Friday, December 02, 2016

HUMAN FREEDOM INDEX

"The Human Freedom Index (HFI) is the most comprehensive measure of freedom ever created for a large number of countries around the globe, ranking 159 countries based on 79 distinct indicators of personal, civil, and economic freedom, using data from 2008 to 2014, the most recent year for which sufficient data is available. The Index is a resource that can help to more objectively observe relationships between freedom and other social and economic phenomena, as well as the ways in which the various dimensions of freedom interact with one another.

The HFI captures the degree to which people are free to enjoy major liberties such as freedom of speech, religion, and association and assembly, as well as measures freedom of movement, women’s freedoms, crime and violence, and legal discrimination against same-sex relationships."
 
On a scale of 0 to 10, where 10 represents more freedom, the non-weighted average rating for 159 countries in 2014 was 6.93. The level of global freedom stayed about the same compared to 2008, but almost all countries experienced changes in their ratings, with about half of those increasing their ratings and half decreasing.
The top 10 jurisdictions in order were Hong Kong, Switzerland, New Zealand, Ireland, Denmark, Australia (6), Canada (6), the United Kingdom (6), Finland (9), and the Netherlands (10). The United States is ranked in 23rd place. Other countries rank as follows: Germany (13), Chile (29), France (31), Japan (32), Singapore (40), South Africa (74), Brazil (82), India (87), Russia (115), Nigeria (140), China (141), Saudi Arabia (144), Zimbabwe (148), Venezuela (154), and Iran (157)".
https://www.cato.org/human-freedom-index?utm_source=Cato+Institute+Emails&utm_campaign=409abdb04d-HFI2016_20161129&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_395878584c-409abdb04d-143247329&mc_cid=409abdb04d&mc_eid=d793f93bcb

I don't believe the index takes gun rights into account.  Perhaps they don't think those rights are important.

BOOK REVIEW--THE CLOSING OF THE LIBERAL MIND

The Closing of the Liberal Mind:  How Groupthink and Intolerance Define the Left, by Kim E. Holmes, is written by a conservative, but in spite of his leaning he does a fairly objective job in pointing out how intolerance and authoritarianism have come to reflect much of what the American left believes.  Holmes does not deny conservative intolerance and makes no excuses for it.  Unfortuantely, both the left and right in this country are destroying civil liberties, civil rights and civil discourse. Liberals in the echo chamber need to read this book.  Yes, he goes overboard sometimes, but he's basically right.
See the review at
http://www.wsj.com/articles/progressivisms-macroaggressions-1463950160

Book Review and the Echo Chamber, Social Media Filters, etc.

The theory is that an informed and educated public will result in the best results for American democracy.  The social media, advocacy journalism, echo chamber culture that we've evolved into is just what we don't need.  It has fostered and exacerbated the political polarization we face.  We rely on the democratric process to provide the legal environment in which we must live and do business.  The network we expect to help protect us and our rights.

Here's one of the best articles about filters and the bias of social media news.  It explains what is going on.   It helps explain the echo chamber.
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/22/magazine/is-social-media-disconnecting-us-from-the-big-picture.html?_r=0

A recent book dealing with this topic is Larry Atkins, Skewed:  A Critical Thinker's Guide to Media Bias (2016).  here's on review
http://portlandbookreview.com/2016/11/skewed-by-larry-atkins/

Excellent book if you want to try to get out of or avoid the echo chamber.  Evaluates and recommends websites.  The author admits he is a liberal, and, in my opinion, inaccurately minimizes the bias in left-leaning newspapers such as the New York Times.  His cure is media-literacy education.  This is rather na├»ve. There is no cure.  People are addicted to their smart phones and social media.  They don't want to get information that challenges their beliefs and makes them uncomfortable.  They don't want to get out of the echo chamber.  Who wants to take a course on, or hear a speaker talk about, media-literacy.  It's going to get a lot worse and I don't see any end in sight.  Sadly, the only thing with a chance of pulling the country back together is a major tragedy.  The future of American democracy is not good. I fear that somewhere down the  line, a man on a white horse offering totalitarian solutions,  and his politican lackeys will destroy American democracy.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

CORPORATE CRIMINALITY, WHISTLEBLOWER PREVAILS


"Patricia Williams, 44, is a single mother of two grown children, as well as a grandmother. She is also a rarity: a whistle-blower who has succeeded in bringing to light abuses at a powerful corporation that wanted to keep them hidden."  Whistle blowers are often fired and have trouble getting jobs elsewhere in their industry.  Most employees just keep their mouths shut and the corruption and illegal activity go on.  This is one of the many reasons that unethical and unlawful corporate behavior is rampant in this country.  What corruption  you ask?  Have you heard anything recently about Wells Fargo Bank?  Do you not the newspapers?

Social Media Trolls, the First Amendment and 'TRUE THREATS"

See the post at
http://substativecriminallawissues.blogspot.com/2016/11/freedom-of-speech-does-not-protect.html

Monday, November 21, 2016

MORE OFFICERS MURDERED


"St. Louis Police have killed a gunman they say ambushed an officer in a shooting on Sunday.
Around 7:30 p.m. Sunday night, a gunman pulled up in a silver car next to a marked Chevy Tahoe and opened fire, St. Louis Police Department Police Chief Sam Dotson told reporters. The shooting happened hours after a Texas cop was ambushed in a fatal shooting. Police there are still searching for a suspect." http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/21/us/st-louis-police-shooting/

"The 2016 shootings [now 59, RIP], have spanned the nation, from California to Massachusetts, and they've exceeded the number of firearms-related police deaths in all of 2015 . According to the fund, firearms were responsible for 41 of 123 officer fatalities in 2015. [As bad as it seems, today] The decade's highest total came in 2011, with 73 officers shot dead." [This data does not distinguish intentional ambush murders from other types of deaths]
 http://www.cnn.com/2016/08/14/us/police-officers-fatal-shooting-line-duty-nationwide/

 

EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT NEW GUN CONTROLS LACKING

Gun control advocates conveniently ignore the fact that there advocacy is not supported by good, consistent research results. An article in the Atlantic is a good summary.  http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/01/gun-control-laws-research/424956/
The lack of evidence to support their position suggests that the real motivation involves either ignorance, lack of critical thinking ability or culture wars or authoritarian blindness.
"Another right-wing screed" gun control  advocates will argue.  However, this magazine, according to Wikipedia: "Created as a literary and cultural commentary magazine, it has grown to achieve a national reputation as a high-quality review organ with a liberal worldview." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Atlantic
"The recurrent, violent phenomenon of mass shootings, including recent attacks in California and Oregon, has fueled Americans’ anxieties and reinvigorated a tense national debate over gun control. The presidential race has certainly put a spotlight on gun laws. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton has loudly promised to take on the National Rifle Association and has accused her rival, Bernie Sanders, of cozying up to the gun lobby. This has led Sanders to retort proudly that he has a “D-” rating from the NRA. On the other side of the ideological spectrum, Republican candidates have denounced President Obama’s executive actions to expand background checks for gun purchasers and have taken pains to highlight their own stellar NRA ratings.
As the debate intensifies, candidates on both sides are staking out strong policy stands—and yet, gun violence is far more of a mystery than most people realize. Evidence and research that could be used to develop effective laws that might decrease deaths and injuries from firearms is severely lacking." . . .
Many basic questions remain largely unanswered as a result. It’s difficult, for example, to pin down the precise impact of specific gun laws—like laws that allow people to openly carry firearms. Do open-carry laws make gun violence worse, or do they cut down on firearm injuries and deaths? Researchers can’t say with certainty. They also don’t know much about the path that guns take in order to fall into the hands of criminals, or how gun laws impact firearm sales on the black market. For that matter, the psychology of gun violence is not well understood. What motivates people to use guns to commit a crime or suicide, and what are the most effective ways to stop mass shootings, gun-related homicide, and suicide? Limited research makes it challenging to reach well-supported conclusions.
“I think people assume that we have a lot more information than we really do when it comes to guns, and that’s definitely not the case,” said Daniel Webster, the director of Johns Hopkins’s Center for Gun Policy and Research. “We have precious little data.”

NEW STUDY ON POLICE KILLINGS OF BLACK SUSPECTS.

New study on police killings of black suspects. 
https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2870189
"Abstract:    



Using a unique data set we link the race of police officers who kill suspects with the race of those who are killed across the United States. We have data on a total of 2,699 fatal police killings for the years 2013 to 2015. This is 1,333 more killings by police than is provided by the FBI data on justifiable police homicides. When either the violent crime rate or the demographics of a city are accounted for, we find that white police officers are not significantly more likely to kill a black suspect. For the estimates where we know the race of the officer who killed the suspect, the ratio of the rate that blacks are killed by black versus white officers is large — ranging from 3 to 5 times larger. However, because the media may under report the officer’s race when black officers are involved, other results that account for the fact that a disproportionate number of the un-known race officers may be more reliable. They indicate no statistically significant difference be-tween killings of black suspects by black and white officers. Our panel data analysis that looks at killings at the police department level confirms this. These findings are inconsistent with taste-based racial discrimination against blacks by white police officers. Our estimates examining the killings of white and Hispanic suspects found no differences with respect to the races of police officers. If the police are engaged in discrimination, such discriminatory behavior should also be more difficult when body or other cameras are recording their actions. We find no evidence that body cameras affect either the number of police killings or the racial composition of those killings."
 
Interesting, but does not really answer the question of whether there is racial bias.  Such bias is not excusable no matter what the crime rate or demographics.  Both There can be many reasons for correlation that do not involve any causation.  For instance, both ice cream consumption and forcible rape go up in the summer  and down in the winter.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

3 STATES VOTE TO LEGALIZE MARIJUANA

Voters in California, Massachusetts and Nevada voted to leaglize adult, personal use of marijuana.

According to the NY Times:

"Support is rising even though some public health experts warn that there have been insufficient studies of the drug’s effects and that law enforcement agencies lack reliable tests and protocols to determine whether a driver is impaired by marijuana. . . .
Kevin Sabet, the president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, one of the country’s major funders against marijuana legalization initiatives, attributed the imbalance in campaign spending  to investments by marijuana companies hoping to profit if the industry was legalized." 
Kevin Sabet, the president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, one of the country’s major funders against marijuana legalization initiatives, attributed the imbalance in campaign spending to investments by marijuana companies hoping to profit if the industry was legalized."
 
No matter how bad an idea may be, if there's money to be made, many people will be willing to ignore the risks. 
Opponents of legalization say the adoption of medical marijuana laws in more than 25 states has led to a popular perception that cannabis is good for you. They have called for more studies on the drug’s long-term effects, particularly on the developing brains of young people.

Friday, November 11, 2016

SUPREME COURT APPOINTMENT

Donald Trump's victory almost certainly mean that the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court will be filled with a conservative.  That person may be very similar to the late Justice Antonin Scalia.  The NRA's gamble in endorsing Trump should pay off with security for the Second Amendment and, hopefully some  expansive clarifications.  The Court will, not have a conservative majority.  The conservatives are Roberts, Alito, Thomas.  The new justice will be the 4th conservative. The liberals are Ginsburg, Sotomayor, Breyer and Kagan. The swing-vote, as before, will be Kennedy.  He often votes with the liberals.  There will be no conservative revolution.  However, two of the liberals are elderly, Ginsburg (83) and Breyer (78). Justices generally don't retire when an ideological foe is in the White House. However, incapacity and death are always possibilities. Kennedy is 80.  Replacing one of those 3 with a conservative creates a conservative majority.

Monday, November 07, 2016

Sad News! Second Amendment Giant Passes Away

Don B. Kates, Jr. was one of the most prolific writers and persuasive advocates of the individual rights approach to the Second Amendment adopted by the U.S. Supreme Court in D.C. v. Heller.  He was a genius and a great writer.  I had the pleasure of working with him on a number of projects and briefs.  The cause will miss him greatly!  R.I.P.
For a brief bio see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_Kates

Saturday, November 05, 2016

TRIAL JUDGE CORRECT, PROSECUTION DOES NOT HAVE TO PROVE MOTIVE IN CONSPIRACY CASE

Although new Jersey governor Chris Christie was not charged in this case, he may be next, and this trial of 2 public officials has drawn national attention.  In the conspiracy (and other charges) trial over the closing of bridges in New Jersey, the judge refused to instruct the jury that they had to find that the prosecution had proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the motive for the conspiracy to block traffic was to punish a mayor.  The defense disagreed and overstated it's positon, but the judge was correct.  If the statute does not have a motive element, and most statutes don't, motive does not have to be proven.  For instance most homicide statutes have no motive element and the prosecution does not have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt why the defendant did the killing.   An exception would be, for example, a statute making it a crime to intentionally and unlawfully set fire to a building to defraud the company insuring the building.  The prosecution there has to prove both the fire and the motive-- that it was done to try to defraud the insurance company.
Evidence of motive is always admissible, but motive does not have to be proven if it is not in the statute.  Mention of motive in the indictment is not controlling.  The defense is always free to try to show that the defendant had no motive to commit the alleged crime.
UPDATE: The defendants were convicted and will appeal.

WARNING ON POLITICAL POSTS BELOW

If you are emotionally invested in  a presidential candidate (unlike me), or just sick and tired of it all (like me), please skip the political posts below.  No more politics posts till after the election. Or, as they used to say, "put your hands up and back away slowly from the computer."

EX-POLICE CHIEF SENTENCED TO 46 MONTHS


http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/03/nyregion/james-burke-ex-suffolk-county-police-chief-is-sentenced.html

TRUMP SUPPORTERS FEARING LOSS RAMP UP RHETORIC AND THREATS



Some Trump supporters are beginning to fear that their choice is going to lose. Trump has said that if he loses it will be because the election is rigged against him.  Does this sound a little paranoid? Some Trump supporters have talked about revolt.    They are not alone in their worry.  Here's another approach.
A Texas Republican, fearing a Trump loss, goes bonkers. U.S. Rep. Mike
McCaul (D, TX) calls Hillary guilty of treason and want to start impeachment proceedings if she is elected.   Where do they find these people?  It appears that some Trump supporters have lost their sense of reason.  This is insane.  Apparently the Dems are confident enough that they haven't gone off the deep end. 

I guess we'll soon be seeing secession resolutions in Southern Legislatures if the Donald doesn't win.   Beer Hall putsch anyone?

The rule of law must prevail over anger and paranoia.  If it doesn't, democracy and a free society may slowly start to slip away. 

The other major party offers you one of the most ethically challenged politicians in recent history.  I understand the frustration, but some people need to get a grip!  Do something peaceful, rational and lawful if you are frustrated--Vote for a third party candidate!

ROLLING STONE LOSES DEFAMATION LAWSUIT

Left-leaning Rolling Stone Magazine lost a defamation lawsuit over an article on campus sexual assaults that it later retracted. It's unfortunate that the media often can't apply professional and ethical principles and control itself.  Lawsuits seem to be the only recourse sometimes.  An appeal is almost certain.  Stay tuned.
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/05/business/media/rolling-stone-rape-story-case-guilty.html?_r=0

POLITICIANS EMBARRASS THEMSELVES AND DEMEAN PUBLIC DISCOURSE


Texas Agriculture Secretary Sid Miller, like so many Texas public officials, has embarrassed the state.  Where does the Texas Republican party find these people?    Since Republicans control government at the state level, the Democrats don't have much chance to embarrass themselves at that level. See the second entry for a local Dem official who also blew it.

"It began with a terribly vulgar tweet sent out under Miller's name on Tuesday afternoon that referred to Clinton as a four-letter c-word."

This Dallas local Dem. (although not elected) showed a similar lack of class.  http://www.dallasnews.com/news/dallas-county/2016/11/01/dallas-county-election-judge-canned-racist-facebook-comments

I've been following politics since the 1960's and cannot recall a major party presidential candidate who talked more outrageous, classless, immature trash than Donald Trump.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/worst-trump-quotes_us_5756e8e6e4b07823f9514fb1

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/03/22/donald-trumps-most-outrageous-quotes/
How did this miscreant get this far? This guy was the best the Republicans can do?  Has the bar been lowered even further for the future with the Trump precedent.  How low can we go? 

What a horrible election!  Two unfit candidates, one of whom will become U.S. President.



Friday, November 04, 2016

PRE-ELECTION VIOLENCE?

Let's hope this incident isn't related to the upcoming presidential election.  Everyone needs to keep cool, calm and collected.  Before and after.  There are vague comments about 'revolt' by Trump supporters if he loses. Let's all keep our fingers crossed and hope that we can keep violence out of the politics.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

WHAT WENT WRONG WITH THE PROSECUTIONS OF COPS IN THE FREDDIE GRAY CASE? (NO CONVICTIONS)

Lots, including lack of cooperation by the P.D.

VA AND SECOND AMENDMENT RIGHTS

The VA has a well-deserved terrible reputation.  Can't vouch for the accuracy of this linked material, but it seems like to they ought to stick to trying to help medically- and psychiatrically-needy.  Glad they have the extra resources for this kind of stuff, too bad they don't seem to have them for their primary mission.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Licensed concealed carrier saves multiple lives

"37-year old Lisa Harris saved the lives of multiple people after using her concealed carry pistol to take down a department store shooter in Virginia."
Don't look for this in the segment of the media dominated by liberals.

WHERE DO CRIMINALS GET GUNS?

Gun shows and purchases from lawful sources are not the biggest sources. Gun control legislation needs to focus on what is going on in the real world.  This study, however, involved only one city.  The results may not be generalizable.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

APOLOGY RE ORIGINAL POST BELOW


I have edited the post below.  In my anger, I over-generalized about Texas and its people.  The problem is abuse of public trust by the political and administrative leadership.  Power corrupts.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

DISGUSTED WITH TEXAS LEADERSHIP.

The Texas Child Protective Service scandal just keeps getting worse. Thousands of children in desperate situations are not even being seen.  The foster care system is a disaster. http://www.dallasnews.com/news/politics/2016/03/17/texas-foster-care-crisis-children-sleeping-in-cps-offices-again-as-more-removed-from-homes-but-state-out-of-places-to-care-for-them

https://www.texastribune.org/2015/12/17/judge-foster-care-system-violates-childrens-rights/

It's unbelievable how incompetent or uncaring state leadership is.  A tip off should have been when they hired Hank Whitman to lead the agency.  What is his background?  Head of the Texas Rangers, now retired.  No real experience in CPS-type work.  Looks like another political hack put in charge of another lets-pretend-we-care move.

"The problem, apparently, is that state lawmakers are talking out of both sides of their mouths: They say they want to hire more CPS investigators and caseworkers, pronto.
But they still want to pay them diddly-squat, even though they know that chronic low pay is a key reason many CPS workers don't hang around long enough for the paint to dry.
That does not sound like urgency to me.
Doesn't sound like a state agency ready to do whatever it takes to turn the corner."

Public services in Texas are generally pathetic.  The prison system, metnal health resources and inner-city public schools are among the continuing scandals.  Corruption of all kinds is rampant.  https://www.nationalreview.com/nrd/articles/414910/texas-has-corruption-problem
https://star.txstate.edu/2016/04/25/the-lone-star-state-of-corruption/
Texas ranks low in most measures of government services yet, it has a huge budget surplus and lots of money to throw at corrupt, political favorite, contractors.  Is there no compassion for the needs of defenseless children? How do we explain this?  Here's part of the answer.  There is a significant white supremacist presence in Texas.  See https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/intelligence-report/2016/active-hate-groups-united-states-2015 and map.  Blacks and Hispanics are much poorer, on average, than whites. Another is the belief that those who are poor are poor because they are lazy or mentally defective.  Affluent people are credited with working harder and are seen as genetically superior.  Most Texas citizens ae not like this, but those who are seem to have a lot of political clout, and seem to manage to get elected and re-elected.  The leadership is more interested in fighting the culture wars than in helping vulnerable Texans.

Decases ago, Texas was dominated by mostly corrupt democrats.  There was no meaningful political opposition.  Now Republicans dominate at the state and many local levels.  Corruption, favoritism, patronage, etc.
are rampant because, in part, the Republicans have so much power and control.  Many Republicans and Tea Partiers hate to spend money on the poor and disadvantaged.  Xenophobia is rampant.  Anyone who is not a conservative, white Christian is suspect. Again, this is not most Texans.
 Ironically, South Texas which is among the most corrupt areas of the state is dominated by Democrats.  It's not just the republicans.  Power corrupts and the more power the more corruption.  It seems that only the newspapers are willing to call out the politicians.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

New 2nd Amend. decision

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that a ban on gun sales to patients holding a medical marijuana card is legal, ABC News reports Wednesday.

Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2016/08/31/us-court-denies-second-amendment-rights-for-medical-marijuana-cardholders/#ixzz4Ndx1VBLk


If that's the only reason for denial, I question the decision.  She's a lawful user of marijuana.  I have never seen a violent crime case where medical marijuana was deemed a factor.

Friday, October 14, 2016

MORE GUN CONTROL PROPAGANDA

The media are reporting that gun accidents kill a child every other day.
E.g. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2016/10/14/ap-usa-today-gun-accidents-children/91906700/   Notice how the article begins with the tragic story of the death of a 4-year old in a gun accident.  This is a common propaganda technique designed to arouse the reader's emotion rather than their reason. They claim that the data comes from the 'nonpartisan' "Gun Violence Archive." The Archive claims to be nonpartisan.  However if you go to their website, http://www.gunviolencearchive.org/you find the following:

"Related Websites

Except for the Sunlight Foundation and Officer down and perhaps Gun policy, all of these organizations are pro-control.  Check them out yourself.
For instance Armed for Reason" is sponsored by Gabby Giffords and her husband.  The "Brady Center" is an aggressive advocate of more controls.  My perusal of "Gun Policy" suggest a pro-control stance.  They are sponsored by the Sydney School of Public Health.  I've never seen a public health organization that wasn't pro-control  They s support the controversial "U.N. Program for Action on Small Arms."
 

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

MANY PD'S IN CA AND TX NOT REPORTING KILLINGS OF CIVILIANS

http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/In-Texas-and-California-police-fail-to-report-9958631.php
It's disgusting that many police agencies view themselves as above the law.
The excuses given are usually lame.  In TX failure to report is a crime. Don't hold your breath on charges against any of the officials involved being filed.
The sad fact of the matter is that many politicians and people applaud unlawful shootings and get-tough tactics as a way to keep the "dangerous classes in line."  Some of it reflects a white supremacist mentality.  If affluent whites were being subjected to these tactics, something would be done.