First the move was to let felons vote, now to prevent Sex Offenders from being tracked after release from probation or parole

It is one thing to change the penalties after someone has committed a crime, but it is quite another to say that certain penalties cannot exceed just the time that someone is in jail or on parole. The AP has this story:

Eager to protect children from sexual predators, Nevada and other states across the nation are adopting laws that publicize the names of offenders on the Internet.

But sex offenders say they have rights, too, and argue it's wrong to lump those guilty of minor offenses with the worst offenders. Some are challenging the laws.

"People think that imposing these draconian retroactive laws are a way to keep their children safe," said Margaret McLetchie, an American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada lawyer.

McLetchie and Robert Langford, who represent 27 unnamed plaintiffs in a federal civil rights lawsuit, want to block two sex-offender laws from taking effect in Nevada.

The laws, which they say are unconstitutional, were tailored to meet standards under the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, which President Bush signed in 2006.

Nevada was among the first to pass the laws that would allow the state to post on the Internet the names, photos, home and work addresses and vehicle descriptions of offenders who've served probation or prison sentences on convictions as far back as 1956. . . .


News this week: Summary Judgment in Chicago Gun Ban Case will be heard on Monday

It is unlikely that a decision will be made in the case on Monday, though it is certainly possible given that something could happen given that Chicago did not answer the initial questions in their response brief.

I have also heard that the SF public housing ban case will likely be settled out with the California Public Housing authority is giving in on the case.

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Daily tracking polls show the presidential race is extremely close

Making it easy for Felons to vote

The Obama campaign is really rounding up all possible voters:

A young man approached the table and was pleasantly surprised to learn that felons in Georgia who've completed probation can vote. "If I'd a-known it was this easy," he said in disbelief, "I would have been done!" After completing the form, Bishop folded it and deposited it in an ersatz ballot box. The sign beside it read, Voting Is a Sacred Right and a Moral Obligation.



Chicago's Cool Summer

The Chicago Tribune has this story:

summer heat continues in short supply, continuing a trend that has dominated much of the 21st Century's opening decade. There have been only 162 days 90 degrees or warmer at Midway Airport over the period from 2000 to 2008. That's by far the fewest 90-degree temperatures in the opening nine years of any decade on record here since 1930.

This summer's highest reading to date has been just 91 degrees. That's unusual. Since 1928, only one year—2000—has failed to record a higher warm-season temperature by Aug. 13.


Texas school district let's teachers and staff carry guns at school

The full article is available here:

Texas school district OKs pistols for staff
August 15, 2008

HARROLD, Texas — A tiny Texas school district may be the first in the nation to allow teachers and staff to pack guns for protection when classes begin later this month, a newspaper reported.

Trustees at the Harrold Independent School District approved a district policy change last October so employees can carry concealed firearms to deter and protect against school shootings, provided the gun-toting teachers follow certain requirements.

In order for teachers and staff to carry a pistol, they must have a Texas license to carry a concealed handgun; must be authorized to carry by the district; must receive training in crisis management and hostile situations and have to use ammunition that is designed to minimize the risk of ricochet in school halls.

Superintendent David Thweatt said the small community is a 30-minute drive from the sheriff's office, leaving students and teachers without protection. He said the district's lone campus sits 500 feet from heavily trafficked U.S. 287, which could make it a target.

"When the federal government started making schools gun-free zones, that's when all of these shootings started. Why would you put it out there that a group of people can't defend themselves? That's like saying 'sic 'em' to a dog," Thweatt said in Friday's online edition of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Thweatt said officials researched the policy and considered other options for about a year before approving the policy change. He said the district also has various other security measures in place to prevent a school shooting.

"The naysayers think (a shooting) won't happen here. If something were to happen here, I'd much rather be calling a parent to tell them that their child is OK because we were able to protect them," Thweatt said. . . .

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What are the consequences of Obama's Campaign letting Clinton's name be put in for the nomination?

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

The Obama campaign was in full spin mode yesterday touting its decision to allow Hillary Clinton to have a roll call vote at the convention so her delegates can register their support of her.

"It's an olive branch that we think will pay dividends in party unity," one Democratic congressman told me. I'm not so sure. Many Clinton supporters will be appreciative of the symbolic gesture, but others such as those who unofficially call themselves Pumas (Party Unity My Ass) may see it as an opportunity to make more trouble for Mr. Obama both on and off the convention floor.

"The one thing that Obama should never have agreed to is a roll-call vote with Hillary Clinton," says Jeff Birnbaum, a Washington Post columnist. Mr. Birnbaum nonetheless admits to being "so grateful that we are going to have a story, which is Hillary Clinton's attempt tacitly to take over the Obama victory, and that [story] will go through virtually every day of the convention" given how frequently Bill and Hillary Clinton are scheduled to appear before delegates.

Indeed, the Clinton people I spoke with appear emboldened by the Obama concessions. . . .

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Obama tax plan will raise marginal tax rates for low and high income individuals

The American has an extensive discussion about how Obama's tax plan will raise individual marginal rates. Amazingly, these numbers are from the liberal Brookings Institution/Urban Institute’s Tax Policy Center:

The solid line in the nearby chart illustrates the effective marginal tax rate under Obama’s tax proposals (based on the authoritative “Preliminary Analysis of the 2008 Presidential Candidates’ Tax Plans,” published by the Brookings Institution/Urban Institute’s Tax Policy Center). These are the marginal rates in 2009 for a two-earner couple with two children—a college freshman and a 12-year-old receiving after-school care—under some specific assumptions. For comparison, the dotted line on the chart illustrates the effective tax rates under current law. The rates shown in the chart are not spelled out in the tax code; they are the result of giving and taking away tax breaks as the household’s income changes.

As the chart shows, Obama’s give-and-take tax policy results in marginal tax rates of 34 percent to 39 percent in the $31,000 to $45,000 income range for this family. That’s an increase of 13 percentage points or more from the current rates.

What accounts for the higher rates? First, Obama expands the maximum child and dependent care credit for families with one young child from $1,050 to $1,500 and phases down the credit over a longer income range, from $30,000 to $58,000. Throughout this income range, the credit is phasing out at a rate of $30 per $1,000 of income, thus raising the effective tax rate by 3 percentage points. Obama also makes certain credits refundable, which introduces a tax penalty of 10 percent or 15 percent, depending on the income bracket.

While Obama has publicly embraced a tax rate of 40 percent for couples earning over $350,000, his tax policies would result in a staggering 45 percent effective marginal rate in the $110,000 to $120,000 income range for this family. That is 11 percentage points higher than under current law.



American Psychological Association proposes using tricks to change views on environmental issues

The American Psychological Association seriously proposes that

Armed with new research into what makes some people environmentally conscious and others less so, the 148,000-member American Psychological Association is stepping up efforts to foster a broader sense of eco-sensitivity that the group believes will translate into more public action to protect the planet.

"We know how to change behavior and attitudes. That is what we do," says Yale University psychologist Alan Kazdin, association president. "We know what messages will work and what will not." . . .

In two studies, psychologist Amara Brook of California's Santa Clara University and colleague Jennifer Crocker of the University of Michigan asked 212 undergraduates about their ecological footprint. For those not heavily invested in the environment, negative feedback about their ecological footprint actually undermines their environmental behavior, they found.

"Rather than changing their ways to protect the environment, the results of this study suggest that these (people) may give up on their efforts to protect the environment," they report.

But negative feedback for those more invested in the environment promotes more sustainable behavior, they found.


Being on "The Pill" apparently causes women to pick men who are not "compatible partners"

This is actually slightly scary news. I wonder to what extent women being on the pill has resulted in those women not find people to get married to or resulting in divorce once they get married and stop using the pill.

In research involving almost a hundred women, scientists in the UK say the contraceptive pill could lead to women choosing the wrong partners. . . .

The researchers say major histocompatability complex cluster of genes which helps build proteins involved in the body's immune response is also known to influence smell signals called pheromones and this leads women to use their sense of smell in helping to choose partners.

In a test carried out before and after the women had started taking the pill, they asked the women to sniff six male body odour samples and say which one they preferred and the two sets of results were very different.

The researchers suspect that the results were related to the way the pill simulates a state of pregnancy in women and once pregnant, the need for a compatible partner for children recedes. . . .


Dramatic (Illegal) Defensive gun use in Chicago

I wonder whether any charges will be brought against the jewelry store owner. The story is here:

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago police are investigating a shootout at a Southwest Side jewelry store that left four people wounded.

Police say it all started when two men tried to hold up Sergio Jewelers in the 3100-block of West 63rd Street. They say the owner -- Sergio Vazquez -- pulled out his own gun, sparking a shootout with the suspects.

The owner wounded the two suspects -- one of those men is now hospitalized in critical condition.

The gunfire also wounded a store employee -- 29-year-old Jesus Onofre. Another man was shot while sitting in a car in front of the store.

"I asked him what happened, and he says, "I just got shot. Call 911, call 911.' I said, 'Listen, man, you're bleeding too much, just go to Holy Cross. There's one nearby over here.' And that's what he decided to do anyway," said Edward Pina, witness.

Both of them are in stable condition.

Police recovered three guns at the store. They found some jewerly on the suspects.

Detectives have been interviewing witnesses and reviewing the store's security videotape.

So far, no charges have been fired.

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The REAL dangers of hard candy

The UK has really gone over the edge here. First guns, then knives, now Gobstoppers (known as jawbreakers in Canada and the United States, a type of hard candy) get you substantial criminal fines.

A man caught carrying a large gobstopper in a sock has been fined £400 after it was found to be an offensive weapon.
Jamie Harvey, 20, said he needed it for protection after he was attacked.
At Edinburgh Sheriff Court he admitted carrying the snooker ball-sized gobstopper and sock at a city leisure centre on 19 December last year.
Defence agent Matthew Nicholson said the sweet was "a substantial piece of confectionary" which could be eaten.
The court heard how unemployed Harvey, from the Maybury area of Edinburgh, kept the gobstopper under his car seat.
He was caught at Drumbrae Leisure Centre by police who were searching for cannabis. . . .

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Houston Homeowner is cleared in a defensive gun use case

The story published on Houston's KTRK is available here:

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- A homeowner who shot and killed a man breaking into his home was no billed by a Harris County grand jury Wednesday.

Last December, Damon Barone, his wife, six-year-old son and baby were at home when he heard the sounds of someone breaking in. He says he grabbed his gun.

"While it was happening, I felt like I needed to protect my family. I was more so worried about their safety over being scared or nervous," Barone told Eyewitness News last year.

When Barone saw a man who investigators later determined was Steven Dunbar, 44, coming through the window, the homeowner shot the intruder.

It turned out Dunbar had a lengthy criminal record.

Barone said at the time of the incident he'll never feel guilty for what he did, only sorry that there is now a family elsewhere that is grieving because their loved one tried to enter someone else's home.


Obama campaign switches rules on raffle for those who want to attend his acceptance speech

Over at the WSJ's Political Diary, John Fund writes on Obama's demands that people who want to attend his acceptance speech volunteer time to Obama's campaign:

Now we may know why Barack Obama's campaign decided to move his acceptance speech to Denver's 75,000-seat Invesco Field -- the better to extort hours of volunteer campaign labor out of thousands of people clamoring for tickets to the big event.

Denver media outlets were full of complaints yesterday from people who had entered a lottery for tickets to the Obama speech but were told reservations for the event would come with a catch -- they must contribute six hours of volunteer labor for the campaign no later than this coming Friday in order to secure a coveted seat.

"I got a call that if I want the tickets, I have to volunteer two shifts of three hours apiece -- for one ticket. If I want two tickets, then it's four shifts of two hours apiece," Berenice Christensen told Denver's ABC-TV affiliate. Ms. Christensen says she still wants the tickets, but feels victimized by the bait-and-switch. "I mean, they made it seem like any Coloradoan could go, and now you have to work for your ticket."

The Obama campaign says it's all a big misunderstanding and nobody has to work in order to get a ticket. People who were asked to volunteer were only those who had checked a box on a Web site saying they were willing to work on the campaign thus becoming eligible for "All Star" tickets closer to the stage, says Stephanie Mueller, a campaign spokeswoman.

But several people who've been asked to volunteer insist they made no such pledge.

"Absolutely not," Heather Kreider of Centennial told the Rocky Mountain News, denying she had offered to volunteer when seeking a ticket. Another man, who declined to give his name, said he received a message informing him that he had to perform 12 hours of phone calling or precinct work for two tickets. He called the campaign's tactics "blackmail." . . .

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Heavy teaching week

Sorry for the relatively few posts this week, but Monday through Thursday this week I am teaching economics to new law faculty at George Mason University Law School from around 9 AM to about 1 PM. I will hopefully have more time for posts later. Just on a brief break right now.



Video of my Debate with Paul Helmke on Gun Free Zones on College Campuses

Those interested in watching the debate can click here. Make sure that your browser's pop-up blocker is turned off.


New Op-ed at Fox News: Obama on Energy Efficiency

The new piece at Fox News starts like this:

Politicians often seem to think that they are so smart. If only they could tell everyone how to live their lives, they could make society so much more efficient. Unfortunately, Barack Obama has this conceit in abundance, and his advice on checking tire pressure is just the latest example.

Like most central planners, Obama feels that he is so much smarter than everyone else.

Obama says that “my Republican opponents - they don’t like to talk about efficiency.” Yet, he is the one who doesn’t really understand efficiency. Looking at only the number of gallons that might be saved, he ignores the other costs that real people have to face everyday. . . .

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Judicial Activism in Georgia: Judge upholds gun ban in Airport

I can't figure out how the federal judge could reach this decision. The state law says that one can carry a gun in the nonsecure areas of the terminals. I don't see what the judge's concerns have to do with anything. Fox News has a piece on the decision here:

ATLANTA — A federal judge on Monday upheld a gun ban at the world's busiest airport, dealing a blow to gun rights groups who argued a new Georgia law authorized them to carry weapons in certain parts of the Atlanta airport.

U.S. District Judge Marvin Shoob expressed concern that allowing guns at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport could cause significant economic damage and could be a "serious threat to public safety and welfare."

His decision rejected a request by GeorgiaCarry.org that would have temporarily allowed gun owners to carry their weapons in the airport until his final ruling on the gun ban — a challenge that could likely last months.

The legal showdown erupted when the state law that allows people with a concealed weapons permit to carry guns into restaurants, state parks and on public transportation took effect on July 1. . . .


Some holes are appearing in John Edwards story

Fox News and ABC have raised similar problems with Edwards' claims. Fox News is pretty blunt:

But discrepancies between his story and the unraveling timeline of events raise more questions about whether Edwards' attempts to come clean are in fact just more lies and half-truths. . . .

If it was a Republican who behaved this way, there would be a major media feeding frenzy.

John Edwards on infidelity:

Couric: Harry Truman said, "A man not honorable in his marital relations is not usually honorable in any other." Some people don't feel comfortable supporting a candidate who has not remained faithful to his or her spouse. Can you understand their position?

Edwards: Of course. I mean, for a lot of Americans, including the family that I grew up with ... it's fundamental to how you judge people and human character: Whether you keep your word, whether you keep what is your ultimate word, which is that you love your spouse, and you'll stay with them.

Couric: Do you think ... what about people who use that as a way to evaluate a candidate? In other words, there have been a number of fine presidents according to some analysts ...

Edwards: Right.

Couric: ... who have certainly not been sort of exhibited the greatest moral character ...

Edwards: Right.

Couric: ... when it comes to infidelity ...

Edwards: Right.

Couric: I guess is what I'm getting at.

Edwards: Yes.

Couric: So how important do you think it is in the grand scheme of things?

Edwards: I think the most important qualities in a president in today's world are trustworthiness, sincerity, honesty, strength of leadership. And certainly that goes to a part of that. It's not the whole thing. But it goes to a part of it.



22-year-old Citadel student defends himself with a gun against a person with a baseball bat

This story from Hilton Head Island:

Slow driving led to a confrontation between a 22-year-old Citadel student and an unidentified man involving a baseball bat and a pistol on Hilton Head Island on Thursday afternoon, according to a Beaufort County Sheriff's Office incident report.

The student, who was lost, had been driving slowly on Beach City Road looking for a doctor's office when he pulled into a parking lot to look at a map, according to the report.

A man driving a Porsche pulled in behind him and approached him carrying a baseball bat. The man was yelling about the student's driving.

The student pulled a Glock 23 pistol from his glove box and got out of his car, the report stated.

The man with the bat put his hands up, returned to the Porsche and drove away.

The student called the sheriff's office from his parents' Hilton Head home. He was not charged in the incident.

Thanks to Gus Cotey for the link.


NYC arrest Olympic Shooter as he travels through NYC Airport

There is no reason that this person should have been arrested. The story in The Times Union is here:

Three or four weeks ago a young competitor on the National Shooting Team was training and being coached at the Coast Guard Academy. Upon finishing the training program he properly stored the firearms and headed for the airport and his home in the western United States. After declaring his legally transported firearms, at a NYC airport, he was arrested by a New York City Transit Authority Officer. This young American competitor after explaining what he was doing with the firearm and showing his credentials was arrested, handcuffed and spent a number of hours in custody until some public official realized the perfect public relations storm brewing in a scummy detention cell in NYC. . . .

Thanks to Gus Cotey for the link.