Even the Chicago Tribune understands that there are some benefits from being armed

From Saturday's Chicago Tribune:

How to talk to a pirate
November 22, 2008
An Indian warship destroyed a suspected pirate vessel Tuesday off the Horn of Africa. It was the second time in a week that India has used force to fight piracy off the eastern coast of Africa.

Enough saber-rattling. Sink a ship. Now there's a language pirates can understand. . . . .

All told, more than 90 ships have been hijacked off the Horn of Africa this year. Ransoms paid to free the ships could reach $50 million by the end of the year.

This has caused much hand-wringing in government circles, and some sober decisions by the firms that ship through the region. Some have decided to reroute their ships all the way around the Cape of Good Hope. That could add 12 to 15 days, at a cost of $20,000 to $30,000 per day, to each trip. Better that than have your ship and crew while away the days and weeks in some pirate cove. . . .

The piracy, though, has become a real economic problem.

The international patrols seem to be having little impact. Pirates have responded by moving their raids further offshore. In effect, they've created a much larger field of play. The Sirius Star was captured 450 nautical miles off the Kenyan coast, southeast of Mombasa, in the Indian Ocean—a body of water so vast that naval forces can't provide a blanket patrol.

So it looks like the shipping firms have a decision to make: avoid the region altogether or arm their ships to fend off direct attacks.

There are some creative ways to do that. According to the International Maritime Bureau, a chemical tanker fought off pirates armed with automatic weapons by releasing foam from fire hoses into the waters around the ship. In 2005 a cruise ship used a Long Range Acoustic Device, capable of causing permanent ear damage and temporary vision loss, to fend off a pirate attack on Somalia's coast.Or you can do as India did and stop the pirates the old-fashioned way: sink them.

I was thinking about posting this, but I want to thank Brian Shelley for his note.

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Even more ballots misplaced in Minnesota

The Star Tribune has this:

There were tense moments Friday in Anoka County and the Duluth area, as election officials went in search of ballots that had disappeared.

Anoka County officials discovered that a Coon Rapids precinct had three fewer ballots than the voting machine printout said should be in the box. The Coon Rapids city clerk and representatives from both campaigns drove to City Hall but didn't find them. The machine printout and the hand-count of the ballots indicated that the three ballots were votes for Franken.

In St. Louis County's recount Friday morning, four ballots -- three for Coleman and one for Franken -- could not be found in a packet delivered by Hermantown's Precinct 3.

County Election Director Paul Tynjala said it was hard to know why the machine count didn't match the hand-count.

A bigger problem threatened Friday afternoon, when county workers counting ballots from Duluth's Precinct 12 came up 74 ballots short of the number electronically counted on election night. City officials were called, and a search ensued.

This time, the missing ballots were found in one of the precinct's counting machines, locked in a city warehouse on Duluth's West Side, according to County Auditor Don Dicklich. All the ballots, some for Franken and some for Coleman, were there; campaign observers said they were satisfied it was an honest mistake, and none of the votes was challenged. . . .


My son Roger Lott on his local congressman, Joe Sestak

The Delaware County Times published this letter by Roger:

U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak, the Democrat who represents Pennsylvania’s 7th Congressional District and most of Delaware County, has one of the most politically liberal voting records in Congress. It’s time to ask if Sestak actually represents this district that so recently had a Republican congressman.

On the right, the American Conservative Union says Sestak voted conservatively zero percent of the time.

According to the Americans for Democratic Action on the left, Sestak voted liberally 95 percent of the time. The American Civil Liberties Union, also on the left, has given Joe Sestak an overall grade of 100.

Sestak votes down the line with unions. The American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees, people who work for the government, said Sestak supported them 100 percent of the time in 2007. The AFL-CIO gave him just a slightly lower rating, saying he voted with it 96 percent of the time in 2007. A conservative business orientated group such as the Club for Growth gave him a rating of just 2 percent.

The League of Conservation Voters said he voted every single time for more environmental restrictions in 2008.

With the national debt now exceeding $10 trillion, people on both sides of the aisle may be troubled to learn that Sestak was given an “F” by the National Taxpayer’s Union because he voted virtually every time for more spending.

Sestak is not helping future Americans by leaving behind a massive debt. He’s been concerned with fulfilling his personal agenda and satisfying current voters without considering the future consequences of his actions. When it has come to raising our taxes and digging the American people into an ever-deeper hole, Joe Sestak deserves blame. . . .

The rest of the letter is available here.

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The tough life in prison: "Smuggled cellphones flourish in prisons"

USA Today has this:

Thousands of illegal cellphones are being smuggled into prisons, where inmates, including some on death row, use them to threaten victims, conduct drug deals, plot escape and seek legal help, prison officials say.
The phones, most operating on prepaid accounts bought by relatives and friends, often are not caught in searches at visitor entries.

"States are struggling with this," says Eric Schultz, spokesman for the American Correctional Association.

In South Carolina, more than 1,000 phones were confiscated last year, corrections spokesman Josh Gelinas says. In McCormick, S.C., smugglers have used a makeshift launcher to shoot phones and drugs over 12-foot prison fences for inmates to pick up. . . .

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You can find the discussion about this here.

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Democrats understand importance of Secret Ballots in Protecting them from Retribution

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

Yesterday's 137 to 122 vote of House Democrats to replace John Dingell with liberal Henry Waxman at the energy and commerce committee would likely not have happened but for the secret ballot. Even Rep. Louise Slaughter, chairwoman of the House Rules Committee, told Congressional Quarterly she was relieved the vote would be a private one:"It's a secret ballot. . . . Thank the Lord."

After all, the fearsome Mr. Dingell, who will become history's longest-serving House member next year, has been known to hold grudges.

Yet the obvious irony is that Democrats now will try to deprive workers of the same privacy privilege in workplace unionization battles. So-called "card check" legislation would require an employer to sign a union contract as long as a simple majority of workers sign a form authorizing a union to represent them -- a move that necessarily makes workers more vulnerable to coercion and intimidation than if they are voting by secret ballot.

And the ironies keep piling up. The leading House sponsor of card check is Rep. George Miller, who also served as campaign manager of Mr. Waxman's race against Mr. Dingell, settled by secret ballot. What's more, along with 10 House Democrats, Mr. Miller wrote a 2001 letter to Mexican government officials encouraging the "use of secret ballots in all union recognition elections." The letter states: "We feel that the secret ballot is absolutely necessary in order to ensure that workers are not intimidated into voting for a union they might not otherwise choose."

Rep. Miller and the other signers now say their demand was for secret ballot votes only when "workers seek to replace one union with another union. " Funny. Their letter made no mention of that specific situation and instead referred to "all union recognition elections."

A better explanation is that Democrats' principled support for a secret ballot flies out the window when it comes to union organizing efforts sponsored by the special interests who helped them win control of Congress.

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Why doesn't Obama offer some encouraging words on the economy or stock market?

The only comments that we hear from Obama's people is to lower expectations, but generally they don't say anything. Nothing about their tax policies, etc.. It is almost as if they want to increase uncertainty and thus help drive down the stock market.


Ban on sugary drinks had little impact on overall intake of sugar-laden beverages

To a lot of economists this substitution into more sugary drinks outside of school isn't too surprising.  The journal article is entitled: "Reduced Availability of Sugar-sweetened Beverages and Diet Soda Has a Limited Impact on Beverage Consumption Patterns in Maine High School Youth."
Policies that rid Maine high schools of sugary drinks seem to have had little impact on teenagers' overall intake of sugar-laden beverages, according to a new study. . . .

Blum's team surveyed 235 students about their daily intake of sugary drinks at two time points: the spring before the school policies took hold and nine months after they went into effect. The researchers gave the same survey to 221 students at high schools that kept selling soda and other sugar-added drinks.

On average, the study found, students at both groups of schools curbed their intake of sugary beverages to a similar degree over the school year.

According to Blum, keeping such drinks out of teenagers' reach during school hours may not be enough.

"School appears to be just one source of sugar-sweetened beverages for youth," she said, "and it may be that an educational component...is needed to have an effect on consumption from sources other than school."
Another study looked at the same experiment for junk food.
 It's not that middle schoolers aren't eating junk food; indeed they are, just like most Americans. It's that most of the junk food they're eating is not coming through the schools. "Schools only represent a small portion of children’s food environment," said Jennifer Van Hook, a Professor of Sociology and Demography at Pennsylvania State University and lead author of the study.The same may not hold true for high school students, who are more independent and have more disposable income (and therefore more control over what they eat).
"They can get food at home, they can get food in their neighborhoods, and they can go across the street from the school to buy food. Additionally, kids are actually very busy at school... There really isn't a lot of opportunity for children to eat while they're in school, or at least eat endlessly, compared to when they're at home. As a result, whether or not junk food is available to them at school may not have much bearing on how much junk food they eat," Van Hook said in a statement issued by the American Sociological Association. . . .
A copy of the study is available here.

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"Mexicans Want Death Penalty for Some Crimes"

Here are some interesting poll results:

The majority of people in Mexico think the death penalty should be implemented to deal with specific offences, according to a poll by Parametría. At least 60 per cent of respondents think capital punishment should be applied to people convicted of rape, homicide and kidnapping. . . .

The most interesting thing to me is that more Mexicans want the death penalty for rape (68%) than want it for murder (64%). In any case, those are strong supermajorities.

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So-called "clean and renewable energy" makes investors poorer

The Australian has this:

PRESIDENT-elect Barack Obama has vowed to promote clean and renewable energy, reiterating this week that his presidency will mark a new chapter in America's leadership on climate change.

But the nation's power companies suddenly are struggling to turn that promise into reality.

"Funding has stalled," says Ezra Green, chief executive of Clear Skies Solar. The New York company recently cancelled plans to build a one-megawatt solar plant in California's Mojave Desert, unable to get financing even though a California utility agreed to buy all the output.

"We've cancelled the solar-panel order," Mr Green says. . . .

There seems to be a simple explanation for why these investments have become less attractive, as the price of gasoline has fallen the returns to investing in these alternative forms of energy has fallen. I don't expect the media to draw this obvious connection, but the point is that having the government make investments in areas that are not profitable makes us poorer.

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Dems signal seriousness about passing Global warming taxes

This is not good news for those who had hoped that the crushing global warming taxes would not be imposed. The NY Times reports:

Representative Henry A. Waxman wrested the chairmanship of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee from Representative John D. Dingell on Thursday in a coup that is expected to accelerate passage of energy, climate and health legislation backed by President-elect Barack Obama.

Mr. Waxman, 69, of California, who mounted a quiet but devastatingly effective two-week campaign against his longtime Democratic colleague, won the chairmanship with a 137-to-122 vote in the Democratic Caucus. The vote was secret, but many allies of Speaker Nancy Pelosi backed Mr. Waxman’s move, and several members said they had voted on the assumption that Ms. Pelosi had tacitly approved.

Democrats also read the signals coming from the president-elect’s transition office, which this week announced the intention to name Philip Schiliro, a longtime aide to Mr. Waxman, as the White House director of Congressional relations. . . .

This also from the NY Times:

President-elect Barack Obama, in strongly-worded remarks to a gathering of governors and foreign officials on Tuesday, said he had no intention of softening or delaying his aggressive targets for reducing emissions that cause the warming of the planet. . . .

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Even more gun control in Ireland

Bill Sjostrom writes me: "Ireland’s Justice Minister has announced sweeping new restrictions on legal gun ownership. The last quotation from the minister in the press release makes it clear that it is about protecting the government from blame for crime, not protecting the public from crime."

Indeed the last paragraph makes this statement:

The Minister said "While I regret the need for these proposals, the reality is that if we were subject to a Dunblane type incident or stolen legal handguns were used to kill innocent civilians the present situation, which has not arisen as the result of any policy decision, would be impossible to justify."

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Settlement leads to eHarmony providing same-sex dating service service

The Boston Herald has this:

TRENTON, N.J. — Gays and lesbians seeking partners now may join an eHarmony.com affiliate, under a settlement announced Wednesday by the state Attorney General’s Office.

Membership to the same-sex matchmaking service will be free for up to 10,000 new users in the first six months, according to the agreement. The eHarmony.com charge usually is about $150.

The announcement came more than three years after Eric McKinley of Monmouth County, N.J., filed a suit claiming that the matching service violated the state’s Law Against Discrimination because it did not offer same-sex services. . . .


How the recount works

On Jason Lewis' radio show on Thursday, a woman involved in the recount in Hopkins, MN reported that they were 86 votes short. They had 86 votes short of what had been counted on election night. Fortunately, the votes were eventually found: they were apparently in a back stairwell. Apparently, similar stories have occurred in other precincts.

When I get all the data it will be interesting to see what are the odds that the places that found votes for Franken in the "typo" corrections are also the places that found votes in the recount. The Duluth News Tribune reports this:

Most Minnesota counties reported little change from their election-night tallies. But in the St. Louis County precincts counted Wednesday, Franken gained 28 votes over those counted earlier. Officials said Franken gained 40 votes, while Coleman gained 12.

The 28-vote Franken gain, expected by the Coleman campaign, was due mostly to an older type of voting machine used on the Iron Range that does not always read faint lines.

The St. Louis County vote swing appeared to be the biggest change on the first day of the recount. . . .



This is very bad news for health care in the US

Daschle will be very good at getting the bad legislative changes through congress. This is very bad news.

Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle has accepted President-elect Barack Obama's offer to serve as secretary of Health and Human Services, according to an official familiar with the situation.

Atop HHS, Mr. Daschle is expected to play a key role in moving Mr. Obama's ambitious health care agenda through Congress. He was an early back of Mr. Obama's during the presidential primaries

As a veteran of Washington and of Capitol Hill, he brings knowledge about how to move legislation through Congress. He has a particular interest in health care and is co-author of a book published this year, "Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis." . . . .

One other question: doesn't Daschle have health care lobbying issues? Didn't Obama promise that there would be no lobbying related activities by his appointees.

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Obviously the CPI isn't good at dealing with sudden large changes in the price of one heavily weighted product

Just as the increased price of gas was overweighted in the increases in the CPI, so to is it overweighted in the drop. The swings in the price level are much more stable and it indicates to me the money supply hasn't been going up as much as some people worried. Note this:

Over the past 12 months, consumer prices have risen by 3.7 percent, substantially below the 17-year high of a 12-month price increase of 5.6 percent set this summer. Core prices are up 2.2 percent over the past 12 months. . . .

The misery index right now is 10.2.


New Fox News Op-ed: The Battle Over Minnesota

My newest piece for Fox News starts off this way (it will be up later today):

Al Franken’s unusually large vote gain since the election has generated a lot of anger. Just correcting “typos” in how the votes were recorded have made the difference – reducing Coleman’s lead from 725 to 206 votes when Minnesota counties certified the votes on Monday, November 12th. Correcting these typos supposedly produced a net swing of 459 votes to Franken and took 60 votes from Coleman.

Last week, using the vote totals from Sunday, November 11th, I pointed out that Franken’s net gain was huge – “new votes for Franken from all the precincts is greater than adding together all the changes for all the precincts in the entire state for the presidential, congressional, and state house races combined.” One “precinct’s corrections accounted for a significantly larger net swing in votes between the parties than occurred for all the precincts in the entire state for the presidential, congressional, or state house races.”

The Minnesota’s leading newspaper, the Star Tribune, ran a story by Eric Ringham evaluating my numbers. Glenn Howatt, their editor for computer-assisted reporting, was quoted as saying, “[Lott’s] numbers are simply wrong.” He went on to say, “I don’t know what statistical calculation Lott was using, but Obama clearly got more from the corrections.” . . .

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Fewer than half of violent crime solved in the UK

The UK Telegraph has this story:

The detection rate for offences of violence against the person stood at just 49 per cent last year, according to official figures issued in a parliamentary answer.
When Labour came to power almost three quarters of violent crimes were solved.
The figures, which mean hundreds of thousands of victims of violent attacks do not see justice done every year, sparked a fresh row last night over policing priorities.
Rank-and-file police leaders and opposition politicians claimed too much police time was now taken up with red tape or with chasing lesser crimes to hit Government targets.
Shadow Home Secretary, Dominic Grieve, said: "It is bad enough that so much violent crime is being committed. It is a real insult to victims that over half of perpetrators are getting away with it. This is a direct result of Labour's target culture which has incentivised the police to pursue minor crimes over serious violent ones, and the reams of red that tie officers to their desks when the public want them out on the street." . . . .

This means that the rate of solving violent crimes has fallen by more than indicated here because the rate that people report crimes is related to how frequently they are solved. This is something that I show in Freedomnomics.

Thanks to Bruce Wright for this link.

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Oregon may be forced to release info about permit holders

KATU in HILLSBORO, Ore. discusses a recent court case here:

HILLSBORO, Ore. - Washington County Sheriff Rob Gordon is warning holders of concealed gun permits that he may be forced to release their personal information to the public based on a recent court order.

The order stems from a case out of Medford where teacher Shirley Katz wanted to bring a gun to school. She argued she needed a gun to protect herself from her ex-husband.

Last year a judge ruled against her - saying the school district has the right to forbid employees from having guns on school property.

In April, the Jackson County sheriff was ordered to release a list of all the concealed handgun license holders to a Medford newspaper. The case is now before the Oregon Court of Appeals.

In the meantime, Gordon plans to send letters Friday to about 10,000 concealed handgun license holders in his county. He wants them to respond whether they want their personal information kept confidential and whether they applied for the license to protect their personal safety. . . .

It is interesting that there are 10,000 permit holders in just this one county. Washington County has 380,560 adults (or 13.3 percent) out of 2.85 million adults in the state.

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One reason to keep political donations private: "Protesters Target Supporters of Gay Marriage Ban"

The Washington Post has this story:

Protesters Target Supporters of Gay Marriage Ban
By Ashley Surdin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, November 15, 2008; Page A12
LOS ANGELES, Nov. 14 -- The backlash against those who supported a ban on same-sex marriage continues to roil California and nearby states.

Protests and vandalism of churches, boycotts of businesses and possibly related mailings of envelopes filled with white powder have followed the passage of Proposition 8, the ballot initiative to amend the state constitution to ban same-sex marriages.

In Sacramento, a high-profile theater director resigned from his job of 25 years after a boycott threat over his $1,000 donation in support of the measure. In Los Angeles, a Mexican restaurant owner, a Mormon who donated $100, was reduced to tears and left town after hundreds of protesters confronted her at work, by phone and on the Internet.

"You express your beliefs and you have to be punished for it?" said Arnoldo Archila, an employee at the El Coyote restaurant. "This is not right, not in this country. This is not Iraq."

The brunt of the backlash has been aimed at the Mormon Church, which called on members to support the ban. According to Frank Schubert, the campaign manager for the initiative, those church members provided $15 million to $20 million of the estimated $40 million raised to support the effort. . . .


How to commit vote fraud in Chicago

CBS 2 Chicago has this story:

Loophole In Early Voting Allowed Some To Obtain Second Ballot

Pam Zekman CHICAGO (CBS) ― Chicago voters who cast their ballots early have complained that the huge success of early voting may have cast a huge new potential for vote fraud – by people who might have cast their ballots twice.

As CBS 2 Investigator Pam Zekman reports, before giving voters the form to vote, city election judges were supposed to check a sheet listing every voter in the precinct who voted early or absentee.

One early voter tried to test the system at a polling place on the city's Northwest Side. She asked CBS 2 to conceal her identity, but wanted to report that the system is not working.

"Had it not been for the fact that I'm an honest, upstanding citizen, they would have allowed me a vote," the voter said.

She said the election judges were going to allow her to vote, but she stopped them.

"She was going to give me an application, and I said, 'I'm not here to vote. I'm here to make sure that I cannot vote,'" the voter said.

Election judges say they weren't going to let her vote.

"She didn't get no ballot application," election judge John Kioussis said.

There's a difference between the way the city and county judges handle information about early voters and that is partly to blame for the dispute.

County election judges were supposed to put big red stamps on the forms of early voters making it easier to catch potential fraud.

"I saw no markings no stamps, nothing," the woman said.

Langdon Neal, Chicago's election board chairman says the stamps on vote forms aren't necessary.

"We can't stamp the book, we just simply don't have time. There's too many precincts to take care of," Neal said. . . . .

I found this on MaryEllen Libraro's facebook page.


A high tech way to stop crime?

The Globe and Mail has this:

With police urging iPod users to be wary of would-be muggers in the face of what some call an "epidemic" of thefts, questions are being raised about whether manufacturers could be doing more to secure the devices.

While iPod maker Apple Inc., has moved in recent years to help customers secure the data on their music players and the company's popular iPhone, some observers wonder whether the manufacturers are exploiting available technology to combat gadget theft.

One of the first things Apple encourages new iPod owners to do is register it through the company's iTunes music service. During the registration process, Apple asks the user to input the serial number of the iPod as well as personal information such as their name and address.

Apple stores this information on its servers so that it can recognize an individual's iPod. When a user buys a new song or video, Apple requests credit-card information associated with the iPod account.

This access to information has led some members of the technology and law-enforcement communities to ask: Why can't Apple do more to locate stolen iPods?

"We're at an age now with all this technology, including iPods, where it all calls home to the mother ship," said Marc Hinch, a police officer from California who founded the site stolenipod.com, where theft victims can post the serial numbers of their missing devices in the hopes that someone will return them.

"When you plug that iPod into iTunes, it's calling home to Apple," he said.

There are about 1,000 stolen iPods listed on Mr. Hinch's website and as many as 10 new ones are added every day. And, many more can be found on sites such as craigslist.com and trace.com. . . .

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New Fox News Op-ed: The Democrat's Recession

My newest piece at Fox News begins this way:

Since Barack Obama’s election, the market has fallen for six of the eight days since Obama’s win. The Dow Jones Industrial average has fallen from 9,625 to 8,497, a 12 percent decline. The NASDAQ and S&P 500 have experienced similar declines.

The Wall Street Journal and others have labelled the drop the “Barack Market,” reflecting the higher taxes on everything from capital gains and dividends to income and increased regulations. They are right, but they are thinking much too narrowly. Much, if not all, of any recession and economic problems is due to Democrat policies.

The media focuses on the drop in housing prices, consumer purchases, or stock prices as the cause of economic problems, problems that they view as unrelated to Democrat policies. . . .

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Is the NY Times serious?: Blaming Phil Gramm for the financial problems

So is Phil Gramm responsible for the current financial problems because he opposed regulations to go after "predatory lenders"?

From 1999 to 2001, Congress first considered steps to curb predatory loans — those that typically had high fees, significant prepayment penalties and ballooning monthly payments and were often issued to low-income borrowers. Foreclosures on such loans were on the rise, setting off a wave of personal bankruptcies.

But Mr. Gramm did everything he could to block the measures. In 2000, he refused to have his banking committee consider the proposals, an intervention hailed by the National Association of Mortgage Brokers as a “huge, huge step for us.” . . .

A lot of economists would argue that lowering interest rates and making it even easier for people with risky credit to get these loans would have created even more problems. Wasn't the government already doing enough to force these loans through?

Possibly the NY Times should read its own news stories from the 1990s predicting how Freddie and Fannie and government regulations would cause the current problems.


Wasn't the world going to end if the mortgage backed securities weren't bought up?

I opposed the "bailout" to begin with (and so did lots of other economists). Sen. Jim Inhofe raises some important concerns and possibilities here. I am sure that Paulson is doing what he thinks is right, but it is only natural to hear the pain of your friends and want to do something to help them out.

He criticizes Henry Paulson for changing the $700 billion bailout plan.

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe said Saturday that Congress was not told the truth about the bailout of the nation's financial system and should take back what is left of the $700 billion "blank check'' it gave the Bush administration.

"It is just outrageous that the American people don't know that Congress doesn't know how much money he (Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson) has given away to anyone,'' the Oklahoma Republican told the Tulsa World.

"It could be to his friends. It could be to anybody else. We don't know. There is no way of knowing.'' . . . .


Should editors and reporters own stock?

I was reading this piece about Rupert Murdoch criticizing the media and I was thinking what could solve this? What about giving the staff shares in the newspaper? The more shares the more they have to lose by indulging their own personal political preferences that turn away readers.

With newspapers cutting back and predictions of even worse times ahead, Rupert Murdoch said the profession may still have a bright future if it can shake free of reporters and editors who he said have forfeited the trust and loyalty of their readers.
"My summary of the way some of the established media has responded to the internet is this: it's not newspapers that might become obsolete. It's some of the editors, reporters, and proprietors who are forgetting a newspaper's most precious asset: the bond with its readers," said Murdoch, the chairman and chief executive officer of News Corp. He made his remarks as part of a lecture series sponsored by the Australian Broadcast Corporation. . . .


Concealed handgun permits up in Boulder County, Colorado

The Colorado Daily has this:

Permits to carry concealed handguns in Boulder County spiked to a five-year high last month, amid a national rush to buy firearms in the days leading up to the presidential election.

So far this year, the Boulder County Sheriff's Office has received 483 applications and issued 428 permits to carry handguns concealed.

The number of county permits already has jumped 16 percent over last year's total, and nearly double the five-year low of 219 permits issued in 2005 -- and there's still about seven weeks left in the year. . . .

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Star Tribune's Critique of My Work on Minnesota's Recount

Last week the Star Tribune had this editorial:

Earlier today we posted an editorial from this morning's Wall Street Journal, which suggested that Minnesota Democrats might be "stealing a Senate seat for left-wing joker Al Franken." The WSJ editorial, headlined "Mischief in Minnesota?", includes a paragraph that relies on a "conservative statistician," John Lott, to lend an air of mathematical authority to the charge. It drew the attention of the newsroom's editor for computer-assisted reporting, Glenn Howatt, who sent this note over the news/editorial firewall: "I see that you posted the John Lott thing. His numbers are simply wrong." . . .

8 precincts changed their Obama totals for a net gain of 1,121 votes (46 precincts added another 1,268 votes for Obama, 12 precincts took away 147 votes)

48 precincts changed their Franken totals for a net gain of 459 votes (37 precincts added 569 votes for Franken; 11 precincts took away 110 votes)

Joe Conason makes the same mistake at Salon.com.

If they had contacted me, I would have been happy to discuss the question with them. My piece makes it very clear that I was writing about corrections of typos, not slightly late reported results. The point of these numbers was to measure the corrections made that could possibly have been due to fraud. That does not include counties that simply reported their results very slightly after the time you set as the cut off. Obviously, comparing an unreported precinct with zero votes to the final certified number is a lot different than comparing the initially reported number with the final certified number.

For example, RICHFIELD W-3 P-01 went from 0 to 908 votes for Obama. For McCain, it went from 0 to 474. It is obvious that there was not an incorrect number that was entered that was latter corrected, but simply that no numbers were entered for either Obama or McCain -- there had not been 100 percent of the precincts reporting the Obama/McCain results.

It turns out that I accidentally included ALEXANDRIA W-1 P-2 where the Obama vote count went from 0 to 107 (thus I also added too many votes to Obama's change). That precinct also had zero votes for McCain at the same time it had zero for Obama, so again it is clear that precinct had not yet reported its totals for the presidential race.

My son, who is working at Fox News this fall, called the auditor of Douglass county, where the Alexandria precinct is located. The auditor said that there had been a network malfunction and so the numbers were not sent until Wednesday morning. The auditor said he thought this change was very different from those that other counties had in correcting typos.

What I think that this shows is that one must go through and look at the data before simply plugging it into an spreadsheet and cranking out the results. We at least caught the RICHFIELD W-3 P-01 precinct.

Among precincts that were reporting at the time we have data for, there were 71 votes added for Obama between then and Sunday (the period studied in my piece for Fox News). There were an additional 35 votes added between Sunday and Monday. (These updated numbers were reported in my NY Post piece on Thursday.)

107+908+71+35 = 1,121 is exactly the number that the Star Tribune was reporting in its piece. So if they took out the precincts that weren't actually reporting their presidential results on election night, that number goes down to 106.