It might be a lot easier to set up a lunar base than you thought

From the Next Big Future:
Setting up a lunar base could be made much simpler by using a 3D printer to build it from local materials. Industrial partners including renowned architects Foster + Partners have joined with ESA to test the feasibility of 3D printing using lunar soil.
This is a case where 3d printing would win out over regular manufacturing. Most of the material is lunar dirt but with added magnesium oxide and a binding ink. This greatly reduces the weight of the material to be brought to the moon. There has been previous work on using carbon nanotubes and epoxy to make lunar concrete.
Foster + Partners devised a weight-bearing ‘catenary’ dome design with a cellular structured wall to shield against micrometeoroids and space radiation, incorporating a pressurised inflatable to shelter astronauts.
A hollow closed-cell structure – reminiscent of bird bones – provides a good combination of strength and weight.
The base’s design was guided in turn by the properties of 3D-printed lunar soil, with a 1.5 tonne building block produced as a demonstration. . . .


How bad is Chicago's crime problem?: Chicago's clearance rate and Gov. Pat Quinn discusses using National Guard to help fight crime in Chicago

With all the gang violence in Chicago, Gov. Quinn suggested that he might get involved, though so far it is only a suggestion.  From CBS Chicago:
Gov. Pat Quinn says he would consider using state resources to help combat Chicago street violence. 
Speaking about this week’s mass shooting in the Back of the Yards neighborhood, Quinn says he’s open to talking with Mayor Emanuel or Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy about supplementing Chicago law enforcement with state police or the Illinois National Guard. 
He said he’s had no specific conversations but noted state police are helping patrol in East St. Louis, another city that has its challenges with violent crime. 
“I think anyone who saw what happened in Cornell Park the other night was horrified by the violence. I live on the West Side of Chicago. It is an area that has been inflicted with violence, and we’ve got to protect the people,” Quinn told reporters Saturday. 
Talk about using state firepower in Chicago isn’t unprecedented. In 2008, then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich suggested using the state police and National Guard to help Chicago police with “out of control” violence. . . .
So how bad is Chicago's crime fighting efforts?  Last year, "Only 132 of the 507 murder cases in the city last year were closed last year. That makes for a homicide clearance rate of 26 percent—the lowest in two decades, according to internal police records provided to Chicago." 

But how does that compare with the rest of the US?  The clearance rate for the US as a whole for murder in 2012 was 62.5 percent.  For all cities, it was 60.3 percent.  For cities over 1 million in population, it is 57.0 percent.

New York 419 8,289,415
Los Angeles 299 3,855,122
Chicago 500 2,708,382 (the FBI numbers are slightly different from Chicago's)
Houston 217 2,177,273
Philadelphia 331 1,538,957
Phoenix 123 1,485,509
San Antonio 89 1,380,123
San Diego 47 1,338,477
Dallas 154 1,241,549

With 2,179 murders in the cities with more than 1 million people, a 62.5 percent clearance rate implies 1,362 cases were cleared.  So take out the numbers for Chicago: that leaves 1,679 murders for the other cities and 1,230 cleared -- a 73.26 percent clearance rate for the other large cities.  Thus the clearance rate for the other cities over 1 million people would be about 2.8 times greater than the rate in Chicago.

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Are politics dumbing down America's courts?: Tucker Carlson interviews me about "Dumbing Down the Courts"

At least 39 have died, 293 injured in shooting at Kenyan shopping mall

It seems that this is another mass public shooting that will greatly exceed the deaths in any US attack.  From the UK Daily Mail:
British and American nationals have undoubtedly been caught up in the 'callous and cowardly and brutal' terror attack at a shopping centre in Kenya that has left 39 people dead and 150 injured, according to Foreign Secretary William Hague. 
Mr Hague said 'we should be ready for that and aware of that' as he revealed a rapid deployment team is being sent to Kenya to help in the aftermath of the atrocity at an upmarket shopping centre in the capital.According to the Sunday Telegraph, a pregnant woman was among several Britons caught up in the attack. 
Somali-based militant group al-Shabaab has now claimed responsibility for the atrocity in which men armed with guns and grenades stormed the mall and targeted non-Muslims.Terrorist gunmen remain at the scene and police officers supported by the army are still fighting to bring the situation to an end. . . .
Apparently, Americans were among those killed.  From CNN:
The State Department said it had reports of American citizens injured in the attack but had no further details. It condemned "this senseless act of violence that has resulted in death and injury for many innocent men, women, and children." . . . 


Speaking with Dom Giordano on WPHT about Gun Free Zones and "Dumbing Down the Courts"

A audio of my interview is available here.

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Interview with Ezra Levant SHOOTINGS WHERE GUNS ARE BANNED and my book "Dumbing Down the Courts"

Dennis Miller interview on my new book "Dumbing Down the Courts"

The interview with Dennis on 9/20/2013 is available here.

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Gallup finds that most think mental health system most responsible for gun violence

I am not optimistic about the mental health system solving this problem.  The percentage of people who are mentally ill who will cause a problem are extremely small. It is easy to see problems after they occur.  The Gallup poll is available here.  I would have found it interesting to see how the people would have answered the questions if they could give only one answer.


Interview with Dana Loesch to discuss "Dumbing Down The Courts: How Politics Keeps The Smartest Judges Off The Bench."

The audio of the interview is available here.

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Rupert Murdoch gives up on trying to crack the Chinese media market

As a totalitarian country, I am not surprised that China wants to maintain strict control over the flow of all types of information.  From Fortune:
It is an iron-clad rule of the contemporary business landscape: Invest in China or imperil your future growth. It's noteworthy, then, that one of the most aggressive western companies in terms of trying to crack the China nut is more or less giving up the fight. 
21st Century Fox, the film and TV company Rupert Murdoch cleaved from his print-focused News Corp. (NWSA) this summer, is actively reducing its exposure the world's second-largest economy. It's a shocking development only in that Murdoch spent so many years pursuing the China market so enthusiastically. The company is going out guns-a-blazing too. Murdoch's son James, his only child currently employed as a company executive, has criticized the Chinese government for timidity and a lack of commitment to reform. 
Why get out now? "It's always been hard for us in the business of ideas to do business in China," the younger Murdoch said during an extensive interview in July at Fortune's annual technology-industry conference, in Aspen, Colo. "We went from the end of the Jiang Zemin regime, which was liberalizing, trying to do all things, to a much more … timid approach to investment and to liberalization. … I don't think a lot of people noticed [the shift] enough. And basically it became harder to do business there." 
As a result, 21st Century Fox (FOX) has been busy selling off and selling down investments. . . .


Two very interesting rulings from the Illinois Supreme Court on the Second Amendment

From the Madison Record:

. . . The justices’ rulings came in the civil case of Jerry W. Coram v. State of Illinois and the criminal case of People v. Alberto Aguilar. 
Though the cases presented the court with different issues, both of the rulings could be seen as a shot to those seeking further restrictions on the right to own and possess guns.
The civil case focused on the denial of a man’s Firearm Owners Identification (FOID) card application while the criminal case dealt with a constitutional challenge to two sections of the state’s Aggravated Unlawful Use of Weapons (AUUW ) statute. . . . 
In his 2009 application for a FOID card, Coram included information that he had been convicted in 1992 of domestic battery. He pled guilty and was sentenced to 12 months’ conditional discharge. 
The state police denied his application based on an amendment to the federal Gun Control Act that imposed a firearm disability on individuals convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor. 
In 2010, Coram petitioned the Adams County Circuit Court for a hearing on the denial of his FOID card application. The court then ordered the issuance of a FOID card, finding that he was not likely “to act in a manner dangerous to public safety.” . . . 
In its 53-page opinion that included separate opinions for a special concurrence and a dissent, the majority of the court upheld the lower court’s order directing the state police to issue Coram a FOID card. . . . 
The federal appeals panel in Moore held that Section 24-1.6(a)(1), (a)(3)(A) of the AUUW statue is “a flat ban on carrying ready-to-use guns outside the home” and as such, violates the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, as construed in Heller and McDonald. 
Thomas wrote for the court that “As the Seventh Circuit correctly noted, neither Heller norMcDonald expressly limits the second amendment’s protections to the home.” . . .
While it is not yet released, Nelson Lund has an interesting discussion on the Aguilar decision available from 9/18.


Starbucks policy changes nothing, but satisfies the left

I confess that I am not really sure what the point of the new Starbucks policy is other than to gain some points with the political left.  As long as the stories don't post and that isn't supposed to happen, people will still be able to carry their guns in the stores.  From Fox News:
Starbucks says guns are no longer welcome in its cafes, though it is stopping short of an outright ban on firearms. . . . 
Schultz hopes people will honor the request not to bring in guns but says the company will nevertheless serve those who do. . . .
If Starbucks really wanted people to "honor" this request, they would post "no carry" signs. 



Democrats having problems with Obama's leadership

From the New York Times:
. . . In recent weeks, disgruntled Democrats, particularly liberals, have bolted from the White House on issues like National Security Agency surveillance policies, a planned military strike on Syria and the potential choice of Lawrence H. Summers to lead the Federal Reserve. In private, they often sound exasperated describing Mr. Obama’s operation; in public, they are sometimes only a little more restrained. 
They complain the White House has not consulted enough and failed to assert leadership. They say Mr. Obama has been too passive and ceded momentum to Republicans. Their grievances are sometimes contradictory; some grouse that he takes on causes he cannot win, while others say he does not fight hard enough for principled positions. The failure to enact tightened gun control laws and the Republican hold on immigration legislation have left liberals little to celebrate this year. . . .

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Zero Tolerance insanity: Student Suspended for 'Doing the Right Thing' by Handing Over Hunting Knife

From Fox News Insider:

David Schaffner III, 16, was at his school's football game Friday night when he realized he had mistakenly left a hunting knife in his pocket after using it that afternoon at his home. Schaffner decided to turn it in to a security guard at the entrance, thinking he could just get it back at the end of the game.
A few minutes into the game, Schaffner says the principal of Fox Chapel Area School found him and told him that his error was "much more serious." Schaffner and his attorney, Phil Dilucente, talked to Steve Doocy about the incident this morning on Fox & Friends. . . .


Jobs being lost in medical care, quality of care being reduced

If you don't think that these cuts will effect the quality of medical care that people receive, you are deluding yourself. 

From Cleveland:
The Cleveland Clinic has told workers they will be laying off an unspecified number of employees as part of an overall, sweeping cost-reduction plan.  Clinic CEO Dr. Toby Cosgrove discussed the looming cuts and changes in a Wednesday morning all-employee meeting.  Clinic spokeswoman Eileen Sheil denied circulating rumors that employees were told there would be 3,000 jobs cut. . . .
From Vanderbilt University:
Vanderbilt University Medical Center is eliminating several hundred more jobs this week as part of its plan to cut up to 1,000 positions by the end of the year.  The cuts are expected to continue for several more weeks, and should be complete by late October.  According to a letter sent to state and city officials, Vanderbilt said the workers receiving notice would be “permanently laid off starting on November 16, 2013 and continuing until or on about December 31, 2013.” All affected employees will be given 60 days’ notice, the letter said. . . .
The second article has a video that laments how much money we spend on health care in the US.  This is extremely misleading.  See my discussion in this piece at Fox News:
A number frequently tossed around is that a 1/6th of our nation's income is spent on health care. That number comes from $2.2 trillion in reported health care spending out of an almost $14 trillion economy. The President cites those statistics as evidence that the government needs to step in and keep health care spending under control. Yet, there are problems with both claims: The health care costs used in the debate have been inflated by double counting and further distorted by price controls, and the recent growth in U.S. health care expenditures has actually been less than in countries where the government pays for most health care.
First, take the double counting. The $2.2 trillion number includes not  . . . . 


Obama: raising the debt ceiling does not increase our debt

Seriously? The media takes this answer seriously?  Increasing the debt ceiling doesn't increase the level of the nation's debt?  This is like saying that running deficits doesn't increase the national debt.  After all you can't run a deficit past a certain point if you don't increase the debt ceiling.
Now, this debt ceiling -- I just want to remind people in case you haven’t been keeping up -- raising the debt ceiling, which has been done over a hundred times, does not increase our debt; it does not somehow promote profligacy.  All it does is it says you got to pay the bills that you’ve already racked up, Congress.  It’s a basic function of making sure that the full faith and credit of the United States is preserved. . . .

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Doesn't Piers Morgan want a review of his forthcoming book? What are you worried about Piers?

By the way, if people read my original twitter post, I wasn't demanding that he send it to me for free.  I was only asking that he "pls send me a copy, I would be happy to review it."

UPDATE: Erik Wemple, "CNN’s Piers Morgan disses potential book reviewer"

Authors know not to turn down publicity for their books. Reviews, blog posts, chats, word of mouth — all of it can help propel your opus up those topseller lists. Never turn down an opportunity. 
Unless, perhaps, you’re a CNN personality crusading for tougher gun laws and the fellow offering a review is a frequent on-air opponent. Such was the scenario that unfolded on Twitter today, with that CNN personality being, of course, Piers Morgan and that on-air opponent being John Lott, author of “More Guns, Less Crime.” . . .  
Perhaps this is a branding thing for Morgan. Bill O’Reilly has claimed the maverick brand; Rachel Maddow the brainy brand; Sean Hannity the ideological purity brand; Ed Schultz the blowhard brand; and so on. That leaves the nasty brand wide open.
UPDATE: February 24th, 2014, from part of Erik Wemple's column on Piers losing his show.


Interview about the Washington Navy Yard shooting

I had an interview with the World about the Navy Yard available here. 

More guns, less crime 
In the wake of Monday’s attack on Washington Navy Yard personnel, TW&E political correspondent Kent Covington interviews policy analyst John Lott, author of More Guns Less Crime, on the renewed debate over gun control. 
John Lott is also the author of newly released book Dumbing Down the Courts: How Politics Keeps the Smartest Judges off the Bench (2013, Bascom Hill).

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Review of "Dumbing Down the Courts" at the Washington Examiner

Conn Carroll's review at the Washington Examiner starts this way:

Unless you are a graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law, you probably have never heard of Lillian BeVier. 
BeVier graduated at the top of her class from Stanford Law School in 1965, where she worked as an editor of the prestigious Stanford Law Review. She went on to receive multiple distinguished awards throughout her career in private practice before joining the University of Virginia law faculty in 1973. 
By 1991, she was the perfect candidate with ideal credentials when President George H.W. Bush nominated her for a vacancy on the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Yet despite assurances from then-Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Joe Biden, D-Del., BeVier never even got a hearing. 
In 2005, BeVier was still “surprised at how exercised [she] can get about it after 12 years,” John Lott reports in his new book, “Dumbing Down The Courts: How Politics Keeps the Smartest Judges Off the Bench.” BeVier told Lott that she “really felt sandbagged by the process.” . . .



Judge Andrew Napolitano weighs in gun free zones at military bases

Napolitano has an interesting discussion about how when he was in the army all the officers wore their sidearms with them on the army base.  More importantly, he discusses the impact of trying to change the military into a regular workplace has on the safety of those in the military.  The video is available here.

Statements regarding those at the Navy Yard who wish that they were able to protect themselves.
Here is a father of a Marine who was stationed at the DC Navy Yard who was discussing statements from his son.

Here is a statement of a concealed carry permit holder who wished that she could have had her permitted concealed handgun with her.
Although she emerged unscathed, Pat said she would have felt safer if she had been permitted to carry her own gun to work. ‘I’m a gun owner, and so is my husband,’ Pat said, ‘but I work in D.C. so I can’t carry a weapon. Now I wish they would let us do it anyway. I felt like a fool walking around unarmed after shots were fired.’ . . . 
UPDATE:  The ban on carrying at military bases policy might have been in effect prior to the Clinton administration.
The Blaze has information here that the policy for military personnel not having guns actually goes back to the very end of the George H.W. Bush administration. 
The question of why military members aren’t armed on base garnered attention back in November 2009 when Army Maj. Nidal Hasan opened fire at Ft. Hood and killed 13 people. He was sentenced to death on August 28. Now, nearly four years later, many are asking the same question. 
So what’s the answer? It appears this “gun-free zone” type policy can actually be traced back to Department of Defense (DoD) Directive 5210.56, signed into effect in February 1992 by Donald J. Atwood, deputy secretary of defense under President George H.W. Bush. . . .
It looks like the Clinton administration may have simply reissued these orders in March 1993


Most common age of people getting concealed handgun permits in Texas?

From Fox News:
People over the age of 50 are seeking concealed handgun licenses at a rate higher than any other age group in Texas
An analysis of state records by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram found that 57-year-olds last year sought the most concealed handgun licenses in Texas. In recent years, Texans aged 63, 52, 61 and 60 have also led the way in gun permits. 
Texas has more than 580,000 concealed-carry permit holders statewide. The Star-Telegram reported Monday that about 26 percent of those were issued last year. . . .


My appearance with Ben Ferguson on Piers Morgan, discussing DC Navy Yard Shooting, notes on some mistakes by Piers

In this discussion Piers claims that an AR-15 rifle was obtained from a gun store in Virginia.  Well, it turns out that he may be wrong.  From NBC Washington:

Sources told News4 that surveillance footage showed that he began his attack with a shotgun, but was found with a 9mm pistol and an AR-15 assault rifle.
NBC News correspondent Pete Williams is reporting Alexis purchased a shotgun in Lorton, Va. during the past week or so.
The suspected gunman appeared to have seized firearms from two of his victims as he moved through the building along the Anacostia River in southeast Washington, where 3,000 Navy employees go to work each day, many of them carrying authorized firearms.
Next to Alexis's body was an ID of a man who used to work at the Navy Yard. Some investigators believe the suspected gunman used that ID to enter the area, which is accessible only through guarded gates, but he may also have shot his way in, Williams reported. . . .
As to the problems with the Mother Jones "study" that Piers was alluding to please see this link available here.

As to Piers' claim that I support armed guards in schools and other places.  From a piece that I wrote at Fox News:

The alternative of hiring uniformed armed guards is not only costly, with one armed guard costing more than the cost of training and equipping over 20 employees, but also relatively ineffective as they are usually the first victims shot (e.g., see here and here). . . .
UPDATE:  Even CNN is not reporting that Piers' categorical statement that an AR-15 rifle was obtained from a store in Virginia is wrong.
It has been called the most popular rifle in America, and it briefly returned to the spotlight after Monday's shooting at the Navy Yard: the AR-15.  
A U.S. law enforcement official said Monday that gunman Aaron Alexis unleashed a barrage of bullets using an AR-15, a rifle and a semi-automatic handgun. Authorities believed the AR-15 was used for most of the shooting, the official said. The news prompted Sen. Dianne Feinstein, one of the strongest proponents of a ban on assault weapons like the AR-15, to issue a statement the same day asking, "When will enough be enough?"  
However, federal law enforcement sources told CNN Tuesday that authorities have recovered three weapons from the scene of the mass shooting, including one -- a shotgun -- that investigators believe Alexis brought in to the compound. The other two weapons, which sources say were handguns, may have been taken from guards at the Navy complex. . . .
Final note: It is interesting to do these shows on remote sometimes.  In this case there was apparently an over 2 second delay between when Piers would say something and I would hear it and presumably the reverse was also true.  Apparently, it takes some time for the signal to go up to the satellite and come back down.

Some commentary on our discussion.
From Mediaite.
From Politico.
From the Washington Post.
From the Huffington Post UK.
From MediaBistro.
From BizPac.

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If DC Navy Yard Shooter could get on a military base using someone else's ID, how could background checks have stopped him from buying a gun

Responses to Sarah Silverman's racist video on guns

Sarah Silverman had this widely watch video entitled the "Black NRA" where she tries to scare people about the fact that law-abiding blacks will get guns.

Of course, my work shows that it is poor blacks who live in high crime urban areas who benefit the most from owning guns.

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Some notes on John Roman's "Race, Justifiable Homicide, and Stand Your Ground Laws: Analysis of FBI Supplementary Homicide Report Data," Urban Institute

A copy of Roman's report is available here.  Apparently, the report is going to be used in testimony tomorrow before the Senate.

1) If you were to do this study right, you would look at the change in justifiable homicides in each state before and after the Stand Your Ground law went into effect.  You want to see whether the rate of justifiable homicides in a state changed after that state changed its law.  This paper doesn't do that.  Instead, it looks across 10 regions, but some of the states in those regions are changing their laws and others aren't.  Roman uses what are called year fixed effects, but he isn't using proper geographic fixed effects and that raises a red flag.

2) Roman doesn't know the proper statistical test.  Take his Table 3.

The issue isn't whether the coefficients for "white on black" are different from zero.  The question is whether the rate in non-stand your ground states is different from stand your ground states.  Thus, while 41.14 and 44.71 are statistically different from zero, they are extremely unlikely to be statistically different from each other.  Again, the real comparison should be did the rate of justifiable homicides go up in a category in a state after that state changed its law.  Making comparisons across states in a region could simply be picking up differences in those states.

Indeed, it is very likely that the coefficients for black on black (10.24 and 9.94) as well as black on white (7.69 and 11.10) are not different between non-stand your ground states and stand your ground states.

Take Roman's discussion of this table: "Racial disparities are much larger, as white-on-black homicides have justifiable findings 33 percentage points more often than black-on-white homicides.  Stand Your Ground laws appear to exacerbate those differences, as cases overall are significantly more likely to be ruled justified in SYG states than in non-SYG states (p = 0.02)." While it is true that his results show that whites defend themselves against blacks more frequently than the reverse is true, Roman ignores the fact that Stand Your Ground laws actually reduce this imbalance.  And the presumed question for this paper was presumably how Stand Your Ground laws altered this imbalance. 
In non-Stand Your Ground states, White on black versus Black on White coefficient ratio = 5.34
In Stand Your Ground states,  White on black versus Black on White coefficient ratio = 4.03 
So, if you believe Roman's results, Stand Your Ground laws actually improved the ability of Blacks to defend themselves against Whites relative to the ability of Whites to defend themselves against Blacks by causing the ration to fall by about 25 percent

3) Roman should be properly acknowledged for noting that unlike the data from the Tampa Bay Tribune, "The data here cannot completely address this problem because the setting of the incident cannot be observed" (p. 11).

4) The data in this paper uses justifiable homicides and Stand Your Ground cases are likely to only be a subset of those cases.  Ignoring the prior concerns, the question then becomes are you picking changes in justifiable homicides or changes due to Stand Your Ground cases.  To further make that point clear, there are huge changes that occur in terms of how the justifiable homicide data are reported across different states over time.  While often about 35 states report this data, a large percentage of the jurisdictions in even those states don’t report the data. What states and what jurisdictions within those statesreport this data changes dramatically over time. The implication is any changes over time might simply arise from changes in the states or portions of states that are reporting this data. 

The biggest problem involves how this data is collected. Police initially report the cases as criminal homicides. If it’s later determined to be justifiable, they don’t frequently don’t go back and recode the data. The problem is greatest for those deaths where the greatest amount of time elapses between the death and it is determined to be justifiable. There is also some evidence that recoding is less likely to occur in the larger urban areas where you are likely to have a greater percentage of crime involving blacks. If so, correcting this bias would produce even larger stronger evidence that blacks are more likely to engage in justifiable homicides. John Barnes, “Justified to kill: Why there are moreself-defense killings in Michigan than anyone knows,” MLive, June 12, 2012.  

Since many of the data isn't even collected on many justifiable homicides, many of the justifiable homicides in this sample are likely to be falsely labeled as non-justifiable homicides.  On top of that, the error is greatest in urban areas, areas where more blacks are likely to have used guns defensively. 

The appendix for the paper doesn't appear to understand that many of the states don't collect data on justifiable homicides in every year and that even when they do report some data, not all the jurisdictions within the state collect the data.

5) I don't understand why a regression similar to that reported in Table 4 isn't run on the data in Table 3.  Singling out when there is a single victim and single shooter, they are both male, they are strangers, and a firearm is used, but the SHR data used by Roman goes beyond that in ages and region. 


Why do environmentalists want to kill Bald Eagles?

Study: 'Alarming' number of eagles killed by wind farms

58 Bald Eagles have apparently been killed by wind farms in the last five years, but the number is increasing rapidly.  Right now wind farms are exempt for 5 years form the normal penalties imposed on those who kill Bald Eagles.  Apparently, President Obama is moving towards extending this exemption for 25 years. 

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Can we trust the government not to misuse your information on your sex life? Obamacare requires detailed info on sex life

So it turns out that Obamacare will collect data on your sex life.  Suppose you are a politician or a political opponent of the Obama administration, should you trust them not to misuse your information to try and intimidate you?  Should you lie to your doctor?  The Obama administration has leaked private tax details of their political opponents (remember Austan Goolsbee leaking private tax information on the Koch Brothers (also here and here)).  Remember the abuse of tax filings by the IRS under Lois Lerner?

Well, the New York Post has this wonderful news:
‘Are you sexually active? If so, with one partner, multiple partners or same-sex partners?”Be ready to answer those questions and more the next time you go to the doctor, whether it’s the dermatologist or the cardiologist and no matter if the questions are unrelated to why you’re seeking medical help. And you can thank the Obama health law. . . . 
The president’s “reforms” aim to turn doctors into government agents, pressuring them financially to ask questions they consider inappropriate and unnecessary, and to violate their Hippocratic Oath to keep patients’ records confidential. . . . 
Doctors and hospitals who don’t comply with the federal government’s electronic-health-records requirements forgo incentive payments now; starting in 2015, they’ll face financial penalties from Medicare and Medicaid. The Department of Health and Human Services has already paid out over $12.7 billion for these incentives. 
Dr. Richard Amerling, a nephrologist and associate professor at Albert Einstein Medical College, explains that your medical record should be “a story created by you and your doctor solely for your treatment and benefit.” But the new requirements are turning it “into an interrogation, and the data will not be confidential.” . . .

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New book showing that the quality of the judiciary is declining over time

Dumbing Down the Courts is a critical read for anyone who seeks to understand the judicial confirmation battles of recent decades. Lott’s meticulous research demonstrates that these contentious battles result from a politicized process in which both activist judges and partisan senators are to blame. When activist judges abandoned their limited, constitutional role and usurped the functions of elected legislators, senators reacted by using political litmus tests in assessing judicial candidates.The surest fix to drawn-out confirmation battles is to ensure that judges adhere to their proper role: to apply the law as it is written.”
—Edwin Meese, former U.S. Attorney General

“John Lott provides a powerful critique, amply supported by facts, of the rapid deterioration of the process for confirming federal judges. As courts have become more political and government has grown increasingly intrusive, battles over confirmations have grown more intense and partisan, with the result, Mr. Lott concludes, that the quality of the judiciary is endangered.”
—Robert Bork, former U.S. Appeals Court judge and Supreme Court nominee

“This book is a serious effort to identify and grapple with the current problems in our judicial nominations process. Unlike the many partisan works on the subject, John Lott does not lay the blame of our current troubles on one party’s doorstep but demonstrates that there is more than enough fault to go around. Even those who disagree with the author’s conclusions will be well advised to read this excellent book.”
—William P. Marshall, professor, University of North Carolina Law School, and former Deputy White House Counsel to President Clinton

“The judicial confirmation process has become increasingly politicized on both sides of the aisle. The result has been increasing difficulty and delay in confirming presidential nominees. In this important study, John Lott marshals the evidence on this issue, that the modern confirmation process has affected not only the quantity but also the quality of federal judges.”
—Alan Sykes, professor, New York University School of Law

“Clear, thoughtful, and eminently readable, Dumbing Down the Courts describes and explains the politicization of the judicial confirmation process. John Lott is carefully non-partisan throughout: neither party comes off looking clean. Be prepared to be troubled, however— badly troubled. The book will leave thoughtful readers concerned— concerned not just about the degraded judicial confirmation process, but about the effect that the process has had on the quality of the courts.”
—J. Mark Ramseyer, professor, Harvard Law School

The book shows the quality of judges on the federal courts has been declining over time.  It also explains why judicial confirmations have become more contentious over time.  But the important aspect of this is that smarter judicial nominees have by far the hardest time getting confirmed.  Smarter Republican nominees have even tougher time than smart Democrats getting confirmed.  I think that some of the facts in the chapter on the American Bar Association in terms of exactly how they hide how really biased their evaluation of judges are will also be of interest.

From Amazon

From Barnes and Noble


U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights to hold hearing on Stand Your Ground Laws

The hearing will be on Tuesday morning from 10 AM to noon.  From Roll Call:
Trayvon Martin’s mother will be a featured witness at a Senate hearing on “stand your ground” laws next week. . . .
Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton is scheduled to testify along with Lucia McBath. Her son, Jordan Davis, was shot and killed last year in the parking lot of a gas station in Jacksonville, Fla. . . .
[Other witnesses include]
William Meggs, State Attorney, Second Judicial Circuit, Tallahassee, Fla.
Ronald Sullivan, Clinical Professor of Law, Director of the Criminal Justice Institute, Harvard Law School
John Lott, President, Crime Prevention Research Center
Ilya Shapiro, Senior Fellow, CATO Institute


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This is pretty scary: In Australia police will soon be able to search for guns without a search warrant

Well, if they really "know" who are the bad guys, it would seem easy to get the warrants that they want.  From the Sidney Morning Herald:
NSW Police will be able to stop and search people, cars, bikie clubhouses and "criminal dens" for guns, without a warrant, under legislation to be introduced into parliament this week. 
Under the changes, police would be able to stop and search anyone who had been banned from owning guns without a warrant, even if there was no cause for suspicion, Premier Barry O'Farrell said. "The changes mean officers can also search their cars and their premises for firearms." 
Fewer than 70 people in NSW are subject to a firearm ban but the new laws would make it easier to increase the number, Mr O'Farrell said. Penalties will rise from 10 to 14 years for possession or supply of illegal weapons. 
Police Minister Michael Gallacher said the laws would enable police to target known people. "It will give police the ability to target people they know are involved. . . .


Chicago ends gun registry, some notes on the debate and what the registry achieved

Something no one addresses is how many crimes have actually been solved as a result of the registry.  When I was in Chicago I couldn't get to the police department to point to a single example where the registry had solved a crime.  From the New York Times:
. . . Chicago’s City Council voted to make the change on Wednesday, modifying the municipal code to comply with a new state law that will make Illinois the last in the nation to allow people to carry concealed weapons in public. While the city’s strict bans on assault weapons and gun dealers remain, the loss of control over its own registry, in effect since 1968, was another setback for gun control proponents — this time in President Obama’s hometown, in a state run by Democrats. 
“This is an ongoing battle and struggle to make sure our laws reflect the safety our residents need,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said at a news conference on Wednesday, expressing disappointment with the “concealed carry” state law. . . . 
the gun registry database in Chicago, which contains more than 8,000 gun owners and about 22,000 firearms . . . . 
In the end, legislators enacted a law that gives full control of gun licensing to the Illinois State Police, abolishing Chicago’s gun registration and firearm permit requirements. Other changes included a block on new assault weapons bans, though Chicago was one of a dozen cities and villages to tighten restrictions during a 10-day grace period. 
Richard A. Pearson, executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association, said Chicago’s gun registry was unnecessary, nothing more than a bureaucratic headache for residents who wanted to protect themselves. . . .
I have no trust in the University of Chicago Crime Lab, but here is a little more detail from the Chicago Tribune.
There are now about 8,650 Chicago firearms permit holders who have registered around 22,000 firearms, according to Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office. That's compared with the roughly 150,000 Chicago households the University of Chicago Crime Lab estimates currently have guns. . . .
If just 5.8% of households that have guns have them legally in Chicago, how do we make sense of this statement in the New York Times piece?
“There’s no scenario where this makes the jobs of police easier,” said Jens Ludwig, director of the University of Chicago’s Crime Lab, about having to repeal the registry. . . .
Here is another discussion on the recent changes in Chicago's laws.  From the Chicago Tribune:
. . . The latest changes also would eliminate the requirement that guns in a home be locked up or secured with child-safety locks. But remaining in place is a requirement that those steps be taken when someone younger than 18 is in the home, unless the owner is carrying the weapon. 
Vandermyde took issue with that too, saying state law requires those steps only when a child younger than 14 is in the home. He also said state prosecution can occur when the gun is accessed by the minor and great bodily harm or death occurs, while city ordinances allow prosecution just for not securing the weapon. 
Another point of contention, albeit one that is unlikely to come up much in the city, is the distance from a dwelling unit where hunting can take place. In state law, it's 300 feet. In the city, it's 750 feet. 
The city had modified its gun registry three years ago to require that all handgun owners get a permit. That move followed a U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down the city's handgun ban, which had in place since 1982. 
Also Monday, the council's Public Safety Committee endorsed a measure that would toughen penalties for the illegal possession of a firearm within 100 feet of transportation facilities. A first offense would carry a minimum $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail. . . . .

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More on Wikipedia's errors/biases, an example of how the discussion on Alawites is apparently biased for political reasons?

My friend David Friedman has a new post on his website that notes:

The Wikipedia page says that they "follow a branch of the Twelver school of Shia Islam," and goes on to add that "Alawite beliefs are kept secret for outsiders, even for non initiated Alawites. Therefore many rumours about their religious beliefs have arisen," but says nothing about what those beliefs are.  
With a little searching, however, I found quite a detailed account on another web page. I do not know  if it is accurate, although my guess on internal evidence is that it probably is. If so, it sounds as though their beliefs deviate from Islamic orthodoxy as much as Muslim beliefs deviate from Christianity and probably more than Muslim beliefs deviate from Judaism. They apparently believe that Ali was some sort of incarnation of God, reject the Koran, and believe in reincarnation for males but not females. 
Which makes me wonder whether the absence of information in the Wikipedia page reflects a successful attempt to defend the identification of Alawites as Shia in support of Assad's alliance with (twelver Shia) Iran. . . .
At the very least, it is additional evidence that one should be very careful before trusting anything on Wikipedia.

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Remember Paul Krugman's attacks on Germany's economic policy, comparing it to Germany in the early 30s? Now read this

Remember Paul Krugman's attacks on German "austerity" in his pieces in 2010 and later?  Well, fortunately, Germany didn't take his attacks seriously.  Now with Germany's elections approaching, we see stories in places such as the Washington Post noting this:
Merkel, who is favored to win a third four-year term next week, has benefited from Germany’s strong economy and low unemployment.
That’s even truer in Bavaria, the tradition-minded homeland of retired Pope Benedict XVI and also a high-tech and industrial center, where nearly 9.5 million people are eligible to vote. Its jobless rate is just 3.8 percent, the lowest of any German state and well below the national average of 6.8 percent.
At his pre-election rallies, Seehofer has described Bavaria as “the gateway to paradise.” . . .

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Talk at "Lincoln/Reagan Dinner to be held Sept. 25" in Carroll County, Maryland

It should be a fun talk.  

The Lincoln/Reagan Dinner, hosted by the Carroll County Republican Central Committee, will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 25, at Martin's West, Jermor Lane, Westminster.
The speaker will be John Lott, author of "MORE GUNS LESS CRIME." The cost is $80 per person or two for $150. Reservations are required.
For information/reservations, call James E. Reter at 443-985-6361; 410-875-2748 or email jreter0155@aol.com.