Saturday, January 31, 2009

Now they bring up the question.....

The Detroit Free Press: Will Chicago politics taint the White House?

No serious mention of this before the election in our fine Detroit Free Press.

Heck the article even begins:
Now that Barack Obama has been sworn in as our 44th president, one has to ask how much Windy City politics will influence our new chief executive.

Welcome to the party pal, too bad it took you so long to arrive.

And Speaking of Road Infrastructure

Michigan is not keeping up with snow clearance on the roads this winter.

The Detroit News Editorial: Find more money to keep roads safe
Cutting municipal budgets is a necessity when revenue declines. But public safety shouldn't be put at risk as a result. That's what's happening this winter -- the harshest in recent years -- as counties in Michigan trim back plowing and salting roads to save money.

This has been an unusually cold and snowy winter. The National Weather Service says Metro Detroit has already seen 45 inches of snow, almost double the normal 25 inches, and it's not even February.

So it's understandable that commutes are more challenging. But the tougher road conditions have not been matched with an increase in snow plows and salt.
No kidding. Our street, while a tertiary one, has rarely seen a plow come by (we've lucked out that at the botton of the hill, we have a guy who has a truck come plow his driveway and the truck makes a one-way lane all the way down the road as he goes. As a result you'll see clean driveways but a good layer of ice and snow still on the road, so much so that you have to go to the bottom of the hill and make a running start to get off the street unless you have four wheel drive.

But that could be understood, it sucks but we can deal with it.

The problem is the more major roads in Oakland and Wayne and Macomb Counties that I've traveled on are still slick and snowy - including Telegraph and Woodward as well as the parallel mile roads that make getting around quite hazardous.

Snow removal and road safety is a core government function, if they can't do that well, its a major problem. It's not as if they don't know that it snows here in Michigan in the winter with regularity, and that we get slick and icy roads as a result.

Indeed its a transfer of spending, and a false saving by cutting back on this service. Instead of the government having to keep up keeping the roads clean with the costs it entails, drivers have costs to pay in lost time, car damage and even injury.

Omnibus Stimulus Democratus Constituentus

When you look at the Obama stimulus plan, touted to cure the current national economic ills, it seems less an economic stimulus and more a handout for every possible Democrat constituency and power group, not to mention bailing out states, the Democrat run ones getting the most money, for balancing their budgets after they've overspent.

At Read The, you can see for yourself the sausage from which laws are made. There's enough pork in this particular sausage for every Democrat and a few "tax cuts" thrown in to try and woo Republicans.

For all the cries of urgency, only about 20% of the monies planned to be spent in the bill would actually be outlayed in 2009. In other words, its not about stimulus its about apportioning the spoils of an election won amongst Democrat supporters and readying them for the next round of elections.

The bill is less a stimulus than a wish-list for just about every Democrat program imaginable and while it will certainly put the Democrats in the position of constantly doling out the most largess to keep in power, it won't help the economy, will likely make it worse by inflation and the starving of capital from the private sector as the public sector becomes awash in funds. Heck, only a small amount is even going to repair roads and infrastructure.

On the upside this may finally teach Republicans that they really can't spend like Democrats do, no matter how much they try, and hopefully they'll get back to being the party for smaller, less intrusive but effective government.

A Trial Victory for the Good Guys

It's nice to know you're on the side of right when you walk into a courtroom to settle a dispute at trial.

We represented elderly parents who sold their son their house, keeping a life estate for themselves. Of course they didn't have a lawyer draw it up, the son, a financial planner did, and the contract only vaguely lays out the terms.

You can guess what happened right?

The son after a while gets greedy, wants the property right away and has them sign a deed under interesting circumstances, a deed that doesn't mention the life estate.

The son then kicks his parents out of the house, and claims there never was a life estate.

Thankfully, the son was quite greedy and didn't want to pay more taxes on the property so before he kicked them out, but after he gets the deed, he files a Michigan tax exemption after he gets the deed, claiming his parents are co-owners so the property is exempt and didn't transfer so it shouldn't uncap and have a property tax increase.

He then writes a few letters to the Treasury when they question the exemption and states in it that they do have a life estate. He then claims he was just told to say this to avoid taxes and it doesn't really mean it is true. Anyone out there buy that claim?

The Judge didn't buy that either.

We (the partner and myself on the file) got the house back for the parents for them to have as their life estate, putting them where they should be under the terms of the sale. It was a very happy moment for them and it felt good to win it, I can tell you that.

A cautionary note: whenever serious money or property is involved in a deal, even among family members, its best that you spend a few dollars on having a lawyer review the deal and make sure your intent is fully spelled out in the contract. This saves a lot of grief and serious attorney fees later. Everything may be great when you start the deal, but serious money can bring serious complications and risks.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

New Revisions to Michigan's Concealed Pistol Laws

Some new changes have now been implemented to Michigan's statutes regarding the carrying of concealed firearms by the law abiding.

First a change that will affect very few (as reported in the Lansing State Journal: Mich. judges get weapons leeway under new law

Judges in Michigan who have concealed carry permits may now carry their pistols into the zones that are pistol-free zones such as schools, stadiums, hospitals, daycare centers, entertainment facilities that seat more than 2500 people, and bars (at least these are pistol-free from law abiding citizens).

I can understand the rationale, as Judges often deal with criminals who may wish to get back at them, and the criminals are not exactly respectful of judges and might assault them in such areas or the law regarding firearms in such zones.

The same rationale should apply to all law abiding citizens and these zones should be removed and every law abiding citizen should be permitted to similarly enter such places while carrying firearms without penalty. Indeed, if fear of crime is the problem, change the law to make it a felony with a penalty og up to 5 years in jail for any felon to carry a firearm into those places (in addition to the felon in possession law already in place).

Now for a more far reaching change regarding the registration of handguns: Public Act 194 of 2008 just went into effect. This act changes the registration prcess for pistols, does away with the former end product of registration, the "Safety inspection certificate" and is a bit confusing.

Effective now, when you purchase a firearm without a permit, you will go to your local police and get a 4 part (formerly 3 part) purchase permit.

If you have a Concealed pistol license, you can buy a pistol with your licenses.

After purchase, in both cases, the new revised RI 60 Form (available in .pdf at the link) must be filled out. The seller keeps one copy, the buyer must either personally deliver or mail by regular or certified mail two of the forms back to their local police and keep the third form with the pistol (if carried the form must be with the pistol or still with the pistol if not carried) for 30 days. The law now adds that in order to posses a pistol, it must be registered to you by the above steps, which is a new and burdensome requirement.

This seems like the legislature started to get rid of the burdensome and rather useless registration scheme that has been in effect in Michigan for quite some time, during which it has had no provable deterrent effect on firearms crime. But then, for some reason, the legislature punted and went to a half-way measure rather than eliminating the flawed system in toto.

So we now have a hybrid monster of registration, with a problem of proof that the buyer did return the forms to the local police agency within 10 days of purchase. If the buyer fails to do so, it is a civil infraction with a $250 fine.

Under the old system, the proof you had sent the purchase info back to your local police was the inspection certificate (green card) you got back after bringing the pistol and purchase permit or RI60 to your local police. Now since you can mail by regular mail, or drop the 2 copies of the form in person, proof that you did so may be harder to find, and thus expose law abiding firearms owners to a $250 fine. By adding the requirement that the purchase form must be carried with the pistol for 30 days, it similarly creates a new potential for a pistol buyer to find themselves in violation if they forget to do so.

In addition, the law now adds "motor carrier officers [officers who enforce laws relating to commercial truckers and other motor carriers] and "security personnel employed by the state" in Lansing or Windsor Township, Eaton County, to the definition of peace officers who must be immediately informed the CPL holder is carrying a firearm if stopped by these officers and security personnel.

This new act is hopefully a half-way measure that will be further revised and fixed. As it currently stands, it is not a great improvement in firearms law and neither fixes any real presenting problem nor really corrects some of the existing flaws in Michigan's firearms laws. However, its now the law, so it needs to be carefully followed by the law abiding firearms owners of Michigan.

The Muslim way of War

After Hamas launched Mortars from a school, Israel responded, leading to the school exploding from charges that had been placed there by Hamas, and of course dead children. Little Green Footballs: UN School Used by Terrorists As a Weapons Dump

The use of schools, hospitals and Mosques by Muslims as as weapons stores, firing points and locations for ambushes is nothing new, and not unique to the Arab-Israeli conflict, and indeed goes back centuries.

One of the first recorded uses of a mosque as a weapons dump was in 1687. The Turkish armies, in control of Athens at the time, used the Parthenon, which had been converted into a mosque, as a gunpowder magazine. The Turks were fighting the Venetians, and when a Venetian shell hit the Parthenon, blowing up a good portion of it.

In 1948, Arab snipers shot at Jewish civilians from the minaret of theHassan Bek mosque during the 1948 Israeli War of Independence.

In Iraq, US forces have faced Muslims firing from Mosques, and have seen Mosques used as command posts and weapons storage. of course, whenever US forces fire back or even enter the Mosques, they are condemned for invading sacred Islamic space. See this interesting paper on the subject: At the Horns of the Altar: Just War and Sacred Space in Iraq

As before, Arabs in Gaza have been using Mosques as weapons dumps and firing points, not to mention using hospitals and mosques as command post and of course, schools.

The West, with a military code of honor that eschews using religious, hospital, ambulances, and schools as military fortifications is subject to Muslim cries of outrages destruction of these sites, even as the Muslims fiendishly use them for military purposes, which is in itself a war crime.

Until the western media accurately report the facts, namely that the these buildings were used for military purposes and destroyed in response, and properly attribute the blame upon the Muslims for using them for military purposes, Muslims will continue to fight in this manner, gaining both the utility of the sites, the protection of western hesitation to respond to attacks from such sites, and the beenfit of the western media's blind acceptance and rebroadcasting of the Muslims "outrage" over destruction of these militarily used sites. Indeed, for the media to continue to do so constitutes journalistic malpractice.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Senatorial Race in Minnesota not just within the Margin of error

It's now well within the Margin of Fraud.

As the Minnesota State Canvassing Board hands the election to Democrat Al Franken, the questions over the recounts selective techniques mount up.

In Shameless. Dems Steal Minnesota Senate Seat From Coleman Gateway Pundit points out that as reported in the Wall Street Journal that
more than 25 precincts now have more ballots than voters who signed in to vote...

And its not just a few votes, for example one county precinct alone had 177 more votes than voters.

At that point, with all these irregularities in the recount, replete with found and reinterpreted ballots its fraud. To even consider counting ballots when there are more ballots than voters is ludicrous, and a gift of ACORN of the election to Franken.

Lagniappe's lair also has a good article on this: Dems appear likely to seat "Senator Vote Fraud"

Indeed, regardless of the fraud, the Democrats will brazenly declare Franken the victor and urge everyone to "move on" now the damage has been done.

At this point a new election should be held, with non-Minnesotans acting as monitors and counters. Cheat and win should never be an American election slogan.

Neat find of Gold Coins in Israel

Israeli archaeologists find rare gold coins

This was reported back on December 23, but I'm just seeing it now.

Talk about a find of a lifetime by the volunteer:
Nadine Ross, a British archaeological volunteer, happened onto the coins during the dig just below the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem.

And quite a find it is:
The Israel Antiquities Authority reported a thrilling find Sunday -- the discovery of 264 ancient gold coins in Jerusalem National Park.

The coins were minted during the early 7th century.

"This is one of the largest and most impressive coin hoards ever discovered in Jerusalem -- certainly the largest and most important of its period," said Doron Ben-Ami and Yana Tchekhanovets, who are directing the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Researchers discovered the coins at the beginning of the eight-day Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, which started at sunset on Sunday.

One of the customs of the holiday is to give "gelt," or coins, to children, and the archaeologists are referring to the find as "Hanukkah money."

The coins are of the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius

From the description, the coins are gold solidi (singular solidus) and probably look like this:
A great historical discovery, a find of a hidden hoard of wealth secreted away over a thousand years ago.

Interesting Archaeological find in Germany

A Roman-Germanic Battlefield has been found.

CNN: German battlefield yields Roman surprises

Its not the site of the battle where the Germans in the time of Augustus when in 9 C.E. they defeated P. Quinctilius Varus and destroyed three Roman legions, but a later battle, in the third century C.E.
Archaeologists have found more than 600 relics from a huge battle between a Roman army and Barbarians in the third century, long after historians believed Rome had given up control of northern Germany.
"We have to write our history books new, because what we thought was that the activities of the Romans ended at nine or 10 (years) after Christ," said Lutz Stratmann, science minister for the German state of Lower Saxony. "Now we know that it must be 200 or 250 after that."

For weeks, archeologist Petra Loenne and her team have been searching this area with metal detectors, pulling hundreds of ancient Roman weapons out of the ground. They paint a picture of a highly organized, technologically superior Roman army beset by Germanic tribes in a forest about 80 km (50 miles) south of the modern city of Hanover.

The hillside battlefield was discovered by relic-hunters illegally searching for souvenirs of more recent wars near the town of Kalefeld-Oldenrode. One of them brought some of the items he found to Loenne, who works for the local government.

The artifacts are so well preserved that the scientists can already retrace some of the battle lines. Video Watch how the battlefield discovery could re-write history »

"We believe the Germans ambushed the Romans here, but the legions quickly fired back with catapults and archers -- and then it came to a massive man-on-man onslaught," Loenne said.

The items unearthed so far include an axe, still sharp after nearly 1,800 years; horseshoes; shovels; spearheads; and dozens of arrowheads for a Scorpio, a cross between a catapult and a crossbow -- the ancient equivalent of artillery.

Coins were also found, from the reign of the Roman Emperor Commodus (161-192 C.E.), which aids in identifying the time period of the battle. The coins, coupled with the Roman armor and weaponry they are recovering should help give a good estimate as to when the battle was fought.

A very interesting find, and as the archaerlogist quoted in the CNN article notes, one that will revise our knowledge of the extent and influence of the Roman Empire in the third century.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Israeli Defense Forces soldiers enter Gaza 2

IDF is entering the Gaza strip with at least three brigades, cutting it in half and isolating Gaza city.

Detroit News:
Israeli ground troops and tanks cut swaths through the Gaza Strip early Sunday, bisecting the coastal territory and surrounding its biggest city as the new phase of a devastating offensive against Hamas gained momentum.

Thousands of soldiers in three brigade-size formations pushed into Gaza after nightfall Saturday, beginning a long-awaited ground offensive after a week of intense aerial bombardment. Black smoke billowed over Gaza City at first light and bursts of machine gun fire rang out. ... An armored force south of Gaza City penetrated as deep as the abandoned settlement of Netzarim, which Israel left along with other Israeli communities when it pulled out of Gaza in 2005, both military officials and Palestinian witnesses said.

That move effectively cut off Gaza City, the territory's largest population center with about 400,000 people, from the rest of the territory to the south.

The offensive focused on northern Gaza, where most of the rockets are fired into Israel, but at least one incursion was reported in the southern part of the strip. Hamas uses smuggling tunnels along the southern border with Egypt to bring in weapons.

And of course our local useful idiots and islamists are busy protesting:
Mideast conflict troubles Metro Detroiters
Palestinians in Metro Detroit have held a series of protests this week, including one at Maple and Orchard Lake in West Bloomfield that drew more than 200 people by mid-afternoon Saturday.

"Everybody deserves to live, whoever they are," said David Salha of Dearborn as he watched his 9-year-old daughter Hannan hold up a protest sign Saturday. "What (Israel) is doing is not justified."

Don Greenspon, a 58-year-old Huntington Woods man who said he is Jewish and a supporter of Jewish Voice for Peace in Detroit (The leading band of Jewish useful idiots in the area), said he does not support Israel's advance into Gaza. He attended Saturday's rally.

"I think what Israel is doing is completely wrong," he said.

"I am not for the rocket attacks into Israel (by Hamas). But I think the response is disproportionate."

Anyone ever ask these fools what a proportionate response would look like? Perhaps an MLRS full pod rocket dump for every Hamas missile fired? Methinks it would cause far more Gazan casualties, but at least it would be proportionate right?

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Israeli Defense Forces soldiers enter Gaza

From Yahoo News: Israeli ground forces enter Gaza in escalation
Israel's military says ground forces are crossing the Gaza border in an escalation of Israel's week-old offensive against the territory's militant Hamas rulers.

Israeli TV channels are broadcasting images of troops marching into Gaza after nightfall. The military confirmed a ground operation was under way.

Defense officials say around 10,000 soldiers have massed along the border in recent days.

Given that Israel will not be able to stop the rocket attacks by air power alone, it was inevitable that a ground incursion would occur if any real peace was to occur. Otherwise, Hamas would claim victory by simply existing and maintaining its ability to fire rockets at Israeli civilians and the cynical "cycle of violence" so beloved of the the west's moral equivalent crowds would continue.

Israel also needs to quit phoning in warnings to targets that the buildings they are in are about to get hit. Bombing an empty building, while sending a message, isn't nearly as effective as killing the terrorists as they reside there.

The phone calls and the uncredible providing of humanitarian aid by UIsrael to gaza while the fighting continues (has any other side in a conflict done this -- supplied food and medical and other supplies to their enemies while in the midst of battle -ever?)have failed to win Israel the European Union / Leftist stamp of approval, but that was unlikely to occur in any case.

Israel has a limited opportunity to strike hard and decisively before a cease-fire is forced upon it to save Hamas. Here's to hoping the IDF makes good use of the limited time they have to strike hard enough so that Hamas knows its beaten and to restore the IDF's deterrent effect that has been badly weakened these past few years.

Iraqi Spies Caught in US now how about Iran's?

The Detroit News reports on a group of Michigan Iraqi's that are being tried for passing on intelligence and spying for Iraq.

Among the accused spies is one who worked for the US Military as an Arabic translator:
Issam George Hamama, 58, a former Sterling Heights resident who lives in California, worked as an Iraqi translator for the U.S. military until the indictment against him was unsealed in November.

Hamama allegedly wrote a letter about 1991 to an Iraqi cabinet minister, offering to work to counteract Iraqi traitors in the U.S. From that date, Hamama met periodically with representatives of the Iraqi Intelligence Service and received periodic payments for providing information about anti-Saddam individuals and groups inside the United States, the indictment alleges.

Hamama's Washington, D.C., attorney, Haytham Faraj, said Hamama has received "multiple accolades" from military commanders for his work as a civilian translator. "We are confident that the evidence will vindicate Mr. Hamama as the honorable, patriotic, loyal American that he is," Faraj said.
Sure, did he get the acolades after it was revealed he was a spy or before? I'm sure people thought Walker and Aldrick Ames were great Americans too until the truth came out.

It's good the FBI caught these iraqi spies, but they found them only from documents found after the downfall of Saddam, and thus after their active use by the Iraqis.

One hopes they are being more diligent with Hizballah, Hamas and Iranian spies and agents of influence that are active here and now.

Another fun tidbit from the article:
Muthanna Al-Hanooti, 49, a former official of the Southfield-based Muslim charity Life for Relief and Development, was indicted on conspiracy and other charges in March. He is accused of working with Iraqi intelligence officials to get the U.S. to lift economic sanctions and organizing a trip to Iraq by former U.S. Rep. David Bonior and other congressmen that was secretly funded by the Iraqi Intelligence Service. He is from Dearborn Heights.
A little digging shows this was the trip the three Democrat Congressmen: McDermott (D-Seattle-Useful idiot), David Bonior (D-used to be Michigan, Useful Idiot) and Mike Thompson (D-California-Useful idiot took to Iraq, paid for by a "concerned Iraqi" - and the Iraqi intelligence service.

Ware on the way out?

As I blogged before on Jewel Ware, the Wayne County Councilwoman (Democrat - of course)who is under investigation for having felons on the payroll, and for paying them for work performed for her husband, not the County.

Apparently she's packing up her office as Chair of the commission. No if she'll actually resign from the Commission itself or follow the standard Wayne county fashion of denial, obfuscation, race-card playing and delays until the end is an assured conclusion.

From the Detroit News
The chair, who is elected by the commission to serve a two-year term, is one of the most visible elected officials in the county, overseeing a $2.2 billion budget and setting policy on everything from parks to mental health initiatives. Commissioners make about $68,676, but receive an extra $12,000 as chair and an office about the size of Executive Robert Ficano's.

Ware cleaned out that office over the holidays, staffers confirmed.

Tuesday's vote on the commission's chair follows last month's release of a 79-page report by Auditor General Willie Mayo, who faulted Ware for to keep tabs on the commission's $9.4 million payroll and 72 employees.

The report found that Ware's bookkeeping was so sloppy that Mayo couldn't conclusively prove accusations involving no-show employees. But he wrote that he could find no paperwork that showed ex-convicts who worked for free at Morton's Motel in Idlewild did any work for the county. One of them, although listed as a central staffer, was rarely in the office, the report found.

In a letter to colleagues, Ware denied most of the accusations and blamed the controversy on "Anonymous Robin Hood," whose unsigned letter detailing the accusations sparked the investigation from the auditor, FBI, State Police and agents for the state attorney general.

Ware disputed other claims in the report, including her use of a county car for 27 days and its characterization of the work by onetime county employee Kwasi Akwamu, whom Ware said deserved his $83,000 salary. Akwamu, an ex-convict, did time with Ware's husband, Jesse Long-Bey, who owns Morton's Motel and went to prison for manslaughter. He no longer works for the county.

My prediction: She gives up the Chair, keeps a low profile for a bit but keeps right on going on the Wayne County Commission or moves to another public office.

Brady Campaign "Grading" fails to match reality

As if we didn't know that already.

But the stark comparison of reality to the Brady Campaign's deranged grading system (where less gun control, rather than less crime is the negative grading criteria) is beautifully reported at Of Arms and the Law:
The Brady Campaign ranks North Dakota 44th out of 50 States, with only 4 of 100 possible points.

Just in time for the North Dakota Attorney General to announce that in 2008 the State had ZERO gun homicides. And only two homicides at all, both stabbings.
Apparently impressively low gun homicide rates get you a failing grade from the Brady Campaign.

Impressive example of gun banner phobias failing to reflect reality. If you read their state law criteria the deceptive description of each of their standards is quite an impressive example of propaganda and the misuse of language.