Friday, July 21, 2017

Police Aren’t Targeting and Killing Black Men

The following article appeared in the National Review on July 17th

By Nick Selby

By now everyone knows that police, whether consciously or subconsciously, are targeting young black men, killing them at a disproportionate rate. But what if everyone is wrong? What if race actually has little causal effect on police shootings? In fact, the data show just that. If we as a nation can look seriously at the evidence, we can have a much more productive conversation about what’s gone wrong and how to fix it. The Washington Post recently ran an article about police killings nationwide in the first half of the year. That story made the same mistake Post reporters have been making for years by comparing the racial composition of those killed with the overall racial composition of the United States.

“Police have continued to shoot and kill a disproportionately large number of black males, who account for nearly a quarter of the deaths, yet are only 6 percent of the nation’s population,” the paper reported. The Post’s unspoken assumption is that police killings should match America’s overall demographic statistics. That might sound right at first, but it is well understood in academic circles that using population as a benchmark can be dangerous, because not all people are equally likely to come into confrontation with the police. To borrow an example from Michigan State University researcher Joseph Cesario, an officer is not as likely to shoot the cashier selling him a cup of coffee as he is to shoot a citizen with an outstanding warrant he has just pulled over. And few activities, from the important to the trivial, conform to the Census Bureau’s breakdowns of the American population. Black people, who constitute about 13 percent of Americans — the Post had to focus on men alone to get the figure down to 6 percent — are 1.4 percent of doctors, 38 percent of barbers, and 16 percent of cooks. They account for 14 percent of pedestrian fatalities and 74.4 percent of NBA players but just 8 percent of NPR newsroom employees.

The media would have Americans believe that race is the single most important and predictive element of fatal encounters between police and civilians. Yet both the basic data and less superficial analyses than the Post’s show that is not the case. With a few notable exceptions, violent criminal attacks are the best predictor of whom police might shoot in America. Even the Post itself has noted the relevant data in the past. “In 74 percent of all fatal police shootings, the individuals had already fired shots, brandished a gun or attacked a person with a weapon or their bare hands,” the paper reported in 2015. “Another 16 percent of the shootings came after incidents that did not involve firearms or active attacks but featured other potentially dangerous threats.” Those figures are consistent with other data. In 2015, two-thirds of unarmed people of any race killed by police had been in the process of committing violent crime or property destruction. Fourteen percent were engaged in domestic violence. Ten percent were committing a robbery, 20 percent a burglary or vandalism, and 21 percent an assault on another civilian.

More important, cops don’t usually initiate their contact with the person who is shot. Three-quarters of fatal encounters start with someone contacting police and reporting the suspect. Further, more than half of the unarmed people killed by police suffered from mental-health issues, drug intoxication, physical disability or some combination of them. That’s something public-health policies can address head-on. That’s why I get so angry at the Washington Post — and other media like ProPublica and the Guardian — for conflating correlation and causation. Their comparisons might spur outrage and sell ads, but they also foment discord and distract from actionable data on police killings. Had the Washington Post consumed as much digital ink reporting on mental-health and drug-policy reform as it spends on shootings, I daresay the ball would have moved farther than it has. As it stands, since the paper started seriously tracking police shootings, only Texas has enacted criminal-justice mental-health legislation. Police are already conducting work to identify and re-train or fire the demonstrably small number of its ranks who behave inappropriately. To presume that solves society’s ills is short-sighted. We must look to reasons other than simple racism on the part of the police, who end up holding the ball for a lot of failed systemic issues. A disproportionate share of America’s violent offenders are African-American males, but not because they are black. It is because America has failed its black communities and those of the vulnerable more generally, for decades. The best predictors of crime are broken families, living in a bad neighborhood, young mothers and other risk factors known since the 1960s: a lack of education, nutrition, after-school activities, music, art and other programs that create opportunity. America cannot solve its problems in how police and citizens interact if our most trusted public watchdogs in the press keep muddying the waters with divisive, superficial analyses. To solve any problem, one must first take accurate measure of it. Good reporters will see to it that the information Americans act on is not just technically correct but also grounded in meaningful and honest analysis.

Venezuela’s National Oil Company On Its Last Legs

The following excerpts from Mr. Colasante’s article appeared in Oil on July 18th.

On Sunday 9th, 2017 Venezuela hit a hundred days of anti-dictatorial regime demonstrations. Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans have taken over main streets and roads demanding a new presidential election, a humanitarian solution to counter food and medical supply shortages, the release of political prisoners and the reinstitution of the National Assembly’s functions.

Since the protests started, more than one hundred people have been killed, 3,500 arrested and thousands injured across the country.

Falling oil revenues due to low international oil prices, as well as institutionalized government corruption, caused a further backlash, leaving the government to respond once again with brute force. Tear gas, water cannons and pepper-spray were fired into crowds by the National Guard and its paramilitary force, the “colectivos”, a heavily armed civilian branch supporting the Venezuelan government.  

This critical economic, political and social situation does not seem to have an easy solution. In Venezuela, 96 percent of foreign currency earnings come from oil industry, and with the collapse of oil prices, income has fallen more than 50 percent. But in addition to a decline in revenues, oil production has also dropped, adding insult to injury.

Venezuelan refineries are operating significantly below operational capacity, a product of a lack of investment and maintenance, as well as a lack of technical knowledge (a lot of the highly qualified personnel from PDVSA who rebelled against Hugo Chavez’s regime in 2002 were fired and now work in various other countries, such as; Colombia, Mexico, Canada and the USA). Falling output at refineries means that Venezuela needs to import gasoline, further squeezing the national budget. Refineries are currently working at less than 40 percent of average 2016 levels as state-run oil company PDVSA is importing between 100 and 150 thousand barrels per day of gasoline and between 80 and 90 thousand barrels per day of diesel.

Venezuela’s daily demand for gasoline and diesel are 225 and 170 thousand barrels respectively. Several tankers are waiting off the coast of Venezuela to discharge cargoes as the PDVSA has difficulties in paying their shipping bills, resulting in a penalty of $26 000 per tanker per day. An almost surreal paradox in a country that owns twenty refineries; five in Venezuela and fifteen worldwide.

One of the issues that PDVSA and their joint venture partners have to overcome will be the result of the new “constituent assembly”. Hermann EscarrĂ¡, a constitutional lawyer, candidate to the constituent assembly and one of the key people participating in the new constitution, declared in front of hundreds of PDVSA workers that one aim of the new constituent will be to nationalize all oil joint ventures.

Venezuela produces 40 percent of its crude in joint ventures with foreign companies, where PDVSA has at least 51 percent of the shares. If Venezuela succeeds in nationalizing the joint ventures, Venezuelan oil production will likely decline at an even faster rate.  

Until today, PDVSA has used the joint ventures for two purposes: firstly, to increase oil production and secondly, to maintain the low credit line that helped PDVSA pay its bond obligations. Now any foreign oil company will need to think twice if it wants to invest in the Venezuelan oil sector.

Day after day, PDVSA’s financial situation worsens. In 2006 the PDVSA’s financial debt was around $3 billon, eleven years later, its debt has reached $44 billion – with another $20 billion to be added for non-supplier and services payments.

A total default of PDVSA could potentially lead to a complete crash in oil production, a doom scenario for the country, but a potential boon for global oil prices.

“Venezuela is suffering gasoline shortages despite having the world’s largest oil reserves. The proven oil reserve in Venezuela is recognized as the largest in the world, totaling 302 billion barrels.”

Sound familiar? Remember gas and oil prices soaring while the left made it impossible to take advantage of massive oil reserves in the United States?  

Socialism...Ain't it swell?  Ed.

Thursday, July 20, 2017


HAT TIP: Navy Pilot

WASHINGTON (AP) –16 July 2017

President Trump disclosed that he has reached an agreement with Enrique Pena Nieto, President of Mexico, which provides for the sale of substantially all of the State of California to the country of Mexico.

President Trump noted that this deal, which he claims “is his largest real estate deal ever” is a win-win for everyone involved. One of the benefits he says he will highlight during a prime time address from the oval office later this evening, will include using the proceeds received by the US from Mexico to:

1) pay for the Wall (fulfilling yet another campaign promise), a wall which will now include the length of the eastern border of California,
2) fund all the infrastructure spending in the remaining 49 states and
3) pay to relocate the 67 Republicans that currently reside in California.

He also noted that Federal money saved from the reduction of California citizens on US social programs will allow those social programs to be cash positive in less than 3 years.

Mexican President Nieto announced that he has already introduced a bill to the Mexican Congress asking to change his country’s name to MexiCal.

Other benefits President Trump intends to discuss during this evening’s prime time address include:
California will now be able to act as a sanctuary state within MexiCal noting that there is much more room for the refugees who will find the climate in the State of California more desirable than the climate in US cities such as NYC, Detroit or Chicago.

The elimination of the existing border between Mexico and California will allow drugs to flow more freely between Mexico and the users in Hollywood.  Drug tunnel diggers at the Tijuana boarder will now be able to use their skills to dig tunnels under Los Angeles to help ease congestion in that city and allow rioters to move about the city’s universities more freely.

The U.S. taxpayer will no longer be on the hook for any future disaster relief required once the next megaquake hits California. The space in the Capitol and other DC buildings vacated by representatives of California will be fumigated and turned into “time-out rooms” for the press as well as Liberty Centers where US citizens can meet with their congressmen to discuss the pursuit of economic freedom.

Nancy Pelosi released a statement stating that she looks forward to making the Mexican President’s life miserable and prefers the year round weather in Mexico City to that of DC.  Her office has already announced a schedule of fund raising activities for what is believed to be an upcoming campaign to run for President of MexiCal. Papers released along with Trump’s statement reveal that a newly incorporated real estate company, pmurT, Inc., which was intimately involved in the deal discussions, will receive a broker fee of $25 billion on the California sale.  An anonymous pmurT, Inc. representative has revealed that the profits on the deal are HUGE and will be used to purchase, develop and convert all abandoned US Federal facilities in California into special high end retreats and resorts which will assist California residents with managing their euphoria and transition into the nanny state they have so long desired to be. The exact northern border of the new MexiCal is still under negotiation.

Apparently the White House is concerned that certain members of congress may be unwilling to give up California’s wine country and are suggesting that the northern border align with the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge. California residents will be issued special blue cards to cross the border into the US so that the total number of California liberals entering the US can be tracked and at any point in time not exceed predetermined levels. Residents that remain in California after the effective date of the sale will not be allowed to seek refugee status in the US in the future.

Mexican President Nieto stated he is thrilled with the deal and is looking forward to declaring Spanish the national language for his newly acquired territory and opening SSL (Spanish as a second language) schools throughout California.  He also noted that funding for the transaction would come from the Mexican drug cartels, which have agreed to provide low interest loans to Mexico so long as they are allowed to move their cash out of Switzerland and the Cayman Islands back into Mexico tax free. 

White House representatives refused to confirm rumors that a similar deal was in the works for the sale of Northeastern states from NY through Maine, to Canada.

President Trump wrapped up his statement stating, “this deal is HUGE and will help Make America, albeit a little smaller, Great Again”

Lawsuit Alleges Michigan Agency Told Grandfather He’d Have to Give Up Gun Rights to Foster His Grandson

'If you want to care for your grandson you will have to give up some of your constitutional rights'

The following article appeared in the Free Beacon on July 19th

By Stephen Gutowski 

A lawsuit filed in federal court on Monday alleges the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) violated the gun rights of foster parents.

Caseworkers from MDHHS and a county judge told William Johnson of Ontonagon, Mich., that he had to choose between his Second Amendment rights and fostering his grandson, according to a complaint filed with the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan. The 54-year-old Johnson is a retired, disabled Marine with a Michigan Concealed Pistol License. He and his wife were asked by the state of Michigan to foster their grandson. According to Johnson's suit, however, the issues began as soon as he arrived at MDHHS to pick up the child. 

Johnson said he was searched for a firearm and, although he was not carrying a gun, officials demanded to see his concealed carry license. He was then told he would need to give MDHHS the serial numbers of all of his firearms, including rifles and shotguns, and register them with the agency. After questioning why he would have to register his firearms in order to foster his grandson, Johnson said he was told by one caseworker, "if you want to care for your grandson you will have to give up some of your constitutional rights." When he objected, he was told there would not be a "power struggle" and MDHHS "would just take his grandson and place him in a foster home" if he didn't comply with their requests.

Two weeks later, during a hearing on placement of the child, Johnson said a Gogebic County Court judge similarly told him, "if you want to care for your grandson you will have to give up some of your constitutional rights."

Michigan requires that anyone who wants to be a foster parent must register his handguns with the state as well as keep the guns unloaded and locked in a safe separate from the ammunition. Foster parents in states like Nevada and Oklahoma have challenged similar laws in recent years after being denied foster children over their legally owned firearms. The case against MDHHS also features plaintiffs Brian and Naomi Mason, who said the gun regulations keep them from becoming foster parents.

The Second Amendment Foundation, which is party to the suit, said the actions of MDHHS were "outrageous," and the policy violates the civil rights of Michigan foster parents. 

"The statements from the caseworker and judge are simply outrageous," Alan Gottlieb, the group's founder, said in a statement. "This amounts to coercion, with a child as their bartering chip. I cannot recall ever hearing anything so offensive and egregious, and we've handled cases like this in the past. Blatantly telling someone they must give up their civil rights in order to care for their own grandchild is simply beyond the pale."

MDHHS said it could not comment on the allegations in the lawsuit because the case is still ongoing. "Our department generally does not comment on pending litigation," Bob Wheaton, MDHHS public information officer, told the Washington Free Beacon.

Gottlieb said the lawsuit was a necessary step in ensuring public officials respect people's rights. "This is a case we simply must pursue," he said. "State agencies and the people who work in those agencies simply cannot be allowed to disregard someone’s civil rights."

Soooo, what other constitutional rights must be given up by prospective foster care providers according to the State of Michigan? First, Fourth…where is the list, I wonder?   Ed.