LETTER: Is Raising The Smoking Age To 21 A Sign Of Hypocrisy?

According to Time Magazine, Hawaii is set to become the first state to pass a law banning the sale, use and possession of cigarettes and e-cigarettes to people under 21.

James Gruber of Washington writes in a letter to lehighvalleylive.com on the topic:

“I read in the paper recently that Hawaii will become the first state to move the smoking age to 21.  This will include the use of electronic cigarettes. Putting aside the obvious fact that the federal Food and Drug Administration has completely dropped the ball on electronic cigarettes being an unapproved drug delivery device, this legislation strikes me of deep hypocrisy.

“Apparently, a person of age 18 is old enough to operate a motor vehicle. That same person is also old enough to pick up a weapon of war and kill another person.

“But the legislative geniuses in Hawaii (and New York City) who proposed this kind of legislation feel that such a person is not old enough to know better about what they want to ingest into their body. At 18 they are old enough to operate devices that can kill others, but they are not old enough to operate a device that can kill themselves.”

Is there hypocrisy in raising the smoking age to 21?

(Updated post)

LA Times: Is The Republican Campaign To Repeal Obamacare Over?

After five years and more than 50 votes in Congress, the Republican campaign to repeal the Affordable Care Act (the ACA or “Obamacare”) is essentially over, states the LA Times.

According to the LA Times, GOP congressional leaders, unable to roll back the law while President Obama remains in office and unwilling to again threaten a government shutdown to pressure him, are focused on other issues like trade and tax reform.

Another interesting development is that senior Republican lawmakers have quietly incorporated many of the law’s key protections into their own proposal bills, including guaranteeing coverage and providing government assistance to help consumers purchase insurance.

Oddly, facing the situation that the Supreme Court this year could strip away insurance subsidies provided through the law, several GOP lawmakers have even proposed extending the aid, perhaps even until a new president takes office.

Former Florida Governor and presidential candidate Jeb Bush has shown little enthusiasm for a new healthcare fight. Last year, he even criticized the repeal effort, states the LA Times.

This doesn’t mean that efforts to repeal the law will completely stop.

“Only 18% of Americans want to go back to the system we had before because they do not want to go back to some of the problems we had,” Whit Ayres, a veteran Republican pollster who works for presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.

Republicans like Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who still demand a repeal, appear to be long shots for the presidential nomination, states the LA Times.

More realistic might be adjustments to Obamacare rather than outright repeal. For example, the Affordable Care Act allows states to enact policies that specifically ban abortion coverage in health plans offered through the health insurance exchange.

Right now, Republicans in the House State Affairs Committee in Texas are considering just such a bill that would ban coverage for abortion in health plans offered through the ACA’s health insurance exchange.

Opponents, however, argued that House Bill 3130 would create yet another hurdle for women.



(Updated article)

Marriage Control: Oklahoma’s Atheist Marriage Ban Proposal

The Lip TV

The Oklahoma state House has passed a bill banning non-religious people from marrying. The bill also requires that all marriage licenses be approved by a member of the clergy.

“The discriminatory legislation essentially makes it harder for gay marriages to take place bringing into question whether this is an attack on atheism, or same-sex unions,” states The Lip TV.

“But while it might seem on the surface like an assault on atheism, critics are saying that it is same-sex unions that the bill is not-so-stealthily attacking. By making the clergy – not judges and court clerks – the sole marriage licence issuers, it will be more difficult for gay marriages to take place,” states Metro U.K.

Authorities In India Prevent Rape Documentary From Being Shown

Authorities in India stopped the domestic broadcast of a British documentary about the gang rape of a young woman in Delhii, according to The Guardian.

The British director of the hard-hitting documentary has appealed to the Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, to intervene.

Leslee Udwin, whose documentary India’s Daughter, is scheduled to be broadcast internationally on Sunday, made an emotional plea to Modi “to deal with this unceremonious silencing of the film” in India.

The movie is based on the brutal rape of 23-year-old physiotherapy student Jyoti Singh from December 2012.   Udwin’s documentary includes interviews Mukesh Singh, one of the men convicted for the crime, who is now in prison in Delhi and waiting for the supreme court to hear his appeal against the death sentence.

In the film, Singh suggests his victim would not have been killed if she had not fought back against her attackers and appears to blame her for not behaving like “a decent girl”.

“You can’t clap with one hand,” said Mr. Singh, who was convicted of rape and murder, though he denied taking part in the assault. “It takes two hands. A decent girl won’t roam around at 9 o’clock at night. A girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy. Boy and girl are not equal. Housework and housekeeping is for girls, not roaming in discos and bars at night doing wrong things, wearing wrong clothes. About 20 percent of girls are good.”

Those and other comments by Singh were released as part of a publicity campaign for the film, according to The New York Times.  They were met with outrage in India, partly because the filmmaker, Leslee Udwin, had been permitted to interview the defendant in jail.

After complaints by the home minister, an Indian court issued a restraining order, stating that Mr. Singh’s interview created “an atmosphere of fear and tension with the possibility of public outcry and law and order situation.”  The order said the film violated four Indian statutes, including one against “intent to cause alarm in the public” and another banning acts “intended to outrage the modesty of a woman.”

The filmmaker said the order amounted to a ban.



Armor Piercing Bullet Ban On The Table

5.56 mm M855 green tip rounds.

A proposal to ban a bullet that can pierce armor has upset the gun industry and its supporters.

The bullet in question is the M855 “green tip,” which is used in the popular AR-15 assault rifles.

Handgun bullets made of steel have been banned from public use since 1968. But the .223 caliber M855 has managed to avoid the ban because it is used in assault rifles, which aren’t technically handguns, and fall under the category of sporting rifles used by target shooters and hunters, according to CNN.

The bullet would be banned under a new framework that was proposed earlier this month by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). The proposal is not finalized yet and is seeking public comment.

There are other bullets that can be used with the AR-15 that are not included in the ban. They’re made of lead and copper and are widely available. Only “armor piercing” bullets would be banned.

The NRA has already started gathering signatures for a letter to the ATF director B. Todd Jones and is asking its members to write their local member of Congress.

Gun safety advocates say the M855 is a threat to law enforcement officers since it can penetrate bullet-proof vests and can be used in certain types of handguns, the most common firearm used in violent crime.

“This is not a gun grab,” said Brian Malte of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. “It’s a proposed rule change to protect the lives and safety of law enforcement officers.”

What do ATF rules say about it?

Here is some information from the ATF “Framework For Determining Certain Projectiles Are ‘Primarily Intended For Sporting Purposes.’ The framework looks at legislation – passed during the Reagan administration – that addresses “armor piercing bullets.” The legislation is called LEOPA.

Here are some excerpts from the ATF “Framework For Determining Certain Projectiles Are ‘Primarily Intended For Sporting Purposes.’

To protect the lives and safety of law enforcement officers from the threat posed by ammunition capable of penetrating a protective vest when fired from a handgun, the Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA), as amended, prohibits the import, manufacture, and distribution of “armor piercing ammunition” as defined by the statute.

The GCA provisions defining and governing armor piecing ammunition were originally enacted in the Law Enforcement Officers Protection Act of 1986 (P.L. 99-408) (“LEOPA”). The primary goal of the LEOPA provisions regarding armor piecing ammunition was the protection of police officers from death or injury as the result of the criminal use of handgun ammunition capable of penetrating protective vests (soft body armor).

“… Ammunition capable of penetrating body armor was originally designed and manufactured primarily for military and law enforcement applications, not for use by the general public.

“By the late 1970’s, however, law enforcement organizations began to voice concern that armor piercing ammunition was readily available to the general public and posed extreme safety risks to police officers when used by criminals.

“Over the next several years, Congress debated various bills to both define and limit the availability of ammunition capable of penetrating body armor. The early bills on the issue included a performance standard – i.e., the ammunition at issue must be capable of penetrating body armor – and applied only to handgun ammunition.

“In a hearing on one of these early bills for LEOPA, Senator Moynihan made clear that the intent of the bill was to ban only ammunition that both met the performance standard and was designed to be used in a
handgun. Moynihan:

“[L]et me make clear what this bill does not do. Our legislation would not limit the
availability of standard rifle ammunition with armor-piercing capability. We recognize
that soft body armor is not intended to stop high powered rifle cartridges. Time and
again Congressman Biaggi and I have stressed that only bullets capable of penetrating
body armor and designed to be fired from a handgun would be banned; rifle ammunition
would not be covered.

“Accordingly, under the original bills, if the manufacturer of the ammunition “designed [it] to be fired from a handgun” and it was “capable of penetrating body armor”, then it would meet the definition of “armor piercing.” If the manufacturer designed and intended the ammunition to be used in rifles (or if it was not capable of penetrating body armor), it would not meet the definition.

“When LEOPA was finally passed by Congress in 1986, however, the final bill did not include a performance-based standard, or limit the definition of armor piercing ammunition to ammunition “designed” for use in a handgun.

“Instead, the definition has two alternatives: the first focuses on the composition of the ammunition, and whether it “may be used” in a handgun; the second focuses on size, jacket weight, and the design and intention for the ammunition.

“Specifically, the definition of “armor piercing ammunition” in 18 U.S.C. 921(a)(17)(B) provides: (B) The term “armor piercing ammunition” means— (i) a projectile or projectile core which may be used in a handgun and which is constructed entirely (excluding the presence of traces of other substances) from one or a combination of tungsten alloys, steel, iron, brass, bronze, beryllium copper or depleted uranium; or (ii) a full jacketed projectile larger than .22 caliber designed and intended for use in a handgun and whose jacket has a weight of more than 25 percent of the total weight of the projectile.

“Although the design and intention for the ammunition is relevant to the second alternative definition, the first alternative contains no such limitation.

“In fact, during the final vote on LEOPA, Congress specifically rejected an amendment that would have limited the definition of armor piercing ammunition to ammunition “intended” to be used in a handgun, thereby exempting “standard rifle ammunition.”1

“As a result, rather than limiting the definition to the manufacturer’s “design” or “intent,” the final bill passed by Congress clearly expanded the definition of armor piercing ammunition to include any ammunition containing the specified metal content “which may be used in a handgun.”

“This definition has remained unchanged since enactment of LEOPA in 1986. In adopting a definition of armor piercing ammunition that included ammunition that “may” be used in a handgun, 18 U.S.C. 921(a)(17)(B)(i), Congress expressly sought to protect law enforcement officers from the effects of a projectile that, although originally intended for a rifle, could be fired from a handgun. Accordingly, under the first of the two alternative definitions enacted into law, all projectiles meeting the metal content criteria that “may be used in a handgun” are defined as “armor piercing ammunition” under the statute.”

‘Agenda 21’ Bill Rejected In Montana

An Agenda 21 bill was rejected in Montana by lawmakers this week, according to The Inquisitr.

For years, critics of “Agenda 21” have seen it as evil, ranging from bad policy to an erosion of national sovereignty to a sign of one-world totalitarian government grounded in radical principles of environmentalism and socialism, according to KXLF.com.


“The United States is a signatory country to Agenda 21, but because Agenda 21 is a legally non-binding statement of intent and not a treaty, the United States Senate was not required to hold a formal debate or vote on it. It is therefore not considered to be law under Article Six of the United States Constitution.

According to NBCmontana.com:  “Agenda 21 is a non-binding resolution, signed by Republican President George H.W. Bush in 1992, urging nations to conserve open land and steer development toward more populous areas. Some conservatives across the country see Agenda 21 as an indication of a United Nations takeover.”

The Montana Agenda 21 bill was sponsored by Sun River Republican Randy Pinocci.

It failed with a vote of 59 to 41. Representative Pinocci reportedly feels that the anti-Agenda 21 bill would have protected Montana residents’ property rights and would have rejected the United Nations sustainable development initiative.

Those who voted in opposition to the Agenda 21 bill in Montana largely felt that the U.N. sustainable development plan is merely a “list of recommendations regarding smart growth.”

They added that no citizens have yet come forward to complain that the plan has been pushed upon them or caused them problems at the local level.

Previously, Missouri and Kansas actually passed legislation regarding Agenda 21:

TYT Network

More here.

David Cross and Sam Seder Discuss Horses In New York

Comedian David Cross and Majority Report and discuss the coming NYC horse carriage ban, which leads them talking about horses and protests.  Sam Seder and David Cross reminisce about an anti-war protest.

Sam Seder

What Led to the Fracking Ban in New York?

What led to the fracking ban in New York?

Earlier this month, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced he would move to prohibit fracking in New York State, saying there is not enough research on public health effects and economic benefits to allow it.

Oddly, many large and often-read publications such as the Washington Post protested the move by New York’s Governor Cuomo.

However, a Quinnipiac poll showed that a majority of New Yorkers agree with the ban.

Sam Seder and Cliff Schecter discuss it.

Kalashnikov Concern Sanctioned

The Obama administration banned imports of rifles from Kalashnikov Concern, including AK-47 assault rifles, as part of sanctions against Russia. The announcement of the sanctions was made in mid-July.

A US dealer specializing in the weapon has sold out.  

The Atlantic Firearms company in Maryland had shipped hundreds of the weapons as buyers wiped out inventories across the United States.

Gun sales tend to spike whenever American consumers believe that new restrictions are imminent. Mr Obama’s 2008 and 2012 election victories both caused surges in demand and the same thing happened when President Barack Obama stepped up efforts to pass sweeping gun control laws after the 2012 Sandy Hook School massacre.

It is still possible to import AK-47s made in former Soviet bloc countries like Poland or Romania, or even to buy models produced in the United States. But the Russian-made weapons, designed for the Red Army by Mikhail Kalashnikov, are considered “the classic” by gun aficionados.

The AK-47 buying frenzy presents yet another example of the risk that trying to limit gun sales could create a boom in demand.

“The great irony here is that the threat of regulation has the perverse effect of stimulating sales, and not just by a little,” said Philip Cook, a Duke University gun researcher and author of The Gun Debate: What Everyone Needs to Know. “You have millions of extra sales.”

Stephen Teret, a public health expert at Johns Hopkins University who studies firearms says, “This is a way for guns to move from the licit to illicit markets.

Gun control advocates argue that buying frenzies are often stoked by the National Rifle Association. 

In a lengthy message to members after the Obama administration’s announcement, the NRA’s legislative organization said: “We of course recognize the important role that enacting sanctions can have in furthering legitimate U.S. foreign policy interests. However, in this instance the extent to which these actions coincide with the stated domestic policy goals of gun control supporters is more than a little unsettling.”

Four days after the NRA’s statement, The Truth About Guns, a popular firearms blog, proclaimed the AK-47 “buying panic begins,” adding, “Once again, the firearms industry owes President Obama a debt of gratitude.”