Saturday, December 15, 2012

The same day as Connecticut gun rampage, 2 others massacres were averted

Hours after the bloodshed at a Connecticut school, police stopped what would have been a second mass school-shooting on Friday, arresting an Oklahoma teenager plotting to kill dozens of his classmates.

Sammie Eaglebear Chavez, 18, told friends at Bartlesville High School that he wanted to lure their schoolmates and teachers to the gym and then open fire, according to officials.  He also claimed to have explosives he planned to detonate once police arrived.

 Investigators believe Chavez owned a Colt .45 handgun and had been researching how to obtain explosives and higher-powered firearms. He also frequently discussed the 1999 shootings at Columbine High school.  source

 Meanwhile authorities in Alabama say a man opened fire in a hospital, wounding an officer and two employees before he was fatally shot by police.

Birmingham Police Sgt. Johnny Williams says the officer and employees suffered injuries that are not considered life-threatening. Williams says police were called because a man with a gun was walking through St. Vincent's Hospital on Saturday morning. When he was confronted by officers, he started shooting and wounded one of the officers. That's when the second officer shot and killed the man.

Detectives are still working to determine why the armed man was in the hospital.  source

Twelve facts about guns and mass shootings in the United States

 I've reprinted a piece by Ezra Klein in the Washington Post.  You may disagree with some or all of it.  But the data in the graph tells a compelling story about guns in America.  Everyone has different ideas about how to curb gun violence ranging from strict gun control laws to arming teachers.  The number of guns in America grows and so does gun violence.  More guns is not likely the answer.

When we first collected much of this data, it was after the Aurora, Colo. shootings, and the air was thick with calls to avoid “politicizing” the tragedy. That is code, essentially, for “don’t talk about reforming our gun control laws.”

Let’s be clear: That is a form of politicization. When political actors construct a political argument that threatens political consequences if other political actors pursue a certain political outcome, that is, almost by definition, a politicization of the issue. It’s just a form of politicization favoring those who prefer the status quo to stricter gun control laws.

Since then, there have been more horrible, high-profile shootings. Jovan Belcher, a linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs, took his girlfriend’s life and then his own. In Oregon, Jacob Tyler Roberts entered a mall holding a semi-automatic rifle and yelling “I am the shooter.” And, in Connecticut, at least 27 are dead — including 18 children — after a man opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

If roads were collapsing all across the United States, killing dozens of drivers, we would surely see that as a moment to talk about what we could do to keep roads from collapsing. If terrorists were detonating bombs in port after port, you can be sure Congress would be working to upgrade the nation’s security measures. If a plague was ripping through communities, public-health officials would be working feverishly to contain it.

Only with gun violence do we respond to repeated tragedies by saying that mourning is acceptable but discussing how to prevent more tragedies is not. “Too soon,” howl supporters of loose gun laws. But as others have observed, talking about how to stop mass shootings in the aftermath of a string of mass shootings isn’t “too soon.” It’s much too late.

What follows here isn’t a policy agenda. It’s simply a set of facts — many of which complicate a search for easy answers — that should inform the discussion that we desperately need to have.

1. Shooting sprees are not rare in the United States. 

Mother Jones has tracked and mapped every shooting spree in the last three decades. “Since 1982, there have been at least 61 mass murders carried out with firearms across the country, with the killings unfolding in 30 states from Massachusetts to Hawaii,” they found. And in most cases, the killers had obtained their weapons legally:

2. Eleven of the 20 worst mass shootings in the last 50 years took place in the United States.

Time has the full list here. In second place is Finland, with two entries.

3. Lots of guns don’t necessarily mean lots of shootings, as you can see in Israel and Switzerland.*

As David Lamp writes at Cato, “In Israel and Switzerland, for example, a license to possess guns is available on demand to every law-abiding adult, and guns are easily obtainable in both nations. Both countries also allow widespread carrying of concealed firearms, and yet, admits Dr. Arthur Kellerman, one of the foremost medical advocates of gun control, Switzerland and Israel ‘have rates of homicide that are low despite rates of home firearm ownership that are at least as high as those in the United States.’”
*Correction: The info is out-of-date, if not completely wrong. Israel and Switzerland have tightened their gun laws substantially, and now pursue an entirely different approach than the United States. More details here. I apologize for the error.

4. Of the 11 deadliest shootings in the US, five have happened from 2007 onward.

That doesn’t include Friday’s shooting in Sandy Hook, Connecticut. The AP put the early reported death toll at 27, which would make it the second-deadliest mass shooting in US history.

5. America is an unusually violent country. But we’re not as violent as we used to be.

Kieran Healy, a sociologist at Duke University, made this graph of “deaths due to assault” in the United States and other developed countries. We are a clear outlier.

As Healy writes, “The most striking features of the data are (1) how much more violent the U.S. is than other OECD countries (except possibly Estonia and Mexico, not shown here), and (2) the degree of change—and recently, decline—there has been in the U.S. time series considered by itself.”

6. The South is the most violent region in the United States.

In a subsequent post, Healy drilled further into the numbers and looked at deaths due to assault in different regions of the country. Just as the United States is a clear outlier in the international context, the South is a clear outlier in the national context:

7. Gun ownership in the United States is declining overall.

“For all the attention given to America’s culture of guns, ownership of firearms is at or near all-time lows,” writes political scientist Patrick Egan. The decline is most evident on the General Social Survey, though it also shows up on polling from Gallup, as you can see on this graph:
The bottom line, Egan writes, is that “long-term trends suggest that we are in fact currently experiencing a waning culture of guns and violence in the United States. “

8. More guns tend to mean more homicide.

The Harvard Injury Control Research Center assessed the literature on guns and homicide and found that there’s substantial evidence that indicates more guns means more murders. This holds true whether you’re looking at different countries or different states. Citations here.

9. States with stricter gun control laws have fewer deaths from gun-related violence.

Last year, economist Richard Florida dove deep into the correlations between gun deaths and other kinds of social indicators. Some of what he found was, perhaps, unexpected: Higher populations, more stress, more immigrants, and more mental illness were not correlated with more deaths from gun violence. But one thing he found was, perhaps, perfectly predictable: States with tighter gun control laws appear to have fewer gun-related deaths. The disclaimer here is that correlation is not causation. But correlations can be suggestive:

“The map overlays the map of firearm deaths above with gun control restrictions by state,” explains Florida. “It highlights states which have one of three gun control restrictions in place – assault weapons’ bans, trigger locks, or safe storage requirements. Firearm deaths are significantly lower in states with stricter gun control legislation. Though the sample sizes are small, we find substantial negative correlations between firearm deaths and states that ban assault weapons (-.45), require trigger locks (-.42), and mandate safe storage requirements for guns (-.48).”

10. Gun control, in general, has not been politically popular.

Since 1990, Gallup has been asking Americans whether they think gun control laws should be stricter. The answer, increasingly, is that they don’t. “The percentage in favor of making the laws governing the sale of firearms ‘more strict’ fell from 78% in 1990 to 62% in 1995, and 51% in 2007,” reports Gallup. “In the most recent reading, Gallup in 2010 found 44% in favor of stricter laws. In fact, in 2009 and again last year, the slight majority said gun laws should either remain the same or be made less strict.”

11. But particular policies to control guns often are.

An August CNN/ORC poll asked respondents whether they favor or oppose a number of specific policies to restrict gun ownership. And when you drill down to that level, many policies, including banning the manufacture and possession of semi-automatic rifles, are popular.

12. Shootings don’t tend to substantially affect views on gun control.

That, at least, is what the Pew Research Center found:

Video of the week

Friday, December 14, 2012

No posts until tomorrow in respect of the lost children

Flashback Friday - The Byrds

Man accused of breaking into his children’s home, stealing Christmas presents

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (movie) Jim Carrey as the Grinch in ``How the Grinch Stole Christmas.''

A Uniontown man is facing burglary charges after police said he broke into his children’s home and stole several things, including Christmas presents.

Police said Amanda Miller came home about 5 p.m. Friday and saw Myron Rose, 33, running from her Cinder Road home carrying a large bag.  Miller was able to identify Rose because he is her ex-boyfriend and the father of two of her three children.

Miller alerted police and officers arrested Rose a few days later. Inside the bag detectives said they found electronics, jewelry and several Christmas presents.  “We’ll never get that stuff back,” the children’s great-grandmother said about the Christmas gifts.  Police told Brennan that Rose broke into the mobile home by climbing underneath and digging a hole through the floor. “What kind of person would make a hole in the floor and break in a house to steal his own kids’ Christmas presents?” the great-grandmother said.

Maybe he was planning on regift the presents? Okay, Father of the Year candidate.


US constitutional right to bear arms claims 27 more victims including 20 children

Mistletoe Christmas prank

Get your mind out of the gutter week

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Man drops dead trying to dance Gangnum Style

The death of a father-of-three who collapsed while dancing to Gangnam Style has prompted a warning to middle-aged men not to attempt the vigorous dance from the hit video.

Eamonn Kilbride, 46, collapsed with chest pains at his office party in Blackburn last weekend after performing the dance moves made famous by the South Korean rapper Psy, who mimics riding a horse.

Professor Bernard Keavney, a consultant cardiologist at Newcastle University, has warned older men not to “stray outside your comfort zone” while dancing at their Christmas parties this year.


L-Series BlackBerry 10 phone

A detailed video running down all the features of the L-Series BlackBerry 10 phone we’ll see early next year has appeared on the internet. Unfortunately, its in Vietnamese.

Is it too late for RIM?

Sign of the day

Get your mind out of the gutter week

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Two men accused in plot to murder, castrate Justin Bieber

New Mexico police believe they have unearthed a plot to kill and castrate Justin Bieber.

An affidavit for an arrest from New Mexico State Police described a grisly plan that was to be carried out in late November in New York City. Bieber played Madison Square Gardens on Nov. 28 and 29.

The plan was hatched behind bars after inmate Dana Martin was transferred from a Florida prison to the Southern New Mexico Corrections Facility in April 2012, the affidavit said.

Martin allegedly recruited Mark Aaron Staake at the jail after the fellow inmate saw a tattoo of Bieber on Martin’s leg.

The plan was to kill and castrate four people in two states, with Bieber as the main target.

So I only have on question, were they going to kill Bieber first then castrate him or castrate first and then kill him?


For you holiday pleasure - mascots fighting

12-12-12 is the last sequential date for 89 years

For those attaching special significance to numbers, Dec. 12, 2012 is an auspicious day. While there is no generally accepted term for dates in which the day, month and year all match – perhaps because they are so rare – it’s important to note that after a dozen in a row, the next one won’t come until Jan. 1, 2101.

12 is supposed to be a lucky number so a lot of women are getting married today.  My advice is getting married might just ruin your luck.

Enjoy the day! 

Drug suspect answered door to police holding bag of crack cocaine

A lot of drug busts require months of investigation, dangerous undercover work, and long hours from dedicated detectives, but sometimes it's just a matter of luck.

Authorities went to a woman's door, and she answered holding a bag of dope. Tara Shenell Hampton was on her way to getting her pending drug charges dismissed. She was part of the Drug Market Intervention Programme, but Guntersville Police said they learned Hampton was dealing drugs again.

On Friday night, they went to her Guntersville home to serve her with the original drug indictments. When they got to the front door it confirmed their suspicions she was back involved with drugs again.

"They knocked on the door, and the individual answered the door holding a bag of crack cocaine. Also in plain view in the residence was a significant amount of marijuana," said Captain John East, with Guntersville Police Department. East said Hampton was placed in the Marshall County Jail on a $15,000 bond.

Get your mind out of the gutter week

Hump day hottie

Blake Lively

Family reunion?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Best of Craigslist

Feline Lap Surrogate

Date: 2012-11-28, 11:46AM EST

This title says it all. I work from home and I need someone to sit next to me and allow my cat to sit on their lap (the cat is attention seeking, and has been decreasing my productivity as of late). This is a morning shift from 8am-12pm at $15/hr. I do not need anyone in the afternoon since the sun warms the window sill by that point, and the cat will prefer the window sill to a lap. Breakfast and lunch will be provided each day.

You must have experience handling cats, no allergies, and a plus for experience with older cats (mine is 18yrs old).

Chinese farmer has built survival pod Mayan apocalypse

With just ten days to go before the Mayan apocalypse supposedly spells the end of the world, many believers may be looking for ways to dodge doomsday.

But one farmer in China believes he is ready for any eventuality after building seven emergency survival pods.

Liu Qiyuan created the fibreglass shells - dubbed Noah's Ark - after being inspired by the apocalyptic Hollywood movie 2012

Building them around a steel frame in a yard at his home in the village of Qiantun, Hebei province, south of Beijing, he says the pods can offer life-saving shelter during natural disasters such as tsunamis and hurricanes.

The pods are able to float on water and some of have their own propulsion.   The airtight spheres with varying interiors contain oxygen tanks and seatbelts with space for around 14 people, and are designed to remain upright when in water.


Darwin the IKEA monkey had quite the wardrobe

Get your mind out of the gutter week

UK county using police cardboard cutouts to fight crime

Officers from across Doncaster took to the streets as part of the South Yorkshire Police Impact on Retail Crime. Pictured are the cardboard cops being used to assist with preventing shoplifting in stores.

South Yorkshire Police have spent £7,000 on a batch of new recruits – 280 cardboard coppers.

The paper PCs are being used to deter thieves across the county and force chiefs say they are having the desired effect.

They claim the slimline static cops have helped slash crime by up to 50 per cent in some areas where they have been deployed.

But the thin blue line is looking thinner than ever – the force has seen the numbers of South Yorkshire officers dwindle to less than 2,900 in 2012 from a high of 3,289 in 2008 before the budget cuts began to bite.

The cardboard coppers, which are life-size cutouts of a uniformed officer, cost £25 each and senior officers have ordered a new batch of 280 – costing the force £7,000.
Forty are being held in reserve, with the rest now providing a visible ‘police presence’ across the county.

The slim crimefighters are being displayed in shop doorways or foyers where shoplifting is a problem and the force say they are responsible, in conjunction with other police tactics, for reductions in crime of up to 50 per cent.

A South Yorkshire Police spokesman said: “The rationale for purchase and delivery was based upon research indicating previous success at reducing crime in other countries and elsewhere in UK.

If the crime statistics are accurate then perhaps the program can be expanded to cardboard teachers to increase literacy and cardboard doctors and nurses to improve health outcomes.  Though I would think twice about cardboard firefighters, the flames and water are great for cardboard.


Monday, December 10, 2012

Australian DJs discuss tragic prank call to hospital

Scrooge is that you?


A Kingston man complained to the Ross County Sheriff’s Office on Saturday after his neighbor on Kingston-Adelphi Road reportedly spelled out an expletive using Christmas lights and put an arrow pointing to his house.

A sheriff’s deputy told the neighbor he needed to take the lights down before serving him with an outstanding warrant for disorderly conduct, according to the incident report.


Get your mind out of the gutter week

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Monkey in shearling coat spotted in IKEA


A small monkey, dressed in a shearling winter coat, was on the loose outside an Ikea in Toronto’s North York area on Sunday, after letting itself out of its cage and the car belonging to its owners.

I just hope my wife doesn't see this story.  Because she doesn't own a shearling coat. She does have a fake shearling.  So I'm hoping the monkey is also in a faux shearling and not showing up my wife.

Where do buy monkey winter coats any way?

Happy Hanukkah!

Get your mind out of the gutter week

Bikini Sunday

Anne Vyalitsyna