"Credit card firm cuts off gun store for selling guns"

Apparently, after a business arrangement over four years, a credit card company severs its business with another company because it sells firearms or similar products.  Fox News has the discussion here.  Hyatt Coin & Gun in Charlotte, North Carolina is the nation's largest gun store.  The credit card company said that it was a violation of their agreement not to work with companies that sell guns, but Hyatt even has the word "Gun" in their name.  Politics?  Authorize.net (contact info here) is the company that cut off Hyatt.


Father of two small children fatally shoots man who broke open a back door and entered the house

From Ashdown, Arkansas:
William Anthony Wilson, 27, allegedly broke into a house at 921 N. Park Ave. in Ashdown and was shot by a resident living in the house at about 11 p.m. last Wednesday. 
The identity of the family has not been released. 
Wilson, who according to authorities broke open a back door and entered the house, died about an hour later in Little River Memorial Hospital and was pronounced dead by Dr. Lonnie Parker at 12:15 a.m. on Thursday. 
The Little River County Sheriff’s Department Dispatch Center received the call at 10:59 p.m. Wednesday regarding a burglary in progress and shots had been heard. 
The incident occurred while the family which included an adult male, adult female and two preschool children was asleep inside the house. 
According to the report, the suspect forced the back door open, and appeared to have entered several rooms. 
The resident woke up and confronted Wilson and shot him with a handgun. . . .



"Sotomayor, Kagan ‘dumbing down’ Supreme Court"

From the Daily Caller:
Courts are being dumbed down because politicians are trying to keep the smartest and most persuasive judges off the bench, argues conservative economist John Lott in his recently released book, ”Dumbing Down the Courts: How Politics Keeps the Smartest Justices Off the Bench.” 
“While confirmations have been getting tougher for all the nominees, smarter, more influential nominees have had the hardest time getting confirmed,” Lott  told The Daily Caller in an interview about his book. “There is a simple reason for this. Judges who understand the law and are articulate may be able to convince other judges hearing cases to change how they vote. They may also write opinions that influence other judges around the country.” 
Lott, who also authored the best-selling “More Guns, Less Crime,” says the statistical record bears out his claim. . . .



Has the NSA been tracking the cellphone movements of millions of Americans?

Senator Wyden suggests that the NSA is either tracking or has been studying tracking millions of Americans.  Presumably Wyden isn't allowed to explicitly say what the NSA is doing, so his suggestions should probably be given more weight than suggestions by others.  From The Hill newspaper:

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) suggested on Thursday that the National Security Agency tracked or considered tracking the cellphone location data of millions of people in the United States.  
During a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, Wyden asked NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander whether "the NSA has ever collected — or made any plans to collect — Americans' cell site information in bulk." 
As a member of the Intelligence Committee, Wyden has access to classified information about the NSA's surveillance programs. . . .  
Analyzing which cell towers a phone has connected to can allow law enforcement or intelligence officials to track the location of the phone's owner.  
Wyden has been a long-time critic of NSA surveillance, but government secrecy has limited his ability to publicly discuss his concerns. . . . 


Excerpt from new book "Dumbing Down the Courts" at Fox News

An excerpt from "Dumbing Down the Courts" is available here.


Terry McAuliffe, gun control advocate

From the Washington Examiner:

Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic nominee for Virginia governor, said during Wednesday night's debate that he hasn't changed his mind about a proposed assault weapons ban. 
Debate moderator Chuck Todd of MSNBC asked McAuliffe if he still supported the ban, as well as universal background checks and limiting the size of ammunition magazines
"I haven’t changed my mind," McAuliffe said, acknowledging that the question was "pertinent" in the wake of the recent mass shootings. 
McAuliffe added that as governor, he would push for universal background checks. . . .
Here are related op-ed pieces that I have written:

On the assault weapons ban.

On expanded background checks.



Did banning PCBs cause other more harmful chemicals to be used to replace them?

From Fox News:

If you purchased a couch before 2006, there’s a possibility it could be filled with foam containing the chemical polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE) – a substance banned in California and phased out by manufacturers nationwide after it was linked to low IQ in children.
Fortunately, new research from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) indicates that the 2006 ban on the substance has had impressive, far-reaching effects, indicating that taking fast action against toxic substances can create huge benefits for human health.
“PBDEs became more in vogue as a substitute for PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyl ethers), which were banned in the 70s and used to reduce flammability,” Tracey Woodruff, the director of UCSF’s program on reproductive health and the environment, told FoxNews.com. “They’re found in computers (and) a lot in foam, polyurethane foam used in coaches, to decrease flammability.”
However, PBDEs quickly fell under scrutiny after studies started to show an association between exposure to the chemical and low IQ.  Further concern was raised when studies revealed that increasingly large quantities of PBDEs were appearing in women’s breast milk. . . .

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Obamacare exchanges will increase the lowest-cost premiums by up to 523%, average increase 194%, so much for making health insurance affordable

Here is what Obamacare will do to insurance premiums: the percent increases in the least cost insurance premiums for urban areas in 36 states.  Data is the WSJ (I calculated the percent changes):

Nebraska 523%
Arkansas 513%
North Carolina 423%
Ohio 336%
Louisiana 336%
Delaware 298%
Georgia 286%
North Dakota 272%
Mississippi 243%
New Mexico 232%
Wyoming 230%
Virginia 227%
Alaska 222%
South Carolina 202%
Wisconsin 190%
Kansas 181%
Tennessee 178%
Arizona 178%
Pennsylvania 167%
Michigan 151%
Florida 147%
Idaho 146%
Indiana 143%
Missouri 130%
Montana 123%
South Dakota 120%
Texas 119%
Alabama 113%
Utah 99%
Oklahoma 94%
Iowa 89%
West Virginia 83%
Illinois 69%
Maine 57%
New Jersey 35%
New Hampshire 25%

Average increase: 194%

More information is available here.


Another shotgun giveaway program

From Fox News:

A gun group is offering free shotguns to residents in a central Florida neighborhood. 
Member of the Armed Citizen Project say arming residents is a way to stop crime in the area. They've recently been handing out fliers in the Sunshine Gardens neighborhood near Orlando. 
WESH-TV reports Florida program director Ron Ritter says his group hopes to work with gun manufacturers and dealers to provide free or discounted guns to homeowners. He says the effort is "perfectly legal." . . .



Obama claims that he hasn't had a cigarette in six years

From Fox News:

The president was caught on camera Monday telling a U.N. official he hasn't had a cigarette in six years.  
"I hope you quit smoking," Obama told Maina Kiai, on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York. "I haven't had a cigarette probably in six years. That's because I'm scared of my wife."  
Maybe it just felt like six years. According to statements made by his aides and his family, it's been more like three or four.  
The president first admitted in a June 2009 press conference that he snuck a cigarette now and then, though at the time he was trying to quit.  
Then in February 2010, his White House physician reported that the president was still smoking.  
It appears that sometime in early 2010, the president went cold turkey. The White House reported in December 2010 that Obama hadn't had a cigarette in nine months. . . .



Man carrying gun at Nairobi Mall saved a 100 lives

UPDATED: Apparently, it was an "Ex Royal Marine with a handgun saved 100 lives as terrorists ran amok."  It also appears that he was able to carry a gun because he had a job with either a private security agency or the Kenyan government.  Fortunately, he just happened to be near the mall having coffee with friends.   Question: Would gun control advocates let former soldiers carry guns in the US?

ORIGINAL POST:  Fortunately for 100 people this off-duty British Special Air Service had his handgun with him.  From the UK Daily Mail:

An off-duty member of the SAS emerged as a hero of the Nairobi siege yesterday, after he was credited with saving up to 100 lives. 
The soldier was having coffee at the Westgate mall when it was attacked by Islamists on Saturday. 
With a gun tucked into his waistband, he was pictured helping two women from the complex. 
He is said to have returned to the building on a dozen occasions, despite intense gunfire.A friend in Nairobi said: ‘What he did was so heroic. He was having coffee with friends when it happened. 
‘He went back in 12 times and saved 100 people. Imagine going back in when you knew what was going on inside.’ . . .
Side note:  What lessons will Americans take from this?
The suburban Minneapolis mall, owned by real estate development and finance company Triple Five Group of EdmontonAlberta, is monitoring the news from Nairobi and working with law-enforcement agencies, the center’s management said today in an e-mailed statement. The Bloomington, Minnesota, property, which opened in 1992, has more than 520 stores, an indoor amusement park, an aquarium and a movie theater. 
“Mall of America has implemented extra security precautions,” according to the statement. “Some may be noticeable to guests, and others won’t be. We will continue to follow the situation, along with law enforcement, and will remain vigilant as we always do in similar situations.” . . . . 
Kenyabans both open and concealed carrying of firearms, but that didn’t stop the terrorists from using guns.  Apparently, this Ex Royal Marine may have had a job with a private security agency or the Kenyan government.  From the UK Independent:
The British military regularly train and operate in East Africa, often using Kenya as a base for tracking UK citizens suspected of being involved in terrorist activities in Somalia and Kenya. 
A large number of former soldiers continue to live in the country after their service ends, working as security personnel for private agencies and the Kenyan government. . . .


Yet another error in how Obamacare

From USA Today:

Congress defined "affordable" as 9.5% or less of an employee's household income, mostly to make sure people did not leave their workplace plans for subsidized coverage through the exchanges. But the "error" was that it only applies to the employee — and not his or her family. So, if an employer offers a woman affordable insurance, but doesn't provide it for her family, they cannot get subsidized help through the state health exchanges.
That can make a huge difference; the Kaiser Family Foundation said an average plan for an individual is about $5,600, but it goes up to $15,700 for families. Most employers help out with those costs, but not all. . . .
"The family glitch is definitely a drafting error that Congress made that needs to be fixed," said Joan Alker, executive director of the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families. "But that seems unlikely." . . . 


Interview on WMAL about mass shootings on September 18, 2013

Zero Tolerance getting even more bizarre: Virginia Beach, Virginia Public School expels student for playing with toy gun on his own property

I already thought that zero tolerance policies were nuttier than I would have imagined when I grew up.  But how can the public school expell a seventh grade student based on what he does on his own property on his own time?  From WAVY.com (Channel 10 TV):
A suspended seventh grade Virginia Beach student will find out soon if he is expelled for the rest of the year for shooting an airsoft gun. 
Like thousands of others in Hampton Roads, Khalid Caraballo plays with airsoft guns. Caraballo and his friend Aidan were suspended because they shot two other friends who were with them while playing with the guns as they waited for the school bus. 
The two seventh graders say they never went to the bus stop; they fired the airsoft guns while on Caraballo's private property. 
Aidan’s father, Tim Clark, told WAVY.com what happened next lacks commons sense. The children were suspended for possession, handling and use of a firearm. 
Khalid's mother, Solangel Caraballo, thinks it is ridiculous the Virginia Beach City Public School System suspended her 13-year-old son and Aidan because they were firing a spring-driven airsoft gun on the Caraballo's posted private property.  "My son is my private property.  He does not become the school's property until he goes to the bus stop, gets on the bus, and goes to school." 
The bus stop in question is 70 yards from the Caraballo's front yard. . . .


Why did congress pass a bill giving $174,000 to deceased senator's widow?

Can't members of congress get their own life insurance if they want it?  In addition, with Lautenberg already being worth over $57 million and being 89 years of age, it is doubtful that he would have thought that purchasing such insurance would be worthwhile.  But why should taxpayers come up with this payment?  From The Hill newspaper:

The short-term spending bill passed by the House today includes a $174,000 payment to the widow of former Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), who died in June at the age of 89. 
Notwithstanding any other provision of this joint resolution, there is appropriated for payment to Bonnie Englebardt Lautenberg, widow of Frank R. Lautenberg, late a Senator from New Jersey, $174,000," the resolution states in Section 134. 
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) highlighted the inclusion of the language in a Friday post on its website, which asked why Congress would be "throwing money at a multimillionaire." 
CREW said Lautenberg's assets were estimated to exceed $57 million in 2011. "How is this a top funding priority?" the group asked. . . .


Howard Kurtz on "Why media keeps blowing it during tragedies"

Howard Kurtz's panel at Fox News on reporters wanting to be first more than wanting to be right available here.



New York Mayoral Candidate Bill de Blasio has no solution for increased crime rates

From the New York Post:
Mayoral front-runner Bill de Blasio offered no real solution Thursday when confronted with statistics revealing an alarming rise in gun violence that followed a federal judge’s ruling against the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk program. 
The Democratic nominee opposes the practice, but when asked point blank how he intends to keep the city safe, he would speak only in generalities. 
“We must restore the relationship between the police and community,” he said without explaining how that could be accomplished. 
As first reported by The Post Thursday, shootings were up 13 percent and gun seizures were down more than 17 percent in the 28-day period ending Sept. 8 as compared with the same period in 2012. 
But de Blasio insisted “nothing has changed in the approach to policing” since Manhattan federal Judge Shira Scheindin’s Aug. 12 decision. . . .


New total: At least 68 dead and 175 injured at mall in Nairobi

With this large number of injuries and many hostages still being held, there will undoubtedly be more deaths.  One more death and this attack in Nairobi will equal the causalities in Norway's attack.  From Fox News:
Dozens of hostages are holed up in an upscale shopping mall in Kenya's capital, forced to hide from gunmen following an attack by suspected members of an Al Qaeda-linked Somali militant group on Saturday that left at least 68 dead and 175 injured. 
The Kenyan military remained in a tense standoff with Islamic extremists in Nairobi on Sunday, as barrages of gunfire were heard inside the mall, Reuters reports. 
Kenya’s president, Uhuru Kenyatta, said in a national address that security forces had managed to isolate the “criminals” in one place inside the building, according to Reuters. Two helicopters were seen flying over the mall. 
There are between 50 to 200 hostages and most of them are hiding in various places inside the mall, Fox News confirms. They are not being held by the hostage-takers. There are between 10 to 15 militants currently inside the mall, with at least one being female. . . .
Meanwhile in Pakistan, there was a horrible bombing attack.
A pair of suicide bombers detonated their explosives outside a historic church in northwestern Pakistan on Sunday, killing 75 people in the deadliest-ever attack on the country's Christian minority, officials said. 
A wing of the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the bombing in the city of Peshawar, saying it would continue to target non-Muslims until the United States stopped drone attacks in the country's remote tribal region. . . . 


Louisiana State Rep. Jeff Thompson Says He’ll Dump Starbucks For Only ‘Gun-Friendly’ Coffee Shops

As I have noted previously, I think that the Starbucks issue is more noise than any actual change in policy, so if it were me, I would just let the whole thing slide.  But some don't see it that way.  From Fox News:

Now that Starbucks is dissuading customers from coming in with weapons, Louisiana State Rep. Jeff Thompson says he will drink java only in “gun-friendly” shops. 
Thompson’s call, made Friday on the Defend Louisiana website, is in response to Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz asking customers to not “bring fire arms” into Starbucks coffee shops. Defend Louisiana is a campaign Thompson founded in opposition to new gun laws. . . . .


Germans revolt against idea of government regulating what they eat, it is too bad New Yorkers can't be as independent

It looks like the German Green Party might face some backlash from their plan to mandate that people eat vegetarian food one day a week.  Here is a very rough translation from the German newspaper Bild:
The Greens with their plans to introduce a nationwide vegetarian day after the election, caused outrage.
Approximately 40 000 users have already voted in large BILD.de voting. The intermediate result: Nearly three-quarters of readers (72 percent) do not want to leave prohibit sausages, schnitzel and meatballs in the cafeteria and holding a Veggie Day superfluous.
The idea of ​​Green: Once a week should be the only meat dish and no meat sauces it in public canteens NO!
The Veggie Day is part of the election platform of the Green Party, he should be "the standard". Reduce meat consumption of the Germans: The aim of the green party.
"A Veggie Day is a wonderful day to try out how we feed ourselves once without meat and sausage. Vegetarian cooking is in fact more than just let the meat away, "said Green Party leader Renate Künast to IMAGE - and tweeted a vegetarian recipe. The hint that the court could also be prepared with chicken or fish, but immediately caused derision in the network. . . .
"People are smart enough to decide for themselves when to eat meat and vegetables and when not. People constantly make rules is not my understanding of freedom and liberality "said Brüderle to IMAGE.
"What's next?" He asks. "Jute-Day, Bike Day, Green Day shirt? You are on the road again, the green Jacobins, and want people be told what to eat and how they live they have "criticized the FDP leadership man.
Also Federal Minister Ilse Aigner diet (CSU) is against the Greens advance. "We generally hold bit of paternalism," said a ministry spokesman. "In the end we need a balanced diet. As part of this meat. "The federal government had done a lot to give the canteens recommendations.
Erik Bertram, Chairman of the "Ring of Christian Democratic Students" and member of the CDU Federal Board told BILD: "Apparently Renate Künast is the heat of recent days has increased slightly to his head. Instead of a 'Veggie Days' we prefer to call one days free heat for green Bevormundungspartei! Their know-it prohibitive demands once again reveal an anti-liberal spirit. "
A daily meat and fish tender in the German canteens is essential for a balanced diet of students. . . .
This proposal has resulted in some leaving the party.  From Reuters:
Like other Germans once attracted to the world's most successful pro-environment party, Suska is now turned off by the Greens -- and his defection helps explain a sudden drop in support before Germany's September 22 election. 
"The Greens have this 'ecological dictatorship' feeling about them now," says Suska, 45. "I used to always vote Greens. But not anymore. No one likes to be told what to do. It feels like the Greens are going to make everything more expensive." . . . 
There were other problems for the Greens, such as problems over pedophilia.  

On the campaign trail, the Greens faced an uphill battle after it was revealed in May that that senior Greens from the 1980s argued that sexual acts between adults and children should not be punished. 
It was an issue that the Greens could not shake in the campaign.
Proposed tax hikes on high-income earners did not go over well with the party's base of well-off voters, either. . . .

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Some notes on the flood of discussions about gun control after the Navy Yard Shooting

David Frum almost instantly had an op-ed about the need for gun control after the shooting.  David sets up straw men: implying that those who oppose government regulation of guns are unwilling to do simple cost-benefit analysis.  But David's big point here is we must act immediately:
I write on the day of the killing. Gun enthusiasts say it is inappropriate to talk about gun violence at the time it occurs. Better to wait ... and wait ... and wait ... until time has passed, and the weeping next of kin have vanished from TV, and it’s safe to return to business as usual. . . .
Some such as Senator Diane Feinstein was already pushing for regulations that were quickly shown to be based on a misunderstanding about what had happened on Monday.
The fatal shootings at the Washington Navy Yard are evidence that Congress is “shirking its responsibility” on the gun debate, Sen. Dianne Feinstein said Monday. 
The California Democrat said the type of guns allegedly used by the shooter, including an AR-15, were evidence that Congress needs to do more. Earlier this year, a bipartisan proposal to expand background checks failed in the Senate by a narrow margin, while an assault weapons ban from Feinstein was also defeated. . . . .
Feinstein doesn't seem to have made a follow up statement correcting her original inaccurate statement about an AR-15 being used.  House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer claimed:
“I’m sure that it will renew the discussions about access to weapons that can be used to kill a lot of people quickly,” he said.
He went on to claim that people really support more gun control, even though they don't show up at the polls.
“Public opinion does not manifest itself at the polls,” he told reporters. “What manifests itself at the polls is the hardline groups that energize their voters, their single-issue voters to vote.” 
He added, “The people who show up at the polls are the people who are motivated by their, in my opinion, unfounded fear that their guns are going to be taken away from them.” . . .
As I have noted previously, I think that these poll claims are quite misleading.

Some publications such as the New York Daily News also quickly jumped into the debate with a front page picture of an AR-15.

Of course, they weren't alone in their calls for more regulations.  From Politico:
Monday’s events left advocates calling for more action from the White House and Congress, with some arguing that the series of shootings was having a cumulative effect on the public even if the latest spree seemed unlikely to be as nationally searing as Sandy Hook. 
“I think the country and indeed the president have reached the tipping point not because of one mass shooting but because of an aggregate drip, drip, drip of more and more mass shootings,” said Mark Glaze of Mayors Against Illegal Guns — a group New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg formed to do battle with the National Rifle Association over the issue. “Every time this happens, it throws additional fuel on a fire already blazing pretty high.” . . .
One of the reasons for waiting a little big is that those pushing gun control really just want to reduce gun ownership.  In particular, the push has been to tax and impose fees to reduce gun ownership.  There is also little discussion of whether the benefits actually exceed the costs.  Possibly the reason that the laws aren't passed when an extended discussion is allowed to occur is that the costs are greater than the benefits.

All that said, Harry Reid said that he would like to push for a vote, but he doesn't yet have the votes.
“We’re going to move this up as quickly as we can, but we’ve got to have the votes first,” Reid told reporters. “We don’t have the votes. I hope we get them, but we don’t have them now.” . . .
But it hasn't stopped Obama from continuing to push for gun control on Saturday.  From Fox News:

Days after mass shootings in both of his hometowns, President Barack Obama urged his most ardent supporters Saturday "to get back up and go back at it" and help push stalled legislation out of Congress so dangerous people won't get their hands on guns. 
"We can't rest until all of our children can go to school or walk down the street free from the fear that they will be struck down by a stray bullet," Obama said in a keynote speech to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's annual awards dinner. 
Legislation calling for expanded background checks failed to clear the Senate earlier this year despite a strong push by Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, people whose loved ones had been killed by gunfire and other gun-control advocates. 
The bill was part of a package of measures Obama promised to put the full weight of his office behind after 20 first-graders and six educators were killed last December in a mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. . . .

Finally, take a specific claim in David Frum's piece.
Most gun casualties occur in the course of quarrels and accidents between people who would be described as “law-abiding, responsible gun owners” up until the moment when they lost their temper or left a weapon where a 4-year-old could find it and kill himself or his sister. . . .
-- Actually, as I showed in More Guns, Less Crime, about 90 percent of adult murderers have a violent criminal record.  About 89 percent of juvenile murderers have a criminal record for serious crimes.

-- In 2010, there were 36 accidental deaths involving kids under age 10.  Most of those children were also shot by adults with criminal records.  Accidental deaths are very small portion of total gun deaths.  You can look up the data for other ages or all ages here (http://webappa.cdc.gov/cgi-bin/broker.exe).  Note that "unintentional" means "accidental."  If you want to look up other issues there, please note that the CDC measures homicides differently than the FBI.


Are politics dumbing down America's courts?

Tucker Carlson interviewed me on Fox & Friends on Saturday morning about "Dumbing Down the Courts."

This is also pretty neat: "As seen on the show."


The tradeoff between good looks and intelligence in academia

This is an amusing discussion illustrating that there might be some trade offs in life.