Thursday, November 15, 2012

William Lerach In Trouble

Nor have I seen any mention on the various law blogs about this major criminal case indicting one of America's biggest law firms.

I've never held a high opinion of William Lerach, one of the participants in this scandal, whose specialty has been suing corporations after their stock goes down, claiming that they officers had withheld information to mislead investors. I'm not saying that there aren't such situations, but my impression was always that Lerach was suing everytime a company's stock fell--and this article from Fortune makes it clear that Lerach and the other principals involved in these suits, were engaged in highly dishonest practices to file these suits:
(Fortune Magazine) -- For decades, few things have inspired as much fear and loathing in the executive suites of corporate America as the law firm of Milberg Weiss and the two outsized personalities who ruled the place, Mel Weiss and Bill Lerach. Through creativity and ruthlessness, they transformed the humble securities class-action lawsuit into a deadly weapon.

Always, Milberg Weiss cast itself as the champion of the little guy. In media interviews Lerach has spoken evocatively about fighting for the honest, struggling blue-collar worker who, through no fault of his own, had lost his hard-earned savings to corporate perfidy. The firm boasts of having collected $45 billion for cheated investors since its founding in 1965.

But somewhere along the way, the work made its ruling partners a little like the CEOs they sued. In an especially profitable year, both Weiss and Lerach personally made more than $16 million. Weiss, 71, is a high roller at casinos who collects Picassos, owns a five-acre waterfront estate on Oyster Bay, Long Island, and has a vacation condo in Boca Raton.

Weiss and Lerach have also found themselves in the cross hairs of federal prosecutors. In the most extraordinary federal case now afoot in the land, Milberg Weiss has been indicted for allegedly paying three plaintiffs $11.4 million in illegal kickbacks in about 180 cases spanning 25 years - and then repeatedly lying about it to the courts.

The government says Milberg kept paying kickbacks into 2005, long after the firm knew it was under investigation. Name partners David Bershad, 66, and Steven Schulman, 55, have also been charged. (Both have pleaded not guilty, as has the firm.) The criminal probe has triggered an exodus of lawyers and clients. Once a veritable lawsuit factory - the firm averaged more than one new case a week during 2005 - Milberg has filed just a handful of suits in the five months since the bombshell landed.
It is a very long article, well worth reading, just because the personalities involved are a rogue's gallery of what I have long suspected many plaintiff's attorneys to be: greedy; dishonest; immoral; and stupid. Oh yeah, and big contributors to the Democratic Party. The case started with a domestic violence call, which soon led to a stolen Picasso and Monet--which were not really stolen, so that an opthamologist to the stars could claim the insurance money:

The whole story is fascinating, and we learn that Lerach and fellow ambulance-chasers are extortionists in suits (which surprises me not in the least).  As I said, well worth reading in full. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Democratically-controlled Congress pass a law making most of these crimes lawful.
Global Warming Hype

I mentioned a few days ago
an outstanding documentary about the global warming swindle. I did a little digging--and found that one of the key points of that documentary, that there is strong evidence that solar activity changes, by altering cosmic ray flux, which changes the amount of cloud cover--plays a substantial role in altering temperatures here on Earth. I knew that there were scientific papers published about this--but I had no idea how many. Here are some excerpts and abstracts that I found with this search string in

"Cosmic Rays, Clouds, and Climate," Space Science Reviews, November, 2000:
A correlation between a global average of low cloud cover and the flux of cosmic rays incident in the atmosphere has been observed during the last solar cycle. The ionising potential of Earth bound cosmic rays are modulated by the state of the heliosphere, while clouds play an important role in the Earth''s radiation budget through trapping outgoing radiation and reflecting incoming radiation. If a physical link between these two features can be established, it would provide a mechanism linking solar activity and Earth''s climate. Recent satellite observations have further revealed a correlation between cosmic ray flux and low cloud top temperature. The temperature of a cloud depends on the radiation properties determined by its droplet distribution. Low clouds are warm (>273thinspK) and therefore consist of liquid water droplets. At typical atmospheric supersaturations (sim1%) a liquid cloud drop will only form in the presence of an aerosol, which acts as a condensation site. The droplet distribution of a cloud will then depend on the number of aerosols activated as cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) and the level of super saturation. Based on observational evidence it is argued that a mechanism to explain the cosmic ray-cloud link might be found through the role of atmospheric ionisation in aerosol production and/or growth. Observations of local aerosol increases in low cloud due to ship exhaust indicate that a small perturbation in atmospheric aerosol can have a major impact on low cloud radiative properties. Thus, a moderate influence on atmospheric aerosol distributions from cosmic ray ionisation would have a strong influence on the Earth''s radiation budget. Historical evidence over the past 1000 years indicates that changes in climate have occurred in accord with variability in cosmic ray intensities. Such changes are in agreement with the sign of cloud radiative forcing associated with cosmic ray variability as estimated from satellite observations.
"Cosmic Rays, Clouds, and Climate," Science November 29, 2002:
It has been proposed that Earth's climate could be affected by changes in cloudiness caused by variations in the intensity of galactic cosmic rays in the atmosphere. This proposal stems from an observed correlation between cosmic ray intensity and Earth's average cloud cover over the course of one solar cycle. Some scientists question the reliability of the observations, whereas others, who accept them as reliable, suggest that the correlation may be caused by other physical phenomena with decadal periods or by a response to volcanic activity or El Niño. Nevertheless, the observation has raised the intriguing possibility that a cosmic ray-cloud interaction may help explain how a relatively small change in solar output can produce much larger changes in Earth's climate. Physical mechanisms have been proposed to explain how cosmic rays could affect clouds, but they need to be investigated further if the observation is to become more than just another correlation among geophysical variables.
"Influence of Cosmic Rays on Earth's Climate," Physical Review Letters, November, 1998:
During the last solar cycle Earth's cloud cover underwent a modulation more closely in phase with the galactic cosmic ray flux than with other solar activity parameters. Further it is found that Earth's temperature follows more closely decade variations in galactic cosmic ray flux and solar cycle length, than other solar activity parameters. The main conclusion is that the average state of the heliosphere affects Earth's climate.
"Altitude variations of cosmic ray induced production of aerosols: Implications for global cloudiness and climate," Journal of Geophysical Research 2002:
The indirect radiative forcing of atmospheric aerosols is sensitive to particle size and concentration, which are influenced significantly by nucleation processes. Via its role in aerosol formation, cosmic ray may affect the cloud condensation nuclei abundance and hence the global cloud properties and climate. Systematic variations in ionization rates due to the modulation of cosmic ray radiation by the solar cycle are sufficient to cause notable variations in aerosol production, and we find that the signs of such variations are altitude-dependent.

Our study indicates that an increase in cosmic ray fluxes generally leads to an
increase in particle production in the lower troposphere but a decrease in particle
production in the upper troposphere. The main reason of such an altitude-dependent
influence is that the dependence of particle production rate on ionization rate is a complex function of ionization rate itself, as well as precursor gas concentration and ambient conditions. The implications of altitude variations of cosmic ray-induced aerosol production on global cloudiness and climate are discussed. In addition to the reported positive correlation between cosmic ray variations and low cloudiness, our analysis reveals that high cloudiness may be anti-correlated with cosmic ray variations if volcano and El Nin˜o impacts are excluded. The observed different correlations between cosmic ray variations and low, middle and high cloud anomalies appear to be consistent with the predicted different sensitivities of particle production to cosmic ray changes at different altitudes. A systematic change in global cloudiness may change the atmosphere heating profile, and if confirmed, may provide the external forcing needed to reconcile the different surface and troposphere temperature trends. Much more work is needed to understand how and how much the cosmic ray variations will affect the global cloud properties and climate.
"The role of solar forcing upon climate change," Quarternary Science Reviews 18 (1999):
Evidence for millennial-scale climate changes during the last 60,000 years has been found in Greenland ice cores and North Atlantic ocean cores. Until now, the cause of these climate changes remained a matter of debate. We argue that variations in solar activity may have played a signiÞcant role in forcing these climate changes. We review the coincidence of variations in cosmogenic isotopes (14C and 10Be) with climate changes during the Holocene and the upper part of the last Glacial, and present two possible mechanisms (involving the role of solar UV variations and solar wind/cosmic rays) that may explain how small variations in solar activity are
ampliÞed to cause signiÞcant climate changes. Accepting the idea of solar forcing of Holocene and Glacial climatic shifts has major implications for our view of present and future climate. It implies that the climate system is far more sensitive to small variations in solar activity than generally believed.
"The influence of cosmic rays on terrestrial clouds and global warming," Astronomy \& Geophysics August, 2000:
We analyse the new ISCCP (International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project) D2 cloud data to ascertain if a connection between cosmic-ray flux and cloud cover exists. Despite a previous finding that total-cloud factor and cosmic-ray fluxes were correlated, our results indicate that only the low-level cloud follows solar activity over the full period, 1983–94. Using several proxies for solar activity and the radiative forcing calculated by Ockert-Bell (1992) for the ISCCP cloud types, we estimate the possible impact that such a solar–terrestrial connection may have on climate. We conclude that, possibly excluding the most recent decades, much of the warming of the past century can be quantitatively accounted for by the direct and indirect effects of solar activity.
And there are dozens, perhaps hundreds more papers that come to similar conclusions.

I'm Horrified At The Extent of The Scandal

I'm Horrified At The Extent of The Scandal

I'm talking about the campaign financing scandal swirling around Hillary Clinton. First it was Norman Hsu, and Chinese mail carriers contributing truly astonishing amounts of money. Now it is dishwashers and cooks in Chinatown making $1000 contributions to the Clinton campaign. The October 19, 2007 Los Angeles Times (hardly a conservative rag) points to some very suspicious behavior:
NEW YORK -- Something remarkable happened at 44 Henry St., a grimy Chinatown tenement with peeling walls. It also happened nearby at a dimly lighted apartment building with trash bins clustered by the front door.

And again not too far away, at 88 E. Broadway beneath the Manhattan bridge, where vendors chatter in Mandarin and Fujianese as they hawk rubber sandals and bargain-basement clothes.

All three locations, along with scores of others scattered throughout some of the poorest Chinese neighborhoods in Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx, have been swept by an extraordinary impulse to shower money on one particular presidential candidate -- Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Dishwashers, waiters and others whose jobs and dilapidated home addresses seem to make them unpromising targets for political fundraisers are pouring $1,000 and $2,000 contributions into Clinton's campaign treasury. In April, a single fundraiser in an area long known for its gritty urban poverty yielded a whopping $380,000. When Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) ran for president in 2004, he received $24,000 from Chinatown.

At this point in the presidential campaign cycle, Clinton has raised more money than any candidate in history. Those dishwashers, waiters and street stall hawkers are part of the reason. And Clinton's success in gathering money from Chinatown's least-affluent residents stems from a two-pronged strategy: mutually beneficial alliances with powerful groups, and appeals to the hopes and dreams of people now consigned to the margins.

Clinton has enlisted the aid of Chinese neighborhood associations, especially those representing recent immigrants from Fujian province. The organizations, at least one of which is a descendant of Chinatown criminal enterprises that engaged in gambling and human trafficking, exert enormous influence over immigrants. The associations help them with everything from protection against crime to obtaining green cards.

Many of Clinton's Chinatown donors said they had contributed because leaders in neighborhood associations told them to. In some cases, donors said they felt pressure to give.
The October 22, 2007 Washington Post (again, a Democratic newspaper) editorial is a lot more forceful:
DONORS WHOSE addresses turn out to be tenements. Dishwashers and waiters who write $1,000 checks. Immigrants who ante up because they have been instructed to by powerful neighborhood associations, or, as one said, "They informed us to go, so I went." Others who say they never made the contributions listed in their names or who were not eligible to give because they are not legal residents of the United States. This is the disturbingly familiar picture of Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential campaign presented last week in a report by the Los Angeles Times about questionable fundraising by the New York senator in New York City's Chinese community. Out of 150 donors examined, one-third "could not be found using property, telephone or business records," the Times reported. "Most have not registered to vote, according to public records."

This appears to be another instance in which a Clinton campaign's zeal for campaign cash overwhelms its judgment. After the fundraising scandals of President Bill Clinton's 1996 reelection campaign, the dangers of vacuuming cash from a politically inexperienced immigrant community should have been obvious. But Ms. Clinton's money machine seized on a new source of cash in Chinatown and environs. As the Times reported, a single Chinatown fundraiser in April brought in $380,000. By contrast, 2004 Democratic presidential nominee John F. Kerry raised $24,000 from Chinatown in the course of his entire campaign.
Gee, do you suppose that this money might have started out in Beijing? Or is that just paranoid?

The Clintons have a long history of incredibly dirty (even by the standards of Democrats) fundraising practices, much of it clearly illegal, and some of it that has the fingerprints of being from foreign governments. Even when the money is clearly American in origin, the violations of law seem to be taking a long time to catch up to them, as this October 16, 2007 Los Angeles Times article points out:
LOS ANGELES -- A state appeals court denied a bid Tuesday to reinstate Sen. Hillary Clinton as a defendant in a lawsuit that claims she, former President Clinton and others induced a former supporter to finance a 2000 fundraising gala.

The 2nd District Court of Appeal upheld a lower court's decision to remove the New York senator and Democratic presidential candidate from a lawsuit filed by Peter Paul. It also said Clinton can recoup legal costs.

Clinton's attorney, David Kendall, praised the ruling as one that found "no evidence of misconduct by Sen. Clinton in regard to the 2000 fundraiser."

Paul said he will consider appealing to the California Supreme Court.

Paul claims he spent more than $1.9 million to underwrite the lavish Hollywood fundraising gala in August 2000 that attracted Brad Pitt, Diana Ross and Cher.

Paul said he financed the event and other fundraisers for Hillary Clinton because Bill Clinton agreed to join the board of his company, Stan Lee Media, after he left the White House. Paul has said the event cost nearly $2 million, but campaign reports at the time estimate it was about $500,000. Clinton didn't end up working with Paul.

The Hollywood fundraiser was the subject of a criminal trial of Clinton's former national finance director, David Rosen, who was acquitted in May 2005 of lying to the Federal Election Commission about the event.
And then there's this worrisome piece from the November 5, 2007 The Nation (about as far left as you can get in print without ending up in 9/11 Truther land):
In the Clintons' pursuit of power, there is no such thing as a strange bedfellow. One recently exposed inamorata was Norman Hsu, the mysterious businessman from Hong Kong who brought in $850,000 to Hillary Clinton's campaign before being unmasked as a fugitive. Her campaign dismissed Hsu as someone who'd slipped through the cracks of an otherwise unimpeachable system for vetting donors, and perhaps he was. The same cannot be said for the notorious financier Alan Quasha, whose involvement with Clinton is at least as substantial--and still under wraps.

Political junkies will recall Quasha as the controversial figure who bailed out George W. Bush's failing oil company in 1986, folding Bush into his company, Harken Energy, thus setting him on the path to a lucrative and high-profile position as an owner of the Texas Rangers baseball team, and the presidency. The persistently unprofitable Harken--many of whose board members, connected to powerful foreign interests and the intelligence community, nevertheless profited enormously--faced intense scrutiny in the early 1990s and again during Bush's first term.

Now Quasha is back--on the other side of the aisle. Operating below the radar, he entered Hillary Clinton's circle even before she declared her candidacy by quietly arranging for the hire of Clinton confidant and longtime Democratic Party money man Terry McAuliffe at one of his companies. During the interregnum between McAuliffe's chairmanship of the Democratic Party and the time he officially joined Clinton's campaign, Quasha's firm set McAuliffe up with a salary and opened a Washington office for him.

Just a few years earlier, McAuliffe had publicly criticized Bush for his financial dealings with Harken, disparaging the company's Enron-like accounting. Yet in 2005 McAuliffe accepted this cushy perch with Quasha's newly acquired investment firm, Carret Asset Management, and even brought along former Clinton White House business liaison Peter O'Keefe, who had been his senior aide at the Democratic National Committee. McAuliffe remained with the company until he became national chair of Hillary's presidential bid, and O'Keefe never left. McAuliffe's connection to Quasha has, until now, never been noted.

Another strong link between Quasha and Clinton is Quasha's business partner, Hassan Nemazee, a top Hillary fundraiser who was trotted out to defend her during the Hsu episode--in which the clothing manufacturer was unmasked as a swindler who seemingly funneled illegal contributions through "donors" of modest means.

In June, by liquidating a blind trust, the Clintons sought to distance themselves from any financial entanglements that might embarrass the campaign. Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson argued that the couple had gone "above and beyond" what was legally required "in order to avoid even the hint of a conflict of interest." But throughout their political careers, Bill and Hillary Clinton have repeatedly associated with people whose objectives seemed a million miles from "a place called Hope." Among these Alan Quasha and his menagerie--including Saudi frontmen, a foreign dictator, figures with intelligence ties and a maze of companies and offshore funds--stand out.

"That Hillary Clinton's campaign is involved with this particular cast of characters should give people pause," says John Moscow, a former Manhattan prosecutor. In the late 1980s and early '90s he led the investigation of the corrupt Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) global financial empire--a bank whose prominent shareholders included members of the Harken board. "Too many of the same names from earlier troubling circumstances suggests a lack of control over who she is dealing with," says Moscow, "or a policy of dealing with anyone who can pay."
You think Dick Cheney's ties to Halliburton are suspicious? Compared to the Clintons, his ties to Halliburton are positively harps and halos territory.

Al-Qaeda's Sexual Morality

Al-Qaeda's Sexual Morality

Al-Qaeda spends a lot of time contrasting what they stand for with the decadent West. And yet, there's a rather long history of al-Qaeda and its allies showing that their notion of sexual morality is "rape is okay." Most recently, one of al-Qaeda in Iraq operatives confessed to something that seems to be policy. After discussing al-Qaeda's severe enforcement of its notions of morality with respect to smoking, women being insufficiently covered, and so on, this article in the September 20, 2007 Human Events reports:
Enforcement of these laws -- which can perhaps be described as Shari’a taken to the greatest extreme -- has included taking measures to brutally punish people who commit the slightest offense, from smoking, to a woman failing to cover her head in public, to a man not growing a long enough beard. The strictest social mores are to be observed and any deviation from the standard can result in a punishment consisting of torture, mutilation, or death -- including, as the western world has seen on a few occasions (though not enough to grasp the extent of its use), beheading.

Unfortunately for those who might have chosen to join this hardline Islamist faction in hopes of keeping more virtuous company, the recent apprehension of a key ISI figure showed just how hypocritical – and, as if more evidence was necessary, unspeakably inhuman -- the leadership of that movement is capable of being.

Earlier this week in Samarra, the Iraqi National Police apprehended a man named Ahmed Mohammed Sabar Hamud al-Medhi al-Bazi, a key figure in a five-man ISI cell which was responsible for an attack on the National Police using an Improvised Explosive Device (IED), as well as for IED, rocket-propelled grenade (RPG), and small arms attacks on coalition forces.


Without a bit of pressure -- indeed, without the appearance of a care in the world -- Medhi, described in graphic detail the other half of his ISI cell’s operations: running an organized al Qaeda Rape ring in Samarra. With a modus operandi of breaking into various houses and either raping women on the spot or threatening the family with death while taking their daughter away to become a hostage and a sex slave, Medhi, a self-described homosexual who engaged in intercourse (via rape) with women “because other members of this group” did, confessed to his cell’s penchant for abducing girls and “holding them [hostage] just for their pleasure.” Most recently, he said, he had taken part in the rape, kidnapping, and/or killing of five women, three of whom were supposedly still alive.

Among these most recent victims was “a twenty-five year old virgin,” who was “alone in her house” when the al Qaeda leaders “raided” it. Breaking into the house, all five members of the cell held her captive in her own home and raped her repeatedly. Finally, when all five had quenched their base desire for that action which they so brutally prohibited others from humanely engaging in, under the guise of enforcing “true Islamic law,” the terrorists departed, leaving the woman alone in her pain and misery.

If there is such a thing as “getting off easy” for a girl who is gang-raped, this first woman did just that. Two others, both age 23, met a much more gruesome fate shortly after the first, as they were taken from their houses (in front of their families), raped repeatedly by the entire al Qaeda cell, and then slaughtered. According to Medhi, their bodies were buried in a cemetery somewhere in the city.
This doesn't appear to be just a one-time quirk of this particular cell. Rape was a widely used weapon of war in East Timor--and al-Qaeda specifically targeted Australian tourists with the Bali bombing because Australian forces were part of what ended this reign of terror in East Timor. See this November 12, 2002 CNN report:
Further possible evidence of the al Qaeda connection to the Bali blasts is contained in a tape released Wednesday by the Al Jazeera TV network, purportedly of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. (Bin Laden praises attacks)

In the tape, bin Laden singles out Australia and other U.S. allies as an enemy of Muslims and says al Qaeda had warned Australia over its involvement in East Timor and Afghanistan.
Similarly, when Chechnyan terrorists took hostages at a school in Russia, leading to hundreds of deaths--these proud warriors for the higher morality of the Koran raped many of the children. (See also here.)
Of course, rape is a fundamental part of the process by which Sudanese militias--who al-Qaeda praises--commit the crimes of Darfur.

As this article from the September 24, 2004 Front Page points out:
What does rape, then, have to do with these religious conflicts? Unfortunately, everything. The Islamic legal manual ‘Umdat al-Salik, which carries the endorsement of Al-Azhar University, the most respected authority in Sunni Islam, stipulates: “When a child or a woman is taken captive, they become slaves by the fact of capture, and the woman’s previous marriage is immediately annulled.” Why? So that they are free to become the concubines of their captors. The Qur’an permits Muslim men to have intercourse with their wives and their slave girls: “Forbidden to you are ... married women, except those whom you own as slaves” (Sura 4:23-24).

After one successful battle, Muhammad tells his men, “Go and take any slave girl.” He took one for himself also. After the notorious massacre of the Jewish Qurayzah tribe, he did it again. According to his earliest biographer, Ibn Ishaq, Muhammad “went out to the market of Medina (which is still its market today) and dug trenches in it. Then he sent for [the men of Banu Qurayza] and struck off their heads in those trenches as they were brought out to him in batches.” After killing “600 or 700 in all, though some put the figure as high as 800 or 900,” the Prophet of Islam took one of the widows he had just made, Rayhana bint Amr, as another concubine.

Emerging victorious in another battle, according to a generally accepted Islamic tradition, Muhammad’s men present him with an ethical question: “We took women captives, and we wanted to do ‘azl [coitus interruptus] with them.” Muhammad told them: “It is better that you should not do it, for Allah has written whom He is going to create till the Day of Resurrection.’” When Muhammad says “it is better that you should not do it,” he’s referring to coitus interruptus, not to raping their captives. He takes that for granted.
Something that isn't widely known in the West (because it might present a poor picture of Islam) is that a number of Islamic countries use the Koranic standard for rape convictions: there must be four eyewitnesses to a rape confirming the victim's account. If she can't produce four eyewitnesses at trial, she is convicted of prostitution. For practical purposes, this makes rape legal. How would there be four eyewitnesses to a rape who didn't stop it, unless they were participants? This is the law in Iran, and attempts to reform this law in Pakistan are being fought by--who else?--the Islamist parties that are allies of al-Qaeda. The only reference I could find was at the bottom of this other story from November 13, 2006 Reuters:
Supporters of opposition Islamic alliance Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) hold placards during a rally in Multan November 28, 2006. The rally was held to protest against amendments to Pakistan's Islamic laws that will allow rape victims to seek justice without the need for four male witnesses while alliance leaders have threatened to resign from the parliament saying amendments are un-Islamic.
Not surprisingly, this ugly little detail isn't getting much attention, because the left wants to imagine that al-Qaeda and friends are on the same side, since the left and al-Qaeda have the same enemy: George Bush.
Canadian Health Care System

I hear terrible things about it from my relatives who live in British Columbia. Now there's this story about a Canadian woman who had to be flown to the United States to deliver--because there weren't enough intensive care neonatal units in all of Canada to take care of her quadruplets. From the August 17, 2007 Calgary Herald:
A rare set of identical quadruplets, born this week to a Calgary woman at a Montana hospital, are in good health and two of them were strong enough to be transported back here Thursday.
The naturally conceived baby girls -- Autumn, Brooke, Calissa and Dahlia -- were delivered by caesarean section Sunday in Great Falls, their weights ranging between two pounds, six ounces and two pounds, 15 ounces.
Their mother, Calgarian Karen Jepp, was transferred to Benefis Hospital in Montana last week when she began showing signs of going into labour, and no Canadian hospital had enough neonatal intensive-care beds for all four babies.

Indeed, physicians said Thursday the quadruplets have a good prognosis. Although they will likely require between four and six weeks of continued hospitalization, Calissa and Dahlia were well enough to be brought back to Calgary's Foothills Medical Centre Thursday, accompanied by their father.
Karen Jepp, 35, is expected to be transported to Calgary with Autumn and Brooke today or Saturday.

Lange said local physicians had been closely monitoring Jepp's pregnancy and were anticipating her newborns would require care at Foothills' neonatal intensive care unit.
But when Jepp began experiencing labour symptoms last Friday, the unit at Foothills was over capacity with several unexpected pre-term births.
There was no room at any other Canadian neonatal intensive care unit, forcing CHR officials to look south of the border.
Jepp was transported to Benefis hospital in Great Falls last Friday -- making her the fifth Alberta woman to be transferred south of the border this year because of neonatal shortages in Calgary. [emphasis added]
One of the criticisms that I have long heard is that Canada's health care system works well for "normal" health care problems, but tends to fail for anything advanced or specialized. I had not realized that premature birth was specialized or advanced. Over at Small Dead Animals, Kate expressed her anger over the failure of the Canadian health care system:
After my mother died, my brother quipped sarcastically that no one should be admitted to Regina General unless they first survived two hours on a vibrating gurney.
Saskatchewan spends $4 billion a year on health - 44% of the total provincial budget - on a population of under one million, and those dollars are increasingly directed to more centralized systems of delivery. While debate about "wait times" tends to revolve around diagnostics and scheduling of surgery (especially "elective" surgery such as knee and hip replacement), few consider the "wait time" facing the farmer in Val Marie with a crushed pelvis or severed artery.
For when it is decreed that your local hospital is no longer "economically viable" (a curious complaint to put forward under not-for-profit ideology), bureaucrats gather a few hundred miles away, debate the best way to release the bad news, and with a big red pen, draw a line through your town. They will apologize, quite properly, while they advise you, quite improperly, to be grateful that health care is still "free." You'll just need to start out a little earlier in the morning to get to it.
Welcome to zero-tier health care.
While the sacred cow of "universality" grazes on in the world of the reality-challenged, vast regions of the country are being transformed into zones of health care prohibition.
With every new cut, more and more rural Canadians are faced with travelling long distances over crumbling roads to seek emergency care - the "vibrating gurney" of the rural ambulance. The only thing "universal" about the system is the rate of taxation and the powerlessness of the very people who pay the bills - the taxpaying patients. The patient taxpayers.
After waiting 10 days on oxygen in an intensive care ward, where it was more likely that a knowledgable visitor would tend to a distressed patient or dysfunctioning equipment than any of the five nurses charged with holding down chairs, we began to wonder when the lung specialist planned to show up to discuss our mother's condition.
He had to be reminded, as it turned out. Standing over the duct-taped linoleum, he shared the diagnosis and advised it was terminal. With no hope of treatment, we arranged for her return by ambulance the 120 miles to our local rural hospital, where she was finally treated for pain and was tended to by a nurse she knew as a friend. Thank heaven for small mercies - for it had been slated for closure earlier that year.
Along with Kate's depressing story, there are gobs of comments by Canadians (some of them in the health care business) recounting what a disaster it has turned out to be:
Thanks for reposting this. It made me think of my own Mom's passing away in 1997. She had liver cancer. My Dad had to threaten to punch a hospital manager back into the stone-age just to get her moved out of the hallway. At the time they had an entire wing shut down. Not economically viable, apparently.
This was in Toronto, by the way. I will never forget that and what they put our family through.
It's not just rural areas that are suffering. My wife’s elderly grand parents have been to the emergency room in Mississauga 4 times in the past few years. They have not had to wait less than 6 hours on any of those visits. Even the local clinics for minor stuff usually come with a 2 hour wait. There is no benefit from our health care system to working people in this country. We get poor service at a premium cost.
Here in B.C., one of the biggest problems, once you get outside the Lower Mainland, is lack of specialists in most communities, requiring long trips to the few communities where said care is available.
Combine that with drastically overcrowded and under equipped hospitals, and you have a situation where medical staff are in constant crisis mode.
This causes a lot of good people to take early retirement, exacerbating the shortage of staff. Governments talk of recruiting in Third World countries to fill the positions. The fact that those countries will now have shortages doesn't seem to matter, even while we're castigating the U.S. for raiding our doctors and nurses.
Eventually, even the most "socialist" will realize the current system is failing, probably when enough of us die in the Emergency ward, and we'll have to open the system to private medical providers.
and this comment that reminds of the joke about how in most urban areas, "Order a pizza. Dial 911. See which gets there first." Profit motive may not make us very happy as a method for getting people taken care of, but it's reliable and consistent in getting things done:
Another personal story: My dog was sick so I took her on a weekend to Vetrinary Emergency Hospital paid the fees and she was attended to in 30 minutes. My daughter had to be attended to after a cat attack and went to the local emergenency for the required stitches and shots.It took 4 hours but it was paid for indirectly by my taxes. What kind of society offers faster treatment to its pets than to its kids.Welcome to Leftyland.
and this remark from a Canadian doctor:
The problem with a monopsony (fi you want to define the Public Health care system that way) is that it results in an inefficient quantity purchased as compared to a competitive market.
As a doctor I can tell you that in our system people suffer constantly due to this.
In addition there are many medications for both cancers and auto-immunue diseases not covered by our system which are covered by both the priavte and public systems in the US.
Moreover our system results in worse outcomes in terms of mortality and morbidity for myocardial infarctions and cancer therapy compared to the US.

Barack Obama's Troubled Father

Barack Obama's Troubled Father

This article from the January 27, 2007 Daily Mail is more than a year old, and most of it is an attempt to throw mud on Barack Obama by pointing out what a monstrous creep his father (Barack Obama, Sr.) was. It's a sad story, but not relevant to Obama Jr.'s character.

What is of some relevance, however, is the extent to which Obama's autobiography falsifies what actually happened:
Many believe Mr Obama is a serious threat to Hillary Clinton's hopes of becoming the Democrats' choice for their next Presidential candidate - and his lovingly written account of the debt he owes his father, also called Barack Obama, will do no harm at all to his Presidential hopes.
Indeed, by offering up a conveniently potted account of his personal history in this way, he might even have made a pre-emptive strike on those sure to pose the awkward questions that inevitably face a serious contender for the White House.
Yet an investigation by The Mail on Sunday has revealed that, for all Mr Obama's reputation for straight talking and the compelling narrative of his recollections, they are largely myth.
We have discovered that his father was not just a deeply flawed individual but an abusive bigamist and an egomaniac, whose life was ruined not by racism or corruption but his own weaknesses.
And, devastatingly, the testimony has come from Mr Obama's own relatives and family friends.

The article also takes Obama to task for his description of the constant racism that he encountered growing up:

Mr Obama was later admitted to read politics and international relations at New York's prestigious Columbia University where, his book claims, "no matter how many times the administration tried to paint them over, the walls remained scratched with blunt correspondence (about) niggers."
But one of his classmates, Joe Zwicker, 45, now a lawyer in Boston, said yesterday: "That surprises me. Columbia was a pretty tolerant place. There were African American students in my classes and I never saw any evidence of racism at all."
Family members and acquaintances believe that the real cloud over Mr Obama's life has been the discovery that his father was far from the romantic figure that his mother tried to portray.
A family friend said: "He is haunted by his father's failures. He grew up thinking of his father as a brilliant intellectual and pioneer of African independence only to learn that in Western terms he was basically a drunken lecher."

There's a saying that the higher the office a politician seeks, the more humble the home in which he was raised. (This is rather like the manner in which the older you get, the longer of a walk through the snow to school you had--at least, as you tell it to your kids.) I find myself wondering if Obama is telling Democrats the story they want to hear--how he overcame the ferocious racism of redneck America--you know, Hawaii, and Columbia University--rather than the more mundane story of a privileged kid working his way up the ladder. Texas Governor Ann Richards's description of President Bush as someone who was born on third base, and thought he had hit a home run, comes to mind.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A Broader Inquiry into Affirmative Action

A Broader Inquiry into Affirmative Action

The June 11, 2008 Insider Higher Education reports on how a single student's complaint about racial discrimination has morphed into a larger examination of policies at Princeton. Liberals should be rightly terrified, since racism is at the core of what calls itself liberalism today:
A complaint by an Asian American student that racial bias blocked his admission to Princeton University has been expanded by the U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights into a broader “compliance review” of the issues involved beyond his case.
The complaint, filed in 2006, has been viewed as significant by critics of affirmative action who argue — as does the rejected applicant — that highly competitive colleges’ commitment to diversity results in differential standards for members of different groups, with Asian American applicants held to tougher standards. Many college officials — most of whom strongly support affirmative action — have dismissed the applicant’s complaint as sour grapes, noting that Princeton each year rejects thousands of well qualified applicants of every racial and ethnic group.
The Education Department, responding to an inquiry, acknowledged the shift of the investigation from focusing on one complaint to Princeton’s entire admissions system and its treatment of Asian-American applicants. A department spokesman stressed that converting the investigation did not mean that officials had come to any conclusions about the original complaint. But at the very least, the shift suggests that the government does not view the complaint as frivolous. OCR regularly shuts down complaint investigations, concluding that no violation of the law took place, and the agency has limited resources for compliance reviews. Compliance reviews cover much more ground than any single complaint, tend to take place on issues that the department believes are important, and are sometimes used to nudge other colleges to change policies when they see how one college fared in a review.

The student who filed the original complaint against Princeton, Jian Li, arguably landed well after his rejection: He enrolled at Yale University. Li’s complaint stated that he received 800s on the mathematics, critical reading and writing parts of the SAT, that he graduated in the top 1 percent of his high school class, that he completed nine Advanced Placement classes by the time he finished high school, and that he had been active in extracurricular activities as well — serving as a delegate at Boys State, working in Costa Rica, etc. While Li left the ethnicity question blank on his application (as Princeton allows), he said that other questions that he was required to answer — his name, his mother’s and father’s names, his first language (Chinese), and the language spoken in his home (Chinese) — all made his ethnicity clear.


Li is pointing to research by two Princeton scholars, published in Social Science Quarterly, that looked at admissions decisions at elite colleges. The scholars found that without affirmative action, the acceptance rate for African American candidates would be likely to fall by nearly two-thirds, from 33.7 percent to 12.2 percent, while the acceptance rate for Hispanic applicants probably would be cut in half, from 26.8 percent to 12.9 percent. While white admit rates would stay steady, Asian students would be big winners under such a system. Their admission rate in a race-neutral system would go to 23.4 percent, from 17.6 percent. And their share of a class of admitted students would rise to 31.5 percent, from 23.7 percent.
The complaint and the allegations of anti-Asian bias have been sensitive at Princeton and elsewhere. Princeton, like other elite colleges, changed admissions policies in the 1920s as the number of Jewish applicants appeared poised to rise, and adopted an emphasis on “character” that scholars say was used to minimize non-Protestant enrollments. While Princeton has long abandoned such policies, some Asian American students see similarities between the treatment of Jewish applicants then and Asian applicants today. Many guidance counselors at high schools with many top Asian American students report that their Asian American applicants appear to need significantly higher SAT scores or grades to win admission to highly competitive colleges than do members of other ethnic or racial groups.
Yup. You see, it is easier to accept blacks and Hispanics who are below standard into college--and then wait for them to drop out, because they haven't been adequately prepared for a school like Princeton--than to face that there is something terribly broken in black and Hispanic culture that causes so many to be unprepared. It isn't just bad schools; a lot of Asian-Americans are in lousy public schools, too. It isn't that American culture has a long racist past involving blacks, but not Asians. As one of the comments on that article points out:
If America is such a racist country that these sorts of race-based rules are necessary, then why are Asians actually harmed by affirmative action? Is it because racists actually “like” Asians and would otherwise try to preferentially admit them to college? When did that sea change occur? Or is it the racists who write the SAT’s have succeeded in culturally slanting the test to advantage Asians? Isn’t this the implication of Princeton’s policies? If affirmative action is meant to undo the pernicious effect of wide-spread racism, then Princeton’s policies suggest that Asians are the beneficiaries of racism, not the victims of it.
Didn’t we fight, not one, not two, but three near-genocidal wars against Asians in the last century (aka, WW2, Korea, Vietnam)? When was the last time we fought a war against a sub-Saharan African country? To suggest that there is little or no anti-Asian bias in our inherently racist America seems to me frightfully naive.
The fact is that liberals don't want to confront the reality that two subcultures that liberalism has devoted much of the last four decades to helping are in deep trouble with respect to education--while Asian-Americans, who have been largely ignored by liberalism, is doing just fine.

UPDATE: I received the following remarks from someone who works for the government in St. Paul, Minnesota:

Saint Paul, Minnesota, became home to a large Hmong community who escaped Southeast Asia after the Vietnam war. We also have a significant black population, although as a Northern state, we never had slavery or Jim Crow. Pretty much everybody else are white European Christians.
The Hmong population lives among the black population in Frogtown, the low-rent part of the city. Their kids go to St. Paul Central together. So who are the top students every year? Hmong girls, followed by Hmong boys, followed by everybody else. The black kids not only don't rank highly, they frequently fail to finish school at all.
It's not a difference in student-teacher ratios. It's not inner-city versus suburb. It's not vestiges of slavery or racism. These kids sit side by side in class and on the bus, it's the home life that's different.
The amazing cultural difference goes deeper than honor students.  Second-generation Asian kids parents speak Hmong at home so the kids frequently are bi-lingual but have very little accent in English, having grown up here.  Black kids grow up speaking English in Minnesota but with a thick Black accent that sounds as if they just fell off the turnip truck from Georgia.  How is that possible?  They sit next to each other in the same school, live in the same neighborhood, play on the same playgrounds, but the Asian kids speak like white kids and the black kids don't.  It makes a world of difference when you're applying for a job in predominantly white society.

The difference also is reflected in employment.  Asian girls (I suppose they're technically women by years of age but they all look like little girls to somebody as old as me) are bank tellers and check-out clerks everywhere . . . they're the next generation of managers-in-training, you can just tell by their attitude.  Black employees are the next generation of fry cooks, which you also can tell by their attitude.  When they're working. I have no data to prove it but strongly suspect the teenage pregnancy stats for black girls are far, far worse than for Asian girls.

There are virtually no black businesses along University Avenue in Frogtown (two BBQ joints is all I can think of).  There must be five dozen Asian businesses in that same stretch - grocery stores, restaurants and tailors.  And I know the Asian businesses are not legacy businesses handed down for generations, or built upon the success of their ancestors, because their ancestors came here after the Vietnam War ended.  Their success wasn't built on the backs of slaves - the last slave to pass through Minnesota was Dred Scott himself and our setting him free touched off the Civil War.  Asian immigrants arrived here with fewer worldly possessions than Georgia immigrants and without English, to boot, but look at them now.

The Asians here are entrepreneurs in the strictest sense of the word.  It takes a special kind of person to step off a bus half way around the world from home, start a family and business, and make both thrive.  Why is it common in the Asian community but not in the black community?  I truly don't get it.
This is hardly the first person to notice that there is something terribly, terribly broken going on in black ghetto culture that doesn't seem to hold back Asians who have, if anything, more going against them.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Those Curious Campaign Contributions to Obama

Those Curious Campaign Contributions to Obama

Here's a longer article which shows that many of these clearly false contributions were made in small chunks--small enough to fall below the $200 level where individual contributors have to be identified in reports:
More than half of the whopping $426.9 million Barack Obama has raised has come from small donors whose names the Obama campaign won't disclose.
And questions have arisen about millions more in foreign donations the Obama campaign has received that apparently have not been vetted as legitimate.

The McCain camp and the Republican National Committee had $94 million, because of an influx of $84 million in public money.
But Obama easily could outpace McCain by $50 million to $100 million or more in new donations before Election Day, thanks to a legion of small contributors whose names and addresses have been kept secret.
Unlike the McCain campaign, which has made its complete donor database available online, the Obama campaign has not identified donors for nearly half the amount he has raised, according to the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP).
Federal law does not require the campaigns to identify donors who give less than $200 during the election cycle. However, it does require that campaigns calculate running totals for each donor and report them once they go beyond the $200 mark.
Surprisingly, the great majority of Obama donors never break the $200 threshold.
“Contributions that come under $200 aggregated per person are not listed,” said Bob Biersack, a spokesman for the FEC. “They don’t appear anywhere, so there’s no way of knowing who they are.”
The FEC breakdown of the Obama campaign has identified a staggering $222.7 million as coming from contributions of $200 or less. Only $39.6 million of that amount comes from donors the Obama campaign has identified.
It is the largest pool of unidentified money that has ever flooded into the U.S. election system, before or after the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reforms of 2002.
Biersack would not comment on whether the FEC was investigating the huge amount of cash that has come into Obama’s coffers with no public reporting.
But Massie Ritsch, a spokesman for CRP, a campaign-finance watchdog group, dismissed the scale of the unreported money.
“We feel comfortable that it isn’t the $20 donations that are corrupting a campaign,” he told Newsmax.
But those small donations have added up to more than $200 million, all of it from unknown and unreported donors.
Some of these small contributions are clearly unlawful, exceeding the maximum allowed contribution by an individual, and made in small chunks to avoid reporting:
In a letter dated June 25, 2008, the FEC asked the Obama campaign to verify a series of $25 donations from a contributor identified as “Will, Good” from Austin, Texas.
Mr. Good Will listed his employer as “Loving” and his profession as “You.”
A Newsmax analysis of the 1.4 million individual contributions in the latest master file for the Obama campaign discovered 1,000 separate entries for Mr. Good Will, most of them for $25.
In total, Mr. Good Will gave $17,375.
Following this and subsequent FEC requests, campaign records show that 330 contributions from Mr. Good Will were credited back to a credit card. But the most recent report, filed on Sept. 20, showed a net cumulative balance of $8,950 — still well over the $4,600 limit.
There can be no doubt that the Obama campaign noticed these contributions, since Obama’s Sept. 20 report specified that Good Will’s cumulative contributions since the beginning of the campaign were $9,375.
In an e-mailed response to a query from Newsmax, Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt pledged that the campaign would return the donations. But given the slowness with which the campaign has responded to earlier FEC queries, there’s no guarantee that the money will be returned before the Nov. 4 election.
Similarly, a donor identified as “Pro, Doodad,” from “Nando, NY,” gave $19,500 in 786 separate donations, most of them for $25. For most of these donations, Mr. Doodad Pro listed his employer as “Loving” and his profession as “You,” just as Good Will had done.
But in some of them, he didn’t even go this far, apparently picking letters at random to fill in the blanks on the credit card donation form. In these cases, he said he was employed by “VCX” and that his profession was “VCVC.”
Far more worrisome is that there are lots of overseas contributions--and some are clearly unlawful:
The FEC has compiled a separate database of potentially questionable overseas donations that contains more than 11,500 contributions totaling $33.8 million. More than 520 listed their “state” as “IR,” often an abbreviation for Iran. Another 63 listed it as “UK,” the United Kingdom.
More than 1,400 of the overseas entries clearly were U.S. diplomats or military personnel, who gave an APO address overseas. Their total contributions came to just $201,680.
But others came from places as far afield as Abu Dhabi, Addis Ababa, Beijing, Fallujah, Florence, Italy, and a wide selection of towns and cities in France.
Until recently, the Obama Web site allowed a contributor to select the country where he resided from the entire membership of the United Nations, including such friendly places as North Korea and the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Unlike McCain’s or Sen. Hillary Clinton’s online donation pages, the Obama site did not ask for proof of citizenship until just recently. Clinton’s presidential campaign required U.S. citizens living abroad to actually fax a copy of their passport before a donation would be accepted.
With such lax vetting of foreign contributions, the Obama campaign may have indirectly contributed to questionable fundraising by foreigners.
In July and August, the head of the Nigeria’s stock market held a series of pro-Obama fundraisers in Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city. The events attracted local Nigerian business owners.
At one event, a table for eight at one fundraising dinner went for $16,800. Nigerian press reports claimed sponsors raked in an estimated $900,000.
The sponsors said the fundraisers were held to help Nigerians attend the Democratic convention in Denver. But the Nigerian press expressed skepticism of that claim, and the Nigerian public anti-fraud commission is now investigating the matter.
Concerns about foreign fundraising have been raised by other anecdotal accounts of illegal activities.
In June, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi gave a public speech praising Obama, claiming foreign nationals were donating to his campaign.
“All the people in the Arab and Islamic world and in Africa applauded this man,” the Libyan leader said. “They welcomed him and prayed for him and for his success, and they may have even been involved in legitimate contribution campaigns to enable him to win the American presidency..."
Though Gadhafi asserted that fundraising from Arab and African nations were “legitimate,” the fact is that U.S. federal law bans any foreigner from donating to a U.S. election campaign.
The rise of the Internet and use of credit cards have made it easier for foreign nationals to donate to American campaigns, especially if they claim their donation is less than $200.
Campaign spokesman LaBolt cited several measures that the campaign has adopted to “root out fraud,” including a requirement that anyone attending an Obama fundraising event overseas present a valid U.S. passport, and a new requirement that overseas contributors must provide a passport number when donating online.
But what about the contributions already made? The interest alone on some of these unlawful contributions has doubtless given Obama a leg up. What may finally make public campaign financing happen--assuming that Obama's foreign supporters don't successfully buy this election--is that it may be the only way to stop al Qaeda from getting the most malleable president that money can buy.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Excuses, Excuses

Excuses, Excuses

A reader pointed me to an article in the February 7, 2009 Flint (Mich.) Journal about Genesee County's remarkable increase in justifiable homicides:
He knocked on the door, ready to confront the man he believed had broken into his apartment.

It would be the second time that night that the two men had quarreled, and this time, Jerome A. Washington, 40, showed up with what looked like a gun. It was just a plastic toy.

Washington was fatally shot April 23 by the man who said he feared for his life and also had a gun -- a real one.
His death was ruled a justifiable homicide -- one of at least seven in Genesee County last year, a dramatic increase from previous years. An eighth slaying is expected to be classified as justifiable pending review from the prosecutor's office.
But then article starts interviewing the relatives of criminals that died, and the whining starts:
"I don't feel like someone should be able to take someone's life with a gun, and they still get to face some freedom," said Washington's grandmother Eula Smith. "It just doesn't add up. I don't believe he did go there to start any problems."
I understand that someone is grieving because a relative went down a path of either gross criminality or incredible stupidity. One of the whiners tells us:
When you ask Joyce Dye about her brother, there's a slight pause.

The Flint woman had only three short weeks to get reacquainted with Paul Lee Jr. before he was killed. He was fatally shot June 13 as he tried to rob LT's Clothing and Accessories on Clio Road.

He'd only recently been released from prison after serving 20 years. It was a stupid mistake, Dye acknowledged -- but did he deserve to die? She doesn't think so.

She believes her brother's death -- and his life -- were written off in part because of his past criminal history. Lee went to prison in 1986 for second-degree murder.

"(The store owner) didn't have to shoot him eight times to knock him down," Dye said. "It's just goofy. That's the hard part, that nobody faced charges in his death."

For the families who have lost someone, all they hear is that the loved one's life means less. And many times, families say it's because that person had a criminal past.
Uh, no, not because Lee had a criminal past, but a criminal present. He was shot because he was committing a robbery--a crime where violence, or the threat of violence, is used to force someone to give up something of value. Lee made the decision that someone else's life was worth less than the contents of a cash register. Applying the transitive rule tells us that since:

Victim's life worth less than cash register contents


Lee's life is worth less than Victim's life

Lee's life is clearly of the lowest value--because Lee chose to make that equation.

There's a lot of denial going on in some of these cases, which doesn't surprise me:
States vary in their laws for justified homicides, with some requiring that a person being threatened try to flee first.

Leyton said that once he is given the police report, several senior prosecutors review the case, then meet to discuss whether charges should be filed.

"None of the cases we decided in the past year were difficult decisions," he said. "They were all quite clear."

Not to the families of the people who were killed, though. Many of them echo the same worry -- that the deaths of their loved ones weren't taken seriously because of criminal pasts.

Paul Lee's mother, Alice Rawls, said that because her son was on parole from a shooting, she believes police and prosecutors didn't give his death a second glance.

Rawls of Grand Blanc Township remains convinced that her son was set up by someone angry about a previous shooting that landed him in prison more than 20 years ago.

She said Lee was getting his life back on track and was up for a promotion at work.

"He was a very smart person," she said. "They just wrote him off because of his criminal history."
Which is more likely? That the same bad pattern that sent him to prison for shooting someone before was being repeated? Or that he was "set up" and then the prosecutor wasn't smart enough to figure this out?

Of course, here's the clueless academic:
Richard Moran, a criminology professor at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Mass., attributes the increase to laws that make it easier to rule a death justifiable homicide.

"Under the guise of being able to protect oneself, we have kind of given a license to go out and kill people any time you feel threatened," Moran said.

Previous laws on the books protected those who had to kill someone because they were in immediate danger, Moran said, and the new laws give "cultural support for killing other people."
What has changed is that a lot of people that used to be victims now are allowed to defend themselves with a gun, both because permits are now available, and because Michigan no longer requires you to cower in fear and run when attacked. What used to be a victim is now a victor.

I'm sick of hearing criminal next of kin whine about how unfair all this is. I understand that there are justifiable homicides that make you say, "This didn't need to happen." Over at the Civilian Gun Self-Defense Blog, I occasionally post news items that are legally correct, but you just want to cry and say, "You fools! This didn't need to escalate to this level!"

But of the seven justifiable homicides summarized in the sidebar article, there is only one that might be even slightly in this category--and it appears that the woman who started a knife fight died because the other woman also had a knife. The others are not "there was a little misunderstanding" or a minor dispute that was escalated:
Stevens, 46, was shot in the abdomen during a fight March 15 with his 72-year-old housemate. In less than a month, prosecutors ruled Stevens' death a justified homicide, saying he attacked his housemate, striking him with a glass beer mug and pushing him down the stairs.
Jerome A. Washington: Washington, 40, was found dead from a gunshot wound inside a Lapeer Road home about 1:15 a.m. April 23. Police said that earlier in the night at a nearby party store, he'd had words with the man who shot him, but both parties left before the quarrel escalated. Later that night, Washington showed up at the other man's apartment with a plastic gun that resembled a real gun and was fatally shot. The shooter told police he had felt threatened.
Going looking for someone that is not a threat to you any longer, and then threatening him with what appears to be deadly force. That's a no-brainer. That also describes what Washington apparently was.

Cordero Jones: Jones, 21, was fatally shot in the early morning hours of May 8 in what officials said was a shoot-out when he entered a home with the intent to rob someone.
No sympathy at all.

Raymond Blount: It was nearly 4 p.m. May 17 when police said Blount popped out of a closet in his ex-girlfriend's home, armed with a knife. Another man in the house, armed with a handgun, confronted Blount, chased him out of the house and shot him. Police said they couldn't prove whether Blount was shot inside the home before being chased outside. The ex-girlfriend was cut on a finger by Blount's knife and was treated at a local hospital.
How much clearer does it need to be?

Paul Lee Jr.: Lee had been out of prison for only about seven months before he was fatally shot June 13 during an attempted armed robbery of a Clio Road store. Police said Lee went into LT's Clothing and Accessories with a handgun but was stopped by the store owner, who wrestled with him for the gun. The store owner was shot in the hand before he grabbed his own gun and shot Lee several times.
Too stupid to live.

Perry D. Manuel Jr.: Manuel, 28, was at a party when he shot at another man, grazing his face with a bullet, police said. Officials said the two men met up a short time later, and again Manuel was armed. Prosecutor David Leyton said the shooter feared that Manuel was going to shoot at him again, so he shot first, killing Manuel.
Maybe strictly not necessary, but Manuel had an option to not get shot--don't run around shooting people.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Comforting Myths of Gun Control

Comforting Myths of Gun Control

"Give the robber what he wants, and he probably won't hurt you." While this is probably statistically true--and that's the reason that 7-11 has a policy that prohibits employees from being armed on duty--it is often enough not true that being armed is a darn good idea.

This news story from May 8, 2009 WSB radio in Atlanta is valuable for a number of reasons:
(WSB Radio) -- A 17 year old Atlanta teen has been arrested and charged with the January 7, 2009 murder of John Henderson, a bartender at the Standard Restaurant and Spirits in Grant Park.

Atlanta Police say Johnathan Redding was already in police custody Thursday night when he was charged with Henderson's Killing.

Detective Keith Meadows told reporters that it was Redding's Smith and Wesson 9mm handgun that led to his being charged with 22 crimes including felony murder, aggravated assault and armed robbery.

Two days after Henderson's murder on January 9th, police say Redding and three other teens were involved in a home invasion. Police say during that break-in, the homeowner, armed with an semi-automatic rifle fired at Redding striking him in the shoulder.

Police say Redding dropped his weapon as he fled the home. Because police were conducting ballistic tests on weapons in crimes committed after Henderson was killed, they were able to connect Redding to the murder at the Standard and also to an armed robbery in the parking lot of the Standard two and a half weeks before.

Police Chief Richard Pennington told reporters in an afternoon news briefing that Redding sough medical attention for his shoulder injury and was hospitalized for some time. During the three months after Henderson's murder, detectives went about the work of building a case against Redding.

Since Redding's discharge from Grady, he's been in the Atlanta City Jail on charges stemming from the alleged home invasion on January 9th. Police charged Redding in the home invasion on April 10th and charged him with the Standard shooting Thursday night.

Pennington says Redding is not cooperating with authorities. He's believed to be a member of a gang known as "30 Deep."

Police are looking for three additional suspects all about 17 years old in connection with John Henderson's death.

Henderson was shot during a robbery at the Grant Park area bar where he worked, Standard Food & Spirits. He was shot multiple times despite complying with robbers' demands, according to investigators.

The killing took place as Henderson and another bartender were getting ready to close the bar, on Memorial Drive, when four to five armed men broke through the bar's glass door. [emphasis added]
The lessons:

1. Comply with robbers' demands--get shot multiple times.

2. All of those being held in these two tremendously serious crimes are under 18. I've never been terribly enthused about trying minors as adults, but there seems to be a pattern here that is quite dangerous.

3. I've pointed out in the past that gun registration isn't a terribly useful method of crime solution, because criminals seldom leave guns at the scene of a crime, and they don't register their guns. Here's one of the rare cases where a criminal left a gun at the scene of a crime--without being hauled away on a gurney. But guess what? None of the suspects could legally purchase a handgun from a dealer, because they are four years too young. I rather doubt that they registered these illegally purchased handguns. The absolute best possible outcome of mandatory gun registration might have been to find the last person who legally possessed this gun. The chances that this was whoever sold the guns to these suspects is, shall we say, tiny. Most likely, registration would only tell you whose gun was stolen in a burglary.

4. We don't know if the "semi-automatic rifle" used by the homeowner was one of those dreaded "assault weapons" or not, but here's exactly the sort of case where a high capacity rifle is really useful: multiple armed criminals forcing entry into your home.

5. We try to log every news story that we find of civilian gun self-defense in the U.S. at the Civilian Gun Self-Defense Blog--but it appears that this foiled home invasion either didn't get news coverage, or we didn't see it--and this sounds like exactly the sort of "if it bleeds, it leads" news story that you would expect to get media attention. This shows that our best efforts are still missing civilian gun defense incidents of some importance.

6. In spite of not having the useless gun registration information that gun control advocates insist are necessary to solve crimes--Atlanta police are clearly doing a fine job of correlating information about very different crimes, and using it to find bad guys.

More Signs of Economic Revival

More Signs of Economic Revival

In one sector. From the Sturm, Ruger first quarter report:
The first quarter of 2009 was a significant improvement over the first quarter of last year and continues the progress made in 2008:
• The level of demand for our products during the first quarter of 2009 has been unusually high, with more than 500,000 units ordered.
• Our firearms sales grew 55.5% from the first quarter of 2008 and 8.7% from the fourth quarter of 2008.
• Our firearms unit production grew 69.3% from the first quarter of 2008 and 25.6% from the fourth quarter of 2008.
• Our backlog grew to 458,900 units and $136.3 million at the end of the first quarter of 2009, from 175,900 units and $47.8 million at the end of 2008.
A backlog of almost half a million guns for one maker? And just in case there's any question who is the greatest gun salesman of all time:
The level of demand for our products started to rise in October 2008 and has been extremely strong through the first quarter of 2009. Demand has substantially exceeded our production capacity and our backlog has grown dramatically.
Some New Agers imagine Obamas as "a Lightworker." See this June 6, 2008 San Francisco Chronicle column:
Here's where it gets gooey. Many spiritually advanced people I know (not coweringly religious, mind you, but deeply spiritual) identify Obama as a Lightworker, that rare kind of attuned being who has the ability to lead us not merely to new foreign policies or health care plans or whatnot, but who can actually help usher in a new way of being on the planet, of relating and connecting and engaging with this bizarre earthly experiment. These kinds of people actually help us evolve. They are philosophers and peacemakers of a very high order, and they speak not just to reason or emotion, but to the soul.
Oh yeah, I'm sure that the "gooey... spiritually advanced people" were expecting this! The Lightworker is not just selling guns to existing gun owners:
There is an additional beneficial note from this high level of demand – we hear anecdotally from retailers that a significant portion of their customers are new and often buying their very first firearm. We are hopeful that those new firearms owners will return to buy more Ruger products in the future.
If even 5% of those new gun owners fill in the card that comes with Ruger guns, Obama may be on the way to creating a five million member NRA.

Thanks to Arms and the Law for bringing this to my attention. Some of the comments over there (one by a first time gun owner) are quite interesting.

Too Stupid To Stay Out of Jail?

Too Stupid To Stay Out of Jail?

It's like a smorgasbord of trouble! From the January 19, 2010 Idaho Statesman:
Zachary W. Robinson is being held in the Ada County Jail on felony counts of possession of a controlled substance (methamphetamine and prescription drugs), delivery of a controlled substance (meth), manufacture of a dangerous weapon (a sawed-off shotgun), and misdemeanor counts of possession of drug paraphernalia, marijuana, a concealed weapon, and fake controlled substance after police arrested the 23-year-old Boise man following traffic stop just after midnight Monday.

The car Robinson was in was pulled over for an illegal lane change, and Robinson, in the passenger seat, tells police that he has a handgun in his lap and a sawed-off shotgun in the beat seat.  Then it gets bad:
Police say when Robinson got out of the car, an open can of beer he was holding in his lap spilled on the seat.
Police then searched the car and found the sawed-off shotgun and drugs in the the back seat, including: seven grams of methamphetamine, one gram of a substance the looked like meth but wasn’t, 3.5 grams of marijuana, a small amount of pharmaceutical medication he did not have a valid prescription for, and scales and packaging materials, according to police reports.
At that point, police arrested Robinson and booked him into the jail.
Ya think?

Bilingual Education

Bilingual Education

I have been skeptical of bilingual education for many years. The fact is that language learning is best done by total immersion. Generations of immigrants to America went into English only classrooms, and did well. One of my wife's English professors spoke only Yiddish until he was ten years old--and then went into an English only classroom in New York City. Somehow, in spite of the supposed damage done to his self-esteem and language skills, he ended up with a Ph.D. in English.

Heather McDonald has an article in the Autumn, 2009
City Journal that points out what many of us have long suspected: the goal of bilingual education was never to benefit Hispanic immigrants:

The counterintuitive linguistic claims behind bilingual education were always a fig leaf covering a political agenda. The 1960s Chicano rights movement (“Chicano” refers to Mexican-Americans) asserted that the American tradition of assimilation was destroying not just Mexican-American identity but also Mexican-American students’ capacity to learn. Teaching these students in English rather than in Spanish hurt their self-esteem and pride in their culture, Chicano activists alleged: hence the high drop-out rates, poor academic performance, and gang involvement that characterized so many Mexican-American students in the Southwest. Manuel Ramirez III, currently a psychology professor at the University of Texas at Austin, argued that bilingual education was necessary to ensure “the academic survival of Chicano children and the political and economic strength of the Chicano community.” The role of American schools, according to this nascent ideology, became the preservation of the Spanish language and Mexican culture for Mexican-origin U.S. residents.

Most importantly, however, are the results:

The bureaucratic resistance wasn’t able to suppress the good news, however. In Los Angeles, young Hispanic pupils placed in immersion were absorbing spoken English far more quickly than expected and were starting to read and write in English as well, their teachers told the Los Angeles Times. The Oceanside school district, on the Pacific coast north of San Diego, became the emblem for the new English immersion. Superintendent Kenneth Noonan, a former bilingual teacher himself and cofounder of the California Association of Bilingual Education, had opposed Prop. 227, but once it passed, he determined that Oceanside would follow the law to the letter. He applied the criteria for granting bilingual waivers strictly and ended up creating no Spanish-taught classes. He then sat back with considerable trepidation and waited. “Trained bilingual teachers started calling me,” he says. “‘You’ve got to see what’s happening down here,’ they said. I thought: ‘I guess it’s true, the sky has fallen.’ ” But when Noonan visited their classrooms, he found that these new converts to immersion were “glowing with a sense of success.”

I'm always impressed how much support remains among leftwing teachers that I know for bilingual systems--and I get the impression that it is as much about showing their disapproval of America as concern for the kids that they teach.

Corruptocrats At Copenhagen

Corruptocrats At Copenhagen

The December 8, 2009 Guardian (a leftwing British newspaper) has a disturbing report of what is going to disrupt Copenhagen--and it isn't necessarily the Climategate scandal:
The UN Copenhagen climate talks are in disarray today after developing countries reacted furiously to leaked documents that show world leaders will next week be asked to sign an agreement that hands more power to rich countries and sidelines the UN's role in all future climate change negotiations.
The document is also being interpreted by developing countries as setting unequal limits on per capita carbon emissions for developed and developing countries in 2050; meaning that people in rich countries would be permitted to emit nearly twice as much under the proposals.

Obama and friends talk progressive leftist; but they do corrupt fatcat politics in a way that Republicans find outrageous or embarrassing.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

I Wish I Had A Union This Good

I Wish I Had A Union This Good

From the February 1, 2010 New York Post:
A Queens teacher who collects a $100,000 salary for doing nothing spends time in a Department of Education "rubber room" working on his law practice and managing 12 real-estate properties worth an estimated $7.8 million, The Post found.
Alan Rosenfeld hasn't set foot in a classroom for nearly a decade since he was accused in 2001 of making lewd comments to junior-high girls and "staring at their butts," yet the department still pays him handsomely for sitting on his own butt seven hours a day.
In 2001, six eighth-graders at IS 347 in Queens accused Rosenfeld, a typing teacher who filled in for an absent dean, of making comments like "You have a sexy body," asking one whether she had a boyfriend and making others feel uncomfortable with creepy leers.

Rosenfeld can't be fired, because the union contract does not allow it.  He collects a salary of $100,049 per year, plus full health benefits, and a pension that would be $82,000 per year if he retired now.  That pension will grow $1700 per year for every year he stays in the rubber room.  Rosenfeld is the oldest and most senior of more than 100 teachers in the "rubber room."

Gee, I wonder why they have a budget shortfall?

AIG's Corruption

AIG's Corruption

From January 25, 2010 Reuters:

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. securities regulators originally treated the New York Federal Reserve's bid to keep secret many of the details of the American International Group bailout like a request to protect matters of national security, according to emails obtained by Reuters.

The request to keep the details secret were made by the New York Federal Reserve -- a regulator that helped orchestrate the bailout -- and by the giant insurer itself, according to the emails.

The emails from early last year reveal that officials at the New York Fed were only comfortable with AIG submitting a critical bailout-related document to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission after getting assurances from the regulatory agency that "special security procedures" would be used to handle the document.
If there is anything that the Bush and Obama Administrations could agree upon it was this: that incompetent Wall Street firms needed government protection. And that alone should have been enough argument for letting them go under. Painful? Yes. But I wonder how much of the continuing crisis more than a year later is because of the unwillingness to allow the market to liquidate and rationalize the bad consequences of the 1999 decision to encourage bad loans.

Taser As Proctological Tool

Taser As Proctological Tool

A Taser isn't supposed to be used in this way--and Boise City is settling out of court, reputedly in six figures, for police officers using a Taser where the sun doesn't shine--and worse:
The City of Boise wants to make it clear that they are not admitting guilt in the case of a man sodomized by Boise police with a Taser gun.
But they are also dishing out an estimated $150,000 to Gerald Amidon to prevent this matter from going to court.
This was so disturbing I went looking for more discussion of what actually happened, and it confirms what this audio recording of the incident shows. The July 29, 2009 Idaho Statesman coverage is pretty shocking:
Upon arrival, the officers heard the sounds of a struggle and voices coming from inside. The officers yelled for someone to open the door, and were greeted with a profane comment by a man in the residence. The officers had to kick and push the door open; the man inside was pushing against the door for more than 80 seconds. Once they gained entry, the officers said the suspect did not comply with their demands to get on the ground and stop resisting.
The suspect said that he was hit three times with a Taser after he was already handcuffed and face-down on the floor. Murphy's investigation found evidence that the suspect was hit twice with the Taser — once in the back before he was handcuffed and once in the buttocks after he was cuffed.
Murphy said the officer who used the Taser -— described as Officer #3 in the report — also coarsely threatened to use the Taser in the man's anus and genitals. Murphy's report says that use of Taser on a man's buttock's does not violate policy in and of itself; the question is whether it was "reasonable and necessary."
The exchange between Officer #3 and the suspect during the incident was captured on a police officer's recorder. Murphy transcribed some of it in his report:
Officer #3: Do you feel this?
Complainant: Yes, sir.
Officer #3: Do you feel that? That’s my -
Complainant: Okay
Officer #3: -Taser up your ass.
Complainant: Okay
Officer #3: So don’t move.
Complainant: I’m trying not to. I can’t breathe.
"This exchange, especially the complainant’s response, strongly suggests that, at that moment anyway, the Taser was pressed between the Complainant’s buttocks and near his anal area," Murphy wrote in his report on the incident.
Two circular burn marks 1 to 2 centimeters in size were found on the suspect's buttocks, Murphy said.
Officer #3 also threatened to use the Taser on the suspect's genitalia.
The officers involved are apparently being disciplined. Not fired? Not prosecuted? Look, if someone is resisting arrest, use of a Taser makes sense. But someone who is handcuffed and face-down on the floor?

UPDATE: Yes, the claim of "sodomized" isn't correct. Still not at all an appropriate behavior by the police officer, and it puts a bunch of money into the hands of someone who is probably nothing wonderful, either.

George Soros At It Again

George Soros At It Again

From the February 27, 2010 Daily Mail:
A secretive group of Wall Street hedge fund bosses are said to be behind a plot to cash in on the decline of the euro.
Representatives of George Soros's investment business were among an all-star line up of Wall Street investors at an 'ideas dinner' at a private townhouse in Manhattan, according to reports.
A spokesman for Soros Fund Management said the legendary investor did not attend the dinner on February 8, but did not deny that his firm was represented.
At the dinner, the speculators are said to have argued that the euro is likely to plunge in value to parity with the dollar.
How typical: progressive Democrats--the crowd that put Obama in office--figuring out ways to get rich while destroying a national economy.