Tag Archive: swat


November 12, 2014 By Steve Sanetti

13violentcrimeoffensefigure-01The FBI released its annual Crime in the United States

report on Monday revealing that the country in 2013 saw the violent crime rate fall another 5.1 percent from the previous year, so it is now at its lowest since 1978.  Delving a little deeper, the murder and manslaughter rate fell 4.4 percent to the lowest level since 1968.This is very good news, and while it is being reported here and there, it will not get a small fraction of the air time that crime stories will get on local news affiliates around the country on any given night. So, sadly, we do not expect to see a perceptible move on the proverbial needle of current public perception that crime is increasing, not decreasing.

But from a public policy perspective, this is very important data that should help inform decision making and we urge you to point to it the next time you hear someone advocating the latest “common sense” proposal for more gun control laws.

While the crime rate has been dropping steadily for more than the last 20 years, the number of firearms in the hands of law-abiding Americans has beenrising dramatically.  In June, we put together an NSSF video that illustrates this relationship and other useful points in a short, but impactful presentation. Now, we have another year of data that furthers the case.

In that realm of public perception, we are encouraged by the results of a new Gallup survey released last week that found 63 percent of Americans believe that having a gun in the house makes it a safer place, a doubling of that number since 2000. This result flies in the face of what anti-gun organizations have been trying to convince the public for many years now.

Public opinion can be fickle, of course, and survey results are best viewed as a snapshot in time. Still, that more than six out of ten Americans have reached this conclusion speaks volumes about the fact that millions of our fellow Americans do appreciate that they have the right to exercise their Second Amendment rights in defense of their families.  Spread the news.

 

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Published November 12, 2014

Law-abiding Californians may not need to justify their need to carry concealed weapons, after the same three-judge panel that struck down restrictions on the permits earlier this year ruled Wednesday that it is too late for new opponents to join the fight against the ruling.

The decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals would bar other law enforcement officials, including state Attorney General Kamala Harris, from appealing its ruling in a case originally brought by an independent journalist who sued the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department over its policy of requiring a specific reason for being allowed to carry a concealed weapon in public.

San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore has said he will not fight the ruling, meaning there is no one with standing left to challenge the decision made in February.

“Since becoming Sheriff, I have always maintained that it is the legislature’s responsibility to make the laws, and the judiciary’s responsibility to interpret them and their constitutionality,” Gore wrote in a letter to the county board of supervisors earlier this year, in which he said the court’s decision gave him clarity on the issuance of licenses. “Law enforcement’s role is to uphold and enforce the law.”

Edward Peruta sued Gore’s department over its policy of requiring a specific reason for being allowed to carry a concealed weapon in public, restrictions other counties around the state also had in place.

In its bombshell ruling earlier this year, the 9th Circuit found those policies to be unconstitutional and held that law-abiding citizens have a right to bear arms under the Constitution’s Second Amendment and could not be required to justify their reasons for carrying concealed weapons.

California counties have differed on policy in the wake of the decision, with Orange County issuing the permits on request and others waiting for a resolution in the case.

One judge on the panel disagreed with Wednesday’s ruling, saying the state should be able to intervene in the case to “present an argument on an important constitutional question affecting millions of citizens.”

The law would still not allow felons or the mentally ill to possess firearms, and would still prohibit the carrying of them in places such as schools and government buildings.

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Posted on November 4, 2014

Legal -Update

Long-suffering California gun owners received some rare good news in February when a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit recognized a right to bear arms outside the home. In its decision in the NRA-backed case of Peruta v. County of San Diego, the panel struck down San Diego County’s “good cause” requirement for a concealed carry license, as county policy failed to recognize general self-defense as sufficient good cause. The ruling, however, has been stayed as parties seek to intervene and petition for a rehearing of the case by a larger contingent of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. In the meantime, droves of Californians intent on exercising their right to self-defense have already made their opinions known by applying for concealed carry licenses.

Like some other jurisdictions in California, San Diego County had operated under a strict may-issue carry policy that left the decision of who may or may not receive a license up to the discretion of the issuing law enforcement official. In San Diego, this discretion led to a policy by the Sheriff’s Office that an applicant had to show “good cause” for obtaining a license. As outlined in the Ninth Circuit’s opinion, this required all applicants to provide “supporting documentation” of their need.  The court went on to explain, “If the applicant [could not] demonstrate ‘circumstances that distinguish [him] from the mainstream,’ then he [would] not qualify for a concealed-carry permit.”

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The case originated in 2009, when resident Edward Peruta filed a complaint against San Diego County and Sheriff William D. Gore in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California after being denied a concealed carry license. Peruta argued that San Diego’s “good cause” policy violated his Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. According to Peruta’s attorney, “It was deemed the Plaintiff did not have good cause, because Plaintiff could not document any specific threat of harm, and primary reasons for desiring a license to carry a concealed weapon were due to the fact that he often carried large amounts of cash, valuables and equipment in his motor home, and also because his duties as a news investigator placed him in high crime areas.” Later on, several other plaintiffs joined the case, along with NRA’s California state affiliate, the California Rifle and Pistol Association.

In December 2010, the district court ruled in favor of San Diego. At the time, persons in California could lawfully carry an unloaded handgun with ammunition at the ready. The trial court opined, “to the extent … Defendant’s policy burden[s] conduct falling within the scope of the Second Amendment, if at all, the burden is mitigated by the provisions of [the law] that expressly permit unloaded open carry for immediate self-defense.” The opinion went on to reject the plaintiffs’ call for the use of strict scrutiny in determining whether San Diego was violating the Second Amendment right, opting instead to examine the policy under “intermediate scrutiny.” The court determined that “under intermediate scrutiny, Defendant’s policy need not be perfect, only reasonably related to a ‘significant,’ ‘substantial,’ or ‘important’ governmental interest,” and that the “Defendant’s policy satisfies that standard.”

On October 9, 2011, however, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law AB 144, which outlawed the open carry of unloaded handguns (the open carry of loaded handguns had been banned years earlier). The legislation left those lacking a concealed carry license without even the prior, largely symbolic option of carrying an unloaded handgun outside the home for self-defense. Thus, enactment of this legislation ironically diminished one of the arguments used by the district court in rejecting the challenge to San Diego’s licensing policy.

The case was then appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, where it was assigned to a three-judge panel consisting of Judges Diarmuid O’Scannlain, Sidney Thomas, and Consuelo Callahan. Oral argumentswere heard on December 6, 2012.

NRA filed a friend of the court brief outlining its position. The brief argued that the right to keep and bear arms is a fundamental right that is substantially burdened by San Diego’s “good cause” policy, and therefore the policy must be examined under a “strict scrutiny” test. In making this argument, the brief relied heavily on the Ninth Circuit’s decision in Nordyke v. King, and the Supreme Court’s decisions in District of Columbia v. Heller, and McDonald v. City of Chicago. The brief concluded its argument by stating: “The County interprets ‘good cause’ as meaning a particularly good cause that distinguishes an applicant from the average citizen. The fundamental problem with that interpretation is that every individual has a Second Amendment right and corresponding right to self-defense. There is no need for an individual to demonstrate an especially good reason that he should enjoy a constitutional right guaranteed by our founding document.”

On February 13, 2014, the Ninth Circuit issued its decision in a 77-page opinion written by Judge O’Scannlain. First, O’Scannlain examined the question of whether the behavior restricted by San Diego’s policy falls within the scope of the right protected by the Second Amendment. The Judge pointed out that the Second Amendment protects a “right not only to ‘keep’ arms but also to ‘bear’ them.” After examining several sources, along with the Heller and McDonalddecisions, O’Scannlain concluded that the evidence “suggest[s] that the Second Amendment secures a right to carry a firearm in some fashion outside the home.”

Next the opinion delved into the matter of what the term “bear arms” encompassed in the founding era. On this point, O’Scannlain cited founding-era scholar St. George Tucker: “The right to armed self-defense, Tucker insisted, is the ‘first law of nature,’ and any law ‘prohibiting any person from bearing arms’ crossed the constitutional line.”

The opinion then went on to explore legal precedent for the correct interpretation of the right to “bear arms.” O’Scannlain cited the 1822 Kentucky case Bliss v. Commonwealth, in which the Kentucky Supreme Court held that the state’s right to bear arms amendment invalidated a ban on “wearing concealed arms.” The opinion then cited similar cases, including the 1833 Tennessee case of Simpson v. State, the 1840 Alabama case of State v. Reid,and the 1846 Georgia case of Nunn v. State, all of which offer evidence that the right to “bear arms” was understood to extend beyond the home.

O’Scannlain’s analysis then moved to the post-civil war period. Here the judge examined Stephen P. Halbrook’s scholarship on the Fourteenth Amendment and the post-slavery experience as it pertains to the right to keep and bear arms. Using a passage from the Heller decision, O’Scannlain determined that “[j]ust as it was ‘plainly the understanding in the post-Civil War Congress that the Second Amendment protected an individual right to use arms for self-defense,’… it appears that the right was also understood to encompass carrying weapons in public in case of confrontation.” After marshalling all of his historic evidence, O’Scannlain concluded that “the carrying of an operable handgun outside the home for the lawful purpose of self-defense, though subject to traditional restrictions, constitutes ‘bear[ing] Arms’ within the meaning of the Second Amendment.”

The opinion then analyzed whether San Diego’s policy is an infringement of the right to bear arms. O’Scannlain notably rejected the method of applying a certain level of scrutiny to an infringement on the Second Amendment right that other courts have used in similar circumstances. Instead, he noted that since there is no option in California for unlicensed open carry, the right to carry outside the home is effectively eliminated by San Diego’s policy, under which licenses are routinely denied. Thus, O’Scannlain found that a scrutiny test would be inappropriate, in that “the Second Amendment does require that the states permit some form of carry for self-defense outside the home.”  In summary, “San Diego’s ‘good cause’ permitting requirement impermissibly infringes on the Second Amendment right to bear arms for lawful self-defense.”

Despite O’Scannlain’s strong articulation of the right to carry outside the home, California gun owners and others under the Ninth Circuit’s jurisdiction are not out of the woods yet. Following the ruling, gun control proponents petitioned to have the case reheard by a “limited en banc” panel of 11 judges. The Ninth Circuit has yet to determine whether or not it will grant this request.  In the meantime, the panel’s February 13 ruling has been stayed until a final disposition of the case has been made. This means jurisdictions that were operating under a “may issue” license framework may continue to do so in the interim. Nevertheless, a number of counties – including Orange, Ventura, and San Joaquin – have already changed their polices to recognize a desire for self-defense as a sufficient cause for the issuance of a concealed carry license to an otherwise qualified applicant.

In addition to being an important milestone for Golden State residents, the ruling could affect policy in other states. Another Ninth Circuit ruling in the case of Baker v. Kealoha held that a district court in Hawaii erred when it held that the state’s restrictions on carrying firearms outside the home did not implicate protected Second Amendment activity.  Further proceedings on that case, however, have been deferred pending resolution of the post-opinion matters in Peruta. Meanwhile, the U.S. territory of Guam passed legislation in response to Peruta that changed its concealed carry licensing regime from “may-issue” to “shall-issue.”

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I Voted

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A very rich man

Photo of elderly man eating lunch with picture of deceased wife goes viral

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This man never dines without a picture of his sweetheart. (Madina Bashizaduah)

Every picture tells a story.

But a photo making the Internet rounds of a man eating at a California In-N-Out Burger alongside a picture of his deceased wife has uncovered a story of true love that will make you squeeze your honey extra hard tonight.

Two weeks ago, imgur user soulrose posted a picture of a man perched in a red and white booth gazing longingly at a photo, with his walker nearby.

“I saw this elderly gentleman dining by himself, with an old picture of a lady in front of him. I though [sic] maybe I could brighten his day by talking to him,” soulrose writes.

After talking to the man, the user found out it was indeed his wife, and proceeded to be blown away by the story of how they met and their enduring love.

“They met when they were both 17. They dated briefly, then lost contact when he went to war and her family moved. But he said he thought about her the entire war. After his return, he decided to look for her. He searched for her for 10 years and never dated anyone,” soulrose wrote.

“People told him he was crazy, to which he replied ‘I am. Crazy in love.’ On a trip to California, he went to a barber shop. He told the barber how he had been searching for a girl for ten years. The barber went to his phone and called his daughter in. It was her! She had also been searching for him and never dated either.”

According to the story, the unnamed man proposed right then and there was married to his wife for 55 years before she died 2009.

Madina Bashizaduah from San Francisco posted a similar image on Twitter on Oct. 22 of the same man—just with a different shirt and new picture. She said he always leaves home with a picture of his sweetheart and recounted the same story of a fateful love for the ages.

Soulrose said the man had a few nuggets of wisdom, saying:  “I was a very rich man. Not with money, but with love” and “Tell your wife that you love her everyday. And be sure to ask her, have I told you that I love you lately?”

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$10G to watch grass grow: Coburn report details worst examples of gov’t waste

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The government spent $10,000 to watch this type of grass grow. (USDA.GOV)

As American taxpayers worried about the terror threat from the Islamic State, the crisis at the border and the economy, the U.S. government spent their money to give rabbits massages, to teach sea monkeys to synchronize swim and to literally watch grass grow.

These and other examples of wasteful government spending were detailed by Republican Sen. Tom Coburn in his annual “Wastebook,” his final edition since he is retiring early next year.

“I have learned from these experiences that Washington will never change itself,” Coburn, R-Okla., said in a statement. “But even if the politicians won’t stop stupid spending, taxpayers always have the last word.”

The first example cited in the report is the millions spent on what one attorney called the government’s “dirty little secret”: paid administrative leave for troublesome employees. Workers who were placed on leave for disciplinary reasons, such as misconduct, security concerns or criminal issues, received $20 million while on leave this year.

These workers, according to Coburn, were essentially on a paid vacation that can last for months or years. The GAO also detailed this phenomenon in a report Monday. According to the GAO, during a three-year period more than 57,000 employees were placed on leave for 30 days or more, costing taxpayers $775 million in salary alone.

Another wasteful project with a big price tag is the Pentagon’s plan to destroy $16 billion in military-grade ammunition that it deems no longer useful. Sounds pricey, right? Well add in the fact that on top of that, the feds plan to spend $1 billion just to destroy the ammo.

“The amount of surplus ammunition is now so large that the cost of destroying it will equal the full years’ salary for over 54,000 Army privates,” the report notes.

Other examples vary from the serious, to the aggravating, to just plain bizarre. One that takes the cake is the $10,000 the government spent to watch grass grow — seriously.

That project is the brainchild of the Department of Interior’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which is paying for the growth of the smooth cordgrass to be observed on a Florida reserve. The money covers “the cost to monitor grasses, restore two acres as a demonstration and publish a guide on best practices for cultivating the cordgrass, known formally as Spartina alterniflora.”

Still more examples show that while some Americans are struggling to make ends meet in a rough economy, there is a group in the U.S. getting major perks: animals.

In one instance, the government shelled out $387,000 to provide rabbits with a relaxing daily massage. The critters were treated to a “mechanical device that simulates the long, flowing strokes used in Swedish massages” to study the effect of massages on exercise recovery, according to the report.

Another animal getting a fun extracurricular activity courtesy of the U.S. taxpayers are sea monkeys. The government dropped $50,000 on a project to study the swirl of sea monkeys’ collective movements. The researchers did so by choreographing a synchronized swimming routine for the tiny shrimp.

The government also spent $856,000 to throw mountain lions on a treadmill and $171,000 to watch monkeys gamble. They also spent $331,000 on a study that led to a mind-blowing discovery, that “hungry people get cranky and aggressive.”

“With no one watching over the vast bureaucracy, the problem is not just what Washington isn’t doing, but what it is doing.” Coburn said in the statement. “Only someone with too much of someone else’s money and not enough accountability for how it was being spent could come up some of these projects.”

Other notable examples include $90 million spent to promote U.S. culture around the world, $414,000 spent on a U.S. Army video game that some in the intelligence community have worried could inadvertently train terrorists and $4.6 million spent on “lavish” homes to house Border Patrol agents in areas temporarily.

Coburn, known as “Dr. No” for his strong stance against excess spending in Washington, announced in January he is retiring from the Senate early due to ongoing health issues. The Republican had already announced he would not seek reelection but decided to leave his term two years early, in January 2014.

A Coburn spokesperson told FoxNews.com that the senator has said that answers about if and how the “Wastebook” will continue will have to wait until next year. The spokesperson said Coburn hopes every lawmaker will make monitoring government waste a priority, but that one does not have to be a current lawmaker to do so.’

Click to read the “Wastebook.”

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October 15, 2014

A feminist writer and critic of video games has canceled a scheduled talk at a Utah university after learning that the school would allow firearms where she was speaking despite receiving an anonymous mass shooting threat.

Anita Sarkeesian was scheduled to speak on the depiction of women in video games at Utah State University in Logan Wednesday morning. However, on Tuesday, the university received an anonymous e-mail from someone claiming to be a student at the university who threatened to carry out a mass shooting if the event was held.

University spokesman Tim Vitale says the FBI told school officials the threat was consistent with ones Sarkeesian receives when she gives speeches elsewhere.

The university consulted with federal and state law enforcement and had determined it was safe to go ahead with the presentation.

A university statement said that Sarkeesian asked if guns would be permitted at the venue where she was speaking and was informed that they would be, in compliance with the state’s open carry law passed in 2004.

According to The Salt Lake Tribune, Sarkeesian tweeted that she requested that the school install metal detectors or require officers to search people as they entered the venue. The paper reported that the school offered to increase security and ban backpacks from the venue, but would not ban guns. In response, Sarkeesian decided to cancel her scheduled appearance.

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“Criminal” and “terrorism” concerns lead Home Office to change guidelines to support police knocking on lawful shooters’ doors

Police concern that members of the shooting community may be “vulnerable to criminal or terrorist groups” has prompted the Home Office to update its firearms guidance to support forces in England and Wales in their intention to start making unannounced home visits to legitimate gun owners.

 

The policy, which is effective from today, has been introduced ostensibly to ensure certificate holders are complying with firearms security measures — this is despite the fact that the Home Office’s own figures show that theft of guns is not a widespread concern. On average, in the past five years, annually just 0.025 per cent of the 1,837,243 legally held firearms and shotguns in England and Wales were stolen — an average of just 475 guns per year. The figures are not broken down to indicate whether a firearm was stolen from a home, military or commercial environment or whether it was stolen in transit. Despite such low figures and little evidence of a genuine problem, a dedicated Crimestoppers hotline has also been launched “to encourage members of the shooting community and the general public to report any concerns about legally held firearms”. BASC called the hotline “unnecessary and inappropriate”. The Countryside Alliance has launched an e-campaign for shooters to call on their MP to oppose the police campaign which, it says “encourages an untrusting and vindictive attitude from your friends and neighbours”.

Chief Constable Andy Marsh, the national policing lead for firearms and explosives licensing, called on the shooting community to lend its support to the new measures, saying: “The public and especially the shooting community can greatly assist the police in gathering intelligence and protecting our communities by being vigilant around firearms licensing. The shooting community is close, and will recognise sudden behavioural changes in fellow shooters that could cause concerns. However, they may not feel like they can act and the Crimestoppers hotline empowers people to voice concerns anonymously.”

He added: “If you are concerned that guns are being kept insecurely or notice signs that shooters may be vulnerable to criminal or terrorist groups or have shown sympathy towards extremist acts, please report it.”

The new Home Office guidance states: “Where it is judged necessary, based on specific intelligence in light of a particular threat, or risk of harm, the police may undertake an unannounced home visit to check the security of a certificate holder’s firearms and shotguns. It is not expected that the police will undertake an unannounced home visit at an unsocial hour unless there is a justified and specific requirement to do so on the grounds of crime prevention or public safety concerns, and the police judge that this action is both justified and proportionate.”

Importantly, shooters must understand that no new power of entry has been conferred on the police or police staff, and those undertaking a visit must provide “a clear and reasoned explanation” for doing so.

In launching the measure, Chief Constable Marsh stressed that the police’s intention is not to “catch out gun owners”. He said: “I know that the vast majority of gun owners understand their responsibility to secure firearms and in the main take this very seriously, which allows their continued lawful use for work or leisure purposes.”

BASC’s Richard Ali stated that the association backs the police in their efforts to help firearms certificate holders “maintain the excellent record of safety and security in England and Wales”. He added: “Where there is specific intelligence of threat, risk or harm then the police should act.”

The Countryside Alliance has called ACPO’s campaign to target the legitimate shooting community over security concerns “unjustified and ill-judged”. The CA’s director of campaigns, Tim Bonner, said: “This campaign is exactly the sort of knee-jerk reaction to an unrelated problem that the Government had promised to avoid. It is unjustified and ill-judged, and will serve only to waste police resources and alienate a large and law abiding section of the community.

“The public appeal for information about certificate holders through Crimestoppers will encourage malicious complaints and the link made with radicalisation and terrorism is insulting and ridiculous. We have not been made aware of a single recent incident in which a licence holder has misused a firearm in pursuit of an extremist agenda.”

This latest move follows on from the introduction last year of Operation Solitaire, a community engagement project which is, according to the police, “aimed at reducing the vulnerability of those with legitimate access to firearms, to using these weapons illegally.” The operation’s target audience includes people who have “regular interaction with holders of firearms and shotgun certificates”.

Police firearms enquiry officers and neighbourhood officers have visited shooting clubs and registered firearms dealers in recent months to highlight concerns surrounding the potential for terrorists or mass killers to exist within the shooting community.

One gun club member recently wrote in an online forum for armed services personnel that his personal experience of the Operation Solitaire initiative was: “the crappiest attempt by the plod at getting us to grass each other up as lone wolf killers”.

BASC’s advice on home visits:

The BASC is advising members to ensure their security arrangements are up to standard. The association is reminding shooters that the police are required to provide a clear and reasoned explanation to certificate holders at the time of an unannounced visit. Shooters should be left in no doubt as to why the visit is being made. The association has reiterated that the police DO NOT have an automatic statutory right of entry, but BASC recommends a sensible and co-operative approach to this type of situation.

BASC states: “It is possible that the reason for visiting may not be specifically about the certificate holder but may relate to other factors such as local rural or urban crime. There is an expectation of elementary co-operation from certificate holders following a reasonable request to check the security of your firearms.”

If shooters feel that any visit has not been undertaken properly, they should first draw this to the attention of the local force, clearly stating the reasons why they believe this to be the case. BASC has also stated that it will challenge robustly any police force which does not correctly follow the Home Office guidelines.

Follow these links to BASC’s advice to members and BASC’s advice for firearms security

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By: Fred Lucas

This significant golf outing took place at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. The president has been criticized frequently for playing the game amid national and global crises.

On Sunday a second U.S. Ebola diagnosis was reported.

In August, Obama came under fire for golfing shortly after speaking about the beheading of an American journalist by the Islamic State.

In 2008 Obama’s predecessor George W. Bush told Politico the reason why he stopped playing golf five years earlier: “I don’t want some mom whose son may have recently died to see the commander in chief playing golf. I feel I owe it to the families to be in solidarity as best as I can with them. And I think playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal.”

But last year Bush said Obama should not be criticized for playing golf.

Not everyone is as charitable, however.

“The president’s 200th trip to an oasis of fairways comes at a particularly turbulent time,” veteran White House correspondent Keith Koffler wrote on his website White House Dossier.

“The usual problems – an uncertain economy that may or may not be gaining its footing, stagnant wages, low work force participation, Iran on the cusp of a nuclear weapon, and soaring U.S. debt – are all present,” Koffler continued. “But as he strolls about the course today, Obama now also finds himself waging war with merciless (Islamic) terrorists raging across Iraq and Syria like a wildfire, confronting the 21st century version of the Bubonic Plague, and facing the revived threat of a major terrorist attack.”

Even at this rate of golfing (which averages about 33 games a year), Obama won’t break any presidential records for the frequency of his outings.

President Dwight Eisenhower golfed 800 times over his eight years in office, while President Woodrow Wilson golfed 1,600 times in eight years, according to Don Van Natta Jr.’s book on presidential golfing, “First Off the Tee.”

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By Jennifer Abel

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A Wisconsin woman who fell for the “Microsoft scam” last month found a relatively happy ending to her story: the scammer hasn’t been identified or caught, but a police officer with good computer skills was able to undo most of the damage he caused.

The Microsoft scam is simply a brand-specific version of the “tech support scam,” which usually works like this: the scammers contact the victim over the phone, pretending to be tech-support personnel from Microsoft or any other tech company big enough to have a customer-support staff. (If they try using email to reach you, then technically they’re attempting a “phishing” scam rather than a “tech-support” scam. Regardless of the label, the scammers have the same basic goals, and you need to be wary of them all.)

The faux-Microsoft scammers will tell you they’ve discovered a security flaw in your computer’s Microsoft operating system, but they can fix it for you, right now, provided you give them remote access to your computer.

Of course, if you go along with their suggestion, it will end badly for you. The single most important rule to protect yourself from phishing, tech-support and similar scams, is “Don’t call me; I’ll call you.”

Calls from the blue

In other words: if you personally notice a problem with, say, your Microsoft system or Netflix account, and want to contact Microsoft or Netflix to complain about the problem, that’s fine. But if someone claiming to represent Microsoft, Netflix or any other company calls you, out of the blue, offering to fix some problem you never even knew you had — don’t believe it. That’s not a Microsoft staffer or Netflix security expert on the phone; that’s a scammer trying to ensnare you.

Sometimes the scammers are trying to plant various forms of malware on your computer — anything from spy software that monitors your personal computer activity, to zombie software that takes over your computer and uses it to send phishing spam or malware viruses to still more people, usually without you even realizing it.

But last month, an unnamed woman in Madison, Wisconsin fell for a Microsoft scammer who essentially tried holding some of her key files for ransom.

News source Channel3000.com reported this week that a man claiming to be from Microsoft called her and asked for remote access to her laptop. Once he got it, he deleted certain files and demanded she use her credit card to pay him $200 if she wanted them back.

She did not give him her credit card information, and did call Madison police; an officer was eventually able to restore her deleted files.

But the scammer is still out there, and probably still calling potential victims. If anyone claiming to be from Microsoft calls you about a supposed problem, hang up at once, the same way you’d hang up on any so-called tech-support person who expects you to ignore the anti-scam security rule “Don’t call me; I’ll call you.”

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10/01/14

Gov. Jerry Brown agreed with three out of four gun control bills on his desk Tuesday. (Photo: Lenny Ignelzi/Associated Press)

California’s governor vetoed a measure regulating homemade firearms but signed a trio of other anti-gun bills into law Tuesday, including one to implement an expanded series of gun seizure orders for those believed by friends or family to pose a danger to the community.

The three bills that were approved make California the first state to codify the practice of so-called “Gun Violence Restraining Orders,” add more marking requirements to airsoft guns, and place increased regulations on bringing firearms in from other states. However, many are taking as a “win” for gun rights Brown’s veto of one bill, SB808, that would have banned the transfer, and inheritance of home-built firearms as well as required serial numbers to be retroactively applied to these guns, referred to famously as “ghost guns” by state Sen. Kevin de Leon (D), the measure’s sponsor.

“I am returning Senate Bill 808 without my signature,” wrote Brown Tuesday in his short veto letter to the California State Senate. “SB808 would require individuals who build guns at home to first obtain a serial number and register the weapon with the Department of Justice. I appreciate the author’s concerns about gun violence, but I can’t see how adding a serial number to a homemade gun would significantly advance public safety.”

Gun rights groups saw reason to celebrate Tuesday. Brandon Combs, president of California Association of Federal Firearm Licensees (CAL-FFL),  hailed the veto on the homemade gun bill as a “significant victory for common sense.”

“Governor Brown was absolutely right to veto SB808,” Combs said in an emailed statement to Guns.com. “Senator de León’s bill would have created a nightmare for law enforcement and law-abiding gun owners alike.”

The firearms industry, even though it largely did not have a dog in the fight on the controversial legislation, was pleased at its veto because many pre-1968 guns — which were not produced during a mandated period for serial numbers — would have been required to have one if the bill passed.

“We opposed SB 808 because even though it did not pertain to the firearms industry per se, it would have required gun owners to place serial numbers on antique firearms, destroying their value as collectible items,” Larry Keane National Shooting Sports Foundation senior vice president and general counsel told Guns.com Monday.

SB808 would have even placed regulations on 3D printed guns, which many in that industry felt were unneeded. Industry blog 3DPrint.com went so far as to say that, “Every year a staggering ‘0’ people are killed by 3D printed guns,” in their coverage of the bill.

Calling today’s actions by Brown “a bit of a mixed bag,” Combs noted that three other notable gun control measures were signed into law without comment from Brown and will change the state’s laws in a number of ways.

Assembly Bill 1014, the “Gun Restraining Order” bill introduced just days after the Isla Vista killings, will provide a framework for the temporary seizure of guns from an individual at the request of their family or friends. The legislation will allow the seizure for up to 21 days, from an otherwise legal gun owner who is believed to pose a “significant danger.” This initial order could be extended for as long as a year if the situation warrants. California is the first state to implement this sort of far-reaching measure.

Gun control groups championed the measure in the state legislature and were pleased with its passage into law.

“Today, Governor Brown helped to honor the life of my son, Christopher, and so many others killed by senseless gun violence by signing AB 1014 into law,” said Richard Martinez, father of Isla Vista shooting victim Christopher Ross Michaels-Martinez and outreach associate for Everytown for Gun Safety, in a statement emailed to Guns.com. “Nothing we can do will bring back Christopher, but I’m confident this new law will help save lives and prevent other families from experiencing this same kind of tragedy. States around the country should be exploring this life-saving measure.”

However, gun rights groups feel the new law gives perhaps too much leeway and is open to abuse.

“AB 1014 trades our Constitutional right of due process for reactionary legislative sensationalism,” Combs explained. “While the restraining order bill that was signed today is a far cry from the insanity Assemblymember Skinner introduced in May, you can bet that we will be keeping a close eye on how the Gun Violence Restraining Order system is applied by the courts.”

Assembly Bill 1609, also signed by Brown Tuesday, will place restrictions on firearms coming into the state and, according to gun-rights groups, will criminalize common firearm transactions. Beginning in 2015, it would require all guns coming into the state to first be transferred to a Federal Firearms License holder who would perform required background checks and observe state-mandated waiting periods before the gun could then be transferred.

The third bill signed by Brown, Senate Bill 199, legislates increased marking requirements on airsoft guns in the state. Members of the milsim community as well as the National Rifle Association opposed the bill specifically in addition toits stand against the body of legislation as a whole as being a needless requirement in light of federal laws already in place.

De Leon’s office did not reply to emails from Guns.com for comment or statement on his legislation, SB808 and SB199.

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AREK SARKISSIAN – OCT 1, 2014

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Within 15 minutes on Tuesday afternoon, Waldo Police Officer Tim Logan spotted three drivers moving well over the speed limit on U.S. 301.

Indeed, there is a speed problem in Waldo, but the city cannot afford its police department.

On Tuesday night, the Waldo City Council voted in favor of disbanding its department, effective at midnight.

“We’re all going to be unemployed,” Logan said as a silver Mercedes sedan whizzed by his black and white police sport utility vehicle. The equipment in the cruiser showed the luxury car was traveling at 60 mph in a 45-mph zone.

“I don’t like the idea of letting my wife know when I wake up in the morning that I will be out of a job,” Logan said.

The City Council voted 4-1 to disband the department and to allow Waldo’s officers to collect pay until Oct. 31 as city officials determine how to tie up loose ends. There are still plenty of cases — primarily traffic citations — awaiting court dates, and equipment that needs to be inventoried or sold.

Waldo has long carried the notoriety as a speed trap with black-and-white patrol cars working busy stretches of U.S. 301 and State Road 24, but that began to change last month when its last police chief, Mike Szabo, was suspended pending the results of a Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation.

On Aug. 26, five Waldo officers revolted against Szabo and Cpl. Kenneth Smith with a presentation before the City Council that was rife with allegations that included an unlawful ticket quota, deceptive court appearances and unethical evidence storage.

Shortly after the presentation, Waldo City Manager Kim Worley also suspended Smith, with the launch of a second FDLE investigation. Both Szabo and Smith later resigned.

In the absence of a chief, Worley signed a month-long contract with Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell on Sept. 3 to receive the temporary services of her training lieutenant, Steve Maynard, who she temporarily promoted to captain for the assignment.

Last week, Darnell told Worley she would not extend the contract, which apparently left Waldo with little option but to close its police department.

During the Tuesday night meeting, Worley said an audit of the department conducted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement determined that the city would need to drastically update its storage facilities and computer systems to keep up with standards required for criminal investigations.

“The cost is just too high,” Worley said.

Waldo City Councilwoman Carolyn Wade was reluctant to vote in favor of the police department closure, but said she understood it was inevitable. Conversations with State Attorney Bill Cervone led her to believe it was the only decision to save the city from more bad publicity, she said. Wade said Cervone told her that if the city chose to keep the department open, he would bring a case before the Alachua County grand jury, and it would return with a humiliating presentment.

“Too much has gone too far and I don’t think we can recover,” Wade said.

Plenty of residents opposed disbanding the police department and many said they were confused and angry. Kim Andrews, owner of Andrews Knife and Muzzleloading, even offered to chip in a few hundred dollars.

“These guys keep us safe,” Andrews said. “People will die if this department goes away, and the blood will be on all of your hands.”

After the meeting, Waldo Police Officer Brandon Roberts — who led the Aug. 26 presentation that unveiled the unlawful ticket quota — unpinned his badge and smiled. He said he found it funny that the actions of Szabo and Smith led to the loss of his job, but he said what he and four officers did was in the fabric of the oath they swore to as officers.

“It’s what was right,” Roberts said. “A lot of people complain about cops not stepping across the blue line, and this is a prime example, because you have to worry about this kind of stuff.”

Roberts added that the resignations of Szabo and Smith were worth the loss of his own job.

“If I took down two bad ones, it was worth it,” Roberts said.

Police coverage for the City of Waldo now will fall under the supervision of the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office. Sgt. Becky Butscher, a sheriff’s spokeswoman, said her department is working to allocate more deputies to the area.

State Attorney Cervone said Waldo police are not out of the woods in regards to the two FDLE investigations. Both remain active, and Cervone plans to meet with agents later this week.

2014 – Ocala Star-Banner, Fla.

 

‘Real Housewives’ star Joe Giudice heading to prison

  • Teresa Giudice, 41, (L) and her husband Giuseppe “Joe” Giudice, 43, exit the Federal Court in Newark, New Jersey, March 4, 2014. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz (UNITED STATES – Tags: CRIME LAW ENTERTAINMENT) – RTR3G1B9

“The Real Housewives of New Jersey,” Giuseppe “Joe” Giudice is headed to prison for 41 months.

His wife, Teresa Giudice, who is often seen getting into wild screaming matches with her fellow Bravo stars on the series, is still awaiting sentencing in Newark, N.J, in federal court. It was suggested in court that the couple could possibly stagger their sentences in order to care for their four young daughters.

Joe Giudice must pay $414,000 in restitution.

He apologized in federal court in Newark Thursday, saying he disgraced many people.

The Giudices admitted that they hid assets from bankruptcy creditors and submitted phony loan applications to get some $5 million in mortgages and construction loans.

Both Giudices pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and three types of bankruptcy fraud. Joe Giudice, 43, also pleaded guilty to failing to file a tax return for 2004, and acknowledged he didn’t file taxes on income of approximately $1 million between 2004 and 2008.

On their reality show, the Giudices are shown living in a lavish home and frequently spending on extravagant vacations and items for their kids.

Bravo has yet to comment on their reality star’s sentencing.

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By Malia Zimmerman  /   October 1, 2014

Photo by Mel Ah Ching

GO BUST: Hawaii Senate Minority Leader Sam Slom says the state will be in trouble financially by 2016 unless the government cuts spending

 

HONOLULU — Hawaii Senate Minority Leader Sam Slom is warning fellow lawmakers he has serious concerns about the state’s economic future.

Slom, the only Republican in the 25-member Senate, cites the Council on Revenues’ recent downgraded economic forecast indicating Hawaii is in a much worse financial position than anticipated.

“Hawaii is set to go bust in 2016 unless the new governor and the state Legislature make some serious cuts,” Slom said.

The administration and Legislature will be challenged, Slom said, “in dealing with the mess resulting from kicking the can down the road for so many years.”

“The final option to deal with the problem by raising taxes is the least desirable and burdensome for the people because we are already one of the highest taxing states in the nation,” Slom said.

The state Council on Revenues, the appointed body that predicts economic trends in Hawaii from which lawmakers create their budget, lowered its projections for state general fund revenue on Sept. 4 for fiscal year 2014 from -0.4 percent to -1.8 percent, or a loss of $76 million in anticipated general fund revenue.

The Council also lowered its projections for fiscal year 2015 from 5.5 percent to 3.5 percent, or an additional $188 million in anticipated loss of general fund revenue.

This is the fifth consecutive time the council has lowered its projections, said Paul Harleman, the budget director for the Senate Minority Office.

Harleman said the state must absorb a loss of $264 million of anticipated general fund revenue during the state’s two-year budget cycle.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s administration has made some cuts, asking state department to restrict funds by 10 percent.

However, Slom said that will not be enough to of a halt “to stop the freefall” because the $14 million Abercrombie’s move adds up to is just a “drop in the bucket” in the state’s a $6 billion state budget.

“Because the state is not constitutionally permitted to borrow from outside sources for operating expenditures, it is likely the state will tap into the Emergency Budget Reserve Fund and Hurricane Relief Fund,” Slom said. “Those funds are not large, so that will be a small Band Aid for the problem and will not address the problem of overspending for long.”

Kalbert Young, director of the Hawaii’s Office of Budget and Finance, said he agrees the state is “headed into a situation where there is anticipated fiscal year imbalance” because spending is outpacing revenue.

The combination of the state ending balance and formal reserve balances in the Hurricane Relief Fund and the Emergency Budget Reserve Fund dropping below what he set as acceptable target levels, also concerns Young.

“I have been of the opinion that the state should target combination of reserve and ending balance to be no less than 10%,  but also to be of an objective to build formal reserves to be equal to 10% of the general fund budget over time.  Currently, formal reserve levels are projected to be 4.4% of FY15 general fund budget.  The combination of strong ending balances helped to keep Hawaii’s reserve and ending balances at or above the 10% target.  Now, with declining ending balances a possibility in the future and reserve levels at 4%, there is a risk that Hawaii would have inadequate reserve levels during the next economic down-cycle,” Young said.

Young said that unlike Slom, he remains “bullish on the state economy continuing to improve over the next two to three years, translating to increased tax revenue.”

“The challenge is to ensure that expenditure growth over that same period does not outpace revenue growth,” Young said.

 

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