Is your Android phone listening to you?

Well, of course, just as politicians would never be tempted to use the IRS to harm their political opponents, they would never use this power to improperly gather political information.  From the WSJ:
Federal agencies have largely kept quiet about these capabilities, but court documents and interviews with people involved in the programs provide new details about the hacking tools, including spyware delivered to computers and phones through email or Web links—techniques more commonly associated with attacks by criminals.

People familiar with the Federal Bureau of Investigation's programs say that the use of hacking tools under court orders has grown as agents seek to keep up with suspects who use new communications technology, including some types of online chat and encryption tools. The use of such communications, which can't be wiretapped like a phone, is called "going dark" among law enforcement. . . .

The FBI develops some hacking tools internally and purchases others from the private sector. With such technology, the bureau can remotely activate the microphones in phones running Google Inc.'s Android software to record conversations, one former U.S. official said. It can do the same to microphones in laptops without the user knowing, the person said. Google declined to comment. . . .

Labels: , ,

How government corrupts even how companies raise money for projects

Democratic Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe figured out how to raise money for this "green" car company: get approval for foreigners to get US citizenship in exchange for $500,000 investments.  He apparently had no problem name dropping important Democrats to put pressure on bureaucrats to expedite the approval process.  You have to wonder how strong an investment is when you have to get them this type of government favors in return for the investment.  Possibly it isn't too surprising that McAuliffe's car company had been a bust.  Given that this was occurring during the Obama administration, it also raising additional questions of corruption involving other Democrats.  From the Associated Press:
The electric-car company headed until last fall by Democratic Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe and a sister company led by the brother of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are under federal scrutiny over how they used a foreign investor visa program.

. . . The inquiry is related to their use of a Department of Homeland Security program that grants permanent residency to foreign investors who invest $500,000 or more in economically struggling areas for ventures that create American jobs. . . .

"I have been extremely frustrated by the USCIS approval process," McAuliffe wrote to Doug Smith, a Homeland Security assistant secretary on July 28, 2010. "You should be aware that Senator Warner and other Members of Congress have made inquiries on this project." . . .
Years' worth of emails and other correspondence between McAuliffe and other GreenTech executives and Virginia Economic Development Partnership first reported by AP in December showed that VEDP staff under Democratic and Republican governors showed company officials a variety of sites in economically depressed Virginia regions. But the Virginia officials never got answers to questions about company operations and became skeptical of the investments-for-visas EB-5 program as a cornerstone of GreenTech's financing.

Labels: ,

Some coming Obamacare regulations and their costs

Health care regulations.
. . . Menu labels [expected in September]
The Food and Drug Administration is finalizing rules requiring that calorie information be posted on menus at chain restaurants and fast food joints, as well as on vending machines.

The new requirements . . . would require that calorie counts be visible on restaurant menus and on signs near vending machines. 

Restaurants with 20 or more locations operating under the same name and selling the same items will be covered by the regulations. . . . 
Home care workers
People who help the elderly and patients with disabilities manage their daily lives will be entitled to a minimum wage salary and overtime pay under a long-delayed rule expected from the Labor Department.

The effort to extend benefits to the nation’s nearly 2.5 million in-home healthcare aides . . .

The expected rule would close a loophole in federal labor laws that exempted babysitters and people who spend time with their elderly neighbors from wage requirements. At the time the laws were written, the home care industry didn’t exist. . . .

The regulation was scheduled to be issued in July but has not yet been finished. . . .
These services are very labor intense  and this change will do to things: 1) Reduce the amount of services given to the elderly and patients with disabilities (doesn't the Obama administration care about them?) and 2) raise the costs of these services generally.  Some workers are going to get higher wages, but they were willing to work for less.  Economists are happy to explain why market equilibriums maximize total wealth.  In addition, the competition to get this extra pay (what economists call rent seeking) will reduce the actual benefits that even these lucky workers receive.
ObamaCare penalty
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is gearing up to finalize its rules for the penalty that will be charged to people who do not carry health insurance.

Under the Affordable Care Act, people without health insurance who do not qualify for an exemption will be charged a penalty.

The agency proposed in January to set that penalty as either a flat amount of $95 per year or 1 percent of household income, though the amount will rise in future years. 

The penalty will go into effect starting in 2014. . . .
As I explained in my book, At the Brink, even this penalty will not be collected.  The IRS is explicitly forbidden from using its normal tools to collect money.

Here are more unintended consequences of Obamacare regulations.  Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) made the problems with some parts of the law very clear here:
. . . “ObamaCare is actually discouraging small businesses from creating jobs and hiring new employees,” Collins said. “The law also has perverse incentives for employers to reduce the number of hours that their employees can work.” . . .

“If you employ 49 workers, there are no fines,” she said. “But, if you add just one more employee, you’re hit with penalties. These enormous penalties are a real threat to employers who want to add jobs. They are a powerful incentive for employers to refrain from hiring additional workers.” . . .

“Even worse, under Obamacare, anyone working an average of just 30 hours a week is considered full-time,” she said. “This will only cause some businesses to reluctantly reduce the hours of their workers to fewer than 30 hours per week.”

“Under this troubling trend, more workers will find their hours and their earnings reduced,” she added. “Jobs will be lost. This is especially disturbing as our country is still battling high unemployment.” . . .



Another legal loss on May Issue concealed handguns, when will these cases stop being filed? A lot of bad case law established.

CORRECTION: I had initially written that the Illinois case was an NRA case when it was a joint case with the Second Amendment Foundation.  I should have double checked this.

Unfortunately, it looks like we have lost another case in a May Issue states.  From NewJersey.com:
New Jersey's law requiring residents show a “justifiable need” to get a permit to carry a handgun in public was upheld by a federal appeals court.
A mandate that residents demonstrate an “urgent necessity for self-protection” to get authorization to publicly carry a handgun doesn’t run afoul of U.S. constitutional protections of the right to bear firearms, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Philadelphia ruled Wednesday.
“The justifiable need standard is a longstanding regulation that enjoys presumptive constitutionality,” the panel wrote. . . .
Alan Gura, an Alexandria, Va, attorney who represented New Jersey residents challenging the state’s gun- permit law, didn’t immediately return a call after regular business hours Wednesday seeking comment on the ruling. . . . .
However, well meaning, at some point we have to realize that with regard to May Issue states we are creating A LOT of bad case law.  In some cases it appears that this damage is self inflicted as they have refused to rely on empirical evidence (allowing the other side to win by default in balancing tests) and in one other case where some empirical evidence was offered it was very poorly constructed.

A copy of the decision is available here.  Here is a major part of the majority decision.
Simply put, New Jersey’s legislators could not have known that they were potentially burdening protected Second Amendment conduct, and as such we refuse to hold that the fit here is not reasonable merely because New Jersey cannot identify a study or tables of crime statistics upon which it based its predictive judgment.
 The sad thing is there is a lot of evidence that indicates the opposite of this claim is actually true.  As anyone who has read More Guns, Less Crime knows, the revocation rate of permits is even slightly higher when there is discretion on the part of permit authorities than when there isn't and there is no evidence that it is lower.  What New Jersey’s legislators assume to be true is definitely not the case.


Congress will be given help living with Obamacare, IRS Chief responsible for enforcing Obamacare also not taking it

While lots of other Americans will see the costs of their health insurance soar this next year because of Obamacare, members of Congress and their aides are going to be protected.
Lawmakers and staff can breathe easy — their health care tab is not going to soar next year.
The Office of Personnel Management, under heavy pressure from Capitol Hill, will issue a ruling that says the government can continue to make a contribution to the health care premiums of members of Congress and their aides, according to several Hill sources. . . .
Just Wednesday, POLITICO reported that President Barack Obama told Democratic senators that he was personally involved in finding a solution. . . .
Obama’s involvement in solving this impasse was unusual, to say the least. But it came after serious griping from both sides of the aisle about the potential of a “brain drain.” The fear, as told by sources in both parties, was that aides would head for more lucrative jobs, spooked by the potential for spiking health premiums. . . .
Not only does the employee union at the IRS oppose having its member have to have Obamacare, but so does Obama's appointee to head the agency.  From Fox News:
The head of the agency tasked with enforcing ObamaCare said Thursday that he'd rather not get his own health insurance from the system created by the health care overhaul.
"I would prefer to stay with the current policy that I'm pleased with rather than go through a change if I don't need to go through that change," said acting IRS chief Danny Werfel, during a House Ways and Means Committee hearing.
The statement quickly fueled Republican criticism of the law, as well as their calls to block the IRS from enforcing it.
"Count the head of the IRS among the growing list of folks that includes Big Labor and the law's chief architect who are deeply skeptical of the president's signature achievement and don't want any part of it," Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said in a statement. "No American -- even the head of the IRS -- should be subjected to ObamaCare."  . . .


Comedian Tim Allen has some interesting thoughts on the use of the N-word

Entertainment Television has some interesting remarks from Tim Allen available here.



Audio of my interview on Dana Loesch's show today

The audio is available here.  We discussed my latest piece at Fox News that examined Stand Your Ground laws.

Labels: , ,

15 gun control bills before New Jersey Gov Christie

As if New Jersey doesn't already have enough gun control laws, they apparently haven't had trouble coming up with even more proposals.
A3687: Bans those on the federal terrorist watch list from buying guns 
S2468: Allows impounding motor vehicles if driver unlawfully has a gun 
A3717: Requires state to submit data on those who should be barred from owning guns to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System 
A3796: Gives those who possess illegal guns 180 days to dispose of them 
A3797: Requires New Jersey enforcement agencies to report information on lost, stolen and discarded guns to federal databases 
A3583/1613: Establishes School Security Task Force 
A3788: Turns state regulation that firearms owner info is not public information into a state law 
A3659: Bans the .50-caliber rifle — the most powerful weapon available to civilians 
S1279: Upgrades penalty for unlawfully transferring a firearm to an underage person; permits transfer for instruction and training 
S2430: Declares violence a public health crisis and establishes "Study Commission on Violence" 
S2715: Requires Department of Education to prepare and distribute pamphlets on how parents can limit a child’s exposure to media violence 
S2719: Enhances penalties for gun trafficking firearms offenses 
S2720: Clarifies that information concerning the total number of firearms purchaser identification cards and permits to purchase a handgun issued in a municipality are public records 
S2804: Makes unlawful possession of firearms a first-degree crime; increases mandatory minimum sentences under the "Graves Act" 
S2723: Senate President Stephen Sweeney’s "centerpiece" bill on gun permits that would would encode firearm purchase permits on a driver's license or a photo ID card, create a system for instant background checks, require gun buyers to show they completed a safety training course and stiffen penalties for letting guns slip into the hands of minors. Four bills passed by the Assembly (A3510, A1683, A3645 and A3748) have been incorporated into this bill 

Labels: , ,

Gun buyback gets guns bought so that they could be turned in for even more money

Someone apparently bought BB guns for $120 each and then got $350 from the gun buyback.  In general, the buybacks could raise gun sales even indirectly because if you can sell your used guns for more it will increase how much you are willing to spend on the guns to begin with.


Massive Obamaphone fraud continues

Here is one reporter for National Review who received three different Obamaphones, essentially tripling the telephone time that she receives free from taxpayers
Confession: You’re paying my phone bill. 
In the past month, I have received three shiny new cell phones, courtesy of American taxpayers, that should never have fallen into my hands. 
The Federal Communications Commission oversees the so-called Lifeline program, created in 1984 to make sure impoverished Americans had telephone service available to call their moms, bosses, and 911. In 2008, the FCC expanded the program to offer subsidized cell-phone service, and since then, the expenses of running the program have soared. In 2012, the program’s costs had risen to $2.189 billion, up from $822 million before wireless carriers were included. As of June, there were 13.8 million active Lifeline subscriptions. . . .
Here is a story from MSN Money:
The so-called Obamaphone project has a noble goal to help low-income Americans pay for mobile phones, allowing them to have contact numbers for job interviews or to access emergency services.  
But now conservative activist James O'Keefe is alleging that the program is prone to fraud. Undercover cameras taped salespeople telling applicants for phones under the Federal Communications Commissions' Lifeline program that once they get a device, they can do whatever they want with it, including selling it.  
One employee at a Stand Up wireless location in Philadelphia looked the other way when an undercover actor said he was going to sell the phone for heroin. "Hey, I don't judge," the employee said.  
At another location, a saleswoman in an outdoor tent operated by Stand Up Wireless told an actor to take the phone to a pawn shop to find out its worth. One undercover actress told a salesperson at a TerraCom store that she wants to sell the phone to buy an "awesome pair of shoes." . . . 
Up until recently those applying for the plan weren't even asked to show that they were eligible.  From the WSJ:
Until last year, FCC rules didn't require carriers to certify to the FCC that subscribers were eligible. Consumers could self-certify, and in many states documentation wasn't required. 
Carriers said many of the disqualified subscribers simply didn't reply when asked to prove their eligibility. They also said the FCC rules on self-certification, and the absence of a national database of participants, made it hard to keep ineligible people from signing up. 
The FCC said it is investigating allegations that some Lifeline providers violated the rules, though it declined to comment on that probe. Carriers that don't properly confirm eligibility can be fined up to $150,000 for each violation for each day of a continuing violation, up to a maximum of $1.5 million. In egregious cases, a carrier could lose its ability to participate in the program. . . . 

Labels: ,

New piece at Fox News: Blacks benefit most from Stand Your Ground laws

Here is part of the discussion from my Fox News piece with my son, Sherwin:
. . . But the debate has everything backwards over who benefits from the law. Poor blacks who live in high crime urban areas are not only the most likely victims of crime, they are also the ones who benefit the most from Stand Your Ground laws. It makes it easier for them to protect themselves when the police can't be there fast enough. Rules that make self-defense more difficult would impact blacks the most. 
Blacks may make up just 16.6 percent of Florida's population, but they account for over 31 percent of the state's defendants invoking a Stand Your Ground defense. Black defendants who invoke this statute to justify their actions are acquitted 8 percent more frequently than whites who use that same defense. . . . 
Those who claim racism as an element of Stand Your Ground laws point to data compiled by the Tampa Bay Tribune. The newspaper examined 112 cases where people charged with murder relied on Florida's Stand Your Ground law, starting with the first cases filed in 2006 up until a week ago. Their "shocking" finding: 71 percent of those who killed an African-American man or woman faced no penalty compared to 59 percent of those who killed a white person. 
Yet, explosive claims of racism require more proof than that.  
For example, just because two people are charged with murder doesn't mean the two cases are identical.  
Using the Tribune data, blacks killed in these confrontations were 13 percentage points more likely to be armed than the whites who were killed, thus making it more plausible that their killers reasonably believed that they had little choice but to kill their attacker. By a 43 to 16 percent margin, the black men and women who were killed were also more often committing a crime. 
Further, there were also more cases with a witness around when a black was killed (69 to 62 percent). . . .

Labels: ,

Obama thinks that IRS and Benghazi scandals are "phony", implies all the other ones are phony also

From yesterday's press briefing at the White House by Jay Carney:
Mr. Knoller. 
Q    Jay, in his speech again yesterday, President Obama mentioned the phony scandals that are part of an endless parade of distractions.  Can you tell us what phony scandals he’s talking about? 
MR. CARNEY:  I think we all remember a few weeks ago when Washington was consumed with a variety of issues that, while in some cases significant, there was an effort underway to turn them into partisan scandals.  I don’t think anybody here would doubt that.  And what we’ve seen as time has passed and more facts have become known -- whether it’s about the attacks in Benghazi and the talking points, or revelations about conduct at the IRS -- that attempts to turn this into a scandal have failed. 
And when it comes to the IRS, as I said the other morning, the President made very clear that he will -- that he wants the new leadership there to take action to correct improper conduct, and that is happening and he expects results. 
What some in Congress have failed to do despite many attempts is to provide any evidence -- because there is none -- that that activity was in any way known by, or directed by, the White House, or was even partisan or political.  As testimony has shown that I’ve seen produced publicly in the press -- although not by the Republican chairman of the committee -- self-identified Republicans who participated in the reviews of these applications for tax-exempt status clearly denied that there was any -- and this is just them saying this -- that there was any partisan or political motivation to what they were doing. 
That doesn't excuse the conduct, doesn't say that it’s the right thing to do.  It means that we have to address poor performance as poor performance, and reject efforts to turn it into yet another partisan political football. 
And I think our views -- and I would wax poetic on it if you want -- our views on the Benghazi issue are well known, and I think that other issues fall into that. 
Q    So you mentioned two -- the IRS and Benghazi. 
MR. CARNEY:  Well, I’m not going to catalogue -- again, I think there was a period where there was -- a lot more energy and focus was paid by some in Congress as well as in the media on issues that, while important, are not of the highest priority to the American people, and they were not scandals. . . .
Apparently all the other four or so recent scandals are also phony (see here, here, and here), but they don't even rate being mentioned.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Israel may move towards stricter gun control laws

The US is apparently not the only county that considers legislation based on a couple unusual events.  From Israel National News:
Israel will consider tightening its gun control laws this year, in response to a heightened rate of criminal incidents involving firearms.
Over the past several months there have been a number shooting attacks unrelated to terrorism.
This past month a lawyer and his daughter were murdered over a monetary dispute, and a worshiper at the Western Wall was killed by an angry security guard.
Public Security Minister MK Yitzchak Aharonovitch (Likud-Yisrael Beiteynu) told a Knesset session dealing with firearm ownership on Wednesday that he plans to review the current requirements for owning a weapon.
The minister plans to change the guidelines for issuing gun permits, so that applicants will have to receive approval from a psychologist in order to receive a license. If they fail that test, they will have to receive the approval from a psychiatrist. . . .



Breastfeeding and intelligence: the problem with the newest research

Do I believe the end result?  Probably.  But I don't believe that this paper comes close to proving its case.  Fox News has this discussion of a recent study in JAMA Pediatrics.
. . . Belfort and her colleagues gathered data from 1,312 mothers and children in the United States, tracking everything from the mother’s frequency of breastfeeding to other factors including the mother’s intelligence, the mother and father’s education levels, measures of the home environment, the mother’s employment and the type of childcare the baby received.
While the link between breastfeeding and cognition had been previously explored, many earlier studies did not control for these additional factors.
“Many previous studies have been criticized because any link you might observe between breastfeeding and childhood intelligence could be explained by those other factors,” Belfort told FoxNews.com.
Belfort then performed a series of tests measuring the children’s cognitive development after infancy.  At age 3, the children underwent the higher Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test, a measure of receptive language, or how well a child understands language.
“A child’s receptive language is highly correlated with general intelligence as measured by more typical IQ tests,” Belfort said. . . . 
Unfortunately, the discussion at Fox News is really is too uncritical.  Of course, the bigger blame should be placed on JAMA Pediatrics   As with almost all medical studies, they ignore the issue of endogeniety when they can't do randomized experiments.  If I were do the experiment, I would control for family specific effects (that is a dummy variable for each family to pick up the average intelligence of children born into that family) and, after accounting for birth order, spacing between children, and the other controls included in the study, see if intelligence of children within the family varied with the amount of breastfeeding.  The problem with the current purely cross-sectional study is that the measurement error in how education and other factors are measured is large compared the differences they claim to find in intelligence.

Labels: ,

Continued misinformation about the risks of having guns in the home

The Children's Defense Fund continues the push for taking guns away from people in their homes.  With 58 mentions of the word home and a picture of a young girl who is under 10 years of age, there is the push to make people afraid of guns in their homes.  The notion that gun control can stop gangs from getting guns and cause the vast majority of these deaths is never acknowledged in this in their 73 page report.  Nor is it easy to stop 18 and 19 year olds to commit suicide if they really want to do so.  It is a debate that I have recently address again here.  Here is some data from the CDC for 2010 here.




Democrats and gun control advocates going all in to defeat Colorado recalls

The New York Times is running major stories painting Democrat State Senate President John Morse as a hero.  
As he prepared to vote for some of the strictest gun control measures in the country earlier this year, John Morse, a former police chief and president of the State Senate, knew he would infuriate some constituents. 

“There may be a cost for me to pay, but I am more than happy to pay it,” he said in a recent interview.   
Now, after months of gathering signatures and skirmishing in court, gun activists in Colorado, with the support of the National Rifle Association, have forced Mr. Morse and a fellow Democrat, Senator Angela Giron, into recall elections. The recall effort is seen nationally as a test of whether politicians, largely Democrats, outside big cities and deep-blue coastal states can survive the political fallout of supporting stricter gun laws. . . .
What is left out of the story is that Morse never ran for election on the gun control issue.  Of course, the New York Times would never spin this story as one where a politician broke his promises to voters and is incurring their opposition.  The NY Times also tries to spin this as something run by the NRA, again to de-emphasize the anger of the constituents.

Gun control advocates such as Mark Kelly and Gabrielle Giffords are pushing hard to raise money to defend gun the two state senators up for recall.

Kelly and Giffords and other gun control advocates want to make this their stand.  It will be interesting to see how much inaccurate information they push out during this campaign (see here).
Meanwhile, Giffords' gun control Super PAC has brought in $6.6 million during just the first six months of 2013.  From Politico:
Former Rep. Gabby Giffords’ gun control super PAC brought in $6.6 million in the first six months of 2013, according to reports filed Wednesday with the Federal Election Commission.
Americans for Responsible Solutions PAC, which also has a tax-exempt nonprofit arm that is not required to disclose its fundraising, received $3.2 million of its total haul from small-dollar donors who gave less than $200.
Several six-figure donations, including a $250,000 check from the law firm owned by Steve and Amber Mostyn — who gave more about $5 million to Democrats in 2012 — also boosted the group. . . .

Labels: ,


Mayors who belong to "Mayors Against Illegal Guns," represent virtually none of the mayors in the US

Given that there are over 35,000 cities and towns in the US, having 950 belonging to MAIG seems pretty small.  That comes to about 2.7 percent.  The cities that they have lost include: Rockford, Ill at 150,843, Nashua, N.H. at 86,933, and Sioux City 82,719.

Many of the members of MAIG come from small population towns.  I haven't checked through, but my impression is that the new members are also from relatively small places.

There are seven mayors from Arizona.

Paradise Valley: 13,035
Tolleson: 6,655

There are four mayors from Arkansas

Forest City: 15,237
Helena: 12,106
Hughes: 1,422
Wrightsville: 2,114

Lots from California (I am not going to take the time to go through all the cities, but here are a few and not necessarily the smallest ones.)

Benicia, CA: 27,426
Blue Lake, CA: 1,253
Brisbane, CA: 4,282
Campbell, CA: 40,272
Claremont, CA: 35,457
Corte Madera, CA: 9,377
Emeryville, CA: 10,335
Fairfax, CA: 7,534
Gonzales, CA: 8,364

Gustine, CA: 5,625
Healdsburg, CA: 11,440
Malibu, CA: 12,832
Morgan Hill, CA: 39,420
Orange Cove, CA: 9,580
Patterson, CA: 20,659
Ridgecrest, CA: 28,325
San Anselmo, CA: 12,491
San Luis Obispo, CA: 45,878
Signal Hill, CA: 11,185
Tiburon, CA: 9,093
West Hollywood, CA: 34,781

There are thirteen mayors from Colorado

Boulder: 101,808
Englewood: 31,177
Golden: 18,867
Lafayette: 24,453
Lakewood: 145,516
Louisville: 19,074
Manitou Springs: 5,172
Nederland: 1,445
Northglenn: 36,891
Salida: 5,317
Superior: 12,782
Telluride: 2,325

There are four mayors in Delaware:

Blades, DE: 1,241
Dewey Beach, DE: 341
Middletown, DE: 19,483
Wilmington, DE: 71,292


Trayvon Martin's mom calls for repealing Stand Your Ground laws

From the Miami Herald:
The mother of Trayvon Martin said Monday that she believed Florida’s Stand Your Ground law played a role in her son’s shooting death, but she wasn’t ready to support a boycott of the state for not changing the self-defense law. 
“The thing about this law is I just think it assisted the person who killed my son to get away with murder,” Sybrina Fulton, the mother of the 17-year-old from Miami Gardens, said at a National Bar Association event in Miami Beach. 
“I think we have to change these laws so people don’t get away with murder,” she said, adding that her son was unarmed and peacefully walking back to his dad’s place when he was initially pursued by George Zimmerman. 
Zimmerman, however, successfully pleaded self defense by arguing he was ultimately and violently attacked by Trayvon. A Sanford jury acquitted Zimmerman July 13. 
The exact role of Stand Your Ground — which allows a person who is in fear for his life or grave harm to use deadly force without having to first retreat — isn’t clear in the Zimmerman acquittal. . . .
Much weight is put the claim by one juror that they relied on the "Stand Your Ground" law in making their decision.
Only two jurors have spoken up to CNN and ABC, and one indicated the jurors discussed the law, which appeared in the jury instructions. 
Zimmerman’s legal team, which approved of the jury instructions, didn’t focus on mounting a Stand Your Ground defense, however. They said a common self-defense justification was all the 29-year-old man needed because he reasonably feared that Trayvon was going to gravely injure him during a fistfight.
Zimmerman’s legal team, which approved of the jury instructions, didn’t focus on mounting a Stand Your Ground defense, however. They said a common self-defense justification was all the 29-year-old man needed because he reasonably feared that Trayvon was going to gravely injure him during a fistfight. . . .
The jury instructions were standard ones issued in all self defense cases.   To say that the law was discussed, doesn't mean much.  The Stand Your Ground law contains the old traditional self defense rules which apply when retreat was not possible.  Given that, it isn't clear that even if what part of the law is being referred to here. 

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/07/29/3529181/trayvons-mom-stand-your-ground.html#storylink=cp
Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/07/29/3529181/trayvons-mom-stand-your-ground.html#storylink=cp


"GPS flaw could let terrorists hijack ships, planes"

Technology here might make hijacking ships very easy.  From Fox News:
The world’s GPS system is vulnerable to hackers or terrorists who could use it to hijack ships -- even commercial airliners, according to a frightening new study that exposes a huge potential hole in national security. 
Using a laptop, a small antenna and an electronic GPS “spoofer” built for $3,000, GPS expert Todd Humphreys and his team at the University of Texas took control of the sophisticated navigation system aboard an $80 million, 210-foot super-yacht in the Mediterranean Sea. 
“We injected our spoofing signals into its GPS antennas and we’re basically able to control its navigation system with our spoofing signals,” Humphreys told Fox News. 
By feeding counterfeit radio signals to the yacht, the UT team was able to drive the ship far off course, steer it left and right, potentially take it into treacherous waters, even put it on a collision course with another ship. All the time, the ship’s GPS system reported the vessel was calmly moving in a straight line, along its intended course. No alarms, no indication that anything was amiss. . . .


Arkansas town arms teachers and staff at public schools

Finally, slowly, things are beginning to change over banning guns at school.  But as more places switch it will gradually get harder and harder for opponents to falsely claim about the risks of this policy.  From Fox News:
. . . Dougan is among more than 20 teachers, administrators and other school employees in this town who will carry concealed weapons throughout the school day, making use of a little-known Arkansas law that allows licensed, armed security guards on campus. After undergoing 53 hours of training, Dougan and other teachers at the school will be considered guards. 
"The plan we've been given in the past is `Well, lock your doors, turn off your lights and hope for the best,"' Superintendent David Hopkins said. But as deadly incidents continued to happen in schools, he explained, the district decided, "That's not a plan." . . . 
In strongly conservative Arkansas, where gun ownership is common and gun laws are permissive, no school district had ever used the law to arm teachers on the job, according to the state Department of Education. The closest was the Lake Hamilton School District in Garland County, which for years has kept several guns locked up in case of emergency. Only a handful of trained administrators -- not teachers -- have access to the weapons. 
Clarksville, a community of 9,200 people about 100 miles northwest of Little Rock, is going further. . . .

Labels: , ,

Audio of my interview on Dennis Miller's show on Monday: The state of the economy

We talked about the state of the economy and how the "recovery" has been going.  The audio of the interview is available here.

Labels: ,

National Bar Association chief claims that Stand Your Ground law passed for financial motive

Why is it that gun control proponents keep questioning the motives of those with whom they disagree?  From the Miami Herald:

. . . “Their rhetoric doesn’t match the data,” said state Sen. Dennis Baxley who sponsored the original law and doesn’t want it changed. 
Baxley was singled out Monday by John Page, the National Bar Association chief who suggested the Ocala Republican, a funeral director, had a financial motive in supporting Stand Your Ground. 
“Rep. Baxley, I believe, his profession is a mortician,” Page said. “It’s not a way to draw up business.” 
Baxley called the comments “unfortunate and callous. For 43 years I’ve served grieving families.... In the end, this wasn’t really a Stand Your Ground case and what you’re seeing here is a political agenda for the upcoming elections.” 
When asked about the potentially small role Stand Your Ground might have played in the case, Page said the question answered itself. 
“Why do you need the law then? There is a common-law right to protect yourself,” he said. . . .

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/07/29/3529181/trayvons-mom-stand-your-ground.html#storylink=cpy 



Obama administration claims that they will veto any spending cuts

Over the weekend, I kept on hearing how it is important for Republicans to appear reasonable in the budget debate.  While the Republicans who want to help control budget costs by defunding Obamacare get attacked, how is this position by the Obama administration considered reasonable?  From Fox News:
The Obama administration dug in Sunday on its vow to reject proposed spending cuts by congressional Republicans in upcoming budget talks but declined to say whether the president would veto their proposals or allow a government shutdown.
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew told “Fox News Sunday” that President Obama will neither sign government funding bills that slash domestic spending nor negotiate with Republicans over spending cuts to reduce the federal debt limit.
However, he would not say whether the president would veto proposals and put the responsibility on Capitol Hill.
“Congress has to do its work," Lew said.
He also repeated what the administration has said in the weeks ahead of talks on short-term funding for federal agencies before a Sept. 30 deadline -- that Capitol Hill lawmakers must replace so-called sequester cuts with less drastic ones. . . .
The ultimate irony is that Treasury Secretary Jack Lew was the one warning Republicans about "false crises."  This is after the Obama administration has continually raised end of the world scenarios over the impact of budget cuts.

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew warned Republicans to avoid "false crises" over a government shutdown and the debt limit in the coming months. 
Appearing on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," Lew continued to hammer the message President Obama has been touting this week, about renewing a focus on boosting the middle class and avoiding self-inflicted wounds on the economy. . . .
Here even the "self-inflicted wounds" claim is false.  See my past piece on Obama's end of the world claims during the 2011 budget battle available here.


How Detroit's bankruptcy could be solved and also lead to more freedom, but Democrats will fight strongly against this

So what would be a legitimate argument against selling off this property?  Why does the Financial Times think that this is so outlandish?  Don't people think that it would be nice to get a large amount of money to pay off some of the city's debts?  From the Financial Times:
Among all the helpful suggestions the Motor City has received during its slide into bankruptcy, selling off Belle Isle, a picturesque island park in the Detroit river, to a group of billionaires intent on creating a libertarian city-state ranks among the most outlandish. 
Yet Rodney Lockwood, the local property developer who has been pushing his idea for a “Commonwealth of Belle Isle”, is not alone in imagining there is value locked up in city-owned assets, which could be put up for sale to help pay creditors. . . .



Yet another attack in revenge of Trayvon Martin's death, this time in DC

I have compiled previous revenge cases here and here.  Most of these cases seem to involve blacks against whites, not Hispanics even though Zimmerman is Hispanic and 1/8th black.  Here is another case from Washington, DC in the Washington Times:
“This is for Trayvon Martin.” 
That’s what one of three black men told a white man as they approached him early Saturday in Washington before committing what police are saying may be a hate crime, according to Metropolitan Police Officer Anthony Clay. 
The men kicked the man, who was not identified, as they took his iPhone and wallet, the officer said Sunday, according to CNN. The victim suffered minor injuries and refused medical treatment. 
There have been no arrests, but police are investigating the incident as a hate crime, the officer said. 
“There is no pattern in these types of crimes. These attacks are outrageous; we are doing everything in our power to see that they certainly don’t occur. If they do occur, we are going to aggressively investigate them and bring people to justice,” Metropolitan Police Department spokesman Araz Alali said. . . .

Labels: ,

Obama administration's double standard on background checks: They oppose voter IDs and criminal background checks by employers, but support criminal background checks for guns

The Obama administration has pushed to block voter ID requirements because they reportedly discriminate against minorities.
The Obama administration on Monday blocked a new law in Texas requiring voters to show photo identification before they can cast a ballot, citing a concern that it could harm Hispanic voters who lacked such documents. 
The law, which was approved in May 2011, required voters to show government-issued photo identification, such as a driver's license, military identification card, birth certificate with a photo, current U.S. passport, or concealed handgun permit. 
The Justice Department said that data from Texas showed that almost 11 percent of Hispanic voters, or more than 300,000, did not have a driver's license or state-issued identification card, and that plans to mitigate those concerns were incomplete. . . .
 The Obama administration also opposes companies engaging in criminal background checks for their employees.  A nice summary is available from Judicial Watch:
BMW and Dollar General are “very serious systematic race discrimination cases,” according to the EEOC’s general counsel. The agency found “statistical disparities” in the hiring rates of “blacks and nonblacks” after the companies ran criminal-background checks. Dollar General revoked conditional employment offers for 10% of its black applicants but only 7% of “nonblack” applicants during a three-year period, the EEOC revealed, calling it a “gross disparity” based on race. 
BMW’s offense was requiring that employees of a new logistics contractor undergo criminal background checks in 2008. Of the 645 employees who would work at the auto maker’s South Carolina plant, 88 were terminated based on their criminal record. The EEOC says because 80% of the terminated employees were black, BMW “disproportionately screened out African Americans from jobs.” 
Since Obama became president, the EEOC has pushed hard to deter companies from using criminal background checks to screen job applicants because the administration says it discriminates against blacks. Last year soft drink manufacturer Pepsi Co. paid $3.13 million to settle EEOC charges that its screening policy discriminates against blacks by improperly using criminal checks. . . . 
See also this:
Alert to Federal contractors:  The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) has added criminal background checks to its compliance checklist. 
On Jan. 29, 2013, OFCCP issued Directive 306, notifying federal contractors and subcontractors that use of criminal background checks to screen applicants for open positions may violate Title VII. OFCCP noted that because racial and ethnic minorities are arrested and convicted at a higher rate than whites, excluding job seekers based upon their criminal history may be discriminatory. 
OFCCP indicated its intent to follow the EEOC’s Enforcement Guidance on the use of arrest and conviction records issued on April 25, 2012. In that Guidance, EEOC noted that use of criminal background checks can lead to: (1) disparate treatment (e.g., intentionally treating a white job applicant with a criminal conviction differently than a minority job applicant); or (2) disparate impact (e.g., a neutral policy of excluding job applicants with criminal histories, but such policy disproportionately screens out certain racial or ethnic groups). To avoid claims of disparate impact, an employer’s policy or practice of excluding applicants based upon criminal history must be job-related and consistent with business necessity.  
OFCCP stated it is aware of contractors posting job announcements that categorically exclude applicants with arrest or conviction records or require applicants to have a “clean” criminal record.  OFCCP believes these practices likely violate federal discrimination laws. . . . 
Yet, surely these same problems exist for background checks for people buying guns.  But Democrats don't seem to care that their rules are preventing poor blacks or Hispanics from getting guns for self defense. 

Note that this inconsistency doesn't go the other way.  I don't oppose background checks for guns because of the fact that people don't have IDs.  I oppose them because virtually every one who is denied is a false positive


A note on Zimmerman juror B29

Much is made about juror B29 in the Zimmerman trial.  In particular, her claim that Zimmerman "got away with murder."  Much has also been made about her having to do this because of Florida law: "Maddy said she realized there wasn't enough proof to convict Zimmerman of murder or manslaughter under Florida law."

But there was nothing unique about the part of Florida's law that was relevant to this case, but phrasing things this way feeds into the whole attack on Stand Your Ground laws.  The key point is that juror B29 ultimately followed the law.  From ABC News:
"That's where I felt confused, where if a person kills someone, then you get charged for it," Maddy said. "But as the law was read to me, if you have no proof that he killed him intentionally, you can't say he's guilty." . . .
One thing is interesting is that the media had to show B29's picture, revealing that she is black.  But that is not something that the media discussions what to explicitly mention.

Labels: ,

This is pretty scary: "Neuroscientists plant false memories in the brain"

This is one future that I would like to avoid.  From MIT's news office:
. . . In a step toward understanding how these faulty memories arise, MIT neuroscientists have shown that they can plant false memories in the brains of mice. They also found that many of the neurological traces of these memories are identical in nature to those of authentic memories. 
“Whether it’s a false or genuine memory, the brain’s neural mechanism underlying the recall of the memory is the same,” says Susumu Tonegawa, the Picower Professor of Biology and Neuroscience and senior author of a paper describing the findings in the July 25 edition of Science. . . .


Why even professional athletes need protection from violent crime

It is so easy to attack professional athletes who are found to be carrying handguns with them (e.g., Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Da`Quan Bowers who ran afoul of New York's gun control laws).  From Yahoo Sports:
Life on the road can be dangerous for professional athletes. Unfortunately for Texas Rangers relieverTanner Scheppers, he found that out the hard way after the team arrived in Cleveland on Thursday night for their weekend series against the Indians. 
According to Drew Davison of the Ft. Worth Star-TelegramScheppers was attacked by a group of young males in downtown Cleveland after going out for a food run. The assault took place about two blocks away from the team's hotel, and as a result Scheppers was unavailable to pitch on Friday night after suffering a laceration near his left eye and experiencing headaches. 
He was, however, cleared for action on Saturday, so it appears the attack won't have any lasting effects. That's good news for everybody, but especially for the Rangers. In 46 appearances this season, Scheppers has posted a 1.74 ERA and a 1.88 K/BB ratio. Those outstanding numbers helped earn him a spot in the American League's Final Vote for the All-Star game. . . .