My new book - Dumbing Down the Courts: How Politics Keeps the Smartest Judges Off the Bench, You can click on the above picture to be linked to Amazon.
Welcome! Follow me on twitter at @johnrlottjr . Please e-mail questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
New study shows that Antarctica is warming, well not really
The temperature measurements over Antarctica have consistently shown temperature drops over the last 50 years. So how do you get a study that claims the opposite? You guess what the temperatures are in places in Antarctica where there were no recorded temperatures. Lawrence Solomon's take in the National Post is actually dead on and pretty amusing.
The Nature authors had a daunting challenge. For one thing, the U.S. government has maintained a scientific base at the South Pole since 1957 at which temperatures have been continuously measured. The temperature readings show a cooler climate over the past half century. For another, various weather stations in Antarctica record cooler temperatures. Moreover, satellite readings of temperatures above Antarctica show a cooling trend. Little wonder that the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change itself rejects the warming hypothesis. In its 2007 report, the IPCC accepts that Antarctica shows a “lack of warming reflected in atmospheric temperatures averaged across the region.” . . .
Where data doesn’t exist, Mann makes various assumptions, then deduces Antarctic temperatures over the last 50 years with the help of computer models. The official explanation: “The researchers devised a statistical technique that uses data from satellites and from Antarctic weather stations to make a new estimate of temperature trends.” . . .
“I have to say I remain somewhat skeptical,” states Kevin Trenberth, a lead author for the IPCC and director of climate analysis at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. “It is hard to make data where none exist.”
Such results “have no real way to be validated,” states John Christy, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Alabama-Huntsville. “We will never know what the temperature was over the very large missing areas that this technique attempts to fill in.”
“How do the authors reconcile the conclusions in their paper with the cooler than average long-term sea-surface temperature anomalies off of the coast of Antarctica?” asked Roger Pielke, senior scientist at the University of Colorado in Boulder, in noting one of several failings in the study.
It is unfortunate enough that people don't trust individuals to properly carry permitted concealed handguns. But some don't even trust prosecutors to carry guns. Here is something from the Topeka (Kansas) Capital-Journal.
As the state law currently is written, concealed guns are not allowed in courthouses, schools, churches, polling places and other locations. Senate Bill 19 is attempting to amend the concealed weapon statute for the safety of prosecutors.
We're not convinced this is the correct approach because of its potential to increase the likelihood of a gun being fired in a courtroom. ...
If nobody is allowed to carry concealed weapons into the hallowed halls of justice, then the only guns inside should be those in the possession of law enforcement officials. If other weapons are making it inside ... those charged with protecting the courtroom need to make a better effort at keeping the guns outside. ...
If guns aren't really making it into the courtroom, then allowing prosecutors to be armed is granting an unlevel playing field and probable inappropriate use of force. ...
We are not taking lightly the safety concerns of prosecutors. It's a dangerous business bringing criminals to justice. But adding more weapons into what should be a safe environment for all involved does not strike us as the way to reduce violence. . . .
The bill passed the Kansas state Senate unanimously. KCTV 5 points out why the prosecutors want this passed.
Gorman, who has received several written death threats over the years, said he works in two courthouse buildings and he and his staff often walk between them. "We're out in exposed areas, not behind a locked door," he said. He recalled that several years ago, he was standing in line at a mall with his wife and daughter waiting to see Santa Claus when he spotted the family of a man he convicted of involuntary manslaughter. When Gorman saw them talking among themselves, he left with his family. "It was time to get away, but I could have been in a position where they saw me before I saw them," he said. . . .
Czech President Vaclav Klaus Takes Al Gore to Task Over Global Warming Claims
Klaus' statements at the World Economic Forum are here:
Czech President Vaclav Klaus took aim at climate change campaigner Al Gore on Saturday in Davos in a frontal attack on the science of global warming. "I don't think that there is any global warming," said the 67-year-old liberal, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the European Union. "I don't see the statistical data for that."
Referring to the former US vice president, who attended Davos this year, he added: "I'm very sorry that some people like Al Gore are not ready to listen to the competing theories. I do listen to them.
"Environmentalism and the global warming alarmism is challenging our freedom. Al Gore is an important person in this movement."
Speaking on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum, he said that he was more worried about the reaction to the perceived dangers than the consequences.
"I'm afraid that the current crisis will be misused for radically constraining the functioning of the markets and market economy all around the world," he said.
"I'm more afraid of the consequences of the crisis than the crisis itself." . . . .
The birds share airspace with commercial jets arriving and departing from Sacramento International Airport – and too frequently, the two groups of fliers collide.
That fact was highlighted two weeks ago in New York when a US Airways jet crash-landed on the Hudson River after a bird strike reportedly disabled both engines.
None of the 155 passengers was killed. But, fearing catastrophe here, Sacramento airport officials are reassessing their safety practices, and pushing for a state law that would assure them of one particular safety tool: full legal clearance to kill troublesome birds.
Dealing with birds is a daily, dawn to dusk job, they say. They fire air cannons and use screech boxes as deterrents. They employ "Bird Banger" firecrackers and even drive in trucks honking horns.
It's not enough, they say. They want "lethal take" rights. That may means traps or poison. Most often, it means a shotgun.
Sacramento, like other airports, has killed birds on its property for years, under federal permits. But state game officials told the airport to back off last year after receiving an anonymous complaint. Killing non-game birds is not authorized by state code, they said, and county employees can be prosecuted for doing it. . . .
The lives of some very common birds versus those of humans? Given the extremes to which the airport has gone to non-lethally get rid of the birds, why do they face such problems. My guess is that if you kill some of the birds, the other birds will stay away.
The number of people applying for gun permits has risen sharply in recent months here in the Mountains. The rise began right after the November election, when rumors spread that new President Barack Obama would seek to imposed restrictions on gun owners. Now, it appears even more people want to own a gun for fear of becoming a victim of crime. "We had a neighbor to get broke into and they came in with masks on held guns to their head," said Ronald Buckner, as he applied for a permit in Buncombe County. "The crime rate's just gotten so high I'm scared to go out without one and I am not physically able to fight no one." Records show there were 2,790 pistol purchase permits issued in Buncombe County in 2007. That number increased by more than 55 percent last year. The number of applications for concealed weapons permits has also doubled.
From the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Unfortunately, it contains the misinformation about guns being taken from victims and used against them.
Self-defense classes, gun licenses rise in response to crime Atlanta police say crime decreasing, but residents say they feel less safe
By CHRISTIAN BOONE, JAMIE GUMBRECHT The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Tuesday, January 27, 2009 In early December, three heavily armed men broke into Chris Devoe’s Little Five Points apartment and attacked him and a friend.
One intruder struck Devoe repeatedly in the head with a shotgun and then tied his hands with a cord. Two took his friend, Rachael Spiewak, into another room and sexually assaulted her. The third left with the victims’ ATM cards and passwords, returned, and then he, too, sexually assaulted her. . . .
Atlanta residents are finding a variety of ways to react to crime.
After a wave of robberies at upscale boutiques, Lindsay Daniel, owner of Poppy’s boutique in Buckhead, decided she didn’t want a weapon that could be taken from her and used against her. She installed a buzzer system at her store and signed up for self-defense classes.
“I just figured, ‘Can’t hurt.’ Not only in my work setting, but walking across the grocery store parking lot,” said Daniel, 30.
Malinda Adams, a Grant Park condo owner who noticed more break-ins in the neighborhood, has a different answer. The 48-year-old has a security system and a strike plate on her door, and, in December, she brought a pistol home. “I would use and I will use it,” Adams said. “I hope I don’t have to.”
Gun sales skyrocket since election By Amy Revak, Herald-Standard 01/26/2009
Fear of potential changes to firearm laws over the next four years is one theory behind why sales of guns and gun permits are up across the area.
Mark Pochron, manager of Dry Tavern True Value, said a surge in gun sales over the past few months could likely be attributed to people having a concern about what President Barack Obama will do regarding gun laws during his administration.
"There is a real concern about what Barack Obama will do," Pochron said. "It is fear of the unknown. I think people are unsure."
Pochron, whose business is renewing its firearms sales license and is unable to sell such weaponry, said he recently attended a gun show in the South. He said while the economy has been bad for nearly every industry, the gun industry has had one of the best years ever.
Across Georgia, there’s been a dramatic surge in applications for firearm permits, and no sign that the trend is slowing. Statewide, 121,219 applications were submitted in 2008, up 79.2 percent from 67,640 in 2007, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
It fits with what’s occurred over the last year in other parts of the country, where dealers report that guns are flying off store shelves, when little else is moving.
The reasons for the surge in Georgia vary —- for some permit seekers it’s based on political uncertainties. For others, it was a law change last year that opened up the places where a concealed weapon is allowed.
For still others, it’s about plain old protection. Long gone are the days when the front door could be left unlocked. More and more, locks don’t suffice and steel bars have replaced wire-framed screens. Some crime rates, property crime in particular, are up across metro Atlanta, from the suburbs to intown neighborhoods, where a recent string of violent crime has residents banding together in ways they might not have imagined until now.
In areas where high crime already was an issue, things could get worse before they get better, particularly as officials wrestle with having to cut public safety services to help their budgets. And in areas known to be safer, perceptions are changing —- areas like Atlanta’s gentrifying intown neighborhoods. . . .
Juliette man defends home from invasion By Ashley Tusan Joyner - email@example.com
JULIETTE — Marvin Bowdoin was sitting at his desk when the “cat bandit” kicked in his kitchen door Tuesday night, he said. It was shortly after 9 p.m.
The 67-year-old Juliette grocer said he and his wife arrived at their residence on Juliette Road just in time to watch the last 30 minutes of “American Idol.” It had been a late closing at the family’s general merchandise store, Bowdoin’s Grocery. The husband and wife finished the TV show. Then he left her in the den, walked down the hall to his office and started to sort through the day’s business receipts. “She hadn’t made supper but she stayed in that room for some reason,” Bowdoin said Wednesday from his popular Juliette store, known for fishing tackle and tender cuts of beef. “When I sat down, I heard that door crash open for some reason and I knew someone was in the house.” Bowdoin said within seconds the intruder had gone from the kitchen to the dining room and nearly to the foyer with a shotgun in hand. That’s where Bowdoin stopped the bandit — firing two shots from his .22 Magnum revolver. “I tried to do my best to protect my family,” he said. “This weapon was in my pocket. I tote a weapon every day of my life. It’s never away from me at any point. It’s some mean folks out there.” The invader, not injured, fell to the floor before standing up and running back into the kitchen and out of the home. Bowdoin didn’t chase the person or keep firing. Dressed head to toe in dark clothing, Bowdoin said he couldn’t tell a thing about the person’s appearance. They exchanged no words. “I’m guessing it was a he, and he was short,” Bowdoin said. The neighborhood grocer said had he used one of his three other firearms, he might have made a more precise shot. “I’m just glad me and my wife are alive,” he said. Bowdoin’s wife, Linda, stayed in the den during the incident. . . .
Unfortunately, without any evidence of risks, the argument against students being able to carry concealed handguns is that the students will do something wrong with them.
The Associated Press - Friday, January 30, 2009
BISMARCK, N.D. Students at North Dakota's universities are arguing in the Legislature about whether state law should allow people to carry concealed weapons on campus.
The North Dakota House's Government and Veterans Affairs Committee is considering the bill. It expands the number of public places where someone can carry a concealed gun if they have a permit to do so.
Thomas Nicolai of Cooperstown says if the president of North Dakota State University needs a bodyguard, then students on campus should be allowed to carry a gun if they have a permit.
Other students don't like the idea. North Dakota Student Association president Frank Michael says allowing people to carry concealed firearms on campuses would make students feel less safe. ___
On January 2 of this year, Daschle filed amended tax returns to pay the $140,167 in unpaid taxes.
The Finance Committee staff still is reviewing whether travel and entertainment services provided Tom and Linda Daschle by EduCap, Inc., Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation, Academy Achievement, and Loan to Learn should be reported as income. Earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal reported that Daschle made use of the jet belonging to EduCap, a non-profit student loan organization. . . . .
$140,000 in overdue taxes that are only now paid in January? This amount of owed taxes is greater than most people make in income. At what point does it matter how much money is owed? If Obama only views $140,000 as "some tax issues," what amount of owed taxes would represent real tax issues? If these Democrats cheat on their taxes and only have to come clean when they are being appointed to important positions, when will the Democrats admit that the tax system is broken?
Owing more than $100,000 is considered to be "Some tax issues" for Tom Daschle?
I had to read this story a couple of times to make sure that I wasn't misreading the claim that Daschle had under paid his taxes by more than $100,000. Is this serious that it would stop him from being confirmed? If they can't muster a filibuster over this, it is pretty amazing.
The White House acknowledged Friday that "some tax issues" had emerged in connection President Barack Obama's nomination of Tom Daschle as health secretary. But a spokesman says the president is confident the former Senate Democratic leader will be confirmed. White House officials confirmed a broadcast report Friday that Daschle failed to pay taxes on a car-and-driver service provided to him for three years after he left government.
He later paid the taxes and interest for the error, which has delayed his confirmation to head the Health and Human Services Department and to become Obama's point man to overhaul the nation's health industry.
ABC News first reported on the tax issue Friday evening, saying he owed more than $100,000. . . .
There's also $380 million in the Senate bill for a rainy day fund for the Women, Infants and Children program that delivers healthful food to the poor. WIC got a $1 billion infusion last fall. . . .
The piece notes at the beginning that:
They call it "stimulus" legislation, but the economic measures racing through Congress would devote tens of billions of dollars to causes that have little to do with jolting the country out of recession. . . .
Surprise: "Firearms cache not necessarily illegal"
The Philadelphia Inquirer has this amazing article here. It has often been one of my pet peeves that newspapers will frequently point to the number of guns or ammunition that someone has as evidence of some type of guilt. Even when the number of rounds is only about 500 or a thousand I have seen newspaper articles in shock over the number, so it is very welcome to see this piece in the Philadelphia Inquirer.
The nearly 260 guns and half-million rounds of ammunition discovered in a bunker on a South Jersey man's property this week sounds like an ominous find for law enforcement. But Brian Hinkle's weapons could have been bought and owned legally, said Evan Nappen, an Eatontown, N.J., lawyer whose practice focuses on firearms law.
"It depends on the type of weapons involved, if none of them are prohibited assault weapons," he said. "There's no limit to the rifles and shotguns one can possess."
State Police Sgt. Steve Jones said the arsenal could constitute the largest number of weapons state investigators have ever uncovered, but he said it would take time to determine whether each gun was owned legally.
"It will be a very long administrative process," he said.
In the bunker, police found semiautomatic rifles, handguns, antique guns, and World War II-era firearms of various calibers.
Under New Jersey law, residents need a state-issued firearms purchaser identification to buy long guns, but there are no restrictions on how many can be purchased.
To buy handguns in New Jersey, residents also need a separate state permit for each handgun they plan to buy. As long as all the state and federal procedures are properly followed, "you could have a million guns," Nappen said. "The number is not relevant."
As for the ammunition in Hinkle's home, Nappen noted that some calibers are sold in cases of 500 or 1,000 bullets.
"That's a lot of ammo, but it's not insane," he said. "It's what you'd find on a big shelf in a store." . . .
California judge rules that donors names must be made public in the Proposition 8 case. Here is a piece that I had in the WSJ in December on this topic.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - A federal judge has denied a request to keep secret the names of donors to California's anti-gay marriage initiative. U.S. District Judge Morrison England Jr. ruled Thursday that the state's campaign disclosure laws are intended to protect the public and are important during expensive initiative campaigns.
Supporters of Proposition 8 had sought a preliminary injunction to hide the identities of those who contributed to their campaign.
The initiative was approved by voters in November. It overturned a state Supreme Courtruling that allowed gay marriage.
Reports that identify those who donated within two weeks of the election or afterward are scheduled to be publicly released Monday.
Criminal gangs in the USA have swelled to an estimated 1 million members responsible for up to 80% of crimes in communities across the nation, according to a gang threat assessment compiled by federal officials.
The major findings in a report by the Justice Department's National Gang Intelligence Center, which has not been publicly released, conclude gangs are the "primary retail-level distributors of most illicit drugs" and several are "capable" of competing with major U.S.-based Mexican drug-trafficking organizations. . . . .
Dave Ramsey is a financial commentator who has some following. He has always struck me as a political moderate, so it is surprising to me to see how upset he is with Obama's program. He also mentions the $75 million in the stimulus package to be spent on an anti-smoking campaign.
Government takeover of health care in "Stimulus" bill
I have been complaining about this to some of my friends, but it is nice to see others recognizing this.
Tom Daschle is still waiting to be confirmed as secretary of health and human services, not that he's in any rush. Democrats are already enacting his and Barack Obama's agenda of government-run health care -- entirely on the QT.
This was the real accomplishment of this week's House vote for the $819 billion "stimulus," and is the overriding theme of Congress's first month. With the nation occupied with the financial crisis, and with that crisis providing cover, Democrats have been passing provision after provision to nationalize health care.
If Democrats learned anything from the HillaryCare defeat, it was the danger of admitting to their wish to federalize the health market. Since returning to power, they've pursued a new strategy: to stealthily and incrementally expand government control. "What no one is paying attention to in the [stimulus]," says Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, "is that Democrats are making a big grab at the health-care sector."
It began one week after the swearing-in, when Nancy Pelosi whipped through a big expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program. The Schip bill was Democrats' first stab at stealth expansion, unveiled in 2007, though vetoed by George W. Bush.
Initially designed for children of working-poor families, this new Super-Schip will be double in size, and even kids whose parents make $65,000 a year will be eligible. The program will also now cover pregnant women and automatically enroll their new arrivals. The Congressional Budget Office estimates 2.4 million individuals will drop their private coverage for the public program. . . . .
Woman who called Hillary a Monster appointed to important NSC position
Well, I guess that Samantha Power's removal from the Obama campaign was not quite as sincere as one might have thought. Obama was claimed to believe that Power's statement represented "This is the worst kind of politics." The Chronicle of Higher Education reports:
Samantha Power and Hillary Rodham Clinton have long since buried the hatchet over that famous “monster” comment back during the presidential campaign. Now they apparently are about to be drawn even closer. The Associated Press reported today that Ms. Power, a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer and a professor of public policy at Harvard University, will be named to a senior foreign-policy job at the White House — one that could have her traveling with Ms. Clinton, the secretary of state.
According to the AP, officials who spoke on condition of anonymity said President Obama had tapped Ms. Power to be senior director for multilateral affairs at the National Security Council. White House officials would not provide any details of that role. . . .
Colleges and other educational entities spent more than $102-million in 2008 to lobby Congress and federal agencies, placing education seventh highest on a list of industries ranked by the Center for Responsive Politics. The overwhelming majority of the spending by educational entities came from higher education rather than from elementary and secondary education.
Within the education “industry,” the State University of New York system spent the most on lobbying in 2008 — a total of $1.6-million — and was just one of three higher-education institutions to spend more than $1-million last year. Corinthian Colleges spent $1.3-million, and the University of Texas spent close to $1.2-million. . . .
Obama has no clue about the history of the depression. Few would argue that the collapse in 1937 and 1938 wasn't related to monetary policy.
In a closed-door meeting with House Republicans on Tuesday to discuss the $819-billion economic stimulus bill, President Obama suggested that Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal failed because it was too small, Reps. Steve King (R-Iowa) and Rob Bishop (R-Utah), who attended the meeting, told CNSNews.com.
“FDR’s initial steps did actually work,” Obama said at the meeting, according to King. Obama went on to say, “Then he [FDR] pulled back towards a balanced budget, and then what you had was a recession within a depression. Then World War II came along and was the biggest stimulus plan ever.” . . . .
"In early 1937 the Federal Reserve doubled the required reserve ratios of the banking system with the purpose of immobilizing reserves and preventing future inflation. After some months, this action was followed by declines in the stock of money and real output. Money fell -0.37 percent between 1937 and 1938 while prices fell -0.50 percent, and real output fell -8.23 percent. High-powered money, responding to other forces, rose by 7.95 percent during the same year. Friedman and Schwartz conclude that the correlation between the decline in the stock of money and the decline in economic activity must have resulted from chance or from causation running from money to economic activity."
One man who is glad that he kept his gun handy in his bedroom
This is a real tragedy, but this family apparently didn't have much of an alternative. This story also discusses a 911 call that wasn't responded to quickly enough. The full article is here.
Investigators say Colter Roberts had first attacked his 48-year-old mother with his fists and then beat her with the broomstick. He then went after his 30-year-old girlfriend with a knife.
Colter Roberts' 7-year-old sister was in the home, but not injured, Christian said.
Colter Roberts then ran from the kitchen into a hallway with a knife, screaming that he was going to kill everyone in the house. He also used the knife to slash the walls of the hallway and headed into the bedroom where his father was sleeping.
Van Roberts, 48, tried to talk to his son, but told police his efforts were unsuccessful. He described his son as "a madman running at him with a knife, screaming," Christian said.
Van Roberts grabbed his shotgun and warned his son, but the son failed to drop the knife. Van Roberts fired one shot, striking his son in the arm.
Colter Roberts continued with the attack, and his father fired another shot, striking him in the torso, Christian said. Colter Roberts has a history of drug abuse and violence, Christian said. . . .
Fox's House has never been very friendly towards guns. The last show of Season 2 found House shot be a disgruntled former patient. In Season 5, the ninth episode had a gun wielding person demanding medical treatment. The just aired twelfth episode brings up guns again, though in a less dramatic and more subtle way, with Cuddy going through the adoption process. But when the child welfare official comes to check on Cuddy's suitability to care for the young child, the first question that he asks is "Any guns in the house?" (emphasis in the original)(see the clip at 26 minutes and 25 seconds into the show). The only other question was whether she had any pets.
Obviously the academic research shows that having an accessible gun in the home saves lives, but I had a more basic question: I decided to check to see if a question about guns was likely to lead the questions on one's fitness to serve as a foster parent or to adopt a child. American Adoptions is licensed by the state of New Jersey to provide home study services for people preparing for adoption. Their home study guide has a lot of questions on a person's criminal record (arrests and convictions), whether they have ever been reported for child abuse/neglect (seems more important than gun ownership), and marital status and history, but no questions about gun ownership. It is surely not impossible that such a question would be asked, but making it the first of only two questions seems extremely unlikely and misrepresentative of what the actual process would involve (even taking into account that forms had already been filled out by Cuddy).
I recently noted that the TV show Monk had a great episode where Monk was unable to use a gun defensively because it was locked in a gun safe, but the very next episode had Monk's assistant Natalie accidentally shooting Monk in the leg (the odds of that happening are incredibly low). The segment wasn't all bad since it also showed Natalie protecting herself from a criminal threatening to hit her with a rock.
Police: Homeowner Shoots Burglar In Garage Thursday, January 22, 2009 – updated: 6:27 pm EST January 22, 2009
SPRINGFIELD, Ohio -- Authorities said a Springfield man came face to face wit a burglar and ended up shooting him. Alvin Cobb said his wife noticed that their garage door was open, and when he went investigate, the burglar charged toward him. Cobb said, "Whoever he was he was right on top of me. He was at me attacking me and had his hand drawn back. I don't want to kill anybody, but I don't want anybody to hurt me either." According to Cobb, everything happened quickly. He said he did not have enough time to think. He was able to lift his arms to try to and defend himself and that is when a handgun he was carrying fired. "When he hit me the gun went off," Cobb said. "I know I shot him because he bled on me." The intruder took off, leaving a trail of blood around the block. Police were able to track the blood trail down the block but didn't find anyone. . . .
Peter Jones suggested that an "urgent" review of Labour's policy on recycling was needed to make sure the collection, transportation and processing of recyclable material was not causing a net increase in greenhouse gases. Mr Jones, a former director of the waste firm Biffa and now an adviser to environment ministers and the London Mayor, Boris Johnson, also dismissed kerbside recycling collections in many areas as "stupid" because they mixed together different materials, rendering them useless for recycling. He suggested that much of the country's waste should simply be burnt to generate electricity. "It might be that the global warming impact of putting material through an incinerator five miles down the road is actually less than recycling it 3,000 miles away," he said. "We've got to urgently get a grip on how this material is flowing through the system; whether we're actually adding to or reducing the overall impact in terms of global warming potential in this process." Mr Jones's outspoken comments come amid increasing controversy over household recycling. Last month, The Daily Telegraph disclosed that councils in England and Wales were dumping more than 200,000 tons of recyclable waste every year – up to 10 per cent of all the glass, paper, plastic and other materials separated out by householders. Thousands of tons of recyclables are shipped to China because of insufficient capacity and demand in Britain. In some parts of the country, residents have to sort their waste into as many as seven containers, including food waste bins, which has helped councils to justify the scrapping of weekly bin collections. . . .
James Hansen’s Former NASA Supervisor Says Hansen made unjustifiable predictions about Global Warming
I have never believed this simulations, but it is nice to know that NASA had rules that James Hansen violated.
“Hansen was never muzzled even though he violated NASA’s official agency position on climate forecasting (i.e., we did not know enough to forecast climate change or mankind’s effect on it). Hansen thus embarrassed NASA by coming out with his claims of global warming in 1988 in his testimony before Congress,” Theon wrote. . . .
Students debate ending gun free zones on campus here:
Last Wednesday evening police responded within moments to reports of an assault at the Graduate Center's cafe. They secured the GLC. They caught the guy who did it. VT Alerts fired off hundreds of thousands of calls, texts and e-mails with the alacrity of lightning.
If you take away nothing else from this tragedy, it's important to understand that this was the most flawless performance of the VT Alerts system to date, and then realize that none of that mattered to Xin Yang.
A basic fact of life is that we can never be completely safe anywhere, unless we are willing to make the kinds of sacrifices Ben Franklin scorned. It's time for President Charles Steger and the university administration to acknowledge the inherent flaws in the VT Alerts system and act accordingly -- meaning it's time that students licensed by the state of Virginia to carry a concealed handgun be allowed to do so on campus.
As one of many people who have lost a friend to gun violence, this is not a call I make lightly. Guns are not a perfect solution. It's dubious at best to say that a responsibly armed citizen would have been the solution Wednesday night, because from what I understand, it was over before anyone could react. But ever since April 16, the administration has tried to sell us on the idea that all guns are evil, and you can see the seeds of this irrational anti-gun bias in the non-reasons given for their willful inaction that morning.
One of the main reasons cited for not closing the campus that day was that it's, well, difficult. Especially when students are trying to, you know, get to class and stuff. This is plausible if you assume the police forgot the presumptive lessons learned from William Morva's escape on the first day of the fall semester, when they had already cancelled classes by the time I tried to take the bus to my first that August morning. The other reason was that they were already questioning Karl Thornhill, a "person of interest" not only because he was Emily Hilscher's boyfriend, but also because he was a gun user. Since it was obvious that he was the murderer, we students didn't need to know anything until a few minutes before the final murders began.
But even after the truth came out, the tough questions were never asked of the administration and police very loudly or for very long. Tim Kaine swept them out of the way through committee, everyone settled out of court and campus police bought a shiny new Segway. . . . .
Another "stimulus" secret is that some $252 billion is for income-transfer payments -- that is, not investments that arguably help everyone, but cash or benefits to individuals for doing nothing at all. There's $81 billion for Medicaid, $36 billion for expanded unemployment benefits, $20 billion for food stamps, and $83 billion for the earned income credit for people who don't pay income tax.
One would hope that economists would realize that other things are occurring at the same time as the so-called "stimulus" package, but apparently some economists aren't paying attention to the continued changes in unemployment insurance. Not only did we have last year's well timed 50 percent increase in the length of unemployment insurance in July, but that is being continued and there is also a $9 billion increase in benefits in the stimulus package. Last year's increase produced a 0.8 to 1 percent increase in unemployment. The new increase will be substantial even if it is a little smaller. What no one seems to note is that these increases in benefits are eliminated on December 31st of this year? There should thus be a substantial drop in unemployment next year simply because of the change in unemployment insurance (I have written on these points among other places here and here).
Two economists who don't seem to know that these large changes in unemployment insurance benefits will change unemployment rates are Paul Krugman and Russell Roberts. NPR has the discussion here:
Both economists agree that the measure of success of any stimulus package is the unemployment number.
"I want to see the unemployment rate stay safely below 10 percent, which is by no means a foregone conclusion," Krugman says. "And I want to see it coming down notably in the next year."
Roberts says that while dealing with the effects of the recession, we might have to deal with the reality that the government cannot stimulate the economy.
"We seem to assume that it's just a question of finding the right stimulus, but it is very possible that the lack of confidence that people have in the future right now is not easily fixed either by spending or by tax cuts," he says. "Some businesses are going to have to fail. Some people are going to have to have some problems with their debts. Wages are going to have to change.
It would also have been nice if someone had pointed out that because of these subsidies, the unemployment rate is not a particularly good measure of how well people are doing.
Orange County (Ca.) sheriff's crackdown on gun-rights activists
John Seiler has an amazing discussion of the Orange County Sheriff, who has restricted issuing concealed handgun permits after assuming office. Intimidaing citizens, spying on County Supervisors, etc. make for some very interesting reading.
The Homeland Security Department says the fence along the U.S.-Mexico border is mostly finished. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Lloyd Easterling says that 601 miles of the project had been completed as of a week ago. Easterling says 69 miles of the fence still must be built to meet the goal set during the Bush administration. . . .
Republican lawmakers are raising concerns that ACORN, the low-income advocacy group under investigation for voter registration fraud, could be eligible for billions in aid from the economic stimulus proposal working its way through the House.
House Republican Leader John Boehner issued a statement over the weekend noting that the stimulus bill wending its way through Congress provides $4.19 billion for "neighborhood stabilization activities."
He said the money was previously limited to state and local governments, but that Democrats now want part of it to be available to non-profit entities. That means groups like ACORN would be eligible for a portion of the funds. . . . .
What do you expect Americans to do when President Obama told us last week that we are in “an unprecedented economic crisis”? Is any one surprised when consumers cut back on buying? When companies stop spending money?
Unfortunately, Obama’s statements aren’t new – he made similar statements during the campaign last year. Democrat political consultants have been all over the media making the same claims about us being in “the most unprecedented economic crisis in history.” Of course, the media has been pounding away at this message also.
It isn’t just that the claim is false, absurdly false. But by frightening Americans and causing them to change their behavior, they are causing the economic chaos they claim to want to solve. . . . .
The Obama administration is making only glancing references to those questions. In an interview Sunday on "This Week" on ABC, the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, alluded to internal debate when she was asked whether nationalization, or partial nationalization, of the largest banks was a good idea.
"Well, whatever you want to call it," said Pelosi, Democrat of California. "If we are strengthening them, then the American people should get some of the upside of that strengthening. Some people call that nationalization. . . .
Republicans stopped a $16.2 billion stimulus package by Bill Clinton in 1993 (From the Chicago Tribune). The Stimulus package was claimed to be necessary to fix the "worst economy" in 50 years. Compare that to now when supposedly we have another economy that is the "worst," this time the worst ever.
The $16 billion bill was too large in 1993, but $825 billion is OK in 2009? Possibly Clinton didn't ask for enough money.
Newsweek had an article claiming that culling out large animals for trophy hunting makes the average size of the species smaller.
When hunting is severe enough to outstrip other threats to survival, the unsought, middling individuals make out better than the alpha animals, and the species changes. "Survival of the fittest" is still the rule, but the "fit" begin to look unlike what you might expect. And looks aren't the only things changing: behavior adapts too, from how hunted animals act to how they reproduce. There's nothing wrong with a species getting molded over time by new kinds of risk. But some experts believe problems arise when these changes make no evolutionary sense. . . .
With hunters valuing larger animals, there is money to be made in providing it to them. As Frank Miniter wrote me recently:
Trophy hunting is now making the opposite true. Deer breeding for big antlers (stud deer with huge racks are worth millions) and for African game on the big ranches is big business. But little has been written about it. There just isn't a market for that kind of writing. Hunters shoot "spikes" and older deer with small antlers as "cull deer." The practice is common on any land big enough to be managed. On public lands nearly every buck gets killed, so it's hardly a selection process.
Snow covered the Jebel Jais area for only the second time in recorded history yesterday.
So rare was the event that one lifelong resident said the local dialect had no word for it.
According to the RAK Government, temperatures on Jebel Jais dropped to -3°C on Friday night. On Saturday, the area had reached 1°C. Major Saeed Rashid al Yamahi, a helicopter pilot and the manager of the Air Wing of RAK Police, said the snow covered an area of five kilometres and was 10cm deep.
“The sight up there this morning was totally unbelievable, with the snow-capped mountain and the entire area covered with fresh, dazzling white snow,” Major al Yamahi said.
“The snowfall started at 3pm Friday, and heavy snowing began at 8pm and continued till midnight, covering the entire area in a thick blanket of snow. Much of the snow was still there even when we flew back from the mountain this afternoon. It is still freezing cold up there and there are chances that it might snow again tonight.” . . . .
Robber, who had wounded two store clerks, was shot to death during liquor store robbery
This attack and its consequences are covered by the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette. A couple of points should be made. This criminal was let out early on parole. This provides an excellent idea of why one should study the impact of gun control laws on murder rates, not homicide rates (note what the Coroner’s Office classified this defensive gun use as).
Robber was just paroled Shot to death during liquor store holdup Holly Abrams The Journal Gazette January 23, 2009
A man who was shot to death during the robbery of a south-side liquor store was recently released from prison after serving time for a string of robberies across the city.
Donald Nigel Jones, 29, was found in the middle of the street Wednesday after shots were fired inside Belmont Beverage, 1414 E. Tillman Road.
Fort Wayne police said Jones is the same man responsible for dozens of city robberies in 1999 and 2000. Jones pleaded guilty in Allen Superior Court to robbing nine Fort Wayne businesses and was sentenced in July 2000 to 20 years in prison. . . . .
Gunfire rang out at the store at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday when Jones entered the business armed with a handgun and demanded money, police said.
When officers arrived at the store, near Lafayette Street, Jones was lying in the middle of Tillman Road. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
His death was ruled the third homicide of 2009 by the Allen County Coroner’s Office. All have occurred in the city.
Meanwhile, a store clerk was found suffering from a gunshot wound to the leg. That man, who police have yet to identify, was taken to a hospital in fair condition. He was expected to be released Thursday, said Officer Michael Joyner, police spokesman.
Police believe two weapons were involved in the shooting but would not confirm whether the employee had an Indiana handgun license.
Joyner said Jones had taken money from the store, although he would not verify who fired a weapon first, whether the clerk fired a gun or whether the clerk had acted in self-defense.
Jones’ weapon was recovered at the scene, Joyner said. . . . .
Thanks very much to Jordan Nash for this link.
An update on the story can be found here:
Fatal shooting said to be in self-defense By Evan Goodenow of The News-Sentinel Fri. Jan. 23, 2009 After a suspected robber shot his co-worker on Wednesday, a Belmont Beverage liquor store clerk didn’t wait to see if he’d be next.
The clerk fatally shot the suspected robber – whom Fort Wayne Police have identified as Donald N. Jones – in self-defense, according to Gary Gardner, Belmont operations manager. Gardner said Thursday that store surveillance video shows Jones enter the store, walk around the counter and shoot a clerk in the leg before robbing two cash registers.
“That’s what was so stunning to us,” said Gardner. “(Usually) all they want is the money and they leave, but not in this instance.”
The armed clerk was behind the counter when the man entered and was on the east side. After taking the money, Gardner said the masked man moved toward the front door, which is on the west side of the store.
As Jones was leaving, “that’s when the bullets started flying,” Gardner said.
Gardner said the clerk opened fire with the pistol he has a permit to carry because he believed he was about to be shot, given the robber’s actions and demeanor.
“The way he spoke, the way he carried himself, he was just very sure of what he (the robber) was going to do,” Gardner said. “The guy is not shaking. He’s not wavering. He knows what he wants. He’s already done harm to one employee.”
Thanks very much to Jordan Nash for this link also.
Montana Legislation put forward to make all of the state like Alaska and Vermont
In virtually all of Montana one is allowed to carry a concealed handgun without a permit (essentially over 98 percent of the case). This legislation would make it true in the other 2 percent. Law-enforcement is upset about the Castle Doctrine provisions.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Krayton Kerns, R-Laurel, is almost identical to a bill carried by then-Rep. Jack Wells, R-Bozeman, in the 2007 session.
If passed, the bill would, among other things:
= allow people to carry a concealed weapon without a permit;
= greatly strengthen self-defense protections in the state;
= allow people to display their gun to deter an attack;
= allow people to use a gun whenever at risk of physical harm;
= and, in shooting incidents in which the person who fired the gun claimed self defense, require the state to prove that it was not. . . . .
This should be amusing next year. From the NY Post:
An "apoplectic" Kennedy family is seething over the rough treatment that heiress apparent Caroline got from Gov. Paterson's office and is spoiling for revenge, several sources close to the clan have told The Post.
"The governor's going to pay for this," said a well-placed Democrat. "Ted is furious. The family is furious. The Kennedys are now against the governor."
Among Paterson's offenses was a request that Caroline lie about her unexpected withdrawal for "personal" reasons, according to NY magazine.
"You can't withdraw. You've got to stay in this thing, and I'll just not pick you," Paterson reportedly told her over the phone late Wednesday.
Then a torrent of ugly rumors spilled from Paterson's office about Caroline's taxes, about her nanny, even about the state of her marriage - and Camelot's seeking payback, confidants said.
"I'm sure the family is going to protect her," one source said. "What did Caroline do to deserve getting dragged through the mud?"