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Offline Surly1

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BIOLOGY WILL BE THE NEXT GREAT COMPUTING PLATFORM
« Reply #3180 on: May 04, 2018, 04:24:29 AM »
Published this in the DDD, but thought it was important enough to warrant a closer look.

BIOLOGY WILL BE THE NEXT GREAT COMPUTING PLATFORM

 

EDWARD CARVALHO-MONAGHAN

In some ways, Synthego looks like any other Silicon Valleystartup. Inside its beige business park facilities, a five-minute drive from Facebook HQ, rows of nondescript black server racks whir and blink and vent. But inside the metal shelving, the company isn’t pushing around ones and zeros to keep the internet running. It’s making molecules to rewrite the code of life.

Crispr, the powerful gene-editing tool, is revolutionizing the speed and scope with which scientists can modify the DNA of organisms, including human cells. So many people want to use it—from academic researchers to agtech companies to biopharma firms—that new companies are popping up to staunch the demand. Companies like Synthego, which is using a combination of software engineering and hardware automation to become the Amazon of genome engineering. And Inscripta, which wants to be the Apple. And Twist Bioscience, which could be the Intel.

All these analogies to the computing industry are more than just wordplay. Crispr is making biology more programmable than ever before. And the biotech execs staking their claims in Crispr’s backend systems have read their Silicon Valley history. They’re betting biology will be the next great computing platform, DNA will be the code that runs it, and Crispr will be the programming language.

Synthego was founded by a pair of fraternal software engineers fresh off a tour working for Elon Musk’s SpaceX.Brothers Paul and Michael Dabrowski aren’t biologists. But in Crispr they saw a unique opportunity to take the principles of agile design they learned building rockets and apply it to making gene editing tools. Their first order of business was using miniaturization and automation to drastically speed up research and product development. They started by packing an airplane hangar’s worth of intelligent instrumentation into machines stacked in those server racks. Each one orchestrates a biochemical ballet, transforming a string of in silico instructions into the company’s first product: a custom Crispr kit.

 

THE WIRED GUIDE TO CRISPR

To order a kit, scientists log on to Synthego’s design portal and pick out one of the roughly 5,000 organisms they might want to edit from Synthego’s genome library—everything from E. coli to Homo sapiens—and the gene they want to knock out. The company’s predictive software then kicks out a couple optimized options for synthetic guide RNAs—the genetic guides that get Crispr’s DNA-cutting proteins where they need to go. After the order is completed, software directs compressors and pumps to push chemical reagents into the rows of instruments, mixing the ­fluids and catalyzing the 100,000 reactions needed to create a single batch of kits. Within a week, a delivery shows up at the lab’s doorstep: everything a lab tech needs to begin manipulating the genome of a lab rat or zebrafish or dish of HeLa cells. They simply add their Crispr protein and start injecting.

“Being able to do that in a parallel way is the novel part,” says Paul Dabrowski, who estimates that Synthego cuts down the time it takes for a scientists to perform gene edits from several months to just one. Those services are in high demand. While coy about exact numbers, Dabrowski said Synthego is putting out hundreds to thousands of kits a day. But they’ll soon be more, and Synthego is ramping up accordingly. They doubled their space last year and this year they’re doubling it again.

But they’re not just adding more rows of server rack-mounted machines. They’re also adding services. Starting later this month scientists will be able to order custom-Crispr’d human cell lines, an important tool for people making potentially life-saving medicines. “We’ve got hundreds of thousands of brilliant PhDs and bench researchers who have to spend up to 50 percent of their time just taking care of these cells,” says Dabrowski. Instead, he wants them to be able to go from designing an experiment to doing it in just a few clicks.

This is all well and good for academic researchers using Crispr for basic science. But for companies that want to use Synthego’s tools to speed up product development, they still have to pay steep licensing fees to the Crispr companies who own the foundational Crispr/Cas9 IP—the patents of which remain in legal limbo. According to Inscripta CEO Kevin Ness, that technology bottleneck is creating financial barriers to innovation. Which is why his company’s first move was to release a different gene-editing enzyme called MAD7—you can think of it like a Crispr/Cas9 knockoff, but legal—free for R&D uses. Inscripta will charge a single-digit royalty, far below market standards, to use MAD7 in manufacturing products or therapeutics.

Right now it’s the company’s only revenue stream—well, let’s call it a trickle. But Ness has his reasons. “It’s not a trick or a ploy. We’re trying to get more people into the game now, by democratizing access to this family of enzymes,” he says. It’s a page from the Steve Jobs playbook; get them hooked on the MADzyme platform, down the line sell them personal hardware. Inscripta is working on a benchtop instrument where you design your gene editor and it kicks out your constructs on the spot. “We’re trying to build the tools to standardize the process of reading, writing, and testing genomes in living cells so that you don’t have to be a wizard to get it to work,” says Ness. “Everybody can push a button.”

If Inscripta is working on a biological equivalent of the personal computer, Twist Bioscience is working a level down, where the processors are. The San Francisco-based startup manufactures custom strands of synthetic DNA on semiconductor chips, to crank out the As, Ts, Cs, and Gs that are the building blocks of biology. From the Crispr guides Twist produces on a single chip, researchers can make up to a million edits. Just as the exponential miniaturization of silicon wafers propelled the computing industry forward, so too will the massive parallelization of gene editing push the boundaries of biology into the future.

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline Surly1

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“Freak” dust storms in northern India kill at least 100 people
« Reply #3181 on: May 05, 2018, 05:39:10 AM »
“Freak” dust storms in northern India kill at least 100 people – “Dust storms are usually not this intense nor do these systems cover such a large area”

 

By Michael Safi
3 May 2018

DELHI (The Guardian) – Severe dust storms across northern India have killed more than 100 people, destroyed homes and left hundreds without electricity.

Billowing clouds of thick dust and sand frequently blow across the region during the dry season, but the death toll from this week’s storms has been unusually high.

At least 64 people have died in Uttar Pradesh state, most of them in Agra district where the Taj Mahal is located. Another 35 are confirmed to have died in Rajasthan and two each in Uttarakhand and Madhya Pradesh. The death toll in all four states could still rise.

The destruction has extended to Punjab and Haryana, where trees were uprooted and power supplies cut by the squall. Less intense storms in Delhi caused traffic jams and flight diversions.

At least 160 animals also died in the storms, according to officials in Uttar Pradesh.

The dust clouds were trailed by thunder and lightning storms, heavy rain and strong winds that were expected to last another 24 hours at least.

Most of the deaths occurred when houses people were sleeping in collapsed overnight, disaster management officials said. Falling pylons and trees also contributed to the death toll.

The dust storms are created by a rapid ascent of warm air, which creates a vacuum that air closer to the ground rushes to fill, taking sand and dust with it.

A woman walks with her face covered on Wednesday, 2 May 2018 to avoid a dust storm in New Delhi, located between Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. Northern India has been hit by powerful storms that have led to fatalities and damage to houses. Photo: Rajat Gupta / EPA-EFE

Meteorologists said abnormally high temperatures in past weeks had contributed to the disaster. “It can be called a freak accident,” Mahesh Palawat, a meteorologist at the private forecaster Skymet Weather told the Hindustan Times.

“Dust storms are usually not this intense nor do these systems cover such a large area.” [more]

'Freak' dust storms in northern India kill at least 100 people

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

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BETSY DEVOS LOST MORE ON THERANOS THAN THE AVERAGE AMERICAN WILL MAKE IN 100 LIFETIMES
DeVos, Carlos Slim, and Rupert Murdoch are among those who poured millions into Elizabeth Holmes’s pipe dream.

By T.J. Kirkpatrick/Redux.

In hindsight, it’s easy to see why a who’s who of business, government, and finance scions were duped by Elizabeth Holmes. Not only did the Theranos founder and college dropout, who briefly held the title of the world’s youngest self-made female billionaire, embody the romantic ideal of Silicon Valley, but her company promised something equally revolutionary: a way to benefit the world, with almost no conceivable downside. “Over the entry to one of [our] buildings was a sign that read, ‘Success is not the result of spontaneous combustion—you must set yourself on fire,’” Holmes said in a 2015 commencement speech, describing her motivating philosophy. And her passion was catching: investors poured $1.4 billion into Theranos, never suspecting that a humiliating series of damning headlines, federal investigations, and failed pivots would eventually drive the company into the ground.

Now that Holmes has settled with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which accused her of “massive fraud” for raising more than $700 million in a years-long scheme “in which they exaggerated or made false statements about the company’s technology, business, and financial performance,” said cream of the crop is S.O.L.—and thanks to documents unsealed in an ongoing lawsuit against the company and obtained by The Wall Street Journal, we now exactly how much each sunk into the failed venture. Perhaps the most notable individual on the list is Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, whose family invested $100 million—literally 100 times the lifetime earnings of the average American—in Theranos between 2013 and 2015. (DeVos had previously disclosed that she was a Theranos investor, though the size of her investment was not known.) Others include:

 
  • The family of Walmart founder Sam Walton, who invested $150 million in the company;

  • Mexican newspaper investor Carlos Slim, who invested $30 million;

  • Greek shipping heir Andreas Dracopoulos, who went in for $25 million;

  • Members of South Africa’s Oppenheimer family, who put up $20 million;

  • Atlanta’s billionaire Cox family, which invested $100 million;

  • Riley Bechtel, former chairman of construction company Bechtel Corp., who invested $6.2 million;

  • and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, whose frugal investment of $1 million seems, in retrospect, uncannily wise.

Rupert Murdoch, who sunk $125 million into Theranos, was the company’s largest individual investor, though his name did not appear in the documents, as he sold back his shares for $1 in early 2017, people familiar with the matter told the Journal.Greg McNeilly, the chief operating officer of Windquest Group, DeVos and her husband’s family holding company, told the Journal that “the investment was made by many members of the DeVos family . . . to say they’re highly disappointed in Theranos as a company and an investment is an understatement.” We can only assume that others feel similarly; in all, Holmes’s failed experiment cost investors more than $600 million.

 

The S.E.C. settlement may bring them some small consolation: as part of the settlement agreement, under which neither Holmes nor Theranos is required to admit wrongdoing, Holmes will surrender voting control of Theranos and comply with a 10-year ban from serving as director or officer of a public company. She also agreed to return 18.9 million shares of stock and pay a $500,000 penalty. Even if Theranos is somehow acquired by a third party, Holmes won’t profit from the sale “until . . . over $750 million is returned to defrauded investors and other preferred shareholders.” (In response to the settlement, Theranos said in a statement that it was “pleased to be bringing this matter to a close and looks forward to advancing its technology.”) Holmes warned shareholders in an e-mail last month that Theranos would soon be liquidated, possibly by August.

 
MAYA KOSOFFMaya Kosoff writes about tech for VF.com.
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline Surly1

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Franklin Graham: Trump’s Affair with Stormy Daniels is “Nobody’s Business”

Franklin Graham: Trump’s Affair with Stormy Daniels is “Nobody’s Business”

Image result for franklin graham angry

 

Want more evidence of white evangelical Christian hypocrisy?

Evangelist Franklin Graham, who questioned President Obama‘s Christianity and said his agenda was “against Christ and against His teachings,” takes a completely different approach when it comes to Donald Trump.

Graham said in an interview with the Associated Press that the whole Stormy Danielsscandal was “nobody’s business.” Sure, Trump’s lawyer may have paid hush money to the adult film actress to cover up how he was cheating on his third wife shortly after the birth of his fifth child… but relax, everyone. God put him in office for reasons.

So Trump’s adultery is no one’s business even though it violates biblical morals… but Graham has no problem at all butting into the business of two men in a loving relationship wanting to get married or a single woman trying to obtain an abortion.

Remember: He challenged Obama’s faith because he was born to a Muslim father… but Trump’s adultery, which happened 12 years ago, is too old to matter?

Image result for franklin graham clutching pearlsAre there any morals that Graham and other white evangelicals think matter more than having an “R” after your name? Or is being a Republican an automatic pass on the things that make evangelicals act holier-than-thou?

And not all of Trump’s corruption is in the past! The whole reason his administration is mired in scandal is because of decisions he made (allegedly) during and after his campaign. The policies he’s pushing now are hurting the poor, breaking up families, and harming the very planet we live on.

Not that Graham will say anything about that, because he doesn’t give two shits about what Jesus said when it comes to politics. He just likes the access and power and the hope that Trump will continue appointing right-wing judges who might fulfill his wildest fantasies of making life a living hell for women and LGBTQ people.

Never trust anything an evangelical says about Jesus if they also tell you Franklin Graham is admirable.

***Update***: Thanks to everyone who pointed out this article Graham wrote for The Wall Street Journal in 1998, in which he said of President Bill Clinton:

If he will lie to or mislead his wife and daughter, those with whom he is most intimate, what will prevent him from doing the same to the American public?

Private conduct does have public consequences.

Isn’t that interesting…?

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline Eddie

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Franklin Graham: Trump’s Affair with Stormy Daniels is “Nobody’s Business”

Franklin Graham: Trump’s Affair with Stormy Daniels is “Nobody’s Business”

Image result for franklin graham angry

Want more evidence of white evangelical Christian hypocrisy?

Evangelist Franklin Graham, who questioned President Obama‘s Christianity and said his agenda was “against Christ and against His teachings,” takes a completely different approach when it comes to Donald Trump.

Graham said in an interview with the Associated Press that the whole Stormy Danielsscandal was “nobody’s business.” Sure, Trump’s lawyer may have paid hush money to the adult film actress to cover up how he was cheating on his third wife shortly after the birth of his fifth child… but relax, everyone. God put him in office for reasons.

So Trump’s adultery is no one’s business even though it violates biblical morals… but Graham has no problem at all butting into the business of two men in a loving relationship wanting to get married or a single woman trying to obtain an abortion.

Remember: He challenged Obama’s faith because he was born to a Muslim father… but Trump’s adultery, which happened 12 years ago, is too old to matter?

Image result for franklin graham clutching pearlsAre there any morals that Graham and other white evangelicals think matter more than having an “R” after your name? Or is being a Republican an automatic pass on the things that make evangelicals act holier-than-thou?

And not all of Trump’s corruption is in the past! The whole reason his administration is mired in scandal is because of decisions he made (allegedly) during and after his campaign. The policies he’s pushing now are hurting the poor, breaking up families, and harming the very planet we live on.

Not that Graham will say anything about that, because he doesn’t give two shits about what Jesus said when it comes to politics. He just likes the access and power and the hope that Trump will continue appointing right-wing judges who might fulfill his wildest fantasies of making life a living hell for women and LGBTQ people.

Never trust anything an evangelical says about Jesus if they also tell you Franklin Graham is admirable.

***Update***: Thanks to everyone who pointed out this article Graham wrote for The Wall Street Journal in 1998, in which he said of President Bill Clinton:

If he will lie to or mislead his wife and daughter, those with whom he is most intimate, what will prevent him from doing the same to the American public?

Private conduct does have public consequences.

Isn’t that interesting…?


Yeah, God put Trump in office...because he's ready to chuck this planet and start over with a clean slate in some alternative universe, maybe.

Franklin Graham....what a son-of-a-false-prophet he is, not even the real thing, just a watered-down copy. The elites may still be accumulating more money, but they seem to have a problem with their DNA.
What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.

Offline Eddie

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BETSY DEVOS LOST MORE ON THERANOS THAN THE AVERAGE AMERICAN WILL MAKE IN 100 LIFETIMES
DeVos, Carlos Slim, and Rupert Murdoch are among those who poured millions into Elizabeth Holmes’s pipe dream.


I can't get a good schadenfreude going when I know it's less than 2% of their net worth. Frankly, they'll never miss it, and it'll be quickly replaced by money they get from new conduit schemes via the Trump connection.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2018, 12:28:43 PM by Surly1 »
What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.

Offline Surly1

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BETSY DEVOS LOST MORE ON THERANOS THAN THE AVERAGE AMERICAN WILL MAKE IN 100 LIFETIMES
DeVos, Carlos Slim, and Rupert Murdoch are among those who poured millions into Elizabeth Holmes’s pipe dream.

I can't get a good schadenfreude going when I know it's less than 2% of their net worth. Frankly, they'll never miss it, and it'll be quickly replaced by money they get from new conduit schemes via the Trump connection.

Well said. It will all be sopped up by creative tax accounting.
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline Surly1

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Surlyzone 5/6
« Reply #3187 on: May 06, 2018, 12:47:59 PM »
An afternoon paper.

The SurlyZone

A collection of articles and notes of interest to one particular cynical observer.

 

  • Sunday, May. 06, 2018
  • Next update in a day
  • Archives

 

As the ‘King of Debt,’ Trump borrowed to build his empire. Then he began spending hundreds of millions in cash.

 

[url=http://www.washingtonpost.com]www.washingtonpost.com[/url] - Less than a month before he became the Republican nominee for president in 2016, Donald Trump celebrated the grand reopening of Trump International Golf Links in Aberdeen, Scotland. (Matthew Lloyd/Bl…


How Michael Cohen, Trump’s Fixer, Built a Shadowy Business Empire

 

[url=http://www.nytimes.com]www.nytimes.com[/url] - Mr. Cohen borrowed from a half-dozen banks and credit unions to buy taxi medallions. Then he used the medallions as collateral to borrow more money to buy more medallions, former colleagues said. He …


EPA clamps down on document requests linked to Pruitt

 

[url=http://www.politico.com]www.politico.com[/url] - Top aides to Scott Pruitt at the EPA are screening public records requests related to the embattled administrator, slowing the flow of information released under the Freedom of Information Act — at t…


Opinion | Battling Donald Trump With His Dying Breaths

 

[url=http://www.nytimes.com]www.nytimes.com[/url] - Trump invites pity for all the slights he suffers plus plenty that he only imagines, and he readily boasts about achievements actual and hallucinated. “I don’t have a complaint,” McCain says in his b…


Giuliani returned to Fox News for 8 minutes. It was a disaster again.

CREDIT: Screenshot/Fox News
 

thinkprogress.org - Newly minted Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani went on Hannity last Wednesday and created major problems for his client. He returned to Fox News and on Thursday morning and made things even worse. On Frid…


MSNBC panel dissolves in laughter -- and then destroys Giuliani's 'buffoonish' ABC interview

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline Surly1

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CALL CONGRESS’S “BLUE LIVES MATTER” BILLS WHAT THEY ARE: ANOTHER ATTACK ON BLACK LIVES

ON WEDNESDAY, THE House of Representatives passed the Protect and Serve Act of 2018 by a vote of 382 to 35. The act — a congressional “Blue Lives Matter” bill — would make it a federal crime to assault a police officer. The Senate version of the bill, which also has broad bipartisan support, goes even further, framing an attack on an officer as a federal hate crime.

The bills exemplify the very worst sort of legislation: at once unnecessary and pernicious.

The bills exemplify the very worst sort of legislation: at once unnecessary and pernicious.

The Protect and Serve Act would allow anyone who knowingly causes serious bodily injury to a law enforcement officer to be imprisoned up to 10 years. And it creates even harsher penalties for other criminal acts against police: If a police officer were kidnapped, killed, or faced a threat on their life, then the perpetrator could get a much longer sentence, including potentially life in prison.

The nickname of the bill itself speaks volumes. Blue Lives Matter bills — which have been passed at the state level in Kentucky and Louisiana — are always superfluous from a criminal justice standpoint. In our justice system, “blue lives” are already considered to matter the most — which is why police appropriation of the call for black lives to matter is so sickening. But these bills being unnecessary does not make them pointless. The point is clear, especially with regards to the adoption of hate crime statute frameworks: to reinforce the myth of the police as vulnerable and embattled — the very grounds on which police officers consistently justify the use of lethal force against black life.

“Rather than focusing on policies that address issues of police excessive force, biased policing, and other police practices that have failed these communities, the Protect and Serve Act’s aim is to further criminalize,” wrote a group of civil and human rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights Watch, and the NAACP, in a statement to Congress opposing the measures.

A number of commentators have stressed the superfluousness of making police attacks a federal crime. There’s not state in the country that doesn’t already treat assaulting or killing an officer with the heaviest of penalties. With the laws that are already on the books at the state level, it’s a already a safe assumption today that any convicted cop killer will be sentenced to life without parole.

 

The police themselves recently made this point in the case of Black Panther Herman Bell. When Bell got parole after serving 44 years for killing two cops, New York’s powerful police union reacted with fury: “If Herman Bell was convicted today of the very same crime, he would have been sentenced to life in prison without parole, which was not an option in the 1970s,” a spokesperson from the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association told me earlier this year, in response to the parole decision. There’s no lack of punishment for crimes against police.

BOTH THE HOUSE and Senate bills are predicated on the notion that police are increasingly under threat. Policing does not even rank in the 10 most dangerous jobs, according to a 2015 Bureau of Labor Statistics report. Fishers, farmers, and, above all, loggers are more likely to die on the job. And police are, according to the same statistics, more likely to kill themselves than be killed by a criminal. The Senate bill notes that, in 2016, “ambush killings of police officers hit a 10-year high, with 21 such deaths.” This narrative of growing danger, however, falls apart when one notes that just a year later, in 2017, the number dropped to eight officers killed in 2017.

The notion of police as victims is becoming entrenched in policy in other ways, too. The same ideological commitment to police-as-persecuted underpins FBI efforts to frame Black Lives Matter activists as potential “black identity extremists” — a designation, conjured from thin air, that claims anti-racist activism is breeding a terroristic targeting of cops. The FBI’s tactics against Black Lives Matter activists has veered on occasion into physical surveillance.

The police uniform is accorded unique authority, impunity, and power. Black skin is marked with the opposite.

By explicitly modeling their bill on existing hate crimes statutes, the Senate has denigrated the very notion of persecution. Treating cops as a persecuted minority equates a uniform — which you can take off — with skin color, religion, gender or sexual orientation. And as the Blue Lives Matter bills’ sobriquet suggests, this legislation is a direct a response to anger over the actual — if not quite legally defined — hate crimes against black people, perpetrated by those in blue. The police uniform is accorded unique authority, impunity, and power. Black skin is marked with the opposite. With this act, a vast majority of Washington lawmakers have affirmed a willingness to hold black life in America in even lower standing.

Top photo: A police officer at the NYPD 71st Precinct looks on during a protest of the police-involved shooting death of Saheed Vassell in Brooklyn on April 5, 2018.

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

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DONALD TRUMP WILL NOT REST UNTIL AMAZON IS A SMOLDERING PILE OF RADIOACTIVE ASH

DONALD TRUMP WILL NOT REST UNTIL AMAZON IS A SMOLDERING PILE OF RADIOACTIVE ASHThe president reportedly tried to gouge Jeff Bezos for billions.

 
By Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.
 

As you’ve probably heard, Donald Trump’s feelings toward Internet-retail giant Amazon are roughly on par with his feelings toward stairs, and exercise, and steaks with even the slightest bit of pink in the center. Which is to say: he hates Jeff Bezos’s company, and its bevested owner, too—“He’s obsessed with Bezos,” a source told my colleague Gabriel Sherman. “Trump is like, how can I fuck with him?” And, clearly, the president has done little to hide his feelings about Amazon. “Unlike others, they pay little or no taxes to state & local governments, use our Postal System as their Delivery Boy (causing tremendous loss to the U.S.), and are putting many thousands of retailers out of business!” he tweeted in March, referring to the company. Then, presumably after catching wind of the many, many reports noting that, out here in reality, the post office makes a ton of money from Amazon, he insisted to his followers, “Only fools, or worse, are saying that our money losing Post Office makes money with Amazon. THEY LOSE A FORTUNE, and this will be changed. Also, our fully tax paying retailers are closing stores all over the country . . . not a level playing field!” Because that’s how this president operates: in his own fact-free world, where even a cadre of advisers holding his hand and “explain[ing] to him in multiple meetings that his perception is inaccurate” can’t change his mind. And while it’s one thing to spout lies and delusions all over social media and during campaign rallies, it’s quite another to try to turn those lies and delusions into weapons against his enemies, which—surprise!—was exactly what he attempted to do.

According to The Washington Post, Trump “has personally pushed U.S. Postmaster General Megan Brennan to double the rate the Postal Service charges Amazon.com,” as well as several other firms, to ship packages, a move that would likely cost the companies billions. Per reporters Damian Paletta and Josh Dawsey, Brennan and Trump have met about the matter several times, beginning in 2017 and as recently as four months ago, although the meetings, conveniently, have never appeared on the president’s public schedule. Thus far Brennan, a 32-year veteran of the Postal Service, has resisted Trump’s demand, reportedly telling him “in multiple conversations occurring this year and last that these arrangements are bound by contracts and must be reviewed by a regulatory commission.” Like former National Economic Council director Gary Cohn, Brennan has tried to get it through Trump’s head that the Postal Service actually benefits from its relationship with Amazon. On one occasion, clearly knowing her audience, she apparently busted out “a set of slides that showed the variety of companies, in addition to Amazon, that also partner for deliveries.”

Obviously, the most disturbing aspect of this story is not that Trump is incapable of absorbing pretty basic facts that have been explained to him on numerous occasions, but that he’s reportedly trying to use the power of the presidency to hurt Amazon because its owner’s newspaper was mean to him.

Trump . . . has accused the Post as being Amazon’s “chief lobbyist” as well as a tax shelter—false charges. He says Amazon uses these advantages to push bricks-and-mortar companies out of business. Some administration officials say several of Trump’s attacks aimed at Amazon have come in response to articles in the Post that he didn’t like.

In a statement to CNBC, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, “We are doing a total look at how the post office is operating. But [we] don’t have anything specific for you on that.”

 

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"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

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DONALD TRUMP WILL NOT REST UNTIL AMAZON IS A SMOLDERING PILE OF RADIOACTIVE ASH

DONALD TRUMP WILL NOT REST UNTIL AMAZON IS A SMOLDERING PILE OF RADIOACTIVE ASHThe president reportedly tried to gouge Jeff Bezos for billions.

By Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

As you’ve probably heard, Donald Trump’s feelings toward Internet-retail giant Amazon are roughly on par with his feelings toward stairs, and exercise, and steaks with even the slightest bit of pink in the center. Which is to say: he hates Jeff Bezos’s company, and its bevested owner, too—“He’s obsessed with Bezos,” a source told my colleague Gabriel Sherman. “Trump is like, how can I fuck with him?” And, clearly, the president has done little to hide his feelings about Amazon. “Unlike others, they pay little or no taxes to state & local governments, use our Postal System as their Delivery Boy (causing tremendous loss to the U.S.), and are putting many thousands of retailers out of business!” he tweeted in March, referring to the company. Then, presumably after catching wind of the many, many reports noting that, out here in reality, the post office makes a ton of money from Amazon, he insisted to his followers, “Only fools, or worse, are saying that our money losing Post Office makes money with Amazon. THEY LOSE A FORTUNE, and this will be changed. Also, our fully tax paying retailers are closing stores all over the country . . . not a level playing field!” Because that’s how this president operates: in his own fact-free world, where even a cadre of advisers holding his hand and “explain[ing] to him in multiple meetings that his perception is inaccurate” can’t change his mind. And while it’s one thing to spout lies and delusions all over social media and during campaign rallies, it’s quite another to try to turn those lies and delusions into weapons against his enemies, which—surprise!—was exactly what he attempted to do.

According to The Washington Post, Trump “has personally pushed U.S. Postmaster General Megan Brennan to double the rate the Postal Service charges Amazon.com,” as well as several other firms, to ship packages, a move that would likely cost the companies billions. Per reporters Damian Paletta and Josh Dawsey, Brennan and Trump have met about the matter several times, beginning in 2017 and as recently as four months ago, although the meetings, conveniently, have never appeared on the president’s public schedule. Thus far Brennan, a 32-year veteran of the Postal Service, has resisted Trump’s demand, reportedly telling him “in multiple conversations occurring this year and last that these arrangements are bound by contracts and must be reviewed by a regulatory commission.” Like former National Economic Council director Gary Cohn, Brennan has tried to get it through Trump’s head that the Postal Service actually benefits from its relationship with Amazon. On one occasion, clearly knowing her audience, she apparently busted out “a set of slides that showed the variety of companies, in addition to Amazon, that also partner for deliveries.”

Obviously, the most disturbing aspect of this story is not that Trump is incapable of absorbing pretty basic facts that have been explained to him on numerous occasions, but that he’s reportedly trying to use the power of the presidency to hurt Amazon because its owner’s newspaper was mean to him.

Trump . . . has accused the Post as being Amazon’s “chief lobbyist” as well as a tax shelter—false charges. He says Amazon uses these advantages to push bricks-and-mortar companies out of business. Some administration officials say several of Trump’s attacks aimed at Amazon have come in response to articles in the Post that he didn’t like.

In a statement to CNBC, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, “We are doing a total look at how the post office is operating. But [we] don’t have anything specific for you on that.”

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In a country ruled by who has the most money, Trump is bound to lose this one. I look for Bezos to be around after The Donald is just bad memories and irreversible damage in the rearview mirror.

I have my own worries about what Amazon has done to retail, although when I look at what he's done to Walmart, I still taste a bit of schadenfreude. But I don't like the idea of Amazon being the last man standing, no matter how convenient or cheap it is for consumers.

But Trump hates Amazon for the wrong reasons. He hates it because he hates Bezos owning the Post and publishing the Daily Anti-Trump.
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CALL CONGRESS’S “BLUE LIVES MATTER” BILLS WHAT THEY ARE: ANOTHER ATTACK ON BLACK LIVES

ON WEDNESDAY, THE House of Representatives passed the Protect and Serve Act of 2018 by a vote of 382 to 35. The act — a congressional “Blue Lives Matter” bill — would make it a federal crime to assault a police officer. The Senate version of the bill, which also has broad bipartisan support, goes even further, framing an attack on an officer as a federal hate crime.

The bills exemplify the very worst sort of legislation: at once unnecessary and pernicious.

The bills exemplify the very worst sort of legislation: at once unnecessary and pernicious.

The Protect and Serve Act would allow anyone who knowingly causes serious bodily injury to a law enforcement officer to be imprisoned up to 10 years. And it creates even harsher penalties for other criminal acts against police: If a police officer were kidnapped, killed, or faced a threat on their life, then the perpetrator could get a much longer sentence, including potentially life in prison.

The nickname of the bill itself speaks volumes. Blue Lives Matter bills — which have been passed at the state level in Kentucky and Louisiana — are always superfluous from a criminal justice standpoint. In our justice system, “blue lives” are already considered to matter the most — which is why police appropriation of the call for black lives to matter is so sickening. But these bills being unnecessary does not make them pointless. The point is clear, especially with regards to the adoption of hate crime statute frameworks: to reinforce the myth of the police as vulnerable and embattled — the very grounds on which police officers consistently justify the use of lethal force against black life.

“Rather than focusing on policies that address issues of police excessive force, biased policing, and other police practices that have failed these communities, the Protect and Serve Act’s aim is to further criminalize,” wrote a group of civil and human rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights Watch, and the NAACP, in a statement to Congress opposing the measures.

A number of commentators have stressed the superfluousness of making police attacks a federal crime. There’s not state in the country that doesn’t already treat assaulting or killing an officer with the heaviest of penalties. With the laws that are already on the books at the state level, it’s a already a safe assumption today that any convicted cop killer will be sentenced to life without parole.

The police themselves recently made this point in the case of Black Panther Herman Bell. When Bell got parole after serving 44 years for killing two cops, New York’s powerful police union reacted with fury: “If Herman Bell was convicted today of the very same crime, he would have been sentenced to life in prison without parole, which was not an option in the 1970s,” a spokesperson from the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association told me earlier this year, in response to the parole decision. There’s no lack of punishment for crimes against police.

BOTH THE HOUSE and Senate bills are predicated on the notion that police are increasingly under threat. Policing does not even rank in the 10 most dangerous jobs, according to a 2015 Bureau of Labor Statistics report. Fishers, farmers, and, above all, loggers are more likely to die on the job. And police are, according to the same statistics, more likely to kill themselves than be killed by a criminal. The Senate bill notes that, in 2016, “ambush killings of police officers hit a 10-year high, with 21 such deaths.” This narrative of growing danger, however, falls apart when one notes that just a year later, in 2017, the number dropped to eight officers killed in 2017.

The notion of police as victims is becoming entrenched in policy in other ways, too. The same ideological commitment to police-as-persecuted underpins FBI efforts to frame Black Lives Matter activists as potential “black identity extremists” — a designation, conjured from thin air, that claims anti-racist activism is breeding a terroristic targeting of cops. The FBI’s tactics against Black Lives Matter activists has veered on occasion into physical surveillance.

The police uniform is accorded unique authority, impunity, and power. Black skin is marked with the opposite.

By explicitly modeling their bill on existing hate crimes statutes, the Senate has denigrated the very notion of persecution. Treating cops as a persecuted minority equates a uniform — which you can take off — with skin color, religion, gender or sexual orientation. And as the Blue Lives Matter bills’ sobriquet suggests, this legislation is a direct a response to anger over the actual — if not quite legally defined — hate crimes against black people, perpetrated by those in blue. The police uniform is accorded unique authority, impunity, and power. Black skin is marked with the opposite. With this act, a vast majority of Washington lawmakers have affirmed a willingness to hold black life in America in even lower standing.

Top photo: A police officer at the NYPD 71st Precinct looks on during a protest of the police-involved shooting death of Saheed Vassell in Brooklyn on April 5, 2018.


It comes down to politics, as usual. It has nothing to do with any kind of reality. It is, as usual, all about the appearances.

There is no political consensus to protect the rights of poor people who live in urban ghettos. There is a political consensus to protect cops, because without cops, it really WILL be the Wild Wild West.

The Blue Lives Matter crap bills are GREAT for a politician to vote for. Politically expedient, because da churchy white folks be scared.

Black votes are only important in close Presidential races, because those are won on the margins.

People who go off and shoot a cop are not at all rational human beings. Making the penalties for doing it harsher than they already are is futile. It's like making all school shootings an automatic death penalty case.  So what, when the perps are all suicidal maniacs anyway.

It'd be amusing, if it weren't so incredibly stupid and pathetic.
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CALL CONGRESS’S “BLUE LIVES MATTER” BILLS WHAT THEY ARE: ANOTHER ATTACK ON BLACK LIVES

//

The Blue Lives Matter crap bills are GREAT for a politician to vote for. Politically expedient, because da churchy white folks be scared.

Black votes are only important in close Presidential races, because those are won on the margins.

People who go off and shoot a cop are not at all rational human beings. Making the penalties for doing it harsher than they already are is futile. It's like making all school shootings an automatic death penalty case.  So what, when the perps are all suicidal maniacs anyway.

It'd be amusing, if it weren't so incredibly stupid and pathetic.

Troof.

Laws don't stop crime. It would be nice if they did, but that's not the law's function. Laws give society legal recourse when its members engage in anti-social actions. If you didn't have law against murder, you couldn't do anything (legally) about it when murders happen.

We heat the shooter did not legally possess the guns he used. This is true. But that doesn't mean laws don't work.

The question is: HOW did the shooter get those guns?

Somebody has to be legally responsible for those weapons. If the shooter got his weapons from his father as rumored, then the FATHER should be legally responsible for failure to properly secure the guns. But that only works if there are ENFORCEABLE laws in place regarding storage and access in the home. If that law doesn't exist, it should. I'd be all for obliging gun owners to insure their weapons.

Laws enable us to prosecute murderers, and do perhaps change attitudes over time-- but they prevent nothing.
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

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DONALD TRUMP WILL NOT REST UNTIL AMAZON IS A SMOLDERING PILE OF RADIOACTIVE ASH

<h1 class="hed" data-reactid="174">DONALD TRUMP WILL NOT REST UNTIL AMAZON IS A SMOLDERING PILE OF RADIOACTIVE ASH</
<div class="dek" data-reactid="175"><span data-reactid="176">The president reportedly tried to gouge Jeff Bezos for billions.</span></div>
<div id="cns_ads_1526737499333L1kqG9eX4kSdws7wSoszfu6BmU8TPC_native_slug_0_stage" class="cns-ads-stage cns-ads-slot-type-native-
</div>
</div>
<div class="text-items" data-reactid="187">
<div class="component-byline byline" data-reactid="188">
<div class="contributors" data-reactid="189"><label class="contributors__label" data-reactid="190">BY </label><a class="author contributor__author-link" href="https://www.vanityfair.com/contributor/bess-levin" target="" rel="author" data-reactid="193">BESS LEVIN[/url]</div>
</div>

</div>
</div>
<div class="credits" data-reactid="224">By Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.</div>
<div class="credits" data-reactid="224"> </div>
<div class="content paywall drop-cap" data-reactid="226">
<p data-reactid="227">As you’ve probably heard, <strong>Donald Trump’s</strong> feelings toward Internet-retail giant Amazon are roughly on par with his feelings toward stairs, and exercise, and steaks with even the slightest bit of pink in the center. Which is to say: he hates <strong>Jeff Bezos’s</strong> company, and its bevested owner, too—“He’s obsessed with Bezos,” a source told my colleague <strong>Gabriel Sherman.</strong> “Trump is like, how can I fuck with him?” And, clearly, the president has done little to hide his feelings about Amazon. “Unlike others, they pay little or no taxes to state & local governments, use our Postal System as their Delivery Boy (causing tremendous loss to the U.S.), and are putting many thousands of retailers out of business!” he tweeted in March, referring to the company. Then, presumably after catching wind of the many, many reports noting that, out here in reality, the post office makes a ton of money from Amazon, he insisted to his followers, “Only fools, or worse, are saying that our money losing Post Office makes money with Amazon. THEY LOSE A FORTUNE, and this will be changed. Also, our fully tax paying retailers are closing stores all over the country . . . not a level playing field!” Because that’s how this president operates: in his own fact-free world, where even a cadre of advisers holding his hand and “explain[ing] to him in multiple meetings that his perception is inaccurate” can’t change his mind. And while it’s one thing to spout lies and delusions all over social media and during campaign rallies, it’s quite another to try to turn those lies and delusions into weapons against his enemies, which—surprise!—was exactly what he attempted to do.</p>
<p data-reactid="231">According to The Washington Post, Trump “has personally pushed U.S. Postmaster General <strong>Megan Brennan</strong> to double the rate the Postal Service charges <a class="skimlinks-unlinked" title="" href="https://amazon.com/" data-skimwords-word="Amazon.com" data-skim-creative="500005">Amazon.com[/url],” as well as several other firms, to ship packages, a move that would likely cost the companies billions. Per reporters <strong>Damian Paletta</strong> and <strong>Josh Dawsey,</strong> Brennan and Trump have met about the matter several times, beginning in 2017 and as recently as four months ago, although the meetings, conveniently, have never appeared on the president’s public schedule. Thus far Brennan, a 32-year veteran of the Postal Service, has resisted Trump’s demand, reportedly telling him “in multiple conversations occurring this year and last that these arrangements are bound by contracts and must be reviewed by a regulatory commission.” Like former National Economic Council director <strong>Gary Cohn,</strong> Brennan has tried to get it through Trump’s head that the Postal Service actually benefits from its relationship with Amazon. On one occasion, clearly knowing her audience, she apparently busted out “a set of slides that showed the variety of companies, in addition to Amazon, that also partner for deliveries.”</p>
<p data-reactid="235">Obviously, the most disturbing aspect of this story is not that Trump is incapable of absorbing pretty basic facts that have been explained to him on numerous occasions, but that he’s reportedly trying to use the power of the presidency to hurt Amazon because its owner’s newspaper was mean to him.</p>
<div data-reactid="236">

<p>Trump . . . has accused the Post as being Amazon’s “chief lobbyist” as well as a tax shelter—false charges. He says Amazon uses these advantages to push bricks-and-mortar companies out of business. Some administration officials say several of Trump’s attacks aimed at Amazon have come in response to articles in the Post that he didn’t like.</p>

</div>
<p data-reactid="237">In a statement to CNBC, White House press secretary <strong>Sarah Huckabee Sanders</strong> said, “We are doing a total look at how the post office is operating. But [we] don’t have anything specific for you on that.”</p>
<div data-reactid="238"> </div>
<p data-reactid="239"><strong>If you would like to receive the Levin Report in your inbox daily, click here to subscribe.</strong></p>
</div>
</div>
</div>
Trump’s posture towards Amazon is the same as towards main stream media:fake.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2018, 10:23:33 AM by moniker »

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The United States of Guns
« Reply #3194 on: May 20, 2018, 06:19:00 AM »
The United States of Guns

The United States of Guns

posted by Jason Kottke May 18, 2018

Like many of you, I read the news of a single person killing at least 10 people in Santa Fe, Texas today. While this is an outrageous and horrifying event, it isn’t surprising or shocking in any way in a country where more than 33,000 people die from gun violence each year.

America is a stuck in a Groundhog Day loop of gun violence. We’ll keep waking up, stuck in the same reality of oppression, carnage, and ruined lives until we can figure out how to effect meaningful change. I’ve collected some articles here about America’s dysfunctional relationship with guns, most of which I’ve shared before. Change is possible — there are good reasons to control the ownership of guns and control has a high likelihood of success — but how will our country find the political will to make it happen?

An armed society is not a free society:

Arendt offers two points that are salient to our thinking about guns: for one, they insert a hierarchy of some kind, but fundamental nonetheless, and thereby undermine equality. But furthermore, guns pose a monumental challenge to freedom, and particular, the liberty that is the hallmark of any democracy worthy of the name — that is, freedom of speech. Guns do communicate, after all, but in a way that is contrary to free speech aspirations: for, guns chasten speech.

This becomes clear if only you pry a little more deeply into the N.R.A.’s logic behind an armed society. An armed society is polite, by their thinking, precisely because guns would compel everyone to tamp down eccentric behavior, and refrain from actions that might seem threatening. The suggestion is that guns liberally interspersed throughout society would cause us all to walk gingerly — not make any sudden, unexpected moves — and watch what we say, how we act, whom we might offend.

We’re sacrificing America’s children to “our great god Gun”:

Read again those lines, with recent images seared into our brains — “besmeared with blood” and “parents’ tears.” They give the real meaning of what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School Friday morning. That horror cannot be blamed just on one unhinged person. It was the sacrifice we as a culture made, and continually make, to our demonic god. We guarantee that crazed man after crazed man will have a flood of killing power readily supplied him. We have to make that offering, out of devotion to our Moloch, our god. The gun is our Moloch. We sacrifice children to him daily — sometimes, as at Sandy Hook, by directly throwing them into the fire-hose of bullets from our protected private killing machines, sometimes by blighting our children’s lives by the death of a parent, a schoolmate, a teacher, a protector. Sometimes this is done by mass killings (eight this year), sometimes by private offerings to the god (thousands this year).

The gun is not a mere tool, a bit of technology, a political issue, a point of debate. It is an object of reverence. Devotion to it precludes interruption with the sacrifices it entails. Like most gods, it does what it will, and cannot be questioned. Its acolytes think it is capable only of good things. It guarantees life and safety and freedom. It even guarantees law. Law grows from it. Then how can law question it?

Roger Ebert on the media’s coverage of mass shootings:

Let me tell you a story. The day after Columbine, I was interviewed for the Tom Brokaw news program. The reporter had been assigned a theory and was seeking sound bites to support it. “Wouldn’t you say,” she asked, “that killings like this are influenced by violent movies?” No, I said, I wouldn’t say that. “But what about ‘Basketball Diaries’?” she asked. “Doesn’t that have a scene of a boy walking into a school with a machine gun?” The obscure 1995 Leonardo Di Caprio movie did indeed have a brief fantasy scene of that nature, I said, but the movie failed at the box office (it grossed only $2.5 million), and it’s unlikely the Columbine killers saw it.

The reporter looked disappointed, so I offered her my theory. “Events like this,” I said, “if they are influenced by anything, are influenced by news programs like your own. When an unbalanced kid walks into a school and starts shooting, it becomes a major media event. Cable news drops ordinary programming and goes around the clock with it. The story is assigned a logo and a theme song; these two kids were packaged as the Trench Coat Mafia. The message is clear to other disturbed kids around the country: If I shoot up my school, I can be famous. The TV will talk about nothing else but me. Experts will try to figure out what I was thinking. The kids and teachers at school will see they shouldn’t have messed with me. I’ll go out in a blaze of glory.”

In short, I said, events like Columbine are influenced far less by violent movies than by CNN, the NBC Nightly News and all the other news media, who glorify the killers in the guise of “explaining” them. I commended the policy at the Sun-Times, where our editor said the paper would no longer feature school killings on Page 1. The reporter thanked me and turned off the camera. Of course the interview was never used. They found plenty of talking heads to condemn violent movies, and everybody was happy.

Jill Lepore on the United States of Guns:

There are nearly three hundred million privately owned firearms in the United States: a hundred and six million handguns, a hundred and five million rifles, and eighty-three million shotguns. That works out to about one gun for every American. The gun that T. J. Lane brought to Chardon High School belonged to his uncle, who had bought it in 2010, at a gun shop. Both of Lane’s parents had been arrested on charges of domestic violence over the years. Lane found the gun in his grandfather’s barn.

The United States is the country with the highest rate of civilian gun ownership in the world. (The second highest is Yemen, where the rate is nevertheless only half that of the U.S.) No civilian population is more powerfully armed. Most Americans do not, however, own guns, because three-quarters of people with guns own two or more. According to the General Social Survey, conducted by the National Policy Opinion Center at the University of Chicago, the prevalence of gun ownership has declined steadily in the past few decades. In 1973, there were guns in roughly one in two households in the United States; in 2010, one in three. In 1980, nearly one in three Americans owned a gun; in 2010, that figure had dropped to one in five.

A Land Without Guns: How Japan Has Virtually Eliminated Shooting Deaths:

The only guns that Japanese citizens can legally buy and use are shotguns and air rifles, and it’s not easy to do. The process is detailed in David Kopel’s landmark study on Japanese gun control, published in the 1993 Asia Pacific Law Review, still cited as current. (Kopel, no left-wing loony, is a member of the National Rifle Association and once wrote in National Review that looser gun control laws could have stopped Adolf Hitler.)

To get a gun in Japan, first, you have to attend an all-day class and pass a written test, which are held only once per month. You also must take and pass a shooting range class. Then, head over to a hospital for a mental test and drug test (Japan is unusual in that potential gun owners must affirmatively prove their mental fitness), which you’ll file with the police. Finally, pass a rigorous background check for any criminal record or association with criminal or extremist groups, and you will be the proud new owner of your shotgun or air rifle. Just don’t forget to provide police with documentation on the specific location of the gun in your home, as well as the ammo, both of which must be locked and stored separately. And remember to have the police inspect the gun once per year and to re-take the class and exam every three years.

Australia’s gun laws stopped mass shootings and reduced homicides, study finds:

From 1979 to 1996, the average annual rate of total non-firearm suicide and homicide deaths was rising at 2.1% per year. Since then, the average annual rate of total non-firearm suicide and homicide deaths has been declining by 1.4%, with the researchers concluding there was no evidence of murderers moving to other methods, and that the same was true for suicide.

The average decline in total firearm deaths accelerated significantly, from a 3% decline annually before the reforms to a 5% decline afterwards, the study found.

In the 18 years to 1996, Australia experienced 13 fatal mass shootings in which 104 victims were killed and at least another 52 were wounded. There have been no fatal mass shootings since that time, with the study defining a mass shooting as having at least five victims.

From The Onion, ‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens:

At press time, residents of the only economically advanced nation in the world where roughly two mass shootings have occurred every month for the past eight years were referring to themselves and their situation as “helpless.”

But America is not Australia or Japan. Dan Hodges said on Twitter a few years ago:

In retrospect Sandy Hook marked the end of the US gun control debate. Once America decided killing children was bearable, it was over.

This can’t be the last word on guns in America. We have to do better than this for our children and everyone else whose lives are torn apart by guns. But right now, we are failing them miserably, and Hodges’ words ring with the awful truth that all those lives and our diminished freedom & equality are somehow worth it to the United States as a society.

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

 

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