DEA Drug Warriors Fail Drug Tests. Consequences? Not So Much
At HuffPo, Nick Wing posts that a number of DEA employees have failed drug tests over the past five years and gotten only short suspensions and reprimands over it:
According to a Huffington Post review of internal DEA discipline logs, first uncovered by USA Today over the weekend, there have been at least 16 reported instances of employees failing random drug tests since 2010. While a number of these incidents were handled administratively, with a few people choosing to resign or retire amid the proceedings, none of the cases ended in an employee's outright firing. The agency punished most employees with short suspensions, sometimes as little as one or two days.
The DEA's drug policy states that applicants who "experimented with or used narcotics or dangerous drugs, except those medically prescribed for you, will not be considered for employment," though it makes exceptions for "limited youthful and experimental use of marijuana." The agency conducts random drug testing throughout an employee's career.
The discovery comes amid broader findings of routine misconduct and paltry disciplinary action at the DEA.
...Carl Pike, a former DEA internal affairs investigator who went on to lead the agency's Special Operations Division for the Americas before retiring in December, explained to USA Today that it was incredibly rare for someone to get fired for misconduct.
"If we conducted an investigation, and an employee actually got terminated, I was surprised," he said. "I was truly, truly surprised. Like, wow, the system actually got this guy."
Indeed, a closer look at the internal log turns up numerous examples of disturbing behavior being punished with suspensions of a few days, at most. From 2010 through 2015, HuffPost found 62 instances of an employee losing or stealing a firearm; more than 30 violations for driving while intoxicated, including four while driving a government-owned vehicle and one that involved a hit-and-run; two occasions in which employees deprived individuals of their civil rights; nine instances of employees losing or stealing drug evidence; 10 cases in which agents lost or stole a defendant's property; four violations for committing fraud against the government, two of which were punished by a letter of caution; and two more general violations of DEA policy on drug use. The DEA didn't fire anyone as a direct result of these actions.
If you use drugs, they'll do all they can to take your money and throw you in a cage. When their employees do...huh?...oh, look...a rabbit!
Now In California, The Right To Choose How You Die
Governor Jerry Brown just did the right thing and signed the right-to-die bill -- a bill for assisted suicide for terminal patients. From the LA Times editorial board:
[It] allows doctors, under tightly defined circumstances, to write lethal prescriptions for patients who have been diagnosed with less than six months to live. Brown, a former seminarian, wrote about the many people he had consulted, including a Catholic bishop, and the many pleas he had read on both sides.
"In the end," he wrote, "I was left to reflect on what I would want in the face of my own death.
"I do not know what I would do if I were dying in prolonged and excruciating pain. I am certain, however, that it would be a comfort to be able to consider the options afforded by this bill. And I wouldn't deny that right to others."
Brown's personal message about signing the bill.
I previously posted on the late Brittany Maynard, who, terminally ill with brain cancer, had to move with her family to Oregon, where assisted suicide was then legal:
It is your life -- it should be yours to live (and end) as you wish, and if you need assistance dying, the person who you choose to assist you should not be prosecuted.
And yes, of course there should be safeguards, but people often use the argument that there can be abuses to argue against people having the most important sort of autonomy over their lives.
From Steve Chapman at Reason, Oregon has not seen the predicted abuses.
"Tiny Houses" Are Homes For People Without Books
Because I love printed books and have bazillions of them, I sometimes describe my house as "a fire hazard with a bed and an oven." (It would be spacious if I didn't read.)
I try to make the book piles decorative -- like this one of two stacks piled up in a window, with a plant on top.
However, the books and printed PDFs of studies are pretty much everywhere -- including in my bed and in the "breakfast nook," which has become a cavern of books with floor-to-ceiling shelves on either side and a narrow gully between them.
And there are tiny apartments, too -- here's a 270 square foot place in Paris with about 10 books in it.
"Gun-Free Zones ... Are Invitations To Mass Murder"
Reason's Jacob Sullum notes that neither psychiatry nor background checks can stop mass shooters. Sheldon Richman, whose words in his piece below became the title of this blog post, writes at Reason that "The only defender guaranteed to be present at any attack against you is you":
In contrast to the incantations offered by practitioners of public-policy magic, gun-rights advocates propose measures that reasonably can be expected to prevent or reduce the extent of mass murder: for example, eliminating government-mandated gun-free zones. (Property owners of course should be free to exclude guns, however foolish that is.) Those with ill-intent are unlikely to respect gun-free zones, but most peaceful individuals will. Thus they will be defenseless against aggressors. Gun-free zones, then, are invitations to mass murder. Refusal to acknowledge that fact is also a sign of a magical disposition.
When this objection to gun-free zones is raised, gun-controllers typically respond that the answer to gun violence cannot be "more guns." But when aggressors are the only ones with guns, what would be wrong with more guns if they were in the right hands? Eliminating gun-free zones would in effect put guns in the hands of the innocent at the scene of the attack. As it now stands, the only people with guns are the killers and police, who may be miles away. (Too often the killers are the police.) The connection between means and end is clear. If would-be mass killers suspected they would meet resistance early on, they might be deterred from launching their attack. But even if not, the chances of minimizing an attack would obviously be greater if some of the gunman's intended victims were armed.
Another reasonable measure would be to remove all restrictions, such as permit requirements, on concealed or open carry of handguns. Again, the link between means and ends is clear. Concealed carry has the bonus of a free-rider benefit: when people are free to carry concealed handguns, assailants, who clearly prefer their victims unarmed, won't know who's carrying and who's not. That extra measure of deterrence--that positive externality--could be expected to save innocent lives.
Believers in gun-control magic refuse to acknowledge that one cannot effectively delegate one's right to or responsibility for self-defense. With enough money, one might arrange for assistance in self-defense, but few will be able to afford protection 24/7. It's a myth that government assumes responsibility for our security, since it does not promise round-the-clock personal protection and its officers are not legally obligated to protect you even if an assault occurs before their eyes. The only defender guaranteed to be present at any attack against you is: you.
An excerpt from that link above about our fantasies about how the police will protect us -- a piece by Richard Stevens at the Foundation for Economic Freedom:
Practically speaking, it makes little sense to disarm the innocent victims while the criminals are armed. It is especially silly to disarm the victims when too often the police are simply unable to protect them. As Richard Mack, former sheriff of Graham County, Arizona, has observed: "Police do very little to prevent violent crime. We investigate crime after the fact."
Americans increasingly believe, however, that all they need for protection is a telephone. Dial 911 and the police, fire, and ambulance will come straight to the rescue. It's faster than the pizza man. Faith in a telephone number and the local cops is so strong that Americans dial 911 over 250,000 times per day.
Yet does dialing 911 actually protect crime victims? Researchers found that less than 5 percent of all calls dispatched to police are made quickly enough for officers to stop a crime or arrest a suspect.3 The 911 bottom line: "cases in which 911 technology makes a substantial difference in the outcome of criminal events are extraordinarily rare."
The Crime Of Being Male On Campus
That's what the government's abuse of Title IX in order to railroad men amounts to.
For example, from Ashe Schow's WashEx column on the government's dictates for colleges to adopt an overly broad definition of sexual assault:
A male student [was] suspended for a year because he sent multiple Instagram follow requests to a female student and once looked at her on campus.
No, this is not a joke. Yes, this really happened.
Colleges are treating accusations as if the accused were a potential rapist, even when the accusation involves nothing more than requesting social media connections one too many times.
Schow asks the question about the Instagram example and another example she gives:
Even if these behaviors were inappropriate, is a one-year suspension justified instead of, say, someone simply telling the kid to stop?
Most college kids who get that kind of warning from an authority figure would be thoroughly frightened enough to stop. But disrupting their life for a year over social media requests and what could have been an errant look?
On today's college campuses, anything deemed offensive can be used as a weapon against college men in accusations of sexual assault and harassment. And colleges, under pressure from the federal government to find students responsible, have created pseudo-court systems that eviscerate due process in order to get those findings.
"Herein lies the problem with campus tribunals determining if a crime of sexual misconduct was committed," Lau said. "[S]tudents can be wrongly accused because the accusation becomes the proof or, simply, because the definitions are too broad and too ambiguous; students can be accused months or even years after the incident; and those wrongly accused are denied due process."
This is not the country we're supposed to be.
Sadly, I predict that it will take some sort of tragedy for this to be overturned. Beyond an individual male's future being ruined. I hope that's not the case, but I suspect it might be.
The Religion Of Recycling's Benefits Don't Offset The Costs
I try to be ecologically prudent. For example, because there's a drought in California, I sustain my few potted plants that have yet to commit suicide on me with water I take out of the Sous Vide. I rent, but if this were my house, I'd pull up the lawn and plant native plants.
I also try to not waste paper and plastic products. I reuse everything I can, like the bag I store my bacon in. I'll use a store bag -- and reuse it and reuse it until it seems like sanitary reasons might call for it to go into the trash.
Well, years ago, I blogged about John Tierney's initial New York Times piece on recycling, which he wrote back in 1996. An excerpt:
Believing that there was no more room in landfills, Americans concluded that recycling was their only option. Their intentions were good and their conclusions seemed plausible. Recycling does sometimes makes sense -- for some materials in some places at some times. But the simplest and cheapest option is usually to bury garbage in an environmentally safe landfill. And since there's no shortage of landfill space (the crisis of 1987 was a false alarm), there's no reason to make recycling a legal or moral imperative. Mandatory recycling programs aren't good for posterity. They offer mainly short-term benefits to a few groups -- politicians, public relations consultants, environmental organizations, waste-handling corporations -- while diverting money from genuine social and environmental problems. Recycling may be the most wasteful activity in modern America: a waste of time and money, a waste of human and natural resources.
He writes in a current piece, "The Reign of Recycling," that not much has changed:
So, what's happened since then? While it's true that the recycling message has reached more people than ever, when it comes to the bottom line, both economically and environmentally, not much has changed at all.
Despite decades of exhortations and mandates, it's still typically more expensive for municipalities to recycle household waste than to send it to a landfill. Prices for recyclable materials have plummeted because of lower oil prices and reduced demand for them overseas. The slump has forced some recycling companies to shut plants and cancel plans for new technologies. The mood is so gloomy that one industry veteran tried to cheer up her colleagues this summer with an article in a trade journal titled, "Recycling Is Not Dead!"
While politicians set higher and higher goals, the national rate of recycling has stagnated in recent years. Yes, it's popular in affluent neighborhoods like Park Slope in Brooklyn and in cities like San Francisco, but residents of the Bronx and Houston don't have the same fervor for sorting garbage in their spare time.
The future for recycling looks even worse. As cities move beyond recycling paper and metals, and into glass, food scraps and assorted plastics, the costs rise sharply while the environmental benefits decline and sometimes vanish. "If you believe recycling is good for the planet and that we need to do more of it, then there's a crisis to confront," says David P. Steiner, the chief executive officer of Waste Management, the largest recycler of household trash in the United States. "Trying to turn garbage into gold costs a lot more than expected. We need to ask ourselves: What is the goal here?"
Cost/benefit analysis examples:
To offset the greenhouse impact of one passenger's round-trip flight between New York and London, you'd have to recycle roughly 40,000 plastic bottles, assuming you fly coach. If you sit in business- or first-class, where each passenger takes up more space, it could be more like 100,000.
Even those statistics might be misleading. New York and other cities instruct people to rinse the bottles before putting them in the recycling bin, but the E.P.A.'s life-cycle calculation doesn't take that water into account. That single omission can make a big difference, according to Chris Goodall, the author of "How to Live a Low-Carbon Life." Mr. Goodall calculates that if you wash plastic in water that was heated by coal-derived electricity, then the net effect of your recycling could be more carbon in the atmosphere.
To many public officials, recycling is a question of morality, not cost-benefit analysis.
Which is just stupid. And wasteful.
In New York City, the net cost of recycling a ton of trash is now $300 more than it would cost to bury the trash instead. That adds up to millions of extra dollars per year -- about half the budget of the parks department -- that New Yorkers are spending for the privilege of recycling. That money could buy far more valuable benefits, including more significant reductions in greenhouse emissions.
So what is a socially conscious, sensible person to do?
It would be much simpler and more effective to impose the equivalent of a carbon tax on garbage, as Thomas C. Kinnaman has proposed after conducting what is probably the most thorough comparison of the social costs of recycling, landfilling and incineration. Dr. Kinnaman, an economist at Bucknell University, considered everything from environmental damage to the pleasure that some people take in recycling (the "warm glow" that makes them willing to pay extra to do it).
...When Mayor de Blasio promised to eliminate garbage in New York, he said it was "ludicrous" and "outdated" to keep sending garbage to landfills. Recycling, he declared, was the only way for New York to become "a truly sustainable city."
But cities have been burying garbage for thousands of years, and it's still the easiest and cheapest solution for trash. The recycling movement is floundering, and its survival depends on continual subsidies, sermons and policing. How can you build a sustainable city with a strategy that can't even sustain itself?
Europe Seems Doomed To Become Saudi Arabia II
As the population of Muslims who refuse to assimilate grows, Enlightenment values and practices will disappear and people will be made to conform to Islam.
From the link above, this statement about this documentary below -- which is really worth watching: "This video ... clearly highlights the real danger that Islamic immigration will have, and is having, on the safety and freedom of women and Jews in Germany."
A few notes from a European who is a regular here, explaining this link (which is in German):
Basically a german real estate agent got a call from a refugee family and immediately scheduled a showing because she felt it urgent. She showed up, and shook their hands, and they refused to look at the apartment because she, a blond woman, had looked them in the eye. They demanded a male agent. She recounted the incident on FB and got bombarded with hate messages from her fellow Germans calling her a Nazi an accusing her of making it up to rig the elections. She even got death threats.
There was also a german politician who was helping refugees and an imam refused to shake her hand. She is now calling for integration classes.
Another note from the same person:
The German newspaper Die Welt has two stories I find particularly worrisome...
1) In the refugee camps, Muslims are attacking Christians and Yahzidi
2) Hamburg is considering seizing private property if it is vacant, from Germans, to house refugees. I assume they will be compensated, but it is still a huge intrusion.
In addition, there are stories of poor Germans being kicked out of social housing to make room for refugees, though they are being given many months' notice.
Die Welt is a mainstream newspaper, not some crazy right-wing blog.
In addition, you may have figured out over the years that I am not a rabid, foaming at the mouth Muslim hater. I am all for taking in some refugees, and allocating the funds to see them properly settled and integrated.
I am not for open borders and letting in everyone who wants to come. This is too far. I also think cultural implications of who you let in do need to be considered, and you shouldn't take in more than can be integrated.
You may ask, what do I care, I don't live in Germany. True, but I live next door, in the Schengen zone, and can expect spillover. Germany is also trying to force everyone else to take in more refugees than they want to. Also, I'm afraid the backlash will be huge and if enough problems arise there will be a hard swing to the right.
Will you think me crazy if I say if this continues, I expect to see another Hitler in my lifetime? (I don't think that Hitler will be Muslim but will be European and get elected because of problems with Muslims.)
And here in America, Muslim leaders make clear what few Americans understand -- that the goal of Islam is takeover. There is no "tolerance" once there's enough of an Islamic majority. Paul Sperry posts at IBD:
• Muzammil Siddiqi, chairman of both the Fiqh Council of North America, which dispenses Islamic rulings, and the North American Islamic Trust, which owns most of the mosques in the U.S.: "As Muslims, we should participate in the system to safeguard our interests and try to bring gradual change, (but) we must not forget that Allah's rules have to be established in all lands, and all our efforts should lead to that direction."
• Omar Ahmad, co-founder of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the top Muslim lobby group in Washington: "Islam isn't in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant. The Quran should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on Earth."
• CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper: "I wouldn't want to create the impression that I wouldn't like the government of the United States to be Islamic sometime in the future."
• Imam Siraj Wahhaj, director of the Muslim Alliance in North America: "In time, this so-called democracy will crumble, and there will be nothing. And the only thing that will remain will be Islam."
• Imam Zaid Shakir, co-founder of Zaytuna College in Berkeley, Calif.: "If we put a nationwide infrastructure in place and marshaled our resources, we'd take over this country in a very short time. . . . What a great victory it will be for Islam to have this country in the fold and ranks of the Muslims."
These Islamic luminaries ... say the American Muslim community would rather live under a theocracy.
She Was Angry About Her Emergency Room Bill. But Should She Be?
"White Coat" blogged at KevinMD about the story of a woman whose toddler hit her head on a metal patio table. Blood...panicked daddy...mommy a "trembling mess" on the inside.
Not wanting to wait two and a half hours at urgent care, mommy and daddy headed off to the emergency department at the hospital. As White Coat puts it:
They were evaluated immediately by an emergency nurse and then 10 minutes later by an emergency physician. The emergency physician evaluated the child, determined that putting stitches into the laceration on the child's lip would be more traumatizing than letting the laceration close on its own, and then gave the child a popsicle.
Wait? That's it?
The bill? $514. Cue irate mom: Here's her article in the Bangor Daily News, complaining that this amounted to "one pricey popsicle."
Um, not quite.
But "White Coat" puts it well:
I absolutely agree that $500 is a lot of money. And based on Ms. Fuelner's perceptions, some people may think that she got "ripped off" for the services she received. Unfortunately, in the world of $20 copays and government-mandated free birth control pills, there seems to be a pervasive belief that medical care should cost less than an appointment at a hairstylist and should definitely cost less than the newest iPhone.
Let's look at what Ms. Fuelner got for her $500.
She got the convenience of immediate access to a large business providing services to the public that is open every minute of every day. That business has millions of dollars of overhead costs every year that it must pay just so that it can keep its doors open. She got immediate access to expertise from a nurse who spent tens of thousands of dollars to go through years of post-graduate training and who gave up her weekend so that she could be there to care for sick and injured patients.
She also got immediate access to a physician who spent hundreds of thousands of dollars and went through even more post-graduate training, and who also gave up his weekend so that he could be there to help sick and injured patients. Those are just the two medical professionals who cared for her child. I'm sure there were many more available in the department. I could go on and on about all of the hard-working personnel in the hospital whose services are available and who contribute behind the scenes to many patient visits -- radiology, lab, surgical personnel, registration clerks, billing department, housekeeping, maintenance, cafeteria, security, IT, and many others -- even administration, but hopefully you get the point.
The hospital also has advanced diagnostic equipment costing millions of dollars -- available and waiting if Ms. Fuelner's child happened to have hit her head and had brain bleeding, knocked a tooth out and inhaled it into her lung, suffered a neck injury, had eye trauma, or suffered some other injury from her fall. Fortunately, that wasn't the case.
Federal law also requires that the hospital provide a screening exam and stabilizing treatment to any patient who is seeking medical care -- regardless of the ability to pay. I'm sure that some of Ms. Fuelner's $500 went to defray the costs of many others who receive care but who either cannot afford to pay or whose insurance pays for less than the cost of care.
Most of all, Ms. Fuelner and her husband received peace of mind for her $500. Her daughter was evaluated by a medical professional who considered all of the possible injuries and determined that she had not suffered any serious injuries. When patients tell me that they feel embarrassed for coming to the hospital, I stop them mid-sentence. Don't. It is always better to be safe than sorry. Consider what would have happened if you had not sought out medical care. You would have been up all night worrying and searching the internet on Dr. Google trying to figure out about what to do for a laceration on a child's lip, then you probably still would have sought out medical care the next day.
So, no Ms. Fuelner, you didn't pay $500 for an emergency popsicle. The $500 you paid went to help cover some of the immense costs involved in being able to provide quality medical care to you and your family at any hour of any day and it went to the peace of mind that you and your husband experienced when the doctor examined your child and told you that everything would be OK.
The popsicle: That was free.
And just an aside: Sorry, because KevinMD has some good articles, but that name -- well, it sounds like a gay escort who comes to your door with a butt plug hanging from his stethoscope.
Woman Vs. Bear. (The Internet Wins.)
Hysterical woman attempts to have a rational conversation with bear gnawing her kayak.
The Inhumanity Of Political Correctness: Cheering The Charlie Hebdo Massacre, Booing Free Speech
Brendan O'Neill writes at The Spectator of Trinity College, Dublin, students who cheered a speaker who implied that the Charlie Hebdo staff, slaughtered for Allah, got what they deserved:
But the audience at last night's debate was not part of any cynical, self-styled community group. They were young. They were mainly liberals. They were pretty cool. Some were painfully PC. And yet some of them -- a significant chunk of them -- cheered Bukhari's explanation for the Charlie killers' actions, and applauded his suggestion that my question must have been motivated by racism.
During my speech, students had hollered 'Shame! Shame!' when I suggested that Robin Thicke's 'Blurred Lines' should not be banned on campuses. And yet they listened intently, with soft, understanding, patronising liberal smiles on their faces, as Bukhari implied that Charlie Hebdo brought its massacre on itself. This is how screwed-up the culture on Western campuses has become: I was jeered for suggesting we shouldn't ban pop songs; Bukhari was cheered for suggesting journalists who mock Muhammad cannot be surprised if someone later blows their heads off.
It provided a glimpse into the inhumanity of political correctness. The PC gang always claim they're just being nice; it's just 'institutionalised politeness', they say. Yet at Trinity last night I saw where today's intolerance of offence and obsession with Safe Spacing minorities from difficult ideas can lead: to an agreeable nod of the head when it is suggested that it's understandable when poor, victimised Muslims murder those who offended them.
No, a PC student at such a prestigious college as Trinity is very unlikely to kill you for being offensive. But if someone else does, they won't be outraged or upset. They'll think you had it coming. Nice? Polite? Please. Political correctness is murderous.
Here's an excerpt from O'Neill's October 1 speech at Trinity College on the right to be offended -- "Let yourself be offended; it's good for you." It lays out how infantilizing (and in that, dehumanizing) "the anti-offense lobby" is:
The new student intolerance of offence gives offence to women, whom it views as wilting wallflowers, so pathetic that they can't even hear 'Blurred Lines' without crumbling into a distraught state.
It's offensive to Muslims, whom it treats as so fragile, so child-like, that they must be protected from criticisms of their religion.
It gives offence to young men, whom it views as so rapacious, so robotic, that they can't be trusted to read the Sun or Zoo or Nuts without turning into beasts who will despoil and hurt women.
No one escapes the ironically offensive slurs of the anti-offence lobby. Every single constituency on campus finds itself either patronised or demonised by these caring censors.
It's the great paradox of PC: it presents itself as fair and nice and cute and concerned about other people's welfare, yet it defames everyone. It treats everyone as fragile and gullible, or as weak and wicked.
It depicts all "white men" -- yes, they use that sweeping generalisation -- as self-entitled rapists-in-waiting. It treats all "black women" -- yes, they think all black women are exactly the same -- as feeling beleaguered by sexist/racist words. It treats all Muslims -- a group as socially and economically mixed as any other -- as less capable of having their beliefs criticised or their idols mocked than, say, white Christians.
The PC paradox: in the very act of seeking to save minority groups from offence, it dehumanises those groups, lumping them all together as an indistinguishable mass; and it infantilises them, treating them as sorry creatures in need of protection from harm by the more enlightened, the more switched-on.
How About A New Deal, Europe? We Continue Protecting Your Ass; You Start Paying
How do Europeans get all this low-cost health-care? Well, health care can be loads cheaper when you don't have to pay much or as much for your country's defense because you're freeloading off the U.S. military.
Doug Bandow, at Cato, suggests a change -- that Washington stops using the Pentagon as a global welfare agency, and countries we defend start kicking in for the cost:
How much should Washington charge? Consider some rough numbers. For instance, Washington might charge one percent of GDP for providing a standard defense.
...European states would owe a base one percent, or $185 billion. For devoting so little to the military the EU, minus the four countries spending more than two percent of GDP on the military, would have to kick in another $147 billion.
The Baltic States and Poland would owe an extra $13 billion for being involved in a potential conflicts and receiving a nuclear guarantee. France, United Kingdom, and Germany would need to kick in an extra $96 billion for extras (global interests or nuclear umbrella).
Canada would owe $18 billion. Saudi Arabia should pay three percent, or $22.4 billion: basic fee plus add-ons for potential conflict and a combination of (reduced) charges for commercial global involvement and possible nuclear guarantee. The other Gulf States should pay $8.9 billion.
Japan would owe four percent--for standard defense, nuclear umbrella, minimal military outlays, and a combination of economic international involvement and limited potential conflict--or $184 billion. South Korea would owe the standard fee plus surcharges for potential conflict and nuclear guarantee, or $42 billion. Australia should pay one percent, or $15 billion. The Philippines would owe two percent, given the potential for conflict, yielding $5.7 billion.
The grand total comes to $737 billion, which would cover the roughly $570 billion likely to be spent on the military next year. The extra would go for defense-related expenses, such as veterans' benefits and the interest on money borrowed to pay to defend other states.
Of course, some countries might refuse to pay. But Washington should indicate that if they don't, they will be on their own. The easiest way for states to avoid paying America for its efforts would be to defend themselves.
How The Drug War Causes Drug Deaths
Jacob Sullum writes at Forbes of government-created drug hazards:
Remember the guy who bought 80-proof vodka that turned out to be 190-proof Everclear and died from alcohol poisoning? Probably not, because that sort of thing almost never happens in a legal drug market, where merchants or manufacturers who made such a substitution, whether deliberately or accidentally, would face potentially ruinous economic and legal consequences. In a black market, by contrast, customers frequently get something different from what they thought they were buying: something weaker, something stronger, or some other substance entirely. As The Washington Post notes in a recent story about fentanyl-laced heroin, the results can be fatal.
...Although such fatalities are commonly called "drug-related deaths," they are more appropriately viewed as prohibition-related deaths. The artificially high prices and profits created by prohibition give dealers a strong incentive to dilute their products, and the black market's lack of legal accountability allows them to do so.
"People Don't Stop Killers. People With Guns Do"
As news of yet another tragic school shooting hit Twitter, I thought about how many (and maybe all) campuses ban firearms on their premises, and how the best way to stop a shooter is with another gun.
I have a number of college prof friends I'm close with who are accomplished with guns. One practices regularly on a range and one was one of the first women given the M-16 rifle in the army. I wish they could be armed on campus, but it's apparently a firing offense. And I don't mean the shooting kind.
So they are made to be sitting ducks on campus, as are the soldiers gunned down on military bases, denuded of their firearms.
Well, I went looking for any pieces written about this and came upon this NY Daily News op-ed from 2007 by law prof Glenn Reynolds -- with the headline I quoted as the title of this blog item:
On Monday, as the news of the Virginia Tech shootings was unfolding, I went into my advanced constitutional law seminar to find one of my students upset. My student, Tara Wyllie, has a permit to carry a gun in Tennessee, but she isn't allowed to have a weapon on campus. That left her feeling unsafe. "Why couldn't we meet off campus today?" she asked.
Virginia Tech graduate student Bradford Wiles also has a permit to carry a gun, in Virginia. But on the day of the shootings, he would have been unarmed for the same reason: Like the University of Tennessee, where I teach, Virginia Tech bans guns on campus.
...[Colleges] think that by making their campuses "gun-free," they'll make people safer, when in fact they're only disarming the people who follow rules, law-abiding people who are no danger at all.
This merely ensures that the murderers have a free hand. If there were more responsible, armed people on campuses, mass murder would be harder.
In fact, some mass shootings have been stopped by armed citizens. Though press accounts downplayed it, the 2002 shooting at Appalachian Law School was stopped when a student retrieved a gun from his car and confronted the shooter. Likewise, Pearl, Miss., school shooter Luke Woodham was stopped when the school's vice principal took a .45 fromhis truck and ran to the scene. In February's Utah mall shooting, it was an off-duty police officer who happened to be on the scene and carrying a gun.
Police can't be everywhere, and as incidents from Columbine to Virginia Tech demonstrate, by the time they show up at a mass shooting, it's usually too late. On the other hand, one group of people is, by definition, always on the scene: the victims. Only if they're armed, they may wind up not being victims at all.
When there's a tragedy, there's an impulse to do something in response. But that impulse often isn't the wisest one.
Cathy Young explains at OnlineAthens.com that gun control wouldn't make us safer:
Writing on CNN.com, Fareed Zakaria cites Switzerland as an exemplary country with low gun homicide rates. Indeed, the total homicide rate in Switzerland in 2010 was 0.7 per 100,000 inhabitants, compared with 4.2 in the United States. But Switzerland, unlike most of Europe, actually has widespread gun ownership (with an estimated 2 million to 3 million guns in a population of fewer than 8 million) and a thriving gun culture rooted in a tradition of a citizen militia. Shooting clubs are common, and target practice is a popular sport, even for children.
Meanwhile, in the Philippines, gun laws are considerably more restrictive than in the United States and civilian gun ownership is a paltry 5 per 100 people -- yet the homicide rate is more than double the U.S. rate.
...Even if a total ban on the sale and possession of firearms were enacted, it's doubtful it could be enforced with an estimated 270 million guns already in circulation. The War on Drugs shows that we don't have a stellar track record of keeping illegal products out of people's hands. Why would guns and ammunition be different? Indeed, a recent Reuters report on the gun culture in the Philippines notes that attempts to outlaw the sale and carrying of guns during election campaigns has merely driven up business for illegal gunsmiths.
...Some gun control measures are reasonable. But in trying to understand the causes of shooting sprees, we should be looking at other factors, from social isolation to inadequate attention to mental illness. The push for gun laws offers an illusion of safety in the face of horror.
Hey, War Veteran, You Maybe Gave Up Your Leg For Your Country; Now The VA Will Remove Your Dignity Before You Enter Their Building
Disgustingly, VA medical facilities posted signs prohibiting various items -- including, guns, knives, backpacks, and phones. At the Free Beacon, Adam Kredo posts:
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) apologized on Wednesday for temporarily implementing what it called an "ill-advised" policy at some medical centers that banned veterans from bringing cellphones to appointments, according to a statement provided by the VA to the Washington Free Beacon.
Photographs emerged earlier this week showing official signs at VA medical facilities stating that a veteran would have his or her appointment cancelled if they bring with them a cellphone.
The photos, first published on the blog Disabled Veterans, depict of a list of "prohibited items." Included within that list, along with guns, knives, and backpacks, is a photo of an iPhone.
"If brought to your appointment [these items] will result in the cancelation of your exam(s)," reads the flyer, which bears the VA's official logo and slogan, "Defining Excellence in the 21st Century."
This is the sort of "excellence" they "define" -- a total betrayal to those who fought for our country, and sometimes have lifelong physical and/or psychic injuries from it, and deserve medical care and being treated with dignity.
The flyers are being discontinued, and exams now won't be cancelled if somebody who fought for our country brings a damn phone to their appointment. What were they supposed to do, leave it outside in the bushes? And picture a vet who can't walk and has to use crutches. How is he supposed to carry his stuff if not in a backpack?
And finally, what sort of sick fuck makes policies like this and why hasn't that person been named and fired?
Disabled Veterans' Benjamin Krause criticized the VA (Free Beacon link above):
"The decision is a violation of due process and numerous laws protecting the rights of disabled Americans," Krause wrote.
"The key here seems to be that VA forgets that veterans are also Americans who are protected by the Constitution and who also possess unalienable rights," he adds. "Did we sign our rights away forever by fighting our country's battles?"
Moreover, Krause wrote, "the leaflet does not explain what to do if the veteran is prescribed use of an iPhone or backpack as an accommodative device that helps the disabled veteran with a disability."
What Feminism's Become
Is 3rd wave feminism any more than a gigantic whinge by privileged girls, that boys play a bit rough & the ones they want won't look a them?
My contention is that women now demand to be treated as eggshells, not equals, and that feminist grievance hunting has become a way to have unearned power over men (and nonbelievers).
There's also a denial of sex differences and biology and a religion centering around what can and cannot be said. Say the "wrong" thing and you will be excommunicated or at least Twitter-mobbed, if you aren't part of the feminist fold. Or you may lose your job and lose everything -- despite not having been guilty of what you've been accused of.
Laws Are To Be Obeyed By The Little People, Not Supreme Court Justices
Queen Sotomayor, also known as Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor, who ruled against the use of unpaid interns (in Archie v. Grand Cent. Partnership, Inc., 1998), has had unpaid interns working for her since 2010.
Ronald D. Rotunda writes in the Wash Times:
How would you like a free butler, maid, chef and chauffeur? Try that and the Department of Labor will sue you for violating the minimum wage, overtime and record-keeping requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act -- unless you are Justice Sonia Sotomayor. That's right. Since 2010, she has hired unpaid interns as her servants. No other justice does this.
Justice Sotomayor's job description, posted on a Latino Facebook page and other places, tells us that applicants do not need a law degree, but "a driver's license is a must" because the intern's duties will include running "errands outside of the Courthouse." The intern will prepare "lunch and snacks for the Justice," photocopy, and answer the phone. The intern is responsible for his own living arrangements and transportation. She pays them nothing.
Whether Sonia Sotomayor is abusing her position as a justice by leveraging that appointment to secure free butlers is an important question of judicial ethics. A more prosaic question is whether she is violating U.S. labor laws, including the requirements of a minimum wage. It turns out that the answer is yes.
First, her maid, butler and chauffeur are not employees of the Supreme Court; they are her personal employees. No federal statute authorizes Justice Sotomayor to hires personal aides. Yet, even if one would consider her maid or butler to be an employee of the Supreme Court, the Fair Labor Standards Act still applies. One section expressly includes all U.S. government employees while another section excludes "volunteers" of state agencies. There is no exemption for federal agencies.
At the link, Rotunda explains why this "serve Sotomayor!" internship doesn't fit the bill legally.
Wet floor links.
Anti-Vaxxers Are Bringing Back Measles -- And The Unnecessary Deaths Of Children
It is just sick that, years after the discovery of vaccines to prevent absolutely horrible diseases in children and others, parents are leaving their children unvaccinated. This puts not only their children at risk for terrible diseases like measles, polio, and smallpox, but the also most immunologically vulnerable, by destroying what's called "herd immunity."
From Brookings Institute's Kavita Patel and Rio I. Hart:
What is herd immunity?
Measles is a highly transmissible disease; so transmissible in fact, that 90 to 95 percent of people must be vaccinated in order to protect the entire population, or achieve what is called "herd immunity." This effect is what helps eliminate disease entirely.
When enough people have a vaccine and cannot catch or spread a disease, the pathogen cannot form a functional chain of infection. This means that even if someone cannot receive a vaccine, say a newborn or a child undergoing chemotherapy, they are protected because everyone they come into contact with is immunized. This enables us to defeat strains of disease entirely by denying the strain the chance to spread to new victims. (The Washington Post provides a more exhaustive explanation of this concept here).
While most unvaccinated children have been protected from diseases by the herd immunity of their communities, the most recent outbreak of measles in a California county with a particularly high rate of unvaccinated children shows the potential harm of an anti-vaccine movement.
From The Economist:
In 2008 an unvaccinated boy from San Diego caught measles on a visit to Switzerland, infecting 11 others on his return. ... In December 2014 some 117 people caught measles in an outbreak traced back to two Disney theme parks in Orange County. None died, which was lucky, for measles is a horrible virus. Far more contagious than Ebola or the flu, it kills 146,000 people worldwide each year. It can be caught in a bus, a shop or doctor's surgery two hours after an infected person last sneezed there. Even in the rich world and with the best care, measles can cause brain-damage and deafness, and kills about one in 1,000 of those who catch it. Before vaccines, the disease killed roughly 450 Americans each year, most of them children.
...Dr Richard Pan remembers his first encounter with measles, as a medical student in Philadelphia in 1991. Nine children died, in part because many poor families could not afford vaccinations. After a medical career in California Dr Pan was elected to the state Assembly as a Democrat in 2010. That year California saw a whooping-cough outbreak that killed ten victims. The problem Dr Pan confronted centred not on the urban poor but on affluent, internet-surfing parents refusing to immunise children. In 2014 he was elected to the state Senate, representing Sacramento. Weeks later measles hit Disneyland. He helped write a law to make parents vaccinate children. Medical exemptions are allowed for children with weak immune systems. Parents who still refuse must homeschool their offspring. The law passed, but not before Dr Pan and allies had endured threats and meetings at which activists blamed vaccines for a "holocaust" of harm.
Now the paediatrician-turned-senator faces a recall campaign. If opponents can gather 36,000 signatures they can force a special election. The anti-Pan coalition is eclectic. One organiser, Aaron Mills, sounds like vaccine sceptics in Europe. A longtime Democrat who works for the state's fire service, he believes that pharmaceutical giants and doctors downplay the risks of vaccines and exaggerate their benefits, probably for profit. Another founder of the recall drive, Katherine Duran, denounces the vaccine law in distinctively American terms. She calls it a "theft of liberty". In her telling, Dr Pan has betrayed his primary duty as a legislator: to defend individuals from government "tyranny".
Reassuringly, most Californians side with the medical consensus. Support for the state's new vaccine laws has been measured at 67% and Dr Pan is likely to survive his recall. High-profile outbreaks have shaken a state slipping into complacency, showing the vaccinated majority that their collective immunity is threatened by the science-averse and the simply selfish.
The Paranoid Morons Known As The Gloucester, New Jersey Police
From Carlos Miller at PINAC -- Photography Is Not A Crime:
New Jersey police are on the lookout for two men caught on video taking pictures of a public school from a public road, asking the public for help in tracking these men down.
Gloucester Township police say it is important to find these men because they were involved in "suspicious activity."
What -- taking photos of the school instead of sitting on their asses and Googling it up?
The Gloucester Police Department's Facebook page post:
At 1:20 PM, a younger white male operating a dark sedan stopped on Erial Road and captured photos of the front of the school with a phone. The vehicle appears to have a missing front driver's side hubcap.
At 1:30 PM, an older white male operating a small red vehicle, possibly a Ford, drove onto the property and circled the rear lot. The vehicle then drives onto the front lot, the male driver exited the vehicle, and appears to be capturing several photos of the school. An unknown passenger was also observed inside the red vehicle.
If you have any information or can identify the vehicles or the occupants, contact the Gloucester Township Police Department's main number at 856-228-4500, or call our GTPD Anonymous Crime Tip Line: 856-842-5560.
Their Facebook page says "NO COMMENTS." I left one anyway, which will probably be deleted:
Ooh, human beings taking photos in a public place! Google this: "The First Amendment."
(In Los Angeles, we call this "scouting locations.")
The Real Villain In The $750-Per-Tablet Drug Price
Scott Gottlieb writes at the WSJ of the recent brouhaha over Turing CEO Martin Shkreli raising the price of Daraprim, a drug used to treat toxoplasmosis, AIDS, and cancer, $750 from $13.50 a tablet. The real villain here is government and government regulation:
Turing has been attempting to exploit a regulatory failure that is becoming far more prevalent as the Food and Drug Administration knocks older generic medicines out of production and barriers to entry make new generics costlier.
Turing bought marketing rights to Daraprim from another company, along with access to a supply of the drug, so it didn't need to do any weighty regulatory work to market the medicine. It rebranded the pill and raised the price. But if another company wanted to compete to sell the same medicine, it would need to apply for a new generic drug approval, by submitting an "Abbreviated New Drug Application" to the FDA.
Filing one of these applications with the FDA used to cost as little as $1 million; today it can run as high as $20 million, sometimes more. This means that old but "niche" drugs may not have competition from other generic entrants, creating an opening for companies to extract windfall profits by driving up the prices of drugs like Daraprim.
The FDA has a backlog of thousands of generic-drug applications. And it takes an average of four resubmissions for a generic application to finally win approval, partly owing to shortcomings in the applications and poor communication between the FDA and generic drug makers. It may well be that competitors to Daraprim are in the FDA's large queue. On average, it takes about 50 months for the FDA to approve a single generic application.
The FDA's recent crackdown on the manufacturing process of prescription drugs has also led to the shutdown of U.S. drug plants. Whatever the merits of the FDA's heightened scrutiny, it has been done with little attention to how this manufacturing capacity would be replaced. The slow approval timelines, combined with closed manufacturing facilities, create temporary drug shortages and monopolies, which can be exploited by shrewd investors.
I've long argued for reciprocity, if a drug is approved in Europe it ought to be approved here.
This should be the case with sunblock. Europeans aren't dropping dead from use of the more protective ingredients, yet because our government has only approved the sale of one of them over here -- Anthelios XL -- it's twice or even three times the price I've paid for it in France.
Competition would surely make it loads cheaper.
Meet The Tweezers
Mark Rober on the shattering discrimination experienced by people with unibrows:
Guilty Of Reinforcing...Um, Historical Reality?
Andrew Pulver writes at The Guardian that Netflix altered its description of Pocahontas after feminist grievance hunters got panty-bunched over it. The original:
"An American Indian woman is supposed to marry the village's best warrior, but she yearns for something more - and soon meets Capt. John Smith."
"A young American Indian girl tries to follow her heart and protect her tribe when settlers arrive and threaten the land she loves."
Now I'm no American Indian scholar, but from what I know of anthropology and biological sex differences, pretty much, it was the rare woman in history who was out there "protecting her tribe" the way tribes are protected: By killing the fuck out of the invaders.
Me? I have superboobs, and I can just point them at dangerous people and rays shoot out and incinerate them.
But Pocahontas? I'm doubting that was one of her charms.
The "Arab Spring": Where Obama Saw Sparkly Purple Unicorns, Putin Saw Reality
Everett Rosenfeld writes at CNBC about Putin's remarks on what idiots were those (like our nitwit President) who supported "democratic revolutions" (in countries that cannot culturally support democracy, due to its running exactly contrary to the totalitarianism commanded by Islam):
"Instead of the triumph of democracy and progress, we got violence, poverty and social disaster -- and nobody cares a bit about human rights, including the right to life," Putin said through a translator. "I cannot help asking those who have forced that situation: Do you realize what you have done?"
The Russian president added that the power vacuum following these revolutions led to the rise of terrorist groups in the region -- including the Islamic State group.
Meanwhile, in the UK, the country is busy committing suicide. A tweet:
RAF airman ordered moved from hospital waiting room; staff says "other cultures" might be offended by his uniform