Wednesday, April 23, 2014

1775

National Guard units seeking to confiscate a cache of recently banned assault weapons were ambushed on April 19 by elements of a para-military extremist faction. Military and law enforcement sources estimate that 72 were killed and more than 200 injured before government forces were compelled to withdraw.

Speaking after the clash, Massachusetts Governor Thomas Gage declared that the extremist faction, which was made up of local citizens, has links to the radical right-wing tax protest movement.

Gage blamed the extremists for recent incidents of vandalism directed against internal revenue offices. The governor, who described the group's organizers as "criminals," issued an executive order authorizing the summary arrest of any individual who has interfered with the government's efforts to secure law and order.

The military raid on the extremist arsenal followed wide-spread refusal by the local citizenry to turn over recently outlawed assault weapons. Gage issued a ban on military-style assault weapons and ammunition earlier in the week. This decision followed a meeting in early this month between government and military leaders at which the governor authorized the forcible confiscation of illegal arms.

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Connecticut liberals like high energy costs

The nation’s top energy official delivered a blunt message Monday to a Connecticut audience of energy executives, regulators, environmentalists and others who already know that fuel heating and cooling homes and businesses and running power plants in New England is among the costliest in the nation.

Ernest Moniz, U.S. secretary of energy, stopping in Providence, R.I., and Hartford in a months-long federal review of energy issues, said New England doesn’t share the good news developing in the field of energy with the rest of the country.

"Out there, in much of the country the talk is about the energy revolution, the abundance of energy that we have, the way that we are in fact drawing upon new resources … promoting renewables, at the same time reducing carbon emissions," he said.

"But yet if we come here, it’s not a discussion of abundance. It’s a discussion of, in particular, infrastructure constraints," he said.

Speaking to an audience of about 150 in Hartford, Moniz said that in New England, piping in natural gas and otherwise delivering heat or electricity is limited by a lack of delivery systems.

During the severe winter, natural gas prices soared to more than $120 per million British thermal units from about $5 in the summer. The spike was blamed on strong demand, a lack of pipeline systems, limited regional liquefied natural gas deliveries and inadequate storage.

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Did you know email services are so expensive?

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) spends roughly $123.2 million per year to provide "email services" for its 70,000 employees, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

Buried in a footnote of a recently released GAO report on the agency’s coordination with the nonprofit group Enroll America, the congressional watchdog detailed the high operating costs associated with running the department’s email.

"HHS told us that HHS pays $146.64 per month per user for email; that this charge covers connectivity, storage, and other e-mail services; and that this charge is independent of the number of emails that are sent or received," the GAO said.

According to the Cato Institute, HHS employs approximately 70,000 people.

Assuming each employee has a government email address, the agency pays $10,264,800 per month for its email services. The cost per year runs to $123,177,600.

The report also noted that HHS pays $10.44 each month "per telephone line" for the HHS secretary, though it is unclear how many government lines former Secretary Kathleen Sebelius had.

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Chickens, home to roost

I took the ‘How long will I live?’ test last week, the one the Government thinks you should take to ensure you don’t buy a Ferrari, but eke out your pension instead.

Oh, for the luxury of a pension! I don’t have one, just enormous tax bills, and negative equity.

Unfortunately, I have never smoked, I exercise every day for at least two hours, am slightly underweight, have parents who both survived past the age of 80, and I’m vegan to boot.

Apparently, I will live until I’m 100, which is a blow, to be honest, given my heating bill up here in the frozen Yorkshire Dales is £600 a month, which means without food and on only a state pension I will be running a deficit of £200 a month.

I won’t pay off my mortgage until I am 79, but I suppose the plus side of this is I will default on my payments and thus be rendered homeless, so will have nothing to heat.

Perhaps I could also try to persuade one of my cats to give me meningitis.

It’s come to a sorry state if we are all now wishing we could die relatively young, so we are not tipped into penury.

I am a feminist, I really am (I’ve never let a man pay for anything), but feel the current generation of women in their 60s, the first to abandon the way of life of their mothers, which meant they pursued careers, married and had children late, had affairs then got divorced, all in the name of liberation, are now imprisoned in debt, alcohol abuse and loneliness, wishing they could die, and do it soon.

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(Women never stop bitching)

Confederados

When the Civil War ended, thousands of Confederates chose to leave the United States entirely and settle in Brazil. "Shall any Southerner be blamed, if he seeks a land where the night of vengeance has not come, that his day may not be one of threatening?" asked Ballard S. Dunn in Brazil, the Home for Southerners (1866). "Why should he? For, as surely as that these four years of disastrous war have left most of those who have been true to themselves and their ancestors penniless, homeless, despoiled, and bereaved, so surely the future, with its cumbrous disabilities, and fearful forebodings, promises nothing better than poverty and humiliation."

About 10,000 Southerners made the trip to Brazil, where most settled in the state of São Paulo. Today their descendants form an ethic subgroup. In the city of Americana, the 300-member Fraternity of American Descendants holds an annual festival with Confederate flags, uniforms, and music, and a local cemetery holds the remains of W.S. Wise, the great-uncle of former First Lady Rosalynn Carter.

Source


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Happy Easter, Chicago

Nine people are dead and at least 36 were wounded - including six children - in an especially bloody 48 hours in the gang-and-violence-plagued city of Chicago over the weekend.

Five of the six children wounded - who range in age from 11 to 15 - were shot during a drive-by shooting on Sunday night after a person in the vehicle reportedly asked if the children were members of a particular street gang.

The sixth, a 15-year-old girl, was shot while riding in a vehicle in what appears to be a separate - but also gang-related - incident.

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Just coincidence, right?

Egyptian media is reporting that based on inside sources, the International Organization of the Muslim Brotherhood has decided to transfer their offices to Graz, Austria and three other unidentified European cities following the announcement of an investigation into the Brotherhood’s activities in the UK.

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Government bank regulators overpaid, big surprise

Long before George Bailey wrestled with Mr. Potter in "It's a Wonderful Life," the public decried the pay of top executives in large financial institutions. Overpaid bank executives are the villains in regulatory morality tales and feed distorted public perceptions about bankers' pay.

It is true that the very top bank executives make more in a year than most of us make in a lifetime, but compensation of this magnitude is rare. Most banks in this country are small businesses and pay employees modest salaries. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average annual salary of a bank employee was $49,540 in 2012, not much higher than the average annual across all occupations, $45,790.

Yet one group in banking stands out as highly paidfederal bank regulators. Before the Dodd-Frank Act, the average employee of a federal bank regulatory agency received 2.3 times the average compensation of a private banker. By 2013 this ratio increased to more than 2.7and in some cases considerably more.

The average compensation at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) exceeded $190,000 in 2012. The staff at the Federal Reserve is likely even better compensated, but the Fed refuses to release employee salaries.

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Confederates were not as Waspy as you'd think


The term "Johnny Reb" evokes an image of a white soldier, Anglo-Saxon and Protestant and from an agrarian background. Many Southern soldiers, however, did not fit this mold. A number of ethnic backgrounds were represented during the conflict.

For example, thousands of black Americans fought as Johnny Rebs. Dr. Lewis Steiner of the U.S. Sanitary Commission observed that while the Confederate army marched through Maryland during the 1862 Sharpsburg (Antietam) campaign, "over 3,000 negroes had arms, rifles, muskets, sabers, bowie knives, dirks, etc. And were manifestly an integral portion of the Southern Confederate Army."

There also were Hispanic Confederates. Col. Santos Benavides, a former Texas Ranger, city attorney and mayor of Laredo, Texas, commanded the 33rd Texas Cavalry, while Gen. Refugio Benavides protected what was known as the Confederacy of the Rio Grande. Recent Irish Catholic immigrants also chose to fight for the South, as did a few stalwart Chinese who served nobly in Louisiana.

The largest ethnic group to serve the Confederacy, however, was made up of first-, second- and third-generation Jewish lads. Old Jewish families, initially Sephardic and later Ashkenazic, had settled in the South generations before the war. Jews had lived in Charleston, S.C., since 1695. By 1800, the largest Jewish community in America lived in Charleston, where the oldest synagogue in America, K.K. Beth Elohim, was founded. By 1861, a third of all the Jews in America lived in Louisiana.

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Monday, April 21, 2014

Blurring the line between police and soldier

Regardless of how people feel about Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy’s standoff with the federal Bureau of Land Management over his cattle’s grazing rights, a lot of Americans were surprised to see TV images of an armed-to-the-teeth paramilitary wing of the BLM deployed around Bundy’s ranch.

They shouldn’t have been. Dozens of federal agencies now have Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams to further an expanding definition of their missions. It’s not controversial that the Secret Service and the Bureau of Prisons have them. But what about the Department of Agriculture, the Railroad Retirement Board, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Office of Personnel Management, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service? All of these have their own SWAT units and are part of a worrying trend towards the militarization of federal agencies not to mention local police forces.

"Law-enforcement agencies across the U.S., at every level of government, have been blurring the line between police officer and soldier," journalist Radley Balko writes in his 2013 book Rise of the Warrior Cop. "The war on drugs and, more recently, post-9/11 antiterrorism efforts have created a new figure on the U.S. scene: the warrior cop armed to the teeth, ready to deal harshly with targeted wrongdoers, and a growing threat to familiar American liberties."

The proliferation of paramilitary federal SWAT teams inevitably brings abuses that have nothing to do with either drugs or terrorism. Many of the raids they conduct are against harmless, often innocent, Americans who typically are accused of non-violent civil or administrative violations.

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Bankers are our true masters?

"It no longer matters who sits in the White House," former Goldman Sachs managing director Nomi Prins writes in her new book "All the Presidents' Bankers: The Hidden Alliances That Drive American Power." "Presidents no longer even try to garner banker support for population-friendly policies, and bankers operate oblivious to the needs of national economies. There is no counterbalance to their power."

Prins, who also worked for Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers and Chase Manhattan Bank, is now a fellow at the think tank Demos and a member of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ Federal Reserve Advisory Council. Salon spoke with Prins about a century of presidential coziness with bankers; Barney Frank’s defense of big banks’ power; and how to "break the alliances" before they "break us." A condensed version of our conversation follows.

It’s no secret that big banks play a big role in shaping U.S. banking policy. Your book argues they play a big role in all kinds of areas, like foreign policy. How broad, deep and consistent is the role of big banks in U.S. policymaking?

Throughout the century that I examined, which began with the Panic of 1907 … what I found by accessing the archives of each president is that through many events and periods, particular bankers were in constant communication [with the White House] not just about financial and economic policy, and by extension trade policy, but also about aspects of World War I, or World War II, or the Cold War, in terms of the expansion that America was undergoing as a superpower in the world, politically, buoyed by the financial expansion of the banking community.

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Taking back federal lands

It’s time for Western states to take control of federal lands within their borders, lawmakers and county commissioners from Western states said at Utah’s Capitol on Friday.

More than 50 political leaders from nine states convened for the first time to talk about their joint goal: wresting control of oil-, timber -and mineral-rich lands away from the feds.

"It’s simply time," said Rep. Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan, who organized the Legislative Summit on the Transfer for Public Lands along with Montana state Sen. Jennifer Fielder. "The urgency is now."

Utah House Speaker Becky Lockhart, R-Provo, was flanked by a dozen participants, including her counterparts from Idaho and Montana, during a press conference after the daylong closed-door summit. U.S. Sen. Mike Lee addressed the group over lunch, Ivory said. New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Wyoming, Oregon and Washington also were represented.

The summit was in the works before this month’s tense standoff between Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and the Bureau of Land Management over cattle grazing, Lockhart said.

"What’s happened in Nevada is really just a symptom of a much larger problem," Lockhart said.

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Free speech and tolerance, or a lack of

I heard a lot of that kind of talk during my battles with the Canadian ‘human rights’ commissions a few years ago: of course, we all believe in free speech, but it’s a question of how you ‘strike the balance’, where you ‘draw the line’… which all sounds terribly reasonable and Canadian, and apparently Australian, too. But in reality the point of free speech is for the stuff that’s over the line, and strikingly unbalanced. If free speech is only for polite persons of mild temperament within government-policed parameters, it isn’t free at all. So screw that.

But I don’t really think that many people these days are genuinely interested in ‘striking the balance’; they’ve drawn the line and they’re increasingly unashamed about which side of it they stand. What all the above stories have in common, whether nominally about Israel, gay marriage, climate change, Islam, or even freedom of the press, is that one side has cheerfully swapped that apocryphal Voltaire quote about disagreeing with what you say but defending to the death your right to say it for the pithier Ring Lardner line: ‘"Shut up," he explained.’

A generation ago, progressive opinion at least felt obliged to pay lip service to the Voltaire shtick. These days, nobody’s asking you to defend yourself to the death: a mildly supportive retweet would do. But even that’s further than most of those in the academy, the arts, the media are prepared to go. As Erin Ching, a student at 60-grand-a-year Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, put it in her college newspaper the other day: ‘What really bothered me is the whole idea that at a liberal arts college we need to be hearing a diversity of opinion.’ Yeah, who needs that? There speaks the voice of a generation: celebrate diversity by enforcing conformity.

The examples above are ever-shrinking Dantean circles of Tolerance: At Galway, the dissenting opinion was silenced by grunting thugs screaming four-letter words. At Mozilla, the chairwoman is far more housetrained: she issued a nice press release all about (per Miss Alcorn) striking a balance between freedom of speech and ‘equality’, and how the best way to ‘support’ a ‘culture’ of ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusiveness’ is by firing anyone who dissents from the mandatory groupthink. At the House of Commons they’re moving to the next stage: in an ‘inclusive culture’ ever more comfortable with narrower bounds of public discourse, it seems entirely natural that the next step should be for dissenting voices to require state permission to speak.

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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Political campaign cash

The debate over campaign contributions is never-ending for a simple reason: Both sides of the argument have merit.

On the one hand, of course money is speech. For most citizens, contributing to politicians or causes is the most effective way to augment and amplify speech with which they agree. The most disdainful dismissers of this argument are editorialists and incumbent politicians who surprise! already enjoy access to vast audiences and don’t particularly like their monopoly being invaded by the unwashed masses or the self-made plutocrat.

On the other hand, of course money is corrupting. The nation’s jails are well stocked with mayors, legislators, judges, and the occasional governor who have exchanged favors for cash. However, there are lesser and legal forms of influence-peddling short of the outright quid pro quo. Campaign contributions are carefully calibrated to approach that line without crossing it. But money distorts. There is no denying the unfairness of big contributors’ buying access unavailable to the everyday citizen.

Hence the endless law-writing to restrict political contributions, invariably followed by multiple fixes to correct the inevitable loopholes. The result is a baffling mass of legislation administered by one cadre of experts and dodged by another.

For a long time, a simple finesse offered a rather elegant solution: no limits on giving but with full disclosure.

Open the floodgates, and let the monies, big and small, check and balance each other. And let transparency be the safeguard against corruption. As long as you know who is giving what to whom, you can look for, find, and, if necessary, prosecute corrupt connections between donor and receiver.

This used to be my position. No longer. I had not foreseen how donor lists would be used not to ferret out corruption but to pursue and persecute citizens with contrary views. Which corrupts the very idea of full disclosure.

It is now an invitation to the creation of enemies lists. Containing, for example, Brendan Eich, forced to resign as Mozilla CEO when it was disclosed that six years earlier he’d given $1,000 to support a referendum banning gay marriage. He was hardly the first. Activists compiled blacklists of donors to Proposition 8 and went after them. Indeed, shortly after the referendum passed, both the artistic director of the California Musical Theatre in Sacramento and the president of the Los Angeles Film Festival were hounded out of office.

Referendums produce the purest example of transparency misused because corrupt favoritism is not an issue. There’s no one to corrupt. Supporting a referendum is a pure expression of one’s beliefs. Full disclosure in that context becomes a cudgel, an invitation to harassment.

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Mohammad Pedro Whitaker

For more than a month, motorists around Kansas City, Missouri, have worried about something besides traffic jams and potholes.

Someone had fired a gun at as many as 20 motorists on major roads and highways. Three people were shot, none with life-threatening injuries.

A news conference expecting to reveal details of the case was scheduled Friday, a day after Police Chief Darryl Forte announced a man was taken into custody in connection with the shootings. The suspect’s name won’t be released until charges have been filed.

Thursday’s arrest took place in Grandview, Missouri, south of Kansas City. Kevin Cooksey, who lives across an alley from the suspect, said he saw police take him into custody.

"He couldn’t go nowhere because he was surrounded. Completely surrounded," Cooksey told affiliate KSHB-TV. "They were on him. As soon as it happened, they were on him."

The shootings began March 8, and at least 12 of them are connected, police said. Some motorists weren’t even aware shots had been fired at their vehicles.

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Here we go again...The latest tipping point

According to the Boston Globe, the United Nations has issued a new climate "tipping point" by which the world must act to avoid dangerous global warming.

The Boston Globe noted on April 16, 2014: "The world now has a rough deadline for action on climate change. Nations need to take aggressive action in the next 15 years to cut carbon emissions, in order to forestall the worst effects of global warming, says the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change."

Once again, the world is being warned of an ecological or climate "tipping point" by the UN.

In 1982, the UN issued a two decade tipping point. UN official Mostafa Tolba, executive director of the UN Environment Program (UNEP), warned on May 11, 1982, the "world faces an ecological disaster as final as nuclear war within a couple of decades unless governments act now." According to Tolba in 1982, lack of action would bring "by the turn of the century, an environmental catastrophe which will witness devastation as complete, as irreversible as any nuclear holocaust."

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Single-payer health care in the future?

Government-run, single-payer health care is back in vogue. It’s the left’s favored fallback as ObamaCare fails. And the Senate just held a hearing on single-payer systems in other countries with no shortage of witnesses touting the supposed benefits.

As ObamaCare continues to disappoint, some states are pushing for a single-payer replacement within their borders. Vermont is working to create such a system; Hawaii’s governor has singled out single-payer as the only potential replacement for his state’s failing exchange. And legislators have offered up proposals to institute single-payer in California, New York, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Colorado.

Single-payer’s cheerleaders cite Canada as proof of the system’s superiority. It’s a foolish fetish: Our northern neighbor’s health-care system is plagued by rationing, long waits, poor-quality care, scarcities of vital medical technologies and unsustainable costs. That’s exactly what’s in store for America if we follow Canada’s lead.

As a native of Canada, I’ve seen this reality firsthand. To keep a lid on costs, Canadian officials ration care. As a result, the average Canadian has to wait 4½ months between getting a referral from his primary-care physician to a specialist for elective medical treatment and actually receiving it.

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Friday, April 18, 2014

EPA, epic fail

Seven months after being subpoenaed by Congress, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy conceded that her agency does not have - and cannot produce - all of the scientific data used for decades to justify numerous rules and regulations under the Clean Air Act.

In a March 7th letter to House Science, Space and Technology Committee chairman Lamar Smith (R-Tex.), McCarthy admitted that EPA cannot produce all of the original data from the 1993 Harvard Six Cities Study (HSC) and the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) 1995 Cancer Prevention Study II, which is currently housed at New York University.

Both studies concluded that fine airborne particles measuring 2.5 micrograms or less (PM2.5) 1/30th the diameter of a human hair are killing thousands of Americans every year.

These epidemiological studies are cited by EPA as the scientific foundation for clean air regulations that restrict particulate emissions from vehicles, power plants and factories.

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Agenda 21, beware

Most people have never heard of Agenda 21. If they have heard of it, they likely believe it to be a vague United Nations program that will never see the light of day, or they believe it is imagined by conspiracy theorists. Yet, the principles contained in Agenda 21 are at the heart of many of our federal programs since the late 1990s. They reach every corner of the United States and impact millions of Americans who don’t even realize the document exists.

Although Agenda 21 was decades in the making, it was showcased to the world at the 1992 UN "Earth Summit" in Rio de Janeiro. It was there that President George H. Bush, along with leaders from 177 other nations, signed onto this "non-binding" UN action plan that was purportedly designed to assist governments at the local, national and international level implement the principles of so-called "sustainable development." The "21" in the name refers to the 21st Century.

Agenda 21 made its way into the U.S. the following year when President Clinton quietly established the President's Council on Sustainable Development (PCSD). The PCSD codified Agenda 21 into U.S. policy through a program called Sustainable America. Today, nearly all federal programs dealing with land management, education, environment and much more are linked to Agenda 21 through Sustainable America.

Because of grassroots pushback, the federal government today rarely uses the term Agenda 21 or Sustainable America anymore especially with any program it is promoting. Instead, programs which administer Agenda 21’s sustainable development principles are given warm and fuzzy titles like the America's Great Outdoors Initiative, Partnership for Sustainable Communities, Obama's Climate Action Plan and many more. Even the newest education fad, Common Core, is linked to Agenda 21, as are the new Next Generation Science Standards.

Google has over 300 million references to Agenda 21, yet it’s hard for most people to get the truth about Agenda 21 because of the truckloads of smoke and misinformation generated by government bureaucrats and the progressive media. This UN program is indeed real and it is an affront to our personal liberties. Agenda 21 is supposedly designed to make the world "sustainable" by limiting human activities that environmental extremists believe are harming the planet. That may sound fine to many people until they understand what it means in practice. In order to protect the environment, Agenda 21 instructs governments to micromanage virtually all human activity which the governments either severely restrict, or regulate to the point that such activity can be minimalized.

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Eugenics with a smiley face

We in the West have our biases like any other people. We like to think we have a wide-eyed view of the world, but that’s nonsense. Humans are as much a product of their culture as of their genetic, both of which are thoroughly tangled up with one another. One of the more hilarious things about the Cult is they are convinced they are the exception to this bit of biology. It is why they chant about ethnocentrism and diversity. Yet, as our elites make war on the rest of the world’s cultures, they barely stop to listen to the complaints from those cultures. The recent troubles in the Ukraine are one such case.

Another is the Middle East, particularly Islam. This story from Iran is a good example. In the West, it has been a matter of faith that we have too many humans. Therefore, setting up abortion mills in the schools, putting girls on birth control and severely limiting our "carbon footprint" are ways to thin the herd. It’s eugenics with a smiley face. It’s also worked. If you look at the Total Fertility Rate (TFR) by country, you see that the West is well below replacement just about everywhere. The US is right at replacement, but that includes high birth rates amongst non-Asian minorities. White birthrates are well below replacement.

Our nuts happen to think this is just a good start. They used to be public about it, but today they are more circumspect. Still, they would like to see the population decimated. Iran, particularly, and the rest of Islam generally is of a different mind. Iran has a TFR of 1.67 and that may be overstated. Persians are the majority population, but not the only population. Their TFR is much lower than the whole.

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Pot and crime in Colorado

In a prior article, I discussed the potential relationship between massive increases in the numbers of some criminal offenses in Denver, Colorado, between January and February 2013 and 2014 and the start of state-regulated recreational marijuana sales on January 1, 2014. What is certain is that, in contrast to the claims over at Vox.com, crime rates in Denver between the first two months of 2013 and 2014 are not unchanged, and certainly not generally declining.

Some commenters on my article noted that Colorado had also changed its gun laws during 2013, and wondered if this could possibly explain some of the recent changes in crime rates. When we look at when the crime rates for offenses that have spiked during the past year actually began their rapid rise, it is clear that rates started to increase substantially in May 2013, and then increased much more in June 2013, after which they have been approximately stable at this significantly higher level. Could this be due to Colorado's gun law changes? This may play a minor background role, but given their timing and nature these firearms restrictions are not likely the cause of the skyrocketing crime rates for most offenses during May/June 2013.

What happened in May 2013? On May 8, the Colorado legislature passed bills regulating the manufacture, sale, distribution, and use of recreational marijuana. In late May 2013, the governor signed the bills into law. On January 1, 2014, the first stores in the state to sell pot for recreational use opened.

It was during May and June 2013 that crime rates in Denver for offenses such as simple assaults, intimidation, disorderly conduct/disturbing the peace, family offenses/nonviolent, liquor law/drunkeness, violation of a restraining/court order, and criminal trespassing went through the roof effectively overnight (in some cases by almost two orders of magnitude when compared either to the same month in 2012 or to only a few months prior). Could Denver law enforcement just have started cracking down at much higher levels during this timeframe in an attempt to send a strong public message in response to these bills being signed into law? Certainly. A law enforcement crackdown could also have been timed to send a message regarding increased gun restrictions, but this seems to be a background issue.

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Feds damage Bundy's ranch

The federal agency that backed down over the weekend in a tense standoff with a Nevada rancher is being accused of leaving a trail of wreckage behind.

Fox News toured the damage -- allegedly caused by the Bureau of Land Management -- which included holes in water tanks and destroyed water lines and fences. According to family friends, the bureau's hired "cowboys" also killed two prize bulls.

"They had total control of this land for one week, and look at the destruction they did in one week," said Corey Houston, friend of rancher Cliven Bundy and his family. "So why would you trust somebody like that? And how does that show that they're a better steward?"

The BLM and other law enforcement officials backed down on Saturday in their effort to seize Bundy's cattle, after hundreds of protesters, some armed, arrived to show support for the Bundy family. In the end, BLM officials left the scene amid concerns about safety, and no shots were fired.

The dispute between the feds and the Bundy family has been going on for years; they say he owes more than $1.1 million in unpaid grazing fees -- and long ago revoked his grazing rights over concern for a federally protected tortoise. They sent officials to round up his livestock following a pair of federal court orders last year giving the U.S. government the authority to impound the cattle.

The feds, though, are being accused of taking the court orders way too far.

More here


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Brits are insane, example #4568

British Prime Minister David Cameron invited the Muslim Brotherhood’s international spokesman to lunch at Chequers last year in a two-hour seminar in which the Brotherhood presented its vision and the prime minister asked what Britain could do to support it, the Middle East Eye has learned.

Gehad El-Hadad, the international spokesman, was the star attraction of a prime ministerial seminar held on 17 May last year, when the former president Mohamed Morsi was still in power and months before he was due to London on an official visit.

According to a source who was present, Cameron talked of crony capitalism under Hosni Mubarak, and the potential of free markets under Morsi. Cameron questioned El-Hadad on the Brotherhood’s vision and asked what Britain could do to support it.

More here

Boys club culture

Sexism in Britain is more widespread than in any other country due to a 'boys' club culture', a United Nations official has concluded.

Rashida Manjoo, a South African human rights expert, was charged by the UN Humans Rights Council to monitor violence against women in the UK and report back to them.

She warned that sexual bullying and harassment were now "routine" in UK schools, according to NGOs she had interviewed, and recommended that schools have mandatory modules on sexism.

Ms Manjoo shared her preliminary findings on Tuesday and said: "Have I seen this level of sexist culture in other countries? It hasn’t been so in your face in other countries. I haven’t seen that so pervasively in other countries. I’m sure it exists but it wasn’t so much and so pervasive.

More here


(Apparently, she has never heard of Saudi Arabia and other muslim countries)

 

 


Vacuuming CO2 from the sky, yes that's correct

In order to stave off the worst of global warming's consequences, the world's nations must find a way to reduce carbon emissions by 40 to 70 percent by 2050. That's one of many claims made in the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The new report also suggests vacuuming up vast amounts of CO2 from the skies and storing it underground may be the most viable solution for mitigating the greenhouse gas effect in the short term.

It's the third report on climate change released by the IPCC, a group of international climate scientists organized under the auspices of the United Nations. The group's second report, which was released last month, predicted serious environmental and economic catastrophe in the latter half of the 20th century, should calls to slow global warming continue to go unanswered.

This latest report, released on Sunday, weighs the efficacy and plausibility of a variety of climate change policy solutions and mitigation options.

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A third gender?

India's Supreme Court has created an official third sex for its transgender eunuchs and announced they will have a quota of government jobs and college places to help them overcome discrimination.

The decision was met with jubilation by transgender charities who said it was a milestone in their fight against marginalisation in Indian society.

"We are elated and thankful to the court," said Kalki Subramanium, a leading transgender rights activist. "The decision has come after a century of suppression and marginalisation by the legal and social systems.

"This verdict is certainly landmark and a new beginning. The biggest challenge is the social recognition. We have to educate and make people aware that we exist and there's nothing abnormal about us. This will give a boost to the transgenders who want to study or work but were denied a chance. They can now be part of the mainstream,"

India’s transgenders include those who feel they were born into the wrong sex, men born with deformed genitals and effeminate boys disowned by their families and sent to live in eunuch colonies.

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Black college, white baseball team

On a campus steeped in African-American history and tradition, at one of the few colleges in the country claiming Martin Luther King Jr. Drive as a home address, a certain group of athletes is initially judged not by the content of their character, but by the color of their skin.

Whenever they head to class or to the cafeteria or hustle off to the athletic complex in clusters, other students will nod and reach an easy conclusion about the identity of these white players:


Oh, you must be the baseball team.

"Every now and then, we'll hear that," said pitcher Scott Wells. "People know who we are. It's no secret. It's never done negatively or anything like that. It's all in fun. But yeah, we get that sometimes."

Winston-Salem State University is a member of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities, a distinction made necessary in the Jim Crow South when ambitious black teenagers had no other educational options. The school is roughly 75 percent black and has had a black majority for its entire 122-year existence. A singular culture dominates campus life. The student-body, the faculty, the football games, the music pumped in the student union, the parties, the Homecoming Queen and her court, "Big House" Gaines and the basketball legacy he built, the fraternities and sororities. All mostly black.

Except for the baseball team. That would be very, very white.

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How leftists think

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Selective enforcement of the law

On Saturday, I wrote about the standoff at Bundy Ranch. That post drew a remarkable amount of traffic, even though, as I wrote then, I had not quite decided what to make of the story. Since then, I have continued to study the facts and have drawn some conclusions. Here they are.

First, it must be admitted that legally, Bundy doesn’t have a leg to stand on. The Bureau of Land Management has been charging him grazing fees since the early 1990s, which he has refused to pay. Further, BLM has issued orders limiting the area on which Bundy’s cows can graze and the number that can graze, and Bundy has ignored those directives. As a result, BLM has sued Bundy twice in federal court, and won both cases. In the second, more recent action, Bundy’s defense is that the federal government doesn’t own the land in question and therefore has no authority to regulate grazing. That simply isn’t right; the land, like most of Nevada, is federally owned. Bundy is representing himself, of necessity: no lawyer could make that argument.

That being the case, why does Bundy deserve our sympathy? To begin with, his family has been ranching on the acres at issue since the late 19th century. They and other settlers were induced to come to Nevada in part by the federal government’s promise that they would be able to graze their cattle on adjacent government-owned land. For many years they did so, with no limitations or fees. The Bundy family was ranching in southern Nevada long before the BLM came into existence.

Over the last two or three decades, the Bureau has squeezed the ranchers in southern Nevada by limiting the acres on which their cattle can graze, reducing the number of cattle that can be on federal land, and charging grazing fees for the ever-diminishing privilege. The effect of these restrictions has been to drive the ranchers out of business. Formerly, there were dozens of ranches in the area where Bundy operates. Now, his ranch is the only one. When Bundy refused to pay grazing fees beginning in around 1993, he said something to the effect of, they are supposed to be charging me a fee for managing the land and all they are doing is trying to manage me out of business. Why should I pay them for that?

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Where art thou, Noble Savages?

Anthropologist Napoleon Chagnon’s heart was pounding in late November 1964 when he entered a remote Venezuelan village. He planned to spend more than a year studying the indigenous Yanomamo people, one of the last large groups in the world untouched by civilization. Based on his university training, the 26-year-old Chagnon expected to be greeted by 125 or so peaceful villagers, patiently waiting to be interviewed about their culture. Instead, he stumbled onto a scene where a dozen "burley, naked, sweaty, hideous men" confronted him and his guide with arrows drawn.

Chagnon later learned that the men were edgy because raiders from a neighboring settlement had abducted seven of their women the day before. The next morning, the villagers counterattacked and recovered five of the women in a brutal club fight. As Chagnon recounts in Noble Savages: My Life Among Two Dangerous TribesThe Yanomamo and the Anthropologists (originally published in 2013 and now appearing in paperback), he spent weeks puzzling over what he had seen. His anthropology education had taught him that kinsmenthe raiders were related to those they’d attackedwere generally nice to one another. Further, he had learned in classrooms that primitive peoples rarely fought one another, because they lived a subsistence lifestyle in which there was no surplus wealth to squabble about. What other reason could humans have for being at one another’s throats?

Chagnon spent decades studying the Yanomamo first-hand. What he observed challenged conventional wisdom about human nature, suggesting that primitive man may have lived in a Hobbesian state of "all against all"where the concerns of group and individual security were driving factors in how society developed, and where a sense of terror was widespread. His work undercut a longstanding politically correct view in anthropology, which held that Stone Age humans were noble savages and that civilization had corrupted humanity and led to increasing violence. Chagnon’s reporting on the Yanomamo subsequently became unpopular and was heavily attacked within some academic circles. He endured accusations and investigations. Noble Savages is Chagnon’s engrossing and at times hair-raising story of his work among the Yanomamo and the controversies his discoveries stirred up.

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Who says crime doesn't pay?

With a round pool in the backyard, a Mercedes and a boat in the driveway and a greenhouse and an aviary nearby, the Florida house doesn’t look like it was owned by someone who qualified for public assistance.

But it was.

While living the life of luxury on a 1-acre manicured lot, Gloria Valle-Clas collected between $305,000 and $377,000 in food stamps, housing assistance and Medicaid benefits. Using two separate Social Security numbers and as many as 12 aliases, she duped government agencies into sending her monthly assistance checks and picking up her medical bills for nearly a decade.

"Conduct like this should incense all Americans," U.S. District Judge Kenneth Ryskamp said Thursday. "To be ripping off our government every agency by every means possible."

While her attorney Gregg Lerman suggested a roughly 3 1/2-year sentence, Ryskamp said that wasn’t enough. He tacked on roughly another year.

"I just think this is about as low as it gets," Ryskamp said in sentencing Valle-Clas to 51 months in prison, the maximum allowed under federal rules. He also ordered her to pay $283,359 in restitution.

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LBJ, no angel

President Lyndon B. Johnson of Texas was lauded by four successor presidents as a Lincoln-esque groundbreaker for civil rights, but President Barack Obama also noted that Johnson also had long opposed civil rights proposals.

"Now, like any of us, he was not a perfect man," Obama said in his April 10, 2014, speech at the Civil Rights Summit at the LBJ Presidential Library. "His experiences in rural Texas may have stretched his moral imagination. But he was ambitious, very ambitious, a young man in a hurry to plot his own escape from poverty and to chart his own political career. And in the Jim Crow South, that meant not challenging convention.

"During his first 20 years in Congress," Obama said, "he opposed every civil rights bill that came up for a vote, once calling the push for federal legislation a farce and a shame."

On one level, it’s not surprising that anyone elected in Johnson’s era from a former member-state of the Confederate States of America resisted civil-rights proposals into and past the 1950s. But given Johnson’s later roles spearheading civil-rights measures into law including acts approved in 1957, 1960 and 1964, we wondered whether Johnson’s change of course was so long in coming.

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Tax and spend

Since taking office in 2009, President Barack Obama has formally proposed a total of 442 tax increases, according to an Americans for Tax Reform analysis of Obama administration budgets for fiscal years 2010 through 2015.

The 442 total proposed tax increases does not include the 20 tax increases Obama signed into law as part of Obamacare.

"History tells us what Obama was able to do. This list reminds us of what Obama wanted to do," said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform.

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