A Strange Story

The author is writing this because there seems to be nothing about it on the internet.

In roughly May of 1987, there was a party in Danville, Illinois. It was at the end of the school year, perhaps after prom. It was an informal party at a house. Many high school students came. There were drugs and alcohol. I believe all the people were whites.

During the party, a senior named Mike Huff had sex with a freshman girl in front of everyone. Word has it that while they were having sex, other boys masturbated on the girl. After that, a few of them wrote all over the girl’s body with pens, creating fake tattoos, etc.

Supposedly another guy filmed the entire thing on video.

It was all very rock-and-roll. Unfortunately, it was also probably a rape. The girl was 14 or 15, so by age alone it would be considered statutory rape.

They were never prosecuted.

These people are still out there today, with kids and families, working regular jobs.

This story was confirmed to me by 3 or 4 people. I have names. I hesitate to publish names because of unintended consequences. However, it is believed that the whole thing was witnessed by sophomore Sarah Adair, who is married to Dr. Khalid Abbed, also of Danville. They are now roughly 50 years old and now live in Connecticut and can be reached at 203-557-0290. They would be happy to field any questions about the 1987 Mike Huff gang bang incident.

The Intercept: Increase In Defense Budget Would Pay for Free College Tuition

According to the organization the College Board, the average cost of tuition and fees for the 2016–2017 school year was $33,480 at private colleges, and it was $9,650 for state residents at public colleges, and $24,930 for out-of-state residents attending public universities.

According to CNBC, more than 44 million Americans have taken out student loans to pay for school, and their debt totals $1.4 trillion. The average debt for 20-year-olds is $22,135, and for 30-year-olds, it’s $34,033, and will increase.

This is a disaster.

Sources state that there are several countries where college tuition is free or virtually free.  The writer of this blog post was able to study in Germany, and tuition was indeed almost free. (At the time, there was a fee of around 70 Deutschmarks a semester.)

Tuition costs in France are not free, but they are very inexpensive.  Studyineurope.eu reports that bachelor’s programs cost 189.10 EUR per year (roughly $224), and engineering degrees have a tuition fee of 615.10 EUR per academic year (or about $729).

CNBC writes that the total cost of tuition for a degree at a public university in the U.S. could be $250,000 eighteen years from now.

America is no stranger to the concept of free tuition, because public high schools are free.

Where would the money come from?

As it so happens, the website The Intercept reports that the recent increase in the military budget alone is enough to pay for free college.

On September 18th, the U.S. Senate approved an $80 billion annual increase in military spending, to $700 billion for the year 2018.  However, USA Today estimates that the tuition costs at all 4-year colleges and universities is roughly $70 billion a year, which is less than the increase in defense spending.

https://www.cnbc.com/2017/03/17/in-18-years-a-college-degree-could-cost-about-500000.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2014/10/29/7-countries-where-americans-can-study-at-universities-in-english-for-free-or-almost-free/?utm_term=.f4fc9e6d4bbb

https://www.salon.com/2014/11/02/7_countries_where_college_is_free_partner/

https://www.cnbc.com/2017/09/18/senate-passes-700-billion-defense-policy-bill-backing-trump-call-for-steep-increase-in-military-spending.html

Bernie Sanders issues bill to make 4-year colleges tuition-free

https://theintercept.com/2017/09/18/the-senates-military-spending-increase-alone-is-enough-to-make-public-college-free/

https://www.marketplace.org/2015/03/31/education/learning-curve/how-german-higher-education-controls-costs

http://againstausterity.org/wsst

Is Tuition-Free Education And Single-Payer Healthcare ‘Radical?’

Is tuition-free education a radical idea? Ask a German citizen. Ask a French, Swedish, or Brazilian citizen. Is single-payer healthcare a radical idea? Ask anyone, anywhere in the world.

At the Democratic Forum on Fusion TV on Monday, Bernie Sanders discussed free college tuition and “socialized medicine.”

More:

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-32821678

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dennis-gilbert/adventures-with-bernie-sa_b_8963690.html

http://www.salon.com/2014/11/02/7_countries_where_college_is_free_partner/

http://www.marketplace.org/2015/03/31/education/learning-curve/how-german-higher-education-controls-costs

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/

Big anti-nazi march in Germany

Re-posted from Dear Kitty. Some Blog. Anti-Nazi demonstration in Germany draws 5000.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/aug/30/german-pro-immigrant-protest-welcomes-asylum-seekers-to-dresden

Dear Kitty. Some blog

A demonstrator in Dresden, Germany holds a sign that reads ‘refugees welcome’ on Saturday. Photograph: Oliver Killig/dpa/CorbisFrom AFP news agency:

German pro-immigrant protest welcomes asylum seekers to Dresden

Anti-Nazi Alliance organisers estimate 5,000 people took part in march through Pegida stronghold in response to rightwing protests against migrants

Sunday 30 August 2015 01.05 BST

Thousands of people took to the streets of the German city of Dresden on Saturday to send a message of welcome to refugees after a string of violent anti-migrant protests in the region.

Led by protesters holding a huge banner that read “Prevent the pogroms of tomorrow today”, the crowds marched peacefully through the eastern city under the watch of police in riot gear.

“Say it loud, say it clear, refugees are welcome here,” they chanted.

Police said 1,000 people took part in the protest, which was called by the Anti-Nazi Alliance, while organisers put the numbers at 5,000.

Dresden is the stronghold of the anti-Islam Pegida movement, whose demonstrations drew up…

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FollowTheMoney.org, OpenSecrets.org

FollowTheMoney.org is a website dedicated to informing people about the amount of campaign contributions each politician has received.

OpenSecrets.org is similar, but also gives other information about such things as news, events, and personal wealth and net worth of each candidate or politician.

It is unclear how often the information is updated.  The information does not always match what we see in the news articles.

Below are the websites for both.  They are interesting to browse.

Update: Maplight.org is another good resource on money in politics.

(Updated)

http://maplight.org/

http://www.opensecrets.org/

http://www.followthemoney.org/