Friday, October 24, 2014

Obama and Holder follow the Stalinist model of justice

Federal Prosecutor Alleges Boss Pressured Him To Engage in 'Unethical Conduct'; Judge Calls Abuses 'Egregious,' 'Pervasive,” and “Reprehensible”

In perhaps the most stunning documentation yet of abuses by Eric Holder’s Justice Department, two former Assistant United States Attorneys spoke to defense attorneys and revealed appalling deceit and corruption of justice. This latest litigation time bomb has exploded from multi-million dollar litigation originally brought by the Department of Justice against Sierra Pacific based on allegations that the lumber company and related defendants were responsible for a wildfire that destroyed 65,000 acres in California.

In what was dubbed the “Moonlight Fire” case, the tables are now turned. The defendants have discovered new evidence and filed a stunning motion. The new evidence and disclosures are being taken seriously by the Chief Judge of the Eastern District of California—as they should be. In a shocking action, Judge Morrison C. England Jr. ordered the recusal of every federal judge in the Eastern District of California.

Sierra Pacific Industries and other defendants were compelled to pay $55 million to the United States over a period of five years and transfer 22,500 acres of land to settle massive litigation brought against them by the United States alleging that they caused a 2007 fire that destroyed 65,000 acres in California. Sierra Pacific has always maintained that the fire started elsewhere and that the state and federal investigators and Department attorneys lied. Now that settlement may go up in smoke because of the new evidence of outrageous misconduct by the federal prosecutors and the investigators from state and federal offices, as well as findings earlier this year by a state judge.

In an extraordinary development, Judge England, Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California, ordered the recusal of all the Eastern District judges from the case because of serious allegations that the Court itself was defrauded by the government in the original prosecution. To avoid any appearance of partiality, he has referred the case to Ninth Circuit Chief Judge Alex Kozinski to appoint a judge from outside the Eastern District to handle the case going forward. Judge Kozinski has excoriated prosecutors for failing to meet their legal and ethical obligations.

The order notes that the defendants filed an action this week to set aside the $55 million settlement because, as the defendants allege, “the United States presented false evidence to the Defendants and the Court; advanced arguments to the Court premised on that false evidence; or, for which material evidence had been withheld, and obtaining court rulings based thereon; prepared key Moonlight Fire investigators for depositions, and allowed them to repeatedly give false testimony about the most important aspects of their investigation; and failed to disclose the facts and circumstances associated with the Moonlight Fire lead investigator’s direct financial interest in the outcome of the investigation arising from an illegal bank account that has since been exposed and terminated.”

The Sacramento Bee reported on the Defendant’s filing. Indeed, the Defendants’ motion informs us that a former Assistant United States Attorney came forward and disclosed that he believes that he was removed from the original prosecution by “his boss, David Shelledy, chief of the civil division in the United States Attorney’s office,” because he “rebuffed” pressure to “engage in unethical conduct as a lawyer.” Of course, like other former prosecutors who were unethical, Mr. Shelledy is to receive Attorney General Holder’s highest award for excellence—this week.

The defendants also reveal that another former federal prosecutor, Eric Overby, left the Moonlight Fire prosecution team also, stating: “It’s called the Department of Justice. It’s not called the Department of Revenue.” According to the motion, Mr. Overby told defense counsel that in his entire career, “I’ve never seen anything like this. Never.”

Well, sadly we have, and we’ve been reporting on it as fast as we can. This is part of a disturbing and rapidly increasing pattern of abuses by this Department of Justice to line government coffers or redistribute the wealth to its political allies—using its overwhelming litigation might and federal agencies as a tool of extortion and wealth redistribution.

The entire original prosecution against Sierra Pacific appears to have been driven by the Department of Justice’s interest in hitting a “deep pocket” for millions of dollars of revenue. The Defendants’ motion to set aside the settlement reveals a series of fraudulent acts by federal and state authorities that defiles our system of justice.

Dick Beckler, an attorney for the company who used to be at DOJ and is now with Bracewell Giuliani, told the Observer, “Sierra Pacific is looking forward to having its day in court and proving all the facts of the government’s fraud on the court.”

A California state judge, Leslie C. Nichols, in a related state case issued orders earlier this year describing what he called “egregious,” “pervasive,” and “reprehensible” abuses in the investigation and prosecution amounting to “government corruption.” He found the state case to “betray the primary purpose of the judicial system—to reveal the truth.” He awarded $32 million in fees and expenses to the Defendants, finding as the Sacramento Bee reports, that the state agency, Cal Fire, “withheld some documents, destroyed other evidence and ‘engaged in a systematic campaign of misdirection with the purpose of recovering money’ from Sierra Pacific.”

It’s encouraging to see Judge England join Judge Emmet G. Sullivan and Judge Bates, and others, as our Article III judges begin to demand that federal attorneys and agents follow the law and their oaths of office. But there remains a lot more work to do. It’s way past time to hold Holder accountable.

When will the next litigation time bomb and scandal explode on Mr. Holder and this administration? He can’t run fast enough.



TV News Blacks Out This Year’s Bad Election News for Democrats

Bad news for Democrats is no news

 In less than two weeks, voters head to the polls in midterm elections that seem certain to yield strong Republican gains, if not outright control of the U.S. Senate. Such a political sea change is big news, but a new Media Research Center study finds that, in contrast to their enthusiastic coverage of the 2006 midterms when Democrats made big gains, the Big Three broadcast evening newscasts are all but ignoring this year’s political contests.

MRC analysts studied every election story on the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts from September 1 through October 20 in both 2006 (the midterm election in George W. Bush’s second term) and 2014 (the equivalent election under President Barack Obama). Even in a changing media landscape, Big Three evening newscasts are a principal news source for more than 23 million viewers, beating all of their broadcast and cable competition.

Our analysts found that, when Democrats were feeling good about their election prospects eight years ago, the CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News, and ABC’s World News aired a combined 159 campaign stories (91 full reports and another 68 stories that mentioned the campaign). But during the same time period this year, those same newscasts have offered a paltry 25 stories (16 full reports and 9 mentions), a six-to-one disparity.

Amazingly, since September 1 ABC’s newly-renamed World News Tonight has yet to feature a single mention of this year’s campaign, let alone a full story. In contrast, eight years ago ABC’s World News aired 36 stories that discussed that year’s midterm campaign, including a weekly Thursday night feature that then-anchor Charlie Gibson promised would look at the “critical races.”

Back then, the elections were a major news topic; this year, a regular viewer of ABC’s evening newscast would have no indication that any were even taking place.

CBS and NBC have scarcely been more comprehensive. In 2006, CBS aired a total of 58 evening news stories that discussed the campaign, while NBC Nightly News aired 65 stories. This year, those numbers have fallen to just 14 and 11 as of October 20, declines of 76% and 83%, respectively.

In 2006, with Democrats poised to make big gains, the broadcasts eagerly touted their midterm coverage. On the September 20, 2006 NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams hyped how his broadcast was beginning “a special series that will take a close look at some of the most interesting races in these upcoming midterm elections.”

This election season, Nightly News did not air its first full report on the election until Sunday, October 12. Except for a single full story on October 14 about the Kentucky Senate race (how the Democratic candidate refused to say if she had voted for President Obama), NBC Nightly News has thus far this fall provided no in-depth coverage of any specific races or candidates — merely short mentions of individual contests.

The network blackout of this year’s campaign began long before the Ebola outbreak dominated newscasts after the September 30 diagnosis of Thomas Eric Duncan in Dallas. The evening newscasts included just 12 stories about the campaign in September, vs. 13 such stories during the first 20 days of October.

And it’s not as if the Ebola story precluded substantial political coverage — in 2006, the networks also found time to cover major stories, including the war in Iraq and North Korea’s first atomic test, without bypassing politics.

Eight years ago, there was no escaping the negative news for Republicans. Not only were polls projecting a major swing to the Democrats, but a scandal involving Florida Representative Mark Foley received major attention from all three network evening newscasts. Of the 159 network evening news stories that fall, nearly two-thirds (103, or 65%) conveyed either mainly bad news about Republican candidates, or mainly good news about the Democrats, vs. just seven (4%) conveying the opposite message. (The remainder were either neutral or mixed.)

“With scandals, the war, and the President with low approval ratings, this is a very difficult environment for Republicans to run,” CBS’s Gloria Borger opined on the October 17 Evening News. The next night, October 18, NBC Nightly News led their broadcast with poll results that Tim Russert said were making Republicans “very, very nervous,” including a big lead for Democrats in the generic congressional ballot (52% vs. 37% for the GOP).

This week, NBC conducted a similar pre-election poll that found a five-point edge (49% to 44%) for Republicans in the generic ballot, comparable to the six-point edge they had going into the 1994 elections in which they seized control of both the House and Senate. But so far, the NBC Nightly News said nothing about this poll or the bad news it contained for Democrats.

This fall, estimates from the New York Times and Washington Post (as of October 21) place the odds of a Republican takeover of the Senate at between 66% and 93%, and Democrats have been encumbered by a myriad of Obama administration failures including the botched ObamaCare rollout, the Bowe Berghdahl prisoner exchange, the long delay in confronting ISIS, the Secret Service scandal and the fumbling of the Ebola response.

But Democrats have not faced the unrelentingly negative coverage that Republicans confronted eight years ago. From September 1 through October 20, our analysts found ten evening news stories (40%) contained mainly bad news for Democrats or mostly good news for Republicans, while seven (28%) emphasized bad news for Republicans or good news for Democrats.

Back on October 5, The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza wrote about the “striking” similarities between the two midterm elections: “Like Bush, this is the second midterm election of Obama’s presidency. Like Bush, Obama is not at all popular nationally....Like Republicans in 2006, the fate of Democratic control rests in the hands of a handful of incumbents...who sit in states that, at best, swing between the two parties and, at worst, are firmly Republican at the presidential level.”

It wasn’t biased for the networks to sift through polls and predict bad news for Republicans eight years ago. But now that the party labels are reversed, those same networks are showing their bias by giving so much less airtime to the bad political news for Democrats this year.



Democrats push no-residency election law

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.:  Rather than admitting the failure of last year’s House Bill 13-1303 to re-write Colorado election law, Democrats have doubled down on unregulated elections by writing a new law that, among other things, eliminates residency requirements for local elections. Despite widespread opposition to their proposed new election law, House Democrats have passed it quickly, moving it forward to the senate.

The Denver Post editorialized, “…even supporters of HB 1164 ought to recognize that its rushed handling is a disservice to informed lawmaking.”

Late last week, House Republican co-sponsor Carole Murray backed out of sponsoring the bill. Said Murray, “I agreed to participate in the bill because as a former county clerk, I understand the administrative challenges of the variety of elections that we need to conduct, but as I got into being responsible for this bill, I realized that there was just no way to avoid the policy reality that we were forcing our jurisdictions in our local governments to reject a requirement for jurisdictional residency.”

Sen. Ellen Roberts (R-Durango) removed herself as senate sponsor, leaving Democrats with no cover.

Last year’s bill removed residency requirements at the state level but left unclear were the requirements at the local level. Instead of fixing the state residency requirements, Democrats have simply eliminated them at the local level as well.

The city of Broomfield has been in the spotlight after the secretary of state’s office listed alleged elections administration errors, much of which related to residency requirements. Before 2013 and the new election law, Broomfield had not been involved in any election lawsuits; now there are five. House Bill 1164 fixes that by simply stating that the Broomfield election results are confirmed—no proof or process needed.

Meanwhile, a Republican effort by Sen. Kevin Lundberg to allow citizens to opt out of mandatory mail-in ballots was killed on a party-line vote Monday evening. Even the League of Women Voters had supported the bill. This is not unusual for Republican bills: of the initial 39 bills submitted in the Colorado senate, 19 were immediately sent to the designated “kill committee” without hearings.

With no one other than radical Democrats and a few election officials supporting the new bill, Senators Kevin Grantham and Kevin Lundberg Monday submitted a compromise proposal. They were joined by Representatives Carole Murray and Libby Szabo.

Their bill will put last year’s election law (HB13-1303) on hold for two years. This would allow a bipartisan commission time to consider recommending changes to election law, instead of the “my-way-or-the-highway” approach the Democrats have used to date.

Said Lundberg, “Our bill will have a tough time gaining acceptance with this legislature, but it is still the right thing to do.”

In 1992, Edward Djerejian, then Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, characterized the goals of Islamic radicals as “One man, one vote, one time.” The phrase was resurrected in Egypt as Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood took power in Egypt. It means that your vote for a radical Islamist is your last vote.

In Colorado, radical leftist Democrats seem to be seeking the same state of affairs. The recall of two senators and the forced resignation of a third has not changed their iron-fisted control of the legislature. They do not listen to opposition, their hearings—when they are allowed—resemble “show trials,” and their legislation passes through the legislature at light speed.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Socialism at work in Wales -- yet another case of the socialist dream turning into a nightmare

Untreated patients left to die: The Labour-run Welsh health service wastes money on bureaucrats in non-jobs yet has lethally long waiting lists for the seriously-ill that would shame a Third World country.  A timely warning about where Obamacare is headed if it is not stopped

Somewhere in north-west Wales is an office occupied by one very well-remunerated employee of the Betsi Cadwaladr University Local Health Board.  At a time of supposed austerity, when the principality’s Labour government has reduced health spending by 1 per cent a year, resulting in total cuts of more than 8 per cent since 2010, he (or she) earns a £43,414 a year. In addition, their pension is topped up by £6,078.

However, this well-paid NHS staffer has no key medical role, but is instead the health board’s ‘carbon manager’.  Quite what this job actually entails (presumably it involves raising the profile of energy conservation) and what relevance it has to healthcare, is anyone’s guess.

But in the free-spending, politically-correct world of the Welsh NHS, there are other posts akin to ‘carbon manager’. Betsi Cadwaladr also pays £50,000 for a ‘head of communications’, along with £30,000 for a ‘leadership officer’, £30,000 for a ‘head of equality, diversity and human rights’, and another £30,000 for a ‘senior equality manager’.

They are part of the army of people recently identified by the Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA) pressure group as being employed in weird and unnecessary ‘non-jobs’ by the Welsh NHS last year.

In a report, which it believes exposed the tip of an iceberg of public waste, the TPA detailed the munificent pay packages, bizarre job titles and pointless remits of 43 of the Labour-run service’s non-clinical staff, who together earn a total of £1.5 million a year.

During 2013 (the last year for which the information is available), their ranks included a ‘sustainable transport manager’ in Gwent on £30,308 per year, a ‘leadership/management coach’ in Cwm Taf on £40,511 a year, and an ‘equality and diversity lead’ in Velindre NHS Trust on another £40,511.

Bear in mind their salaries while you consider the fates of some of the thousands of patients who are now stuck on the supposedly cash-strapped Welsh NHS’s lengthy waiting lists.

Take the plight of Robin Williams, 69, a grandfather of ten from Penarth in South Wales, who was recently told that he’s expected to die by Christmas. Robin tells how his nightmare at the hands of the Welsh NHS began in 2010, when he was admitted to hospital in Cardiff with heart symptoms.

Despite being in obvious pain, he was sent home without seeing a cardiologist or without being given an angiogram to discover the precise nature of his problem. He then had to wait three months before being referred to a heart consultant, and then a further six months before getting an actual appointment.

By this stage, his condition had deteriorated so far that a specialist said there was nothing they could do to cure it. Over the ensuing three years, he has edged slowly towards death.

‘Two of my arteries had become completely blocked,’ Robin says. ‘There was this third one they wanted to look at. But by the time of the appointment, it had become calcified, so they couldn’t get a stent in.

‘If they had tried six months earlier, they probably could have, and I wouldn’t be in this state now. I am just waiting to die. I recently pushed my cardiologist to say how long I am likely to last. He replied: “Christmas.” ’

Cardiff, where Robin was originally treated, was the subject of an investigation last year by the Royal College of Surgeons, who inspected its hospitals amid concerns that it has some of the country’s highest mortality rates.

They discovered ‘serious service problems’, with 2,000 operations not scheduled in the previous three months because of ‘a lack of beds’, widespread ‘failures in cleaning and sterilisation’, cancer operations ‘cancelled on a regular basis’ due to a ‘lack of capacity’, and ‘patients regularly dying on the waiting list’ for heart operations.

Concluding that ‘the Welsh government does not give leadership’, the Royal College, one of the most respected medical organisations in Britain, reported: ‘South Wales is the only part of the UK where patients are dying on Cardiac Surgery waiting lists.’

No wonder Robin Williams accuses the Labour authorities of ‘a level of incompetence I’ve not seen before in my lifetime’. He adds: “More and more heart patients are dying unnecessarily but these deaths are preventable.”

Tragically, he’s not alone in his anger. After 15 years of Labour rule, there are now nearly 1,400 Welsh NHS patients who have been waiting more than a year for treatment. In England, where the population is 17 times higher, that number is just 574.

Those still on waiting lists are fortunate in comparison with Ron Jones, who served for more than three decades as a local councillor.  He died last year, aged 78, after spending more than 15 months awaiting a major heart operation. His partner, Pam Allen, says he’d been diagnosed the previous May and later he needed a triple heart bypass.  ‘The doctor asked: “Do you have any questions?” We said: “When do we come in? Tomorrow?” He replied: “No, three to six months.” ’

The operation was then repeatedly delayed and cancelled before Ron eventually died of heart failure.  In a stern rebuke to the Welsh government, who routinely dismiss critics as Right-wing political opportunists, Mrs Allen points out that Ron was a Labour councillor and lifelong party supporter.

‘He was let down by the NHS he loved,’ she says. ‘Why did he wait so long when they knew what was wrong with him? Something has got to be done.’

Perhaps the most depressing fact about the Welsh NHS is the widespread sense of public disillusion — particularly among the elderly.

Patients needing basic operations, such as hip or knee surgery, must wait an average of 170 days in Wales — compared with 70 days in England and Scotland.

Among them is Athena Williams, 58, a mother-of-two from Pembrokeshire. After being told that she would have to wait 12 to 18 months for a hip operation on the Welsh NHS, she decided to pay £9,000 to have it done privately.

‘What makes me really cross is that my father, who lives in England, has a neighbour who waited just two weeks for their hip replacement,’ she says. ‘Also, my sister is a nurse in the Midlands and has said that waiting times there are only two to three months.

‘I don’t understand it. Why is there such a huge discrepancy? I’m lucky that I could afford to pay to go private, but I’m not going to see a penny of that money back. It’s so wrong.’

Meanwhile, Diana Hannam, 73, a former mayor of Rhyl in North Wales, faced similar difficulties.  In severe pain from a ruptured tendon in her shoulder, she waited more than a year for surgery before being removed from the waiting list in April because she had made a series of angry phone calls to staff, complaining about the excessive length of time it was taking for her operation to be scheduled.

They responded by accusing her of ‘harassment’ and telling her to go elsewhere for treatment. Diana says: ‘It’s extremely alarming that they seem to think they can do this to older people. We are not valued.

‘It’s frightening to live in Wales, and it’s affecting everyone. If what happened to me happened to an animal, they would be prosecuted for causing needless suffering.”

In August, after a total of 16 months on waiting lists, Diana finally underwent her operation at a hospital in Wrexham [North Wales].

In other cases, the stakes are even higher. For cancer victims, delays of just a few weeks can be the difference between life and death. But under the Labour-run Welsh NHS, people wait longer for a raft of crucial tests.

Indeed, roughly 50 per cent of Welsh cancer victims must wait more than six weeks for many scans and tests. In England, just 6 per cent of patients wait that long.

Beth Prout, a 57-year-old nurse from Pembroke was particularly unfortunate. She has a rare form of stomach cancer, which requires a type of operation available in just two UK hospitals (Manchester and Basingstoke).

Since both facilities are in England, the Welsh NHS must agree to pay £70,000 for her to have the life-saving treatment. Appallingly, it has yet to do that despite Beth first being told she needed the operation in June.

The Welsh NHS turned down her request for funding in August and it has yet to respond to an appeal against that decision.

Beth says: ‘My specialist told me after I was turned down for treatment: “You’ve got to make a fuss.”  'But it shouldn’t be that way. You shouldn’t have to go through this to be treated the same as other people living elsewhere in the UK.  ‘In the last few years, the Welsh NHS has gone downhill.’

She adds that the baby unit at the hospital where she works ‘has gone’. And she says about the service: ‘I’m really worried.’

At the same time as Welsh NHS managers are making tough decisions about what medical treatments they can afford, it is galling to discover they are paying for a small army of spin doctors.

For example, the Velindre NHS Trust, which offers specialist cancer care services, employs an astonishing eight — yes, eight — full-time staff in its press office, including a £49,492 Head of Communications, at a total annual cost of more than £250,000.

Such expenditure is unforgivable when you consider the fact that a major cause of the Welsh NHS’s lengthy waiting times for patients is down to a shortage of money. It’s a scandal that would shame even a Third World country.

Between 2010 and this year, the Welsh government has imposed cuts totalling more than 8 per cent on its NHS, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies. Yet in England, NHS spending has risen by one per cent above inflation each year since the Coalition came to power.

That was paid for partly by cuts in other areas of public expenditure. But in Wales, effectively a one-party Labour state, its government has shown precious little appetite for reforming the bloated public sector.

Proof is the fact that Cardiff has, for example, spent £75 million on a ‘communities first’ scheme which involved (among other things) teaching residents of Ebbw Fawr to ‘design your own tattoo’ or take part in a ‘guitar-making course’.

And an IT project named Merlin, meant to cost £220 million over a decade, has already cost the government £270 million in its first seven years.

Another £36 million was spent by Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones on a back-to-work scheme called Genesis, which was described as ‘under-performing’ when it closed in 2013, after managing to help just 800 people gain jobs. That’s £45,000 for every person it took off the dole.

Back in Newport, a 78-year-old former post mistress has particular cause to complain about Welsh government waste. June Crum has had to spend her life-savings on open-heart surgery after waiting 18 months for treatment on the Welsh NHS.  She took the decision in April after being told — despite having just been taken to hospital with heart problems — that it would be six months before she made it to the top of the waiting list.

‘My hands had turned blue and some of my fingers black. I thought I had left it too long. I was very frightened. I thought I was going to die.  ‘When I found I could be waiting until October, I took my savings out of my Isa and decided to pay for it.’

The procedure cost £19,444. In the sad parallel universe of the incompetent Welsh NHS, that’s less than half the amount Labour health tsars see fit to spend on a single health trust ‘carbon manager’.



America, we need to talk about the word ‘progressive’

Comment from Britain

Thanks to a quirk of American English, it has long been difficult for people who believe in personal freedom to describe themselves without risking confusion. In Britain, the word ‘liberal’ is still more likely to evoke thoughts of liberty rather than visions of socialism, but this is being gradually worn away by the influence of political rhetoric from the US, where a tipping point occurred many decades ago.

Today, Americans who espouse personal and economic liberty have to settle for terms like libertarian, classical liberal or neoliberal. This is slightly irksome to British liberals, but we get our own back by calling private schools ‘public schools’ and talking about smoking fags. In the great scheme of things, perhaps it doesn’t really matter. We understand that liberals and conservatives are the two main factions in American politics and we can predict the views of each with reasonable accuracy.

The word ‘progressive’, however, is a different beast. In the US, it is virtually a synonym for ‘liberal’ (in the corrupted sense of the word), whereas in the UK every major political party, with the possible exception of UKIP, describes itself as progressive. David Cameron describes himself as a ‘progressive Conservative’ and Nick Clegg says that he and his coalition partners are the ‘new progressives’. The socialists, meanwhile, hope to form a ‘progressive majority’ to defeat the government. The word is near meaningless. At best, it implies a vague belief in modernity and pragmatism. At worst, it implies a self-satisfied conviction that one’s policies are the way of the future (and what politician doesn’t believe that?).

In the US, the progressive cause has a firmer definition and a longer history (a history from which policies such as prohibition and eugenics have been largely written out). To see what the word progressive means today, consider the city of Berkeley, California. According to Robert Reich, a professor at UC Berkeley, it is ‘the most progressive city in America’. It has also been described as a ‘liberal bastion’. How liberal is it? So liberal that it is illegal to smoke a cigarette in your own flat (sorry, ‘apartment’) and, at the city’s university, it is against the rules to chew tobacco or use e-cigarettes anywhere at all, including in the open air.

Berkeley is also seriously considering a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages – aka a ‘soda tax’. A public vote will settle the matter next month, and, in the view of Robert Reich, ‘if a soda tax can’t pass in the most progressive city in America, it can’t pass anywhere’.

Consider that statement for a moment. If you didn’t know what the word ‘progressive’ meant – and you knew nothing about Berkeley – what could you infer from the context? If the sentence was changed to ‘if a soda tax can’t pass in the most oppressive city in America, it can’t pass anywhere’, it would make sense. If words like ‘tax-hungry’, ‘anti-business’, ‘puritanical’ or ‘illiberal’ were substituted for ‘progressive’, it would still read correctly.

If, however, the sentence was changed to ‘if a soda tax can’t pass in the most tolerant city in America, it can’t pass anywhere’, it would be incongruous. Words like ‘permissive’, ‘libertarian’, ‘easygoing’ and ‘broad-minded’ would also be confusing substitutes for ‘progressive’ in this context, and yet these are all adjectives that appear in the thesaurus under the word ‘liberal’. From this we might conclude either that soda taxes are not terribly liberal or that progressives are not terribly liberal. Or both.

In economics, unlike politics, the word ‘progressive’ has a fixed meaning. A progressive tax is one that takes a larger share of income from the rich than from the poor. The alternative is a regressive tax, one that takes a larger share of income from the poor than from the rich. Taxes on fizzy drinks are highly and indisputably regressive, not only because the rate of tax is the same for all income groups, but also because the poor tend to consume more of them in the first place. So while it is true that Berkeley is a bellwether city when it comes to eye-catching ‘public health’ initiatives, the adoption of punitive taxes on soft drinks would be a step towards it becoming America’s most regressive, not progressive, city in economic terms.

This is what confuses us, America. If a ‘liberal bastion’ – your ‘most progressive city’ – is one in which the government effectively fines people for drinking the wrong type of soft drink, what on earth are your illiberal bastions like?



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The great phthalate scare rumbles on

The study described below is an unpublished one so is difficult to evaluate fully.  There is enough detail below to question its conclusions, however.  It is established that phthalate exposure can be increased by eating certain foods, "junk" food in particular. But since the toxicity is in the dose nobody knows if the amounts concerned are cause for alarm.

So the study below looks important.  We do appear there to have evidence of harm:  Higher levels of serum phthalates were found to go with decreased libido.

But as I have pointed out many times, correlation is not causation and the fact that it was not phthalates behind the loss of libido can very readily be inferred from the fact that working class people, particularly poor people, are much more likely to eat "junk" food than are middle class people.  And as has been shown just about whenever it is examined, working class people have poorer health.  And that loss of libido might be one aspect of poor health scarcely needs stating.

So phthalate levels were simply a proxy for social class and it was social class behind the lower levels of libido, not phthalates themselves.

All that is fairly obvious so poverty should have been the first thing controlled for in the study.  Was it?  I would be surprised.  I would be surprised if income was even asked of the patients.  We will have to wait for the study to be published before we know, however. Given the ubiquity of class effects, however, a class effect has to be the default interpretation of the results.  Evidence that phthalates are harmless is summarized here


Chemicals found in PVC flooring, plastic shower curtains, processed food and other trappings of modern life may be sapping women’s interest in sex.

A study has linked low libido with the additives used to soften plastics which are found in every home.

Women with the highest levels of phthalates in their bodies were more than twice as likely to say ‘not tonight dear’ as those with the lowest amounts.

Phthalates are man-made chemicals thought to interfere with the natural hormones that are crucial to overall health.

They are found in everything from PVC flooring and shower curtains to car dashboards – and may also be in our food. Tiny particles can enter our systems either through breathing or eating.

Previous studies have linked them to diabetes and asthma. They have also been blamed for feminising the brains of baby boys and last year the World Health Organisation warned they have ‘serious implications for health’.

The latest research, presented at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine’s annual conference in Honolulu, suggests they are doing psychological, as well as physical, damage.

In the first study of its kind, Dr Emily Barrett, of the University of Rochester School of Medicine in the US, measured levels of phthalates in the urine of 360 pregnant women in their 20s and 30s.

She also asked them how often they lost interest in sex in the months leading up to their pregnancy.

Those with the most phthalates in their bodies were two and a half times as likely to say they had frequently lacked interest in sex as those with the least.

Dr Barrett suspects that phthalates interfere with the production of sex hormones oestrogen and testosterone, both of which are involved in female libido.

She said that food is a significant source of phthalates, particularly processed and highly-packaged products. It is thought to get into into food from processing equipment and from packaging.

Dr Barrett, who tried to avoid fast food when pregnant over fears that the chemicals it contains would harm her unborn baby, said: ‘One of the recommendations... to potentially lower your exposure is to eat less processed food and to pick fresh things without packaging.’

A spokesman for the Chemical Industries Association, which represents manufacturers, said: ‘We are not aware of any globally accepted tests which can yet measure the effect chemical exposure may have on libido.’

He added that phthalates are among the most researched chemicals and the use of any that affect fertility is restricted.

Certain phthalates are banned from use in cosmetics, toiletries and toys in the EU and further restrictions are due next year.



Voting Democrat Could Endanger Your Health

On Tuesday, Nov. 4, millions of Americans will head to the polls to vote in one of the more crucial elections of modern times. As we’ve witnessed the recent debacle surrounding the Obama administration’s response to Ebola, and its orchestrated dispersal of illegal alien children throughout the nation -- with support from the Democrat Party every step of the way -- one thing becomes clear: A vote for any Democrat is hazardous to your health.

Most Americans are now distressingly aware of the series of unconscionable bungles by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Nurses Nina Pham and Amber Vinson have both been infected by the late Patient Zero, Thomas Eric Duncan, and the CDC response has been pathetic. CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden first sought to blame Pham herself for a “protocol breach,” even as it was subsequently revealed such protocols were either haphazardly applied or non-existent. Even worse, Vinson was cleared to fly to Ohio and back to Texas by the CDC itself, despite reporting a temperature. As a result, the agency was not only forced to monitor more than 100 people in Ohio, but hundreds more people that flew on the same Frontier Airlines plane in subsequent flights. Another hospital worker exposed to Duncan’s medical specimens was quarantined -- on a Carnival Magic cruise ship.

There are numerous other examples of lapses committed by both the hospital and the CDC, but all of them have only happened for one overriding reason: Barack Obama refused to restrict incoming flights from Ebola-ravaged nations in West Africa. And make no mistake: Every subsequent bureaucratic failure stems from that decision.

Moreover, it is a decision on which the administration actually doubled down in August, when the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) began “waiving fees, expediting the immigration process, and allowing extensions of visas for anyone coming from the three designated Ebola-stricken countries, provided that they are in the United States,” Breitbart reports.

Obama’s fellow Democrats have supported him every step of the way. “There’s no such thing as fortress America when it comes to infectious disease,” said Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO). “The best way to stop Ebola is going to be to stop this virus in Africa.”

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) agreed. “Sealing people off in Africa is not going to keep them from traveling,” he insisted. “They’ll travel to Brussels, as one of the people did, and then into the United States.”

Animals from foreign nations are subject to quarantine, and many agricultural products and other foodstuffs are denied entry altogether. Yet Democrats not only believe applying the same rules to people is impractical, they conflate going to West Africa to fight Ebola with allowing people from West Africa to enter our country.

And why not? Democrats are equally on board with the administration’s decision to allow 66,000 illegal alien children, not only to enter our country, but be dispersed throughout it. Alien children the administration knew were coming seven months before it occurred. This government ad posted on Jan. 29, entitled “Escort Services for Unaccompanied Alien Children,” sought escort services for "approximately 65,000 UAC in total” via “local ground transport,” “ICE charter” and “commercial air.”

The all-out assault on our Southwest border occurred over the same time frame Enterovirus D-68 (EV-D68), relatively rare in the United States, began ramping up in earnest. The CDC and state authorities confirm that 691 people in 46 states and the District of Columbia contracted EV-D68 between August and October. Five children have died from it, and it is also linked to four confirmed and seven suspected cases of paralysis-like symptoms in Colorado, as well as additional cases in Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles. In some cases, children have been left bound to a wheelchair, unable to speak or breathe on their own. They have little chance of full recovery, because the disease kills the connection between the muscles and the spinal chord. Stanford School of Medicine neurologist Keith Van Haren believes it's "just a matter of time before we establish a definitive link between EV-D68 and this polio-like illness that follows.”

The CDC denies any connection between the disease and the illegals. How believable is that? Doctors from the Division of Viral Diseases at the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases published a study posted on the CDC's own website. It reveals that EV-D68 "is one of the most rarely reported serotypes, with only 26 reports throughout the 36-year study period (1970 through 2006).” Thus we are expected to believe that 26 cases over a 36-year period, rising to 691 in a single year -- even as the CDC waived its own health screening regulations for entry -- is sheer coincidence.

If you believe that, by all means, vote Democrat.

Those would be the same Democrats, along with their media lapdogs, who have been decrying the “hysteria” surrounding the Ebola outbreak. Really? Nurse Vinson visited a bridal shop in Ohio and flew on Frontier Airlines. Anyone want to bet on that airline's future business prospects, or those of Texas Presbyterian Hospital, which feels like a “ghost town” according to local health care vendor Rachelle Cohorn? How many people will forego booking a cruise on any Carnival Cruise ship? Moreover, note that all of this economic upheaval has been caused by a total of four people (Duncan, the two nurses and the shipboard health worker). Imagine the economic devastation that would follow an Ebola outbreak among, say, 50 Americans, including the massive amount of time, effort and money required to track down the exponential number of people with whom they will have come in contact.

Some Democrats aren’t stupid. Some of them recognize the administration's response to Ebola and EV-D68 is toxic. Kentucky Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes and Georgia Senate candidate Michelle Nunn both declined to say they voted for Obama. Yet is there a scintilla of doubt in anyone’s mind that they and every other Democrat currently distancing themselves from the president and his policies to win an election won’t turn around and support him wholeheartedly if they win? Have modern-day Democrats ever exhibited anything other than a lemming-like loyalty to their party, even when that loyalty is detrimental to the nation?

Don’t misunderstand. Many Republicans are equally loathsome. They love the trappings of power without the responsibility that comes with it when you’re the majority party. Mitch McConnell is willing to “follow the advice of the experts” with regard to Ebola, and many other GOPers support immigration reform even though they know the promise of border control is a joke.

Yet an Obama administration that reduces everything to a political calculation, even a life-threatening, economy-killing disease, along with one that has paralyzed and killed American children, is beyond the pale. So is every Democrat who supports it. The same Democrats who will stand up and cheer when Obama unilaterally and illegally grants amnesty of millions of illegals after the election -- even as nearly 167,000 convicted criminal immigrants with final orders of removal remain at large in our nation.

Thus, the election comes down to the Stupid Party (GOP) versus the Toxic Party (Democrats). Opt for Stupid. Your life might depend on it -- literally.



Obama Is Deporting Fewer, Allowing More Criminals to Stay

Total deportations by U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement shrunk by 15 percent between 2013 and 2014, according to a new report by the Center for Immigration Studies.

Continuing a trend from last year, immigration enforcement activity by ICE officers has declined across the board in areas such as deportations and arrests, with some numbers dropping by more than 30 percent.

The Center for Immigration Studies, which seeks to limit illegal immigration, found in documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request that deportations from within the United States dropped 34 percent from last year and the number of criminal alien deportations declined by 23 percent.

At the same time, “the number of aliens who have received a final order of removal, but are still in the United States, has risen to nearly 900,000.” Of that number, approximately 167,000 are convicted criminals who were released by ICE.

David Inserra, a research associate for homeland security at The Heritage Foundation, said this continued decline illustrates the Obama administration’s lack of interest in enforcing immigration laws.

“It has nothing to do with a lack of resources. It has everything to do with the fact that they simply do not want to deport more people,” Inserra told The Daily Signal.

Jessica Vaughan, the report’s author and director of policy studies at the center, said the decline in enforcement activity has been exacerbated by “the implementation of so-called ‘prosecutorial discretion’ policies” developed by the Obama administration in 2011.

In June 2011, former ICE director John Morton issued a memo to agency employees to provide “guidance on the exercise of prosecutorial discretion,” which he defined as “the authority of an agency charged with enforcing a law to decide to what degree to enforce the law against a particular individual.”

Morton’s memo gave ICE the discretion to decide when or whether to: grant deferred action or parole; execute a removal order; settle or dismiss a removal proceeding; or stop, question or arrest someone for an administrative violation, among other decisions.

It encouraged decision-makers to weigh certain factors, such as whether the person or person’s spouse is nursing or pregnant; the person’s pursuit of education in the United States; the person’s ties and contributions to the community, including family relationships; and whether the person has a U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse, child or parent.

“This really destroys the concept of discretion,” said Inserra. “It’s supposed to be used to better enforce the law, and right now it’s being used to completely ignore the law.”

According to Vaughan, “ICE deportations from the interior have plummeted from a peak of about 236,000 in 2009 to about 100,000 in 2014” since prosecutorial discretion was put in place.

“This sharp deterioration in interior enforcement has implications for public safety … a decline in interior enforcement means a decline in the number of criminal aliens deported,” wrote Vaughan.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Education and religion

The article below notes a correlation between more education and less religion.  The inference is that education squashes religion and that religious people are therefore ill-educated dummies.

But that misses an elephant in the room:  The overwhelming presence of Leftism in the current educational system.  And Christianity is abhorrent to most of the Left.  Leftism is itself a religion and they resent rival religions.  So the longer you spend in the educational system, the more you will be exposed to anti-religious messages -- and we must not be too surprised to find that those messages have some impact.  It is therefore entirely reasonable to explain the correlation between religion and education as an effect of educational bias, not as telling us something about religious people

Note also that there are two large and important nations with high levels of Christian belief where about 40% of the population are regular churchgoers: Russia and the USA. Lying geographically in between them, however, is another large group of important nations where religious observance is very low: England and Western Europe. Yet from the USA to Russia and in between IQ levels are virtually the same: About 100. That sounds like a zero correlation between belief and IQ to me. Education is not IQ but average IQ rises as you go further up the educational tree

And there is a comprehensive study which shows little relationship between religion and IQ.  It shows that just over 5% of the variance in religious attachment is explainable by intelligence. In other words, IQ DOES influence religious attachment but only to a trivial degree. And that triviality is probably a product of the fact that high IQ people tend to undertake more education.  So there are almost the same number of high IQ religious people as there are high IQ non-religious people. IQ is unimportant to an understanding of religion. So religious people are not dummies.  Personality and cultural factors are presumably the main drivers of religious adherence

JUST one extra year of schooling makes someone 10% less likely to attend a church, mosque or temple, pray alone or describe himself as religious, concludes a paper* published on October 6th that looks at the relationship between religiosity and the length of time spent in school. Its uses changes in the compulsory school-leaving age in 11 European countries between 1960 and 1985 to tease out the impact of time spent in school on belief and practice among respondents to the European Social Survey, a long-running research project.

By comparing people of similar backgrounds who were among the first to stay on longer, the authors could be reasonably certain that the extra schooling actually caused religiosity to fall, rather than merely being correlated with the decline. During those extra years mathematics and science classes typically become more rigorous, points out Naci Mocan, one of the authors-and increased exposure to analytical thinking may weaken the tendency to believe.

Another paper, published earlier this year, showed that after Turkey increased compulsory schooling from five years to eight in 1997, women's propensity to identify themselves as religious, cover their heads or vote for an Islamic party fell by 30-50%. (No effect was found, however, among Turkish men.) And a study published in 2011 that looked at the rise in the school-leaving age in Canadian provinces in the 1950s and 1960s found that each extra year of schooling led to a decline of four percentage points in the likelihood of identifying with a religious tradition. Longer schooling, it reckoned, explains most of the increase in non-affiliation to any religion in Canada between 1971 and 2001, from 4% of the population to 16%.

The most recent paper also showed that each extra year in the classroom led to a drop of 11 percentage points in superstitious practices, though these remain common. Two-fifths of respondents said they consulted horoscopes, and a quarter thought that lucky charms could protect them. Other research has shown that religious beliefs and practices seem to make people happier, and in some circumstances healthier and wealthier, too. But to argue that such benefits more than offset the gains from extra education would require a leap of faith.



Surprise, taxpayers! ObamaCare will increase the budget deficit by $131 billion

When ObamaCare passed Congress in March 2010, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that the law would reduce the deficit by $124 billion over the next decade. The purported deficit reduction was, well, a rather rosy assumption because of all the budgetary gimmicks in the law, including Medicare cuts that are almost certainly never going to happen and backloaded costs.

The CBO has since released two more cost estimates, one in February 2011 and the other in July 2012, the most recent of which showed ObamaCare lowering the deficit by $109 billion. In a report released on Tuesday, Republicans on the Senate Budget Committee note, however, that because of lower than expected enrollments, unilateral changes to the employer mandate, and reduced economic output due to the law's negative impact on the labor market, ObamaCare will actually increase the budget deficit by $131 billion over the next ten years.

"This estimate is arrived at by taking the $180 billion in projected deficit reduction from the CBO 2012 extrapolation and then accounting for the lower net cost of the coverage provisions ($83 billion), the lower estimated federal health care savings under the plan ($132 billion), as well as the lower projected revenue levels when including the labor market effects of the legislation ($262 billion)," the report says. "The difference between the 2012 extrapolation and the current estimate of the cost of the Democrats’ health law amounts to a $311 billion change in its net deficit impact."



Must not require ID to vote but must have ID to buy a gun

The liberal version of consistency.  At least they show that they really do know about racial differences

Eric Holder and his liberal allies are going after voter-ID laws again, claiming that they are racist and discriminatory.

Apparently, the reasoning used by the DOJ and the ACLU is that African Americans, Hispanics, and other minorities are too poor and/or dumb to figure out how to get to the DMV to obtain a photo ID.

Liberal groups have filed dozens of lawsuits across the country trying to dismantle voter-ID laws right before the election. The result is that these cases have bounced around the nation’s court systems, yet we still don’t have any definitive Supreme Court ruling.

For example, the Supreme Court issued a ruling suspending Wisconsin’s voter-ID law however when Eric Holder went after Texas’ similar law, the Supreme Court allowed the law to remain on the books… for now.

As someone who’s had a driver’s license since I was in High School, this is just so foreign to me. It isn’t really that hard, especially given the number of things that already require a government-issued photo ID!

First of all, it is next to impossible to survive in twenty-first century America without a driver’s license or some other form of ID. You need photo identification to board an airplane, rent an apartment, open a bank account, and to apply for government assistance programs like food stamps and Medicaid. You need a photo ID to drive a car, buy cigarettes or alcohol, receive medical treatment at a hospital, and buy a firearm. You need a photo ID to buy cough medicine, get married, travel abroad, and to get a job. To suggest that the minority community is somehow doing all of these things without an ID is ridiculous.

There’s nothing normal about living in America without some form of government-issued identification! If the number of people without photo ID really is so large, the government should spend less time suing states like North Carolina and more time helping these people get to their local DMVs!

Eric Holder is leading the charge against states’ voter-integrity laws and his argument is simple: voter-ID laws apparently disproportionately stop minorities from being able to exercise their rights…

Unfortunately, Barack Obama has packed the courts with so many like-minded judges that this line of reasoning is actually working. The President appointed U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzalez Ramos to the bench three years ago. She was the judge who originally ruled that Texas’ voter-ID law was unconstitutional.

Even though she admitted there was no evidence or “smoking gun,” she ruled that the law amounted to a poll-tax and that the legislation’s white sponsors “were motivated, at the very least in part, because of and not merely in spite of the voter-ID law’s detrimental effects on the African-American and Hispanic electorate.”

Even though she has absolutely no evidence of this, this Obama appointee still tried to kill the voter integrity law. She referred to white legislators as “Anglos,” proving just how contemptuous she is towards others!

The fact remains that we can’t rely on the judicial system to protect the integrity of the vote. Harry Reid’s “nuclear option” made it far too easy for Barack Obama to pack the courts with like-minded liberals. We also can’t trust the executive branch to protect the integrity of the vote, given that Attorney General Eric Holder is leading the charge against voter-ID.

That leaves Congress as our last defense.

*If requiring an ID to exercise a right truly is unconstitutional, then we have a lot of changes that need to be made…*

I fail to see how it is constitutional to require a photo-ID to exercise a 2nd Amendment right (gun ownership), but it is apparently racist to require a photo-ID for people to exercise their 15th, 17th, 19th, etc Amendment rights (voting).

I fail to see how a photo-ID is an acceptable requirement for press credentials or municipal protest permits to exercise 1st Amendment rights, however it is racist to ask for identification before entering the voting booth.

First let's look at firearm ownership rates. Pew has shown in its polling that a black family is half as likely to have a gun in the home as a white family. Since apparently its all the rage to make a bunch of assumptions without proving solid causation, I am going to say that this is racist and stems from minorities' inability to obtain the photo-IDs necessary to pass a background check and buy a firearm. If these roadblocks weren't in place, perhaps more African Americans would be able to exercise their 2nd Amendment rights... Chalk one up for Jim Crow-era gun control laws!

Now let's look at the media. In 2011, for example, minorities accounted for just 16% of the journalists hired by major media companies. Again, since baseless assumptions are all the rage nowadays, I'm going to say that more minorities would be hired in journalism if it was easier for them to obtain a photo-ID and press credentials.

Now, I know that these are ridiculous, tongue-in-cheek arguments. They're supposed to be. I hear every day that it's unconstitutional to require an ID to exercise a right, except the same people fighting against voter-ID are the ones pushing for increased firearm background checks. Doesn't make a lot of sense, does it?

You can’t have one without the other. You can't say that it is unconstitutional to require an ID to exercise a right while simultaneously enforcing that requirement for gun ownership, press credentials, jury participation, etc. If it's unconstitutional to require an ID to exercise one right, then it should be unconstitutional to show an ID to exercise any right...

And the liberals know this… They know that their arguments are riddled with hypocrisy.



A nation that can put a man on the moon can't rise to Mexican standards when it comes to voting?


NY Gun Registry Deems Almost 35,000 People Too Mentally Ill To Carry a Gun

A new figure out of New York shows that the state has deemed 34,500 people too mentally ill to carry a firearm. While any responsible citizen would argue a dangerous and mentally unstable person should not be wielding a gun, some mental health advocates are arguing the number is far too high:

    “That seems extraordinarily high to me,” said Sam Tsemberis, a former director of New York City’s involuntary hospitalization program for homeless and dangerous people, now the chief executive of Pathways to Housing, which provides housing to the mentally ill. “Assumed dangerousness is a far cry from actual dangerousness.”

The Office of Mental Health pointed out that 144,000 people were hospitalized in New York in 2012 for mental illness, trying to justify the gun registry's seemingly high number. Yet, other health professionals argue the majority of those cases are not violent.

Mental health advocates aren't the only ones frustrated with this statistic. This new report gives New York's gun owners another reason to be fed up with the SAFE Act, the gun restricting legislation that Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law shortly after the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012.

While the liberal governor may have thought he was keeping New Yorkers "safe," one of the law's aims has seemed to be to convince gun owners they belong in the slammer. The legislation, which banned the sale of AR-15s and upgraded previous misdemeanors into felonies, resulted in over 1,200 felonies last year.

Gun control activists would counter by arguing that the law is not overly cautious if it manages to keep a firearm out of the hands of people who do not have full control of their mental state.


There is a  new  lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc.  This time with pictures!


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Monday, October 20, 2014

UN Ebola tsar has form

Ebola, filling the news like an ongoing horror film, is clearly a ghastly disease. But we should not perhaps take too much cheer from the fact that the UN’s top man on Ebola, supposedly in charge of co-ordinating international efforts to stop this deadly virus stalking across the globe, is a British doctor, David Nabarro.

He was last this big in the news in September 2005, when he was drafted in from the World Health Organisation to play a similar role as the UN’s top man on Asian bird flu.

Dr Nabarro immediately predicted that that virus could kill “150 million people”, telling the BBC that it was “like a combination of global warming and HIV/Aids”. Despite the WHO stating that this was not its “official view”, he stood by his claim.

Nine years later, the WHO’s figure for the total number of deaths from Asian bird flu is 379.



More Liberal Lies Exposed: CDC Increased Payroll by 38% Since 2007, Increased # of Employees by Nearly 2,000

If you’ve been following politics for any time at all you know that the Democrats’ solution to every problem is to blame Republicans and call for more money from American workers. Take for instance the mishandling of the Ebola outbreak in Texas. Two US nurses have contracted the disease and hundreds of other Americans are being monitored.

In the wake of this latest disaster Democrats decided to blame the Sequester for cutting funds to the CDC. This was despite the fact that the Republican Congress gave more money to the CDC than Obama requested.

Now there is even more proof that Democrats are blatantly lying about funding to the CDC. Open the Books discovered that the CDC increased its payroll by 37% since 2007. The CDC also added nearly two thousand new employees since 2007.



Let Americans not be fooled again by official deception

Diana West's book "American Betrayal" relates how Americans were lied to about the FDR era. It upset so much American mythology that even some conservatives were angry.  But what it relates should warn us to reject the official lies about Islam  -- as zealously promoted by Obama, John Kerry et al.

This is about American Betrayal being not only a critical remembrance of things past, but a harbinger of things to come - what I would call a "gateway" event. Following is the event that, for some reason, brought this thought to my mind:

Johann Peter Zenger was a German immigrant to New York and the editor and publisher of the New-York Weekly Journal, in a city whose other newspaper was essentially a house organ for the governor of that time - William Cosby. Cosby lived up to his reputation as a tyrant and resented the Journal's anonymous, critical editorials. At that time, someone who criticized the government - no matter how truthfully - could be charged with libel and sedition.

This is what happened to Zenger, who was arrested in 1734 and tried in 1735 for seditious libel. Since Cosby had preemptively disbarred all the New York lawyers who might have defended him, Zenger was defended by Andrew Hamilton of Philadelphia - the most illustrious lawyer of the Colonies. Hamilton by-passed the hostile judge and appealed directly to the jury. The jury in turn, found Zenger and his newspaper not guilty.

The trail leading to and beyond the attempted quashing of American Betrayal is - like the timeline from Zenger to the First Amendment - a long one. Taking Pearl Harbor as an arbitrary starting point: from then until now is circa 73 years. In that time, we fought and defeated the Axis Powers and set the world map for the next four decades (or so we thought). And played a gigantic game of Risk on it.

There were allegations of Soviet influence equal to anything we might have feared from the Nazis. Some of its early investigators were destroyed and relegated to the ash heap of history. The longer the argument wore on, the more ridicule and slander became the favored weapons, and the "red scare" became a foolish aberration. "War is not the answer" became the shibboleth of the day. 1989 brought the magical transformation of the world when the Berlin Wall and then the entire Iron Curtain fell. The "Prague Spring" was real, The "New World Order" proclaimed by George H. W. Bush was not.

It is possible - even advisable - to ask: What is our own government's policy and who, really, are our friends? The motives behind the attempted quashing of American Betrayal are instructive here. As are the author's reasons for writing it.

She had wondered at the pervasive influence of Islamic (Islamist?) persons and groups in and around the US government, and noticed how it resembled what she already knew about the apparent Communist influence in the US government. And so, she investigated this historical precedent. Betrayal is a prelude and a guide to examining the most pressing question of today; how to recognize and deal with infiltrators in a - theoretically still - open society. How is it possible - or is it indeed possible - to pry open the complacently closed eyes of the Know-It-Alls and Do-Gooders and the multitudes of people they have convinced that self-defense and advocacy for our own rights are just an egregious social faux pas?

Paramount in the cases of both Zenger and West is the principle of social control of the many by the few. The concept is vividly represented on a placard seen in a recent demonstration: "Hate speech is not free speech." Cosby's case against Zenger assumed that the state is the ultimate judge of what is libelous. In our modern Western world, the assumption is that certain people are competent to decide what is and what is not "hate." Whoever determines the definition of "hate," will ipso facto decide what we are free to say. "Nixon was evil" is acceptable, even de rigueur, but "FDR was a socialist" will not pass. Similarly, "Judaism is genocidal" and "Christianity is racist" are just harmless opinions, but "Islam believes it should dominate the world" is xenophobic, racist and impolite.

There always have been and always will be those who are willing to confront authority when they perceive that it is wrong. But it will be very difficult today to reach, let alone convince, the good people whose brains have been marinating in the syrup of governmental benevolence, open-hearted diversity and self-sacrifice for the sake of the world and its weather. Solzhenitsyn said: "The simple step of a courageous individual is not to take part in the lie." Yet, how is it possible to reveal the lie of Islam(ism)? Why have 9/11 and what preceded and followed it not caused the same kind of awakening as, for instance, the attack on Pearl Harbor or the V-2 attacks on London? The comparison to Pearl Harbor was certainly made when the twin towers went down, and yet our PC world dithers on in the perpetual expectation that it is all a terrible misunderstanding.

The example of American Betrayal tells us that a similar investigation of Islamic influence would meet with a storm of protest, obfuscation and demands that it be banned and/or scrutinized for "racist" content. Indeed, as much - and more - has happened to the efforts of Bat Ye'or, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and others. Would such a work be read at first only by those already convinced of the problem? How long would it take to percolate through the layers of disinformation?

And yet, unexpectedly, an opportunity has presented itself. We have been trying to make the point that these are not just a few misguided madmen, like survivalists gone astray. This is not a rogue band that can be stamped out. This is not a scattering of criminals striking out at society. This is a powerful and malevolent force which draws inspiration from its sacred books, and is following their directives. The people of ISIS leave us in no doubt. Seeing is believing, and they are eager to make us see.

The gory, arrogant and triumphant spectacle of the Islamic State is the best and possibly the last chance for the great mass of the public across the Western world to open its eyes and see beyond the dreams of utopian diversity. Let those who recoiled in horror from Abu Ghraib contemplate true xenophobia: the gleeful destruction of ancient historical monuments, the exhilaration of mass rape and murder, the sadistic pleasure taken from crucifixions and beheadings. Then let them consider that this is the true nature of who is coming for us.

If all that has led up to this moment and the evil that is now being played out every day fails to strike the semi-conscious public with the same visceral fear that Russian cities felt before the Tatars and the coastal cites of France and the British Isles felt at the coming of the Vikings, then our "gateway" opportunity may be lost, and what awaits us we may all discover by asking the Serbs, the Albanians, the Greeks, the Persians, and countless others.

So let us give thanks for the "inspired" ad men of the Islamic State and do everything we can to help them to all the publicity they want. In the name of free speech and the right of free people to know what is happening, let us protest whenever we notice a "blackout" by YouTube or some other supine member of the electronic or print media. Use the bully's own methods against him, while he is still dim enough to believe that terrifying us is a good idea.

Do not send to know for whom the bell tolls. It's gone and there is a minaret in its place.



Fast & Furious Cover-Up Forces Wave of Resignations!

The crime perpetuated by the Obama administration in Operation Fast & Furious has now reached epic proportions!

Earlier last month, we saw Attorney General Eric Holder announce his resignation just days after a Federal judge ordered the DOJ to release "classified" Fast & Furious documents. As we've reported, the Department of Justice has completely disregarded this order and refused to hand over anything.

Every time that news breaks surrounding Fast & Furious - the failed gun-walking program that ended up arming Mexican drug cartels - I think that the news couldn't possibly get any worse. And then, I am always proven wrong.

Well, we just learned new damning evidence about the Obama administration's program: an AK-47 type rifle that was officially involved in a gang assault on a Phoenix, AZ apartment complex has been connected to Fast & Furious!

This is a rifle that the Feds allowed to cross the border into Mexico. We know that because the serial number on the firearm found at the crime scene matches one of the rifles lost during Operation Fast & Furious. Obviously, these guns have made their way back into America and into the hands of gangs and criminals!

However, if the Obama administration had gotten its way, we wouldn't even know this. It took a lawsuit and a judge's order to force government officials to release this information!

The Obama administration still refuses to comply with a lawful court order and now that this news has broke, another DOJ official has announced his resignation!

Demand that Congress subpoena and ARREST everyone involved in the Fast and Furious cover-up, whether they resign or not!

The AK-47 that was recovered at the Phoenix crime scene has a serial number of 1977DX1654, which is identical to one of the rifles purchase by convicted gun smuggler Sean Christopher Stewart in Operation Fast and Furious.

To those who might forget, this is when Federal officials deliberately allowed people to illegally purchase firearms without keeping tabs on them.

Eric Holder's Justice Department knowingly allowed Sean Stewart to buy thousands of dollars worth of rifles to smuggle south into Mexico. The AK-47 connected to the Phoenix shooting was just one of FORTY that the administration allowed Stewart to buy at once.

The gun was recovered in July of 2013 and it has taken this long to sue the government to force it to hand over the documentation.

There's only one reason the Obama administration would fight so hard to keep this information secret: obviously this is not the only Fast & Furious gun that's been used in a DOMESTIC crime.

In this one incident, two AMERICAN citizens were wounded in the shooting. The question is, how many other Americans have been shot or killed by weapons thanks to the Obama administration's incompetence?

How many more Americans will fall victim all because the Obama White House is more interest in covering it's own behind than protecting Americans?



It is bad for conservatives to be funded by billionaires but good for Democrats to be funded by billionaires  -- apparently

Senate hopeful Alison Lundergan Grimes [Kentucky Democrat] criticized Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell Monday night for his ties to “the Koch brothers.” But Grimes apparently doesn’t apologize for her own ties to big  progressive donors through a network called the Democracy Alliance.

In her debate with McConnell three weeks before Kentucky voters decide whether she should replace him in the U.S. Senate, Grimes criticized the minority leader for acting as a “henchman” to Charles and David Koch, who are business tycoons, philanthropists and conservative mega-donors.

The Kentucky Democrat disparagingly called the Koch brothers McConnell’s “family.”  “I’m not bought and paid for by the Koch brothers,” Grimes said during Monday night’s debate.

From Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on down, Democrats in recent years have sought to demonize the Kochs for pouring millions into conservative candidates and  causes.

Grimes, Kentucky’s current secretary of state, though, maintains a connection to the Democracy Alliance, which funnels millions of dollars to more than 180 left-wing organizations through what critics call “dark money” practices.

In late April, Grimes attended a secret meeting of Democracy Alliance donors–including liberal billionaire Tom Steyer and Jonathan Soros, son of leftist billionaire George Soros– as well as Democratic politicians and officials from organizations backed by the network.

According to an agenda from the gathering, Grimes participated in a “partner-organized” meet-and-greet.  “Partners” is the word the Democracy Alliance uses for its donors.

A video produced by the right-leaning America Rising PAC shows Grimes walking through the Chicago hotel where the conference was held. She did not answer questions.  The Grimes campaign did not respond to a request for comment by The Daily Signal.

An internal memo from Democracy Alliance spokeswoman Stephanie Mueller describes the network as the “largest convener of progressive individual and institutional donors and serve as a ‘center of gravity’ for the progressive funding world.”

According to campaign finance records, Grimes’ biggest contributor is network member Emily’s List — a nonprofit that works to elect pro-choice, Democratic women. Of 14 liberal groups spending money in Kentucky’s Senate race, five are part of the network.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Those genes again:  Memory

It's been known for some time that some oldsters remember their past better than others and that this is genetically linked.  The study below has begun the identification of the actual genes that are involved

Common Genetic Variants on 6q24 Associated With Exceptional Episodic Memory Performance in the Elderly

By Sandra Barral  et al.


There are genetic influences on memory ability as we age, but no specific genes have been identified.

To use a cognitive endophenotype, exceptional episodic memory (EEM) performance, derived from nondemented offspring from the Long Life Family Study (LLFS) to identify genetic variants that may be responsible for the high cognitive performance of LLFS participants and further replicate these variants using an additional 4006 nondemented individuals from 4 independent elderly cohorts.

Design, Setting, and Participants
A total of 467 LLFS participants from 18 families with 2 or more offspring that exhibited exceptional memory performance were used for genome-wide linkage analysis. Adjusted multivariate linear analyses in the 40-megabase region encompassing the linkage peak were conducted using 4 independent replication data sets that included 4006 nondemented elderly individuals. Results of the individual replication cohorts were combined by meta-analysis.

Main Outcome Measure
Episodic memory scores computed as the mean of the 2 standardized measures of Logical Memory IA and IIA.

Heritability estimates indicated a significant genetic component for EEM (h2 = 0.21; SE = 0.09). Genome-wide linkage analysis revealed that EEM was linked to the 6q24 region (maximum logarithm of odds score, 3.64). Association analysis in LLFS families identified single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) nominally associated with EEM in the 40-megabase window encompassing the linkage peak. Replication in one cohort identified a set of 26 SNPs associated with episodic memory (P ≤ .05). Meta-analysis of the 26 SNPs using the 4 independent replication cohorts found SNPs rs9321334 and rs6902875 to be nominally significantly associated with episodic memory (P = .009 and P = .013, respectively). With meta-analysis restricted to individuals lacking an APOE ε4 allele, SNP rs6902875 became statistically significant (meta-analysis, P = 6.7 × 10−5). Haplotype analysis incorporating the 2 SNPs flanking rs6902875 (rs9321334 and rs4897574) revealed that the A-A-C haplotype was significantly associated with episodic memory performance (P = 2.4 × 10−5). This genomic region harbors monooxygenase dopamine β-hydroxylase-like 1 gene (MOXD1), implicated in the biosynthesis of norepinephrine, which is prominently involved in cognitive functions.



Ebola politics


Thanks to Obamacare, Health Costs Soared This Year

On November 15, open enrollment in the Obamacare exchanges begins again. Before the second act of our national healthcare drama commences, let's review what we've learned in Act I.

For starters, everyone now knows that federal officials are challenged when it comes to setting up a website. But they've demonstrated the ability to dole out a huge amount of taxpayers' money for millions of people signing up for Medicaid, a welfare program. And they've proved they can send hundreds of millions of federal taxpayers' dollars to their bureaucratic counterparts in states, like Maryland and Oregon, that can't manage their own exchanges. But there are many other lessons to be gleaned from Year One of Obamacare. Here are three of the most important ones.

1. Health costs jumped-big time. Huge increases in deductibles in policies sold through the exchanges were a big story in Florida, Illinois and elsewhere. While the average annual deductible for employer-based coverage was a little over $1,000, the exchange deductibles nationwide normally topped $2,000.

Notwithstanding President Obama's specific promise to lower the typical family premium cost by $2,500 annually, premium costs actually increased. D2014 data for the "individual market" shows that the average annual premiums for single and family coverage rose in the overwhelming majority of state and federal health-insurance exchanges all around the country. In eleven states, premiums for twenty-seven-year-olds have more than doubled since 2013; in thirteen states, premiums for fifty-year-olds have increased more than 50 percent. For the "group market," the Office of the Actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) estimated on February 21, 2014, that 65 percent of small firms would experience premium-rate increases, while only 35 percent were expected to have reductions. In terms of people affected, CMS estimated 11 million Americans employed by these firms would experience premium-rate increases, while about 6 million would see reductions. So much for "bending the cost curve down."

2. The law reduced competition in most health-insurance markets. A limited analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that in 2014, large states like California and New York were more competitive, but Connecticut and Washington were less competitive. The Heritage Foundation conducted a national analysis and found that between 2013 and 2014, the number of insurers offering coverage on the individual markets in all fifty states declined nationwide by 29 percent. On a county level, 52 percent of U.S. counties had just one or two health-insurance carriers. In 2014, at least, the law did not deliver on its promise of more personal choice and broader competition.

3. We still don't know for sure how many people are actually insured. Following the disastrous October 2013 Obamacare "roll-out," the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that about 6 million (rather than 7 million) would enroll in the exchanges. Last April, administration officials reported that they reached and surpassed their goal, enrolling over 8 million people in the health-insurance exchanges. They then declared the health-care debate, like the Iraq War, "over."

That declaration appears to be premature. The administration now concedes that there are 700,000 fewer persons in the exchanges. Of course, we can expect some attrition. But exchange enrollment is not the same as insurance coverage. CBO said it best: "The number of people who will have coverage through the exchanges in 2014 will not be known precisely until after the year has ended." Exactly.

Beyond the seemingly endless surveys, estimates and guesstimates, we do have some raw data. Between October 1, 2013, and March 31, 2014, there was a net increase in individual coverage of 2,236,942, but there was a net decrease in group (employment-based) enrollment: it fell by 1,716,540. Enrollment in Medicaid and the Childrens' Health Insurance Program (CHIP) increased by about 5 million over that same period. We'll know more later, as CBO said, especially how many Americans are losing their employment-based coverage.

Who enrolls is also crucial. In 2013, Obama administration officials said that their goal was for young adults between the ages of eighteen and thirty-four to account for 40 percent of exchange enrollments. On April 17, 2014, the White House announced that only 28 percent of those enrolled through the federally administered exchanges were between eighteen and thirty-four years of age-the crucial age bracket for a robust and stable insurance pool-but that 35 percent of the total enrollees were under the age of thirty-five. That made it sound as though the program was fairly close to reaching its target. But thanks to excellent reporting by Politico, we learned that the bigger number included children enrolled in the exchanges. Nice try.

Maybe 2015 will bring better news for Obamacare. But don't bet on it.



Support a new way to end sugar subsidies!

Americans for Limited Government President Nathan Mehrens today issued the following statement calling attention to a new white paper, "Getting rid of sugar subsidies: A look to the future after decades of failure," and urging passage of H. Con. Res. 39 by Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) that calls for the elimination of sugar subsidies, but only once other sugar exporters have taken similar action:

"For the last 60 years, conservatives have called for the end of sugar subsidies using the same, standard free market language, and have failed miserably. Rather than telling every member of Congress they should not care if every domestic sugar producer is driven out of business costing hundreds of thousands of jobs, and reinforcing the fears of every farm state representative and senator that their constituents might be in the cross hairs next should sugar subsidies fall now, conservatives need a new, winning game plan.

"Unilaterally ending sugar subsidies has been a losing argument for 225 years, dating back to the original protections on sugar during the first Congress of 1789. The Yoho reform recognizes that there is no free market for sugar, and we need to change the international subsidy playing field in order to achieve one.

"Ted Yoho has a better plan, which calls for ending the subsidies, but only contingent upon other nations following suit. By ending subsidies through a thoughtful approach, Yoho does not destroy a domestic industry, and instead engages and encourages other nations to do the same. The Yoho plan will empower U.S. representatives at the World Trade Organization to push for mutual ending of these subsidies, helping to usher in a new era of free markets  and creating a template for addressing other subsidized industries."

Let's get onto Congress and urge the House to adopt the Yoho resolution! 225 years after they were enacted, sugar subsidies are no closer to being eliminated. It's time for a new plan that might actually work.



Teenage Obesity Increased During First Two Years of First Lady's `Let's Move' Program

A typical counterproductive Leftist program.  Being forced to eat mainly vegetables has put independent kids right off them.  The teenage years are the years of rebellion and independence

In the first two years since First Lady Michelle Obama launched her `Let's Move' campaign to fight childhood obesity in 2010, teenage obesity rates increased, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

From 2009-2010, 18.4 percent of children ages 12-19 were classified as obese, according to the CDC. Since then, from 2011-2012, one in five children ages 12-19 or 20.5 percent, were classified as obese, an increase of 11.4 percent. The CDC has been tracking these data since 1966-1970, and at that time only 4.6 percent of teens were classified as obese.

"First Lady Michelle Obama today announced an ambitious national goal of solving the challenge of childhood obesity within a generation so that children born today will reach adulthood at a healthy weight and unveiled a nationwide campaign - Let's Move - to help achieve it," announced the White House on February 9, 2010.

Obesity, according to the CDC, is based on an individual's body mass index or BMI which is "calculated using a child's weight and height. BMI does not measure body fat directly, but it is a reasonable indicator of body fatness for most children and teens."

A child is categorized as being overweight when their BMI is at or above the 85th percentile and lower than the 95th percentile and categorized as obese when their BMI is at or above the 95th percentile for children of the same age and sex.

The Let's Move program has attempted to reduce childhood obesity rates with initiatives like changing school lunch menus and eradicating `food deserts.'

Let's Move has recently come under fire because of students' complaints about school lunch menus and `palatability.'



The US economic recovery is still on food stamps

Something peculiar is happening to our nation's food assistance program. The recently renamed food stamp program - now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP - is supposed to respond to difficult economic conditions by providing financial assistance to purchase food to poor Americans. As bad times hit and more people need assistance, SNAP caseloads should go up. And as the economy strengthens, the number of SNAP recipients should decline - at least in theory.

For most of the history of the program, that is what happened. From 1969 until 2003, SNAP has been very responsive to changes in the unemployment rate with the number of recipients rising as unemployment rises and declining as unemployment declines.

But that seems to have changed. As unemployment declined between 2003 and 2007, the number of SNAP recipients marched steadily higher. Then, as the Great Recession hit, the SNAP caseload went even higher. The recovery after the 2001 recession did little to interrupt SNAP growth and now-as the economy has strengthened with unemployment declining and jobs growing (although slowly)-the number of SNAP recipients has barely come off its all-time peak of 47.8 million recipients hit in December 2012. Since then, the number of SNAP recipients has only declined by 2.7% -- and oddly ticked up in the months of April and June 2014.

If we compare the current recovery with the recovery after the recession of the 1980s, whose duration and unemployment levels are most comparable, the change in SNAP's responsiveness becomes clear. Adjusting for population, in the four years following the 1981-1982 recession, there was a 12.5 percent decline in SNAP recipients. In the four years following the 2007-2009 recession, SNAP recipients increased by 15.6 percent. If this recent recovery had behaved like that of the 1980s, by 2013 only 11.5 percent of the population would have been receiving SNAP benefits: 36 million individuals as opposed to 47.6 million. That's a big difference.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)