"Cash-Strapped Michigan Sheriff's Department Auctioning Machine Gun"

Given that machine guns are legal and given that there are zero crimes committed with these registered machine guns, this seems like a rational policy to me, but I am sure that this Sheriff's office will be given all sorts of grief.

"For sale: Collector quality, fully automatic M-16 [by the Lapeer County Sheriff's Department] in excellent condition. Never fired outside shooting range."

UPDATE: Sayuncle writes me that:

"Given that machine guns are legal and given that there are zero crimes committed with these registered machine guns,"

There have been two murders committed with lawfully owned MGs. One case was a cop used a Mac 10 to murder an informant. In another, a wealthy doctor killed his assistant whom he'd been stalking with a Mac-10.

UPDATE: Sayuncle was nice enough to inform me that the case involving a police officer did not involve a privately owned machine gun. He pointed to the details are available here.

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The City of Chicago having real trouble keeping track of guns in evidence storage


Anti-crime advice from a criminal


Another huge hole in campaign finance laws

So does this mean that the Saudi's are financing Hillary Clinton's campaign? I can't give a candidate $10,000 for their campaign, but I can pay you for a talk and then let you spend the money on yourself. Given all his other ways around the campaign finance laws, I can't wait for Soros to take advantage of this. Of course, he probably figured this out long ago.

[Bill Clinton] has earned $40 million in the past six years in speaking fees.

Goldman Sachs paid Clinton $650,000 for four speeches, while the banking firm, Citicorp paid
$250,000 for just one speech. But U.S. companies didn't represent the largest of President Clinton's speaking feesĔthose came from overseas clients Ĕ such as a Saudi firm that paid Clinton $600,000 for two speeches and a real estate group run by an official of China's communist party paid him $200,000.

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Global Warming Hysteria Making it so Children are Losing Sleep

This is great. I hope that Al Gore with his movie and the others exaggerating the risks feel good about themselves. Some years ago, when my oldest kids were around 7 and 5, I noticed that some of the neighborhood children who we had over were not flushing the toilets. When I asked them what was going on (the smell had alerted me to the problem), I was told that they were worried that we were running out of water. It was something that they had been told in school. The notion that we were running out of water in Pennsylvania was just bizarre. I wondered what teachers could possibly scare children that way.

All the reports about the dire consequences of global warming are having one unintended effect Ĕ they're scaring the wits out of some children. According to a recent study of 1,100 British youngsters between ages 7 and 11, half of them are so anxious about the effects of global warming, they frequently lose sleep over it.

The survey, conducted for a supermarket chain in Great Britain found that a quarter of the children blamed politicians for climate change, while a seventh blamed their own parents for not doing enough to save the environment. The most feared consequences of global warming among the children included the possibility of entire countries being submerged by flooding, and of course, the welfare of animals.

A spokesman for the supermarket chain seemed pleased that youngsters are so worried about global warming that it keeps them awake, as he lamented that, "many adults may look the other way." . . . .

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Washington Post Gets it wrong: "Criticism of hunters who use assault rifles puts writeręs career in jeopardy"

The problem isn't that he made a political mistake, the problem is that this guy doesn't know what he was talking about. These military-style assault rifles are functionally the same as hunting rifles. A .308 caliber AK-47 "assault" weapon fires bullets that are no more powerful and at the same rate as a regular deer hunting rifle. They are both semi-automatic guns. This AK-47 is a civilian version of the weapon. It is not the military version.

Modern hunters rarely become more famous than Jim Zumbo. A mustachioed, barrel-chested outdoors entrepreneur who lives in a log cabin near Yellowstone National Park, he has spent much of his life writing for prominent outdoors magazines, delivering lectures across the country and starring in cable TV shows about big-game hunting in the West.

Zumbo's fame, however, has turned to black-bordered infamy within America's gun culture -- and his multimedia success has come undone. It all happened in the past week, after he publicly criticized the use of military-style assault rifles by hunters, especially those gunning for prairie dogs.

"Excuse me, maybe I'm a traditionalist, but I see no place for these weapons among our hunting fraternity," Zumbo wrote in his blog on the Outdoor Life Web site. The Feb. 16 posting has since been taken down. "As hunters, we don't need to be lumped into the group of people who terrorize the world with them. . . . I'll go so far as to call them 'terrorist' rifles."

The reaction -- from tens of thousands of owners of assault rifles across the country, from media and manufacturers rooted in the gun business, and from the National Rifle Association -- has been swift, severe and unforgiving. Despite a profuse public apology and a vow to go hunting soon with an assault weapon, Zumbo's career appears to be over. . . . .


The scary power of prosecutors

When I was chief economist at the U.S. Sentencing Commission I came across many prosecutors who scared me. You want people who are really motivated to get their job done, but these guys would frequently feel that everyone commits thousands of crimes and even though we only caught this person for one crime, we are really justified in throwing the book at this person. These guys have so much power. I never meet Giuliani, but he impressed as among the worst in the way that he went after Milken. Charging Milken with a hundred crimes, going after Milken's brother, and going after others to make Milken break, not because he really seemed to believe that these charges were justified. In the end, Milken went to jail for something that had only involved fines in the past. But Milken agreed to this to save his brother from Giuliani trying to destroy Milken's brother's life.

The trial of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby is the closest version of a Red Queen trial this country has had in a long time. One says that knowing it might start a stampede from past defendants laying claim to the most upside-down prosecution.

Lewis G. Carroll's account of the Knave' s trial before the Red Queen and White Rabbit is famous for the Queen's dictum, "Sentence first, verdict afterward." But read the full transcript of the mock trial and one will see that the real subject is not justice, but the humiliation of the defendant.

The trial of Scooter Libby in Washington, the national capital of illogic, has been exemplary. In December 2003, the prosecutor purports a crime has been committed by revealing a "covert" CIA agent's identity to the press -- despite knowing then what the outside world learned nearly three years later -- that the revealer of the agent was a State Department official, Richard Armitage. With the "whodunnit" solved on day one, the prosecution follows the Red Queen's script by taking the nation on a useless, joyless ride through the opaque looking-glass of Washington journalism.

The testimony of three of the world's most sophisticated journalists -- Judith Miller, Matthew Cooper and Tim Russert -- was the trial's closest thing to the White Rabbit reading nonsense verse to the jury: "For this must ever be a secret, kept from all the rest, between yourself and me."

The Libby case went to the jury yesterday. After the verdict, all the characters in this satire on Beltway mores will go back to doing what they did before, except for one -- Scooter Libby.

If found guilty, Mr. Libby goes to prison. He is ruined. If acquitted, he loses only that which he built daily the past 35 years of private and public life -- his reputation. This, too, is ruin.

Purified justice notwithstanding, something here has gone "horribly wrong."

As is increasingly true of politics, American justice today has come to look more like mortal combat, the videogame. Notions of proportionality have eroded. Crimes that are minor crimes, civil offenses or mere hardball politics like the Plame case must be elevated to a capital offense. Eliot Spitzer's pursuit of AIG founder Hank Greenberg rose to a bonfire of never-proven criminal charges that put the torch to the company and Mr. Greenberg before burning down to its current ash of alleged civil offenses against him.

Under the constant stare of the media Cyclops, prosecutors can't back down and justice in 21st-century America degrades to swamp justice. Exhibit A: the Duke lacrosse-team prosecution. Judge Lewis Kaplan, in the federal government's recent KPMG prosecution, sat in appalled disbelief as federal prosecutors attempted to reduce 18 defendants to rubble. . . .


Very little of world temperature changes have anything to do with man


Apple CEO's lambasting of teacher unions gets a reaction

Steve Job's previous concerns about the problems with teacher unions has hit a nerve. Steve Jobs has probably lost more than a few computer sales to public schools.

California Federation of Teachers has invited Apple CEO Steve Jobs to either attend an annual CFT convention next month or offer a public apology for his "insulting comments" to California's teachers. Should Jobs fail to apologize or neglect to attend the conference, where he is encouraged to speak with the people who educate California's children and hear from them what the situation is like, the CFT will create a new award specifically for Apple's chief. "We'll call it the Rotten Apple, for the individual who best personifies the need to think differently about public education and teacher unions," California Federation of Teachers president Mary Bergan wrote in a letter to the executive. Bergan aggressively rebuted Jobs' statement to an educational reform conference last week, where he expressed belief that the schools have become unionized "in the worst possible way" and that the unionization with lifetime employment of K-12 teachers is "off-the-charts crazy." . . .


Canada: "No preventing gun rampage"

I have seen this defeatist attitude many times. Of course, they could always consider letting potential victims carry concealed handguns. Then you have many potential targets covered and the criminals doesn't know until he starts who is going to be able to stop him.

PUBLICATION: Montreal Gazette
DATE: 2007.02.23


No preventing gun rampage, Dawson's Filion says: Emergency plans and security guards can't stop an armed assailant, director-general contends


Metal detectors and beefed-up evacuation plans couldn't have prevented gun-wielding Kimveer Gill from killing an 18-year-old student and wounding 20 others when he went on a rampage at Dawson College in September, director-general Richard Filion told a safe schools conference yesterday.

Unlike a fire or gas leak, Filion said, school emergency plans and security guards are virtually helpless in the face of an armed assailant bent on carnage.

"We were dealing with an incredibly unpredictable force - an unstable and armed human intent on violence," Filion told 650 school officials at a Toronto conference organized by the Canadian Safe Schools Network.

"We have no idea where that person will go and what they will do. This guy came to the college with 1,500 bullets; he was planning a real massacre." . . . .

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Do they really want to convict this good Samaritan?

I understand how the person whose place was broken into must feel, but would convicting this guy really create the right incentives for neighbors in future cases? Possibly the solution is that the person with the DVD shouldn't have had the volume turned up so high? May be the neighbor can follow the lead in this story I posted on earlier.

OCONOMOWOC, Wis. Ĕ A sword-wielding Wisconsin man broke into his neighbor's apartment thinking he was chivalrous after hearing the cries of a woman he thought was in peril Ĕ but instead, she was in porn.

James Van Iveren was in his Oconomowoc apartment listening to music when he heard loud cries from a woman he thought was pleading for help, reported the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. The 39-year-old grabbed a cavalry sword, a family heirloom, and rushed upstairs to forcibly open the quarters of an upstairs tenant he barely knew.

"It was a woman screaming," Van Iveren said of the Feb. 12 incident. "She was screaming for help."

Bret Stieghorst told police that he was watching a pornographic DVD when Van Iveren kicked open his door, damaging the frame and lock in the process, with a 39-inch blade in hand.

Stieghorst said Van Iveren demanded "Where is she?" while thrusting the sword at him.

The neighbor told police Van Iveren became increasingly aggressive as he repeated the question, insisting that he had heard a woman being raped. The complaint said that, with the sword pointed at him, the neighbor led Van Iveren throughout the apartment, opening closet doors to prove he was alone. . . .

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More Wal-Mart Stores Stop Selling Guns


"Blair to hold summit on gun crime"

Charges finally dismissed in "A weird ending to a crime"

I previously posted on this crime because of its weird ending, with the criminal coming to the defense of the 74-year-old farmer who had caught him. Well, it turns out that the charges were finally dropped against the farmer.

CAMBRIDGE, Minn. Ĕ Charges were dropped Tuesday against a retired farmer who earned widespread accolades for chasing down a gasoline thief while wielding a shotgun.

Kenneth Englund, 74, was initially charged with felony assault, though those charges were reduced to two misdemeanors _ pointing a gun at another person and disorderly conduct.

Isanti County Attorney Jeffrey Edblad said Tuesday that his office no longer believes it can prove the case, the Star Tribune of Minneapolis reported. . . .

Thanks to Robert Aldridge for sending me this link.

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Concealed Handgun Permit Rate in Alabama

I am a little baffled by the claim that is supposedly attributed to Gary Kleck that "found that 2.9 percent of adults in states with the most gun-friendly laws had permits." My numbers show a number of states with much highe rates than 2.9 percent. Possibly he means an average rate, but the context of the discussion is in terms of the highest rates. As to my quotes, I did mention that there were some counties in Pennsylvania that actually had permit rates above 20 percent, so Alabama's rate is no where near the top of the range, though they are rural counties.

Some of the details about who had permits were interesting. I particularly like the fact that in Jefferson County 284 were housewives.

Birmingham News (Alabama)

February 18, 2007 Sunday

SECTION: NEWS; Pg. 1A Vol. 119 No. 342

LENGTH: 1808 words

HEADLINE: Metro area loaded with concealed guns Records show more than 1 in 10
adults may have carry permits; for many, 'it's an insurance policy'

BYLINE: STAN DIEL News staff writer


. . . Still, some of the leading academics who study the issue said Birmingham stands out.

John Lott, a former scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and the author of several books on handguns and crime, said his research has never identified a city with a higher percentage of adults with permits.

''Those are pretty remarkable numbers,'' he said.

Among states for which Lott said he'd collected data, South Dakota has the highest percentage of adults with permits, 7.5 percent. Lott said he'd run across a handful of very rural counties with higher percentages than greater Birmingham, but not a city of any size.

Gary Kleck, a professor in the criminology department at Florida State University, said the most recent significant research he has seen - done for a book published in 2000 - found that 2.9 percent of adults in states with the most gun-friendly laws had permits. That's less than a third of the rate in Birmingham. . . .


9,620 total permits
8% adults with permits
73% male
27% female
49 average age
90 oldest permit holder
305 nurses
222 salespeople
156 business owners
140 managers
$20 cost per year


53,545 total permits
11% adults with permit
70% male
30% female
2,091 retired
1,897 self-employed
284 housewives
$7.50 cost per year

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"Apple CEO lambasts teacher unions"

It is pretty gutsy to go before a group of people who purchase your product and say that government protection of their jobs hurts children. Yet, if you had asked me what position Steve Jobs (Democrat) and Michael Dell (Republican) would have taken on school unions, I would have been completely wrong. I would have incorrectly guessed that Jobs supported the unions and Dell was more likely to oppose them. Well, Jobs is exactly right here. I am amazed that he made the statement that he does on teacher unions, and I am equally disappointed with Dell. Jobs is correct that you can not run a business and give customers what they want if you can't get rid of employees are not doing their jobs. Why should children be the ones that have to put up with this service in schools?

Apple Inc. CEO Steve Jobs lambasted teacher unions Friday, claiming no amount of technology in the classroom would improve public schools until principals could fire bad teachers.

Jobs compared schools to businesses with principals serving as CEOs.

"What kind of person could you get to run a small business if you told them that when they came in they couldn't get rid of people that they thought weren't any good?" he asked to loud applause during an education reform conference.

"Not really great ones because if you're really smart you go, 'I can't win.'"

In a rare joint appearance, Jobs shared the stage with competitor Michael Dell, founder and CEO of Dell Inc. Both spoke to the gathering about the potential for bringing technological advances to classrooms.

"I believe that what is wrong with our schools in this nation is that they have become unionized in the worst possible way," Jobs said. . . .

Apple just lost some business in this state, I'm sure," Jobs said.

Dell responded that unions were created because "the employer was treating his employees unfairly and that was not good.


When are Global Warming Advocates Going After Your Beef Consumption?

It is obviously only a matter of time until they start to restrict the number of cows in the US. I really wish that these articles would discuss 1) what percent of global warming is due to greenhouse gases (there are other factors such as the sun), 2) what percent of the change in greenhouse gases are manmade, and 3) why exactly this warming is "bad" (after all the UN's recent claim that over the next 100 years ocean levels are only supposed to rise a small 7 to 21 inches) versus all the benefits (more usable land that is currently frozen, higher temperatures improve people's health, increase the growing season, and increase the number of plants and animals).

As Congress begins to tackle the causes and cures of global warming, the action focuses on gas-guzzling vehicles and coal-fired power plants, not on lowly bovines.

Yet livestock are a major emitter of greenhouse gases that cause climate change. And as meat becomes a growing mainstay of human diet around the world, changing what we eat may prove as hard as changing what we drive. . . .

I had mentioned a similar discussion here.

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ABC's This Week interview with Mitt Romney Regarding Gun Control and Mormonism

I can give Romney an easy explanation for changing his position and not supporting the assault weapons ban: the claims made by proponents about what would happen after the ban sunset in September 2004 didn't happen.

MITT ROMNEY's ABC News interview on Sunday, February 18, 2007


(Off-camera) Let's talk about guns. You were supportive of the Brady Bill, the handgun waiting period in the past. You sign an assault weapon ban into law, and you said in the past, I don't line up with the NRA. Now you -


Well, on that, on that issue.


(Off-camera) Now you're a member of the NRA.


Yes. And I - and I know the NRA does not support an assault weapon ban, so I don't line up on that particular issue with the NRA, either does President Bush. He likewise says he supported an assault weapon ban. Today we don't havethe Brady Bill because we have instantaneous background checks, that's no longeran operative or needed measure. But a I'm a strong proponent of second amendmentrights. I believe people under our Constitution have the right to bear arms. We have a gun in one of our homes. It's not owned by me. It's owned by my son but I've always it sort of mine.


(Off-camera) When did you join the NRA?


It's about - well, within the last year. And I signed up for lifelong membership. I think they're doing good things. And I believe in supporting the right to bear arms.


(Off-camera) This gets to, I think, the core question. You've had changes on many issues, many different kinds of issues yet they're all -


Well not - certainly not that one.


(Off-camera) Well not - well, but joining the NRA. All going in the same direction. How do you combat the charge that these are conversions of convenience?


Actually not all going in the same direction. There are other - you know as you get older and you have experience, I ran for office the first time, never having been in politics . . .

I don't include the part of Stephanopoulos' interview where he was constantly going after Romney being a Mormon, but it was pretty amazing how obsessed Stephanopoulos was with Romney's religion. Stephanopoulos and other parts of the mainstream media are bringing this up so much that they must believe that they could use it to weaken Romney, but I really think that this obsessiveness makes the media look bad. I can't believe for 99 percent of conservative Christians that it makes any real difference. After seeing the way the media discusses his religion, I can believe that it makes a difference for liberals.


Al Gore doesn't practice what he preaches

Nice story about the pistol coach at Ohio State University

A story about the pistol coach at Ohio State University:
"You ought to try to go talk a parent into paying $30,000 to send a kid here to shoot a pistol," he said, eyes crinkled in amusement. . . .

Thanks to Darren Cooper for sending this to me.


Poll on Canada's gun registration program

An example of poll bias. The ANGUS REID FORUM has the question: Does the gun registry help reduce crime? The problem is that there is no possible answer for whether the gun registry might be counterproductive, that it might actually increase crime.

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Over a Million Page Hits! Thank you

Dear Everyone:

Sometime this past week my blog went over a million page hits. I just wanted to thank you all for taking the time for reading the material that I have put up here. I also want to thank my son, Maxim, who despite going to college, has continued to handle the various problems that have arisen with the blog site over time.

Thank you.




The risk of defending oneself in Chicago

Yesterday, that father and his son were victims of a deadly pair of armed robbers. Brian Neal, 19 and his unknown male companion tried to rob the victims at gunpoint. They shot the young father several times before he was able to retrieve a handgun from his apartment and return fire.

This violent crime happened in 500 block of East 82nd Street in the Chatham neighborhood of Chicago where handguns have been banned.

The aftermath left one offender, Neal dead as the young father was transported to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn where heęs reportedly in stable condition suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. The second armed robber fled the scene.

Of course police have confiscated the only protection the victim had as evidence of both the justifiable homicide and potential ban related charges against the victim. . . .

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A weird ending to a crime

CAMBRIDGE, Minn. (AP) -- A man pleading guilty to stealing gas and a car radiator offered words of support for the retired farmer who was charged with threatening him with a shotgun.

Kenneth Englund, 74, confronted Christian Harris Smith and a woman on Oct. 15 at a vacant farm near Englund's home as Smith was taking gasoline from a vehicle, police said. Englund chased the pair while calling the sheriff's office on a cell phone.

After the vehicles stopped and a deputy sheriff arrived, Englund's shotgun was found to be unloaded, according to the criminal complaint. A felony assault charge against Englund on Monday was reduced to two misdemeanors: pointing a gun at another person and disorderly conduct. A judge sentenced Smith, 28, to 90 days in jail last week. As Smith entered his guilty plea, he defended Englund's actions.

"I don't think he should be held responsible for, you know, anything involving any of these issues," Smith said. "I committed a crime and, you know, he did what he probably thought was right to ... resolve the situation."

Smith said that in addition to paying restitution to the owner of the property, he would like to do "whatever I can" to help Englund, according to a court transcript. . . .

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What one British cop wants: re-arming of the British population

Here is a blog written by an anonymous British Police Officer.

My answer to anti-social behaviour (actually my answer to crime as a whole really) is the re-arming of the British population. Although I sometimes give the impression that I don't like the public much, they're generally quite reasonable except where their dogs are concerned. In my darker moments I think guns should be not just legal but compulsory for sane, law-abiding members of the public. I canęt see much point in petty legal distinctions between automatic, military, sniper, hunting, fully-automatic, large calibre or machine guns but I think the military should have the monopoly on heavy artillery. I would have a licensing system very similar to the system of driving licences we have, only simpler ("So, you pull the trigger here, now which end does the bullet come out of ?") People would be elected to positions of responsibility within local neighbourhood watches and senior police officers would be able to raise a posse, members of which would have to wear fluorescent vests for safety reasons.

Thanks very much to Dave Senger for sending this.

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Problably the last place where it be legal to smoke in your office

Smoking has become the hot topic on Capitol Hill.
Who is, who isn't, and where the lawmakers puff -- closeted or not -- are among the whispers in the hallways and on the presidential campaign trail.
There have been at least 35 news reports about Sen. Barack Obama's long battle with a cigarette habit, and how the Illinois Democrat has been chewing Nicorette to kick that habit as he runs for president.
And in the latest installment, staffers for Rep. Keith Ellison tattled to Capitol Police that Rep. Tom Tancredo was smoking a cigar inside his congressional office. . . .
An officer investigating the report informed Mr. Ellison, Minnesota Democrat, that smoking is allowed in the private offices, the Hill newspaper first reported yesterday.

It is somewhat amusing that Tancredo and Ellison have offices right next to each other.

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Evidence that Trolley Square Mall in Utah occurred in a "gun free zone"

A photo of one of the signs at Trolley Square is available courtesy of W. Clark Aposhian of the Utah Shooting Sports Council. Click on the picture to get a larger copy of it and see point 10 for the mention that weapons are banned.

N.W. Clayton fills us in on additional information about this shooting. Off-duty police officer Hammond, who stopped the attack, "was at the opposite end and on a different floor of the convoluted Trolley Square complex when the shooting began. By the time he became aware of the shooting and managed to track down and confront Talovic, three minutes had elapsed." It is fortunate that the off-duty officer ignored the posted signs, but the point is that the killer was not stopped from taking his guns into the Mall just because guns were banned there. One wonders how many more lives could have been saved if law-abiding Utah citizens had been able to carry a gun into the Mall and gotten on the scene in less than 3 minutes. I understand that theoretically under state law permit holders could still carry their guns into the Mall despite the posted signs, but there appears to be some confusion and debate about this issue and courts have upheld gun bans in company parking lots.

I got a note from Janlee Tobias noting to me that: "You may also be interested to know that on Monday night's Channel 2 (KUTV) www.kutv.com broadcast, a witness said words to the effect, 'I saw the shooter. I looked for something to throw at him, but all I could find was a stool.' Then the witness saw the off-duty Ogden police officer and directed him to the shooter."

Utah has 79,353 permit holders, 4.6 percent of the adult population. (I don't know the breakdown for permit holders by whether they are in-state and out-of-state residents.

A detailed timeline of events is provided here. My earlier post is here.

Thanks to N.W. Clayton for sending me this.

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Birmingham, Alabama with the highest rate of Issuing Permits in Urban Areas in the US

Here is a note that I received from a reporter: "Specifically, we've found that 64,000 people in the two most populous counties in the Birmingham metro area have permits. That's a little more than 10 percent of adults."



Hybrid Cars Pose New Danger: Proof Global Warming Does Kill

A useful interview on global warming

Off-duty Officer with Concealed Handgun stops Utah Mall Shooting

I have been arguing this point for years, but here is one reason why police officers should be allowed to carry concealed handguns when they are off-duty. Fortunately, the off-duty officer ignored the "no guns allowed" sign at the Mall. The killer apparently also ignored the sign.

It appears as though off-duty Ogden police Officer Kenneth Hammond, who carried a concealed weapon, stopped the killing spree, said Clark Aposhian, chairman of the Utah Shooting Sports Council.
Aposhian noted that it is impossible to know whether a concealed-weapon holder could make a difference in every violent confrontation.
"But we do know what happens when there is no one with a concealed weapon in these situations - people die."
Aposhian spent Monday fielding telephone calls from individuals and groups seeking information on concealed-weapons permits. . . .

Of course, this argument applies to letting others as well defend themselves.

There is a real concern in my mind that this may be the beginning of more terrorist attacks. There was the attack last year in Seattle. At first glance, this is starting to look like a pattern.

Neighbors and friends back in his home country are shedding more light on the 18-year-old immigrant involved in Monday's shopping mall shooting rampage in Utah.

People close to the family of Sulejman Talovic say the Bosnian immigrant was only four when he and his mother fled their village on foot after it was overrun by Serbian forces. They say Talovic spent five years living as a refugee in Bosnia before his family moved to the U-S.

During his time as a refugee, they say he spent time in an enclave where up to eight-thousand Muslim men and boys would be slaughtered in 1995.

Talovic left before the massacre, but acquaintances say it may have left a mark on him.

A family friend says he's convinced "the war did this in Utah." . . .

This last story is one of many that fails to note that it was an off-duty officer who stopped the attack.

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Warning, extraterrestrials causing global warming!


Valentine Flowers are bad for the Planet?

Many of these flowers are grown in third world countries and the claim it is horrible that the flowers are shipped in the cargo holds of planes that travel to developed countries. By this notion, are we going to ban all foreign trade? This isn't serious. What do these environmentalists what these poor third world countries to do? Wealthier countries care more about the environment than do poorer ones. Just naturally cars and other things are more efficient in wealthier countries over time without any government intervention, so if we do something that makes these third world countries poorer, their environment will deteriorate.

The Valentine's Day bouquet Ĕ the gift that every woman in Britain will be waiting for next week Ĕ has become the latest bête noire among environmental campaigners.

Latest Government figures show that the flowers that make up the average bunch have flown 33,800 miles to reach Britain.

In the past three years, the amount of flowers imported from the Netherlands has fallen by 47 per cent to 94,000 tons, while those from Africa have risen 39 per cent to 17,000 tons.

Environmentalists warned that "flower miles" could have serious implications on climate change in terms of carbon dioxide emissions from aeroplanes. . . .

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Radio appearance today at 5:20 PM

For those interested, I will be on Jerry Doyle's national radio show today at 5:20 EST. We will be discussing gun ownership.

UPDATE: RESCHEDULED for tomorrow at the same time.


New Harvard President former Director of Penn's Women's Studies Department

Drew Gilpin Faust was director of the Women's Studies Program. Despite the fact that women out number men by about 60 to 40 percent in college, it is not surprising that she had this exchange:

Asked Sunday whether her appointment signified the end of sex inequities at the university, Dr. Faust said: "Of course not. There is a lot of work still to be done, especially in the sciences."


Does Giuliani have a tin ear on guns?

All he really had to say here is that he recognized people's right to defend themselves. His emphasis on hunting in the context of the second amendment will remind a lot of conservatives about Clinton. Of course, possibly it isn't a tin ear. Possibly he means it to get gun owners upset.

SACRAMENTO -- Rudy Giuliani addressed a potentially troublesome issue with conservative voters, saying his policies as mayor to get handguns off the street helped reduce crime in New York.

"I used gun control as mayor," he said at a news conference Saturday during a swing through California. But "I understand the Second Amendment. I understand the right to bear arms."

He said what he did as mayor would have no effect on hunting.

Thanks to Dan Gifford for sending me this link.

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Will Liberals Continue to Control the Supreme Court?

For conservatives who are still one vote away from having five votes on the Supreme Court, this is not good news if it were true. Jan Crawford Greenburg, a reporter for ABC News and someone who has good contacts within the Supreme Court, claims that "Bush Will Not Get Another Supreme Court Appointment." Obviously her comment about knowing the date when John Paul Stevens would retire was a joke, but this comment on Bush not getting another appointment was not a joke.


Lots of Problems with Wikipedia


YouTube Video of Giuliani talking about Gun Control, the New York City Suit Against Gun Makers

This pretty much speaks for itself. I would like to support Giuliani for many reasons, but I worry that there will be some issues that he will be horrible on.

YouTube video of "Rudy Giuliani announces lawsuit against gun companies"

This old post might have been too optimistic.

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This will really set feminists off

Not that I thought very much of the concerns about the earlier versions of breast implants, but what objection can they come up with now?

British women may be offered a Ĝnaturalĝ form of breast enlargement that uses stem cells and fat from a woman's own body, under plans being considered by doctors.

The technique, pioneered in Japan, results in breasts that look and feel smoother than conventional cosmetic surgery using implants. This is because the stem cells enable the fat to grow its own blood supply, thus becoming an integral part of the breast rather than a foreign lump.

Stem cells have the potential to change into any cells in the body. They are found in most tissues, especially fat. . . . .

Ironically, the procedure seems to have been originally developed in the US and will soon be forthcoming in the journal Tissue Engineering, but seems to be spreading around the world much faster than it is here. Presumably it is due to the regulatory environment in the US. The procedure using a woman's own fat cells seems to be even safer, but these regulatory delays will keep on having women use the artificial implants.

See also this.


Utah Legislature finishes Approving First Universal Voucher BIll

"The Utah State Legislature approved one of the broadest school voucher programs in the nation on Friday, allotting up to $3,000 for any public school student to put toward private school tuition."

Just like with right-to-carry laws, it will get harder and harder to scare people with horror stories about what "might" happen with vouchers.


Setting the record right, Coalition to Stop Gun Violence gets corrected

The Executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence had this thoughtful little note last week in the Washington Times. I had written a letter responding to the statement in the Washington Times that cited state Sen. Jeannemarie Devolites Davis as claiming that "the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has reported that gun shows are the second-leading source of guns used in crimes, behind only unscrupulous licensed dealers." The point that I made was that "The ATF doesn't make the claim that its investigations are representative of the distribution of sources of illegal guns" and then I pointed to the Bureau of Justice Statistics survey of 18,000 state prison inmates in 1997 that showed 0.7 percent of those inmates who had weapons got them from gun shows and 1 percent from flea markets.

Follow the gun trails
Once again, researcher John R. Lott Jr. is revealing the ideology behind his misrepresented statistics in claiming that gun shows are not a major source of crime guns (Letters to the Editor, "Gun scruples," Sunday).

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) report in question, "Following the Gun: Enforcing Federal Laws Against Firearms Traffickers" (http://www.atf.gov/pub/fire-explo_pub/pdf/followingthegun_internet.pdf) analyzed crime-gun trace data compiled from 1,530 firearms-trafficking investigations over a 2½-year period.

The report found that "gun shows were a major trafficking channel, involving the second highest number of trafficked guns per investigation (more than 130), and associated with approximately 26,000 illegally diverted firearms."
ATF further stated that "prohibited persons, such as convicted felons and juveniles, do personally buy firearms at gun shows and gun shows are sources of firearms that are trafficked to such prohibited persons."

The National Rifle Association and its allies in Congress were so alarmed at the results of this report and others that they acted in 2004 to prohibit the ATF by law from releasing any further trace information to the American public under Freedom of Information Act. One would be hard-pressed to imagine a more anti-democratic measure outside of book burning.

The Department of Justice study mentioned by Mr. Lott (http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/guns.htm) involved a survey of inmates in state prisons, 2 percent of whom said that they purchased the gun used in their crime at a flea market or gun show.

An additional 80 percent indicated they got their gun from "family, friends, a street buy or an illegal source." No effort was made to trace the crime guns involved in the study to find out where they were originally bought and how they were subsequently trafficked.

It is likely that many of these guns were originally purchased at gun shows. The only thing the study hinted at was how the last illegal transfer of a firearm had taken place, and we know from ATF that guns often change hands several times before being used in crimes.

The Virginia State Police report that background checks prevented 2,668 illegal transactions by criminals and other prohibited purchasers in Virginia in 2005 alone. If this type of activity is taking place in regulated gun sales that are overseen by the ATF, then what type of individuals are buying guns when the rules are: "No paperwork, cash and carry"? It's a question that the citizens of Virginia should be asking their legislators.

Here is my response.

Gun trails
The executive director of theCoalition to Stop Gun Violence's response to my letter was extremely misleading ("Follow the gun trails," Letters, Feb. 3).

First, simply repeating the number of transfers investigated by the Clinton administration ignores the issue that I raised: theBureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms investigations were not representative of how the typical criminal got their guns.
It really just shows where the Clinton administration decided to put its investigative resources. For example, if the Clinton administration had decided to only investigate gun shows, they could have said the percentage of investigations involving gun shows was 100 percent. What would that prove?

Second, the possibility that a third party might have gotten a gun from a gun show and then transferred it to someone who used it in a crime will not be prevented by regulations on how guns are sold at gun shows.

Regulations at gun shows could theoretically stop the 0.7 percent of armed criminals who obtained their guns at gun shows, but the regulations will not stop someone who can buy a gun at a gun show from transferring a gun outside the show and the regulatory costs will significantly reduce the number of gun shows by about 14 percent.

Finally, not only is there no academic journal study by economists or criminologists showing that regulations such as the Brady Act reduce violent crime, but even island nations, such as Australia, England and Ireland, with easy borders to defend have seen increases in murder and violent crime after complete or partial gun bans were adopted.

The notion that past gun control failures can be fixed with yet more laws should at some point give pause to even someone from the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.

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Incentives matter in paternity as with everything else

It is hard to ignore all the competition by men claiming to have been the father of Anna Nicole Smith's child. Apparently men sometimes deny responsibility for being a father of a child when they are not married to the mother. Surely there are a few exceptions. But when has there ever been this number of men (four possibilities have been mentioned to date and possibly there are more to come) who claim to be the father of the same child. Possibly this is due to Anna Nicole being unusually promiscuous, but if she was only worth $500 and not possibly $500 million, would you have a married man and others coming forward claiming that they were her child's father?



DC Considering Temporarily repealing Gun Ban

Bush administration pushes for more armed pilots on international flights

They seem to be more convinced that deterrence and incapacitation works.

U.S. Seeks to Increase Armed Pilots on International Flights

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Murtha threatens military budget over leak that Pelosi wants a Boeing 757 for flying across country

Correcting the New York Times on Right-to-Carry

The New York Sun published a letter to the editor that I had originally sent to the New York Times regarding their attack on right-to-carry laws in Florida.

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Woman Employee Uses Gun to Stop Masked Armed Robber

Rudy Giuliani's unclear views on gun control?

I have read this a few times, but I am still not completely clear on what gun control regulations he would support. "Reasonable and sensible" gun control regulations could mean that any regulation is possible. The last paragraph is extremely worrisome. There are obviously many important issues in determining who one supports in the election, but this is not the state's rights view that I thought that Giuliani was going to take. That is my biggest concern, not his particular views on gun control.

HANNITY: Let me move on. And the issue of guns has come up a lot. When people talk about Mayor Giuliani, New York City had some of the toughest gun laws in the entire country. Do you support the right of people to carry handguns?

GIULIANI: I understand the Second Amendment. I support it. People have the right to bear arms. When I was mayor of New York, I took over at a very, very difficult time. We were averaging about 2,000 murders a year, 10,000...

HANNITY: You inherited those laws, the gun laws in New York?

GIULIANI: Yes, and I used them. I used them to help bring down homicide. We reduced homicide, I think, by 65-70 percent. And some of it was by taking guns out of the streets of New York City.

So if you're talking about a city like New York, a densely populated area like New York, I think it's appropriate. You might have different laws other places, and maybe a lot of this gets resolved based on different states, different communities making decisions. After all, we do have a federal system of government in which you have the ability to accomplish that.

HANNITY: So you would support the state's rights to choose on specific gun laws?

GIULIANI: Yes, I mean, a place like New York that is densely populated, or maybe a place that is experiencing a serious crime problem, like a few cities are now, kind of coming back, thank goodness not New York, but some other cities, maybe you have one solution there and in another place, more rural, more suburban, other issues, you have a different set of rules.

HANNITY: But generally speaking, do you think it's acceptable if citizens have the right to carry a handgun?

GIULIANI: It's not only -- I mean, it's part of the Constitution. People have the right to bear arms. Then the restrictions of it have to be reasonable and sensible. You can't just remove that right. You've got to regulate, consistent with the Second Amendment.

HANNITY: How do you feel about the Brady bill and assault ban?

GIULIANI: I was in favor of that as part of the crime bill. I was in favor of it because I thought that it was necessary both to get the crime bill passed and also necessary with the 2,000 murders or so that we were looking at, 1,800, 1,900, to 2,000 murders, that I could use that in a tactical way to reduce crime. And I did.

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Rendell breaking promises: How different February is from September and October

Last fall Ed Rendell campaigned for governor on his supposed record of cutting taxes. Surely the ads came across as promising more of the same. Rendell started backing away from those promises a week after the election. Now he is running away from the promises very quickly.

Gov. Ed Rendell proposed a hefty package of new and higher taxes yesterday that includes raising the sales tax to 7 percent statewide, increasing tobacco taxes and adding a tax on oil company profits as a way to pay for $27.3 billion in spending for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

That's an increase of $1 billion over fiscal 2006-07, and it didn't take long for Republicans to tell the Democratic governor, wait just a minute.

"There is a chart in my office that shows the word 'no' in 50 different languages, and we may have to use every variation before this budget process is over," said Sen. Gibson Armstrong, R-Lancaster, Senate Appropriations Committee chairman . . .

Note Rendell's strategy:

"The first year of a governor's four-year term is often the time when he proposes politically risky ideas, and yesterday was no exception." He did the same thing in his first term and by the end of it he was campaigning as a tax cutter.

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Defining Freedom in the US and Cuba: Charlize Theron

Comparing freedom in Cuba and the United States:

THERON: Well, I would argue that there's a lack of freedom in America. I think -- I think -- you know, I think we tend to...

SANCHEZ: Yes, but you don't have Democrats being arrested and thrown in jail. And you can have a meeting in your house and ...

THERON: No, but I do remember not too long ago some people getting fired from their jobs in television because they spoke up on how they felt about the war.

SANCHEZ: Do you think the lack of freedoms in Cuba are parallel to the lack of freedoms in the United States?

THERON: Well, I would -- I would compare those two, yes, definitely.

SANCHEZ: Yes? .... It sounds like -- it sounds like you don't have a very high opinion of the United States if you think that the freedoms...

THERON: Oh, my God. No, you're so wrong. I absolutely love it. Why do you think I live in the United States?

THERON: I want to make out with you right now. . . .

It is amazing that Ms. Theron doesn't understand the difference between a government banning activity (especially when the government owns everything) and a private TV station firing someone for making a statement. How does she not understand the freedom of the TV station? How does she not understand that the person is free to work for other stations or radio stations?

In any case, as a minor aside, was she referring to the CBS people who were fired for the fake Bush documents? I am not sure of the intellectual leap between firing people for sloppiness/fraud and the government not allowing someone to perform.

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Does this Environmental Regulation Endanger Safety?

Changing speed limits along a stretch road raises the probability of accidents. The effect might be small, but people slowing down has some risk. In the past there was some academic research showing that accident rates depend on differential speeds, and these changes in speeds would contribute to that problem. Anyway, it would be interesting to measure how big of an impact this might have.

The speed limit for truckers will drop from 70-to-55 miles per hour. The new speed limit for everyone else will be 65 miles per hour.

The reductions will affect more than 22 miles on I-81 and 12-and-a-half miles on I-26, from the Tennessee-Virginia border to the Sullivan-Washington county line.

Local officials requested the change to help bring the county into line with the Environmental Protection Agency's air quality health standard for ozone. . . .

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When Global Warming Meets Academic Freedom

Yet, another reason that government should stay out of science debates. It can't keep politics out of the discussion.

Taylor has held the title of "state climatologist" since 1991 when the legislature created a state climate office at OSU The university created the job title, not the state.

His opinions conflict not only with many other scientists, but with the state of Oregon's policies.

So the governor wants to take that title from Taylor and make it a position that he would appoint.

In an exclusive interview with KGW-TV, Governor Ted Kulongoski confirmed he wants to take that title from Taylor. The governor said Taylor's contradictions interfere with the state's stated goals to reduce greenhouse gases, the accepted cause of global warming in the eyes of a vast majority of scientists. . . .

I guess that I do object to the claim that Taylor's views are outside the mainstream of climatologists. Among them I think that he is pretty mainstream.

Thanks to Tom C. for sending this to me.

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Rudy Giuliani on the Courts, Abortion and Judicial Nominations

Well, Giuliani is saying the right things to get conservative Republicans behind him, but the amazing thing is that he is doing it in a way that is completely consistent with his past statements and is likely to make him acceptable to many moderates and even some liberals.

"I don't think you have a litmus test. But I do think you have sort of a general philosophical approach that you want from a justice, and I think a strict constructionist would be probably the way I'd describe it."

"Where I stand on abortion is, I oppose it. I don't like it. I hate it. I think abortion is something that, as a personal matter, I would advise somebody against. However, I believe in a woman's right to choose. I think you have to ultimately not put a woman in jail for that, and I think ultimately you have to leave that to a disagreement of conscience and you have to respect the choice that somebody makes. So what I do say to conservatives, because then, you know, you want to look at, well, OK, what can we look to that is similar to the way we think? I think the appointment of judges that I would make would be very similar to, if not exactly the same as, the last two judges that were appointed."

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Steve Jobs on Eliminating Digital Rights Management

The third alternative is to abolish DRMs entirely. Imagine a world where every online store sells DRM-free music encoded in open licensable formats. In such a world, any player can play music purchased from any store, and any store can sell music which is playable on all players. This is clearly the best alternative for consumers, and Apple would embrace it in a heartbeat. If the big four music companies would license Apple their music without the requirement that it be protected with a DRM, we would switch to selling only DRM-free music on our iTunes store. Every iPod ever made will play this DRM-free music.

Steve Jobs has a very provacative posting at Apple.com today asking for the elimination of digital rights management (DRM) that is used "to protect its music against theft." The most interesting part of the discussion to me was way Apple doesn't license its FairPlay DRM to others because it would be difficult for Apple to control information about the program and these leaks could be used to disable the protection. He suggests that is part of the reason that Microsoft has moved to the Apple model of having one company control both the hardware and software.

The other issue is ending DRM. Obviously Jobs would support this only if he believes that he has the best online music store and best hardware. Many economists have argued that Apple had locked customers into using iTunes once they had bought an iPod and that then the fact that they bought songs on iTunes would lock them into buying iPods in the future. The numbers that Jobs provides makes it clear that the investment the people make in songs bought by iTunes is so small that it is hard to think that there is much of a lock-in effect. He claims that the average iPod owner only has 3% of their songs from iTunes. The implication that he draws that this DRM hasn't stopped piracy. That last part seems like a big jump in logic to me, at least with the evidence that he has provided. These songs could be from people's legitimate CD collections. I also wonder about how much of this other space is due to podcasts, movies, audio books. It is because I have problems with this last step that I also have problems with his conclusion that the big four record companies would be better off junking DRM. Doing so could greatly increase piracy, which is what the record companies fear. I appears Jobs believes that he would benefit, but all that goes to show is that people aren't being locked into the iPod world. iPod and iTunes are both doing well because they are the best out there, not because people are locked into them.

There is one other possible interpretation to all this. It is possible that Jobs is reacting to recent pressure from multiple European countries to share its DRM. Apple might believe that it is easier for the music companies to defend this and at the same time Apple can make it look like it is in agreement with the Europeans. This interpretation depends on the reasonable assumption that the music companies are willing to fight hard to defend their property rights.

UPDATE: Well, others have picked up on this last point. "But several industry executives said they viewed Mr. Jobsęs comments as an effort to deflect blame from Apple and onto the record companies for the incompatibility of various digital music devices and services."

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Governor Ed Rendell and Gun Control

Rudy Guliani on Guns and Other Issues

I was talking to someone whom I shall not name who pointed out to me that Guliani will essentially take a state's rights position. That he supported gun control when he was mayor, but that as president he will leave it to the local governments to decide the rules. In some important sense, this is a very conservative position, and if people are convinced that he will follow this position then from abortion to gun control, conservatives would be very happy with him. Obviously, there will be many issues that this won' work for, such as enforcing many of the laws that are already on the books (take the behavior of the BATFE as just one example or gun tracing).

Update: As someone wrote me this afternoon: "An openly "pro-choice" candidate, for example, who comes out and says that Roe v. Wade is a bogus Supreme Court decision because it violates the 10th Amendment could get the support of many "pro-life" voters. And, even though the 2nd Amendment applies to local, state, and federal governments, an openly anti-gun candidate who says that he'll oppose federal gun-control legislation purely on 10th-Amendment grounds might actually get my vote if I believed that he meant it (which would require quite a bit of persuasion)."

See my previous discussion here.

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Some Critical Commentary on Al Gore's "Inconvenient Truth"

Some critical commentary on Al Gore's "Inconvenient Truth" can be seen here and here. All of these are by Marlo Lewis.

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Gun Control and Nazi Germany

Steve Halbrook has a very interesting law review article that demolishes an earlier piece by Bernard Harcourt at the University of Chicago Law School. Bernard's piece claimed that it is just a myth that Nazi Germany had restrictive gun control laws and he blames the NRA for promoting this myth. Why Bernard's piece should have been a law review article is a bit of mystery to me, but Halbrook takes Bernard's historical claims apart.


former climatology professor states Global Warming is "the greatest deception in the history of science"


Weird Stories

"Ryan O'Neal: I Fired Gun in Self-Defense"

London's Property Crime Rate 39% Higher than New York's

Gallup claims that while 32 percent of Londoners have been victims of property crimes, New York's victimization rate is 23 percent. Of minor interest, this probably means that the violent crime rate is greater in London than New York by a larger gap than exists between property crime in the two cities.

Thanks to John WIlliamson


State Legislators and University of Utah Negotiate Exceptions to Where Guns can be on University Property

Finally, someone asks the right question: show us an "actual problem" with people legally carrying a concealed handgun.

Those exceptions would have allowed institutions to restrict the carrying of concealed weapons in athletics venues; places where large numbers of students gather, such as student unions; classrooms and other academic areas; faculty offices; and dormitories. Legislative negotiators rejected the first three exceptions, Mr. Bell said, but agreed to the other two provisions, provided that faculty members be given the option to permit visitors to bring concealed firearms into their offices. . . . .

Clark Aposhian, chairman of Utah's Department of Public Safety Concealed Carry Review Board, told The Salt Lake Tribune that "until any entity including universities can show me an actual problem and then show me how banning firearms would solve that problem, I'm not inclined to support any type of ban." . . . .

Paid subscription required for this link at the ĜChronicle of Higher Education." Thanks very much to Rich for sending this to me.

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Pedophiles took over English Foster Care System


Cramer's new book: Armed America: The Remarkable Story of How and Why Guns Became as American as Apple Pie

I have know Clayton for many years, and this should be a really solid, excellent book. It was very difficult for him to convince publishers that there was a market for this type of book, and I hope that the market makes everyone who turned the book down regret that they did so. I just talked with him and one of his results is that 2/3rds of older white males owned guns. That seems like a pretty sizeable percentage of the population, especially given that many of these individuals were too old to use them.

This biased synopsis of book on Amazon really is too much:
Cramer, an adjunct lecturer in history at Boise State University and George Fox University, took on Michael Bellesiles even before his book Arming America was discredited, and now goes further to prove wrong Bellesiles's claim that guns were uncommon in early America. Cramer finds that guns "were the norm" in that period, people relied on guns to hunt, and gun ownership was key to the success of colonial militias. His most intriguing argument is that, as they became "tied to defending political rights," guns also became a symbol of citizenship. Cramer draws on many primary sources, from newspaper accounts to probate records, and compiles impressive data supporting his case. Still, he misses many opportunities for analysis and interpretation. For example, he finds that it was "not terribly unusual" for free women to own guns, but offers no nuanced discussion of what said gun ownership tells us about gender roles. His attack on academiaĔwhich, in Cramer's view, has been blinded by ideology and excludes political conservativesĔdistracts from his central theme and will only alienate proēgun-control readers, leaving him with an equally narrow, if opposite, readership.

Obviously I am not this reviewer's targeted audience because I find it interesting that women regularly owned guns. As to Clayton's discussion of academia, it seems relevant given that it is part of the story for why he wrote the book.


Utah House Passes Universal Voucher Bill

It is too bad that this passed only after Milton Friedman had died, but it is still quite a testiment to the influence that he had on the nation's public debate. This will have a bigger impact on schooling in big cities. The shame is that competition is still not occurring in the biggest cities in the US with horrible public school systems.

School voucher opponents, dejected after the House voted 38-37 Friday in favor of a school voucher bill, predicted supporters will one day regret their votes.
They fully expect HB148 to sail through the Senate and win Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.'s signature, but rather than calling for a constitutional challenge or a repeal effort, they spoke only of "bad policy" and escalating costs.
"I'm terribly disappointed. I think people sold out from fear of special interest groups," said Rep. Carol Spackman Moss, D-Holladay, a retired teacher.
If the bill is signed and becomes law, the heavy lifting would fall to the Utah Office of Education, which would have to get the program up and running by summer so parents can use their vouchers by fall.
"It's a huge assignment and [the bill is] very prescriptive," said Carol Lear, attorney for the Utah Office of Education.
Voucher supporters embraced each other in the halls after the vote.
"We've been chewing on this issue for seven years," said Rep. Stephen Urquhart, R-St. George, who sponsored this year's bill. "We learned from the dialogue, and we have passed something that will be beneficial to some families and it will be beneficial to the system overall."
HB148 would let parents spend public money on private school tuition. Families whose children already attend private schools would be exempt unless they are low-income, but every family with children in public schools would be eligible for vouchers ranging from $500 to $3,000. Public schools would lose some but not all state money for every voucher student who leaves. . . . .

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Tierney mentioning benefits from global warming

John Tierney makes a point that I have often thought about. Why is it that environmentalists oppose global warming (OK, for the sake of argument let's assume that man has some significant impact)? There would clearly be more animal life. There would be more plants that would be able to grown and that would provide food for more animals. As the density of animal life increases, won't there also be more new species on net than there would otherwise be? I have also wondered whether there would actually be more usable land area. True, there would be some flooding, but think of all the areas in Siberia and Canada that would be opened up for people to use. Of course, in the past, others have also pointed to the benefits for mankind, better health, etc.. The cost-benefit studies that I have seen appear to do a pretty poor job on taking these different factors into account.

But as fondly as I recall the Great White North, I also remember how empty it was, particularly the vast Canadian tundra we flew over on the way to the scenic glaciers on Ellesmere Island. Itęs called the Barrens: 500,000 square miles of flat treeless wasteland. Itęs terra incognita to practically everyone except for for mineral prospectors, like the diamond prospectors described by Kevin Krajick in his 2001 book, ĜBarren Lands.ĝ As he writes, ĜThe Barrens have never really been lived upon, only traveled through; the wolverine, an eater of the dead, is almost its only year-round resident.ĝ

Lots more life could survive in the Arctic if, as the I.P.C.C. projects, it warms up and gets more rain. There could be trees much farther north, a richer variety of flora and fauna. There might be fewer polar bears, but the bears have survived warm periods in the past, like the era some 9000 years ago when trees grew in northern Siberia. . . . .

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Weather Forecasting still has a ways to go

Weather forecasters have gone from predicting a very wet, warm winter in Southern California. Instead they have had record a cold and dry winter. Just a thought, but people have a much greater incentive to get the current weather forecast right than a forecast 50 or 100 years from now simply because no one will remember what you said 100 years from now.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Thursday dramatically downgraded its forecast for a winter of warm El Niño rains . . .

Federal weather officials had been saying for months that the region would have a wet winter, but the Southland hasn't recorded significant rain since May. . . .

Some forecasters now believe the region is in for a record dry spell.

California was hit by a record heat wave that killed more than 100 people in the summer, and is just now emerging from a near-record cold snap that destroyed at least $800 million worth of crops and brought a dusting of snow to unexpected places, such as Westwood.

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Defensive gun use in Columbus, Ohio caught on video tape.

Defensive gun use caught on video tape. This clerk apparently stopped a previous attack that was even much more dramatic where the robbers had ordered customers on the floor at gun point and had been threatening people.

Thanks to Robert Aldridge for sending me this link.



In honor of Groundhog Day

For those who don't know, today is Groundhog day. Here are some amusing quotes from "Groundhog Day," the movie.

Rita: I like to see a man of advancing years throwing caution to the wind. It's inspiring in a way.
Phil: My years are not advancing as fast as you might think.

Mrs. Lancaster: Did you sleep well, Mr. Connors?
Phil: I slept alone, Mrs. Lancaster.

Rita: I think it's a nice story. He comes out, and he looks around. He wrinkles up his little nose. He sees his shadow or he doesn't see it. It's nice. People like it.
Phil: You are new, aren't you? People like blood sausage too.

Phil: I'm a god. I'm not *the* God... I don't think. [I liked the back and forth with Rita on this one, especially her reference to her Catholic education.]

Phil: So, did you sleep OK without me? You tossed and turned, didn't you?
Rita: You're incredible.
Phil: Who told you?

Phil: I promise I won't touch you ... much.

Jonah Goldberg's take on the movie.


John Fund: So much for the Democrats getting rid of earmarks

But the claim of "earmark" purity doesn't stand up to scrutiny. New House rules stipulate that a bill can be said to have "no earmarks" if the committee chairman under whose jurisdiction the bill falls simply declares there are no earmarks in it. As Humpty Dumpty said in "Alice in Wonderland": "When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less."

The "no earmarks" loophole was big enough to allow a convoy of earmarks into the final bill, including $185 million for agricultural research projects and $50 million to build an experimental rain forest in Iowa. "I can give you a list of projects in my district that are gone from the bill, but they're certainly not gone in West Virginia and Nevada," Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole told me yesterday. He didn't have to elaborate that those two states are the homes of Senate appropriations committee chairman Robert Byrd and Majority Leader Harry Reid.



The "Bogus" Science of Secondhand Smoke

This person must be really hated among medical people, but my guess that he is sufficiently only that he is willing to go against the political correctness on the smoking issue. Look at his background: "former deputy director of the National Cancer Institute's Division of Cancer Cause and Prevention, and he received the U.S. Public Health Service Superior Service Award in 1976 for his efforts to define less hazardous cigarettes."

In any case, from an economist's point of view, the entire debate over secondhand smoke is largely besides the point when it comes to these regulations. The question an economist would ask is whether whatever harm from the secondhand smoke in born by the smoker, and the answer is that there is not a problem as long as someone owns the air. In a restaurant or other building someone clearly owns the air and bears the cost of allowing the air to have more smoke in it than their customers desire. Some people may like to smoke with their meals and they will pay to do it and others might want perfectly clean air. Even if you only had one restaurant in town, the restaurant owner has a strong incentive to give the customers who value the type of air the most what they want.

Smoking cigarettes is a clear health risk, as most everyone knows. But lately, people have begun to worry about the health risks of secondhand smoke. Some policymakers and activists are even claiming that the government should crack down on secondhand smoke exposure, given what "the science" indicates about such exposure.

Last July, introducing his office's latest report on secondhand smoke, then-U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona asserted that "there is no risk-free level of secondhand smoke exposure," that "breathing secondhand smoke for even a short time can damage cells and set the cancer process in motion," and that children exposed to secondhand smoke will "eventually . . . develop cardiovascular disease and cancers over time."

Such claims are certainly alarming. But do the studies Carmona references support his claims, and are their findings as sound as he suggests?

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Wisconsin: "Prosecutors say shootings justified, but gun concealed"