Friday, December 25, 2009

I Guess Al Qaeda still doesn't like us after all - attempt to blow up Plane at Detroit fails

Attempted Christmas Gift by Al Qaeda thankfully fails. So much for them unclenching their fist.

Al-Qaida link in failed plane attack
U.S. officials say a Northwest Airlines passenger from Nigeria said he was acting on behalf of al-Qaida when he tried to blow up a flight Friday as it landed in Detroit.

Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., identified the suspect as Abdul Mudallad, a Nigerian. King said the flight began in Nigeria and went through Amsterdam en route to Detroit.

One of the U.S. intelligence officials said the explosive device was a mix of powder and liquid. It failed when the passenger tried to detonate it.

The passenger was being questioned Friday evening.

Both of the officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation was continuing.

The motive of the Christmas Day attack was not immediately clear.

Wow, could the motive be the religion of peace still doesn't like us given the attempted terrorist's name and affiliation with Al Qaeda?

Or maybe it was Northwest didn't serve food on the flight?

So many possible politically correct motives....

Merry Christmas to my Christian friends and readers, and this scum's failure is a worthy new miracle for Christmas.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Michigan's population dips below 10 Million

As the Blogprof notes, Michigan's population has declined below 10 million He shows an excellent illustration of the break down of those leaving the state and those who remain, and its not a pretty picture and a nasty portent for the future of this state.

Michigan's population drops below 10M
Economic woes continued to force thousands of Michiganians to leave the state, leading the overall population to drop below 10 million for the first time since 2000, according to population estimates released Wednesday morning by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The July 1, 2009, population estimate shows the state lost an estimated 32,759 people, the fourth consecutive year the population fell. Only Maine and Rhode Island saw their population go down in the last year.

Michigan has been bleeding people since 2005, and at the heart of the decline has been the growing exodus of people moving out looking for work. The current estimate puts Michigan's population at 9,969,727, down from 10,002,486 in 2008. The state has seen a net loss of more than a half-million people to other states since 2001 -- a number that swamps the natural increase from a greater number of births than deaths.

I wonder what could be causing this exodus - hmm, perhaps its that People flee state's taxing policies The Detroit News:
For years, the Mackinac Center has warned state officials that residents are fleeing for friendlier economic climates. They're going to opportunity states, where taxes and regulation typically fall lighter on the backs of business and families.

Michigan could reverse this trend by lowering the cost of living, working and investing in Michigan. If you lower the price of nearly any good, more of it will be demanded in the market -- and vice versa.

Unfortunately, Lansing's careerist politicians have served the system and their own interests, and people in part are voting with their feet against this.

Among the price hikes our political class have imposed during the past seven years are a sneaky property tax shift hike; an 11.5 percent increase in the personal income tax; a 75-cents-per-pack cigarette tax increase; a complex business tax with a further 22 percent surcharge that extracts an extra $600 million annually from enterprises choosing to remain or locate here; several new occupational licensure, regulation and fee regimes; expensive renewable energy mandates and more.

To add insult to economic injury, various members of the political class have proposed even more tax increases, including a job-killing $6.5 billion graduated income tax. Just the existence of such proposals can have the effect of driving people away if they rationally perceive a chance that such a thing might become law.
It's not just the auto industry, people have been leaving this state before the present one-state depression, and the only thing that may slow the exit rate is the rest of the country is heading in the same direction due to Obamanomics.

Michigan's leaders need to make this a low-tax, business friendly state or the decline will not be turned around. Hey, tax credits for the film industry worked, now how about tax cuts for business and the rest of us to get this state moving?

The Free Press and The ACLU agree: Wal-Mart should hire felons

The Detroit Free Press: Wal-Mart shouldn't turn convictions into life sentences
elonies carry lacerating lifetime penalities for nearly 1.3 million people in Michigan. You read that right. One in every six adults in Michigan has a felony record, according to Michigan State Police records. When companies like Wal-Mart in Pittsfield Township exclude hiring any of them — no matter what or how old the conviction is — it sends the wrong message to the rest of society. Lifetime restrictions on employment make bad social policy and shortsighted business practice. They also raise serious legal questions, as the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan noted this week.

In a Dec. 22 letter to Wal-Mart, the ACLU rightly expressed concern about reports that Wal-Mart’s new store in Pittsfield Township was automatically excluding any applicant with a felony from the selection process. “The blanket exclusion of ex-felons from employment without regard to qualifications or the possibility of rehabilitation punishes individuals who have already done their time and are trying to become productive members of society,’’ said ACLU of Michigan staff attorney Jessie Rossman. “We cannot afford to turn a past felony conviction into a life sentence of unemployment and poverty. Everyone benefits when ex-offenders are given the tools to succeed upon release.’’
Of course once Wal-Mart starts to move away from this clear rule and then allowing some felons, expect tons of law suits alleging Wal-Mart discriminates by allowing some felons employment but not others. Perhaps the ACLU will argue that those convicted of theft crimes, drug dealing, or other nonviolent felonies should be allowed to work there. The perhaps they can expand the wedge and argue that violent felonies are ok as well as long as they're not "too" serious.

Already the ACLU argues that
As the ACLU notes, prohibiting all applicants with a felony conviction from obtaining a job also violates federal anti-discrimination law. Such policies have a disparate impact on African Americans. No one is saying that there are not legitimate reasons for not hiring people with felony convictions. But a blanket ban is unfair, unreasonable and discriminatory.
Just wait until it is modified under pressure to a ban on some rather than all felonies and watch the lawsuits fly.

The Freep does however point out a very real problem:
It’s easier to get jammed up in the system than most people think. I recently wrote about a Detroiter and retired auto worker who was barred from nursing school, despite being an honor student, because of an almost decade-old case in which he caught a felony firearms conviction, following a routine traffic stop, for having his legally registered gun in a duffel bag on the back seat of his car. He was coming back from a shooting range.

The solution to this real problem is to end the current proclivity of our lawmakers for making every misdeed, matter how trivial or harmless, a felony.

Many acts should not be a crime at all, let alone a felony.

Have fewer acts defined as felonies and you'll have less felons and you'll save resources to be able to deal with and focus on the actual dangerous criminals that are a far greater threat than some fellow who forgot to put his bag in the trunk on the way home.

Don't blame Wal-Mart, blame the over-criminalization of society, brought to you by our legislatures.

Green Energy hits a stumbling block - Not in Your Back-Lakeshore

Plan for wind energy farm on Lake Michigan has neighbors howling

Its NIMBY tilting at Windmills.
proposal to construct a massive wind turbine farm, capable of producing 1,000 megawatts of power, over 100 square miles of Lake Michigan, a few miles offshore from Pentwater and Ludington, has many residents howling.

At a meeting in Ludington last week, residents gasped and jaws dropped when developers unveiled drawings showing 100 building-size turbines spinning within sight of Lake Michigan beaches.

"Would anyone put these in the Grand Canyon? This is our Grand Canyon, our beautiful spot," said Pentwater resident Mary Stiphany, adding that the hulking turbines would obstruct views and hurt tourism. "It would be such an eyesore."

The response is an indication that making the dream of alternative energy real in a spot as treasured as the Great Lakes may be harder than imagined.
Renewable energy has consequences and costs too, and blocking some scenic views with one hundred to two hundred 35-story high wind turbines would be one of them.

The again I'm surprised the people wouldn't feel wonderfully virtuous to gaze out on a massive farm of 200 spinning turbines in front of their formerly scenic beaches and lakescapes.

Of course, a nice compact nuclear plant would take up much less room and produce more, and more reliable, power to boot. But we can't have that in this brave new green world.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Democrats to the nation - Watch us rush through a plan to mess up another 16% of the economy

So with combined high-pressure tactics, outright bribery in order to rush through a multi-thousand page bil so obama can get a Christmas present.

Of course rushing through a massive alteration of the way the nation handles health care leads to unintended consequences (unintended hell, if they weren't intendedm the changes wouldn't be in the bill!) such as the destruction of the Flexible Savings Account.
How will health care reform impact my flexible spending account?

Currently, the cap for contributions to flexible spending accounts is about $4,500 on average nationally, according to Save Flexible Spending Plans, an organization dedicated to protecting flexible spending accounts, also known as FSAs. But this cap is likely to drop to $2,500, as both the House and Senate bills lower the cap to that amount with the aim of helping the government collect more tax revenue.

“Unfortunately, the FSA is an unintended consequence of health care reform,” said Jody Dietel, executive director of Save Flexible Spending Plans. “They were identified early on as a source of revenue rather than as sound health care policy.”

In terms of differences between the bills, under the House bill, consumers can’t use these accounts to pay for over-the-counter medications, while under the Senate bill, consumers can use the accounts to pay for such medications if they get a prescription from their doctor. In addition, under the Senate bill, FSAs will be included in calculating the taxes insurers (and ultimately companies and individuals) will be hit with if they offer more generous plans, which could further encourage employers to drop such plans.
Of course this results in more taxable transactions and hence more revenue...any bets on whether its really an "unintended consequence".

It used to be that before you ran roughshod over a major portion of the economy and passed laws to drastically affect everyday life for all Americans, that you'd take your time, analyze the possibilities and come up with something workable.

Instead, it seems the Democrats are in a tizzy to get something, anything, shoved through the legislative process and into law and to hell with the unintended and very real and intended consequences.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Nationwide Backberry Outage

Yep, you never know how reliant you are on technology until it stops working.

I confess I'm a crackberry addict, relying on it for emails and communication back to the office when i;m in court or elsewhere.

So tonight, while there is a deposition set for tomorrow morning. The defendant's attorney who set it is now saying he won't produce his client, the plaintiff's attorney is saying he's going to show up there anyways, and I, representing the third-party defendant (The humble innocent being blamed by the defendant for all the evils under the sun of course), am left to figure out whether this thing is going to go or not.

Did I mention Defendant just happened to produce 670 pages of long overdue documents responsive to discovery requests today at 4pm, just in time for his client's deposition upon the morrow?

Of course while the emails are flying thick and fast regarding the schedule for the dep, the blackberry stops receiving them or sending.

Turns out I'm not alone.

There's apparently a nation-wide Blackberry outage.

Clearly this thorny deposition problem will not be solved tonight, so the legal battle resumes tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Strange Recall News on Swine Flu Vaccine for Kids

Kids' Swine flu shots recalled; not strong enough

As if we needed any more bad news on the Swine Flu vaccine:
Hundreds of thousands of swine flu shots for children have been recalled because tests indicate the vaccine doses lost some strength, government health officials said Tuesday....

Dr. Anne Schuchat, a CDC flu expert, stressed that parents don't need to do anything or to worry if their child got one - or even two - of the recalled shots. The vaccine is safe and effective, she said.

The issue is the vaccine's strength. Tests done before the shots were shipped showed that the vaccines were strong enough. But tests done weeks later indicated the strength had fallen slightly below required levels.
On the one hand, the article indicates the hundreds of thousands of doses are being recalled for losing their effective strength but don't worry "The vaccine is safe and effective".


It is both safe and effective yet it is being recalled - does this make any sense?

Or is this pronouncement something like "The vaccination was a success but the patient still got the flu".

Wholesale and Core Inflation Up - Are We Looking At The Beginning of Obama's (and Our) Stagflaltion Woes?

Yahoo news reports that the November wholesale inflation up more than expected.

Greater than expected by whom? When you dump billions of dollars into the economy and deficit spend like there's no tomorrow, inflation is somewhat predictable.

Inflation at the wholesale level surged in November, reflecting price jumps in energy and other products. The bigger-than-expected increase is certain to raise the attention of Federal Reserve policymakers beginning a two-day meeting on interest rates.

The Fed has been able to keep interest rates at record-low levels to bolster the shaky recovery, but if inflation pressures begin to mount, the central bank could be forced to start raising rates sooner than expected.

The Labor Department says wholesale prices jumped 1.8 percent in November, more than double the 0.8 percent gain analysts expected. Core inflation, which excludes energy and food, rose 0.5 percent, the biggest increase in more than a year.
A core inflation rate of .5 per month if it is sustained is a rate of 6% per year which is quite high, and a wholesale rate which includes energy and food if sustained would equal an annual inflation rate of 21.6%, and even if it returns to the lower expected amount of .8% would mean inflation of 9.6% per year.

Let's see, unemployment in double digits, inflation going up in tandem with unemployment.

Can you say "Stagflation"?

The Obama administration keeps looking like Jimmy Carter 2 not just in foreign policy but now also on the domestic economic front.

Very Wrong Car There Dudes

Armed teens tried to carjack officer

In a sterling example of a lousy victim selection process, five teen criminals attempt to car jack a Pittsburgh police officer.
Officer Caytlin Wood had her engine running Monday afternoon before heading for the 4-to-midnight shift when she saw five teens behaving suspiciously in the Bloomfield neighborhood. She called for backup to investigate.

Police say a 14-year-old boy demanded the car while pointing a gun at Wood, who was wearing a sweat shirt over her police uniform. They say the boy ran when Wood stepped out but she caught him a block away. They say backup officers caught the other teens, aged 14 to 17.

The juveniles have been charged with robbery of a motor vehicle and criminal conspiracy. The 14-year-old boy has been charged with illegal possession of a firearm.
Not only do they pick an armed law enforcement officer as a victim, then one of them gets caught by her after they all try to run away.

Very Nice job on the part of the officer to not only defend herself but also catch the twerp pointing a gun at her, and let's hope she just cut 5 future criminal careers short.

Monday, December 14, 2009

As Gun Sales increase so do Wildlife Funds

Obama has been fittingly referred to as "Gun salesman of the year", and those sales not only make their legal and responsible buyers safer, but they also benefit Michigan wildlife.

The Detroit Free Press:
In record numbers, Guns and ammo fly off shelves
Michigan expects record $17M in taxes from sales

The continued high-volume sale of guns and ammunition nationwide in the last year will lead to a big increase in funds for wildlife habitat and management across the country, including Michigan.

A federal tax collected on firearms and ammunition sales is redistributed to wildlife and hunting programs in each state, and only three -- Alaska, Texas and Pennsylvania -- get more money than the $17 million Michigan is expecting this year: $6 million more than last year's record.

With budget cuts and the coming merger of the state's departments of natural resources and environmental quality, the extra bucks will come in handy.

Besides funding hunter education and wildlife management, the tax is used to lease land from farmers to give hunters access and to operate the state's 128 game and wildlife areas.
Because Michigan has so many hunters and so much natural land set aside for hunting and wildlife it gets a nice portion of the excise tax.

Of course a lot of these purchases aren't for hunting:
One reason for the rush is that many gun owners thought the election of President Barack Obama would usher in a new call for gun restrictions. Another is the popularity of concealed-weapon permits, like those in Michigan, that allow owners to keep firearms in purses or glove boxes if they have a permit. And there's also the broadening of the state law that allows people to defend themselves with deadly force, even outside their own homes.

Guns are no longer taboo. Single moms, college students and even older women are buying them and learning how to use them, McMahon said.
Given Obama's record on supporting over-the-top gun control including bans on ownership, combine it with a Democrat majority in the House and Senate and its no wonder people are stocking up while they can. I'm betting the Democrats will try to sneak some gun control laws including outright bans through between the 2010 Congressional elections and the 2012 Presidential election.

Sadly, the Detroit Free Press misses a great opportunity to point out that this massive increase in firewarms purchases has not led to "blood in the streets", the "return of the OK Corral", or any other of the many canards of the media and gun banning movement. One can't have everything, and the article was decidedly less anti-gun than many a Free Press article has been in the past, so there is still hope for continued improvement.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Movie Cops get permit, shoot film a day early and almost get shot

When you're running around dressed as cops and brandishing firearms and then kicking in doors, its a good thing to let the real police know, especially in Detroit.

The Detroit News: Movie cops tripped up by real officers in Detroit
As movie cameras roll, a group of actors brandishing weapons is poised to kick in the front door of a house.

A squad of police officers suddenly rushes into view, pistols drawn.

"Get on the ground!" one cop yells. "Don't move!"

The actors are playing a part; their weapons are fake. But the cops -- and their guns -- are quite real.

This scenario has played out twice in Detroit in recent weeks, when film crews shooting scenes involving weapons were mistaken for real criminals by police because the moviemakers hadn't obtained the proper permits from the city.

Apparently the film crew on this occasion suffered from PMS - Premature Moviemaking Syndrome:
The company had applied for a permit through the Mayor's Office. The confusion occurred because the application was for Nov. 6 -- a day after the crew filmed at the northwest side home of actor Jermaine Allen.
Being a day early could have had some serious consequences, for now its only a misdemeanor ticket for possession of and brandishing facsimile weapons. Luckily no one was hurt this time, and next time, hopefully they'll get a permit for the right day.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Happy Hannukah - A Tetradrachm of Antiochus IV Epiphanes

Obverse: Diademed Head of Antiochus IV Epiphanes facing right

Reverse: Zeus seated holding a spear in one hand and Nike the goddess of victory in the other.

Inscription: Basileos Antiochou Theou Epiphaniou Nikephorou - Of King Antiochus God Made Manifest Carrier of Victory.

Sadly, such a fine silver tetradrachm is not yet in my collection but its on my list of coins to eventually acquire. A Greek coin, but also an impressive and tangible link to Jewish history, especially at this time of the year.

Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights is a celebration of liberation from tyranny, and its about the liberation of Israel from the rule of Antiochus IV Epiphanes.

When the Hellenized Assyrians, led by Antiochus Epiphanes IV attempted to force the Jews to worship Antiochus as a god, such worship the Jews, led by Judah Maccabeus took quite an exception and led an uprising against the Syrians starting in 165 BC which eventually drove them from Israel and led to the rise of the Jewish Hasmonean dynasty from the Maccabees descendants.

The victorious Maccabees reclaimed the temple and purified and rededicated it.

The story of the lamp oil supply only enough for one day that ended up lasting for 8 days until more purified oil could be obtained is a later addition to the story. Its the reason the Hanukkiah (Menorah) with 9 candlesticks with eight of them representing the eight days and the other the watchman candle that lights them.

The story was added to change the focus of the story of Hanukkah from a military victory to a more spiritual one. Regardless of the veracity of the story of the oil, it is a fun holiday and a good way to remember a historic Jewish victory over more numerous and better armed enemies. The tasty latkes (fried potato pancakes) and sufganiot (fried dough topped with powdered sugar) along with gifts for the kids only sweetens the memory of that historic victory.

Happy Hanukkah!

An American Jihadi in Pakistan

Ok, there's not one but five of them, yet it seems reminiscent of the plot of An American Werewolf in London with carefree American travelling to foreign lands ... but this trip could have produced a higher body count than the one in the movie:

US official: Pakistan expected to deport US youths
senior State Department official said Friday the U.S. expects Pakistan to deport five young Americans detained after they allegedly sought to join up with terrorist groups and left behind a video saying fellow Muslims must be defended.

The State Department official said Friday that it is not yet clear whether the five men may have broken any Pakistani or U.S. laws during their stay in Pakistan. The five allegedly told local investigators they were trying to connect with al-Qaida-linked militant groups and intended to cross the border into Afghanistan and fight U.S. troops there.
Nice, grow up in the US so you can go fight Americans. Of course, unlike the star of An American Werewolf, these aren't your typical all-American youths just in town to have a good time:
Police have said those detained included three Pakistani Americans, two Ethiopian Americans and an Egyptian American named Ramy Zamzam who is a dental student at Howard University. The others were identified as Waqar Hussain Khan, Umer Farooq, Ahmad Abdul Minni and Aman Hassan Yamer. Pakistani officials have given various versions of their names and the spellings could not be confirmed.

Farooq's father, Khalid Farooq, also was detained. Pakistan police officials say the elder Farooq had a computer business in Virginia and shuttled between the U.S. and Pakistan.

Instead of innocently touring around and getting bit by a werewolf, they were trying to become werewolves and to get hooked up with their fellow jihadis:
Thursday the five men wanted to join militants in Pakistan's tribal areas before crossing into Afghanistan. He said they met representatives from the al-Qaida-linked Jaish-e-Mohammed militant group in the southeastern city of Hyderabad and from a related group, Jamaat-ud-Dawa, in Lahore, but were turned away because they were not trusted.

Sad, not even trusted enough to join the second-stringers.
While Pakistani officials have said the men admitted trying to connect with militant groups, an FBI note sent to American lawmakers said the bureau has "no information linking them to terrorist organizations."
This is hardly reassuring. Then again, given the pressure by organizations like CAIR to hamper the FBI from investigating radical Islamists in the US including in their radical mosques, its not surprising.

how many more like these five are out there (not to mention what will be done to keep track of them once they are deported from Pakistan) and what's the FBI doing to stop them bringing jihad to the USA?

How many made their jihadi pilgrimage uninterrupted, and will they be caught before they try and reenter the USA?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Against the Zionist Enemy or just more Arab games of Aliens v Predator?

Solomonia reports that the Al-Aqsa Martyr Brigades (one of the implausible deniability wings of Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah in the Gaza strip are forgoing buying food for their kids so they can spend the money on weapons.

The reason? The official one from Fatah is
the renewal of the threats emanating from the Zionist military establishment to carry out a new attack on the Gaza Strip... the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades... warned of a harsh and painful response that the occupation state is not expecting.
Of Course, the same Fatah website notes that
many of the Brigades' Jihad (Islamic War) fighters purchase weapons rather than food for their children, and many of them have even sold their wives' gold [jewelry] in order to obtain weapons, since the Hamas forces have confiscated the Brigades' members' weapons

What's the odds that the whole "threats emanating from the Zionist military establishment" is just a pretense to cover Fatah purchasing weapons to be ready for the next go-round with Hamas for control of Gaza?

After all, it was according to the article Hamas that confiscated their weapons from them the first time.

Snow in Michigan - A Clear Sign of Global Cooling

I blame the Copenhagen Conference.

Every time politicians gather to pontificate about the peril of Global Warming and how the earth is heating up we get cold weather, typically with snow. It seems that CO2 emitted by politicians in the form of masses of hot air has a damaging cooling effect upon the earth.

Of course, discovering that the scientists are cooking the data to make cooling trends appear to be warming trends to fit their conceptual model that the earth is warming isn't helping either.

Adding the news of the EPA announcing they are treating CO2 as a pollutant harmful to humans due to the threat of global warming is the ice on the cake so to speak - a sure sign we're in for a rough, cold winter.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Now Featuring - Michigan's Dumb Criminals

Police: Man's snowy footprints lead to his arrest
I'd say he didn't get the drift:
Police on Monday said a woman saw the man walk away from her car with a drill she bought.

Officers followed footprints to an apartment in the community about 30 miles west-southwest of Detroit and heard people inside arguing about stolen property.

. . .officers searched the apartment and didn't find the drill, but identified a man who fit the suspect's description and whose shoe size and tread matched footprints left in the snow.

Police detained the man and followed another trail of footprints from the apartment to a Dumpster, where they recovered the drill.

FBI: Mich. pair tried to extort actor John Stamos
It could have been worse - they could have tried extorting Chuck Norris and ended up getting kicked into next year:
Prosecutors have charged two people with threatening to sell photos of actor John Stamos unless he paid them $680,000. The actor's spokesman said Tuesday that the pictures were benign.

Allison Coss and Scott Sippola were arrested Dec. 3 on an extortion charge at an airport near Marquette, 450 miles north of Detroit. An undercover FBI agent posing as a representative of Stamos had arranged to meet them there. . . During a search of a Marquette home shared by the pair, the FBI found pieces of paper with Stamos' cell phone number and the names and phone numbers of three tabloid magazines.

Kilpatrick booster pleads guilty to felony tax charge
Ah, the Kilpatrick magic, the mayoral gift that keeps on giving and grants felonies to fellow conspirators:
A homeless shelter operator who lavished nonprofit money on funds controlled by former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and other politicians faces a possible two-year prison sentence after he pleaded guilty Tuesday to a felony tax charge.

Jon Rutherford, 60, of Orchard Lake, who headed the nonprofit group Metro Emergency Services Inc., was indicted in 2006 along with his former controller, Judith Bugaiski, 51, of Sterling Heights. Rutherford and Bugaiski are to be sentenced May 20 after each pleaded guilty to a five-year conspiracy charge in front of U.S. District Judge Marianne O. Battani.

Among the allegations was that Rutherford diverted about $750,000 from his Highland Park homeless shelter to make illegal political donations to Kilpatrick and others. Rutherford allegedly pumped tens of thousands into Kilpatrick's nonprofit, the Kilpatrick Civic Fund, and paid tens of thousands in consulting fees to the former mayor's father, Bernard N. Kilpatrick.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Range Trip Report

Yesterday, I was assigned to be the Range Safety Officer for my local club. Heading out I overheard my 6 year old daughter ask my wife why I was heading out the door -

"Where is Daddy going"
"To the range to make sure everyone behaves safely"
"Why, are all the people there goofballs?"

Yes Abby, there are some goofballs, but luckily not too many showed up last night.

The range on Sunday nights is open to the public and you occasionally get some types for whom firearm safety is not just on their priority list, its often a completely foreign concept.

Of course, the second RSO scheduled to be there didn't show up so I had to run things on my own, and of course, clean up and shut down the range on my own as well.

So I get there early to setup and of course the keys are missing from the clubhouse. They don't trust the range officers with keys, we have to go sign them out from the staff at the clubhouse. Grand. Luckily the Chief RO is hanging out at the bar and gives me his keys - note the status differential - Chief RO keys, everyone else, no keys.

So I open up, get the lights on and the blower going and get the range ready to go. A few group of three people show up just to look around as I'm setting up and when I tell them its open to the public and they can shoot they're quite happy. They turn out to be IDPA shooters so I'm happy - excellent understanding of safety and good gun handling skills equal no holes in the walls, roof, floor or most importantly any person.

A few members show up and shoot, a few more non-members show up and the night goes on, a few tips on safety are distributed by yours truly as the hours go by. An RO not on duty comes in to shoot and he spells me and lets me shoot a bit.

I put 100 rounds through my CZ-82. It was just as reliable and accurate as before. I had gone in on a purchase with two friends of 1000 rounds of the Silver Bear 9x18mm Makarov hollow points and wanted to see how they did. With a Muzzle velocity of 1,000 F.P.S. and Muzzle energy of 255 ft.-lbs I expected them to be pretty zippy (a technical shooting term), considering a .38 special+P has a 945 velocity and 248ft.-lbs.

They were a bit sharper than the Wolf 9x18 Makarov FMJ I had brought along for comparison, but no hurdle to shooting accurately and quickly. However, they had another interesting feature.

The Silver Bears had a huge muzzle flash. From the sight picture it looked like massive sparks erupting from the gun with every shot. The other RO certainly noticed the huge flash from them.

Part of Russian secret defense technique - if hollow point doesn't stop them, set them on fire comrades!

The Wolf FMJ by comparison had very little if any flash, at least from the shooter's point of view.

However the 100 rounds (50 Silver Bear and 50 Wolf) all hit the target nice and accurately and with the almost imperceptible recoil of the CZ-82, very fast strings of accurate shots are possible:

Basically, while the 9x18 may not be the end-all be-all defensive cartridge, considering you can accurately empty 13 rounds from a CZ-82 very accurately and rapidly, I'd think it would be quite adequate to stop an attacker, but I'd recommend sticking to the Hornady 9x18 hollow points for self defense, unless you like flame throwers as a carry item.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Dive 118 - Another Day, Another Dive

So this morning, 6 divers went to Maceday Lake to see if the visibility had improved any since a few of them dove there last week -

It had not.

Previously I've dove Maceday with excellent visibility. Today, not so much. The viz was about 5 feet, meaning you can see five feet away from you and then nothing in the haze.

I had suggested we do the dive in buddy teams but they wanted to stay as a group of 6. Down we went and it was fun from the start.

I dropped down to 35 feet and tied the flag off on the post that is conveniently placed at that locaton. Then, we went looking for the two sunken boats that none of the other divers had seen, which sit at 86 feet. On a day with good viz you can see both boats. Today was not that day. Instead we were slowly searching until we found the first boat at 86 feet.

At least two of us did anyways (John and myself). The other four got lost quite quickly in the viz, with divers 3 and 4 separating off and ending up way out there, and 5 and 6 heading back in relatively quickly (one was in a 7 mil wetsuit and was cold).

John and I then followed the line from the first boat to the second boat, which none of them had seen and we hung around for a while and then came across diver 6 and we surfaced going up the float line, which we left attached as we didn't know if the other divers were out of the water yet.

Of course we didn't see 3 and 4 anywhere on the surface and didn't see any bubbles breaking the surface of the water either. Since 6 and I were the only ones in doubles with plenty of air left, we went to search for them in case they got lost.

Of course, the viz sucked and finding them was a losing proposition. We then we signaled by diver 2 that 3 and 4 were ok. They had come up away from the float and headed in without us seeing them.

All in all, a good dive, after all, I found the boats!.

The details: 38 minutes, 45 cool degrees, and 87 feet maximum depth on the dive computer.

Maceday is cold, dark and silty, and a nice spot to go diving to practice handling depths and ascents from the deep. Its a different world from the 30-40 feet depths of Union Lake and there's a real difference in pressure, both physical from the water and mental from seeing the numbers on your dive computer.

On the downside, getting to and from the water is a pain and a half, especially in doubles as its a good walk down a steep path to the water and then have to go up the trail when you're done the dive - getting to and from the water is more than half the fun.

Also today a good lesson was learned: A group of 6 divers is too big. Next time we're in teams of two or three max even if were all together -- much easier to manage.

Great dive, good bunch of people and fun stuff to see. A good way to spend a morning.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Dive 2009

So while most of you were still snug in your beds on this cool Thanksgiving Day morning, I joined the fearless (or folhardy) few and at 8:30 am began our traditional Thanksgiving Day dive.

The water was a brisk 42 degrees and 46 at the surface.

We had an excellent turnout and the dock was packed with cars with over 20 divers in the water during the morning.

One diver on the way as we were going in was moving like a train wreck, while towing a float with 3/4" thick bright yellow polypropylene floaty rope - yes the rope that has "major entanglement hazard" as its main selling feature - the stuff is designed to ensnare you and really wreck your underwater day. Of course he's blissfully whipping through our formation like were not even there while towing this rope that is just everywhere. That guy had the situational awareness of a dead water-buffalo.

Once we got past Mr. I'll entangle you in my line, the dive was great. Some nice big Bass were frolicking by the sunken boats, buoyancy and trim were decent and a good time was had by all. Rob was getting a little low on air while diving an AL80 so I shared hair from my double tanks and we swam around some more.

48 minute dive. Started with 3000 psi in my doubles, ended with 2000 even after the air share. Also met and dove with Scott and John for the first time- good guys and nice new additions to our dive team.

The tradition continues.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Outrageous Lawfare Stupidity of the Day: SEALS Charged with Assault for Capturing Wanted Terrorist

You've got to be kidding. Not sure if this is a result of the Eurofication of our military and the desire to turn the American way of war into a law enforcement and court-dominated system in the hope it will have everyone like us or what.

Navy SEALs Face Assault Charges for Capturing Most-Wanted Terrorist
Navy SEALs have secretly captured one of the most wanted terrorists in Iraq — the alleged mastermind of the murder and mutilation of four Blackwater USA security guards in Fallujah in 2004. And three of the SEALs who captured him are now facing criminal charges, sources told

The three, all members of the Navy's elite commando unit, have refused non-judicial punishment — called an admiral's mast — and have requested a trial by court-martial.

Ahmed Hashim Abed, whom the military code-named "Objective Amber," told investigators he was punched by his captors — and he had the bloody lip to prove it.

Now, instead of being lauded for bringing to justice a high-value target, three of the SEAL commandos, all enlisted, face assault charges and have retained lawyers.
A bloody lip? And we charge three of America's elite soldiers with assault for capturing this scumbag?

Has our defense establishment gone nuts?

The scumbag is no average guy off the street either:
The source said intelligence briefings provided to the SEALs stated that "Objective Amber" planned the 2004 Fallujah ambush, and "they had been tracking this guy for some time."

The Fallujah atrocity came to symbolize the brutality of the enemy in Iraq and the degree to which a homegrown insurgency was extending its grip over Iraq.

The four Blackwater agents were transporting supplies for a catering company when they were ambushed and killed by gunfire and grenades. Insurgents burned the bodies and dragged them through the city. They hanged two of the bodies on a bridge over the Euphrates River for the world press to photograph.

Intelligence sources identified Abed as the ringleader, but he had evaded capture until September.
So for capturing a terrorist, and he gets a little hurt during capture and now based on his allegation of "abuse" were prosecuting our troops?


hat tip: Solomonia. (If you don't read his blog yet, you owe it to yourself to start).

Monday, November 23, 2009

SANS to Lawyers: Watch your data

As if the legal profession doesn't have enough on its plate, Lawyers needs to be on the lookout for hackers: SANS NewsBites Vol. 11 Num. 91 : Hackers now targeting law firms to get secret corporate negotiating information

Interesting story in the Washington Post this morning by Lolita Baldor of the Associate Press on an FBI announcement that attackers are now targeting law firms with the same advanced techniques they are using against government and defense contractors.
An almost identical announcement was made in a private letter to the
heads of the 300 largest companies in the United Kingdom, from the head
of MI5. The UK announcement was made two years ago.
The SANS Institute is a great cyber security resource and Lawyers need to keep their IT people on their toes and their servers secure to protect their clients' data.

Thanks to Scott of Providentia for the tip.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Now who could have guessed - 9/11 Defendants seeking a show trial

Fox News: The five men facing trial in the Sept. 11 attacks will plead not guilty so that they can air their criticisms of U.S. foreign policy, the lawyer for one of the defendants said Sunday.

Nice Job There Obama and Holder after all I'm sure you considered this possibility when you decided to put terorrists, captured overseas, who already confessed to their acts a civil hearing in New York, right ?
Scott Fenstermaker, the lawyer for accused terrorist Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali, said the men would not deny their role in the 2001 attacks but "would explain what happened and why they did it."

The U.S. Justice Department announced earlier this month that Ali and four other men accused of murdering nearly 3,000 people in the nation's deadliest terrorist attack will face a civilian federal trial just blocks from the World Trade Center site.

Ali, also known as Ammar al-Baluchi, is a nephew of professed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

Mohammed, Ali and the others will explain "their assessment of American foreign policy," Fenstermaker said.

"Their assessment is negative," he said.

Who could have guessed?

Ancient Coin Post - A Denarius of Caracalla

Obverse: Laureate and drapped bust of Caracalla facing right.

Reverse: Trophy with two captives seated at base
Inscription: PART MAX PONT TRP V

This silver coin, slightly larger than a dime, can be dated to precisely 202 AD, as Caracalla had the Tribunician Power, for the 5th time in 202 AD, hence the TRP V on the coin.

M. Aurelius Antonius, better known as Caracalla, was the son of he Emperor Septimius Severus and was Emperor from 198-217 AD. After Severus's death he ruled jointly with his brother Geta until 212 AD when Caracalla had him assassinated so he could rule alone.

The trophy shows off Caracalla's military virtues, important for the loyalty of his soldiers as well as the Praetorian Guard. Caracalla participated in campaigns against the Alamanni in Germany in 213, and two expeditions to Britain in 208 and 210 AD. He was also involved in campaigns against the Parthians, hence the PART MAX - Parthicus Maximus - on the coin inscription.

Caracallas' granting of extra pay also didn't hurt in gaining the troops loyalty either. Caracalla raised the annual pay of an average legionary to 675 denarii and he followed the lesson given him by his father Septimius Severus who had told him to always mind the soldiers and ignore everyone else.

Caracalla however didn't need too much retirement planning as in 217 AD he was assassinated by his Praetorian Guard Prefect Macrinus, which then set off further turmoil and a series of very short lived emperors.

Not until 36 years later, in 253 AD will we find a Roman Emperor that will last for 10 years on the throne. Quite a number of the short lived emperors did strike coins until they were struck down themselves and thus leave behind artifacts of their short lived reigns.

Holder: Holding Hands Rather Than Stopping Future Attacks

So after Fort Hood, what did AG Holder do? Focus on the agencies failure to again connect the dots regarding the definitley strange activity of Major jihadi Hassan?

Nope, instead:
About 24 hours after hearing of the shootings at Ft. Hood, Texas, federal officials were on the phone with Imad Hamad, the Dearborn-based director with the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. Their goal: to check for any backlash against local Arab Americans, Muslims and other minorities.

The swift actions were part of a little-known program called the Incident Community Coordination Team, created to ensure open dialogue between law enforcement and minority communities during high-profile incidents.

How about instead of rushing off and kissing terrorist supporters backsides here in Detroit and investing time and money against a non-existent "backlash" you properly screened against potential jihadis at the outset and you know prevented the "lash" in the first place?

Maybe open a federal investigation into Hassan's enablers? if you have to treat this as solely a law-enforcement problem rather than terrorism how about charging his Imam and others who supported him under RICO or other conspiracy charges hmm?

Not like there was no clue that Major Hassan wasn't exactly on the straight and patriotic narrow, now was there? Do all US Army majors do "research" by emailing known Al Qaeda operatives (and coincidentally Imams?)

Instead as related in the Detroit Free Press Holder and Obama is all about political correctness over protecting Americans:
Reaching out to Arab Americans and Muslims, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder strongly declared in a Detroit speech Thursday night that their full rights must be protected while the country battles security threats.

“We are committed to protecting the rights of all Americans, including Muslims,” Holder told a crowd of hundreds at the Detroit Marriot in the Renaissance Center. “This is not blind adherence to political correctness. It is devotion to our founding documents.”

In recent days, conservatives have assailed the Obama administration for what it sees as a political correctness in dealing with the issue of Islamic extremism.

No kidding, pretending that there is not a serious contingent of Muslims on America that both support terrorism in the name of Islam and are in favor of attacks on Americans is simply blindness brguht on by both political correctness and a desire to return to the blissful days of September 10th.

The current Ultra-Low Intensity Conflict by Muslims against Americans here continues: an attack here, an attack there, plausible denial of any connection or unifying force behind these attacks save all the attackers were adherents of Islam and did so in the name of Islam as much as everyone tries to ignore that or pretend it is incidental to their actions.

Until we wake up and realize that while we're not at war with Islam, a solid portion of Islam is at war with us and take appropriate measures, these attacks will continue as there is no repercussion or deterrent to their continued attacks.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Not Good News - Tamilflu resistant Swine Flu reported in North Carolina

Now this could really suck if it becomes prevalent:

Tamiflu-resistant swine flu cluster reported in NC
Four North Carolina patients at a single hospital tested positive for a type of swine flu that is resistant to Tamiflu, health officials said Friday.

The cases reported at Duke University Medical Center over six weeks make up the biggest cluster seen so far in the U.S.

Tamiflu — made by Switzerland's Roche Group — is one of two flu medicines that help against swine flu, and health officials have been closely watching for signs that the virus is mutating, making the drugs ineffective.

More than 50 resistant cases have been reported in the world since April, including 21 in the U.S. Almost all in the U.S. were isolated, said officials with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The BBC reported another cluster of five Tamiflu-resistant cases this week in Wales, in the United Kingdom.

The CDC has sent three disease investigators to North Carolina to help in the investigation there, said Dave Daigle, a CDC spokesman. CDC testing confirmed the Tamiflu-resistant cases.

All four cases at the hospital were very ill patients in an isolated cancer unit on the hospital's ninth floor, and it is believed they all caught the flu while at the hospital, said Dr. Daniel Sexton, professor of medicine and director of the Duke Infection Control Outreach Network.

Three of the four patients died and one is recovering, he said. Flu seems to have been a factor in each death, but they were very sick so it was hard to say that it was the primary cause, he added....

It is really not good news if one of the two leading antiviral medications (the other being Relenza) becomes ineffective in dealing with the flu.

The Swine Flu Blues 3 - Fever Free and Coughing

Well, woke up today feeling lousy but no fever.

Of course my digital thermometer says I'm 94 degrees so I just may be dead and not know it, or I need a new thermometer.

The cough remains but I'm clearly on the mend. Hopefully it clears up so I can get to work Monday and get out of this house.

In other news, apparently the H1N1 vaccine works well on adults in one dose even if it fails miserably for kids. Natasha after being exposed to all three of us in full flu mode is still 100% fever free. Good to know they got something right with the vaccine.

The only lingering effect so far is a profound belief that Christopher Walken is a horribly neglected and underrated actor. I mean the man has only won ONE Oscar - where's the justice in that?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

When in a Hole, Even Ex-Mayors of Detroit should stop Digging

Once again, its not the crime but the cover-up, or in this case an apparent failure to be candid about his financial ability to pay his court ordered restitution that is plaguing the ex-mayor of Detroit, Kwame Kilpatrick. The story keeps changing and spinning and it may end up with his returning to jail if he can't get his story straight.

Kilpatrick's friends helped pay part of his restitution, hearing reveals

One would have thought that he would have learned after already being caught committing perjury and lying to cover it up. As his former honor keeps trying to brazen it out, its not going to get any better.
New doubts surfaced Wednesday about former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's claim that he doesn't know how his rent is paid on his million-dollar Texas home when an FBI agent testified that Kilpatrick was intimately involved in the lease negotiations.

And Kilpatrick, who testified three weeks ago that he didn't know whether his wife, Carlita Kilpatrick, had a job, said Wednesday on the witness stand: "At this particular time, I have the only income in the home."

Kilpatrick raised more eyebrows during the third day of his restitution hearing when he testified that he has borrowed thousands of dollars from friends to make his restitution payments.

"There's so many different people giving you so much money that you can't even keep it straight, is that what you're telling us, sir?" asked Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Athina Siringas, drawing a rebuke from Wayne County Circuit Judge David Groner.

The revelations stood out on a day in which prosecutors sought to convince Groner that Kilpatrick has violated his probation by hiding his assets.

They also tried to prove that a $240,000 loan Kilpatrick received from local business leaders was really a gift that should have been reported to the court.

But the top Compuware attorney who drafted the deal testified that the business leaders always had intended only to lend Kilpatrick the money.
Doubts raised on rent claim

Three weeks ago, Kilpatrick said he didn't know who was paying his rent.

On Wednesday, an FBI agent testified that Kilpatrick approved the deal.

Lying doesn't work because it can be hard to keep your story straight, especially if someone checks up on it. That's why you tell the truth under oath as when its followed up and you're found to be lying, its not going to go well:

Siringas also grilled Kilpatrick on how he pays his monthly restitution to the city.

He said he might borrow $1,000, go to the ATM, withdraw money here and there. He said he stockpiles the money.

"Stockpile?" Siringas asked.

Kilpatrick caught himself.

"I shouldn't have said that," he said, chuckling.
Ooops, that had to hurt.

It also seems that Kwame's friends who were appointed to office by him have been generous in helping him out now:
Another surprising development Wednesday came when Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Athina Siringas divulged that the mother of longtime Kilpatrick friends DeDan and Kandia Milton paid $12,500 toward Kilpatrick's restitution.

Even Kilpatrick was surprised about one aspect of the revelation: He testified that he thought the Miltons' mother, Sandra Ramsey, loaned him only $10,000. He learned from prosecutors that an additional $2,500 he thought DeDan Milton had loaned him had actually come from Ramsey.

Ramsey and her sons were all high-ranking political appointees during Kilpatrick's nearly two terms as mayor.

DeDan Milton was an assistant to Kilpatrick who later represented Kilpatrick on one of the city's pension boards. Kandia Milton had risen to deputy mayor by the time Kilpatrick resigned in September 2008.

Siringas slammed Kilpatrick for borrowing the money from Ramsey shortly after receiving a $150,000 installment of a $240,000 loan from four prominent local businessmen.

Kilpatrick said Ramsey helped him make the payment because "to leave town, to get to my wife and children, I had to pay that. ... She gave me some money."
Nice to have such loyalty.

And the gift/loan from the four Detroit Businessmen continues to be in question, with the loan documents only being created after the IRS and FBI started investigating:
Prosecutors argued Wednesday that a $240,000 loan to Kilpatrick from four prominent businessmen was actually a gift.

As evidence, the prosecution called as a witness Compuware lawyer Daniel Follis, who testified that the repayment terms on the loan -- the promissory notes -- weren't completed until after the FBI and IRS came calling.

Siringas argued that was evidence the loan was a gift.

Schwartz attacked the prosecution's theory that it was a gift with Follis' testimony that not one of the business leaders who made the loan to Kilpatrick ever said to Follis that the money was a gift.
The real question is who put these businessmen up to these "gift/loans" and what were they either promised to receive in return or threatened with to ensure their compliance:
John Rakolta Jr., chairman and chief executive officer of the Walbridge construction company, reiterated Wednesday that he never agreed to lend any money to Kilpatrick.

"I was asked and declined the opportunity to participate in the loan after consulting with my closest advisers. I know Pete, Jim, Roger and Dan very well, and I have the utmost respect for them both professionally and personally. They are men of honor and integrity and have worked tirelessly for the betterment of the city of Detroit," Rakolta said in a statement issued Tuesday.
You'll note it does not identify who asked him for his donation, and curiously there is no follow-up.

You can be sure that Kwame's Kontortions aren't done yet.

Swine Flue Blues 2 - So far So Good

The fever is lower today. No serious complications to report, it just feels as yucky and lethargy inducing as any other flu. Captain Trips this is not.

The only weird effect with this flu so far is that this scene from SNL keeps going through my mind:

Contagious isn't it?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Swine Flu Blues - A Personal experience with H1N1

Well, I went to bed yesterday feeling pretty lousy and running a fever and felt worse and more feverish this morning.

I was quite sure what I had, thanks to the two lovable little disease vectors in my house.

So I called ahead and then went to the doctor and after they had masked up they started to examine me.

The test for swine flu, for those of you who are curious, involves shoving a swab all the way up your nose until it feels like its stirring your brains. The swab is then put in a test tube and tah da! I've officially got H1N1A, and the case gets reported as a statistic to Oakland County Community Health! Yay me!

The doc told me the CDC is not recommending Tamilflu for my age group and general good state of health, but recommended talking plenty of ibuprofen, zinc and vitamin C, and a prescription anti-cough medication. As long as I don't have trouble breathing it should be just fine. I was also given a N95 mask to wear while walking out of the office to the car. The kids, showing the compassion for which they are famous, have hand drawn a cute pig snout on the mask to recognize my swine flu.

It feels just like any other flu - chills, sweats, coughs, sneezes, general lethargy and wanting to sleep a lot. No going to work until I'm fever free for 24 hours which apparently takes a few days so I'll be working from home for a while. Blogging will be fit in in between bouts of passing out.

Armed Maersk Alabama Repels Pirates, International Community Appalled

An interesting example of the ideological fallacy of those who believe that "you don't need a gun the police will save you" on the high seas.

Maersk Alabama repels 2nd pirate attack with guns

Somali pirates attacked the Maersk Alabama on Wednesday for the second time in seven months and were thwarted by private guards on board the U.S.-flagged ship who fired off guns and a high-decibel noise device.

. . .

Pirates hijacked the Maersk Alabama last April and took ship captain Richard Phillips hostage, holding him at gunpoint in a lifeboat for five days. Navy SEAL sharpshooters freed Phillips while killing three pirates in a daring nighttime attack.

Four suspected pirates in a skiff attacked the ship again on Wednesday around 6:30 a.m. local time, firing on the ship with automatic weapons from about 300 yards (meters) away, a statement from the U.S. Fifth Fleet in Bahrain said.

An on-board security team repelled the attack by using evasive maneuvers, small-arms fire and a Long Range Acoustic Device, which can beam earsplitting alarm tones, the fleet said.

The difference in reaction to this successful repelling of pirates by force of arms certainly highlights the tension between the let the navy/police handle it folks and the self-reliant types:
Vice Adm. Bill Gortney of the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, said the Maersk Alabama had followed the maritime industry's "best practices" in having a security team on board.

"This is a great example of how merchant mariners can take proactive action to prevent being attacked and why we recommend that ships follow industry best practices if they're in high-risk areas," Gortney said in a statement.

However, Roger Middleton, a piracy expert at the London-based think tank Chatham House, said the international maritime community was still "solidly against" armed guards aboard vessels at sea, but that American ships have taken a different line than the rest of the international community.

"Shipping companies are still pretty much overwhelmingly opposed to the idea of armed guards," Middleton said. "Lots of private security companies employee people who don't have maritime experience. Also, there's the idea that it's the responsibility of states and navies to provide security. I would think it's a step backward if we start privatizing security of the shipping trade."
An interesting parallel, after all its a big ocean out there and the Navy while it does a fantastic job (as was seen in its freeing of the Maersk Alabama in the first encounter) it can't be everywhere at once, and like in America when seconds count the police are at best minutes away - or even hours by sea to get a naval ship in position to intercept an attack.

Unless the Navy forms and orders merchantmen into convoys through the pirate infested waters they will not be able to guarantee their security and leaves the unarmed ships open to attack.

You'll note above that the American admiral on the scene gets it.

Ceratinly the deterrence effect of an armed civillian ship worked:
The owners of the Maersk Alabama have spent a considerable amount of money since the April hijacking to make the vessel pirate-proof, Murphy said, including structural features and safety equipment. The most dramatic change is what he called a security force of "highly trained ex-military personnel."

"Somali pirates understand one thing and only one thing, and that's force," said Capt. Joseph Murphy, who teaches maritime security at the school. "They analyze risk very carefully, and when the risk is too high they are going to step back. They are not going to jeopardize themselves."

The wife of the Maersk Alabama's captain, Paul Rochford, told WBZ-AM radio in Boston that she was "really happy" there were weapons on board for this attack.

"It probably surprised the pirates. They were probably shocked," Kimberly Rochford. "I'm really happy at least it didn't turn out like the last time."

A self-proclaimed pirate told The Associated Press from the Somali pirate town of Haradhere that colleagues out at sea had called around 9 a.m. — 2 1/2 hours after the attack.

"They told us that they got in trouble with an American ship, then we lost them. We have been trying to locate them since," said a self-described pirate who gave his name as Abdi Nor.
Yeah, mess with armed and prepared Americans rather than squishy others and you're probably not going to like what happens dear pirates.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Pirates Of The Situational Irony

Somali pirates hijack ship, 28 North Korean crew

Talk about a corrundrum. The crew from North Korea, the arguably most moserable place on earth being captured by pirates from Somalia, another country that while high on the sucky locale list keeps vying for the top spot but doesn't quite achieve such a dubious distinction. Is their capture a step up for the crew?

So once the matter is resolved do the North Korean crew press for asylum in Somalia or elsewhere? Did the pirates just unwittingly and unintentionally free a bunch of North Koreans from having to return to a life of misery under a super-totalitarian regime? How much can the North Koreans offer the Somalis to not be released back to North Korea? Time will tell, and hopefully they'll be released unharmed and not returned to North Korea.

Monday, November 16, 2009

One Vaccine shot doesn't do it - Kids now with Swine Flu

Yes, even with the vaccination extravaganza and their each getting a shot, both my kids have now been diagnosed by their doctor with swine flu.

Apparently one shot for kids is insufficient and only gets them a 63% resistant to not getting the flu. A second shot increases that to 75%.

Of course they're diagnosed 11 days after getting the flu shot, so no time to get a second shot even if we could have found one.

Basically it is a pandemic and it sucks. The pediatrician's usual caseload is 17 patients per day, today she had 34 many with the flu.

At the moment the kids are a bit cranky, tired and cold with fevers and bundled up in blankets watching Dora. They'll be at home the next 7 days so they don't spread it to anyone else.

On the upside the doctor prescribed Tamilflu for them and Meijer, showing an amazing example of good corporate citizenship, was giving away the pediatric Tamilflu dosages for free. Good on Meijer for this, and yes, good corporate citizenship like this should be rewarded. It didn't hurt as a start that my wife then spent about $107 shopping in Meijer while waiting for the prescriptions to be made (each pediatric dose is specially mixed and takes time to be mixed to fill the script.).

Hopefully, this too shall pass with no lingering effects and we'll all look back on it as no big deal beyond a case of the cruds and an inconvenience.

How low can he go (and take his country with him?)? The Obama Bow.

First was the bow to the King of Saudi Arabia:

Now comes news of the extra-deep bow to the Emperor of Japan:

You know it's bad when even the LA Times raises some criticism of Obama's extra obsequious bending: How low will he go? Obama gives Japan's Emperor Akihito a wow bow

You'll note it is not mandatory to bow before the emperor, nor necessary to do the inferior to superior bow.

The bow Obama gave was without question one of the inferior to a superior. It is the "here's my neck, you may cut it off if you wish master" bow.

There's a time and appropriate place for it: typically this is the polite bow of a student in a dojo bowing before a master. This was not dojo and Obama is not the Emperor's student. (We could get some fun Star Wars themes going here of Darth Obama bowing before the Emperor..... nah.)

Obama seems by his words and deeds to believe that he has to grovel and scrape to 'restore' America's image in the world, but this is getting ridiculous. Sadly it gives the impression to both our allies and our enemies of weakness, and Obama's acts on the world stage only seems to confirm this impression.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Obama Says he's the First Pacific President - No, But He's a Shoe-in for First Pacifist

He's not the first Pacific President (Good read at Ed via Instapudit.)

But if he meant first pacifist president, insofar as his pacifism involves his surrender of America's interests abroad, he certainly qualifies.

He's shown his pacifism by throwing Eastern Europe's missile defense under the bus for an ethereal promise from Russia to impose sanctions on Iran,eventually, sometime, maybe.

Then dithering on Afghanistan, as if he wants that effort to fail as well.

Now he proposes to have Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other 9/11 terrorists tried as civilians in a civil court setting in New York of all places. Oh and he's now only an alleged terorist. Brilliant. For a number of reasons beginning with the stupidity of fighting a war against terrorists by using criminal courts, to issues with evidence and the circus such a prosecution will bring it shows Obama to be profoundly unserious and pacifistic in dealing with the threats facing the USA.

A Glock and Crimson Trace Lasergrips - A Great Combination

As I await my new/used Detroit PD Glock 22 to arrive at my friendly neighborhood FFL, and given Lagniappe's Keeper's positive review of it, I'm looking forward to it.

I already have a couple Glocks, one of which now has a Crimson Trace Lasersight on it.

For quite some time I was skeptical of laser sights on firearms, considering them a gimmick and unnecessary. But I had the opportunity as an NRA instructor to obtain one for a discount as a training tool and decided to see what the pros and cons were for myself.

Installation was quite simple and the assembly instructions easy to follow. The sight comes with a Glock disassembly tool that is embossed with the Crimson Trace logo. One pin is removed from the rear of the frame and the lasergrip is slid into place and a pin supplied with the sight locks it in place.

Once installed it is activated by simply holding the firearm as the switch is in the rear of the grip.

The downside to this arrangement is that together with no off switch, the laser is on every time you hold the gun in a firing grip. You can cover the laser port with your finger to block it while holding it but it doesn't work as nicely as a dedicated off switch. The laser of course has two points of light - from the emitter on your firearm and on your target.

The other downside to the sight was the zeroing instructions. They were quite unclear as to which adjustment socket adjusted vertical as opposed to horizontal positioning of the laser, not to mention which direction you turned the adjustment screw with the supplied mini Allen keys moved the direction of the point of impact. It took a bit of fiddling to get it on target for as supplied it would hit the 7 ring to the right and high when lasing the x ring at 7 yards -- way, way off in other words. Now after multiple rounds spent zeroing, it is right on target.

The benefits - very quick target acquisition and amazing accuracy. With the laser new zeroed and placed on the X, 5 shots hit the X with all rounds touching each other - quite impressive. Target-focused shooting is simple indeed -- put the laser on the target, practice good trigger control and the target is hit. The laser works great indoors and at night. Outdoors during the day the laser washes out after a relatively short distance.

The laser has also been helpful teaching students trigger control and sight alignment - have them shoot without it, explain why they are missing what they are aiming at by jerking the trigger, then let them use the laser to practice trigger control. The same goes for sight alignment. There was an immediate improvement even after using the lasergrips when they went back to the non-laser sighted firearm. You can tell someone what they need to do to improve but when you show them, and then they can immediately try it themselves, it makes learning a lot quicker.

The lasersight also makes a great kitten play toy, as Sabrina ran all over following the little red dot tonight when I got back from the range. Lots of kitten fun.

I strongly advise removing the slide entirely from the gun if you use the laser in this manner. It still works well as a laser this way and you avoid the possibility of a cat-astrophe. A cat only laser is now on the shopping list.

Lasersights are another tool in your defensive toolbox, not a cure-all nor perfect for all situations, but definitely an excellent tool that does have a place on a defensive handgun for self defense. Given the ease of installation and use of the Crimson Trace Lasergrips, I'd recommend them.

Friday, November 13, 2009

CPR Recertification and Michigan's "Good Samaritan" law

Today I completed my Red Cross CPR and AED recertifications offered through my law firm.

Surprisingly, while quite a number of secretaries and paralegals attended the recertification sessions I was the only lawyer.

It's important that once you've received first aid training that you attend the annual receetifications to get the latest updates in technique and review and refresh your training - a necessary task indeed as its easy to forget and thankfully I have not needed to administer CPR or use an AED on anyone this year.

It is also important to keep your certifications up-to-date because failure to do so may open yu to liability if you do administer first aid.

Michigan has a "good samaritan" statute that essentially relieves you from civil legal liability if you render first aid with a very important exception.

The statute, MCL 333.20965 states:
333.20965 Immunity from liability.

(1) Unless an act or omission is the result of gross negligence or willful misconduct, the acts or omissions of a medical first responder, emergency medical technician, emergency medical technician specialist, paramedic, medical director of a medical control authority or his or her designee, or, subject to subsection (5), an individual acting as a clinical preceptor of a department-approved education program sponsor while providing services to a patient outside a hospital, in a hospital before transferring patient care to hospital personnel, or in a clinical setting that are consistent with the individual's licensure or additional training required by the medical control authority including, but not limited to, services described in subsection (2) or consistent with an approved procedure for that particular education program do not impose liability in the treatment of a patient on those individuals or any of the following persons:
. . .

(2) Subsection (1) applies to services consisting of the use of an automated external defibrillator on an individual who is in or is exhibiting symptoms of cardiac distress.
Thus in Michigan you need not fear being sued for rendering first aid so long as you are not grossly negligent nor committing willful misconduct.

There's a darn good argument to be made that if you cause an injury while providing first aid with an expired certification for administering such aid, your actions do amount to gross negligence or willful misconduct.

Keep your first aid certifications current, apply care with consent and in accordance with your training, get the professionals there as soon as possible, and you'll be ok legal-wise, and hopefully you will help someone in distress be ok as well.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Some Detroit City Council members get CPL permits

Detroit Council members carry guns for safety
Councilman Kwame Kenyatta said he has had death threats in the past and when in public, Kenyatta usually carries a concealed weapon.

Councilman-elect Gary Brown, a former deputy police chief and officer who was involved in narcotics investigations, said he arms himself when he feels the need to ensure his safety.

Several incoming council members, including Council President-elect Charles Pugh, said they have concealed weapons permits and carry guns for safety in a city known for its hard-nosed crime and tough neighborhoods.

It turns out quite a few members of the new Detroit City Council have acquired or will be getting CPL permits: Kwame Kenyatta, Gary Brown, James Tate, Charles Pugh, Rev. Andre Spivey.

Given that it is Detroit, having a CPL for self-defense only makes sense. This is a positive demonstration of law abiding citizens being able to carry firearms for protection.

It is of course fun to watch the antis get the vapors from the idea of council members being able to carry guns:
But Reggie "Reg" Davis, the former radio deejay elected last week to the City Charter Commission, was critical of public officials who carry weapons, calling it a "disgrace" because it sends the wrong message.

He said he will fight to keep council members from bringing guns to City Hall.

"You need to be like Gandhi, be the change that you wish to see," said Davis, whose younger brother was gunned down in Detroit. "The people elected you to show them a different way to go and you're walking around carrying guns. That is the most ignorant way to do things. If I'm a City Council person, I don't want guns."

or the reaction of Council member Saunteel Jenkins -
Jenkins, whose 14-year-old brother was a victim of gun violence, said carrying guns sends the wrong message.

"When I say I'm anti-violence I mean it," she said the next day. "It's an indication of the failure of leadership in this city when people think that the only way to protect themselves is to strap on a gun. That's exactly where we don't want to be in this city, taking the law into our own hands. It made me kind of sad.

"I wished I had spoken up" at the studio "and said, 'This is no joking matter.' ... We don't want this to be what we become."

My favorite reaction so far is Council member Jo Ann Watson's
Watson, who with member Ken Cockrel Jr., didn't attend the conversation, said later that her "preference of protection is spiritual."
Good for vampires maybe, not so good for goblins. You'll note a reverend will be getitng a carry permit, so he's a bit more realistic than Ms. Watson.

Of course, the council members can't carry in the city council building itself mind you – there’s a court in there that makes the whole building off-limits to the standard permit holder, notwithstanding the fact that the City of Detroit ordinance has no force and effect due to state preemption law. However ex-Detroit Police Deputy Chief Brown, as he likely gets a carry permit that exempts him from the no-carry zones being a former police officer can carry in the building and given the thugs that get arraigned there, some of whom he's proabably locked up a time or two before, he probably should. Mind you so should the rest of us who have to go there to court for work - it gets interesting sometimes and we can't carry there or more importantly to or from there from where are vehicles are, leaving us pretty open to parties who want to take court proceedings "outside".

Generally having a CPL is a private matter. The benefits to knowing that these City Council members have them is that one: deterrence of any thug trying to attack them, which is helpful and proper; and two: knowing that they have the permits we can rightly call them hypocrites if they support gun control and the banning of firearm possession or carrying by law-abiding citizens.

After all their safety and protection matters, but so does every other law abiding citizens' safety, especially given these two stories that accompanied these reports on the same day:
7 arrested in robberies, carjackings in Detroit
and an apparent self-defense from attack by a CPL permit holder in Detroit: Man shot after apparent road rage attack in Detroit.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Oakland County H1N1 Swine Flu Immunization Follies

Oakland County's immunization process hasn't exactly been run perfectly.

Yesterday, my wife on finding out from a neighbor that they still had immuniztion shots available took the kids to the Pontiac Silverdome where there was a mass immunization clinic going on.

After almost 3 hours waiting, 50 minutes of it outside in the cold the kids were immunized (at least partially, they aparently are supposed to receive a second shot at some point to get further resistance but who knows when and where that will be available), but likely exposed to tons of germs from the lots of people they were stuck hanging around with. On the upside, one of the nice people in line with her turns out to be a university student and after chatting Natasha gave her a lift back to her dorm to spare her from having to walk back in the cold. On the downside this morning Natasha has cold-like symptoms.

Mass immunization clinics are not a great idea. Certainly, not an efficient use of time nor great for exposing potentially sick people to each other, not to mention have them stand out in the cold to weaken their immune systems before mixing with hundreds of strangers.

But they do make for great press and publicity, which was apparently the point:

Michiganians clamor for H1N1 vaccine
Clinic at The Palace draws hundreds as state health officials add six to swine flu death toll

The virus is rampant. The vaccine is scarce. Oakland and Macomb county health departments are only holding mass clinics to administer the vaccine. Wayne County is taking appointments, but the wait is so long that the next available appointment isn't until January.

State health officials are recommending residents call their doctor but they don't know how many physicians have the vaccine. The Michigan Medical Society also doesn't know how many providers have gotten the vaccine, and some residents say their doctors don't have the shot.

Amazingly, one of the workers at the event told my wife when she asked why they're doing them en masse like this was that "They wanted it for the media coverage". No explanation as to who they were but apparently a nice mass immunization event gives the impression that officials are doing something. Great reason, that.

First, why not begin the immunizations at the greatest vector for flu transmission and some of the most at risk populations? Schools! Have the parents send in permission forms, have the kids immunized indoors in comfort in their classrooms or nurses' office and have it done quickly and efficiently. Have immunization at colleges and universities to get the at risk population of students vaccinated quickly and efficently without having to require them to make it to the Palace.

The last bit of brilliance at the immunization extravaganza - no gloves. When asked, the person giving the vaccine told my wife they weren't required to be worn by direction from the CDC, and besides they would have to take them off after each shot. So instead you have potential disease transmission from the shot giver to everyone she comes in contact with. Perfect.

Hopefully next time instead of these mass immunizations they'll plan smarter for efficiency with less focus on looking pretty for the media.

Interesting Book of the Day

Just finished reading The Housing Boom and Bust
by Thomas Sowell.

There's also a new updated editioncoming out shortly.

The short and concise(192 pages) book is very well written and it cogently and succinctly without wasting any words explains the cause of the housing boom and bust and the aftermath. Sowell points out the various persons and entities at fault: Democrats, Republicans, President Bush, Sen. Chris Dodd, Rep. Barney Frank, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Wall Street banks, and the failure of the rating agencies to properly rate the secuties that were formed from packages of risky subprime loans.

He excoriates the politicians like Dodd and Frank whose policies on pushing risky lending standards and blocked regulation of two of their largest donors - Frannie Mae and Freddie Mac helped cause the crisis -- and who then turned around and blame the free market and a lack of regulation for the crisis.

He also analyzes the failed responses to the bust and how the political unpredictability is causing yet more harm to occur.

In short, Mr. Sowell describes a perfect storm of meddling politicians, risk-taking bankers and irresponsible borrowers that caused shockwaves and consequences that have not yet ended. Reading the book is like watching a train wreck in slow motion as it is carefully described.

Well worth a read, and you'll not look at the housing crisis the same way afterwards.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

MSU Students set up us the bomb.

Oh, for the good ol' days when getting bombed in college meant you were drunk off of your posterior.

4 MSU students face felonies for setting off bomb

Four Michigan State University freshmen face 20-year felonies after police say they detonated a commercial-grade explosive Sunday at a home on the 400 block of Grove Street.

Olivia M. Hudson of Okemos, Darby D. Dudley of Mason, Sasha N. Savage of Okemos and Nikolai E. Wasielewski of Rossford, Ohio, have been charged with placing explosives and causing property damage, and possession of bombs with unlawful intent -- causing property damage.

East Lansing 54-B District Court Judge Richard Ball arraigned the suspects, all 18 years old, on Monday. All were released on $2,500 cash bond. If convicted of the charges, they each face 20 years in prison and a $15,000 fine.

A hearing is set for Nov. 10 and a preliminary exam on Nov. 13.

Late Sunday, the explosive -- a type of firework used for large municipal displays -- was intentionally thrown at a home on Grove, less than one block from the East Lansing Police Department, police said.

"It was thrown in the direction of a specific address," East Lansing Police Capt. Tom Johnstone said. "Officers on duty heard the explosion and went in the direction of the smoke."
On viewing the poictures, they do not appear to be the smartest set of criminal masterminds that MSU has yet to produce. That their car was observed at the scene and more mortar bomb fireworks were found inside the car when they returned to their dorm kinda confirms it.

Something tells me that these freshmens' university careers are about to come to an abrupt halt, aside from possible correspondence courses for prisoner extension programs.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Union Members don't think Ford first

The Detroit News: UAW won't renegotiate after Ford deal fails
The United Auto Workers said Monday it will not return to the bargaining table with Ford Motor Co. to renegotiate concessions that were soundly rejected by a majority of 41,000 Ford workers.

The official tally released Monday by the UAW: 70 percent of production workers and 75 percent of skilled trades workers voted against the proposed changes.

. . .

Ford issued a statement saying it was "disappointed."

"The additional modifications we sought recently were designed to honor pattern bargaining and provide Ford with similar additional efficiencies as those ratified this year for our domestic competitors," said the statement by Joe Hinrichs, group vice president of global manufacturing and labor affairs.
Now the UAW-owned (partially) GM and Chrysler have a tremendous competitive advantage over the non-beholden Ford. Each of the Big Three having the UAW as its workers but two with a set of friendly terms for the government aid recipients GM and Chrysler ,and a not-so-favorable deal to Ford.

Expect Ford to have to ship work to non-union plants and overseas to keep competitive as it can't afford to do otherwise. Not good in the end for Michigan or the union workers themselves, but shortsightedness is what we've come to expect from all parts of the Big Three from management to workers.