Monday, March 26, 2018

Monday Silencer

They put the kids at the bottom of page A6 today. 

Led with this:

"NRA has long history of suppressing data on gun violence" by Annie Linskey Globe Staff  March 25, 2018

WASHINGTON — After the high school shootings that killed 17 people in Parkland, Fla., gun control advocates have seized the momentum with attacks on the National Rifle Association and captured public attention with Saturday’s nationwide protests, but the powerful gun lobbying group has a strong, little-known defense against challenges to its absolutist stand on the Second Amendment: federal limits on both research into guns and the distribution of data about the industry.

The protests were a great opportunity to transfer [demonstrators’] energy and concern into practical action.

Laws backed by the NRA and other pro-gun groups prevent the public from seeing which firearms dealers are selling the most guns used in crimes, information the federal government collects but won’t share, even with premier research universities. The NRA also pushed through rules that had a chilling effect on federal studies focused on how guns affect public health, denying policy makers a road map for better gun laws.

But they have no idea how many civilians were killed by police, at least that is what we are told.

Congress took a small step to loosen restrictions against gun-violence research sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in its budget plan approved last week, but significant appropriations hurdles will remain before the research can restart.

Detractors say the NRA is using a tactic similar to the tobacco industry’s suppression of evidence about the health dangers of smoking. The difference: Big tobacco ultimately failed in its efforts while the pro-gun groups have successfully beaten back most legislation they oppose.

The NRA disputes the notion that it’s cutting off scientific study.

“Anyone who thinks there’s a lack of researchers studying firearms has been ignoring the headlines,” said Lars Dalseide, an NRA spokesman. “The fact is a number of studies are released every year. While most are tainted with preconceived outcomes in search of supporting data, there is plenty of funding in that arena.”

He may have a point there; in fact, maybe it's best to ignore the whole damn thing.

Gun control supporters were able to use the public outrage over the Parkland shootings to notch a rare victory when the Florida Legislature passed measures that include an increase in the minimum age to own a gun from 18 to 21.

Most gun deaths in the country aren’t the result of mass shootings.


In cities such as St. Louis, Baltimore, and Detroit, where gun violence is rampant, residents have no access to the bigger picture that might show why so many weapons have flowed into their cities.

The difficulty in gaining access to gun data, or in conducting federally funded research, is the result of decades of work by the NRA. The powerful lobbying group has ensured that legislation — initially attached as riders to larger bills — became law.

One federal law, approved in 1996 and named for Jay Dickey, a former Republican congressman from Arkansas, specified that the Centers for Disease Control and Protection could not conduct research intended to bolster gun control advocacy.

Congress, in its budget bill that was signed by President Trump on Friday, included a provision clarifying that the rule was not meant to choke off all gun research. But the Dickey amendment was never the only reason gun-violence research was curtailed, and therefore advocates are uncertain whether changing it will mean new money will flow into research.

The 1996 provision came amid a massive fight the NRA picked over the role of the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, which is part of the CDC.

“They wanted to abolish the whole injury center,” said Mark Rosenberg, who was the director of the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control when the Dickey Amendment passed as part of a spending bill. Congress compromised; rather than defunding the entire center, lawmakers settled on a narrowly written amendment that barred the CDC from conducting research that advocated for gun control.

“This was really a warning shot. A shot across the bow,” Rosenberg said. Congress sent another message when it reduced the center’s budget by $2.5 million, the exact amount that CDC had used to fund a gun-related study that the NRA disliked.

The final warning came in 1999: Rosenberg was fired from his job.

“People got the message that this is a very hard area to work in. If you’re a researcher, you’re not going to get funded. If you’re in the federal bureaucracy, you’re going to get hassled,” Rosenberg said.

Dickey, before he died in 2017, forged a friendship with Rosenberg and told NPR in 2015 that he regretted pushing the amendment that has been credited with choking research.

The 2003 Tiahrt Amendment, part of a Justice Department appropriations bill, created a barrier to releasing data, one that has been almost insurmountable to researchers. It stops the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives from sharing information about gun stores that have records of selling firearms that wind up in crime scenes.

Like on the border, part of the Fast and Furious government gun-running operation. 

Maybe that is why they are keeping things secret: government is the biggest gun-runner around. 

When a police department finds a gun used in a crime, it typically asks the ATF to trace the weapon back to the original sale, enabling law enforcement to figure out who initially bought the gun and who sold it. When it was available to the public, such aggregated data provided a powerful way to bring public pressure on gun dealers with terrible records for selling crime guns.

“The inner cities face the violence more than everybody else,” said Boston Police Commissioner William Evans. “We see the young kids getting killed. Most of these gun shops are not in the inner cities. They are out in the suburbs. They are interested in making money.” 

More on the inner city later.

In Massachusetts, law enforcement agencies had roughly 2,000 crime guns traced in 2016, according to the most recent data from ATF. Most of those weapons were purchased out of state, with New Hampshire, Maine, and Florida accounting for the largest supply of such guns to the Bay State.

“We’re trying to figure out how we can stem the flow,” said Evans, who added that many of the crime guns found in Boston originated from states with lax purchasing laws, but private researchers and the public don’t have more granular data showing which counties or specifically which gun stores are providing the weapons. Police departments are limited, too, and can only obtain trace data about crime guns found on their streets, though they can share this data with other police departments.

“It’s critical information,” said Lindsay Nichols, who is the federal policy director at the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

Before the Tiahrt restrictions applied, researchers used the federal data to gain a sophisticated understanding of how guns went from legitimate seller to criminal. “We started to see some really important patterns,” said Daniel Webster, a professor of health policy and management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Most important, Webster and others found a huge disparity in gun dealers: Roughly 1 percent of all gun stores in the country accounted for more than half of the crime guns the ATF traced in the late 1990s, according to a Hopkins report. And in some cities, Webster found that just a few stores were responsible for selling weapons recovered in 70 percent to 90 percent of all gun crimes.

Todd Tiahrt, who as a Republican from Kansas was the initial sponsor of the restriction in a 2003 amendment, said in an interview that the main point of his legislation was to prevent the public release of data on gun owners.

“The idea was to protect the privacy of American citizens,” said Tiahrt, who left Congress in 2011 and now runs a consulting firm. 

Bad idea!

The NRA has additional concerns. The group fears that high-volume stores would become unfairly painted as bad actors due to the simple fact that any establishment selling more guns is likely to have more guns end up at crimes scenes. Or, it points out, stores located near major freeways might also be used more frequently by criminals going out of state to purchase a weapon.

Who would do that?

The gun rights advocates say the ATF has plenty of authority to shut down stores that repeatedly sell to criminals. But experts counter that the bureau has limited resources.

“Congress makes sure that the ATF budget is insufficient to do its job,” said Webster, the Hopkins professor. “It makes sure that the way it’s written laws and regulations, [it is] incredibly difficult to shut down a gun shop.”

Well, when you plow everything into the war machine, Israel, corporate welfare, and lavish political perks and lifestyles, there ain't a hell of a lot left over.

Regardless of whether federal agents are willing to act, Webster said communities should be able to publicly protest stores. He gave the example of the Valley Gun Shop, an infamous dealer in Baltimore County that was shut down after a decade of supplying guns to criminals. 

That could be dangerous, I mean, consider your surroundings.

“If I’m living in the shadows of Valley Gun, and I know the rates that those guns end up at crime scenes, I’m boycotting that store. I’m picketing it,” Webster said. “Localities need to know this information. Community residents should know it.” 

That's better, just as long as Israel is not involved.


Bunch of flat-earthers, right?


Banning assault weapons is effective

Bombing suspect called himself a ‘psychopath’

He spoke from the grave!

Wasn't Apple in Austin at the same time?

"Apple goes to Hollywood. Will there be a happy ending?" by John Koblin New York Times   March 26, 2018

NEW YORK — Apple relishes its status as a dominant force in the corporate world. So it was noteworthy when one of its executives struck a note of humility this month at the South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas.

“We don’t know anything about making television,” said Eddy Cue, a senior vice president who oversees the company’s original programming team. “There’s other things we bring. We know how to create apps, we know how to do distribution, we know how to market.”

Apple’s new venture has taken it far from its Silicon Valley comfort zone to alien territory: Hollywood. Or, to be more precise, Culver City, Calif., where Apple is building a headquarters for its entertainment division.

Apple in recent months has outspent Facebook and YouTube — two other tech companies moving into original programming — as well as the traditional TV studios. In a few cases, it has also beaten Netflix in bidding wars.

Since October, Apple has made deals for 12 projects, nine of them “straight-to-series” orders — an aggressive method of creating new programming that skips the pilot-episode stage.

When Apple began courting producers last year, it said it had a budget of about $1 billion to work with. Now it is becoming clear the company will blow well past that figure.

Apple’s Hollywood prospects seemed dim as recently as June, when it rolled out its first original series, a reality show called “Planet of the Apps.” It had some big names attached — including Gwyneth Paltrow — but was largely perceived as a dud.

I'm not surprised, and the reason she has stayed quiet about Harvey (from the rumor mill in Hollywood) is because she not only consented but pursued.

Cue soon improved the company’s standing by hiring veteran TV executives Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht from Sony Pictures Television. They moved quickly to build Apple Worldwide Video, expanding its staff to roughly 40 people.

In putting together its slate of 12 projects (and counting), they made deals with big names including Reese Witherspoon, Steven Spielberg, Damien Chazelle, Jennifer Aniston, and Kristen Wiig.

You think that is going to make me want to watch?

To keep up with Netflix, Amazon and Hulu have thrown money at new projects, while marquee cable players like HBO and FX are focused on holding their place in the market.

Then they are the next to go down; you gotta keep moving.

Apple has two advantages: cashmore than $285 billion on hand — and the promise of working with one of the most successful companies on earth.....

Yeah, that is with a B!

All these social ills and budget problems, and yet there is plenty of money floating around out there. Must be directed to certain hands, I gue$$.


Meanwhile, just over the border:

US family of four killed by gas in Mexico

You wanna go with that, okay. 

You know who discovered them?

Two firefighters among five killed in W.Va. accidents

They were about to hit the slopes for vacation.

"A Vermont hunting club has cancelled its crow shooting competition after a social media outcry. Mark McCarthy, president of the Boonie Club in Williamstown, told the Burlington Free Press it will not be sponsoring the April 7 crow shoot, in which teams of hunters would have competed to win prizes by shooting the most birds. Critics of the shoot say they understand ‘‘hunting for food’’ but are against ‘‘wanton killing.’’ (AP)

If you don't kill them, they remember you and drop sh*t on your property. 

No media coverage of this one

Actually, there was and they did.

"A Dorchester man was arrested after officers discovered he was in possession of a loaded hand gun Friday night, Boston police said. Isaiah Bates, 22, was stopped by officers conducting an investigation in the area of 489 Blue Hill Ave. in Roxbury at 8:48 p.m., Boston police said in a press release. The officers conducted a pat frisk and discovered Bates was carrying a loaded 9mm Bryco Arms Jennings Model Nine handgun, the release said. Police later discovered the gun had been reported stolen in Pawtucket, R.I., the release said....."

He should have left it in the car:

"A man who drove off and attempted to hide from officers during a Dorchester traffic stop was arrested after officers discovered an unlicensed gun under his seat Saturday night, police said. Ezekiel Washington, 20, of Dorchester, was stopped in his car for an equipment violation at about 10:22 p.m. on Adams and Winter streets and was talking to officers before he suddenly sped off, police said. They later spotted his car parked further down Adams Street, near the intersection of Robinson Street The officers searched the car and discovered a loaded 9mm Kel Tec Model PF-9 handgun under the driver’s seat, police said. Additional officers called in for back-up set up a perimeter and located Washington inside Ronan Park, where he was arrested without further incident....."

He should have ran.

"Man dies in Dorchester stabbing" by Danny McDonald Globe Staff  March 25, 2018

Boston police are investigating the slaying of a man who was stabbed in Dorchester’s Uphams Corner neighborhood hours before dawn on Sunday.

Jonathan Handy, owner of Handy’s Cafe on nearby Columbia Road, said he saw police cars with their blue lights flashing but he hadn’t heard any gunshots, so he didn’t think much of it initially.

Handy found the violence to be concerning. He said he wanted his customers to feel safe walking to and from his eatery late at night, and said he was troubled whenever anyone from the community suffers violence.

Handy, who opened his shop 11 months ago, referenced Batman’s hometown when talking about crime in the neighborhood

“I call it Gotham,” said Handy. “After 12 o’clock, it turns into Gotham.”

Nothing good ever happens after midnight.

Authorities, he said, didn’t offer him any details about the stabbing.

“Anything’s possible,” he said matter-of-factly.

Police shut down Columbia Road, a major thoroughfare in Dorchester, to through traffic while they responded to the scene early Sunday, said Handy.

The crime scene tape was gone by early Sunday afternoon, and people in the neighborhood were left with more questions than answers as details about the stabbing were scarce.

Police did not indicate what immediately preceded the stabbing and authorities did not announce any arrests in connection with the slaying.

A few doors down from Handy’s shop, at Upham’s House of Pizza, co-owner Dimetra Wilkins said she wouldn’t be surprised if she knew the victim. She has been working at the pizza shop since 1999, and knows most of the neighborhood’s youths, she said. Her business closed at 1 a.m. Sunday, so none of her employees saw the police response.

“It’s really sad,” she said, adding, “I hope it wasn’t over something stupid.”

Tony Rosa has lived on Cushing Avenue for 22 years. Rosa, a father of three who works as a ride-hailing service driver, said the street is typically quiet. He couldn’t recall a single stabbing or shooting on his block, he said. Rosa worked overnight, and when he came home Sunday morning, hours after police responded to the stabbing, he said he didn’t notice anything amiss.

“It happens everywhere . . . but this street?” he asked Sunday afternoon. “I don’t see gangs or anything like that on this street.”

Nestor Munoz, who lives in the neighborhood, was less incredulous. Like Rosa, he was away from the neighborhood when the stabbing occurred, working a double shift at his job at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. He hadn’t hear of the violence until Sunday afternoon.

“I’m not surprised,” he said on his porch amid a snow flurry.

The three-story powder blue apartment building at 7 Cushing Ave., near where police say the stabbing happened, is located next to a back entrance to the historic Strand Theatre.

Matthew Breton, technical director for the Strand, said he was shocked to hear about the violence that occurred at most a few yards away from where he was loading equipment into the theater Sunday afternoon.

He described the neighborhood as quiet. The theater hosted an a cappella show on Saturday night, but that event got out at 11 p.m., hours before the stabbing, he said.

“I’m saddened to hear about this,” he said Sunday afternoon.

Police are asking anyone with information to contact the department’s Homicide Unit.....


Until the ferry returns to service you can watch student-made videos on the nonstop flight to London.

"On Palm Sunday, pope urges youth to speak out" Associated Press  March 25, 2018

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis’s message followed a meeting of young Catholics who told the Vatican last week that they want a more transparent and authentic church, and a day after hundreds of thousands marched in youth-led rallies across the United States to demand greater gun control.

‘‘The temptation to silence young people has always existed,’’ Francis said. ‘‘There are many ways to silence young people and make them invisible. . . . There are many ways to sedate them, to keep them from getting involved, to make their dreams flat and dreary, petty and plaintive,’’ but he told youths in his homily that ‘‘you have it in you to shout,’’ even if ‘‘we older people and leaders, very often corrupt, keep quiet.’’ 

I suppose the Catholic Church, of all people, would know about the silencing of young people.

Do they even hear themselves?

As the Roman Catholic Church enters Holy Week, retracing the story of the crucifixion of Jesus and his resurrection three days later on Easter Sunday, Francis urged youth to join those who offer praise. ‘‘Dear young people, the joy that Jesus awakens in you is a source of anger and irritation to some, since a joyful person is hard to manipulate,’’ the pontiff said..... 

I'm not even going to start, and what the hell is he talking about?


Related: Bishop honors French officer whose sacrifice saved hostage

Also see:

"Fighters dressed in fatigues slumped in their seats and hid their faces from roadside news cameras, while children peered out of the open windows, unsure if they will ever be able to return....."

They are going to ‘‘refugee camps in Idlib.’’ 

"Three explosions in four days have rocked the Somalian capital and left a trail of carnage, killing nearly 20 people and injuring dozens of others, as Islamic militants unleashed a wave of attacks on the country. On Sunday, a car bomb exploded at a security checkpoint near the Interior Ministry on a road leading to the presidential palace in the capital, Mogadishu. Al-Shabab, an Islamic group affiliated with Al Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the attack. The group, which has been behind bombings and other attacks in Mogadishu, aims to topple Somalia’s Western-backed government. Earlier Sunday, another car bomb exploded in Siinka Dheer, outside Mogadishu....."

Was so loud you couldn't hear this:

"United States Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer is expected to be in Boston for an event exploring hate speech and the First Amendment. Breyer is scheduled to have a public discussion Thursday with the president of the National Constitution Center, a nonprofit history museum in Philadelphia. It’s being held at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate. Organizers say Breyer will participate in a conversation followed by a panel of legal experts who will debate the First Amendment and hate speech. He is also scheduled to speak April 4 at Tufts University in Medford (AP)."