Russia Wants To Fight ISIS: 3-Way War Consequences


Secular Talk

Russia is looking into furthering its military support of the leader of Syria, who is fighting ISIS.

These are the two main sides of the war – fundamentalist Jihadi rebels (such as ISIS) on one side, and Bashar al-Assad (the ruler of Syria) on the other.

The U.S. wants to support “moderate” rebels, who are supposedly against both Assad and ISIS, creating a 3-way war.

A 3-way war is an interesting concept.  How is this working out in real life?

Pope Rides Around In A Fuel-Efficient Compact Car


MSNBC

During his trip to the U.S., the Pope has refused to ride in a limousine, and instead has been driven around in a modest Fiat 500 from the airplane.

MSNBC reports on the Pope’s departure from Joint Base Andrews in a small Fiat after saying goodbye to President Obama and the First Lady.

(Updated post)

Civil Asset Forfeiture

What is Civil Asset Forfeiture?

Civil Asset Forfeiture in the United States, sometimes called civil judicial forfeiture, is a legal process in which law enforcement officers take assets from persons suspected of involvement with crime or illegal activity without necessarily charging the owners with wrongdoing.

While civil procedure generally involves a dispute between two private citizens, civil forfeiture involves a dispute between law enforcement and property, such as money or valuable items such as a car.  The item should be suspected of being involved in a crime.

Wikipedia states that to get back the seized property, “owners must prove it was not involved in criminal activity.”

This is an odd twist:  usually, the government must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, but in this case, the owner of the item must prove his or her innocence.

Last Thursday, SB 443, California’s attempt to end civil-asset forfeiture and “equitable sharing” abuse, failed passage in the State Assembly, 24 to 44, according to the National Review.

What is equitable sharing?

The National Review writes that “Forfeiture practices are further complicated with the existence of equitable-sharing agreements. Therein, state and local agencies partner with federal law enforcement, seize property, and proceed with the forfeiture motion through the jurisdiction with the least restrictive process, oftentimes the federal courts. The agencies then share the proceeds. This allows law enforcement to wholly sidestep any legal protections guaranteed by the state.”

More on Civil Asset Forfeiture by Wikipedia:

“Proponents see civil forfeiture as a powerful tool to thwart criminal organizations involved in the illegal drug trade, with $12 billion annual profits, since it allows authorities to seize cash and other assets resulting from narcotics trafficking. Proponents argue that it is an efficient method since it allows law enforcement agencies to use these seized proceeds to further battle illegal activity, that is, directly converting bad things to good purposes by harming criminals economically while helping law enforcement financially. Critics argue that innocent owners become entangled in the process such that their right to property is violated, with few legal protections and due process rules to protect them in situations where they are presumed guilty instead of being presumed innocent.”

The ACLU writes:

“Civil forfeiture allows police to seize — and then keep or sell — any property they allege is involved in a crime. Owners need not ever be arrested or convicted of a crime for their cash, cars, or even real estate to be taken away permanently by the government.”

Why would we allow civil asset forfeiture?

The Heritage Foundation writes that Civil Asset Forfeiture is intended to give law enforcement a tool they can use to go after organized crime – mafia, etc. – including drug dealers and their organizations.

The Heritage Foundation continues:  “Unfortunately, civil asset forfeiture is also used by law enforcement as a way to generate revenue, and many of its targets are innocent members of the public.”

In regards to the California Senate Bill 443, the bill “would not affect law enforcement’s power to seize property, based on probable cause. Police would still be able to hold seized property in evidence rooms and impound lots until forfeiture proceedings are resolved.”

A Sacramento Bee letter to the editor writes:

“Instead, SB 443 would only allow seized property to be forfeited (to the government) once its owner has been convicted of any crime. California already requires this for most seizures. Several states, including Montana, Nevada and New Mexico, recently enacted this vital protection of due process.

“Moreover, whenever California agencies collaborate with the federal government, SB 443 would first require the federal government to obtain a criminal conviction before proceeding with forfeiture. One investigation found the federal government, in cooperation with California agencies, took nearly $300 million in cash from people never charged with a crime.”

http://www.sacbee.com/opinion/letters-to-the-editor/article34602312.html

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/423957/civil-asset-forfeiture-california

https://www.aclu.org/issues/criminal-law-reform/reforming-police-practices/asset-forfeiture-abuse

http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2014/03/civil-asset-forfeiture-7-things-you-should-know

Hollow-Point Bullets


Firstscience TV

Last week, a man named Bryce Williams shot WDBJ reporter Alison Parker during an on-air interview, as well as her cameraman, Adam Ward. WDBJ is an ABC TV affiliate.

“Why did I do it?” wrote Bryce Williams (A.K.A. Vester Lester Flanigan II) in a fax to the station. “I put down a deposit for a gun on 6/19/15. The Church shooting in Charleston happened on 6/17/15…”

“What sent me over the top was the church shooting. And my hollow point bullets have the victims’ initials on them.”

Sources say Flanagan’s firearm was legally purchased from a Virginia gun store. It is assumed that his hollow-point bullets were, too.

What are hollow-point bullets?

Wikipedia states:

“A hollow-point bullet is an expanding bullet that has a pit or hollowed out shape in its tip often intended to cause the bullet to expand upon entering a target in order to decrease penetration and disrupt more tissue as it travels through the target. It is also used for controlled penetration, where over-penetration could cause collateral damage (such as on an aircraft). In target shooting, they are used for greater accuracy and reduction of smoke, fouling, and lead vapor exposure, as hollow point bullets have an enclosed base while traditional bullets have an exposed lead base.

“In self-defense, hollow points are designed to increase in diameter once within the target, thus maximizing tissue damage and blood loss or shock, and to remain inside the target, thereby transferring all of the kinetic energy to the target (whereas some fraction would remain in the bullet if it passed through instead).”

In fact, Firstscience TV states that the hollow-point bullet expands to three times the size of a normal (round-nose) bullet.

Wikipedia continues:

“Both of these goals are meant to maximize stopping power. Jacketed hollow points (JHPs) or plated hollow points are covered in a coating of harder metal (usually a copper alloy or copper coated steel) to increase bullet strength and to prevent fouling the barrel with lead stripped from the bullet.”

Are hollow-point bullets legal?

According to The Army Times, the 1899 Hague Convention barred the use of expanding and fragmenting rounds (hollow points) in the military.  Wikipedia states that NATO members do not use small arms ammunition that are prohibited by the Hague Convention and the United Nations.  However, the U.S. was never signatory to the Hague Convention.

The FBI uses hollow-point bullets.  The Army Times writes:

“The FBI switched from 9 mm to .40 caliber after a deadly 1986 shootout in Miami in which the shooters managed to keep fighting after being hit. The FBI is in the process of switching back to 9 mm – though the federal law enforcement agency uses hollow point bullets.”

Wikipedia states:

“Despite the ban on military use, hollow-point bullets are one of the most common types of bullets used by civilians and police, which is due largely to the reduced risk of bystanders being hit by over-penetrating or ricocheted bullets, and the increased speed of incapacitation.”

In the U.S., hollow point bullets are legal, except in the state of New Jersey and the city of San Francisco.  New Jersey bans possession of hollow point bullets by civilians except for ammunition possessed at one’s dwelling, writes Wikipedia.  In 2015, the Supreme Court upheld San Francisco’s ban on hollow-point bullets.

(Updated report)

http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/2015/06/foghorn/breaking-supreme-court-rejects-appeal-of-sfs-requirement-that-guns-be-kept-locked-and-disassembled-hollow-point-ban/

http://www.armytimes.com/story/military/tech/2015/07/09/handgun-system-solicitation-hollowpoint/29886907/