Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Obama admin. transgender bathroom regs hit another snag.

A U.S. District Court issued a temporary injunction against the Obama administrations transgender bathroom regulations.  The case could go to trial.
According to the New York Times:

"A federal judge has blocked the Obama administration from enforcing new guidelines that were intended to expand restroom access for transgender students across the country.
Judge Reed O’Connor of the Federal District Court for the Northern District of Texas said in a 38-page ruling, which he said should apply nationwide, that the government had not complied with federal law when it issued “directives which contradict the existing legislative and regulatory text.”
OPEN Document

Document: Preliminary Injunction Order


Judge O’Connor, whom President George W. Bush nominated to the federal bench, said that not granting an injunction would put states “in the position of either maintaining their current policies in the face of the federal government’s view that they are violating the law, or changing them to comply with the guidelines and cede their authority over this issue.”
The judge’s order on Sunday, in a case brought by officials from more than a dozen states, was a victory for social conservatives in the continuing legal battles over the restroom guidelines, which the federal government issued this year. The culture war over the rights of transgender people, and especially their right to use public bathrooms consistent with their gender identities, has emerged as an emotional cause among social conservatives.
The Obama administration’s assertion that the rights of transgender people in public schools and workplaces are protected under existing laws against sex discrimination has been condemned by social conservatives, who said the administration was illegally intruding into local affairs and promoting a policy that would jeopardize the privacy and safety of schoolchildren.
The ruling could deter the administration from bringing new legal action against school districts that do not allow transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms of their choice."
The U.S. Supreme Court has already affirmed a stay/temporary injunction against the regs in another case. http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/supreme-court-blocks-transgender-bathroom-ruling-n622476

Among the legal issues are whether the statute the admin. is relying on in using the word 'sex' with regard to discrimination can be stretched to include gender preference or transgender people.  Another issue is whether the admin. followed the rules for creating the regs.  It doesn't look good for the administration at this point.  I think the regs should be struck down on the first basis.  It MAY be a good policy, but it still must be done in a lawful fashion.  Hopefully, the Supreme Court will settle this.

UT PROFS LOSE ROUND ONE IN LAWSUIT

3 Univ. of Texas at Austin profs sued to block  licensed concealed carry in their classrooms contrary to university policy as provided for by Texas law.
The judge denied them a preliminary injunction on the grounds they were not likely to prevail after trial.  The case will next go to trial if the profs so decide.  Like many I predicted they would not get an injunction.  I predict they will lose at trial.  I always like to see authoritarian leftists get shot down in court. 

Saturday, August 20, 2016

FEDS TO STOP USING PRIVATE PRISONS


Over the years, a number of conservatives have touted the benefits of privatized corrections.  They may have been wrong.
"The United States government just sounded a death knell for the prison-industrial complex.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Thursday that it plans on ending the continued use of private prison facilities after officials “concluded the facilities are both less safe and less effective at providing correctional services than those run by the government,” the Washington Post reports.
The announcement comes one week after the DOJ’s inspector general published a scathing report on the status of the “contract prisons” the Bureau of Prisons began operating in 1997 to handle overcrowding in federal institutions (as of December 2015, contract prisons housed roughly 12 percent of the Bureau of Prisons’ total inmate population). The inspector general concluded that private prisons “incurred more safety and security incidents per capita than comparable [Bureau of Prisons] institutions,” ranging from “extensive property damage, bodily injury, and the death of a Correctional Officer.”

DELAY IN QUESTIONING OFFICERS AFTER SHOOTINGS

Many law enforcement agencies have rules requiring that the agency wait 48, or in some cases 72, hours to interview the officers involved in a shooting. Note that no ordinary suspect is given such consideration.
See this article:

For years, departments in [Albuquerque N.M. and Arlington TX] and states like Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Oregon, Texas, and Wisconsin have required a waiting period of at least two days. In Dallas, 72 hours must pass. In Baltimore, where six police officers have been charged for their involvement in the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, a union contract compels cops to wait 10 days before speaking with investigators.
In the aftermath of controversial police shootings, from Michael Brown to Tamir Rice and Samuel Dubose, the public has repeatedly seen that an officer's account—"I almost got run over by the car" or "I felt like a five-year-old holding onto Hulk Hogan"—can have big implications for a case, swaying internal investigators, prosecutors, and grand juries as they determine whether a police shooting was legal or justified. It is unsurprising, then, that over the past year the question of how long officers should wait before giving their accounts has been fiercely debated. Policing experts have raised a number of issues, . . .  Local officials and union attorneys who embrace the so-called 48-hour rule say stress can interfere with an officer's ability to recall details. "The science behind how people remember things, particularly those that are involved in a high-stress, adrenaline-infused situation, has shown that memories can often be inaccurate if they are immediate," Sean Smoot, a police union attorney who represents officers in Illinois, testified to the US Commission on Civil Rights in April. . . . delay could give officers an opportunity to review video or "consult with their peers who were involved before they ever give a statement." Walter Katz, a Los Angeles-based attorney focusing on police accountability, told me that "there's always the concern about either contamination or having statements which are essentially fabricated." And McGinn and others have asked if the delays amount to special treatment a regular citizen wouldn't be afforded. (Union officials have pointed out that due process for ordinary civilians does not provide enough protection for law enforcement officers.) In the fragile atmosphere that tends to follow police shootings, such suspicions could well corrode public trust.
What's more, rules delaying interviews also overlook the fact that officers may prefer to get their interviews out of the way, says David Klinger, a criminologist at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. "In the absence of sound scientific evidence, why make [or allow] them wait?"  [the waiting period serves the interests of police, police unions, attorneys who represent officers, and consultants and experts who get money from the above.]

These delay rules must go.  There is little scientific evidence supporting the delay rules. Most of the evidence suggests the rules are a bad idea for recall.  Why not both interview them immediately and then re-interview 48-72 hours later?
The delay is advocated by many police officers, police unions, attorneys who defend police, experts who consult and testify for police and police organizations, and Chiefs who don't want any scandals coming out.  A number of groups have called for abolition of the rule.

Dallas PD's Chief has gotten rid of the delay rule. Thank you Chief Brown. Transparency, fairness and public trust require it.


"This is why Dallas Police Chief David Brown's policy change to give officers a 72-hour delay before answering questions about a shooting never quite registered — and why it's good that he discontinued it.

In November 2013, Brown had said that any Dallas officer involved in a shooting, even as a witness, could stay silent for 72 hours. And before giving a statement, officers could view any available video. Obviously, this would delay any investigation by three days, since no such investigation could be complete without officer statements.

Worse, it gave the impression that department policy put a thumb on the scale for officers, giving them an undue advantage in conforming their statements to available facts and, in cases of multiple officers, making sure their accounts did not contradict.

This is almost never the case when it's the police arresting non-officers accused of killing someone.

This policy change came to light about a month after a Dallas officer was caught giving, let's say, a dubious account of a shooting. Officer Cardan Spencer was accused of shooting a mentally ill man, Bobby Bennett, outside a home in the Rylie neighborhood. Officer Christopher Watson, Spencer's partner, told investigators that Bennett took steps toward the officers with a knife raised.

Bennett survived his shooting and was charged with aggravated assault of a public servant. That was until a neighbor's surveillance video appeared; Bennett did have a knife, but he initially rolled away from officers in a swivel chair. When he stood up, he kept his hands at his side and never moved his feet.

Brown ordered charges against Bennett dropped and fired Spencer, who was subsequently indicted by a Dallas County grand jury. Watson was suspended for 15 days for giving a false statement.

Spencer deserves his day in court, but the neighbor's video left little doubt that Bennett was a victim in this drama. Spencer also was the first Dallas police officer indicted on shooting-related charges in four decades.

Would Brown have instituted the 72-hour policy without the surveillance video? It's impossible to say for certain, but his decision to cede now to this demand from the Next Generation Action Network makes sense. That group is agitating for further reforms from a Dallas Police Department already leading the way in this area, but that doesn't make the group wrong on this issue."

 


 

MORE JUNK GUN CONTROL RESEARCH

See this critique of a recent study on gun control.
https://omnitalk.wordpress.com/2016/08/09/critics-shoot-holes-in-widely-cited-gun-study/#more-8904

Some gun controls lead to more deaths?

Study suggests some gun controls could lead to more deaths?
http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2016-03-10/study-some-gun-control-laws-result-in-more-deaths
"For the study, researchers looked at 25 state gun control laws to try to draw conclusions about which ones had the most impact on gun deaths. Its findings suggest that nine laws were associated with an increase in gun deaths, nine were associated with a decrease, and the remaining showed no association. For example, laws that restrict firearm access to children, including age restrictions, were shown to be ineffective."

The problem with this study, as it is with all studies of this type is that correlation between two variable does not prove causation.  The effect may be caused by some other variable.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Correlation_does_not_imply_causation

Unfortunately, most of the research on gun control is junk when it comes to dealing with issues of causation and prevention.

OBAMA SPARES GUN OFFENDERS; IS GUN CONTROL REALLY ABOUT CRIME CONTROL?

According to the Washington Times:
"Richard Reid was already a two-time felon when authorities searched his Delaware apartment and found marijuana, crack cocaine divided into sales-size plastic bags, powder cocaine, a scale — and a loaded .32 caliber handgun, an unloaded .25 caliber pistol and ammunition for two other types of weapons.
Last week, President Obama commuted Reid’s 25-year sentence and made him one of the hundreds of drug users and dealers who the White House says have done enough time.
But at the same time, Mr. Obama forgave scores of gun crimes convictions for the offenders, raising thorny questions about whether the White House is serious about keeping guns out of “the wrong hands” — a refrain of the Obama administration in the wake of mass shootings.
Mr. Obama forgave six of Reid’s gun crimes, in addition to the drug trafficking and possession offenses for which he was convicted in 2007.
He is one of 107 federal inmates who have had gun crimes convictions pardoned or sentences commuted during this administration, including a number who used firearms while dealing drugs or who carried them despite having felonies on their records. Still others were caught lying to gun dealers or carrying weapons with the registration numbers filed off — suggesting an even deeper level of gun crime.
“This is the most incredible hypocrisy,” said Erich Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America. “The president has commuted the sentences of dangerous criminals who were convicted of gun-related charges. But then, he does everything in his power to block law-abiding gun owners from purchasing firearms.”

Why pardon or commute sentences for gun crime offenders if you are really serious about controlling gun crime.  One might suspect that gun control is not really about crime control. Just another facet of America's culture wars.

Friday, August 19, 2016

DOES GUN CONTROL WORK? WILL MORE IN THE U.S. MAKE THIINGS BETTER? RESERACH REPORT

This article, by the Washington Post, discusses the crucial issue of what type of gun control works.  Gun controllers assume it will work without harming legitimate self-defense.  They are loath to discuss the issue as are most of the media.

"
Gun control works, but you have to be smart about it.
That's the takeaway from a major new analysis out this month in the journal Epidemiologic Reviews. Columbia University's Julian Santaella-Tenorio and a team of researchers pored over the results of 130 studies on gun control legislation passed in 10 different countries to find out which policy interventions worked, which ones didn't and on what issues the jury was still out.
Big caveat up front: Sussing out cause from effect in the policy realm is a complicated task. Most of the studies we have on gun violence are able to describe associations -- after you pass X law, Y effect happened. But that doesn't necessarily tell you that Y happened because of X. Researchers can control for various other factors that might also cause Y to happen, like changes in economic situation or demographics, but you can't eliminate uncertainty completely."

If the studies were poorly done, of the researchers biased, both of which are much more frequent than you think (Gargage in,Garbage out), what was the conclusion.

"Its No. 1 conclusion was that comprehensive gun legislation packages -- which include an array of different policy changes -- seem to be associated with reductions in gun deaths.
"The simultaneous implementation of laws targeting multiple elements of firearms regulations reduced firearm-related deaths in certain countries," Santaella-Tenoria and his colleagues conclude."

However, the 'certain countries' where gun control has worked, does not include the U.S.  It is naïve to believe that just because something works in country X it will work in country Y.   Further,
The problem with this study, as it is with all studies of this type is that correlation between two variable does not prove causation.  The effect may be caused by some other variable.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Correlation_does_not_imply_causation

For a scholarly critique of this study see
http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2016/06/15/aje.kww051

PA ATTY. GEN. CONVICTED AND RESIGNS

Another crooked politician resigns after conviction. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/17/us/pennsylvania-attorney-general-kathleen-kane-resigns.html?_r=0

$ millions to settle police killing cases

Cleveland and
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/04/25/cleveland-to-pay-out-6m-over-police-killing-of-12-year-old-tamir/

http://theusabulletin.com/2016/08/16/new-york-city-to-pay-4-1-million-to-family-of-unarmed-man-fatally-shot-by-rookie-officer/

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

PASTORS CHALLENGE GAY CONVERSION THERAPY LAW IN lL. THEY MAY BE RIGHT!


A group of pastors is suing Illinois over a law that bars therapists from trying to change a minor's sexual orientation.
The lawsuit filed Thursday in federal court seeks to exclude clergy from the ban that took effect Jan. 1. The lawsuit contends the prohibition shouldn't apply to clergy because it violates free speech and religious rights.
Illinois is among five states with bans on so-called gay conversion therapy for youth under 18. Laws in California and New Jersey have withstood legal challenges, but an attorney for the pastors says the prohibitions in those states did not include clergy.
Critics of so-called gay conversion therapy argue it's traumatic and psychologically damaging."  Pres. Obama has come out against such therapy. 



However, perusal of the statute suggests that the ban on trying such therapy applies to 'mental health providers" only.  Pastors or clergy are not included in the definition of such providers.  Pastors are not included in the main part of the law unless they are acting in another therapy-related role.  The flap appears to be over this section below which has no exclusion for pastors and is not limited to mental health providers.
    Section 25. Advertisement and sales; misrepresentation. No
person or entity may, in the conduct of any trade or commerce,
use or employ any deception, fraud, false pretense, false
promise, misrepresentation, or the concealment, suppression,
or omission of any material fact in advertising or otherwise
offering conversion therapy services in a manner that
represents homosexuality as a mental disease, disorder, or
illness, with intent that others rely upon the concealment,
suppression, or omission of such material fact. A violation of
this Section constitutes an unlawful practice under the
Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act.

Although I am a supporter of LGBT rights, I am also a supporter of freedom of speech and religion.  This type of legislation smells of leftist knee-jerk intolerance and authoritarianism.  I have no problem with political correctness, everyone has First Amendment rights.  But when the correctness becomes law, there can be problems. There should be an exception for pastors.  If there isn't it violates these pastors' rights, as long as they are acting in a pastoral capacity.   For professionals, it may violate their first Amendment rights.  Stay tuned.  Further, don't parents have rights regarding what they think their child needs? 

Stay Tuned!


 

CRIME, LAW AND JUSTICE ISSUES IN HONDURAS, SOUTH AFRICA

Every once in a while it's interesting to look at some of the things happening in other nations.
Honduras may be making progress against violent crime.   "Three years ago, Honduras had the highest homicide rate in the world. The city of San Pedro Sula had the highest homicide rate in the country. And the Rivera Hernández neighborhood, where 194 people were killed or hacked to death in 2013, had the highest homicide rate in the city. Tens of thousands of young Hondurans traveled to the United States to plead for asylum from the drug gangs’ violence.
This summer I returned to Rivera Hernández to find a remarkable reduction in violence, much of it thanks to programs funded by the United States that have helped community leaders tackle crime." Contrary to this author's contentions, treating violence as a communicable disease was not the approach that led to reduced violence. Crimonological and sociological theory, and community programs, helped by U.S. aid, were the main the methods.

South Africa is 80% black with black leadership.  80% of the police are black.  This does not eliminate police violence. Almost all the violence is intra-racial. Obviously, racial differences are not the cause. "For citizens and police officers alike, South Africa is a more dangerous place than the United States. Its population is much smaller, but by most estimates, South African officers are killed at higher rates than their American counterparts. Likewise, South Africans are killed by the police at higher rates."  Class differences, police culture, and political culture may be playing roles

Action & Reaction in America, Confederate symbols

America is the land of action and re-action.  Part of the country moves in one direction, part in the other.  Here are examples from Texas.
[E]xplosive deliberations about the names of Confederates on public schools . . .  unfolded across Texas during the last academic year, after the massacre in Charleston of nine African-American worshippers by a man who revered the Confederacy.

Read more here: http://www.star-telegram.com/news/state/article95634022.html#storylink=cpy
"When classes start this month across Texas, 10 schools in Austin, Dallas and Houston will welcome students to the new academic year with new names, leaving at least 24 that still bear the names of Confederates. . . Efforts to rename schools that pay homage to Confederates have made headlines across the country. Public symbols of veneration for the Confederacy have also been reconsidered at UT-Austin, which removed of a statue of Jefferson Davis last August, and House Speaker Joe Straus charged the Texas House Administration Committee with reviewing Confederate statues on the Capitol grounds."

Elsewhere in Texas
"A memorial honoring those who fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War, edging for states’ rights and slavery, is close to being completed near Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Orange, Texas.
The small town located just west of the Louisiana border is home to the half-completed monument that, so far, stands with a circular base and multiple columns, Gary Bray, commander of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, told mySA.com Friday. Bray said the monument has been in the works for “several years” and will include benches for visitors to the area located next to Interstate-10."

Although the SCV denies it supports white supremacy, the Southern Poverty Law Center suspects otherwise.


Since at least 2013, the group has been raising funds for the $50,000-memorial, with construction moving along as fast as money allows.

Read more here: http://www.star-telegram.com/news/state/article95634022.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.star-telegram.com/news/state/article95634022.html#storylink=cpy

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

THE POLICE SHOOTING IN MILWAUKEE

Although more details and video will come out, here's what appears to have been involved in the shooting that Sparked violent rioting in Milwaukee.
"Officials first identified Sylville Smith as the man who was shot by the 24-year-old officer on Sunday.
Authorities said Smith had been previously charged with first-degree recklessly endangering safety for his involvement in a shooting last year, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. 
During a press conference Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett said a photo shows 'without question' Smith had a gun in his hand.
Barrett said that Smith had 'more firepower than the officer', and his handgun was loaded with 23 rounds, which he refused to drop when ordered by police. 


First images of the 23-year-old armed man shot and killed by a Milwaukee police, Sylville Smith (pictured), officer have surfaced
Officials first identified Sylville Smith (pictured) as the man who was shot by the 24-year-old officer on Sunday
Smith's (piictured) father, Patrick Smith, told FOX 6 Milwaukee it was his son whose death sparked violent riots in the county
Smith's father blamed himself for his son's death
Authorities said Smith (left and right) had been previously charged with first-degree recklessly endangering safety for his involvement in a shooting last year. During a press conference Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett said a photo shows 'without question' Smith had a gun in his hand
'I got out of jail two months ago, but I’ve been going back and forth in jail and they see those things so I’d like to apologize to my kids because this is the role model they look up to,' Patrick Smith (pictured) told FOX 6
'I got out of jail two months ago, but I’ve been going back and forth in jail and they see those things so I’d like to apologize to my kids because this is the role model they look up to,' Patrick Smith (pictured) told FOX 6
Milwaukee Police Chief Edward A Flynn said officers wore body cameras as they approached the vehicle, which they found suspicious, and within 20 to 25 seconds Smith, who had a lengthy rap sheet, was dead.
Flynn said he wasn't sure what prompted the stop, but said Smith's car was 'behaving suspiciously'.
He also said that he would like the body cam video to be released as soon as possible, following due process. 
Flynn said he believes his officer feared for his life before shooting Smith."  
SOURCE and
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3740850/Devastated-sister-man-shot-cop-encourages-peace-says-wants-prosecutors-file-charges-against-officer-Milwaukee-escapes-night-riots.html#ixzz4HXPM7Knv
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DOJ REPORT ON BALTIMORE POLICE

Full report by DOJ on Baltimore police at
https://www.justice.gov/opa/file/883366/download

Problems include racial bias, bias against female rape victims, abuse of stop and frisk.

MILWAUKEE RIOTING OVER?


"Milwaukee's curfew on teenagers and community leaders' calls for restraint calmed the city somewhat overnight after two nights of riots sparked by the fatal police shooting of a black man.
The city was due to become a focus of the U.S. presidential race later on Tuesday. Republican nominee Donald Trump will visit and participate in a previously scheduled televised town hall meeting with Fox News host Sean Hannity, raising the possibility of protests similar to those that have followed the candidate elsewhere during the campaign.
Police said Sylville Smith, 23, was killed on Saturday afternoon after he fled a black officer who had stopped him for acting suspiciously. They said Smith was carrying an illegal handgun and refused orders to drop it when he was shot.
Peaceful demonstrations in the Sherman Park area where Smith died turned into violent protests on Saturday and Sunday nights. Shots were fired, and some rioters torched businesses and police cars. Angry crowds pelted riot police with bottles and bricks.

Eight officers were wounded, and dozens of people were arrested, police said. One person suffered a gunshot wound.
Monday night was much quieter after a citywide curfew for minors took effect at 10 p.m. Police said there were 10 arrests, one report of shots fired and no property damage."

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

POLARIZATION ON GUN CONTOL V. GUN RIGHTS

The nation is fairly equally divided on whether it is more important to preserve gun rights of have more gun control. The national is clearly polarized.  There is, however, widespread support for increasing background checks to screen out suspected terrorists, the mentally ill, etc.
According to Pew Research polling:

"The balance of opinion on whether it is more important to control gun ownership or protect gun rights has been more closely divided in recent years than it was in the early 2000s or 1990s. From 1993-2008, majorities said it was more important to control gun ownership than to protect gun rights. (For more on long-term attitudes on gun control and gun rights, see “A Public Opinion Trend that Matters: Priorities for Gun Policy,” Jan. 9, 2015.)
There continues to be a substantial partisan gap in opinions about whether it is more important to control gun ownership or protect gun rights – much larger, in fact, than the gap over specific gun proposals. Nearly three-quarters of Democrats (73%) say it is more important to control gun ownership; 71% of Republicans say it is more important to protect gun rights." . . . As previous Pew Research Center surveys have found, there is broad support for expanded background checks even from those who say it is more important to protect gun rights than to control gun ownership.
About eight-in-ten (82%) of those who say it is more important to protect gun rights favor expanded background checks on private gun sales, as do 88% of those who prioritize controlling gun ownership."

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

GUN SALES GOING UP IN SWITZERLAND, CRIME VERY LOW

Looks like Americans aren't the only ones buying guns in the face of threats to their safety.  Lots of guns in Switzerland but crime is very, very low. Terrorism appears to be the main fear.
See this from USA Today http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2016/07/26/switzerland-land-peace-sees-gun-sales-soar-after-terror-attacks/87573224/:
"As nations around Europe tighten their gun laws after a series of terror attacks in several countries since 2015, the Swiss are bucking this trend by turning to firearms for protection.
Official statistics show that gun sales in some parts of Switzerland soared nearly 50% after last year’s attacks in Paris and the March bombings in Brussels. And gun sales continue to grow since the killings in France and Germany in the past two weeks.
In Wyss’ shop, “the demand for pistols, revolvers and pump-action guns rose by 30% to 50% after this month’s attacks in Nice and Munich,” he told USA TODAY.
Even though Switzerland has not been involved in an armed battle since a conflict between Catholics and Protestants in 1847, guns are ubiquitous in this Alpine nation.
In fact, neutral Switzerland has long been one of the world’s most heavily armed countries, trailing behind only the United States and Yemen in the number of guns per 100 people, according to the Small Arms Survey. 
About 3.4 million military and private firearms are estimated by the United Nations to be in circulation in this country of only 8.3 million people. Even though guns are prevalent, the violent crime rate is relatively low: about 7.7 firearm homicides a year per 1 million people, according to Human Development Index. In the United States, that number is nearly 30, one of the highest in the world.
Although guns continue to stir heated debate in the United States and much of Europe, the issue in Switzerland is far less contentious. That’s because the Swiss have a deeply ingrained gun culture, rooted in a sense of civic responsibility, patriotic duty and national identity.
Military service is compulsory for all men, and weapons are kept at home because of the long-held belief that enemies could invade tiny Switzerland quickly. So every soldier had to be able to fight his way to his regiment’s assembly point.
Historians believe Germany didn’t invade Switzerland during World War II because it knew every Swiss man was armed and trained to shoot.
Several years ago Switzerland introduced tighter rules to make firearms less accessible to potentially dangerous people. For instance, all military — but not private — ammunition must now be stored in central arsenals, though weapons can still be kept in soldiers’ homes.
For privately owned firearms, a background check and permit are compulsory, but rifles and semiautomatic long arms used for hunting are exempt from this requirement. And no license is needed for transactions between private individuals.
Although it is fairly easy to purchase firearms here, authorities warn against using them to fight terrorists.
"We can’t forbid anyone to legally purchase a gun, but this is no solution for terror," Beat Villiger, the vice president of the Conference of Cantonal Justice and Police Directors, told the SonntagsBlick newspaper Sunday.

DON'T BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU READ ON THE INTERNET

Not only do too many of us, get caught in echo chambers, what's in those chambers often is not true or greatly twisted.  I am disheartened when seemingly well-read. intelligent people, come up with really doubtful stuff.  See this article on bogus news articles by Jacquielynn Floyd of the Dallas Morning News for examples and more on this topic.
http://www.pressreader.com/usa/the-dallas-morning-news/20160809/281895887631760


I can't believe how many people are close-minded.  Rather than deal with the points and issues others raise, they provide knee-jerk responses, and refuse to address the points made.

There are fact-check websites available.  Some are clearly going after their opponents, but seem to be at least honest.  Some appear to be non-partisan.

Here are probably the  the best 5,
http://listosaur.com/politics/top-5-political-fact-checking-organizations/

Read a variety of sources, beware of publications sponsored by think tanks, Foundations, etc.  Check the backgrounds of authors, look at book reviews of the book, etc.

BOOK REVEW--LINCOLN AND CHIEF JUSTICE TANEY



BOOK REVIEW

Just completed the following book.  Very readable and balanced.  Excerpt from book review below.    My thoughts; excellent, short (288 pp. of text) and readable.  Ch. 8 and epilogue treat Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus and other civil liberties violations.  Given the severity of the situation facing Lincoln and the questionable acts by Pres. Wilson’s (WW I) and Roosevelt’s (WWII) were Lincoln’s actions that bad?  Did he  not have inherent and implied powers not mentioned in the Constitution when the future of the very nation   was directly and immediately imperiled?  On the civil side, where was Jefferson’s authority to make the Louisiana purchase?


“Lincoln and Chief Justice Taney: Slavery, Secession, and the President's War Powers

by Simon, James F.
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Retail Price: $27.00 hardcover [also available in paperback]
Issue: Spring ‘’2007
ISBN: 9780743250320
[From the review by Mark E. Steiner]

 

 “James F. Simon, a law professor at New York Law School and author of six previous books, has successfully paired Abraham Lincoln with Roger Taney to provide an accessible overview of the major legal issues presented by slavery and secession. Simon wrote this book for general readers (as indicated by the oddly asymmetric title, which suggests that Simon thought his audience would not recognize Taney without being further identified as chief justice). Most readers will enjoy immensely this crisply written, well-researched book. Simon tells a good story and tells it well. He does cover well-trod ground though, and those who have read earlier works by Don E. Fehrenbacher (The Dred Scott Case: Its Significance in American Law and Politics, 1978) or Harold M. Hyman (A More Perfect Union: The Impact of the Civil War and Reconstruction on the Constitution, 1975) will not find much that is new here.

On the first page, Simon notes how Lincoln and Taney bitterly disagreed on three fundamental issues slavery, secession, and Lincoln's constitutional authority during the civil war. Simon suggests that had Lincoln and Taney known each other in less perilous times, they might have been friends, or at least respectful adversaries.”

 

 

Monday, August 08, 2016

POVERTY AND CRIME-- NUTRITION, LEAD AND A CALL FOR ACTION


Although there are lots of poor people who are law-abiding, research has long suggested some connection between poverty and crime.

 shows that children who often go hungry are twice as likely to have impulsive, violent behavior while growing up -- and later in life. Alex Piquero of the University of Texas at Dallas helped author the study, which is among the first to link childhood hunger with violence. 0:00
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Interview Highlights: Alex Piquero ...

... on the reasons behind the study: "We had a lot of good evidence linking impulsivity to violence but we didn't have a lot of good evidence about what kinds of factors kids experience very early in their childhood. It might relate to both of them having higher impulsivity as adolescents and then committing delinquency and especially violent crime in adulthood, but we wanted to look at what happens earlier than that. We know a lot about family socialization, disadvantaged parenting, disadvantaged neighborhoods, but what about what kids put in their stomachs? And we know that diet affects mood, it affects educational performance, it affects attention spans. But no one had ever linked it to impulse control and violence. We were the first in a national level study to link that."

... on how hunger fuels violence: "So what we think is happening is that hunger has an indirect effect, so what happens early in life: Food affects brain development, it affects cognition, it affects impulse control, and those things that affect control in life then affect crime later on down the road. So, for example, we know that people that have impulse control problems are more likely to buy things on the internet for cost, they're more likely to experience failed relationships or more likely to experience failed interpersonal relationships, bad employment outcomes, and crime. So we think that childhood hunger is affecting things that are in the middle of that chain that then penultimately predict violence."

... on how to stop the cycle: "The solution is getting kids adequately nourished and fed, and I think that those are the kinds of things that everybody, I would think, would go: 'Yeah, you know that's a good thing because all of us have the ideal of having a good productive society filled with members who are going to contribute and be pro-social.' So I think that all of us have an active stake in making sure that our population, our neighbors, our kids, our families have at least adequate nourishment in their bodies."

Alex Piquero is a professor of criminology at the University of Texas at Dallas.


Other research has suggested a connection between exposure to lead in lead-based paint and other sources, including water.  This is a problem most likely to affect children living in poverty.


 
This is another reason why we need to address dysfunctional income disparity.  We need to invest more, at all levels of government, in helping and protecting the children at the bottom of the economic ladder. Some states will step up, many, esp. those dominated by tea partiers will not.  White supremacy and the idea that the poor are somehow lazy or defective will block action and the feds will have to step in. 

OFFICERS NOT TURNING ON BODY CAMS

 "The critical moment when a gunman opened fire on two San Diego police officers, killing one, may never be seen. The surviving officer only activated his camera after the wounded shooter was running away.
San Diego is among departments with policies calling for officers to turn on cameras before initiating contact with a citizen in most cases. But like other departments, compliance is less than perfect.
The result is inconsistent use of an increasingly common tool meant to give investigators and an often-skeptical public a fuller picture of police actions.
"The main motive of body cameras is to provide openness and transparency, and build trust in the police," said Samuel Walker, a retired criminal justice professor at the University of Nebraska-Omaha.
"If officers are not turning cameras on, well, you're not going to build trust," he said. "You're going to reinforce the cynicism that already exists."
He pointed to a study that showed across-the-board low compliance rates of officers in one high-crime Phoenix neighborhood between April 2013 and May 2014, the most recent information available. Officers only recorded 6.5 percent of traffic stops even though the department's policy required cameras to be activated "as soon as it is safe and practical," according to the study, conducted by Arizona State University's Center for Violence Prevention and Community Safety.
The biggest part of the problem, Walker said, is a lack of discipline.
Chicago, Dallas, Denver, New Orleans, New York, Oakland and San Diego are among the cities that don't specify penalties when officers fail to record, according to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University's School of Law.
The American Civil Liberties Union has studied the issue and said clear policies are vital, along with punishment for failure to comply"
 
Too often reform efforts are 'let's pretend' efforts doing just enough to relieve public pressure without really dealing with the problem. Without effective discipline and severe sanctions, body-cams will be much less effective if cops realize they can turn off the camera without any significant punishment.  You can perhaps guess the sincerity of the departments efforts by the effectiveness of its discipline and strength of sanction.
 
 

The recent shooting in Chicago is another example.
A" cop in the nation's third-largest city fatally shot a black teenager in the back after a police chase through Chicago's South Side.

The body camera worn by the Chicago police officer failed to record the shooting of Paul O'Neal. The 18-year-old was suspected of stealing a car that struck the officer's vehicle during the chase late last week, according to police.

Whether the crash affected the camera's ability to record is under investigation, police said. Investigators are also looking into whether the officer had turned it on. Three officers have been stripped of their police powers. The department's body-camera policy explicitly states what incidents must be filmed.

"Policies are only as good as the disciplinary procedures," said Harlan Yu, a principal at Upturn, which provides Internet expertise for policymakers on a range of social issues.

"Yes, Chicago has what appears to be a great policy that lists all the kinds of incidents that police officers need to have their camera on for. But in the shooting of Paul O'Neal it appears that this officer violated the policy. Now the question is what happens to this officer and what disciplinary procedures will there be so that officers will comply with policies in place."

Read More

The shooting is the latest to highlight concerns over the burgeoning use of body cameras as a way to increase transparency and accountability. Here's what you need to know:

How many police departments use body cams?

As of this month, 42 of 68 "major city" police departments in the United States have body-worn camera programs with policies in place, according to a "Policy Scorecard" released this week by the activist Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and Upturn. . .

 

See the article for a lot more good information.

 

In this case from Chicago, it is possible that the camera was damaged or malfunctioned and was not deliberately turned off by the officer.  However, if it was intentionally turned off, the discipline needs to be severe.

 

Saturday, August 06, 2016

SUPREME COURT ENTERS SCHOOL BATHROOM BATTLE


"The Supreme Court on Wednesday temporarily blocked a court order that had allowed a transgender boy to use the boys’ bathroom in a Virginia high school.
The vote was 5 to 3, with Justice Stephen G. Breyer joining the court’s more conservative members “as a courtesy.” He said that this would preserve the status quo until the court decided whether to hear the case. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan dissented.
The court’s order has no effect on any other case.
The move came amid a national debate over transgender rights. A North Carolina law that requires transgender people to use bathrooms in government buildings that correspond with the gender listed on their birth certificates has drawn protests, boycotts and lawsuits. A directive from the Obama administration threatening schools with the loss of federal money for discrimination based on gender identity has been challenged in court by more than 20 states."
 
This action strongly indicates that the Court will, next term,  hear the appeal of the lower court ruling upholding the regulations.   Three of the Court's 4 liberals (Sotomayor, Ginsberg and Kagan) voted against the stay.  Obviously, they liked the regulations.  One liberal,  Breyer (as a 'courtesy') joined the  conservatives (Alito, Roberts, and Thomas) and the usual swing vote, Kennedy is granting the stay.  The conservatives are disturbed by the regulations and hope that the Court will hear the case and overturn the regulations.  Look for the 4 liberals to uphold the regulation.  As usual, Kennedy will be the swing vote.  This is a legal issue that the Court needs to settle ASAP.
 
Note that with the passing of Scalia and no replacement, the 4 liberals now have the upper hand.  They need only convert one other Justice to prevail.  The Court's three conservatives need to convert two other Justices to win.

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

CORRUPTION IN TEXAS

Corruption in Texas is a definite and continuing problem.  "From the Hill Country to the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, Texas is filled to the brim with beauty, hardworking citizens and unwavering government corruption."
https://star.txstate.edu/2016/04/25/the-lone-star-state-of-corruption/

See also,
https://www.nationalreview.com/nrd/articles/414910/texas-has-corruption-problem

From The Economist, a highly respected publication, re AG Ken Paxton
http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2015/08/politics-and-corruption


Is it worse than in other states?  Does that make it acceptable?

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

CAMPUS CARRY IN TX; UT B.S., AMBERTON UNIV.


In Texas, licensed concealed carry of handguns became permissible on campuses withini college and university-imposed limits on Monday.  Public universities in the states were required to allow it on most, but not all buildings and rooms.  There was much moaning, groaning and gnashing of teeth among the Left,which has also been hostile to first Amendment rights.  The law did not apply to private schools.  The Second Amendment only applies to government and public institutions.  Private schools could opt out and not allow any carrying. See two very different approaches below.

U.T. Austin has adopted one of the most restrictive policies in the state, despite the following (from Mac McCann)

""n Texas, you must be 21 for a concealed handgun license, which means the vast majority of students won't even be eligible. UT estimates that fewer than 1 percent of students have a concealed handgun license now. Even in the state as a whole, less than 4 percent of the population has a CHL. 

Furthermore, campus carry really won't change much. Since 1995, it's been legal for CHL holders to carry concealed handguns on campus, just not in campus buildings. While I think guns in classrooms are problematic, it's unlikely that we'll turn into the Wild West. Many are scared about campus carry, but those same professors and students don't seem to be terrified when they're on The Drag or the South Mall or any of the other nearby areas that already allow concealed carry. 

UT's campus carry policy working group contacted 17 research universities in campus carry states while studying the issue. Their final report, released in December, noted, "Most respondents reported that campus carry had not had much direct impact on student life or academic affairs." The report also debunked a few claims that anti-campus-carry activists have made. It concluded that there's "little evidence of campus violence that can be directly linked to campus carry, and none that involves an intentional shooting." Addressing other concerns, the report noted: "We found that the evidence does not support the claim that a causal link exists between campus carry and an increased rate of sexual assault. We found no evidence that campus carry has caused an increase in suicide rates on campuses in other states."

Writing for The Los Angeles Times in October, New York University professor Jonathan Zimmerman noted that, of the 18,536 homicides in Texas between 2001 and 2013, only five occurred on or near college campuses. Clearly, Zimmerman argues, the campus carry law “surely isn’t about keeping Texas’ students, faculty and staff 'safe' from gun attacks.” Still, he notes, “Neither is it likely that the measure will make campuses less safe, which is what the other side keeps saying.” In conclusion, Zimmerman makes it clear: “Guns do cause mayhem in America — just not on Texas campuses, where both sides have imagined a problem that simply does not exist.”"

 Of  course, we wouldn't expect any university dominated by ideologues to go with the facts. Sad that cultural warriors dominate a university which is supposed to be dedicated to education, learning and seeking the truth.

 

"All but one private university have opted out of the state's controversial campus carry law. Over the past few months, 37 private universities  — ranging from major research institutions like Rice University to small religious schools like Lubbock Christian University — chose to continue banning guns, which they are allowed to do under the new law. The lone school to opt in is Amberton University, a small, nonprofit school based in Garland." Kudos the them.  Consider them in your range of educational choices.

 

Friday, July 29, 2016

SUPREME COURT DECISION ON SECOND AMENDMENT; MASS. SUPREME COURT EMBARRASSES ITSELF

I have been so engrossed in the upcoming presidential election and the police use of force issue that I may have missed this recent U.S. Supreme Court opinion on the Second Amendment.
 

 

                     SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES

JAIME CAETANO v. MASSACHUSETTS

ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME JUDICIAL COURT OF MASSACHUSETTS

No. 14–10078. Decided March 21, 2016

PER CURIAM.

The Court has held that “the Second Amendment ex­tends, prima facie, to all instruments that constitute bearable arms, even those that were not in existence at the time of the founding,” District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U. S. 570, 582 (2008), and that this “Second Amend­ment right is fully applicable to the States,” McDonald v. Chicago, 561 U. S. 742, 750 (2010). In this case, the Su­preme Judicial Court of Massachusetts upheld a Massa­chusetts law prohibiting the possession of stun guns after examining “whether a stun gun is the type of weapon contemplated by Congress in 1789 as being protected bythe Second Amendment.” 470 Mass. 774, 777, 26 N. E. 3d 688, 691 (2015).

The court offered three explanations to support its holding that the Second Amendment does not extend to stun guns. First, the court explained that stun guns are not protected because they “were not in common use at the time of the Second Amendment’s enactment.” Id., at 781, 26 N. E. 3d, at 693. This is inconsistent with Heller’s clear statement that the Second Amendment “extends . . . to . . . arms . . . that were not in existence at the time of the founding.” 554 U. S., at 582.

The court next asked whether stun guns are “dangerous per se at common law and unusual,” 470 Mass., at 781, 26 N. E. 3d, at 694, in an attempt to apply one “important limitation on the right to keep and carry arms,” Heller, 554 U. S., at 627; see ibid. (referring to “the historicaltradition of prohibiting the carrying of ‘dangerous and thatstun guns are “unusual” because they are “a thoroughlymodern invention.” 470 Mass., at 781, 26 N. E. 3d, at 693–694. By equating “unusual” with “in common use at the time of the Second Amendment’s enactment,” the court’s second explanation is the same as the first; it is inconsistent with Heller for the same reason.

Finally, the court used “a contemporary lens” and found“nothing in the record to suggest that [stun guns] arereadily adaptable to use in the military.” 470 Mass., at 781, 26 N. E. 3d, at 694. But Heller rejected the proposi­tion “that only those weapons useful in warfare are pro­tected.” 554 U. S., at 624–625.

For these three reasons, the explanation the Massachu­setts court offered for upholding the law contradicts thisCourt’s precedent. Consequently, the petition for a writ of certiorari and the motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis are granted. The judgment of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts is vacated, and the case is remanded for further proceedings not inconsistent withthis opinion.
It is so ordered.
 
                 
 
A correct and common sense result.  I can't believe that the highest state court in Massachusetts actually believed that the Second Amendment only protected weapons or arms that existed at the time the Amendment was adopted, or any of the other reasons given.  This is ludicrous attempt at judicial reasoning.  They should be embarrased It show you how anti-gun and other biases corrupt some judges, even high ranking ones and how little respect they have for precedents which they personally disagree.