Think about comparing terrorist attacks to mass shootings in America

#1: More guns don’t make you safer

#2: Shootings are more frequent

#3: Restricting sales works

#4: Background checks work

❝ In most restrictive background checks performed in developed countries, citizens are required to train for gun handling, obtain a license for hunting or provide proof of membership to a shooting range.

Individuals must prove that they do not belong to any “prohibited group,” such as the mentally ill, criminals, children or those at high risk of committing violent crime, such as individuals with a police record of threatening the life of another.

❝ Here’s the bottom line. With these provisions, most U.S. active shooters would have been denied the purchase of a firearm.

Please, RTFA for all the points examined by Frederic Lemieux. At a minimum, you may learn a few new facts about the reality of American background checks.

#5: Not all mass shootings are terrorism

#6: Historical comparisons may be flawed

Trump flunky thinks sexual assault survivors don’t need protection

❝ The education department is rescinding Obama-era guidelines, a move survivors and advocates have long feared.

❝ On Friday the Department of Education announced it would rescind the Obama administration’s 2011 guidelines on schools’ responsibilities under Title IX, a move advocates have long feared would discourage survivors from reporting assault and encourage schools to use unfair or ineffective investigation practices.

Schools do need to do a better job of responding to sexual assault allegations and protecting students. But DeVos’s approach — which has included taking advice from those who have questioned and targeted sexual assault survivors — is likely to do more harm than good…

❝ In a speech at George Mason University, Betsy DeVos listed a number of situations in which she argued that “the failed system” put in place by the Obama administration had resulted in inequities either for survivors or for students accused of sexual assault. And she argued that “overreach” by schools and “the heavy hand of Washington” had ruined the lives of survivors and the accused alike…

Even before this announcement, the education department had sent strong signals that enforcing the 2011 letter wasn’t a priority. The department announced this summer that it would no longer require investigators to collect data on schools’ past behavior as part of civil rights investigations. This indicates to schools that the department will be less thorough in looking into whether they are following the guidelines or not.

Blaming the victim is back in fashion in Congress and the White House. Trump installing Betsy DeVos in charge of Education at the Cabinet level pretty much assured that.

John McCain tries to put some backbone into Republicans

❝ Americans recoiled from the repugnant spectacle of white supremacists marching in Charlottesville to promote their un-American “blood and soil” ideology. There is nothing in their hate-driven racism that can match the strength of a nation conceived in liberty and comprising 323 million souls of different origins and opinions who are equal under the law.

❝ Most of us share Heather Heyer’s values, not the depravity of the man who took her life. We are the country that led the free world to victory over fascism and dispatched communism to the ash heap of history. We are the superpower that organized not an empire, but an international order of free, independent nations that has liberated more people from poverty and tyranny than anyone thought possible in the age of colonies and autocracies.

❝ Our shared values define us more than our differences. And acknowledging those shared values can see us through our challenges today if we have the wisdom to trust in them again.

❝ Congress will return from recess next week facing continued gridlock as we lurch from one self-created crisis to another. We are proving inadequate not only to our most difficult problems but also to routine duties. Our national political campaigns never stop. We seem convinced that majorities exist to impose their will with few concessions and that minorities exist to prevent the party in power from doing anything important.

That’s not how we were meant to govern. Our entire system of government — with its checks and balances, its bicameral Congress, its protections of the rights of the minority — was designed for compromise. It seldom works smoothly or speedily. It was never expected to.

It requires pragmatic problem-solving from even the most passionate partisans. It relies on compromise between opposing sides to protect the interests we share. We can fight like hell for our ideas to prevail. But we have to respect each other or at least respect the fact that we need each other.

❝ That has never been truer than today, when Congress must govern with a president who has no experience of public office, is often poorly informed and can be impulsive in his speech and conduct.

We must respect his authority and constitutional responsibilities. We must, where we can, cooperate with him. But we are not his subordinates. We don’t answer to him. We answer to the American people. We must be diligent in discharging our responsibility to serve as a check on his power. And we should value our identity as members of Congress more than our partisan affiliation.

There’s not much in politics when I agree with John McCain. His class loyalties do not lie with America’s working class. He does have an historical, sound understanding of our Constitution. That doesn’t require extra scholarship — only common sense and the ability to read beyond a 6th-grade level. Neither of which includes our fake president.

Still, click the link above and reflect upon the whole piece.

Black Cop doing his job, protecting KKK scum, speaks out

The officer stands calmly as a group of white supremacists act out behind him. One man’s outstretched right arm signals a Nazi salute. Another wears a red hood. A third rests a Confederate flag on his shoulder.

❝ The provocative scene that Saturday afternoon in Charlottesville, captured with an iPhone, was shared with a modest public following but would attract a wide audience. “Confederate flags, Nazi salutes, and Klansmen having their rights protected by a black police officer,” reads a tweet posted on Aug. 12 by Ubadah Sabbagh, a Ph.D. student at Virginia Tech. “This picture hurts.” James P. O’Neill, commissioner of the New York City Police Department, shared the image and commended law enforcement in Charlottesville “for handling today’s events with true professionalism. Much respect.” Tim Hogan, a former member of the Hillary for America communications team, tweeted it, too: “A picture worth a thousand words.” A writer, Yashar Ali, suggested the image be nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. “A black police officer protecting a group of men who wish him harm,” he wrote in a tweet. “Incredible.”

He prefaced that remark with a question common during breaking news: “Who took this photo?”…

❝ The image spread further after a speeding car smashed into counterdemonstrators—sending bodies flying, killing one woman and injuring 19 others…As the retweets entered into the tens of thousands…A reverse image search on Google pointed…that the image was not from Aug. 12. Among the comments was a link…“This picture was taken at the KKK rally July 8th in Charlottesville, Virginia.”…

A school resource officer at Charlottesville High School, Darius Nash, confirmed to TIME on Aug. 14 that it was he in the photograph…

❝ “I don’t feel like I’m a hero for it,” Nash wrote…”I swore to protect my city and that’s what I was there to do. I don’t think it makes me a hero, just doing what I believe in.”…

Nice job of journalistic research. Even better job by the Black cop standing up for Constitutional principles – protecting the scum of the Earth from retribution outside the law. Doing his job.

Ken Starr makes irony look easy


My hands are clean…

❝ On CNN’s “New Day” Friday morning, former independent counsel Ken Starr raised questions about whether current special counsel Bob Mueller might be over-stepping the bounds of his mandate in investigating Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election.

❝ Here’s the key part:

“I think the gravamen of the original complaint was, was there collusion, to the extent you’re moving beyond collusion with Russian operatives or Russian interests or the Russian government itself, and into that which doesn’t seem to have a direct tie to Russia, then these questions are in fact raised. It becomes a litigable question that people are going to sidewalk about and disagree about it. I don’t think it’s clear one way or the other, but i do think it is a certainly a serious matter.”

❝ First of all, Ken Starr is the most prominent — and controversial — independent counsel ever. If you asked a person on the street to name an independent counsel not named Bob Mueller, Ken Starr would be the only one anyone would come up with…

Second, Starr is the reason that all presidents — Trump included — are extremely leery of independent or special prosecutors. He is the definitional example of an investigation starting small and growing huge.

❝ Remember that Starr took over the Whitewater investigation, an examination into an Arkansas land deal gone bad, in 1994. By the time Starr released the eponymous report of his findings on Sept. 11, 1998, his investigation had turned its focus to Bill Clinton’s extramarital affair with a White House intern. It took four years and cost roughly $40 million.

While Starr succeeded in initiating Clinton’s impeachment, he also knew [or should have] it wasn’t going to succeed. But, he managed to waste even more taxpayer dollar$ on his crusade against the Clintons. Fact-based legal decisions sometimes seem as rare as Trump keeping promises.

Bipartisan [remember that?] bill, written by a Democrat [imagine that?] restricting Trump’s ability to wage war OK’d by House committee


Click to enlargeAP/Andrew Harnik

❝ A House committee has earned a rare bipartisan round of applause for beginning to roll back the US president’s ability to wage war.

❝ The House Appropriations Committee recently approved an amendment to revoke the Authorization for Use of Military Force, which allows the president to undertake war against al-Qaeda and its affiliates without Congressional approval. The law, passed shortly after the terrorist attacks of 11 September, 2001, has been used to approve conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria.

The new amendment, introduced by Democratic Representative Barbara Lee, would sunset these presidential powers eight weeks after Congress passes the 2018 defence spending budget. The appropriations committee has sent the budget to the House floor for a vote.

❝ A visibly surprised Ms Lee welcomed the addition of the amendment on Thursday, condemning the AUMF as “a blank check to wage war anywhere, at any time, and for any length”.

The AUMF has been used to justify military action more than 37 times in 14 countries since 2001, according to the Congressional Research Service…

❝ “This issue is more urgent given the erratic behaviour and inexperience of our current Commander-in-Chief,” Ms Lee said. “No president should have a blank check for endless war, least of all President Donald Trump.”

Members of Congress were falling over each other to pass this bill in 2001 – excepting Barbara Lee, the sole vote against its passage. She understood and declared the foolishness of a bill so broad and unchecked it would be used [and was] by any president for any war they wished for.

I wish her well trying to shepherd her sanity through the rest of a Congress notable for cowardice and capitulation to religion, bigotry and corporate pimps. I compliment the members of the House Appropriations Committee for doing exactly what they are chartered to do.

Two Common Medications = One $455 Million Specialty Pill

❝ Everything happened so fast as I walked out of the doctor’s exam room. I was tucking in my shirt and wondering if I’d asked all my questions about my injured shoulder when one of the doctor’s assistants handed me two small boxes of pills.

“These will hold you over until your prescription arrives in the mail,” she said, pointing to the drug samples…

“Don’t worry,” she said. “It won’t cost you any more than $10.”

❝ …As an investigative reporter who has covered health care for more than a decade, the interaction was just the sort of thing to pique my interest. One thing I’ve learned is that almost nothing in medicine — especially brand-name drugs — is ever really a deal. When I got home, I looked up the drug: Vimovo.

❝ The drug has been controversial, to say the least. Vimovo was created using two readily and cheaply available generic, or over-the-counter, medicines: naproxen, also known by the brand Aleve, and esomeprazole magnesium, also known as Nexium. The Aleve handles your pain and the Nexium helps with the upset stomach that’s sometimes caused by the pain reliever. The key selling point of this new “convenience drug”? It’s easier to take one pill than two.

❝ Of course I also did the math. You can walk into your local drugstore and buy a month’s supply of Aleve and Nexium for about $40. For Vimovo, the pharmacy billed my insurance company $3,252. This doesn’t mean the drug company ultimately gets paid that much. The pharmaceutical world is rife with rebates and side deals — all designed to elbow ahead of the competition. But apparently the price of convenience comes at a steep mark-up…

❝ So if Vimovo is the Goober of drugs, then why have Americans been spending so much on it? My insurance company, smartly, rejected the pharmacy’s claim. But I knew Vimovo’s makers weren’t wooing doctors like mine for nothing. So I looked up the annual reports for the Ireland-based company, Horizon Pharma, which makes Vimovo. Since 2014, Vimovo’s net sales have been more than $455 million. That means a lot of insurers are paying way more than they should for their Goober.

And Vimovo wasn’t Horizon’s only such drug. It has brought in an additional $465 million in net sales from Duexis, a similar convenience drug that combines ibuprofen and famotidine, AKA Advil and Pepcid…

❝ “It’s a scam,” said Devon Herrick, a health care economist with the National Center for Policy Analysis. “It is just a way to gouge insurance companies or employer health care plans.”

RTFA for the marketing games Big Pharma plays with doctors and patients, insurance companies and health care plans. Capitalism is filled with creepy companies; but, I have to say – few are greedier than Pharmaceutical manufacturers.

Thanks, Helen

Here’s Canadian PM’s Plan to Legalize Recreational Marijuana

❝ Canada is advancing plans to become the first G7 nation to legalize recreational marijuana nationally, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is keeping key details hazy and allowing arrests to continue while parliament debates his plan.

Trudeau’s justice minister introduced proposed laws Thursday in the Ottawa legislature that set a minimum consumption age of 18, with individual provinces allowed to raise it as they see fit. Rules on retail sales will also be left to the provinces, with the government targeting legalization by July 2018 for a market analysts estimate to reach US$4.5 billion by 2021.

❝ Under the bills, possession of up to 30 grams of cannabis would be allowed, and up to four plants can be grown per residence. Exports of marijuana will remain a serious criminal offense and a new penalty for those convicted of impaired driving will be imposed. Details on prices, licensing fees and taxes will be announced in coming months.

The government’s aim is “putting drug dealers and organized crime out of the cannabis business,” Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said in a statement accompanying the legislation. “It will allow law enforcement to focus on other serious offences, including the distribution of cannabis to children and youth and driving under the influence of drugs.”…

❝ Trudeau’s proposal — expanding on medical marijuana, which is already legal in Canada — is expected to spur merger activity and insiders…are already taking profits. The governing Liberals have a majority in the House of Commons that will all but guarantee the legislation’s passage. The country’s Senate typically rubber-stamps legislation, though has grown more unpredictable since measures by Trudeau boosted its independence.

All the usual phonies are whining. Nothing new. Same sort of unreal, anti-science, crap promoted by pharmaceutical manufacturers who see diminishing profits in all the US states which have already gone through this process. Still, it will be a big step forward for a G7 nation. Pointing out the silliness and hypocrisy of the rest of that political establishment.