Showing posts with label Social Issues. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Social Issues. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A good explanation of the media crisis from Second City Cop

  • These stories about the killings of African-American men by police officers (or by a “neighborhood watch captain,” in Trayvon Martin’s case) are all what my long-time radio and podcast partner Brian Ward calls “stories of choice.” They are plucked from a nearly endless supply of sad events that occur daily in a nation of 315 million, and are promoted because they further a political narrative. An unholy alliance of activists and newspaper reporters and editors tries to distort our perception of reality by giving undue emphasis to them. Then, of course, reality begins to catch up with perception, and we have riots, murders of police officers, and so on. But understand that the decision to promote these stories, in preference to others that are equally or more newsworthy, is a choice that is consciously made by people with a political agenda.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Spy Flights

Does the benefit to society outweigh the damage done by a invasion of privacy? What happens to the data they collect?
WASHINGTON—The Justice Department is scooping up data from thousands of mobile phones through devices deployed on airplanes that mimic cellphone towers, a high-tech hunt for criminal suspects that is snagging a large number of innocent Americans, according to people familiar with the operations.
The U.S. Marshals Service program, which became fully functional around 2007, operates Cessna aircraft from at least five metropolitan-area airports, with a flying range covering most of the U.S. population, according to people familiar with the program.
The Wall Street Journal has learned of a new federal law enforcement program that uses planes and cell signals to track criminal suspects.
Planes are equipped with devices—some known as “dirtboxes” to law-enforcement officials because of the initials of the BoeingCo. unit that produces them—which mimic cell towers of large telecommunications firms and trick cellphones into reporting their unique registration information.
The technology in the two-foot-square device enables investigators to scoop data from tens of thousands of cellphones in a single flight, collecting their identifying information and general location, these people said.
People with knowledge of the program wouldn’t discuss the frequency or duration of such flights, but said they take place on a regular basis.
A Justice Department official would neither confirm nor deny the existence of such a program. The official said discussion of such matters would allow criminal suspects or foreign powers to determine U.S. surveillance capabilities. Justice Department agencies comply with federal law, including by seeking court approval, the official said.
The program is the latest example of the extent to which the U.S. is training its surveillance lens inside the U.S. It is similar in approach to the National Security Agency’s program to collect millions of Americans phone records, in that it scoops up large volumes of data in order to find a single person or a handful of people. The U.S. government justified the phone-records collection by arguing it is a minimally invasive way of searching for terrorists.
Christopher Soghoian, chief technologist at the American Civil Liberties Union, called it “a dragnet surveillance program. It’s inexcusable and it’s likely—to the extent judges are authorizing it—[that] they have no idea of the scale of it.”
Cellphones are programmed to connect automatically to the strongest cell tower signal. The device being used by the U.S. Marshals Service identifies itself as having the closest, strongest signal, even though it doesn’t, and forces all the phones that can detect its signal to send in their unique registration information.
Even having encryption on a phone, such as the kind included on Apple Inc. ’s iPhone 6, doesn’t prevent this process.
The technology is aimed at locating cellphones linked to individuals under investigation by the government, including fugitives and drug dealers, but it collects information on cellphones belonging to people who aren’t criminal suspects, these people said. They said the device determines which phones belong to suspects and “lets go” of the non-suspect phones.
The device can briefly interrupt calls on certain phones. Authorities have tried to minimize the potential for harm, including modifying the software to ensure the fake tower doesn’t interrupt anyone calling 911 for emergency help, one person familiar with the matter said.
The program cuts out phone companies as an intermediary in searching for suspects. Rather than asking a company for cell-tower information to help locate a suspect, which law enforcement has criticized as slow and inaccurate, the government can now get that information itself. People familiar with the program say they do get court orders to search for phones, but it isn’t clear if those orders describe the methods used because the orders are sealed.
Also unknown are the steps taken to ensure data collected on innocent people isn’t kept for future examination by investigators. A federal appeals court ruled earlier this year that over-collection of data by investigators, and stockpiling of such data, was a violation of the Constitution.
The program is more sophisticated than anything previously understood about government use of such technology. Until now, the hunting of digital trails created by cellphones had been thought limited to devices carried in cars that scan the immediate area for signals. Civil-liberties groups are suing for information about use of such lower-grade devices, some of them called Stingrays, by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
By taking the program airborne, the government can sift through a greater volume of information and with greater precision, these people said. If a suspect’s cellphone is identified, the technology can pinpoint its location within about 10 feet, down to a specific room in a building. Newer versions of the technology can be programmed to do more than suck in data: They can also jam signals and retrieve data from a target phone such as texts or photos. It isn’t clear if this domestic program has ever used those features.
Similar devices are used by U.S. military and intelligence officials operating in other countries, including in war zones, where they are sometimes used to locate terrorist suspects, according to people familiar with the work. In the U.S., these people said, the technology has been effective in catching suspected drug dealers and killers. They wouldn’t say which suspects were caught through this method.
The scanning is done by the Technical Operations Group of the U.S. Marshals Service, which tracks fugitives, among other things. Sometimes it deploys the technology on targets requested by other parts of the Justice Department.
Within the Marshals Service, some have questioned the legality of such operations and the internal safeguards, these people said. They say scooping up of large volumes of information, even for a short period, may not be properly understood by judges who approve requests for the government to locate a suspect’s phone.
Some within the agency also question whether people scanning cellphone signals are doing enough to minimize intrusions into the phones of other citizens, and if there are effective procedures in place to safeguard the handling of that data.
It is unclear how closely the Justice Department oversees the program. “What is done on U.S. soil is completely legal,” said one person familiar with the program. “Whether it should be done is a separate question.”
Referring to the more limited range of Stingray devices, Mr. Soghoian of the ACLU said: “Maybe it’s worth violating privacy of hundreds of people to catch a suspect, but is it worth thousands or tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of peoples’ privacy?”
The existence of the cellphone program could escalate tensions between Washington and technology companies, including the telecom firms whose devices are being redirected by the program.
If a suspect is believed to have a cellphone from Verizon Communications Inc., for example, the device would emit a signal fooling Verizon phones and those roaming on Verizon’s network into thinking the plane is the nearest available Verizon cell tower. Phones that are turned on, even if not in use, would “ping’’ the flying device and send their registration information. In a densely populated area, the dirtbox could pick up data of tens of thousands of cellphones.
The approach is similar to what computer hackers refer to as a “man in the middle’’ attack, in which a person’s electronic device is tricked into thinking it is relaying data to a legitimate or intended part of the communications system.
A Verizon spokesman said the company was unaware of the program. “The security of Verizon’s network and our customers’ privacy are top priorities,’’ the spokesman said. “However, to be clear, the equipment referenced in the article is not Verizon’s and is not part of our network.”
An AT&T Inc. spokeswoman declined to comment, as did a spokeswoman for Sprint Corp.
For cost reasons, the flights usually target a number of suspects at a time, rather than just a single fugitive. But they can be used for a single suspect if the need is great enough to merit the resources, these people said.
The dirtbox and Stingray are both types of what tech experts call “IMSI catchers,’’ named for the identification system used by networks to identify individual cellphones.
The name “dirtbox’’ came from the acronym of the company making the device, DRT, for Digital Receiver Technology Inc., people said. DRT is now a subsidiary of Boeing. A Boeing spokeswoman declined to comment.
“DRT has developed a device that emulates a cellular base station to attract cellphones for a registration process even when they are not in use,’’ according to a 2010 regulatory filing Boeing made with the U.S. Commerce Department, which touted the device’s success in finding contraband cellphones smuggled in to prison inmates.
Corrections & Amplifications
An earlier version of this article incorrectly named Digital Receiver Technology Inc. as Digital Recovery Technology Inc. It also incorrectly listed what is known as IMSI catcher technology as ISMI catcher.

Friday, November 14, 2014



WASHINGTON DC – Calling out fellow Democrat David Axelrod, left-wing Congressman Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL-4) took to the floor of the House of Representatives today demanding the President use his executive authority to immediately give amnesty to all illegal aliens.
We have not been back in DC for a full 24 hours and the immigration shenanigans have begun already.
Republicans and even a few unhelpful Democrats have been saying the President should not take executive action on immigration or should not act yet, as if his intention to use his executive power under existing law is a surprise.
David Axelrod, safe in the confines of the University of Chicago, has no sense of urgency because his mom and his neighbor are not facing deportation.
But it is a little different on my side of Chicago where people live in nearly constant fear that a loved one or a friend will be detained and then strapped into an airplane for deportation.
My Chicagoans have been waiting for the Congress to take action on immigration for over a decade. 
Polish, Ukrainian, Irish and Mexican have been waiting.  Jamaicans and Philippinos.
They have been waiting for family members to get visas in backlogs that stretch to 20 years because Congress refuses to act. 
They have been heart broken by laws that say -- on the one hand -- they can apply for a green card because they are married to a U.S. citizen, but on the other hand say they must wait in exile outside the country, away from their families for 10 years in order to get that green card.
Two hundred thousand deportations, three hundred thousand deportations, four hundred thousand deportations, per year – these statistics represent people – people disappearing from their churches, from their kitchen tables, and from parent-teacher conferences. 
Why?  Because Congress is doing nothing to make it stop or make any progress towards an immigration system based in reality and common sense, where people come legally with visas rather than smugglers.
Now, the GOP conference in the House is saying after a decade of delay, a decade of defying the American people, and a decade of demonizing immigrants that they are so anxious to work on immigration reform, but there is just one thing stopping them: The President.
The one thing preventing Republicans from taking action , they say, is that the President may also take action to keep families together and address the destructive nature of deportations.
Here’s how one commentator in the Atlantic Magazine described it:
“Boehner’s effort to hold congressional immigration reform hostage if Obama acts unilaterally is so absurd.  Boehner killed the hostage long ago. Now he’s hoping that if he pretends it’s still alive, no one will notice the corpse lying on the floor.”
To put it another way, it is a little late for the Mayor of Chernobyl to worry about someone else poisoning the well.
The President stood right there and said that if this Congress fails to act on important national priorities, he will use his pen and phone within current law to do so.
Republicans heard him just as well as I did.
Republicans had more than two years to draft a bill and a year to schedule a vote on the Senate bill and I do not see one scheduled today, tomorrow, or next week and I doubt I will before this Congress – and the bill – expires.
Let’s just look at the record: Republicans said we cannot do immigration unless it is done piece meal; or we cannot do immigration unless people are denied citizenship; or we need more border security spending, or we need parole officers assigned to each immigrant who gets to stay and work.
And every Democrat from the President on down -- all the way to me – says, “Yes, yes, yes, compromise and progress are more important than gridlock and making every Democratic constituency happy. 
Governing means when Democrats say yes to Republican demands, Republicans actually move forward and we work together!
But none of that happened despite the door being open, the table being set, and Democrats saying -- in effect – Republicans could order anything off the menu. 
And yet, here we are with no action, no vote, and Republicans threatening to double down on “no action” if the President – acting within the letter and the spirit of the laws passed by Congress – takes action to help the country.
The President will act, as he should.  Boldly, broadly and soon to help the country.
And when he acts, tens of millions of our fellow American citizens will support him. Why?  Because they care more about justice and practicality than they do about partisan politics and the blame game. 
Because a policy based on driving out 10 million immigrants is neither a sensible one nor one we should be spending billions of dollars on.
The President will act because Presidents before him have acted to solve immigration problems when the Congress acted too slowly.
The President will act because he believes -- as the American people do -- that families are important and children should be raised without the Government coming along and ripping their mommy or daddy away from them.
I am tired of the manufactured excuses for inaction.  The U.S. Congress can still debate, vote and pass any immigration law it wants to and the best way to get something done will be if leaders on both sides work together.
If you don’t like it, do something!  There is nothing in your way but yourselves.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Could it happen here?

Detroit Looks to Re-Engineer How City Government Works

As City Prepares to Exit Bankruptcy, It Focuses on Ways to Provide Services Within Budget

Detroit resident Tonja Boyd and her daughters wait at a bus stop last week. The city plans to improve its transit system as well as boost police and fire services and upgrade computer systems under its post-bankruptcy restructuring plan.ENLARGE
Detroit resident Tonja Boyd and her daughters wait at a bus stop last week. The city plans to improve its transit system as well as boost police and fire services and upgrade computer systems under its post-bankruptcy restructuring plan. GETTY IMAGES
DETROIT—The nation’s largest municipal bankruptcy case revealed a startling level of dysfunction inside Detroit’s government, including meter maids who were required to wear pants without pockets to prevent the theft of city funds and a jury-rigged firehouse alarm system that relied on a fax machine.
“We found many practices that made no sense,” said Chuck Moore, a consultant from restructuring firm Conway MacKenzie Inc. whose team has been embedded in the city’s government for more than a year.
As the city prepares to exit bankruptcy court, it will have to learn a new approach to providing basic services while staying within its means. Detroit plans to spend $1.7 billion over the next decade to improve services, earmarking about $400 million to tear down abandoned houses, $100 million toward a more reliable bus system, $260 million to make its streets safer and more than $150 million to upgrade outdated technology.
“Detroit’s inability to provide adequate municipal services runs deep and has for years,” U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes said in his ruling Friday approving the city’s restructuring plan, which calls for cutting $7 billion in debt. “It is inhumane and intolerable, and it must be fixed.”
The judge has yet to set a formal date for Detroit’s exit from court supervision, but it could come as soon as this month. A state-appointed emergency manager pushed the city into bankruptcy in July 2013.
Overseeing it all will be a nine-member financial review commission with the power to approve city budgets and review contracts and labor agreements. It is set to be controlled mostly by appointees of Republican Gov. Rick Snyder or state officials.
On Monday, Mr. Snyder named his four commission appointees, one being the city’s former deputy emergency manager. He also named former New York Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch , who helped steer New York City’s financial restructuring in the 1970s, as the commission’s senior financial adviser.
Mayor Mike Duggan, a Democrat, pledged Friday to cooperate with the GOP-led state government and brushed aside concerns by Judge Rhodes that the mayor would appoint himself to the commission slot he controls. The mayor has endorsed the restructuring plan.
Among the city’s top priorities: improving public safety. On Monday, Federal Bureau of Investigation statistics for 2013 once again showed Detroit was the nation’s most crime-ridden large city, despite a drop in violent crime. Police and ambulance response times have improved but still fall short of national standards.
The process of re-engineering how Detroit works is expected to be bumpy. Some potential divisions over the plan flared up Monday as one city lawyer said Detroit needed more time to examine more than $140 million in fees charged to the city for the restructuring by lawyers and consultants. Earlier, a firefighters union president said he feared the judge was racing to conclude the case without “genuine inquiries into the high fees that have the unmistakable whiff of plunder.” The judge sharply disputed that account Friday, but said an examination of the fees is ongoing.
More broadly, financial experts who examined the city’s operations say Detroit remains burdened by out-of-date union rules, local laws and charter provisions. People who had no training were bumped into more senior city positions simply because of their years on the job, Mr. Moore said. Detroit’s employee-training system was almost nonexistent, and the performance-evaluation system “had stopped being used for several years,” he said. The technology is so creaky that some computers take nearly 10 minutes to boot up, according to Detroit’s chief information officer.
Municipal unions still wield substantial power in Detroit. Despite pension cuts, work-rule changes and a slimmed-down retiree health system for current workers, the city is increasing wages and hiring, which could boost union ranks.
Many worker representatives are still bitter over the bankruptcy, which emerged out of a state takeover. “I’ve been disgusted with this thing from the beginning,” said Ed McNeil, special adviser to the president of Michigan Afscme Council 25, the city’s main public-worker union.
Mr. McNeil argued the city could have avoided bankruptcy if it had implemented cost savings pointed out by union officials. Now, he said, the city needs to stop pursuing unnecessarily costly contracts to privatize work done by union employees.
Detroit faces pressure to change the way it does business. Much of the planned spending hinges on the city doing a much better job in collecting revenue from its 688,000 residents as well as businesses based here.
One part of the program counts on $34 million in additional collections by billing people assisted by fire and emergency medical personnel. In the past, Mr. Moore said, “EMS had become a taxi service.” It wasn’t unheard of for Detroiters to call 911 claiming a medical emergency when they sought a ride to see a doctor or visit a sick friend at a hospital, he said.
Already there are signs of progress. New regional authorities are preparing to run large swaths of the water and transit systems, as well as the city’s convention center that hosts the important annual auto show.
Detroit shut down many parks during its financial crisis; most have reopened and are being maintained by volunteers. Millions of dollars in donations funded new police cars and ambulances along with spruced-up firetrucks that have started to help reduce response time.
While serving as Detroit’s emergency manager, Kevyn Orr has kept a list of three cities inside his wallet—New York, Washington and Miami—with dates under each to mark their fall into financial ruin and later rebirth. Detroit, he said, will be able to add 2014 as its start date if it follows the court-approved restructuring plan when he leaves.
“You just keep trying to go up,” he said.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Fasten your seat belt

Chip on his shoulder.
We are about to get a glimpse of America in the future. All because a grand jury does not return an indictment in a case where the police officer was justified in using lethal force. This is insane. 

Friday, November 7, 2014

unemployment rate drops

Tell this to your unemployed college graduate.

Jobs Report: U.S. Adds 214,000 Jobs; Unemployment Rate Falls to 5.8%

Revisions Showed Economy Added 31,000 More Jobs in August, September

Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen, shown in August, has been watching the jobs numbers closely for signs of diminishing “slack.”ENLARGE
Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen, shown in August, has been watching the jobs numbers closely for signs of diminishing “slack.” ASSOCIATED PRESS
WASHINGTON—U.S. payrolls grew modestly in October but the unemployment rate fell and wages edged up, signs the labor market is strengthening.
Nonfarm payrolls grew a seasonally adjusted 214,000 last month, the Labor Department said Friday. Since the start of the year, employers have added more than 220,000 workers on average each month, a pace last consistently maintained nearly a decade ago.
Revisions showed the economy added 31,000 more jobs the prior two months than previously estimated. Employers added 256,000 jobs in September compared to an initial estimate of 248,000. The August reading was revised to 203,000 from the previously reported 180,000.
The unemployment rate, obtained from a separate survey of households, fell to 5.8% last month. That’s the lowest level since 2008.
Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected payrolls to increase by 233,000 in October and the unemployment rate to remain 5.9%.
Friday’s report suggests demand for workers continues to strengthen modestly, a trend seen since hiring ramped up this spring.
The broader economy contracted in the first quarter during an unusually harsh winter, and then rebounded strongly during the middle of the year. Improving consumer confidence and falling oil prices could support further expansion. But China’s slowing growth, Europe flirting with recession and Middle East turmoil are raising concerns about the durability of U.S. economic gains.
Sustained economic strength in the U.S. could hinge on advancing wages. In October, average hourly earnings for private-sector workers rose 3 cents to $24.57. Earnings were up 2% compared to a year earlier, a pace just above mild inflation. Consumer prices rose 1.7% in September from a year earlier.
The unemployment rate fell, suggesting diminished slack. The labor-force participation rate rose 62.8% from 62.7% in September, but the rate remains near the lowest levels since the late 1970s. Before the recession, the rate stood at 66%.
A broader measure of unemployment--which includes involuntary part-time workers and Americans too discouraged to apply for jobs-fell by three-tenths of a percentage point to 11.5% in October. That’s down from 13.7% a year earlier, but elevated by historical standards. During last decade’s expansion, the rate hovered between 8% and 10%.
With many Americans on the sidelines of the labor market, the supply of workers could be larger than top-line figures indicate. That excess capacity could in turn hold down wages.
The health of the labor market is an important factor in the Federal Reserve’s decision on when to raise short-term interest rates from near zero, where they’ve stood since 2008. The central bank ended its bond-buying stimulus program in October. Following their latest meeting, officials noted improvement in the labor market and consumer spending, but remained concerned about the housing market and sluggish inflation.
Friday’s report showed fairly broad based jobs gains. The leisure and hospitality sector added 52,000 jobs and retailers added 27,100. But higher-wage fields also grew. Manufacturing added 15,000 jobs, and professional and business services grew by 37,000.
Government payrolls increased by 5,000 last month, led by state and local hiring. After deep cut backs in recent years, government budgets have stabilized and public spending contributed to overall economic growth for the second straight quarter this summer.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

On the calendar for after the election.

Obama is going to sign an executive order granting amnesty to (who knows how many - millions) illegal immigrants. How does that make you feel?

Is Obama acting in the best interest of the United States or is he doing everything he can to dismantle American society as we know it? 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Distrurbing. Imagine what they think about those over 40


A trend seen by prolife activists that frequently engage college students on campuses nationwide is the growing acceptance of post-birth abortion, or killing the infant after he or she is born, campus prolife outreach leaders tell The College Fix.
Anecdotal evidence by leaders of prolife groups such as Created Equal and Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust said in interviews that not only do they see more college students willing to say they support post-birth abortion, but some students even suggest children up to 4 or 5-years-old can also be killed, because they are not yet “self aware.”
“We encounter people who think it is morally acceptable to kill babies after birth on a regular basis at almost every campus we visit,” said Mark Harrington, director of Created Equal. “While this viewpoint is still seen as shocking by most people, it is becoming increasingly popular.”
Campuses where the high school, college students, local activists and staff members of Created Equal have encountered this opinion include Purdue, University of Minnesota, and University of Central Florida. And at Ohio State earlier this year, the group captured a debate on video between one of its members and an older woman on campus who defended infanticide.
“This is the whole problem with devaluing human life at any stage—it will naturally grow to include other groups of humans; in this case, born humans as well as preborn humans,” Harrington said. “[I] talked with one young man at the University of Minnesota who thought it was alright to kill children if they were under the age of 5 years old, as he did not consider them persons until that age.”

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Gay Marriage is a Constitutional Right?


By Teri O'Brien -
There is a real reason to be extremely upset about the Supreme Court's underhanded and disgusting ruling of October 6, 2014, which allows rogue, activist, results-oriented federal judges in lower courts to run roughshod over the rights of the American public by declaring that there is a federal Constitutional right to so-called "same sex marriage," which of course, is a ridiculous contradiction in terms to anyone with a passing knowledge of the English language.
No, it's not that we must endure cringe-inducing B-roll of pairs of 300-pound females, some of whom bear a striking resemblance to Chaz Bono, holding the hands of their "brides" resplendent in their strapless white wedding dresses. (Who knew those dresses came in size Orca?) Nor is it the obligatory footage of two males French-kissing after they are pronounced "husband" and "husband."
Those things are bad enough, but the real reason to be upset has nothing to do with that. Nor does it matter whether a person opposes so-called same sex marriage, supports it, or isn't sure. Every single American should be extremely concerned about these court decisions because they demonstrate an utter contempt for the rule of law from the very branch of government that should be most concerned about it. 
Where precisely in the U.S. Constitution is this "right" for two men or two women to marry found? It's hard to say exactly. Let me cut to the chase: IT ISN'T IN THERE, unless we resort to the sort of results-oriented reading of the Constitution that gave us emanating "penumbras" where liberals suddenly discover "rights" unimagined by the Founders.
In the current flurry of activity to nationalize the issue of marriage, some of the courts seem to rely on the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, while others appear to look to the Due Process Clause of that same Amendment. It's not unlike what happened in the Supreme Court case that arguably kicked off all of this Gay-a-palooza madness in the federal courts, or at least accelerated it, Lawrence v. Texas (2003).
In that case, the majority opinion written by Justice Kennedy relied on that reliable tool of activist justices from the Dred Scott case through Roe v. Wade through this Lawrence disaster, substantive due process. Justice O'Connor, who also agreed with the outcome in the case chose instead to rely on the Equal Protection Clause. I love it when activist judges bend over backwards to pretend that there is a Constitutional basis for the result they desire, don't you? 
As I have previously pointed out, Lawrence v. Texas was actually a fraud on the Supreme Court, a result of manipulation by militant homosexual activists, enraged by a 1986 Supreme Court decision, Bowers v. Hardwick, that said the state of Georgia was perfectly within its rights to criminalize sodomy between two men. These groups cooked up the whole set of facts. To quote a book review of "Flagrant Conduct," book that exposed the truth about this case: 
[T]he case that affirmed the right of gay couples to have consensual sex in private spaces seems to have involved two men who were neither a couple nor having sex. In order to appeal to the conservative Justices on the high court, the story of a booze-soaked quarrel was repackaged as a love story. Nobody had to know that the gay-rights case of the century was actually about three or four men getting drunk in front of a television in a Harris County apartment decorated with bad James Dean erotica. 
Here's the real kicker: the Supreme Court has already ruled on the Constitutionality of so-called same sex marriage and the right of states to prohibit it. It did so back in 1972, in Baker v. Nelson, a case from Minnesota, in which two men were denied a marriage license in Hennepin County (Minneapolis). The Supreme Court.
The Minnesota Supreme Court, in an opinon that seemed to just barely avoid saying "You cannot be serious," said that the Constitution does not provide any "fundamental right" for two guys to get married. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld that decision with an order consisting of the phrase "“Appeal from Sup. Ct. Minn. dismissed for want of a substantial federal question.” End of story. 
In a despicable act of gutless capitulation to efforts to Constitutionalize the Left's agenda, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to overrule Baker, and instead chooses to allow lower court judges to violate the rights of states, which have throughout the history of this country had the authority to define marriage, and trample on the desires of the vast majority of American citizens.
I will repeat: even if you are a supporter of so-called same sex marriage, you should be extremely concerned about living in a post-Constitutional time, with a lawless occupant of the Oval Office gleefully wielding his pen and phone to do whatever he pleases, and courts apparently willing to do whatever it takes to get the result they think is "fair." When legal matters are decided by that standard, rather than by legal procedure and rules applied without regard to outcome, we have tyranny in black robes, the rule of man, not the rule of law. We need only look to history to see where that leads.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Prayer Vigil tomorrow evening.

Fri., 9/26, 6pm: Morgan Park community vigil at 110 & Hermosa, a positive response to the hateful graffiti at homes of six local families.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The media is so full of crap.


As Rebel Pundit notes, while the protests in Ferguson, MO, dominate the headlines after a police officer shot and killed Mike Brown, the violence rages on in Chicago. Over the weekend there were 31 people shot and 7 killed.
Chicago-30-Day-Murder-Trend-August-18-750x400, a website that maintains a running tally of the shootings and murders in Chicago also reports the homicide total for 2014, which is 259 so far, with a total of 1,360 shot and wounded.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Why the ink?

Someone please help me understand the thinking behind the ink. 

Should anti-tattoo discrimination be illegal?

A woman on her phone in an office with a large tattoo on her upper arm
Tattoos are more popular than ever, but workers can be dismissed from or denied jobs because of their body modifications. Some want protection under employment law. Should they get it?
You're perfect for the job. You have all the skills and experience the company is looking for, and you've turned up for the interview in your smartest attire.
But there's a problem.
If you have a tattoo that incurs the displeasure of the boss, you might find any offer of employment is swiftly rescinded.
In July Jo Perkins, a consultant in Milton Keynes, had her contract terminated because a 4cm image of a butterfly on her foot contravened the no-visible-inking policy of the firm for which she worked. The company said she had failed to cover it up.
A man shows off his neck tattoo
She wasn't the first. A 39-year-old mother-of-three from Yorkshire with the mantra "Everything happens for a reason" on her forearm was dismissedas a waitress in 2013 following complaints from customers. The previous year, a Next employee complained he had been forced from his job because his employers disliked his 80 tattoos.
In all cases, the employers insisted they were acting within their legal rights. And therein lies a potential hazard for a rapidly-growing section of the workforce.
One in five Britons now has a tattoo, according to research cited by the British Association of Dermatologists in 2012. Among US thirtysomethings the estimate rises to two-fifths.
From the prime minister's wife, Samantha Cameron - who has a dolphin image on her ankle - to celebrities like David Beckham and Cheryl Cole, tattooed individuals are firmly part of the mainstream.
Samantha Cameron's ankle tattooSamantha Cameron's dolphin tattoo on her ankle
But employers have not all kept pace with changes in attitudes. A report last year for the British Sociological Association found managers frequently expressed negative views about the image projected by noticeably tattooed staff.

Start Quote

Recruiters who had tattoos [told me] they wouldn't have someone with a visible tattoo on display”
Andrew TimmingSt Andrew University
While ink was an asset in some industries, such as those targeting young people, most of those interviewed felt there was a "stigma" attached to visible markings, according to Andrew Timming of St Andrews University, who carried out the study.
Words like "untidy", "repugnant" and "unsavoury" were all used to describe the perception clients were likely to gain of the organisation if someone decorated in this way was hired.
This was true even when managers were themselves fond of body modifications. "There were recruiters who had tattoos, who showed me them - they weren't visible on the hand, neck or face - they wouldn't have someone with a visible tattoo on display," says Timming.
Some enthusiasts for skin markings insist this is deeply unfair. A number of e-petitions have been organised against tattoo-related discrimination.
A 34-year-old from Birmingham who changed his name by deed poll to King of Ink Land King Body Art The Extreme Ink-Ite (previously Mathew Whelan), who describes himself as the UK's most tattooed man, has led a campaign to protect the employment status of people with body modifications.
Two photos show Body Art before and after he had his face covered in tattoosThe before and after shots of Body Art, formerly known as Mathew Whelan

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Body Art with a monacle
I was nine when I knew I wanted them”
Body Art
Body Art (as he gives his shortened name), a property entrepreneur and Liberal Democrat activist in Birmingham, has personally lobbied ministers Lynne Featherstone, Jo Swinson and Ed Davey in favour of a level playing field for those with tattoos.
"If someone can do a job, they should be equal with the next person who has the same CV," he says.
Tattoos are more than simply a lifestyle choice, he argues - they are an expression of someone's identity just as much as their religion or other beliefs.
"I was nine when I knew I wanted them," he says. "People who are modified have an identity because of their image and who they are."
It's not a view that is widely shared by bosses.
Policies which restrict tattoos are commonplace in the UK. The Metropolitan Police bans them on the face, hands and above the collar line, as well as any which are "discriminatory, violent or intimidating". In 2012 the music retailer HMV was criticised for issuing guidelines instructing staff to cover up their ink. Airlines frequently place restrictions on tattoos among cabin crew.
Office worker with a tattoo
Firms have every right to decide who represents them, argues independent human resources consultant Sandra Beale. An organisation that wishes to project a smart, professional image, or whose clients would likely be put off, is entitled to ban or limit body modifications, she says - workers can choose whether they prefer having a tattoo or a job.
Steve-OSome jobs may be less strict than others
"For an employer, if they employ them in a customer-facing role, it could have an impact on reputation and doesn't portray a good corporate image," she says.
Around the world, the law tends not to protect tattooed employees.
In Japan, where tattoos are widely associated with organised crime, bans are commonplace. A US federal appeals court ruled in 2006 that ordering public employees to cover up their tattoos did not violate their First Amendment rights. In New Zealand, where tattoos are an important part of Maori culture, a ban by the national airline on visible markings ignited a national debate.
However, in Victoria, Australia, they may be considered a physical feature protected by the Equal Opportunity Act 2010, according to at least one legal opinion.
Under UK law it's perfectly legal for managers to refuse to hire someone on this basis, according to employment law expert Helen Burgess, a partner at law firm Shoosmiths. The only exception might be under the 2010 Equality Act if the tattoo were connected to their religion or beliefs, she says - and even then a plaintiff would have to demonstrate this were the case.
Existing employees would fare little better if their boss took a dislike to a new adornment. "If there was a blanket ban on tattoos and an individual were to turn up with one, if the employer followed proper process that would be a fair dismissal in law," Burgess says.
By contrast, Body Art argues that body modification has "protected characteristic" status under the 2010 act, given the practice's connection to people's beliefs.
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Japan's tattoo taboos
Male models show off their full body tattoos in the style of YakuzaModels show off the Yakuza-style body art of renowned tattoo artist Horiyoshi III
  • Tattooing in Japan goes at least as far back as 5,000 BC
  • During 7th and 8th Century, evidence suggests that tattooing began to be used as a form of punishment for criminals
  • Resulted in an enduring association with criminality, although elaborate tattoo artistry also has a long history
  • Regularly linked to Japanese mafia - known as the Yakuza - whose members often sport tattoo "suits", invisible when fully clothed
  • In 2012 the mayor of Osaka tried to crackdown on city workers with tattoos. "If they insist on having tattoos, they had better leave the city office and go to the private sector," he said at the time
  • Young people tend to be more open to tattoos but still common for visible art to be banned in gyms, water parks and many workplaces
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But the fact so many organisations have anti-tattoo policies suggests this interpretation of the law has not yet entered the mainstream among HR and legal circles. Secondary legislation specifically excluded tattoos and piercings from the 2010 act's definition of a severe disfigurement, on which basis an employer cannot discriminate.
For this reason, some tattoo artists refuse to ink the face, neck or hands of customers who are not already heavily inked.
Nonetheless, the sheer critical mass of younger people with tattoos suggests it's likely that attitudes are likely to change over time regardless of what the law says.
Young office worker
Employers - especially those seeking specialist skills - may find they can't afford to exclude talent. In an effort to tackle a recruitment shortfall, the British Army is reported to be considering relaxing its rules to allow tattoos on the face, neck and hands.
However, says Timming, "There will be certain genres of tattoos that would never be normalised. Any kind of racist symbols would be a death sentence in terms of your job prospects."
Even now, he says, the size and location of a tattoo make a big difference to whether an employer is likely to accept it.
Likewise, designs with connotations of drugs, violence, crime or death are likely to impede a job search, Timming says. Even football-related tattoos sometimes cause applicants to be rejected because some employers associate them with hooliganism.
By contrast, "any kind of more innocuous, smaller tattoos - a rose or a butterfly - would be more acceptable in the workplace".
For the time being, it's advice worth considering when balancing the appeal of that new tattoo against the prospect of a dream job.