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WELCOME TO SAN FRANCISCO: WHERE BUMS ARE KINGS: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on March 29, 2019 at 12:17 am

In 2010, San Francisco voters passed the “No Sit/No Lie” ordinance, which “makes it unlawful, with certain exceptions, to sit or lie on a public sidewalk, or on an object placed on a public sidewalk, between 7AM and 11PM.”

It also prohibits sleeping in public parks at night and building encampments.

The number of sit-lie infractions peaked at 1,011 in 2013 before steadily declining to just 114 in 2017, according to San Francisco Superior Court records. 

Meanwhile, the number of misdemeanors tracked by the SFPD spiked at 195 in 2016 and then declined sharply by almost half the next year.

This does not mean that San Francisco’s Untermenschen problem has abated.

It simply means that the city has essentially given up on trying to protect its contributing, tax-paying citizens from the thousands of tax-draining drug-abusers, alcoholics, mentally ill and bums who infest its streets.

Walk down almost any street in the downtown part of the city and you’ll find sidewalks crowded with stinking,

  • disease-ridden,
  • lice infested,
  • drug-addicted,
  • alcohol-soaked,
  • often psychotic men and women

whom city officials politely refer to as “the homeless.” 

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Among the trappings that go with this population:

  • Tents
  • Mattresses
  • Piles of belongings
  • Stolen shopping carts
  • Trash
  • Half-eaten food
  • Empty cans/bottles of alcohol
  • Feces
  • Pools of urine
  • Hypodermic needles

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What you’ll almost never see: Police actually enforcing the “No Sit/No Lie” ordinance.

So much for the will of the voters.

San Francisco officials have effectively washed their hands—if not the streets—of the problem. If local residents must put up with repeated violations of the most basic sanitation laws, that’s their tough luck.

What matters to the Mayor and Board of Supervisors is this: The “rights” of those whose filth and behavior pose an immediate threat to public health and safety take precedence over those of tax-paying, law-abiding San Franciscans.

San Francisco residents can be fined $25 to $1,000 for feeding pigeons—but not for giving money to street bums.

Often those asking for money to “buy food” refuse offers to buy them food—no doubt because they intend to use the money on drugs or alcohol.

During the Mayorship of Willie Brown (1996 – 2004), Hizzonor proposed what he thought was a brilliant way for residents to “contribute” to “street people.”

Those who were somehow certified as “homeless” would be issued special electronic “cash cards.” When someone wanted to make a “donation,” s/he would swipe a credit card against the one owned by the street bum, for whatever amount s/he wanted to donate.

But before the program started, someone at City Hall realized a blunt truth: Residents—especially women—weren’t likely to whip out their credit cards in front of a ranting, foul-smelling, probably disease-ridden street bum.

Mercifully, the program died before it ever got started.

It’s long past time for San Francisco—and other cities—to stop catering to its population of DDMBs: Druggies, Drunks, Mental cases and Bums—who prey on the guilt or fear of law-abiding, tax-paying citizens. 

The same laws that protect citizens against patients with highly communicable diseases like typhoid and cholera should be vigorously applied to those whose filthy habits threaten similar public contagion.

Among such reforms:

  • The city should launch a “Please Do Not Feed the Bums” publicity campaign—as it has against feeding pigeons. And those caught doing so should be heavily fined. 
  • Trash cans should be equipped with locked doors, to prevent bums from using them as food dispensers.
  • Those living on the street should be given a choice: Go to a local shelter or face arrest and the immediate confiscation of their possessions.
  • For those who refuse shelter and insist on living on the streets, a special “Untermenschen City” should be set up near the city dump. There they can live in their tents and/or sleeping bags while being unable to daily confront or assault others to obtain free money.
  • San Francisco’s rent control laws should be strengthened, to prevent future evictions owing to the unchecked greed of landlords. Tenants on fixed incomes should be given special protections against extortionate rent increases.
  • Bus drivers should have the right to refuse passengers who stink of urine/feces, as they present a potential health-hazard to others.
  • The owners of restaurants, theaters and grocery stores should likewise be allowed to refuse service on the same basis.
  • Those applying for welfare benefits should be required to provide proof of residence. Too many people come to San Francisco because, upon arrival, they can immediately apply for such benefits.
  • The city should set up a special unit to deal entirely with removing “street people” and their possessions from city sidewalks. This could be a division of the Sanitation Department, since its personnel are used to removing filth and debris of all types.

San Francisco officials need to:

  • Forcefully tell alcoholics and drug addicts: “Your anti-social behavior is not welcome here. Take your self-destructive lifestyles elsewhere.  We won’t subsidize them.”
  • Take the mentally unstable off the street and place them in institutions where their needs can be met. 
  • Tell those who are just plain bums: Don’t expect us to support you.

Only then will San Francisco rightly reclaim its former glory as “the city by the Bay.”

WELCOME TO SAN FRANCISCO: WHERE BUMS ARE KINGS: PART ONE (OF TWO)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on March 28, 2019 at 12:06 am

Huge areas of San Francisco are covered in feces, urine, trash and needles. Hospitals overflow with patients that have fallen ill due to the contamination.

And what has been the reaction of successive mayors and members of the Board of Supervisors?

A disgraceful combination of tolerance and indifference: Tolerance toward those who create such  dangers—and indifference toward those who are their potential victims.

And yet those officials remain in office for years. 

In February, 2018, NBC News surveyed 153 blocks of the city—an area more than 20 miles. That area includes popular tourist spots like Union Square and the cable car turnaround. It’s bordered by Van Ness Avenue, Market Street, Post Street and Grant Avenue. And it’s also home to City Hall, schools, playgrounds, and a police station. 

A typical San Francisco scene

Most of the trash found consisted of heaps of garbage, food, and discarded junk—including 100 drug needles and more than 300 piles of feces throughout downtown. If you step on one of these needles, you can get HIV, Hepatitis C, Hepatitis B or a variety of other viral diseases. 

But you don’t have to actually get stuck by a needle to become a victim. Once fecal matter dries, it can become airborne and release deadly viruses, such as the rotavirus.

“If you happen to inhale that, it can also go into your intestine,” says Dr. Lee Riley, an infectious disease specialist at the University of California, Berkeley. The results can prove fatal, especially in children.

As the news unit filmed a typical day’s activity in San Francisco, a group of preschool students, enjoying a field trip, walked to City Hall.  

Responding to a reporter’s question, Adelita Orellana said: “We see poop, we see pee, we see needles, and we see trash.

“Sometimes they ask what is it, and that’s a conversation that’s a little difficult to have with a two-year old, but we just let them know that those things are full of germs, that they are dangerous, and they should never be touched.” 

San Francisco’s political elite see this blight as well as everyone else. They can’t avoid seeing it, since the city covers only 47 square miles. 

Image result for Official images of San Francisco City Hall

San Francisco City Hall

Cabe6403 at English Wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, from Wikimedia Commons

One of those who sees the disgrace up-front is Supervisor Hillary Ronen: “Unacceptable. Absolutely unacceptable.  We’re losing tourists.  We’re losing conventions in San Francisco.” 

Yet what does she propose as the solution? “We need more temporary beds for street homelessness.” 

This is on a par with a “pest control expert” recommending: “We need more sugar to clear up our roach problem.” 

Thanks to its mild climate and social programs that dole out cash payments to virtually anyone with no residency requirement, San Francisco is often considered the “homeless capital” of the United States.

According to a 2016 article in the San Francisco Chronicle, there are about 13,000 “homeless” people in San Francisco. Of these, an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 refuse shelter.

In 2016, San Francisco spent $275 million on homelessness—up from $241 million in 2015. Public Works cleanup crews picked up more than 679 tons of trash from homeless tent camps—and collected more than 100,000 used syringes from the camps.  

In 2016, San Francisco residents made 22,608 complaints about encampments—a five-fold increase from 2015.

City officials euphemistically call this population “the homeless.”  That’s because they don’t want to use words that accurately describe those who comprise the overwhelming majority of this population:

  • Druggies
  • Drunks
  • Mentally ill
  • Bums.

Or, as even many police, social workers and paramedics who wrestle with this population privately refer to them: DDMBs.

Yet the mere citing of statistics—how many “homeless,” how much money is spent on how many people, how much filth they produce—doesn’t capture the true intensity of the problem.

To do that, you must confront its realities at the street level. Imagine:

  • You’re elderly, and walking with a cane—and must often try to negotiate your way around big tents that take up most of a sidewalk.
  • You’re riding in a wheelchair along a sidewalk until you come to a large mattress lying directly in your path, with a potentially psychotic “homeless” man lying upon it. 
  • You find a street teeming with rats—eating the food scraps left by “homeless” people.
  • You walk into an underground Municipal Railway bus station—and find it littered with derelicts passed out or shooting up heroin in plain sight. Naturally, they don’t worry about picking up their used hypodermic needles. They leave those out for others to step on or pick up at their own risk.

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  • You’re standing at a bus stop or eating in a restaurant—when a large, filthy, possibly disease-carrying man or woman demands a “handout” from you.
  • You board a local bus and are forced to sit near a man stinking of feces and/or urine. Naturally, the driver doesn’t put him off—giving you the choice of surviving the stench or getting off to catch another bus.
  • You can’t use the elevator at the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) station because “homeless” derelicts have ruined its mechanism with urine and feces.

JUDGMENT DAY FOR AMERICA’S DEATH-DEALERS: PART THREE (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, Social commentary on March 27, 2019 at 12:13 am

“The victims of the violence are black and white, rich and poor, young and old, famous and unknown. They are, most important of all, human beings whom other human beings loved and needed. No one—no matter where he lives or what he does— can be certain who will suffer from some senseless act of bloodshed. And yet it goes on and on.”

–Robert F. Kennedy, April 4, 1968

Senator Robert F. Kennedy announcing the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

What should the surviving victims of gun massacres do to seek redress?

And how can the relatives and friends of those who didn’t survive seek justice for those they loved?

As far back as 2012, this writer posed those questions. And offered the following solution.

But only now has a court—the Connecticut Supreme Court—made this remedy possible.

First, don’t count on politicians to support a ban on assault weapons.

Politicians—with rare exceptions—have only two goals:

  1. Get elected to office, and
  2. Stay in office.

And too many of them fear the economic and voting clout of the National Rifle Association (NRA) to risk its wrath.

Consider Republican Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney and then-President Barack Obama.

Both rushed to offer condolences to the surviving victims of the massacre at the Century 16 Theater in Aurora, Colorado, on July 20, 2012.

And both steadfastly refused to even discuss gun control—let alone support a ban on the type of assault weapons used by James Holmes, leaving 12 dead and 58 wounded.

Second, those who survived the massacre—and the relatives and friends of those who didn’t—should file wrongful death, class-action lawsuits against the NRA.

There is sound, legal precedent for this.

  • For decades, the American tobacco industry peddled death and disability to millions and reaped billions of dollars in profits.
  • The industry vigorously claimed there was no evidence that smoking caused cancer, heart disease, emphysema or any other ailment.

  • Tobacco companies spent billions on slick advertising campaigns to win new smokers and attack medical warnings about the dangers of smoking.
  • Tobacco companies spent millions to elect compliant politicians and block anti-smoking legislation.
  • From 1954 to 1994, over 800 private lawsuits were filed against tobacco companies in state courts. But only two plaintiffs prevailed, and both of those decisions were reversed on appeal.
  • In 1994, amidst great pessimism, Mississippi Attorney General Mike Moore filed a lawsuit against the tobacco industry. But other states soon followed, ultimately growing to 46.
  • Their goal: To seek monetary, equitable and injunctive relief under various consumer-protection and anti-trust laws.
  • The theory underlying these lawsuits was: Cigarettes produced by the tobacco industry created health problems among the population, which badly strained the states’ public healthcare systems.
  • In 1998, the states settled their Medicaid lawsuits against the tobacco industry for recovery of their tobacco-related, health-care costs. In return, they exempted the companies from private lawsuits for tobacco-related injuries.
  • The companies agreed to curtail or cease certain marketing practices. They also agreed to pay, forever, annual payments to the states to compensate some of the medical costs for patients with smoking-related illnesses.

The parallels with the NRA are obvious:

  • For decades, the NRA has peddled deadly weapons to millions, reaped billions of dollars in profits and refused to admit the carnage those weapons have produced: “Guns don’t kill people.  People kill people.”  With guns.

  • The NRA has bitterly fought background checks on gun-buyers, in effect granting even criminals and the mentally ill the right to own arsenals of death-dealing weaponry.
  • The NRA has spent millions on slick advertising campaigns to win new members and frighten them into buying guns.

  • The NRA has spent millions on political contributions to block gun-control legislation.
  • The NRA has spent millions attacking political candidates and elected officials who warned about the dangers of unrestricted access to assault and/or concealed weapons.

  • The NRA has spent millions pushing “Stand Your Ground” laws in more than half the states, which potentially give every citizen a “license to kill.”
  • The NRA receives millions of dollars from online sales of ammunition, high-capacity ammunition magazines, and other accessories through its point-of-sale Round-Up Program—thus directly profiting by selling a product that kills about 30,288 people a year.

  • Firearms made indiscriminately available through NRA lobbying have filled hospitals with casualties, and have thus badly strained the states’ public healthcare systems.

It will take a series of highly expensive and well-publicized lawsuits to significantly weaken the NRA, financially and politically.

The first ones will have to be brought by the surviving victims of gun violence—and by the friends and families of those who did not survive it. Only they will have the courage and motivation to take such a risk.

As with the cases first brought against tobacco companies, there will be losses.  And the NRA will rejoice with each one.

But, in time, state Attorneys General will see the clear parallels between lawsuits filed against those who peddle death by cigarette and those who peddle death by armor-piercing bullet.

And then the NRA—like the tobacco industry—will face an adversary wealthy enough to stand up for the rights of the gun industry’s own victims.

Only then will those politicians supporting reasonable gun controls dare to stand up for the victims of these needless tragedies.

JUDGMENT DAY FOR AMERICA’S DEATH-DEALERS: PART TWO (OF THREE)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Military, Politics, Social commentary on March 26, 2019 at 12:11 am

Weapons manufacturers are the only companies in the United States that cannot be sued for the deaths and injuries their products cause.

This is because The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, or PLCAA, immunizes the American firearms industry against lawsuits by victims of mass shootings and gun violence.

Rammed through a Republican-dominated Congress in 2005 by the National Rifle Association (NRA), it was signed into law by President George W. Bush. 

But on March 15, 2019, the Supreme Court of Connecticut ruled that families of schoolchildren gunned down in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre could sue Remington Outdoor Co Inc., over its marketing of military-style Bushmaster weapons to civilians.

The Court ruled that the victims’ families had the right to sue Remington under the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA).

Among the ads that Remington ran to promote its military-style AR-15 Bushmaster rifle: 

  • “Truly the most versatile and adaptive rifle ever conceived, it was born of a collaborative effort between Bushmaster, Magpul and Remington to create the ultimate military combat weapons system.”
  • A photo of a Bushmaster with its barrel facing the reader, with the caption: “CONSIDER YOUR MAN CARD REISSUED.” 
  • A photo of a Bushmaster, alongside the slogan: “Forces of opposition, bow down. You are single-handedly outnumbered.”
  • “ONE RIFLE. MANY MISSIONS. THE REVOLUTIONARY, FULLY MODULAR REMINGTON ACR (ADAPTIVE COMBAT RIFLE).”

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Remington AR-15 Bushmaster

“The defendants knowingly marketed, advertised, and promoted the XM15-E2S for civilians to use to carry out offensive, military style combat missions against their perceived enemies,” alleges the Newtown lawsuit.

And the Justices ruled that, “such use of the XM15-E2S, or any weapon for that matter, would be illegal, and Connecticut law does not permit advertisements that promote or encourage violent, criminal behavior.

“We are confident… that, if there were credible allegations that a firearms seller had run explicit advertisements depicting and glorifying school shootings, and promoted its products in video games, such as ‘School Shooting,’ that glorify and reward such unlawful conduct, and if a troubled young man who watched those advertisements and played those games were inspired thereby to commit a terrible crime like the ones involved in the Sandy Hook massacre, then even the most ardent sponsors of PLCAA would not have wanted to bar a consumer protection lawsuit seeking to hold the supplier accountable for the injuries wrought by such unscrupulous marketing practices.”

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Connecticut Supreme Court Building

Said David Wheeler, father of a Sandy Hook victim: “There is a reason why this particular consumer product is the one that is used by people who want to inflict the most damage, and we have seen it time and time again since my son and his classmates were killed. That reason very likely potentially resides in the documents that we have been unable to look at until now.”

“The families’ goal has always been to shed light on Remington’s calculated and profit-driven strategy to expand the AR-15 market and court high-risk users, all at the expense of Americans’ safety,” said Josh Koskoff, one of the lawyers for the victims’ families, “Today’s decision is a critical step toward achieving that goal.” 

“This is a landmark and potentially historic ruling,” said Adam Winkler, a UCLA Law School professor who specializes in constitutional law. “While all this decision does is allow a case to go forward, in broader terms it really opens up a new avenue for holding gunmakers responsible.”

More importantly, the ruling could spur similar suits in other states. “This could prompt further such suits not only for cases of mass shootings, but individual ones as well,” Winkler said.

The decision by the Connecticut Supreme Court wasn’t unanimous. Three of its seven justices dissented.

The case now goes back to the lower court for further proceedings and a possible trial.

Opinion remains divided over its chances for success.

According to National Public Radio: “The suit is a high-stakes challenge to gun companies, which have rarely been held liable for crimes committed with their products, and could mark a new front in the battle over gun regulations and corporate accountability.

“An eventual ruling against Remington could establish legal precedent, opening doors for more lawsuits against gun manufacturers, and expose the company’s communications about its marketing plans.” 

Noted The Root: “While federal judges remain split on which laws apply to firearm manufacturers, Connecticut judges have drawn a line in the sand. While U.S. Supreme Court intervention on behalf of Remington is a distinct possibility, Connecticut’s decision could inspire lawmakers and lawyers to take a hard look at PLCAA.”  

“The larger implications of this are that the Connecticut Supreme Court has just blown a giant hole in the PLCAA and in federal immunity for firearms manufacturers,” said Timothy Lytton, a law professor at Georgia State University.

Lytton predicted that the United States Supreme Court would be likely to take up the case: “What we’re talking about here is the interpretation of a federal statute and that falls squarely in the jurisdiction of the [United States] Supreme Court.”

A spokeswoman for the National Rifle Association declined to comment. 

JUDGMENT DAY FOR AMERICA’S DEATH-DEALERS: PART ONE (OF THREE)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, Social commentary on March 25, 2019 at 1:38 am

It had happened before—all too often before:

  • Midnight vigils for the victims of yet another spree-killer.
  • Makeshift memorials of flowers, candles and teddy bears.
  • Grief counselors for students at elementary, junior high and high schools.
  • And, of course, the inevitable question: “Why?”

Americans had seen it all before—too many times before: 

  • After the San Ysidro McDonald’s shootings, 1984: 21 dead, 19 wounded.
  • After the 101 California Street shootings in San Francisco, 1993: 9 dead, 6 injured.
  • After the Columbine High School shootings in Colorado, 1999: 15 dead, 21 wounded.
  • After the Virginia Tech shootings, 2007: 32 dead, 23 wounded.
  • After the Tucson shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, 2011: 6 dead, 13 wounded.
  • After the massacre at the Century 16 Theater in Aurora, Colorado, 2012: 12 dead, 58 wounded.

And then, on December 14, 2012, Adam Lanza, a mentally unstable, 20-year-old gunman, shot and killed his sleeping mother, Nancy, as she lay in bed at home.

Then he drove his mother’s car to Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Newtown, Connecticut, and slaughtered 20 school children aged six and seven and six adult staff. 

His weapon of choice: A Remington AR-15 Bushmaster rifle, a semi-automatic civilian version of the U.S. military’s M-16.

A fanatical gun collector, Nancy Lanza had turned the house she shared with her son into a virtual arsenal:

  • Izhmash Saiga 12-gauge semiautomatic shotgun
  • Bushmaster Model XM15-E2S .223-caliber semiautomatic rifle
  • Glock 20 10mm semiautomatic handgun
  • Sig Sauer P226 9mm semiautomatic handgun 
  • Savage Mark II bolt-action .22-caliber rifle
  • Enfield Albian bolt-action .323-caliber rifle
  • Volcanic .22-caliber starter pistol. 

Of the firearms listed above, Lanza used the first four (italicized) to carry out the Sandy Hook massacre.  

Stockpiles of ammunition for all of these weapons were later found by police as they searched the house. 

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Adam Lanza

Yet Adam Lanza’s mentally unbalanced condition should have barred him from possessing even a single firearm.

A report issued by the Office of the Child Advocate in November, 2014, noted that Lanza had Asperger’s syndrome. As a teenager he had suffered from anxiety, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

The report concluded: “His severe and deteriorating internalized mental health problems…. combined with an atypical preoccupation with violence….(and) access to deadly weapons…. proved a recipe for mass murder.”

On the day of the massacre, Adam Lanza chose his firearms with care. 

He shot his defenseless mother four times in the head with a Savage Mark II .22-caliber rifle, a bolt-action firearm that can accept a 10-round magazine. But for his planned massacre at Sandy Hook, he chose semiautomatic weapons with detachable ammunition magazines. 

Of all the weapons Lanza carried to Sandy Hook, the Bushmaster XM15-E2S proved the most lethal: A semiautomatic rifle that can be equipped with 30-round magazines, which allows the shooter to cut down on the number of times he has to reload.

In the past, countless Americans had responded to the latest gun outrage with “sending thoughts and prayers.” 

But, this time, there would be a different response to this latest slaughter.

In February, 2014, nine families of the victims in the Sandy Hook massacre filed a lawsuit against the gun manufacturer, Remington Outdoor Co Inc., over its marketing of military-style Bushmaster weapons. 

In October, 2016, the Connecticut Superior Court dismissed the case based on a federal law that protects the gun industry from liability.

Rammed through a Republican-dominated Congress by the National Rifle Association (NRA), the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, or PLCAA, was signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2005. Since then, it has armed the American firearms industry with immunity against lawsuits by victims of mass shootings and gun violence.

But on March 15, 2019, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that families of Sandy Hook victims could sue Remington Outdoor Co Inc.

The families asserted that Remington, along with a gun wholesaler and local retailer, were partially responsible for the carnage because they marketed the weapon based on its militaristic appeal.

For the first time in American history, victims of gun violence have won the legal right to hold gun makers accountable for the devastation caused by their products.

“The perception for the gun industry is: ‘We can’t get sued,’” said Josh Koskoff, a Connecticut attorney representing families of the Newtown massacre. “‘We can be as unethical and as wild and aggressive in the marketing as we want.’”

The families had sued Remington by citing the legal doctrine of negligent entrustment. This has been used in such cases as when someone lends a car to a high-risk driver who then causes an accident.

But the Supreme Court rejected that theory. Instead, it ruled that the families could bring their claims under the consumer protection statute. 

The court said that state unfair-trade-practices law allows anyone who’s suffered a financial loss from such activities to sue “regardless of whether they had a business relationship with the person or entity that engaged in the prohibited practice.”

“Once we accept the premise that Congress did not intend to immunize firearms suppliers who engage in truly unethical and irresponsible marketing practices promoting criminal conduct … it falls to a jury to decide whether the promotional schemes alleged in the present case rise to the level of illegal trade practices and whether fault for the tragedy can be laid at their feet,” the judges said.

BUMS WITH GUNS

In History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on August 2, 2018 at 12:04 am

Brian Ellison is running for the position of United States Senator from Michigan. And unlike other political candidates, he has taken a unique position on homelessness.

Some politicians want to outlaw homeless encampments. Others want to spend billions on low-cost housing for this population.

Ellison, instead, wants to arm bums with guns. Specifically, with pump-action shotguns. 

“Get us a group of 20 homeless people that we could train, help them understand how the shotgun works, how to maintain it, how to fire it,” Ellison told Newsweek. “And equip them with a shotgun, a sling and some shells so they can protect themselves.” 

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Brian Ellison

Actually, the shotgun was not Ellison’s first choice of weaponry for his intended beneficiaries.

“Frankly I think the ideal weapon would be a pistol,” he told The Guardian, “but due to the licensing requirements in the state we’re going to have a hard enough time getting homeless people shotguns as it is. 

“Getting them pistols is probably next to impossible. The pistols need to be registered, people have to have addresses.” 

But “open-carrying a long gun is completely legal. So we thought that pump-action shotguns were a suitable alternative to a pistol.”

 Winchester Model 1912-gauge pump-action shotgun

Ellison is a Libertarian. He’s also a former Army soldier who served in Iraq.

Apparently that experience didn’t teach him that when too many people have guns, no one is safe.

Ellison’s opponent is Democratic incumbent Debbie Stabenow.

Besides providing shotguns to thousands of rootless people, Ellison wants to abolish the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Transportation Security Administration, and localize the Department of Education. 

“I’m basically entirely opposed to any government program,” said Ellison. 

Unless it’s a government program to arm bums with guns.

This population can be roughly divided into four categories:

  • Druggies
  • Drunks
  • Mental cases and
  • Bums.

The homeless are “constantly victims of violent crime,” says Ellison, who believes that giving them firearms would provide a deterrent.

It would also provide a real incentive for tax-paying citizens to hand over their money the moment a shotgun-carrying DDMB confronts them on the street. 

Of course, Ellison has an answer for this: He would try to “pre-qualify” DDMBs as suitable candidates to own firearms:

“The first thing that we’re gonna do is ask them if they think this is something that would benefit them. We’re certainly not trying to force anything on anybody.” 

Except, of course, on those citizens being hit on daily—sometimes hourly—by DDMBs for money.

Naturally, ammunition would be provided—at state expense—for the shotguns. This would come in five- or six-shell magazines.

Ellison said that more shells would be provided if the owners legitimately used their guns to defend themselves.

But if they used their ammo for “shooting cans in somebody’s private property” then they would not be given more shells.

 A potential beneficiary of Ellison’s “guns for bums” program  

Ellison isn’t worried that is intended beneficiaries might use the guns for murder or robbery: “Well, are you worried about the police being armed with military weapons?  I am.  

“The world we live in is a scary world, where the police who used to dress in short-sleeved shirts and carry a revolver now have long rifles with scopes and bulletproof vests and armoured vehicles.

“And quite frankly that scares me much more than a homeless person trying to defend themselves with a shotgun.” 

This, of course, ignores the fact that police are pre-qualified with firearms—and every shooting by officers in a big-city police department is thoroughly investigated.

Their firearms are turned in for investigation. And the officers who used them can be disciplined and even prosecuted if a police chief and/or prosecutor believes the shooting was improper or illegal.

And who would make such lethal weaponry available to street people?  

“There are a lot of charities out there that help to provide the homeless with food, housing, job training, all kinds of stuff,” said Ellison. “There’s not a charity out there that helps them learn how to protect themselves. What’s going to drive this is popular support.” 

Just how many DDMBs could receive Ellison’s special gift?  In Michigan, there are more than 56,000 of them.

Ellison remarked that the population is “constantly victims of violent crime” in his state.

His website page opens with: “LIBERTARIANISM MEANS ALL OF YOUR FREEDOMS ALL OF THE TIME.” And it outlines his core beliefs: 

“We as a people must admit that the many laws, regulations, and policies established over the years in an effort  to ‘promote social welfare’ have failed in their stated purpose. These laws and regulations now represent the greatest threat to our natural rights, and must be repealed.

“Abroad, we must change how we engage the rest of the world, leading by example, not force of arms….Imperialism was not the intent of our founders nor is it the desire of the majority of Americans.”

“In order to move forward in these beliefs,” says his website, “we must remember that while our ideology is our core, we must also be practical and reasonable in their implementation.” 

Yet many voters may well decide that arming bums with guns isn’t “practical and reasonable.”  

BRING ON THE ROACHES–INSECT AND HUMAN: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Politics, Social commentary on June 22, 2018 at 12:05 am

To capture the true intensity of the “homeless” problem in San Francisco, you must confront its realities at the street level.  Imagine:

  • You’re elderly, and walking with a cane—and must often try to negotiate your way around big tents that take up most of a sidewalk.
  • You’re riding in a wheelchair along a sidewalk until you come to a large mattress lying directly in your path, with a potentially psychotic “homeless” man lying upon it. 
  • You find a street teeming with rats—eating the food scraps left by “homeless” people.
  • You board a local bus and are forced to sit near a man stinking of feces and/or urine. Naturally, the driver doesn’t put him off—giving you the choice of surviving the stench or getting off to catch another bus.
  • You walk into an underground Municipal Railway bus station—and find it littered with derelicts passed out or shooting up heroin in plain sight. Naturally, they don’t worry about picking up their used hypodermic needles. They leave those out for others to step on or pick up at their own risk.

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  • You’re standing at a bus stop or eating in a restaurant—when a large, filthy, possibly disease-carrying man or woman demands a “handout” from you.
  • You can’t use the elevator at the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) station because “homeless” derelicts have ruined its mechanism with urine and feces.

In 2010, San Francisco voters passed the “No Sit/No Lie” ordinance, which “makes it unlawful, with certain exceptions, to sit or lie on a public sidewalk, or on an object placed on a public sidewalk, between 7AM and 11PM.” 

But walk down almost any street in the downtown part of the city and you’ll find sidewalks crowded with stinking, disease-ridden, lice/bedbug-infested, drug-addicted, alcohol-soaked, often psychotic men and women whom city officials politely refer to as “the homeless.” 

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Among the trappings that go with this population:

  • Tents
  • Mattresses
  • Piles of belongings
  • Stolen shopping cards
  • Trash
  • Half-eaten food
  • Empty cans/bottles of alcohol
  • Feces
  • Hypodermic needles

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What you’ll almost never see: Police actually enforcing the “No Sit/No Lie” ordinance.

So much for the will of the voters.

San Francisco officials have effectively washed their hands of the problem. If local residents must put up with repeated violations of the most basic sanitation laws, that’s their tough luck.

What matters to the Mayor and Board of Supervisors is this: The “rights” of those whose filth and behavior pose an immediate threat to public health and safety take precedence over those of tax-paying, law-abiding San Franciscans.

San Francisco residents can be fined $25 to $1,000 for feeding pigeons—but not for feeding street bums.

During the Mayorship of Willie Brown (1996 – 2004), Hizzonor proposed what he thought was a brilliant way for residents to “contribute” to “street people.”

Those who were somehow certified as “homeless” would be issued special electronic “cash cards.” When someone wanted to make a “donation,” s/he would swipe a credit card against the one owned by the street bum, for whatever amount s/he wanted to donate.

But before the program started, someone at City Hall realized a blunt truth: Residents—especially women—weren’t likely to whip out their credit cards in front of a ranting, foul-smelling, probably disease-ridden street bum. 

It’s long past time for San Francisco—and other cities—to stop catering to the druggies, alcoholics, mental cases and bums who prey on the guilt or fear of law-abiding, tax-paying citizens. 

The same laws that protect citizens against patients with highly communicable diseases like typhoid and cholera should be vigorously applied to those whose filthy habits threaten similar public contagion.

Among such reforms:

  • The city should launch a “Please Do Not Feed the Bums” publicity campaign—as it has against feeding pigeons. And it should be backed up with stiff fines for those caught doing so.  
  • Those living on the street should be given a choice: Go to a local shelter or face arrest and the immediate confiscation of their possessions.
  • Bus drivers should have the right to refuse passengers who stink of urine/feces, as they present a potential health-hazard to others.
  • The owners of restaurants should likewise be allowed to refuse service on the same basis.
  • Those applying for welfare benefits should be required to provide proof of residence. Too many people come to San Francisco because, upon arrival, they can immediately apply for such benefits.
  • The city should set up a special unit to deal entirely with removing “street people” and their possessions from city sidewalks. This could be a division of the Sanitation Department, since its personnel are used to removing filth and debris of all types. 

San Francisco officials need to:

  • Forcefully tell alcoholics and drug addicts: “Your anti-social behavior is not welcome here. Take your self-destructive lifestyles elsewhere.  We won’t subsidize them.”
  • Take the mentally unstable off the street and place them in institutions where their needs can be met. 
  • Tell those who are just plain bums: Don’t expect us to support you.

Only then will San Francisco rightly reclaim its former glory as “the city by the Bay.”

BRING ON THE ROACHES–INSECT AND HUMAN: PART ONE (OF TWO)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Politics, Social commentary on June 21, 2018 at 1:45 am

Imagine that, late one night, you wake up and decide to go to the kitchen for a drink of water. You turn on the light—and suddenly find a virtual army of cockroaches hurriedly scurrying across the floor.  

In the morning, you call an exterminator, and a “pest control specialist” soon knocks at your door. 

“What you need to do,” he says, “is to put out big packets of sugar for the roaches.” 

“Wait a minute—don’t roaches love sugar?  How is this going to make them go away?” 

“It won’t.”  

“Then what’s the point?”

“The point is that roaches are God’s creatures, and they need to eat, too.”

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A typical cockroach scene

“But they’ve taken over my kitchen. They’re filthy, they leave droppings everywhere and they contaminate the food I’m supposed to eat.” 

“You must learn to have compassion for all of God’s creatures, and learn to get along with them.” 

“So if I hire you, you’re not going to get rid of them for me?”

“No.” 

“So what are you going to do?”

“Help you to accept that they have a right to be a part of your community.” 

If a pest control company actually operated like that, how long would they be in business? 

Not long

Yet, in San Francisco, successive mayors and members of the Board of Supervisors operate in exactly that manner toward succeeding waves of human pestilence. And they remain in office for years.  

Huge areas of the city are covered in feces, urine, trash and needles. Hospitals overflow with patients that have fallen ill due to the contamination.

NBC News surveyed 153 blocks of the city—an area more than 20 miles. That area includes popular tourist spots like Union Square and the cable car turnaround. It’s bordered by Van Ness Avenue, Market Street, Post Street and Grant Avenue. And it’s also home to City Hall, schools, playgrounds, and a police station. 

A typical San Francisco scene

Most of the trash found consisted of heaps of garbage, food, and discarded junk—including 100 drug needles and more than 300 piles of feces throughout downtown. If you step on one of these needles, you can get HIV, Hepatitis C, Hepatitis B or a variety of other viral diseases. 

But you don’t have to actually get stuck by a needle to become a victim. Once fecal matter dries, it can become airborne and release deadly viruses, such as the rotavirus.

“If you happen to inhale that, it can also go into your intestine,” says Dr. Lee Riley, an infectious disease specialist at the University of California, Berkeley. The results can prove fatal, especially in children.

As the news unit filmed a typical day’s activity in San Francisco, a group of preschool students, enjoying a field trip, walked to City Hall.  

Responding to a reporter’s question, Adelita Orellana said: “We see poop, we see pee, we see needles, and we see trash.

“Sometimes they ask what is it, and that’s a conversation that’s a little difficult to have with a two-year old, but we just let them know that those things are full of germs, that they are dangerous, and they should never be touched.” 

San Francisco’s political elite see this blight as well as everyone else. They can’t avoid seeing it, since the city covers 47 square miles. 

Image result for Official images of San Francisco City Hall

San Francisco City Hall

Cabe6403 at English Wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, from Wikimedia Commons

One of those who sees the disgrace up-front is Supervisor Hillary Ronen: “Unacceptable. Absolutely unacceptable We’re losing tourists. We’re losing conventions in San Francisco.” 

Yet what does she propose as the solution? “We need more temporary beds for street homelessness.” 

This is on a par with a “pest control expert” recommending: “We need more sugar to clear up our roach problem.” 

Thanks to its mild climate and social programs that dole out cash payments to virtually anyone with no residency requirement, San Francisco is often considered the “homeless capital” of the United States.

According to a 2016 article in the San Francisco Chronicle, there are about 13,000 “homeless” people in San Francisco. Of these, an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 refuse shelter.

In 2016, San Francisco spent $275 million on homelessness—up from $241 million in 2015. Public Works cleanup crews picked up more than 679 tons of trash from homeless tent camps—and collected more than 100,000 used syringes from the camps.  

In 2016, San Francisco residents made 22,608 complaints about encampments—a five-fold increase from 2015.

City officials euphemistically call this population “the homeless.”  That’s because they don’t want to use words that accurately describe those who comprise the overwhelming majority of this population:

  • Druggies
  • Drunks
  • Mentals
  • Bums.

Or, as even many police, social workers and paramedics who wrestle with this population privately refer to them: DDMBs.

Yet the mere citing of statistics—how many “homeless,” how much money is spent on how many people, how much filth they produce—doesn’t capture the true intensity of the problem.

To do that, you must confront its realities at the street level.  Which is what we’ll do in Part Two of this series.

THE PARKLAND SCHOOL MASSACRE: WHERE BLAME REALLY LIES

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, Social commentary on February 28, 2018 at 12:08 am

On February 14, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz slaughtered two faculty members and 15 students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

His weapon of choice: An AR-15 assault rifle, often favored by gun massacre killers. 

Since then, the National Rifle Association (NRA), President Donald Trump and their shills (paid and unpaid) have sought to distract attention from the reason for the massacre: Easy access to military assault weaponry by virtually anyone. 

Among those they have blamed:

  • “The elites” (who, says Wayne LaPierre, the NRA’s executive vice president, “don’t care about America’s schoolchildren”);
  • Unarmed school teachers (who should have been armed);
  • Cruz’ neighbors and classmates (who didn’t report his obsession with violence to police);
  • The media (who “love mass shootings,” according to Dana Loesch, the NRA’s spokeswoman);
  • The FBI (which fumbled tips that Cruz was a live grenade waiting to go off). 
  • Scot Peterson (the armed school resource officer who stayed outside the school as the shooting unfolded).

According to a series of police reports, Cruz suffered from mental illness and was on behavioral medication. The records described fights at home—and his mother’s fear that Cruz was out of control even as an adolescent.

Nikolas Cruz

Even so, it was not mental illness that made it possible for Cruz to slaughter 17 innocent students and faculty.  

It was his access to military-style firepower.

Without that, all he could have done was fantasize about inflicting torment on others. Having access to that firepower allowed him to make his fantasies come true.

And who made it possible for Cruz to obtain that firepower? Those Republicans who are literally on the payroll of the NRA. 

To start at the top: President Donald Trump. In 2016, the NRA spent more than $30 million to support him and defeat his opponent, Hillary Clinton.

Donald Trump

And that investment has already paid off: In February, 2017, Trump signed a bill making it easier for the mentally ill to buy guns. This repealed an Obama-era regulation that restricted the rights of seriously incapacitated people to own death-dealing firepower.

In fact, during the 2016 election, the NRA and its affiliate, the NRA Institute for Legislative Action, spent a total of $54 million. The vast majority of these monies went to support Republicans or oppose Democrats.

Even so, the NRA has been willing to open its pocketbook to Democrats willing to toe the organization’s line. Rep. Sanford Bishop, of Georgia, has received about $47,000 during his tenure in Congress. 

From January 1 to mid-February, 2018, the NRA has spent absolutely nothing to support Democrats, and $337,000 to oppose them.

Then there are Florida’s Republican legislators. All of the following received contributions from the NRA during the 2016 election cycle: 

  • Rep. Gus M. Bilirakis: $2,000 
  • Rep. Carlos Curbelo: $2,500 
  • Rep. Ted Yoho: $1,000 
  • Rep. Daniel Webster: $1,000
  • Rep. John Rutherford: $1,000 
  • Sen. Marco Rubio: $9,900 
  • Rep. Dennis Ross: $2,000 
  • Rep. Tom Rooney: $2,000 
  • Rep. Bill Posey: $2,000 
  • Rep. Brian Mast: $4,950 
  • Rep. Matt Gaetz: $1,000 
  • Rep. Neal Dunn: $1,000 
  • Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart: $2,000 Rep.
  • Ron DeSantis: $1,000 

Then there is Florida Governor Rick Scott

In 2014, Scott won the praise of the NRA’s Political Victory Fund: “Rick has signed more pro-gun bills into law in one term than any other governor in Florida history.”  All of this resulted in his getting an “A+” rating from the organization. 

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Rick Scott

And what has all this highly-paid political influence bought? 

  • An AR-15 rifle—designed to kill the maximum number of people—is legally easier to obtain than a handgun. 
  • Federal law requires gun buyers to be 21 before buying a handgun. But in Florida, an AR-15 can be purchased at age 18.
  • Residents aren’t required to register their gun.
  • But Floridians must be 21 to buy an alcoholic beverage.
  • No permit or license is needed to buy a gun.
  • No permit is needed to conceal carry a rifle or shotgun; one is required to conceal carry a handgun.
  • The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is required to issue a concealed carry permit to anyone who desires one, as long as: S/he is an American citizen; 21 or older; without a felony conviction; and can prove that s/he is competent with a firearm.
  • Floridians can buy as many guns as they want at one time.
  • Florida does not regulate assault weapons, .50-caliber rifles and large capacity ammunition magazines.  
  • Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law allows for the use of deadly force without any obligation to try to avoid violence.  

And when criminals and/or the criminally insane turn the weaponry they have legally purchased onto scores of defenseless men, women and children, the NRA again benefits. 

For example: One week after the mass slaughter at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Florida legislators voted 71-36 against a measure to consider a ban on semi-automatic weapons. 

Yet they declared pornography a public health risk. The bill “recognizes public health risk created by pornography & acknowledges need for education, prevention, research, & policy change to protect citizens of this state.”

Almost all the lawmakers who voted against an assault rifle ban have an “A” rating from the NRA.

Watching in stunned disbelief and outrage were 100 Marjory Stoneman High School students. They had traveled 400 miles from Parkland to the state capital in Tallahassee, hoping to speak with legislators and Governor Scott.  

THE MOST DANGEROUS THERAPY

In History, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, Social commentary on February 26, 2018 at 12:10 am

Chris Kyle was an American patriot—serving four tours of duty in Iraq. 

And he was a killer: From 1999 to 2009 he recorded more than 160 confirmed kills as a sniper—the most in U.S. military history. Iraqis came to refer to him as “The Devil” and put a $20,000 bounty on his life.

Chris Kyle January 2012.jpg

Chris Kyle

He was an expert on firearms: After leaving combat duty, he became the chief instructor for training the Naval Special Warfare Sniper and Counter-Sniper team. And he authored the Naval Special Warfare Sniper Doctrine, the first Navy SEAL sniper manual.

He was a successful writer—author of the 2012 bestselling American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History.

In 2013, he wrote the equally bestselling American Gun: A History of the U.S. in Ten Firearms.

He created a nonprofit company, FITCO Cares, to provide at-home fitness equipment for emotionally and physically wounded veterans.

In 2014, his autobiography, American Sniper, became a major film produced and directed by Clint Eastwood. The movie portrays his work as a SEAL marksman in Iraq and his struggles to be a good husband and father during his tours of duty.

And Kyle was a mentor to veterans suffering from PTSD—Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

It was this last activity—and, more importantly, his approach to therapy—that cost him his life.

On February 2, 2015, Kyle and his friend, Chad Littlefield, died in a hail of 13 bullets fired by a semi-automatic pistol.

The murderer: Eddie Ray Routh, an Iraqi war veteran reportedly suffering from PTSD, while the three visited a shooting range in Glen Rose, Texas.

Routh, of Lancaster, Texas, a former corporal in the Marines, had been deployed to Iraq in 2007 and Haiti in 2010.

His motive:  “I shot them because they wouldn’t talk to me. I was just riding in the back seat of the truck and nobody would talk to me. They were just taking me to the range so I shot them. I feel bad about it, but they wouldn’t talk to me. I am sure they have forgiven me.”

Eddie Ray Routh

On February 25, 2015, a jury convicted Routh of double murder and sentenced him to life in prison without parole.

Kyle’s believed that shooting could prove therapeutic for those suffering from mental illness. And it was that belief that ultimately killed him.

According to Travis Cox, the director of FITCO Cares: “What I know is Chris and a gentleman—great guy, I knew him well, Chad Littlefield—took a veteran out shooting who was struggling with PTSD to try to assist him, try to help him, try to, you know, give him a helping hand, and he turned the gun on both of them, killing them.” 

Chris Kyle was a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association (NRA), whose stance on firearms is best described as: “The more guns, the better.”

The NRA:

  • Opposes background checks for firearms owners.
  • Opposes any waiting period for the purchase of a firearm. 
  • Opposes banning the ownership of military-style, “high-capacity” firearms.
  • Opposes any limits on how many firearms a person may own.
  • Supports legislation to allow virtually anyone to carry a handgun—openly or concealed—even in bars and churches.
  • Has successfully pushed “stand-your-ground” laws in more than half the states. These allow the use of deadly force in self-defense, without any obligation to try to retreat first.
  • Has steadfastly defended the right to own Teflon-coated ”cop killer” bullets,” whose only purpose is to penetrate bullet-resistant vests worn by law enforcement officers.

Chris Kyle was undoubtedly one of the foremost experts on firearms in the United States. Few knew better than he did the rules for safe gun-handling.

And yet he broke perhaps the most basic commonsense rule of all: Never trust an unstable person with a loaded firearm. 

And it was the breaking of that rule that killed him.

Even worse, he knew that Routh was unstable. During the drive to the shooting range, he texted Littlefield: ‘This dude is straight-up nuts.”

Kyle, who was 38, was survived by his wife, Taya, and their two children.

Kyle was undoubtedly sincere in wanting to help his fellow veterans who suffered from PTSD.

But he could have offered them different—and far safer—forms of help, such as:

  • Urging veterans such as Routh to get psychiatric counseling.
  • Suggesting that they find purpose in a charity such as Habitat for Humanity, which is devoted to building affordable housing for the poor.
  • Helping them find mental healthcare through the Veterans Administration.

Instead, he chose “gun therapy” as his preferred method of treatment. 

Kyle was an expert on using firearms in self-defense. But that knowledge proved useless when he allowed his empathy to overrule his common sense. 

Wayne LaPierre, the executive vice president of the NRA, has repeatedly asserted: “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun.”

But the death of Chris Kyle raises a question that the NRA has yet to answer: If a certified weapons expert can’t protect himself against a psychopathic gunman, how can the rest of us?

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