Wednesday, August 31, 2011


If you could fit the entire population of the world into a village consisting of 100 people, maintaining the proportions of all the people living on Earth, that village would consist of:
57 Asians;
21 Europeans;
14 Americans (North, Central and South);
8 Africans.

There would be:
52 women and 48 men;
30 Christians and 70 non-Christians;
89 heterosexuals and 11 homosexuals;
6 people would possess all of the wealth and they would all come from the USA;
80 would live in poverty;
70 would be illiterate;
50 would suffer from hunger and malnutrition;
1 would be dying while one was being born;
1 would own a computer;
1 would have a university degree (yes, only one).


In an op-ed the other day, this is how syndicated columnist Leonard Pitts described the conflict between President Obama and the Republicans:

“Compromise requires a partner. When the other party's bottom line is that you fail, when that is the opponent's prime directive, the most important item on their agenda, then you lack both that partner and any basis for negotiation. To put that another way: after you have reasoned with the bully, bargained with the bully, tried to appease the bully, sometimes the only remaining option is to punch the bully in the nose.”

Pitts didn’t know it, but he was giving a perfect description of the Israeli-Palestinian ‘peace process.’ Time after time Israel has attempted to compromise with its adversaries – first with Yasser Arafat and then with Mahmoud Abbas – by offering concessions that bordered on jeopardizing its own security, only to be rebuffed by the Palestinians because their ‘prime directive’ is the destruction of the Jewish state.

Obama and the international community see Israel as the bully, not as a victim of the Palestinian determination to destroy it. They ignore the fact that Israel has reasoned, bargained and tried to appease the Palestinians without any success. It is way past time for Obama and the international community to accept the fact that ‘compromise requires a partner’ and that in the peace process, Israel ‘lacks both that partner and any basis for negotiation.’


On Sunday’s Grits For Breakfast, Grits wrote about a four-year Theology degree that is being offered in the Texas prison system at the same time budgets for vocational and college education courses are being ‘slashed to the bone.’ Grits’ post generated 15 comments about the rehabilitation of inmates, the theology degree and other education programs, and the willingness or unwillingness of inmates to participate in such programs (by the time I sat down to compose this post).

I've worked with both the California and Texas prison systems and I have yet to find a single follow-up study on the success/recidivism rate of inmates released from those prisons or prisons from other states who received two-year or four-year college degrees. The same applies to vocational programs. I know that long before the current financial crisis, California cut down on its vocational and academic programs because they were found not to be cost effective.

I see two major problems. The first is the reluctance of white-collar employers to hire ex-cons. While that isn't fair I can understand their fears of getting ripped off. And a lot of blue-collar employers aren’t lining up to hire ex-cons either.

An even bigger problem is that prisons do not prepare inmates for the change between the structured prison society and the free world society. That's sort of what Half-Way Houses are supposed to do, but most inmates are not placed in those transitional residences once they are released.

On the inside, inmates are told when to shit, shower and shave; when to get up and when to hunker down; when to speak and when to shut up; etc. In the free world that ain't the way things are done. And a lot of ex-cons just can’t handle that freedom, especially if they've been locked up for years and have become institutionalized.

The question is: How can prisons prepare inmates to handle all those freedoms they've been deprived of while they've been locked up in the joint? Some will say that's a function of parole. Please don't make me laugh!

When all is said and done, the bottom line is that prisons serve to punish lawbreakers, not to rehabilitate them.

Reality tells us that rehabilitation cannot really occur inside prisons. At best, the inmate can be provided with some tools – literacy programs, counseling, vocational training, health care – he can use to rehabilitate himself after he leaves prison. Then it's up to the ex-con himself. Hopefully he'll have the assistance of the parole authorities, family members, social service agencies and employers willing to give him a chance. Without that help, his chances to remain out of prison are slim to none.


That must be why Obama’s Auntie Zeituni has not been deported.

And surprise, surprise! Uncle Omar getting busted got a helluva lot more play in the European media outlets than it did here at home. Hmm, I wonder why?

By Julian Gavaghan

Mail Online
August 30, 2011

President Barack Obama's long-lost uncle declared he would 'call the White House' after being arrested for alleged drunk driving.

Obama Onyango, otherwise known as the mysterious 'Uncle Omar', said he would like to phone his powerful nephew after being offered the customary free call by police in Massachusetts.

Last night the 67-year-old illegal immigrant, who is thought to have moved from Kenya to the U.S. in the 1960s and is being held under a longstanding warrant for his deportation, was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol.

He was pulled over last week after he nearly collided with an unmarked police Mitsubishi SUV patrol car near a fried chicken shop in the Boston suburb of Framingham while allegedly over the legal limit.

The policeman and another driver both slammed on their brakes after Mr Onyango went through a stop sign, a judge was told.

In evidence given to the Framingham District Court, arresting officer Val Krishtal wrote that the suspect was 'moderately unsteady on his feet' and was unable to walk in a straight line or balance on one leg for more than seven seconds.

But what the officer did not know was that Mr Onyango was that the man he arrested was the older brother of the president's aunt, Zeituni Onyango, who was last year allowed to stay in Boston after a long court battle with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement service who wanted to deport her.

According to The Times, the first clue might have come once he was taken to Framingham police station and the officer reported that: 'When asked if he wanted to make a telephone call to arrange his bail, Obama stated, "I think I will call the White House".'

The mysterious suspect, whose whereabouts was long unknown, was referred to as 'Uncle Omar' in the President's 1995 book Dreams from My Father.

In the autobiography, Mr Obama states Mr Onyango was 'the uncle who left for America 25 years ago and had never come back'.

After being arrested outside Chicken Bone Saloon, in Framingham, at 7.10pm local time on August 24 he was breathalysed by police and allegedly had blood alcohol of 0.14mg per 100ml. The legal limit in the state is 0.08mg. He pleaded not guilty yesterday.

Mr Onyango is the son of his grandfather Hussein Onyango Obama's third wife, Sarah. Barack Obama's father, Barack Senior, was born to his grandfather's second wife, Akumu.

However, the President calls Sarah 'Granny' because she brought up his father.

His mother was Stanley Ann Durham, who died in 1995. The President's father was married four times and had eight children before he died in 1982 aged 46. They split up when Barack Obama Jnr was just two.

It was not until he visited Kenya in 1987 that he got to know many members of his family.

Police records show his 'uncle' Onyango Obama was born on June 3, 1944. A separate investigation by The Times newspaper three years ago revealed the President's has the same date of birth.

At the time, he was believed to be living in the suburbs of Boston, the largest city in Massachusetts, where his sister - the President's Auntie Zeituni - was living illegally.

She was allowed to stay in America following a court battle.

Mr Obama's landlady is believed to have taken him to court to evict him in 2000 because he had not paid his $500-per-month rent.

He was also a partner in a convenience store business that opened in 1992.

Margaret Wong, the Cleveland lawyer who successfully represented Zeituni, confirmed through a representative last night that she has also been retained to defend Mr Obama.

'Before he went to America, we all knew him as Omar. But he dropped that bit, changing it to Obama Onyango, because he said he preferred his African name,' said Nelson Ochieng, a cousin in the Kenyan city of Kisumu.


Two young boys walked into a pharmacy one day, picked out a box of tampons and proceeded to the checkout counter.

The man at the counter asked the older boy, "Son, how old are you?"

"Eight," the boy replied.

The man continued, "do you know what these are used for?"

The boy replied, "not exactly, but they aren't for me. They're for him. He's my brother. He's four. We saw on TV that if you use these you would be able to swim, hike, and ride a bike. Right now, he can't do anything like that!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Kinky Friedman’s ringing ‘Hell Yes!’ endorsement of Rick Perry for president was good enough for me. Now, here is another good reason to support Perry.

It is refreshing to see that Debra Saunders has not rushed to judgment in the Willingham case. Barry Scheck, most journalists and, of curse, the opponents of the death penalty have made it loud and clear that Willingham was innocent of murdering his three children.

While the arson investigation may have been flawed – Barry Scheck of the Innocence Project called it junk science - the media has ignored the fact Stacy Willingham told family members that her ex-husband confessed to killing their children. The media also ignored the fact that Tony Ayala, his neighbor, told police that contrary to Willingham’s claim of trying to rescue his children, he ran out of the burning house, backed his car out of a carport, ran back inside only to retrieve some boxes and did not tell anyone that the children were inside until the fire trucks and an ambulance arrived. Innocent, my ass!

By Debra J. Saunders

San Francisco Chronicle
August 28, 2011

As Texas governor, GOP presidential hopeful Rick Perry has presided over 234 executions. It's a record number, which, the Washington Post reported last week, bestows on Perry "a law-and-order credential that none of his competitors can match - even if they wanted to."

Watch how pundits will try to turn that statistic into a political negative - and paint Perry as the governor with blood on his spurs - even though American voters overwhelmingly support the death penalty.

The temptation to tout Texas' status as the state with the most executions will prove too seductive. It won't matter that, as the Post story points out, Perry has overseen more executions than any other governor in modern history because his state is the second largest in the country, and he has served as governor of that state for nearly 11 years. Or that the late Democratic Gov. Ann Richards oversaw 50 executions during her one term - and unlike Perry, she never commuted a death sentence.

The irony here, points out Kent Scheidegger of the pro-death-penalty Criminal Justice Legal Foundation in Sacramento, is that Texas does not deserve its reputation as the most execution-prone state. Scheidegger crunched federal data from 1977 to 2009 and found that among the then-34 capital-punishment states, Texas falls below the mean of 16.5 death-penalty sentences per 1,000 murders. Delaware and Oklahoma have a higher rate when it comes to executions.

Of course, the other big factor is that Texas is not California. Hence, its sentences are not crushed under the heel of the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. There is no federal judge in the Lone Star State who, fearful lest a convicted murderer be put at risk of feeling any pain during lethal injection, issued an order that effectively stayed all state executions since February 2006, as happened in California.

In Texas, a governor actually can carry out the law.

So how do pundits turn that into a negative? Death penalty opponents suggest that Perry presided over the execution of an innocent man, Cameron Todd Willingham, in 2004 after Willingham was wrongfully convicted for the 1991 deaths of his three daughters - 2-year-old Amber and 1-year-old twins Karmon and Kameron.

Barry Scheck, co-director of the Innocence Project in New York, has argued that an innocent man was executed. Investigators' finding of arson was seriously flawed. A number of journalists agree.

(Over time, I'll be examining the case - as this controversy will not go away. On the one hand, I've seen journalists who so want to believe that mean-spirited law enforcement officials wrongly prosecuted an innocent man that they've willfully ignored overwhelming evidence of guilt. As Scheidegger noted, the Willingham case "has been the subject of a lot of selective reporting." On the other hand, while Perry is right to point out that a jury convicted Willingham and appellate courts upheld the verdict, his 2009 decision to dismiss the chairman of a state forensic panel that was supposed to review the Willingham case works against him. The San Antonio Express-News editorialized that Perry's political maneuvers to thwart a review were "unconscionable.")

On the compassionate-conservative side, Perry has commuted three death sentences to life in prison. In 2007, on the advice of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, Perry granted a reprieve to stop the lethal injection of Kenneth Foster, because Foster drove the getaway car, but was not the shooter, in a 1996 robbery-homicide. Perry also signed the bill that created life without parole as an alternative to the death penalty.

I think the death penalty could be a much bigger problem for President Obama as he seeks re-election. Obama says that he supports the death penalty, but his administration opposed Texas' scheduled execution of Humberto Leal - who was convicted in the 1994 rape-murder of a 16-year-old - because Leal, a Mexican citizen raised in San Antonio, had not been advised that he was entitled to consult with the Mexican Consulate. Perry would not oblige, and Leal was executed.

Also, under the Obama administration this year, the Drug Enforcement Administration seized the lethal-injection drug sodium thiopental from Georgia, Kentucky and Tennessee on the grounds that the Food and Drug Administration has not approved drugs intended to execute convicted killers.

Yes, folks, those are your tax dollars at work in the Obama administration - funding federal law enforcement raids designed to undermine state laws.

It doesn't matter that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld lethal injection by a 7-2 margin in a 2008 ruling. If there is one way Democrats know how to use the federal government successfully, it is to sabotage state laws they don't like.


I’ll be damned, but how much lower can lawyers and our courts sink?

By Steve Schmadeke

Jewish World Review
August 29, 2011

Raised in a $1.5 million Barrington Hills, Ill., home by their attorney father, two grown children have spent the last two years pursuing a unique lawsuit against their mom for "bad mothering" that alleges damages caused when she failed to buy toys for one and sent another a birthday card he didn't like.

The alleged offenses include failing to take her daughter to a car show, telling her then 7-year-old son to buckle his seat belt or she would contact police, "haggling" over the amount to spend on party dresses and calling her daughter at midnight to ask that she return home from celebrating homecoming.

Last week, at which point the court record stood about a foot tall, an Illinois appeals court dismissed the case, finding that none of the mother's conduct was "extreme or outrageous." To rule in favor of her children, the court found, "could potentially open the floodgates to subject family childrearing to … excessive judicial scrutiny and interference."

In 2009, the children, represented by three attorneys including their father, Steven A. Miner, sued their mother, Kimberly Garrity. Steven II, now 23, and his sister Kathryn, now 20, sought more than $50,000 for "emotional distress."

Miner and Garrity were married for a decade before she filed for divorce in 1995, records show.

Among the exhibits filed in the case is a birthday card Garrity sent her son, who in his lawsuit sought damages because the card was "inappropriate" and failed to include cash or a check. He also alleged she failed to send a card for years or, while he was in college, care packages.

On the front of the American Greetings card is a picture of tomatoes spread across a table that are indistinguishable except for one in the middle with craft-store googly eyes attached.

"Son I got you this Birthday card because it's just like you … different from all the rest!" the card reads. On the inside Garrity wrote "Have a great day! Love&Hugs, Mom xoxoxo."

In court papers, Garrity's attorney Shelley Smith says the "litany of childish complaints and ingratitude" in the lawsuit is nothing more than an attempt by Garrity's ex-husband to "seek the ultimate revenge" of having her children accuse her of "being an inadequate mother."

"It would be laughable that these children of privilege would sue their mother for emotional distress, if the consequences were not so deadly serious for (Garrity)," Smith wrote. "There is no insurance for this claim, so (Garrity) must pay her legal fees, while (the children) have their father for free."

Messages left for Smith were not returned. Steven A. Miner, reached by phone, did not comment. In court papers he said he only filed the lawsuit after much legal research and had tried to dissuade his children from bringing the case.

The Cook County judge who ruled on the case, Kathy Flanagan, declined to assess sanctions against Miner, but said the lawsuit amounted to nothing more than children "suing their mother for bad mothering."

DePaul University law professor Bruce Ottley, who co-wrote a textbook on Illinois tort law, says courts have long carved out an exception to family members suing each other, barring any extreme conduct.

"If junior slips on the rug in the living room and sues mom or dad, that can't happen," Ottley said.

He said such emotional distress damages are a way for the legal system to address situations — sexual harassment for instance — where there is no physical harm. But those bringing a case to court must prove the conduct was outrageous.

"The fact that it is such a high standard, it doesn't succeed very often," Ottley said.

In court filings, Garrity's attorney writes that "she does still love" her children but found that they wanted "the benefits afforded by a family relationship, but none of the restraints."

Steven A. Miner wrote that the case is no different than a patient suing a physician "for bad doctoring."

"(The children) do not view their (lawsuit) as an attack on mothering, but rather on accountability," he wrote. "Everyone makes mistakes, but … there must be accountability for actions. Parenting is no different."

Garrity called the lawsuit nothing but harassment.

"Everything … shows that these children, orchestrated by their father, will stop at nothing to embarrass and financially harm their mother," Smith wrote in a court filing. "In the process they have embarrassed themselves and left a public record blogged about on the Internet that will shadow their every future relationship."


Another educated idiot flushes a teaching career down the shitter. And this stupid shit wasn’t even smart enough to make sure his wife did not overhear him talking on the phone.

By Paul Thompson

Mail Online
August 29, 2011

An assistant principal has been charged with under age sex after his wife caught him 'talking dirty' to a 15-year-old student he was having an affair with.

Anthony Alvarez was urged to hand himself in to authorities after his wife overheard the 'sexually explicit' conversation.

She also discovered sexually explicit messages the pair had sent each other on their Facebook pages.

After police interviewed 40-year-old Alavarez she also discovered he had cheated on her before - but only with girls who were over the age of 18.

The experienced teacher told authorities that he met the girl when she was a student in the 7th grade and he was a teacher at the Everitt Middle School in Wheat Ridge, Colorado.

According to an arrest warrant Alvarez claimed the girl would come into his office and whisper dirty words to him when they were alone.

'He said he was not a predator and he never before had any sexual relationship or sexual contact with anyone under the age of 18. He has had affairs before but they were over the age of 18,' according to the affidavit.

Alvarez insisted that the girl initiated all the sexual contact that included them having sex in his car.

But detectives interviewed the girl she said it felt like Alvarez was 'blackmailing' her into having an affair.

The girl said she had been involved in a relationship with the assistant principal for six to eight months.

According to the arrest warrant the girl said she had oral sex with Alvarez in his car. She said she was scared because the doors were locked.

On another occasion she claimed the teacher exposed himself when she went to his office.

Police have seized Alvarez's computer and cell phone as part of the investigation.

Alvarez, who has been an assistant principal at Arvada High School since 2008, was immediately suspended from his job.

He has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation, police said.

Investigators said they are still in the process of conducting interviews related to the case.

Alvarez was freed on $5,000 bond and will appear in court on September 1st.


This is why I feed squirrels in my back yard every day. You gotta love their patriotism!


Bluefield Daily Telegraph
August 29, 2011

TOLEDO, Ohio — Police solved a series of flag thefts from the Toledo Police Memorial Garden when the culprit — a squirrel — was caught in the act.

The Toledo Blade reports that police had noticed the flag thefts for several days. Then, last week, Lieutenants James Brown and Mark King saw the squirrel take a flag and plastic flower from the memorial.

“I just saw him eyeballing it,” Brown told the newspaper. “He didn’t know I was standing there.”

Officials later found a squirrel’s nest with flags woven into it. “The flower was not visible, but police believe it will be used in decorating,” according to the newspaper.

The Blade reports that, as yet, no charges have been filed and the squirrel is currently at large.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is not the first time a squirrel has used American flags to build its nest.


New York Daily News
May 30, 2009

PORT HURON, Mich. - Squirrel. Thief. Patriot.

A brazen squirrel has been grabbing small American flags in a Port Huron, Mich., cemetery and carrying them to its nest, which looks like it was decorated by Betsy Ross.

"He plucks them right off," said Ron Ceglarek, superintendent of Mount Hope Cemetery in Port Huron.

Every Memorial Day, volunteers place the flags next to the graves of nearly 1,000 veterans buried at Mount Hope Cemetery about 55 miles northeast of Detroit. The flags were undisturbed during a Mass held Monday.


This homeowner got pissed off because the robbers pointed out his negligence as a parent.

By Richard Connelly

Houston Press Hair Balls
August 29, 2011

KHOU had a good report on that mansion break-in earlier this month.

Security video shows the robbers calmly leaving the Memorial-area home with $100,000 in stolen merchandise packed in luggage, looking like they're ambling towards a flight they have plenty of time to catch.

The robbers entered the house when James Rooney III, 17, came home. He didn't know the combination to the safe, so they waited until his father, James Rooney Jr., showed up.

But they weren't just heartless outlaws. They were astute experts on home security and raising kids, judging by this excerpt:

__James Rooney Jr. was also a little offended when the masked men mentioned family values.

__"[They said] you shouldn't leave your 17-year-old in the house alone," Rooney recalled. "Okay, whatever guy. I'm not gonna take parenting advice from a thug."

See? You reach out your hand to help someone, and it gets rudely rejected. We bet it's the last time those guys ever try to give Rooney some helpful advice.

Monday, August 29, 2011


The August 25 issue of USA TODAY reported that nearly 40% of police officers fatally shot this year have been slain in ambush-style attacks or when they were surprised by suspects with firearms. Of the 50 officers killed by gunfire this year — a 32% increase from the same time last year — at least 19 were victims of ambush or surprise attacks, according to a review of the case summaries and interviews with police officials.

Among the recent attacks:

•San Diego. Officer Jeremy Henwood, 36, a Marine veteran, was killed Aug. 7 while stopped at a streetlight. The shooter, a suspect in a separate attack moments before, pulled next to Henwood's patrol car and opened fire with a shotgun, fatally wounding the officer in the head.

•San Antonio. Like Henwood, Bexar County Deputy Sheriff Kenneth Vann, 48, was killed May 28, when a car pulled next to the deputy's patrol car stopped at a red light. Without warning, the suspect fired on Vann with an AK-47 assault rifle.

•Grundy, Va. Buchanan County Sheriff's Deputies Neil Justus, 41, and William Stiltner, 46, were murdered March 13 by a sniper as they responded to a call for assistance.

It’s a sorry state of affairs when there are so many turds in this country that kill cops for no other reason than that they get their jollies by targeting cops. And it’s downright shameful when the Attorney General of the United States tries to make a gun control issue out of these senseless cop killings.

According to USA TODAY, Eric Holder declared that “Too many guns have fallen into the hands of those who are not legally permitted to possess them." That’s in keeping with Obama telling Sarah Brady, “I just want you to know that we are working on it (gun control)….We have to go through a few processes, but under the radar.” (‘Obama To Sarah Brady: …..’ – 8-14-11)

The Obama Administration has no shame in its hidden gun control agenda. There can be no doubt Obama wants to restrict gun ownership of law abiding citizens. Obama and Holder both know damn well that if our citizens were to be deprived of their guns, the turds would still have them. That is why making a gun control issue out of those ambushes on cops is so disgusting!


Abbas, who the international community labels a ‘moderate’ and who Obama calls ‘Israel’s partner in peace’ has always called for the destruction of the Jewish state when addressing the Arab world.

If, as expected, the U.S. casts a UN Security Council veto when the issue of Palestinian statehood comes up next month, that veto will be cast with Obama biting his tongue. How do you spell THE JEWISH VOTE?

By Ryan Jones

Israel Today
August 28, 2011

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday delivered a fiery speech to Islamic clerics in Ramallah during which he warned the international community not to demand that he recognize Israel as the "Jewish state."

The international community "cannot force us to recognize the nature of the Israeli state," declared Abbas. "Do not force us to recognize a Jewish state. We will not accept it."

One of Israel's chief demands since the peace process started in 1993 has been that the Palestinians recognize Israel's right to exist as the national homeland of the Jewish people. Most Israelis would argue that only by doing so can they feel confident that the Arabs have relinquished their quest to destroy Israel.

Abbas also stated once again that he will not accept absorbing millions of so-called "Palestinian refugees" into a new Palestinian state. Despite being labeled a "moderate," Abbas has been a champion of the hard-line position that Israel must open its borders to these millions of Arabs, thus demographically destroying the Jewish state.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Abbas' defiant speech was just further proof of the true nature of the Palestinian statehood bid scheduled for the UN in September.

"Countries around the world must make it clear to Abbas that the only way the Palestinians will be able to have a state is by stopping their attempt to destroy the only Jewish state in the world," Lieberman told reporters.

Israel has been trying to rally nations supposedly committed to the bilateral Middle East peace process to vote against the unilateral statehood motion. But many have surprisingly signaled that they will vote with the Palestinian Authority, or at best abstain.

The statehood motion is expected to be vetoed by the United States in the Security Council, but will likely pass by a wide margin in a non-binding General Assembly vote.


New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly says that on a normal Saturday night they make about 340 arrests in New York.

On Saturday, during Hurricane Irene, that number was reduced to only 34 arrests. Either the cops or the drunks were not on the streets of New York during the storm. Knowing cops, it is much more likely that Irene ran the drunks off.


An old married couple was at home watching TV .....

The husband had the remote and was switching back and forth between a fishing channel and the porn channel.

The wife became more and more annoyed and finally said:

"For god's sake, leave it on the damn porn channel! You already know how to fish."

Sunday, August 28, 2011


A sign that Mexico is losing its war with organized crime just as the U.S. is getting more involve in fighting the cartels. Could this become another Vietnam where we will become embroiled in an insurgency by the poverty-stricken against a government of the aristocracy?

From Borderland Beat:

By Xochitl Alvarez

El Universal
August 26, 2011

Given the levels of extreme violence that Mexico is experiencing, former President Vicente Fox proposes the creation of a liaison group of international experts to mediate a truce with organized crime, and the creation of an amnesty law.

In reaction to the attack of the Casino Royale in Monterrey, the former Mexican President announced his decision to become "a voice that calls out for Mexico to follow the path of peace, harmony and nonviolence."

Fox described the attack on the casino as a crime against humanity and called for urgent and exemplary measures against the criminals involved. He said that events like those that occurred in Monterrey have overwhelmed and pummeled the nation.

At the close of a course on public safety in the Fox Center, a combined presidential library and academic center located in Rancho San Cristobal, Guanajuato, the former president called for “decision makers” to review "what is not working, why we are not advancing, why there is a lack of a sense of urgency in the work that lies ahead. "

He called on all political actors and the government to seek new creative solutions through alternative means in search of harmony and the restoration of peace in our society.

Fox pledged his efforts in this "process to reach solutions through an alternative route to restore peace and harmony in our society and to restore the image of our country, confidence in the future and the long-awaited hope."

He added that these events show as that you do not combat violence with violence, which lead to the levels of cruelty that we are seeing and experiencing.


Vicente Fox launched five ideas for discussion and public scrutiny.

"We must analyze the legalization of drugs at the highest level”

“Reinvent and reform our institutions of security and justice, devoloping a professional police force that is respected and supported.”

“Accelerate all policies that lead to income opportunities, employment, education, sport and culture."

"Establish exemplary measures against criminals that commit a crime against humanity."

"Convene a liaison group of experts at the international level to provide ideas and solutions, to call on violent groups to establish a truce, and to assess the suitability of an amnesty law.”

Fox called out to Mexicans to sacifice their comfort and tranquility, and work to restore civil peace and harmony in the country.


At the Fox center, Assistant Secretary of Public Security Alejandro Rubido spoke against the former president’s proposal to negotiate with violent groups.

"From my point of view I do not share the vision of having any kind of truce with criminal groups, they are enemies of the Mexicans, they are attacking and hurting citizens," he said.

He noted that crime is combated with the lawful use of force and the application of energetic social programs.

"We must be firm, we must fight them, any country that has attacked the levels of crime that we are seeing in Mexico today has done it through the use of force, but also with social programs, prevention programs. This is not only violence against violence.”


Another crime saga from deep in the piney woods of East Texas. John Lomax hit a grand slam homer when he wrote, “And now it looks like this Sugar Bear is going to be hibernating for a while.”

By John Nova Lomax

Houston Press Hair Balls
August 26, 2011

It all started earlier this summer when a Lufkin woman met 30-year-old Kimberly Raven Giacone at a local McDonald's. The woman had a problem. Her son was in prison and she wanted to get him transferred to Rusk State Hospital, a correctional mental health facility.

According to police, Giacone told her she could help. She said she was a lawyer. For the Value Menu price of $36, she would get going on the transfer to Rusk.

A little later Giacone told the woman that she had typed up some paperwork and asked the woman if they could review a letter she would send. Giacone went to the woman's house and showed her the letter, which read that the jailed son would be transferred to Rusk. It sported a letterhead reading "Giacone Law" above the address of a finance company in downtown Lufkin. According to the affidavit, the letter was signed "Raven Giacone, Attorney at Law." How her heart must have swelled in writing those auspicious if bogus words...

After showing the woman the letter, Giacone asked for another $300 to complete the process, the affidavit states. The woman gave her the money.

Later, after talking with a real lawyer in Nacogdoches, the woman found out that Raven Giacone was not a lawyer. In fact, she is a twice-convicted thief known on the streets and in jail as "Sugar Bear."

Well, give her credit for one thing: At least she didn't sign that fake letter to TDC as "Sugar Bear, Esq."

The duped woman called Giacone and told her the jig was up, police say, and Giacone dropped her act immediately. She reportedly hustled over to the woman's house and returned the $336 and begged her not to call police. (She had good reason to worry -- she was on probation.) Obviously, the woman did call the cops, and now Sugar Bear is facing a third-degree felony charge of falsely holding oneself as an attorney.

She allegedly admitted to a Lufkin detective that she typed the fake letter and said that she had been looking for office space for a paralegal business she wanted to start. Of course, she's not a paralegal either, but told the cop that she really wanted to be one.

Oddly, that story failed to dissuade the cop from arresting her.

And now it looks like this Sugar Bear is going to be hibernating for a while.


He was working on the van’s starter when, surprise, suddenly it started. Could this be the end of a beautiful romance?

Bayou Vista is a little town on the mainland just north of Galveston Island where every house is built adjacent to a series of canals.

By T.J. Aulds

The Galveston County Daily News
August 27, 2011

BAYOU VISTA — A man making repairs to his girlfriend’s van was run over after the van unexpectedly started and drove off a boat ramp and into a canal Friday afternoon.

The Bayou Vista man survived with a pair of broken ribs, but the van sunk to the bottom of the canal.

David Jameson was working on the starter of his girlfriend’s Ford Econoline van at about 3 p.m. Friday in the 420 block of Pompano, when all of a sudden it started.

“I heard the engine start and then it just started moving,” Jameson said.

The van sped-off down the side of the house and rolled off a boat ramp into the canal.

“I was under the van to the side, but when it started moving I rolled to the center,” Jameson said. The drive train of the van struck Jameson in the chest, leaving a large scratch mark and a pair of broken ribs, EMS personnel told him.

Jameson, however refused to be taken to the hospital and even helped get the van out of the water. He was more worried about his girlfriend’s reaction to the accident.

“I am in the dog house right now,” he said.

It took two tow trucks, and a dive team comprised of a Bayou Vista police officer and Mayor Bobby Rosenquist to pull the van from the water.

It took about two hours to get the van out of the water. The Galveston County Sheriff’s Office Environmental Enforcement Team was also called it to coordinate getting oil and gasoline that leaked from the van cleaned up out of the canal, acting Bayou Vista Police Chief Randy Shannon said.

Shannon said it had been five years since a vehicle found its way into one of the town's canals.

Saturday, August 27, 2011


As a longtime admirer of Kinky Friedman’s books, humor and love of animals, and as someone who supported and voted for Kinky, the Texas Jewboy’s endorsement of Rick Perry for president puts me in the governor’s corner. Kinky says, “I know Rick Perry to be a true friend of Israel,” something Obama most definitely is not! To me, that’s a ringing endorsement of Perry.

The Daily Beast: “Kinky Friedman once ran against Rick Perry for the Texas governorship. So would the singer and writer vote for him for president? Hell yes! The world’s most famous Jewish cowboy on why he wants to live in Rick Perry’ America.”

Speaking of his run for governor, Kinky took time out on the campaign trail to let his campaign manager take several pictures of the two of us together in a private setting. Now, how many politicians would take the time in the middle of an election campaign to have their pictures taken in private with a nobody?

By Kinky Friedman

The Daily Beast
August 24, 2011

Rick Perry has never lost an election; I’ve never won one. Maybe that’s what’s wrong with the world. On the other hand, I’ve long been friends with Bill Clinton and George W., and Rick Perry and I, though at times bitter adversaries, have remained friends as well. It’s not always easy to maintain friendships with politicians. To paraphrase Charles Lamb, you have to work at it like some men toil after virtue.

I have been quoted as saying that when I die, I am to be cremated, and the ashes are to be thrown in Rick Perry’s hair. Yet, simply put, Rick Perry and I are incapable of resisting each other’s charm. He is not only a good sport, he is a good, kindhearted man, and he once sat in on drums with ZZ Top. A guy like that can’t be all bad. When I ran for governor of Texas as an independent in 2006, the Crips and the Bloods ganged up on me. When I lost, I drove off in a 1937 Snit, refusing to concede to Perry. Three days later Rick called to give me a gracious little pep talk, effectively talking me down from jumping off the bridge of my nose. Very few others were calling at that time, by the way. Such is the nature of winning and losing and politicians and life. You might call what Rick did an act of random kindness. Yet in my mind it made him more than a politician, more than a musician; it made him a mensch.

These days, of course, I would support Charlie Sheen over Obama. Obama has done for the economy what pantyhose did for foreplay. Obama has been perpetually behind the curve. If the issue of the day is jobs and the economy, Rick Perry is certainly the nuts-and-bolts kind of guy you want in there. Even though my pal and fellow Texan Paul Begala has pointed out that no self-respecting Mexican would sneak across the border for one of Rick Perry’s low-level jobs, the stats don’t entirely lie. Compared with the rest of the country, Texas is kicking major ass in terms of jobs and the economy, and Rick should get credit for that, just as Obama should get credit for saying “No comment” to the young people of the Iranian revolution.

More to the point, could Rick Perry fix the economy? Hell, yes! Texas is exhibit A; Rick’s fingerprints are all over it. He’s been governor since Christ was a cowboy. The Lone Star State is booming. The last time I checked, Texas is kicking in a hell of a lot of the U.S. GDP. Unemployment is lower than the vast majority of the other states. Hell, we could probably even find a job for Paul Begala.

As a Jewish cowboy (or “Juusshh,” as we say in Texas), I know Rick Perry to be a true friend of Israel, like Bill Clinton and George W. before him. There exists a visceral John Wayne kinship between Israelis and Texans, and Rick Perry gets it. That’s why he’s visited Israel on many more occasions than Obama, who’s been there exactly zero times as president. If I were Obama I wouldn’t go either. His favorability rating in Israel once clocked in at 4 percent. Say what you will about the Israelis, but they are not slow out of the chute. They know who their friends are. On the topic of the Holy Land, there remains the little matter of God. God talks to televangelists, football coaches, and people in mental hospitals. Why shouldn’t he talk to Rick Perry? In the spirit of Joseph Heller, I have a covenant with God. I leave him alone and he leaves me alone. If, however, I have a big problem, I ask God for the answer. He tells Rick Perry. And Rick tells me.

So would I support Rick Perry for president? Hell, yes! As the last nail that hasn’t been hammered down in this country, I agree with Rick that there are already too damn many laws, taxes, regulations, panels, committees, and bureaucrats. While Obama is busy putting the hyphen between “anal” and “retentive” Rick will be rolling up his sleeves and getting to work.

A still, small voice within keeps telling me that Rick Perry’s best day may yet be ahead of him, and so too, hopefully, will be America’s.


It’s a sorry state of affairs when there are so many turds in this country that kill cops for no other reason than that they get their jollies by targeting cops.

And a shameless attorney general Eric Holder is trying to make this a Gun Control issue by saying, "Too many guns have fallen into the hands of those who are not legally permitted to possess them." That’s in keeping with Obama telling Sarah Brady, “I just want you to know that we are working on it (gun control)…. We have to go through a few processes, but under the radar.”

By Kevin Johnson

August 25, 2011

WASHINGTON – Nearly 40% of police officers fatally shot this year have been slain in ambush-style attacks or when they were surprised by suspects with firearms, according to a USA TODAY review of officer deaths.

The killings, many stunning for their brutality, have some law enforcement and Justice Department officials scrambling to provide additional protection or training for their forces.

Of the 50 officers killed by gunfire this year — a 32% increase from the same time last year — at least 19 were victims of ambush or surprise attacks, according to a review of the case summaries and interviews with police officials.

The increase in gun-related officer deaths is particularly troubling since violent crime in much of the nation has been in steady decline. "This is a devastating and unacceptable trend," Attorney General Eric Holder told law enforcement officials this month in Washington. "Too many guns have fallen into the hands of those who are not legally permitted to possess them."

Holder has launched a broad review of officer-safety in the wake of rising gunfire fatalities, citing the need for more research to help officers survive violent encounters, including ambush-style attacks.

In several cases, the victims suffered fatal head wounds, which Robert Kaminski, a University of South Carolina criminologist who studies attacks on police officers, and other analysts said suggests that the attackers deliberately aimed to avoid protective body armor that leaves the neck and head exposed.

"There is an increasing trend in the number of fatalities involving ambush," Kaminski said. "I think it is a big concern."

Kaminski said ambush killings of police have been generally rising since 1994 when 10% of officer slayings were the result of ambush attacks. Although the numbers have fluctuated over the years, ambush killings increased to 31% of firearm-related officer deaths in 2009, according to the most recent statistics gathered by the FBI.

Police officials and analysts said motivations for the killings stem from a wide range of social problems, from mental illness to increased desperation caused by domestic or economic pressures. Bernard Melekian, director of the Justice Department's Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) office, said the "collision of stressors" often places officers "in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Among the recent attacks:

•San Diego. Officer Jeremy Henwood, 36, a Marine veteran, was killed Aug. 7 while stopped at a streetlight. The shooter, a suspect in a separate attack moments before, pulled next to Henwood's patrol car and opened fire with a shotgun, fatally wounding the officer in the head.

•San Antonio. Like Henwood, Bexar County Deputy Sheriff Kenneth Vann, 48, was killed May 28, when a car pulled next to the deputy's patrol car stopped at a red light. Without warning, the suspect fired on Vann with an AK-47 assault rifle.

•Grundy, Va. Buchanan County Sheriff's Deputies Neil Justus, 41, and William Stiltner, 46, were murdered March 13 by a sniper as they responded to a call for assistance.

Sheriff Ray Foster said he was walking "shoulder-to-shoulder" with Justus when he was hit between the eyes by sniper fire. "We never saw him," Foster said of the shooter, whose position was found more than 50 yards away. Foster said the suspect was armed with a high-powered rifle mounted on a tripod to steady his aim. Stiltner was killed when one of the rifle rounds penetrated his protective vest.

This month, Foster took a major step toward changing the outcome in future confrontations with armed suspects when he placed an order for 20 assault rifles and two sniper rifles for his 33-deputy force. The sheriff also is applying for a $300,000 grant to purchase an armored vehicle. "I'm just trying to level the playing field," he said.


“Do you want to continue to spend an average of $125 million a year on a system that's resulted in 13 executions since 1978, or would you rather change the maximum criminal sentence to life without parole and spend that excess money to hire teachers or put cops on the street?”

Fortunately there were enough Republican assembly committee members to block Berkeley Democrat state senator Loni Hancock’s loaded question from going before the California voters for at least another year. It figures that longtime death penalty opponent Gov. Moonbeam would pipe in on the side of the Berkeley Democrat’s attempt to kill the death penalty.

By Don Thompson

Associated Press
August 25, 2011

SACRAMENTO -- A legislative committee on Thursday shelved a bill that would have asked voters to close California's death row and replace capital punishment with life prison terms.

State Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, said she agreed to turn her SB490 into a two-year bill when she realized she didn't have the nine votes she needed to get her bill out of the 17-member Assembly Appropriations Committee to a vote by the full Assembly.

"This is going to be a process. This is a tough vote for a lot of people," Hancock said in a telephone interview. "The issue is not going away. There have been people across the state who are rallying to support it."

She said she and other proponents will keep lobbying lawmakers to approve the bill when it comes up again next year.

Hancock based her legislation in part on a recent study that found California has spent $184 million a year on death penalty cases and incarceration, yet puts to death relatively few condemned inmates.

The 714 prisoners on the nation's most populous death row are more likely to die of old age.

Thursday's delay came as Gov. Jerry Brown voiced support for putting "deep, troublesome issues" like capital punishment to a vote of the people, as Hancock's bill proposes.

Brown declined to comment directly on her bill.

"In general, I've said as a principle, that when we have deep, troublesome issues that create gridlock in the Legislature, going back to the people could be a way to break the gridlock," Brown said at a news conference he called to discuss a jobs creation proposal.

Brown, a Democrat, vetoed a death penalty bill in 1977 during his first stint as governor, though lawmakers overrode his veto. He enforced the state's death penalty law while he was state attorney general before he was elected to a third term as governor in November.

Associated Press writer Judy Lin contributed to this story.


It never pays for a cop to get pissed off on the job!

By Mike Deeson
August 26, 2011

Tampa, Florida -- When the Florida Highway Patrol pulls someone over on the highway, it's usually because they were speeding.

But Eric Campbell was pulled over and ticketed while he was driving the speed limit.

Campbell says, "I was coming up the Veterans Expressway and I notice two Florida Highway Patrol Cars sitting on the side of the road in the median, with lights off."

Campbell says he did what he always does: flashed his lights on and off to warn drivers coming from the other direction that there was speed trap ahead.

According to Campbell, 60 seconds after passing the trooper, "They were on my tail and they pulled me over."

Campbell says the FHP trooper wrote him a ticket for improper flashing of high beams. Campbell says the trooper told him what he had done was illegal.

But later Campbell learned that is not the case. He filed a class action suit which says "Florida Statue 316.2397" -- under which Campbell was cited -- "does not prohibit the flashing of headlights as a means of communications, nor does it in any way reference flashing headlights or the use of high beams."

However, the FHP trooper who wrote the ticket either didn't know or didn't care. "You could tell in his voice he was upset," Campbell says. "He was professional, he wasn't rude... but you could tell he was irritated."

However, the lawsuit says the FHP is well aware they are wrongfully applying the state law and they are doing it as a means of generating revenue. In 2005, a court order was even issued saying the state law doesn't prohibit the flashing of vehicle headlights.

Campbell isn't the only one. Since 2005, FHP records show more than 10,429 drivers have been cited under the statute.

In addition to seeking the refund of the $100 ticket, the lawsuit seeks damages in excess of $15,000.


If each person illegally cited was awarded $15,000 that would be $156,435,000 in damages if the suit is successful. Then you would throw in at least another $1,042,900 in ticket refunds, all because it appears troopers don't like motorists warning others about speed traps.

Campbell says he felt as if the trooper thought it was a personal affront. According to Campbell, the trooper did not like the fact somebody was ratting him out.

The Florida Highway Patrol says it can't comment because of the pending lawsuit.

Campbell says FHP had no right to ticket him or anyone under the current law and he adds the agency is not being honest when it says it doesn't write tickets to increase revenue or punish people, but rather to get the motorist to slow down on the highway. If that were true, Campbell says the FHP should be delighted with him, because drivers did slow down before troopers could give them a ticket.

The suit evolved out the fact that Campbell says "I don't like what the government is dong especially now when most people have a hard time affording gas and now they have to defend themselves against a made up charge that doesn't exist."

The state will have to come up with the money for damages if the suit is successful, and guess where the money is coming from: your taxes.


Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape. He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as:
- Knowing when to come in out of the rain;
- Why the early bird gets the worm;
- Life isn't always fair;
- and Maybe it was my fault.

Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don't spend more than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children, are in charge).

His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a 6-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.

Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children.

It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer sun lotion or an aspirin to a student; but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.

Common Sense lost the will to live as the churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims.

Common Sense took a beating when you couldn't defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar could sue you for assault.

Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.

Common Sense was preceded in death, by his parents, Truth and Trust, by his wife, Discretion, by his daughter, Responsibility, and by his son, Reason.

Common Sense is survived by 4 stepbrothers:
I Know My Rights
I Want It Now
Someone Else Is To Blame
I'm A Victim

Friday, August 26, 2011


I often, but not always, disagree with Grits’ views. This is one of the exceptions. His 'pay at the pump' insurance is an excellent idea.

With respect to Obamacare, I doubt if the president ever gave a thought as to whether or not all the people required to buy health insurance would be able to afford the premiums.


Grits For Breakfast
August 25, 2011

Critics of Obamacare need only look at the failure of the state of Texas' mandate that drivers buy auto coverage to see what a wrong-headed approach it is to require individuals to purchase insurance by law. Reports the Dallas News:

__More than one in five Texas motorists lack the insurance that state law requires and the ratio is virtually unchanged from a year ago, a blow to the state’s 3-year-old program to sharply reduce the number of uninsured drivers on the road.

__In addition, Dallas County continues to have the largest percentage of uninsured drivers among the state’s six largest counties, with 24.1 percent of cars and trucks lacking insurance coverage. That figure is down slightly from a year ago, state figures show.

__Although the TexasSure vehicle insurance verification program showed good results the first two years after it began in 2008, reducing the number of uninsured vehicles from 24.3 percent to 21.6 percent in 2010, new statistics compiled in July show that progress has stagnated.

__That means about 4.2 million drivers have no insurance, and law-abiding motorists shell out nearly $1 billion a year to protect themselves from damage done by drivers without insurance, state officials say.

It's no shock at all that no-insurance rates are going back up at the same time unemployment in Texas is rising. “I’m afraid insurance is down the list on necessities for many people,” Mark Hanna of the Insurance Council of Texas told the News. “A lot of people continue to drive around without insurance even though they know it’s against the law. But they’re willing to take their chances they won’t get caught.”

You can only mandate that people buy insurance in the private market if they have the money in their pocket to do so. If and when they don't, requiring insurance coverage - whether health insurance at the national level or auto insurance at the state level - is inevitably a doomed strategy, which is why this blog has long advocated a pay-at-the-pump approach to minimum liability coverage.


Even some of the people living near the desert do not know how deadly it can be.

I remember when the heat killed two Riverside Sheriff’s deputies. They had driven down a remote desert canyon road in the Palm Springs area when their patrol car got stuck in the sand. The location inside the canyon prevented police radio dispatchers from receiving any calls for help they may have made. Instead of waiting by their car, they decided to hike out of the canyon. One made it only a short distance before he collapsed and the other officer only made it a little further before he died. They might have survived had they stayed by the patrol car because an aircraft search would have been started when dispatchers could no longer contact the two.

The two tourists would have been doomed even if they had remained by their car. It they did not tell anyone of the specific route they were taken, and they probably didn’t, no one would have started a search for them.

By Wil Longbottom

Mail Online
August 25, 2011

A Dutch music promoter and his German girlfriend died from heat stroke after apparently getting out of their car in the California desert to go for help.

Augustinus Van Hove, 44, and Helena Nuellet, 38, drove into Joshua Tree National Park before noon on Monday and took a remote, dirt road to head towards Arizona, according to police.

Nearly seven hours later, a couple visiting the park found Mr Van Hove's body on the edge of Black Eagle Mine Road.

Sheriff's deputies later found Ms Neullet's body around a mile away from her boyfriend, who was the director of 013 - a popular concert venue in the Netherlands.

The black Dodge Charger they were renting was found stranded around five miles away on the same road.

Temperatures during the day in the park topped 41 Celsius.

The road had signs warning drivers that it should only be for four-wheel-drive vehicles because they may run into soft sand, park spokesman Joe Zarki said.

He said it was possible the couple was trying to walk for help.

While an autopsy hasn't been completed, Riverside County Sheriff's Captain Raymond Gregory said evidence indicated the couple 'both succumbed due to exposure to the elements'.

Mr Zarki said: 'It doesn't take long to go from being in trouble to being in a life-threatening situation.

'Heat exhaustion or heat stroke could happen very quickly, you brain and body malfunctions seriously.'

Joshua Tree National Park sprawls over more than 1,200 square miles of the rugged Colorado and Mojave deserts. It attracts around 1.4million visitors a year.

Mr Zarki said many Europeans come to the park during the summer months, usually as part of a tour of U.S. national parks.

'You can anticipate that many of these folks don't have experience travelling in desert environments, it's possible they weren't fully prepared for the kind of conditions that you can get out here,' he said.

The park has brochures in several languages providing safety tips on travelling in the desert. Mr Zarki said heat-related emergencies rarely occured in the park.


Finally a court seems to have acknowledged that medical marijuana is nothing more than a subterfuge for those wanting to cash in on the legalization of pot. I hope that Michigan’s local and state police forces will now crack down on the businesses that are selling pot and shut them down for the good of public safety.

The purveyors of pot are trying to make themselves look respectable by referring to medical marijuana as ‘meds.’ And the Michigan pot shop owners affected by the court ruling want the state to license pot pharmacies like the State of Colorado has done. Well folks, in Colorado, like in California, those licensed shops are dispensing pot to just about anyone who wants to smoke a joint because many doctors will prescribe marijuana to any ‘patient’ who complains they are not feeling well. And those Colorado and California businesses are making millions of dollars dispensing those ‘meds.’

By Ed White, Jeff Karoub, and John Flesher

Associated Press
August 25, 2011

DETROIT — Medical marijuana cannot be sold through private shops, the Michigan appeals court said Wednesday in a major decision that strikes at businesses trying to cash in on pot and cuts off a source for people with chronic ailments.

A three-judge panel said the 2008 medical marijuana law, as well as the state's public health code, does not allow people to sell pot to each other, even if they're among the 99,500 who have state-issued marijuana cards.

The court said Compassionate Apothecary in Mount Pleasant, Mich., can be immediately shut down as a "public nuisance." The 3-0 decision means local authorities can pursue similar businesses, estimated at 200 to 300, in their communities.

It was not immediately clear whether they would, but state Attorney General Bill Schuette said he's notifying all 83 county prosecutors.

"This ruling is a huge victory for public safety and Michigan communities struggling with an invasion of pot shops near their schools, homes and churches," Schuette said in a statement. "The court echoed the concerns of law enforcement, clarifying that this law is narrowly focused to help the seriously ill, not the creation of a marijuana free-for-all."

Of course, not everyone shares that view. Chuck Ream, president of an Ann Arbor shop, called the ruling an "assault on democracy" nearly three years after voters approved marijuana as a way to relieve pain or other medical problems. He estimates that one-third of people with marijuana cards get pot through dispensaries, with others growing their own or getting it through a registered caregiver.

"If they want wheelchairs chained to every door at the Capitol, if they want to fight about this – oh, boy, they'll have a fight," said Ream of A2 Compassionate Healthcare. "There are a lot of people who don't want to be drooling idiots on Oxycontin. They've found a medicine that relieves their pain and makes them happy."

There is no dispute that the marijuana law makes no mention of dispensaries; it doesn't even indicate how people should get their dope. It says people can possess up to 2.5 ounces of "usable" pot and keep up to 12 plants in a locked place. A caregiver also can provide marijuana.

Compassionate Apothecary, and owners of the mid-Michigan company, claimed they weren't doing anything illegal because the law allows the "delivery" and "transfer" of marijuana. The business allows its 345 members to sell marijuana to each other, with the owners taking as much as a 20 percent cut. In less than three months, Compassionate Apothecary earned $21,000 before expenses after opening in May 2010.

"The `medical use' of marijuana does not include patient-to-patient `sales' of marijuana. Defendants, therefore, have no authority under the (law) to operate a marijuana dispensary that actively engages in and carries out patient-to-patient sales," said appeals court judges Joel Hoekstra, Christopher Murray and Cynthia Diane Stephens.

Compassionate Apothecary attorney John Lewis said the shop was still in business Wednesday but likely not for long.

"It's unfortunate for patients who benefit from medical marijuana. It's going to affect their access to an uninterrupted supply," Lewis said.

Ricky Lewis, 53, of Southgate said he's relied on a Detroit-area dispensary to ease symptoms of glaucoma. He said he can't afford to grow marijuana because lights add $300 to $400 to his monthly electricity bill.

When people are compelled to buy marijuana on the street, "you may not get what you need; you may get robbed," said Lewis, no relation to the attorney.

Corrina Neff, a board member with the nonprofit Weidman Compassion Club in Isabella County, said the phone was ringing nonstop Wednesday from people "freaking out, panicking, wondering where they're supposed to get their meds from."

"We're going to do everything we can to comply with the law, but I just can't say no to people who are really suffering," Neff said. "So I'm probably just going to give it to them for free and I'll have to offset my costs somewhere else."

Just this week, an ordinance took effect in Ann Arbor, a liberal college town, to license dispensaries. Many already operate there.

"How this works will have to be reviewed" because of the court ruling, city attorney Stephen Postema said.

Nick Tennant, who advises marijuana users at a Detroit-area trade school called Med Grow Cannabis College, said he wasn't surprised by the decision. Opening a shop, he said, was "extremely risky."

"Our law gives no specific guidelines to the operation of dispensaries – nothing. Other states do. Look at Colorado," Tennant said.

Indeed, medical marijuana is more than 10 years old in Colorado. On July 1, dozens of rules took effect there allowing and regulating the sale of pot at commercial businesses. Sixteen states and the District of Columbia allow the medical use of marijuana.

It was the first time the Michigan appeals court has ruled in a case involving medical pot sales. The state Supreme Court, meanwhile, has agreed to hear appeals on other aspects of the medical marijuana law.

"This law was poorly crafted, poorly written, and there have been some unintended consequences," Schuette, the attorney general, told The Associated Press.


It is really sad to see that most of America’s liberal Jews will not do what Glenn Beck and his fellow conservative Christians are doing: DEFENDING ISRAEL

By Ryan Jones

Israel Today
August 25, 2011

American commentator Glenn Beck vowed at his "Restoring Courage" rally in Jerusalem on Wednesday to create a new global movement aimed at defending Israel against the hypocrisy of the UN and human rights groups.

Some 1,000 people - mostly American Christians - heard Beck live at the Southern Wall excavation site at the southern end of Jerusalem's Temple Mount. Many more watched his speech on large screens at Jerusalem's City Hall. There were also reportedly viewing parties around the world.

Hoping to inspire Israelis to resist the international community's cynical and dangerous agenda, Beck declared that in the Jewish state "there is more courage in one small square mile than in all of Europe."

Beck highlighted some of the horrible tragedies Israel has faced of late, like the massacre of the Fogel family in northern Samaria, and noted that despite it all, most Israelis do not lose hope.

In light of the incredible hatred Israel faces and the restraint of its responses, Beck said the UN and various human rights groups "are nearly comical in their double standards" toward Israel.

"These organizations have become bullies and grotesque parodies of what they claim to represent," said Beck. "The cause of human rights has been taken over by individuals who share little with those who originally led those movements."

Beck announced that Jerusalem was only the first stop on a new speaking tour and a new movement that will "take back the phrase 'human rights' and put it back where it belongs."

His next stop is South Africa, from where Beck will broadcast his television program and remind people of the horrors of true apartheid, simultaneously exposing the lie that Israel is imposing apartheid on the Palestinians.

From there, Beck will travel through South America before returning to Texas next week for another large-scale rally in defense of Israel.

Beck said he is going through all this effort because he noticed that too many Israelis were starting to believe the lies of the international community, and to believe that they must meet the demands of others in order to be accepted.

"Do not lose hope. Do not lose confidence in yourself. You must have courage. You must have knowledge that God led you to this land and that God is not a stranger to the children of Abraham," Beck said in closing.


There is a high rate of suicides among cops after they retire. They just can’t let go. I’ve seen retired cops hang around police stations and their former units almost on a daily basis. At first the working cops welcome them, but after a time the welcome mat wears pretty thin. His former buddies would just as soon he’d stay home. It is then that the retiree is most at risk for suicide. That is why some retired cops badly need the availability of support groups.

A law enforcement buddy sent me a great description of retired cops. He wrote: “A friend of mine retired today. At the bottom of his email he attached this...”

Once the badge goes on, it never comes off, whether they can see it, or not. It fuses to the soul through adversity, fear and adrenaline and no one who has ever worn it with pride, integrity and guts, can ever sleep through the 'call of the wild' that wafts through bedroom windows in the deep of the night.

When a good cop leaves the 'job' and retires to a better life, many are jealous, some are pleased and yet others, who may have already retired, wonder. We wonder if he knows what he is leaving behind, because we already know. We know, for example, that after a lifetime of camaraderie that few experience, it will remain as a longing for those past times. We know in the law enforcement life there is a fellowship which lasts long after the gun belt is hung up in the back of the closet. We know even if he throws it away, it will be on him with every step and breath that remains in his life. We also know how the very bearing of the man speaks of what he was and in his heart still is.

These are the burdens of the job. You will still look at people suspiciously, still see what others do not see or choose to ignore and always will look at the rest of the law enforcement world with a respect for what they do; only grown in a lifetime of knowing. Never think for one moment you are escaping from that life. You are only escaping the 'job' and merely being allowed to leave 'active' duty.

So what I wish for you is that as you ease into retirement, in your heart you never forget for one moment that 'Blessed are the Peacemakers for they shall be called children of God,' and you are still a member of the greatest fraternity the world has ever known.


It’s not the parolee’s fault. The alcohol made him do it. And I’ll bet the pre-release computer analysis showed him to be a Boy Scout.

By Bob Walsh

PACOVILLA Corrections blog
August 25, 2011

A drunken parolee stole a nice 32-foot boat and ran it up onto the beach last night at Seal Beach.

John Maxedone, 51, who was on parole for vehicle theft, was arrested shortly after the incident. Maxedone is currently a guest at the Orange County Hospitality Center in lieu of $50,000 bail. I noticed the Orange County Register story does not mention a parole hold, so I guess that stealing and damaging a boat while drunk is a non-serious non-violent technical offense and no big deal. I wonder if the boat owner’s insurance carrier will agree?

Thursday, August 25, 2011


Bob Walsh and I were discussing a video we both saw of a young woman’s awful shooting techniques on a firing range.

Bob said, “For what it may be worth, years ago I was talking to a range master from Pasadena [California] and he related an interesting firing range accident with a female cop. A hot ejected shell case flipped down into her shirt front and it got caught in her bra. She started jumping around with a live weapon in her hand, fired two rounds in the process and leg-shot another shooter on the line.”

I told Bob that we have a City of Pasadena just a few miles from where I live and that our tough Texas women cops, unlike that sissy California cop, would have just shrugged off that hot shell case in their bras, that is if they were even wearing a bra.


President Obama has just confirmed that the earthquake that struck Virginia and DC occurred on a rare and obscure fault-line, apparently known as "Bush's Fault."

Obama also announced that the Secret Service, the FBI and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano are conducting an investigation of the quake's suspicious ties to the Tea Party.

Conservative researchers, however, have just proven that the quake was caused by the founding fathers rolling over in their graves.

__Disassociated Press


“Do you want to continue to spend an average of $125 million a year on a system that's resulted in 13 executions since 1978, or would you rather change the maximum criminal sentence to life without parole and spend that excess money to hire teachers or put cops on the street?”

That’s what state senator Loni Hancock, a Democrat from Berkeley, wants to put before California voters. What person in his right mind wouldn’t vote to abolish the death penalty when the ballot measure is worded like that. I sure do hope the California senate will have the good sense to reject this Berkeley Democrat's bill.

Even the authors of the study that led to Hancock’s apoplectic reaction do not call for the abolition of the death penalty. They want to reform the system that leads to endless appeals and years and years on death row. When a murderer is sentenced to death under the current system in California there will be no end in sight for the final disposition.

By Timm Herdt

Ventura County Star
August 23, 2011

Judge Arthur Alarcon, 86, has arguably had more experience dealing with the death penalty than anyone in California. He was a deputy district attorney in Los Angeles County for a decade, advised Gov. Pat Brown on clemency appeals, chaired the state parole board, spent 15 years as a Superior Court judge and, since 1979, has been a federal appeals court judge.

So he speaks with some authority when he renders his verdict on it. He calls it a "multibillion-dollar debacle."

In June, Alarcon and law professor Paula Mitchell published the first comprehensive study to detail the total costs of prosecuting and litigating death-penalty cases in California and of incarcerating those sentenced to Death Row.

Their conclusion: Since capital punishment was reinstated in California in 1978, it has cost taxpayers $4 billion over and above what it would have cost had the maximum punishment been life in prison without possibility of parole.

Further, the state is poised to spend nearly $1 billion on a new Death Row that is designed to house 1,000 condemned inmates and is likely to be filled to capacity by 2014.

The study's conclusion and its timing hit Senate Public Safety Committee Chairwoman Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, like a lightning bolt. She'd just been through another round of massive budget cuts, having voted to slash state support for public universities, cut holes in the public safety net and reduce funding for the day-to-day operations of the courts.

She quickly put together a bill that, if approved, would ask California voters this question: Do you want to continue to spend an average of $125 million a year on a system that's resulted in 13 executions since 1978, or would you rather change the maximum criminal sentence to life without parole and spend that excess money to hire teachers or put cops on the street?

The bill has the potential to become the brightest flash point of the final two and a half weeks of this year's legislative session, which will end Sept. 9. Whether it becomes that will be decided Thursday, when the Assembly Appropriations Committee will decide whether to allow Hancock's SB 490 and 110 other bills to pass through its legislative bottleneck.

On Tuesday, Hancock invited Alarcon and Mitchell to the Capitol to make the first public presentation on their findings before her committee.

If she was expecting an over-the-top endorsement of her bill, she didn't get it.

Alarcon did, in fact, recite all the particulars of his indictment of a dysfunctional system.

Because the state does not spend enough on lawyers to handle death penalty appeals, he noted, the backlog in California is three times the national average. Because the state requires direct appeal to the Supreme Court, death penalty cases make up 20 percent of the court's workload. It takes four or five years just to appoint a defense attorney to handle the initial appeal, and another three years or more to appoint counsel for habeas corpus proceedings.

"The cost of maintaining the death penalty has become an onerous financial burden on California taxpayers," he testified.

But Alarcon offered some ideas other than abolishing capital punishment: amend the Constitution to allow appellate courts to handle capital appeals; change the evidentiary standards so that prosecutors could seek the death penalty only when they have extraordinarily strong evidence such as DNA samples; put an extra $85 million a year into hiring attorneys at the state's Habeas Corpus Research Center.

The bottom line of Alarcon's and Mitchell's findings is that the system is horribly broken and has become a bottomless money pit. It has become, they write, "the most expensive and least effective death penalty law in the nation."

Because voters established it, only voters can fix it. And voters can't be expected to make sound decisions unless they know all the facts — and until now, no one has ever told them how much it costs.

Mitchell testified that every time Californians have been presented with a ballot initiative to expand the circumstances under which the death penalty can be sought, the fiscal analysis in the official voter pamphlet has told them the costs would be insignificant. Each time, she said, they were misinformed.

The point of the study, Alarcon said, is to initiate a fact-based discussion so that Californians can do their own cost-benefit analysis of the death penalty. "It's so voters know the truth," he said, "so they can make an informed decision whether they want to continue a dysfunctional system or replace it with something else."


Them soles must have smoked big time.

By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen
August 24, 2011

Whoever said the media has no impact on people’s behavior, hasn’t read about the Michigan man who just this week tried to stop his vehicle with his feet – Flintstone style.

Evidently a police video camera captured images of the 24-year-old Detroit-area man who tried “using his feet to stop a runaway pickup truck with faulty brakes,” causing several crashes, Associated Press reported.

A.P. reports that after the man’s vehicle’s brakes failed on a busy street near Detroit, he “continued driving and stuck his feet outside the car to stop it.”

Isn’t it clear the kid has watched too much TV?

Witnesses reportedly said the man reached speeds of about 40 mph and eventually struck four vehicles, the story notes.

“This guy’s no rocket scientist,” the police chief there said. “Citizens were calling in saying this guy is all over the road, using his feet.”

He struck two vehicles after being unable to stop at a red light, and continued on, the story says. An officer who pulled next to him suggested he shift into “park,” but that didn’t work and he hit two more vehicles before the car stopped.

“He said he was going to fix the brakes when he got home,” the chief said.

The man was arrested for driving on a suspended license and reckless driving and is now scheduled “to explain his moronic decision making” during a court hearing next month.

All I can say is thank heaven the guy wasn’t hunting wabbits on the freeway or something.


Did you see the TV news showing Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance holding a press conference when the earthquake struck? He was standing behind a podium on a stage with six or seven of his staff standing behind him. The moment they felt the quake, they scattered from the stage like rabbits, leaving their boss standing there by himself, with the startled gaze of a deer caught in a car’s headlights.

I guess you can forgive New Yorkers and others on the East Coast for going into panic mode when they felt that earthquake. After all, unlike California, the eastern seaboard is not used to those movers and shakers. When I lived in Riverside, hardly a month went by when we didn’t have a rock and roll experience. Most of those were so minor that we never bothered to pay any attention to them. A few were around the 5.8 magnitude experienced by them Yankees, but after catching your breath, you just shrugged them off.

There’s no running out in the streets like scared rabbits when some slight movers and shakers hit in California.


Could this urban nudist have been smoking a little too much pot or PCP? Or was it just a bad LSD trip? Then again, in San Francisco, running around naked would have been perfectly normal.

By Leon Watson

Mail Online
August 24, 2011

A naked madman brandishing a six-inch kitchen knife went on the rampage in a New York apartment block today killing one person and injuring four others.

Victims of the maniac - who is believed to have knocked on doors and attacked whoever answered - included three women aged 60 to 85.

A 22-year-old woman was also punched and 81-year-old Ignacio Reyes-Collazo was killed.

The attacker then turned the blade on himself, police said.

It happened in the Washington Heights neighbourhood of upper Manhattan at around 4.30pm local time.

The suspect has been identified by police as 23-year-old Christian Fallero.

He was arrested at around 5.15pm and has been charged with second-degree murder and robbery.

Witness Adolfo Benitez, who works in a building nearby, said: 'I saw some naked guy running down the street with a knife, it was five or six inches long, a kitchen knife.'

Another bystander said one of the victims was a grandmother who lived in the same building as the suspect.


A 9/11 anniversary news scoop that only The Onion was able to get.


The Onion
August 22, 2011

WASHINGTON—Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced Thursday that the Transportation Security Administration, the Border Patrol, and all levels of U.S. law enforcement would be engaging in an all-out nationwide racial profiling binge on Sunday, Sept. 11.

"If you have curly hair, a beard of any kind, or so much as a hint of a foreign accent, get ready, because you will definitely be interrogated," said Napolitano, cautioning those with surnames longer than five syllables or containing Z's not to even look at a plane that day unless they wanted to spend an extra five hours held up at security. "My advice to anyone with even the slightest amount of melanin in their skin is just to stay inside and wait it out, because we're going to be handing out pat-downs and full-on detentions like there's no tomorrow."

Saying the success of the racial profiling spree would rely largely on public vigilance, Napolitano called on Americans to take note of anyone who looked different from themselves and either report such persons to authorities or "just take them down yourself."


A foursome is waiting at the men's tee while a foursome of women is hitting from the ladies' tee. The ladies are taking their time.

When the final lady is ready to hit her ball, she hacks it 10 feet. Then she goes over and whiffs it completely. Then she hacks it another ten feet and finally hacks it another five feet. She looks up at the waiting men and says apologetically, "I guess all those fucking lessons I took over the winter didn't help."

One of the men immediately responds, "Well, there you have it. You should have taken golf lessons instead!"

Whack! Crack! Squish! He never even had a chance to duck. He was only 43.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Besides the usual ‘marijuana is less harmful than alcohol’ crap, the most consistent argument by the pro-pot crowd for legalizing marijuana is that if pot were legal it can be taxed and fill America’s local, state and federal coffers with billions of dollars. If you believe that malarkey, take a look at this from the Summer, 2011 issue of The California Narcotic Officer:

According to the National Institute of Health, if marijuana is legalized we can we can expect an increase in the current 16.7 million Americans age 12 and older using marijuana. They estimate these figures to be around 24 million if and when marijuana becomes legal. According to the American Council For Drug Education, there were approximately 47 million tobacco users in America. If we took the early report which indicated that tobacco use costs the American public $72.7 billion yearly, it would not be difficult to assume that marijuana use would increase that to over $100 billion in health care related costs. In California that would be an increase on the taxpayer by approximately 10 percent; conservatively, about $4 billion annually. This brings the cost of legalizing marijuana to the California taxpayer of $2.3 billion annually in health care costs, after we subtract the $1.7 billion in tax generated revenue. Beyond the monetary issues, though, are those of the health and safety of society.

[Legalization] will encourage our students, teachers, business men and women, heavy machine operators and emergency services [fire and police] to possess and use marijuana. We will see a rise in marijuana use and subsequent addiction. Since drug addiction is a major factor in the rise of crime and blight in many communities, we will see an increase in criminal activity. The resulting increase in our prison population with marijuana addiction will affect counseling, rehabilitation, psychiatric care and medical costs.

According to Allan Zaremberg, the President of the California Chamber of Commerce, California’s medical marijuana laws and future marijuana legalization laws will drastically affect the state’s workmen’s compensation for the public, private, law enforcement and other public safety entities. A majority of these laws currently have what they call “zero tolerance” policies of drug use in the workplace. However, when marijuana legalization is passed, these laws will have to change. The medical marijuana laws have clouded what used to be a clear cut issue for workers and employers.


When the Soviet Union disintegrated, Gadhafi’s army lost its chief benefactor. No longer supplied with the latest weapons, today’s Libyan army was weak by modern standards. The Libyan rebels have now captured Tripoli and the Gadhafi regime is history.

When the Libyan revolution started, the U.S. and some of its NATO allies, primarily France and Britain, were quick to intervene on behalf of the rebels, ostensibly to prevent Gadhafi’s forces from slaughtering the civilian population of Benghazi.

The ‘protection’ of Benghazi civilians lasted more than five months. During that time U.S. and NATO airstrikes devastated the Libyan army. U.S warplanes flew more than 1,200 strike sorties, dropping bombs in 262 of them. U.S. Predator drones provided minute by minute intelligence and made 84 precision strikes against Gadhafi’s defenses. NATO warplanes, refueled by the U.S. Air Force, flew 20,000 sorties and made 7,500 strike attacks. The combined U.S. and NATO attacks pounded Gadhafi’s forces into oblivion and enabled the rebels to overthrow his regime.

Without those U.S. and NATO airstrikes, the Libyan rebels would have been toast.

During the more than five months the U.S. and NATO ‘protected’ the civilian population of Benghazi, Bashar al-Assad’s army has been slaughtering thousands of unarmed civilian anti-government protesters in several Syrian cities. Are the Syrian civilians less deserving of U.S. and NATO protection than the civilians of Benghazi? Of course not!

Then why Libya yes and Syria no? The answer is quite simple – the Syrian military is not the weak Libyan army that we have crushed. Syria has been armed to the teeth by Russia. While we could defeat the Syrians, that defeat would come at a heavy cost to us. Their Russian missiles have the capability to shoot down U.S. and NATO warplanes and our Predator drones. And we are scared shitless that if we attacked the Syrians, Iran would enter the fray on the side of Assad.

The American public will not stand for us to become engaged in another deadly military conflict and NATO doesn’t have the stomach for a full-scale war either. That leaves President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, together with their European partners, huffing and puffing at Assad while the Syrian dictator goes merrily on his way as he continues to slaughter his civilian opposition.


When the Arabs use the term ‘Zionists’ they really mean Jews. And Obama, a president whose hostility toward Israel knows no bounds, has been cozying up to the Muslim Brotherhood now that the Mubarak regime is no longer in power.

by Gil Ronen
August 23, 2011

A senior cleric in the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood has declared that ordinary Egyptians are obligated to kill 'Zionists' whom they encounter. According to Arutz Sheva Arab affairs expert Dalit Halevy, the pronouncement is part of a general wave of incitement that directly endangers Israelis who are currently in Egypt.

This follows Muslim Brotherhood calls to end the peace treaty with Egypt and threats to kill Israel's ambassador if he does not leave the country. Although there are many benefits for Egypt if it continues its relations with Israel, not the least of which is continued American aid, that is not always what counts in the MIddle East where hatred is often stronger than logic.

Dr. Salah Sultan, a lecturer on Islamic law in Cairo University and head of the Al Quds Committee in the World Federation of Islamic Scholars, declared Friday that an Egyptian citizen who encounters a "Zionist" should kill him. This should be done because Israel "killed" the Camp David Accord, he explained. Sultan said that Israel provokes Egypt by pointing its jet fighters at Egyptian soldiers.

Sultan spoke at a protest outside Israel's Cairo embassy, before about 200 members of the Freedom and Justice Party (a front for the Islamic Brotherhood), the Islamic Brotherhood movement, and other extreme groups.

In an April interview Sultan said that "the liberation of Palestine will come from Tahrir Square."

When the Crusaders invaded Jerusalem, the liberation began from Egypt, he said. Similarly, when Mongols reached Syria in the 13th century CE, Egyptians were the ones who organized and blocked them. "The next campaign [against Israel] will be launched from Egypt," he said.


The states also have their own asset seizure laws. During the summers when I wasn’t teaching, I would return to California and work with some law enforcement units. One summer, I think it was 1989 or 1990, I was working with the Riverside Sheriff’s narcotics unit when we raided the home of a 19-year-old meth dealer. The sheriff’s department seized his sumptuous two-story home with its large swimming pool, a one-story recreation building containing a pool table and professional video game consoles, two custom corvettes and all the expensive home furnishings, crystal collections, china figurines, grandfather clock and a foul mouthed parrot. That’s right, he was only 19 years old. Who said crime doesn’t pay?

By Nathan Koppel

The Wall Street Journal
August 22, 2011

The statistics are jarring.

There are now nearly 400 federal laws that empower the federal government to seize assets from convicted criminals as well as those never charged with crimes, a near-doubling of asset-seizure laws since the 1990s.

And last year, law enforcement seized more than $2.5 billion, a haul that has more than doubled over the last five years.

The Wall Street Journal cites these figures as a part of a deep dive today into the world of asset forfeiture, a federal power that critics on the left (the ACLU) and right (the Heritage Foundation) regard as a growing threat to innocent people.

Forfeiture laws are designed to take ill-gotten gains away from criminals and help the government dismantle criminal enterprises.

But of concern to some is the fact that the federal government has the power in certain instances to seize assets without filing criminal charges against the owner of the assets. While people have the power to challenge asset forfeitures in court, they have to be able to afford a lawyer to do so.

Last year, claimants challenged more than 1,800 civil-forfeiture actions in federal court, according to Justice Department figures, WSJ reports.

But Justice Department officials told WSJ that they rarely lose such cases, a fact they cite as evidence that the system is working properly. Forfeiture attorneys, meanwhile, counter that the government often settles cases, returning at least part of the seized assets, if it thinks it might lose.

Another red flag to critics is the fact that the federal government can share seized assets with cooperating state and local law enforcement agencies, which can then use seized funds at their discretion, WSJ reports, noting that the federal government paid out more than $500 million last year to local law enforcement agencies, a figure that had risen about 75% from a decade ago.

In times of fiscal austerity, the police have an incentive to seize first and ask questions later, critics contend. (Here’s an earlier blog post about a Texas district attorney who improperly used seized assets to boost the pay of his employees.)

Justice Department officials say that seized assets are monitored closely to ensure that they are being used properly.