennaro for the link.


If there are still news stories about Dan Quayle misspelling "Potato," why won't this get any coverage by the media?

More than a decade after he left office, former Vice President still faces criticism for misspelling the word "potato," though there is little discussion that the word was spelling incorrectly before he spelled it. In any case, where is the news coverage of Obama not being able to correctly identify the number of states? Obviously, Obama made a mistake, but so did Dan Quayle.


Gag on the 2nd Amendment in New York City's Gun Suit?

The New York Sun reports:

Lawyers for Mayor Bloomberg are asking a judge to ban any reference to the Second Amendment during the upcoming trial of a gun shop owner who was sued by the city. While trials are often tightly choreographed, with lawyers routinely instructed to not tell certain facts to a jury, a gag order on a section of the Constitution would be an oddity. “Apparently Mayor Bloomberg has a problem with both the First and the Second amendments,” Lawrence Keane, the general counsel of a firearms industry association, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, said.

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Larry Elder weighs in on claims that we have been in a recession

The title of his piece says it all: "Recession, recession, where's the recession?"


Surge in Concealed Handgun Permits in Texas

A discussion from the Houston Chronicle can be found here:

May 8, 2008, 12:29AM
Texas caught off guard as more seek handgun permits
Some point to anti-gun politics as applications rise 39 percent and swamp the state
Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle Austin Bureau

AUSTIN — Demand for concealed handgun licenses has risen nearly 40 percent in Texas in a year, an increase being attributed to many factors, even presidential politics.

Though the exact cause may be unclear, what's certain is that the spike in applications has caught the Department of Public Safety unprepared.

The state is taking a month longer than the 60 days allowed by law to process original applications and 80 days longer on renewals, which are supposed to be handled within 45 days.

"We're trying really hard, but there have been delays because of the tremendous increase in applications," said Tela Mange, a DPS spokeswoman.

She said the department is paying overtime and hiring temporary workers to reduce the backlog. Mange said she doesn't know why applications last month were 39 percent higher than they were in April 2007. . . .

45 minutes on hold

Alice Tripp, legislative director for the Texas State Rifle Association, the state affiliate of the National Rifle Association, said she hears daily from frustrated members about the delay in getting licenses. She said some have been put on hold for 45 minutes when they called DPS to inquire about their licenses. . . . .

Thanks very much to Scott Davis for sending me this link.

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Nevada Judge upholds privacy of concealed handgun permit holder's records

The debate over getting info on the governor's permit status can be seen here:

After a hearing Tuesday, Berry ruled the Legislature intended to protect the identity of concealed weapon permit holders.

The newspaper sued Sheriff Mike Haley, who has declined to discuss the status of Gibbons' firearms permit.

Gibbons acknowledged he surrendered his gun permit earlier this year after it was discovered he hadn't completed all the required training for his nine pistols.

He says he's since completed the requirements and holds a valid permit for all nine weapons.



A letter to the editor in the Philly Daily News:

ABOUT 90 percent of the people shot in the city last year were African-American. While figures are unavailable, it is assumed by most that close to 100 percent of the perpetrators of these shootings were African-American.

Almost all the firearms used in these shootings were obtained, possessed and carried illegally by those who perpetrated the shootings. If, as is constantly claimed, we MUST DO SOMETHING to stop this violence, then why not ban African-American residents of the city from owning handguns?

The answer is that that is patently unfair and discriminatory. To judge an entire group as a problem and punish all members of that group, irrespective of their individual actions, is unconscionable.

Yet, it's deemed perfectly acceptable to discriminate against one particular group - gun owners.

Let's just tell the truth. The instant Mayor Nutter gets the right to pass gun laws for Philly, it will become a practical impossibility to own a handgun or any other weapon the city deems "inappropriate."

I've done nothing wrong, but my rights are to be removed step-by-step because others - entirely outside the law - are using guns feloniously. How is this any less outrageous a suggestion than that black people shouldn't be allowed to have guns?



On the Wright Issue's Damage to Obama

John Fund has this at today's WSJ's Political Diary:

Mr. Obama is going to have to address his continued weakness with white, working-class voters. He won North Carolina on the strength of getting 93% of the black vote, and since blacks made up a third of the electorate in the Tar Heel State, the African-American vote was able to carry him to victory. But he won only 38% of white Democrats and only 42% of independent voters.

In Indiana it was no better. He won half of the vote on the strength of his showing in urban Gary and Indianapolis, but was trounced 65% to 35% among white Democrats and also lost independent voters. The Rev. Wright and Mr. Obama's remarks in San Francisco about rural voters have taken a toll -- two-thirds of Democrats in both states who voted for Mrs. Clinton told exit pollsters they would be dissatisfied with Mr. Obama as the nominee. . . .

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Few robberies solved in UK through CCTVs

If only three percent of the robberies are solved as a result of CCTV, it isn't particularly surprising that they had no impact on the number of crimes. It doesn't seem that this satisfies the cost-benefit test. The billions spent on this could have put a lot of police officers on the street. The Guardian has the story here:

Massive investment in CCTV cameras to prevent crime in the UK has failed to have a significant impact, despite billions of pounds spent on the new technology, a senior police officer piloting a new database has warned. Only 3% of street robberies in London were solved using CCTV images, despite the fact that Britain has more security cameras than any other country in Europe. . . . .

THe problem is apparently even worse than this. Not only are few crimes solved, but the shots from the cameras are apparently not very useful in court.

Use of CCTV images for court evidence has so far been very poor, according to Detective Chief Inspector Mick Neville, the officer in charge of the Metropolitan police unit. "CCTV was originally seen as a preventative measure," Neville told the Security Document World Conference in London. "Billions of pounds has been spent on kit, but no thought has gone into how the police are going to use the images and how they will be used in court. It's been an utter fiasco: only 3% of crimes were solved by CCTV. There's no fear of CCTV. Why don't people fear it? [They think] the cameras are not working."

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Obama unjustified attack on Clinton

Obama claims that Clinton's win in Indiana doesn't count because Republicans crossed over to vote for her, but Obama has himself actively encouraged Republicans to vote for him in states such as Pennsylvania.

Barack Obama’s campaign issued an e-mail on Tuesday night that appeared to relegate Hillary Clinton’s lead in Indiana to efforts by Rush Limbaugh to wreak havoc in the Democratic presidential primary contest.

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Indiana's voter ID rules have almost no problems

Very few problems reported with Indiana's voter ID rules:

But there were few other such incidents reported across the state, which has one of the strictest laws in the country, requiring voters to have a photo ID issued by the state or federal government. After the Supreme Court upheld the law by a 6-3 ruling last month, there was widespread speculation that the ruling could hurt Barack Obama in the primary, since he was counting on strong turnout among African American voters in inner city neighborhoods in Gary and Indianapolis where many residents lack drivers' licenses. But Obama spokesman Bill Burton said this evening that the campaign had received only scattered complaints on the voter hotline it set up to deal with problems at the polls. He credited the campaign's aggressive voter outreach effort to make sure supporters had the ID they would need. (Residents without driver's licenses can obtain free picture IDs at department of motor vehicle branches.)

Bethany Derringer, a spokeswoman for the Indiana Secretary of State's office, said the office also had not received many complaints on a hotline it set up for today's vote. She said that should not come as a surprise, given that the state's voters have had to contend with the strict law since 2005. "We've had nothing earth-shattering," she said. "We've done extensive education on this."

There was one area producing reports of voters being turned away: the state's private colleges. Under the state law, out of state students may vote, but only if they have the proper ID. Students at public colleges could use their student IDs, since those are technically "state-issued," but students at private colleges could not. Representatives with the Student PIRG New Voters Project who were stationed at three private colleges -- Notre Dame, St. Mary's College, and Butler University -- for several hours reported more than a dozen instances of students being turned away for not having proper identification. . . .



"Neighbor lends hand in foiling crime"

911 didn't wasn't particularly fast here:

Neighbor lends hand in foiling crime
The Marion Star

PROSPECT - Tim Sheehan said he's grateful to an alert neighbor who confronted two Grove City men suspected of burglarizing the Prospect Pharmacy early Monday morning.

"That's above and beyond the call of duty of a neighbor," said Sheehan, owner/operator of the pharmacy at 171 S. Main St. "They wouldn't have been caught without him."

Around 1 a.m. Monday, the man, whose identity is not being released, heard a noise and witnessed two men entering the store, said Chief Deputy Al Hayden with the Marion County Sheriff's Office.

First, he called 9-1-1. Then, armed with a firearm, he confronted the two men.
"The alarm went off when they went in and they ran," Sheehan said. "(Deputies) caught up to them on their way out of town."

The neighbor was able to give a description of the suspects' vehicle and deputies who arrived on the scene spotted it and began to follow it.

With the help of the Delaware County Sheriff's Office, the vehicle was stopped on U.S. 23. . . . .

Thanks to David Kohler for sending this link.


NY Times describes how controlled rental rates are set

No reason to make sure that those who value the apartments the most are the ones who get them. This is a civilized way of setting prices:

In June 2006, hundreds of jeering tenants with drums, whistles and handmade rattles tried to shut down a board meeting, prompting the board chairman, Marvin Markus, to call a two-and-a-half-hour recess. The notice for tonight’s meeting warned that “items that are reasonably likely to disrupt the proceedings, such as noisemakers and drums, are prohibited and may not be brought into the meeting venue.”

Thanks to Jack Langer for sending me this link.


Weren't there any politicians who opposed this?

Connecticut doesn't seem to have anyone who opposes making the state poorer:

The state Senate gave final — and unanimous — legislative approval Monday to a tough new bill requiring drastic reduction of greenhouse gas emissions connected to global warming, and the GOP leader in the Senate said he expects Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell to sign it into law.

"I'd be surprised if she didn't," Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, R-Fairfield, said after the Senate quickly passed, by a 35-0 vote, the same bill the House last week debated more than four hours before approving. . . .

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"The clerk first used a Taser, but it did not stop the robber. Police said the clerk then shot the suspect."

At least the clerk had his gun when the taser failed to stop the armed robber. The article is here:

Store clerk shoots would-be robber
MIKE BRANOM, East Valley Tribune
A man’s attempted armed robbery of a central Mesa store was foiled Sunday when the clerk fought back with a Taser, his fists and a handgun, police said.

The 30-year-old suspect, shot several times by a clerk at Mesa Mart, 1510 S. Country Club Drive, was listed in critical condition at Scottsdale Healthcare Osborn, police spokeswoman Detective Chris Arvayo said.

Although the 55-year-old clerk had been assaulted with a pipe, he did not require extensive medical attention.

The clerk most likely will not face any criminal charges.

“He’s got the right to defend himself,” Arvayo said.

However, the suspect probably will be charged “once he’s better,” Arvayo said.

The incident began about 8 a.m., when the suspect entered the store near U.S. 60. He then demanded money while striking the clerk with a pipe.

The clerk first used a Taser, but it did not stop the robber. Police said the clerk then shot the suspect. . . .



New Op-ed up at Fox News: Real Economic Truth

The new piece with Maxim Lott is here:

Does the media accurately report economic news? Some are raising that question after the release of several highly anticipated economic reports last week.

The new data show that the United States is not in a recession, as the economy continues to grow. Fewer jobs have been lost than expected, with unemployment staying low at 5 percent. And the stock market has been surging over the last few months, with the Dow Jones Industrials average rising back over 13,000 last Thursday.

But many news articles are painting a different picture. . . .

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Obama's Meet the Press Interview

Obama on Meet the Press yesterday mentioned this:

And I--you know, some, some of the reporting that implies that somehow he's my spiritual advisor or mentor, as he himself said, overstated things. He was my pastor, and he built a terrific church.

Rev. Wright's sermons were filled with politics. It is hard to listen to them and not hear just a constant political discussion. I don't think that Wright knows the difference between politics and religion.

It's in my DNA to believe that we can bring this country together . . .

All I can say is that the Obama that I knew at Chicago didn't seem to want to discuss issues with people with whom he disagreed.

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Police stop shooting spree at a Walmart in Texas

The Austin Statesman story is here:

Austin police say officers thwarted a possible shooting spree last week at a South Austin Wal-Mart by a former employee who was found in the store with a 9 mm handgun and numerous rounds of ammunition, according to arrest affidavits. . . .


Why Oprah Winfrey left Wright's church

Newsweek has the explanation here:

According to two sources, Winfrey was never comfortable with the tone of Wright's more incendiary sermons, which she knew had the power to damage her standing as America's favorite daytime talk-show host. "Oprah is a businesswoman, first and foremost," said one longtime friend, who requested anonymity when discussing Winfrey's personal sentiments. "She's always been aware that her audience is very mainstream, and doing anything to offend them just wouldn't be smart. She's been around black churches all her life, so Reverend Wright's anger-filled message didn't surprise her. But it just wasn't what she was looking for in a church." Oprah's decision to distance herself came as a surprise to Wright, who told Christianity Today in 2002 that when he would "run into her socially … she would say, 'Here's my pastor!' " (Winfrey declined to comment. A Harpo Productions spokesperson would not confirm her reasons for leaving the church.) . . .

Friends of Sen. Barack Obama, whose relationship with Wright has rocked his bid for the White House, insist that it would be unfair to compare Winfrey's decision to leave Trinity United with his own decision to stay. "[His] reasons for attending Trinity were totally different,'' said one campaign adviser, who declined to be named discussing the Illinois senator's sentiments. "Early on, he was in search of his identity as an African-American and, more importantly, as an African-American man. Reverend Wright and other male members of the church were instrumental in helping him understand the black experience in America. Winfrey wasn't going for that. She's secure in her blackness, so that didn't have a hold on her.'' And while Winfrey, who has endorsed Obama and campaigned on his behalf, had long understood the perils of a close association with Wright, friends say she was blindsided by the pastor's personal assault on Obama. "She felt that Wright would never do anything to hurt a man who looked up to him as a father figure," said her close friend. "She also never thought he'd intentionally hurt someone trying to make history and change the lives of so many people.''

An interview with the reporter by Greta on Fox News can be found here. This is a very bad interview for Obama. Greta seems bothered by the fact that Oprah understood how bad this is but that Obama didn't. The explanation offered by the reporter doesn't seem to satisfy Greta and I don't think that it would satisfy my other people.

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Here I thought that they cared about Greenhouse gases

Bison produce large amounts of methane, which is a very powerful greenhouse gas. Yet, environmental groups want to there to again be many millions of bison roaming North America (up from the current 500,000, which seems large to me).

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Clinton goes after Obama on guns

The Politico has two pieces up on Clinton attacking Obama's views on guns.

1) Notes that Obama favored a ban on handguns, told people he supported the 2nd amendment to get their votes, and that "bitter" people "cling to guns."

2) That the picture that Clinton used on her mailing was not of a real gun.

Thanks very much to Tony Troglio for sending me these links.

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Taser goes to court to keep it from being listed as a cause of death in autopsies

The Arizona Republic reports:

Judge rules for Taser in cause-of-death decisions
by Robert Anglen - May. 2, 2008 07:28 PM
The Arizona Republic
Taser International has fired a warning shot at medical examiners across the country.

The Scottsdale-based stun gun manufacturer increasingly is targeting state and county medical examiners with lawsuits and lobbying efforts to reverse and prevent medical rulings that Tasers contributed to someone's death.

That effort on Friday helped lead an Ohio judge's order to remove Taser's name from three Summit County Medical Examiner autopsies that had ruled the stun gun contributed to three men's deaths.

"We will hold people accountable and responsible for untrue statements," Taser spokesman Steve Tuttle said earlier this week. "If that includes medical examiners, it includes medical examiners."Many medical examiners, who are charged with determining the official causes of death, view the Scottsdale-based company's efforts as disturbing, the spokesman for the National Association of Medical Examiners says.

"It is dangerously close to intimidation," says Jeff Jentzen, president of the National Association of Medical Examiners. "At this point, we adamantly reject the fact that people can be sued for medical opinions that they make." . . .

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Alice Walker on C-Span this morning

I heard Alice Walker, the author of The Color Purple, talk about owning a rifle for protection against the Klan. Here is a similar discussion by her:

Both books deal with some of the same topics, such as the Ku Klux Klan's death threats to the young family in Mississippi. Rebecca describes how 'Daddy sits in sometimes with the rifle and the dog waiting for the Klan to come'. Her description of her own graduation day in San Francisco makes clear the tension that existed by then between her parents: 'My parents are careful and each guarded, both of them skating across the surface studiously avoiding waters they might lack the skill to navigate. My father sits in our living-room like a stranger... my mother sits in a rocking chair, shelling pecans and offering uncharacteristically terse replies.'

The discussion on C-SPAN involved how the rifle was there for protection of the children.

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One person who was removed from jury duty over his views on concealed handguns

David Friedman has a substantial post on his website regarding his recent experience with jury duty. In part, he wrote this:

I informed the judge that I had been at least peripherally involved in the academic controversy over whether people should be allowed to carry concealed firearms. When the judge asked if I would judge the case according to the law rather than according to my own moral beliefs, I replied (truthfully) that I would not. I was dismissed from that case, sent back to be reassigned and, since they apparently didn't need jurors for any other cases at that point, sent home. . . .

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"Indoor Smoking Ban Takes Steam Out of Pipe Convention"

Nothing like protecting people from themselves:

ST. CHARLES, Ill. — There will be no indoor smoking at a large convention for pipe smokers in Illinois.

A new Illinois law bans smoking in public places. That's taken some of the steam out of this weekend's Chicagoland International Pipe & Tobacciana Show in St. Charles.

The event draws 4,000 pipe collectors from more than 60 countries. Organizers tried to get around the new law by arguing their gathering was a private club meeting. Police and health officials said no.

Instead, a large smoking tent has been set up 15 feet away from the Pheasant Run convention center.

Convention-goer Al Shinogle of Denver likens it to a wine tasting without the wine.