Friday, April 29, 2022

A shameful Presumption of guilt

When the Left is out to get you, you will be lucky to escape, regardless of justice. It was plain to me from the behginning that this was another Dreyfus case. It pained me to hear what this good and holy man was put through -- JR

Tony Abbott

What’s not both to enthral and repel in this story of Australian Catholicism’s greatest churchman, brought low by an allegation of child sex abuse, humiliated and imprisoned, only to be vindicated, triumphantly, by a seven-nil High Court verdict to the effect that he should never have been investigated, never have been charged, never have been convicted and never have been gaoled. What was really on trial here was the Australian system of justice: how susceptible it was to public hysteria, media stereotyping and lynch-mob justice so at odds with the traditional presumption of innocence. The verdict, albeit only at the last gasp, thanks to the High Court, is that it’s still capable of delivering justice according to law; but not before a fine man had had his reputation officially trashed, several years of his life stolen, and massive legal bills incurred that he has yet to re-pay. Yes, the cardinal had a win – but this was not a fight he should ever have been in.

Only because the Catholic Church had been judged collectively guilty of institutionalised sexual abuse and, therefore, needed to be punished; and only because Pell had become the personification of that church was a process put in place that, until its very end, but for his faith in divine providence and in his own innocence, would have put the cardinal into a very dark place. Of course, in the sloppily disciplined post-Vatican II church of the Sixties and Seventies there does seem to have been an unusually large number of pedophiles exploiting the cover and the opportunities of clerical life. And because abuse at the hands of God’s servants is such a monstrous betrayal, it’s to the church’s particular shame that this wasn’t realised and acted upon sooner. Paradoxically, Pell was actually one of the very first senior churchmen anywhere in the world to confront it directly: sacking deviant priests and reporting them to the police rather than simply forgiving their sins while moving them on. Perhaps this is why Windschuttle (who’s not a Catholic), Henderson (now a ‘cultural’ Catholic) and Brennan (a Jesuit intellectual, to be sure, but often Pell’s antagonist on theology and ecclesiology) have come so staunchly to his defence.

As expected of a trained lawyer, Brennan focuses on the extreme implausibility of the prosecution’s case. The idea that a fifty-something archbishop, of exemplary life and reputation, would or could slip out of the procession concluding High Mass; and, without anyone noticing, sneak back into the sacristy to commit enormities on two unknown 13-year-old choirboys, all while fully robed and in the space of six minutes, was never credible. Especially when a succession of witnesses testified to Pell’s invariable practice of going to the front of the cathedral to greet parishioners. What’s extraordinary is the lengths to which Victoria Police went on operation ‘Get Pell’: launching an investigation without a complaint; advertising for victims; disregarding and ignoring contrary evidence; and leaking to the media.

The fact that this vendetta was led by two police officers who went on to become successive chief commissioners says everything about the sorry state of Victorian officialdom. In any system that valued integrity, the current commissioner would have resigned in shame for sponsoring such an obviously flawed and prejudiced prosecution; as would the appeal judges who were so blind to such palpable faults.

But as always in the people’s republic of Victoria, no one takes any responsibility or accepts any blame; the public seems to accept that there’s ‘nothing to see here’; and the plethora of entities from the parliamentary opposition down that should hold officialdom to account are incapable of anything other than futile hand-wringing. Brennan’s conclusion: that ‘but for the incompetence and animus of the Victoria Police, the DPP, and the two most senior judges of the state, Pell would have been cleared of those charges much sooner, or more likely, not charged at all’ makes his further observation that ‘the Victorian criminal justice system cries out for reform’ a masterly piece of understatement!

Henderson’s J’Accuse…! extends beyond the police and the judiciary to the media and the Gillard government’s royal commission into institutional child sexual abuse which, as he makes clear, could be shoddy and biased. Here’s Henderson on the to-ing and fro-ing between Vic Pol, desperate to charge Pell, and the DPP, initially deeply hesitant: The case was sent by Victoria Police to the Victorian Director of Public Prosecutions which sent the matter back to Victoria Police which sent the matter back to the DPP which sent the matter back to Victoria Police which sent the matter back to the DPP which sent the matter back to Victoria Police stating that it could lay charges against Pell if it wished. Which, eventually, it did.

As befits our most dogged and shrewd critic of sloppy journalism, Henderson is forensic in his exposure of the barrage of anti-Pell smear. Here he is on the media pile-on, particularly from the ABC: ‘The campaign against Pell was unrelenting across its main television (7.30, Four Corners, Lateline, News Breakfast) and radio (AM, The World Today, PM, Radio National Breakfast) outlets. The ABC also commissioned special programs which contained attacks on Pell –…Unholy Silence…Guilty…plus…Goliath.’ The conferral of a Walkley Award on one of the anti-Pell diatribes, Fallen – even after the High Court’s dismissal of the case against him – exemplified the intractable media hostility to the man who once joked, when asked about the church position on the Gay Mardi Gras, ‘Well, we’re not going to sponsor a float, if that’s what you mean’.

Both authors deserve our gratitude for their defence of the presumption of innocence and their insistence that justice according to law must prevail over guilt by association and accusation.

Still, not in Victoria, where the response of the Premier to Pell’s release was: ‘I make no comment about today’s High Court decision. But I have a message for every single victim and survivor of child sex abuse: I see you, I hear you, I believe you


Companies that loudly supported BLM fall silent when confronted with skyrocketing Black murders

Corporate voices boomed across the nation in support of Black Lives Matter and various social justice initiatives following the death of George Floyd in 2020. Nearly two years later, what was left in the wake of 2020 was a drastic spike in Black murders with experts pinning blame on the BLM and "defund the police" movements.

The summer of 2020 was marked by protests and riots from coast to coast in support of the BLM and defund the police movements following the death of George Floyd. Companies stretching from behemoth e-commerce and tech company Amazon to beauty giant Ulta posted messages reiterating "Black lives matter," and companies around the country pledged millions of dollars to various social justice organizations that pushed to reimagine policing and reallocate funds from police departments.

FBI data reported by Fox News Digital last week shows murders spiked disproportionally among Black Americans in 2020 by 32% compared to the year prior. Murders across the board spiked by nearly 30% that year, marking the largest single-year increase in killings since the agency began tracking the crimes.

At least 7,484 Black Americans were murdered in 2019, according to FBI data Fox News Digital reported last week. That number shot up to at least 9,941 murders in 2020, meaning there was an increase of 2,457 Black Americans murdered over the previous year.

For White Americans, FBI data show there were 7,043 White people murdered in 2020, meaning 2,898 more Black people were killed compared to Whites.

An average of 6,927 Black Americans were murdered each year between 2010 and 2019, meaning Black murders shot up by 43% in 2020 compared to the previous 10-year average.

To experts such as the Manhattan Institute’s Heather Mac Donald, BLM and the defund movements that swept the nation directly contributed to the spike. The spike "began months after lockdowns beginning only after riots," Mac Donald told Fox News Digital, noting the "spike was not at all related to COVID."

Fox News Digital reached out to a handful of corporations and companies that pledged support for Black Lives Matter and various organizations supporting tenets of the defund movement, such as the Equal Justice Initiative and the National Urban League in the days and months following the death of Floyd.

The Equal Justice Initiative advocates for the reallocations of "funds from traditional policing to services that promote public safety." While the National Urban League outlines on its website that it has "21 Pillars" on "comprehensive and realistic reform and accountability," including "collaborate with communities to re-envision public safety" and "change divisive policing policies."

Representatives for Nike, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Ben & Jerry’s, Nordstrom, Target and Ulta did not return Fox News Digital’s requests for comment.

Companies such as Nordstrom, Ben & Jerry’s and Amazon openly aligned themselves with Black Lives Matter.

Nordstrom said in January of 2021 that it was "supporting the important work of nonprofit organizations," including the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation. Amazon announced in 2020 that it was donating $10 million "to organizations that are working to bring about social justice and improve the lives of Black and African Americans," including BLM.

While Ben & Jerry’s noted in 2020 that it supported the BLM movement years before Floyd’s death and declared, "Today, we want to be even more clear about the urgent need to take concrete steps to dismantle white supremacy in all its forms."

Nike - along with Converse, Jordan Brand and Michael Jordan - announced in 2020 it would donate a combined $140 over 10 years to organizations such as the National Urban League and Equal Justice Initiative. Apple launched a $100 million program called the Racial Equity and Justice Initiative in June of 2020, which pledged support to various groups including working with EJI. Facebook pledged support to groups fighting racial inequality just days after Floyd’s death, including EJI, as did Ulta Beauty. In 2020, Target announced a $10 million commitment to "advancing social justice," including donations to the National Urban League.

The Equal Justice Initiative and National Urban League did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment when confronted with the FBI data on Black murders and experts arguing the defund movement contributed to the spike.

Black Lives Matter’s press team has not responded to repeated requests for comment on the data and experts’ arguments. The national organization, which was co-founded by a self-described "trained Marxist," has come under intense scrutiny in recent months as questions were raised about leadership’s financial dealings. Amazon announced in February of this year that it suspended the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation from its charity platform for failing to disclose where tens of millions of dollars were allocated.

Just last week, former diversity leader under the Donald Trump administration Bruce LeVell wrote an op-ed slamming corporations for their "huge miscalculation" in backing the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation.

"Unfortunately, BLMGNF has intimidated the leaders of some of America’s largest corporations into paying fealty to its harmful and deceptive narrative," LeVell wrote in the Tennessee Star on Thursday. "Rather than challenging the Marxist provocateurs at BLMGNF, corporate leaders have prostrated themselves and even donated shareholder resources to a cause that is intrinsically opposed to free markets, individual liberties, law and order, and everything else that allows American businesses to thrive.


Pastor who lost job over anti-gay tweet is backed by tribunal as judge rules he was discriminated against for gay Pride views

Keith Waters, 55, a minister at an evangelical church, claimed he was ‘forced out’ of his caretaker job at a primary school following a single tweet.

He wrote: ‘A reminder that Christians should not support or attend LGBTQ “Pride Month” events held in June. 'They promote a culture and encourage activities that are contrary to Christian faith and morals. They are especially harmful to children.’

The comments were condemned as homophobic and triggered a vicious backlash, including a campaign of harrassment in which undertakers were sent to Mr Waters’ home to ‘discuss his funeral’.

Isle of Ely Primary School in Ely, Cambridgeshire, began an investigation but the married father-of-one resigned three weeks after the tweet – a day before he was due to face a disciplinary hearing.

Cambridge Employment Tribunal has now ruled he was the victim of indirect discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief. Judge Sarah King said a ‘widely shared belief demands particular care before it can be condemned as being not worthy of respect in a democratic society’.

She added: ‘Beliefs which are offensive, shocking or even disturbing to others can still be protected.’

After the ruling, Mr Waters said it was ‘an important win for our freedom to speak the truth of the gospel without fear of losing our jobs’.

He added: ‘I took legal action, not because I wanted to sue the school but because what happens to me goes to the heart of what it means to be free to preach the gospel in the UK.’

Mr Waters, who founded the New Connexions Free Church in Ely in 2007, made the tweet in June 2019 – the month Cambridge was hosting its first ever Pride event.

The school received three formal letters of complaint – one claiming he had called for ‘violence against people who support the Pride Festival’.

The tribunal did not uphold claims for direct discrimination and unfair dismissal.

A spokesman for the Active Learning Trust, which runs the school, said: ‘We welcome the decision of the employment tribunal that the claims of direct discrimination and unfair dismissal were not well founded and were dismissed.’


I was an outcast, shunned like a criminal - just for wanting to keep my Girl Guides safe

The reaction was so cruelly disproportionate and unjust, Dr Katie Alcock felt like a criminal.

She was interrogated as if by the 'secret police' then expelled from Girlguiding, an organisation to which she'd devoted ten years of loyal, unpaid service.

Katie, who led a flourishing unit of Guides, Brownies and Rainbows, is the latest in a series of women who have been pilloried and spurned for daring to speak out against the transgender rights directives.

However, this time it was not trans-rights lobbyists, but the eminently traditional and long-established organisation, Girlguiding (formerly the Girl Guides, founded in 1910), that had produced the regulations on transgender issues she'd had the foresight to question — with such calamitous consequences.

In a four-year battle, Katie brought a legal action against Girlguiding on the grounds that she had been discriminated against for her 'gender-critical views'. And last week she reached an out-of-court settlement with the organisation, which had accrued a reported £100,000 in legal fees defending the case.

They agreed to pay a proportion of Katie's legal costs and invited her to re-join the charity from which she'd been dismissed four years earlier.

'Girlguiding has issued an apology of sorts,' says Katie today, 'and I'm relieved it's all over. But I'm not enthusiastic about running a unit any more. In fact, I feel quite cynical about the organisational side of Girlguiding.'

As well she might.

Katie, in her 50s and a senior lecturer in psychology at Lancaster University, is married to Glyn, a civil servant, and is mum to a seven-year-old daughter and ten-year-old son.

Her concerns first surfaced in 2018 when, without consultation, Girlguiding instituted new policy directives on trans rights. As well as welcoming trans-women and girls into the organisation as patrol leaders, Guides, Brownies and Rainbows, worryingly it stated that these trans members could 'share accommodation' with girls and women.

To be clear on this directive — and Girlguiding was singularly opaque about it — they were referring to individuals born male who had transitioned or who identified as women and girls, even if they still had male genitalia.

This rang alarm bells with Katie, who had by then run her own unit of Guides, Brownies and Rainbows — welcoming 100 girls from all social and ethnic backgrounds and religions — in Lancaster for a decade.

She felt that it could potentially allow a situation to exist where her charges could be put at risk.

'When I found out that men who said they were women could sleep in the same tents as girls, share the same toilets and use the same changing rooms if they went swimming, I was really worried. I thought Girlguiding had made a mistake.

'But when I contacted them about it they insisted they hadn't. They said they had consulted Stonewall (the LGBT rights' group) for advice and were following the law. As far as I was concerned, they were throwing the safeguarding of girls out of the window.

'I don't believe trans-women should face discrimination, but I don't think they can change their biological sex. And I think, for the safeguarding, privacy and dignity of girls and women, they, or their parents, should be allowed to decide if they share spaces with someone of the opposite sex.'

She was also concerned that the policy effectively excluded from Guiding girls and women such as Muslims who needed to be in single-sex environments because of their religious beliefs.

Had she been less passionate about the movement she might not have pursued the case with such fervour, but Katie's affiliation with the organisation goes back to her 1970s Warwickshire childhood when she joined the Brownies.

She revelled in its brand of robust, adventurous activity: it fostered initiative, self-reliance and independence. Indeed, it helped shape the person she is today.

Her mother was a teacher; her father an academic, 'and Brownies was across the road and became my second home,' she says. 'We ran around a lot, made telephones out of tin cans, baked scones; went on pack holidays. Then I moved onto Guides and, as well as the cooking and sewing, there were lots of outdoor activities and camping. We were given lots of freedom. It was low-cost adventure, accessible to everyone.'

After school, she took a degree then worked in Zambia as a secondary school teacher. A PhD in psychology at Oxford followed then she worked in Tanzania on a research project before spending two years researching in the U.S..

Returning to London, she began helping at a Brownie group, setting up her own unit in Lancaster in 2007, having moved to the city three years earlier.

In keeping with the movement's ethos, she set great store by inclusiveness: girls from Muslim, Hindu and a diverse range of other religious faiths were embraced. There were girls with learning disabilities and others referred by Social Services rubbing shoulders with grammar school pupils.

'Many people think Guiding is predominantly white, middle-class and Christian, but it isn't,' she says. 'It has a long history of being an inclusive movement.'

And her unit, next to Lancaster Castle — a working prison until 2011 — was far from exclusive: it shared its premises with a drop-in centre for relatives of prisoners.

However, comprehensive though her welcome was, she was deeply concerned when she discovered, through talking to other leaders early in 2018, that Girlguiding had unobtrusively slipped into its policy documents new directives on trans rights.

While happy that trans members should be welcomed into Girlguiding, she was deeply perturbed about sharing facilities. Indeed she had always been scrupulous to segregate girls and boys on overnight stays.

'Even when I'd taken my then four-year-old son to camp we'd slept in a separate tent from the girls,' she says, 'And he'd go to the male toilets while I waited outside.

'Then I found out that no separate arrangements were being made for biological adult males who said they were women; that they'd be sleeping in the same tents as Rainbows (aged four to seven), Brownies (aged seven to ten) and Guides (up to age 14).

'I was really worried because predatory male paedophiles will go to any lengths to gain access to young girls. Girlguiding had an almost zero rate of child sexual abuse. It had never happened. Any abuse had been by adult men in Scouting. But now it seemed they'd be opening the door to the possibility — and blatantly throwing the safeguarding of girls out of the window. This shocked me.'

Keen to challenge this, Katie wrote to Girlguiding's HQ and asked why there had been no consultation on such a contentious issue — but was told, emphatically, that the rules had been set and there would be no further communication on the subject.

'I was told, 'We're not changing anything. You just have to put up with it.' I felt utter shock and disbelief.'

In spring 2018 she set up a private social media group, inviting nine other unit leaders who shared her concerns. 'I wanted to discuss the matter because I felt many leaders didn't fully understand the implications of the new trans policies.

'We wanted to evolve a strategy: how would we talk to parents about this? I pointed out, too, that Girlguiding was a single sex group, but how could it continue to be if it admitted members with male genitalia?'

However, so febrile was the atmosphere around the debate that one Guide leader, who had infiltrated the group, made a complaint about Katie's views. A four-month inquiry followed during which Katie was interrogated by the organisation's human resources investigator.

'It was like being questioned by the secret police in some totalitarian state. I felt like a criminal,' she says.

The inquiry concluded she had breached the organisation's social media rules by airing her concerns online; even though she had only done so to a small, closed group. It also ruled she had broken Guiding's 'code of conduct' by refusing to adhere to its equality and diversity policy on transgender inclusion.

In September 2018 she was duly summoned to a meeting with the organisation's County Commissioner for North-West Lancashire. Faced with an ultimatum — to back down or lose her unpaid post — she refused to rescind her views and was duly expelled.

The atmosphere in the meeting room, at a Lancaster hotel, was forbidding and punitive.

'I asked if I could bring a friend and was told I could, but she couldn't speak. I was told I could take notes, but not take them away with me. It was like having my crimes read out in a secret court with no right of reply.

'I said I'd follow all the trans policies as long as they didn't conflict with safeguarding. I thought I'd done the right thing in not speaking out on a public social media site and that Girlguiding would applaud me for being concerned about safety. But they objected to both those things.

'They read a letter out to me saying I was expelled and I wanted to leave the room immediately. I couldn't hold it together. I was shaking, fighting back tears.

'I was due to have a meeting of a new Rainbows group the next day — my daughter had been looking forward to joining — and I rang one of the parents in tears and said, 'Don't come.'

'For years other leaders had been telling me I was doing a great job, encouraging girls who wouldn't normally go into Guiding to join; organising the sort of adventures for them I'd loved as a child and mentoring young leaders.

'Then suddenly I was being told I couldn't attend meetings any more; even if my daughter was there.

'Parents are the backbone of every unit; their help is crucial. And I knew my daughter wouldn't be confident enough to go to Rainbows without me, so she was effectively barred, too.'

Katie was shunned by friends; other leaders spurned her. 'I was distraught; struggling to function or talk to people. If they asked how I was I started crying.'

In January 2019 she lodged an appeal against her expulsion. It failed. Her distress began to turn into anger. She was determined not to back down and resolved to pursue a discrimination case against Girlguiding.

Backed by employment lawyer Peter Daly of Doyle Clayton and buoyed by the generosity of crowdfunding supporters who donated more than £50,000 to help fund her case, she brought her legal action.

It was finally settled out of court last week and she has pledged to return surplus funds for the use of gender critical litigants fighting similar battles to hers.




Thursday, April 28, 2022

My husband and I sleep in separate bedrooms — here’s why

I am pleased to see this story online. I am such a light and restless sleeper that I have always had to sleep separately from any partner. There are very few women who understand that, though. I do know what I am missing as I do enjoy lying cuddled up together at other times. Zoe is slim and only 5'1" tall so her small body fits very neatly into my cuddle

Influencer Taylor Paul shared a video revealing the reasons why she and her husband sleep in separate bedrooms.

Paul first explained that multiple times, her husband would search around their room at night looking for a shirt.

When he would go to another room to search for it, she suggested that he just sleep in the guest room so that she could go back to bed.

She explained that the nights he slept in the guest room, she would end up having a really good sleep.

“He also sleepwalks, sleep talks, and does some creepy s**t, so this just happened to work out,” she said.

Paul also said that she likes to sleep in warmer temperatures but her husband prefers it to be cooler.

Similarly, she likes to sleep in silence, yet he likes to use a white noise machine.

“I feel like this is the best situation for us,” she said. “We have a really healthy marriage, we get good sleep, and we both love our separate rooms.”

Giving her followers a tour of their separate rooms, she showed off her stunning bedroom, with perfect decorations, a large television, and a bathroom.

She laughed while showing off her husband’s much messier room, which had laundry thrown on the floor and his bedsheets stained from spray tans.

The couple has two children together and they believe that this sleep setup is the most beneficial for their marriage.

Viewers were split on the topic, saying: “I would never be able to!! I sleep better when he is next to me,” said one viewer, while another said: “We sleep in separate rooms because my husband snores so loud and I’m such a light sleeper.”


The CDC and Unmasking White Coat Supremacy

US district judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle has ruled that the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) had exceeded its authority in extending an airline mask mandate until May 3. As the judge noted, the CDC improperly invoked the “good cause exception,” allowing the federal agency to avoid public notification and comment. The CDC also allowed mask exemptions for some groups and not others. The White House announced an appeal, and the loudest voice against the judge’s ruling was chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci.

“For a court to come in and interfere in that is really unfortunate. It’s unfortunate because it’s against public health principles,” Dr. Fauci told reporters. “That’s no place for the courts to do that. This is a CDC decision.” Eric Boehm of Reason magazine took issue with the Biden advisor.

“Fauci’s belief that the CDC ought to exist outside of the constitutional limitations applied to government actions is stunning,” Boehm wrote. “This is either a complete misunderstanding of the American system’s basic functions or an expression of disdain toward the rule of law.” Boehm is right on both counts, as Dr. Fauci confirmed back in October of 2021.

In an event with McGill University in Canada, Dr. Fauci said, “you do have personal liberties for yourself and you should be in control of that. But you are a member of society, and as a member of society—reaping all the benefits of being a member of society—you have a responsibility to society. And I think each of us, particularly in the context of a pandemic that’s killing millions of people, you have got to look at it and say there comes a time when you do have to give up what you consider your individual right of making your own decision, for the greater good of society.”

The White House advisor thus makes it clear that he misunderstands the American system, disregards the rule of law, and dismisses the whole concept of personal liberty. The Biden advisor has also clarified that federal agencies do not know what is best for public health.

Dr. Fauci has changed his position on masks but now claims “I represent science,” and that those who criticize him are actually criticizing science. That sweeping claim calls for scrutiny.

Anthony Fauci earned a medical degree in 1966 but in 1968 he took a job with the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Fauci’s bio shows no advanced degrees in molecular biology or biochemistry but in 1984, NIH made him head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a position he still holds.

Dr. Fauci never treated a COVID patient and ordered destructive lockdowns that caused widespread suffering. The Biden advisor now wants the CDC to override the courts, which calls for a look at Dr. Nancy Messonnier, former director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD).

In a series of telebriefings in early 2020, Dr. Messonnier praised the People’s Republic of China, a Communist dictatorship, and hailed CDC’s cooperation with the China-compliant World Health Organization (WHO). Dr. Messonnier never treated a COVID patient but when she suddenly retired to take a position with the Skoll Foundation, the CDC described her as a “true hero.”

Dr. Messonnier began her CDC career with the Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS), tasked to prevent infectious diseases from arriving on American soil. In the case of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, the vaunted EIS failed completely. The CDC has been quiet on the EIS role, and if any EIS officers were demoted, disciplined, or lost their job.

This is the federal bureaucracy Dr. Fauci wants to override the courts, the Constitution, and individual liberty. Dr. Fauci thus unmasks white coat supremacy rule over the people by fallible medical bureaucrats unelected by the people. There comes a time when white coat supremacy must end if liberty is to endure.


Petulant liberals are melting down over the realization that they've lost the power to control and suppress everyone else's speech on Twitter

By Meghan Mccain

Twitter is and has long been the meanest, ugliest, and least fun of all the social media platforms.

I joined Twitter in 2008. And I have spent more time than I'd like to admit on the platform.

But I am a child of social media, like the rest of my fellow older millennials. For the most part, I don't regret my hours and energies spent on Twitter.

There was even a short period of time, from 2009-2012, when Twitter was still somewhat collegial. But after the Republican Party's nomination of Donald Trump all of that changed.

Twitter itself seemed to adopt the position that some speech is not just inappropriate – but immoral, dangerous, and evil.

It became a space utilized by trolls to harass, virtue-signal and vent their anger.

And its trending topics became something that meant a great deal to those working in media and almost nothing to the people working in the real world.

In fact, I have been seriously considering deactivating my account.

Personally, Twitter has too often become a vessel for abuse and harassment against me.

Look at the replies to my tweets about literally anything.

Most comments are about how fat, ugly, stupid, and disgusting I am, according to some random, anonymous troll, and the replies often stray into threats of violence and outright abuse.

By far my worst experience on Twitter occurred after the death of my father.

A photograph taken of me crying at my dad's casket was doctored to show a gun pointed at my head.

The image stayed on Twitter for days and was retweeted around the platform.

Twitter did not take any action to remove it until my husband started flipping out and demanding it be taken down.

It eventually was removed, and this sad episode ultimately led to a personal phone call and apology from Jack Dorsey.

I still appreciate the concern that he showed, but that ugly image stayed up far too long and caused unnecessary emotional distress at a time in my life when I was already broken from grief and sadness.

Put yourself in my situation. Imagine having to deal with not just an unresponsive Twitter but also the FBI and what amounted to a clear threat on my life.

I shouldn't have had to endure that, and I believe that if I were Sasha or Malia Obama, it would have been taken down immediately.

And therein lies the problem – Twitter has become a tool of the liberal elite status quo.

It has been long suspected that Twitter designed its' algorithms to favor liberal politicians, pundits, and personalities and their ideas, while at the same time censoring dissenting opinions.

Conservative personalities – including me – have suspected that Twitter has engaged in 'shadowbanning,' which is the secret suppression of an individuals' account without their knowledge.

Donald Trump and the satirical website The Babylon Bee were both deplatformed but Iran's Ayatollah Khamenei is still allowed to tweet out calls for genocide.

Some of the rules seem random, but too often, liberal and progressive sensibilities are protected, while conservatives are punished or ignored.

The obvious question is: Why did I stay on Twitter if it gotten so bad?

The truth is that I still believe in Twitter's potential to be a useful and positive force in the world.

Although most Americans are not on Twitter (it only has 38 million users in the United States as compared to the 221.6 million on Facebook), it is still a place where news, ideas, corporate messages and media narratives are crafted and spread.

I have stayed because it is still a great tool to distribute my work (like this column), opinions and ideas to a mass audience.

It is a good way to combat falsehoods and fight the spread of rumors.


Now chocolate is incorrect

"Pure" chocolate is derived from cacao, the name for the unprocessed bean. And once the bean has been processed, ground and roasted, it's known as cocoa.

But while the end product might be incomparably tasty, the production of the cacao bean has been linked to farmer exploitation, corporate apathy, and adult and child slave labour.

Cacao trees have been traced back to both the Mesoamerican region – present-day Mexico, the Yucatan Peninsula, Guatemala, Belize and Honduras – and also the Amazon river basin in South America, explains Ingrid Fromm, a researcher at the Bern University of Applied Sciences.

In pre-Hispanic times, the Mayans, Aztecs and Olmec cultures greatly valued cacao. They consumed it crushed up in a thick and bitter beverage, says Dr Fromm, who is also a board member of the Swiss Platform for Sustainable Cocoa.

Spanish conquistadors who came to Mexico in the 16th century brought the exotic drink back to Spain. From there, cacao was transported into the rest of Europe, she explains.

Then, in the late 19th century, Switzerland became the first country to add milk powder to the cocoa, creating milk chocolate and the first chocolate bars.

"This was a huge breakthrough for the market of cocoa and for industrialised food products," Ms Off, who is the author of Bitter Chocolate: Investigating the Dark Side of the World's Most Seductive Sweet, says.

"Not only was it something that was easy to sell, and to transport and to package, but it was also affordable to the masses."

And that's when the trouble began.

As the popularity of chocolate grew, so too did the demand for cacao beans. To keep up, cacao was transported from the Americas to the African continent.

In 1855, the Portuguese brought cacao to the island of Sao Tome off the West African coast, where a very humid, tropical climate was ideal for cacao production, Dr Fromm says.

Eventually, the bean made its way from the island to the mainland.

Today 70 per cent of cacao production takes place in Ghana, Ivory Coast, Nigeria and Cameroon.

And as at 2021, about 5 million tonnes of processed cacao beans were produced worldwide.

Dr Fromm says cacao is mainly produced by small-scale and "very resource-poor" producers.

These farmers do not have the same economic power as the large chocolate corporations, and the price they're able to get for their cacao beans has been decreasing.

Molly Harriss Olson, CEO of Fairtrade Australia and New Zealand, and the former chair of the global board of Fairtrade, said its 2015 report showed that in the cocoa industry "farmers everywhere in the world are living below [the] $1-a-day poverty line".

She says farmers who lack power or influence in their supply chains "are really forced to take the price that these very large companies can force through their power in the marketplace".

That means "family-type labour" is common in West Africa, and particularly Ghana and the Ivory Coast, Dr Fromm says.

"If you're a producer that has maybe more than two hectares of land, you may hire labour for that particular season, the harvest season, but it tends to be family labour.

"This is why we also know that there are cases of child labour. And this also has to do with the fact that the producers are paid very little money for the cacao beans, and poverty is also a driving force behind child labour," she says.

In 2012, the then-CEO of World Vision Tim Costello said that 61 per cent of the children who work on cocoa farms didn't get to go to school "so we get to eat cheap chocolate".

Indeed research undertaken by Tulane University in New Orleans found that in 2013/14, 2.26 million children were working in cocoa production in the Ivory Coast and Ghana.

Ms Off says chocolate companies denied knowledge of such practices when NGOs first raised alarms.

"[The NGOs reported] that it appeared there was a form of slave labour and ... children being moved from not just other regions, but other countries, into the cocoa-producing regions in order to work on these farms for no money," she says.

As pressure mounted in the early 2000s, including within the US Congress, "it became a political interest to question whether the chocolate companies were involved in some pretty bad practices in order to produce their product", Ms Off says.

But, in 2008, Fortune magazine reported that "little progress has been made". And according to the same publication in 2016, approximately 2.1 million children in West Africa "still do the dangerous and physically taxing work of harvesting cocoa".

There has been some improvement since then, says Dr Fromm. Today many bigger companies are working to ensure that farmers are paid a living income. She hopes that income continues to increase over the next decade.




Wednesday, April 27, 2022

What are the least attractive jobs? Singles reveal the occupations they'd be most turned off by on a date

This report reveals how misleading generalizations can be. It says, for instance, that nurses are not a good partner choice. But I have always got on well with nurses. I had, for instance, a 7 year mariage to one and a 14 year relationship with another -- not to mention more fleeting liasons. So how come?

What attracts me is their down-to-earth nature but how do I deal with the shift-working issue? I don't. In the two relationships I mentionred, neither lady worked shifts. They had normal daytime jobs. Nursing is a quite varied field and that was no oddity. So the shift issue did not arise.

Mind you, I am friends with a nurse who does work shifts so that could be an issue if we ever took our friendship further.

But the basic point is that the category "nurse" is too broad. A lot depends on the particular nurse. I have some very good memories of nurses

Single men and women have revealed how a date's job can impact their attractiveness - and agree shift workers and those with 'huge responsibilities' are the least desirable.

Dating coach Louanne Ward raised the topic on her She Said, He Said Facebook Page and Aussie men and women explained why some occupations are 'a complete turn-off'.

And while many men and women feared they would be judged for low-paying or unglamorous jobs, it was the opposite.

The singletons admitted to steering clear of people with high-powered jobs, or well-paid industries because it can lead to a 'doomed relationship' and 'narcissism'.

Fifo workers, lawyers, doctors, policemen and sex workers were among the most commonly mentioned.

'I avoid shift worker occupations with irregular shift rostering or long shifts like 12 to 14 hour shifts. So people in nursing, or doctors or truckies,' one man said.

According the the men and women in the Facebook group the following professions are the least likely to 'get a date'.

1 - Nurses and doctors who do long shifts

2 - Fifo workers

3 - People in high-powered roles like doctors and lawyers

4 - Truck drivers

5 - Police officers and military men

'I think jobs where people are too much power, makes them lack empathy,' one woman said.

The conversation comes after a divorce lawyer revealed the jobs she would avoid when looking for Mr Right.

Firemen, police officers, military men, surgeons, and pilots all appeared on the list shared by JettieGirl28 on TikTok.

'When I first started practicing family law 13 years ago, a woman attorney gave me a statistic about the top five professions of men that women should avoid marrying,' she said in the video.

'Over the course of my career, I've watched my most difficult cases and, shockingly, many of them involved men in these five professions.'

The men and women in the dating advice group agreed with the lawyer for many of the fields.

One woman said she avoids men in the military and police force because she believes they can become 'callous'. 'I can't deal with the callous nature they very easily and scarily switch into as that's what they need to do at work to survive,' she said.

The divorce lawyer also did a post detailing the occupations people should avoid when looking for Mrs Right.

Many people assumed the same jobs would be on the list but she said that's not the case in her experience.

And while most of her female clients are teachers and nurses these are not the most difficult or dangerous divorces.

'If you have a problem with this scroll along, because I am about to hurt a lot of people,' she said.

She said the most difficult women in divorces are stay at home mums, explaining they are often terrified of their futures financially.

She also said in relationships where the mum stays at home the father often 'feels like an ATM' and the women feel under valued.


Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover: What will it mean for users?

What does Elon Musk intend to do with his new purchase if the deal is approved by shareholders? And will Twitter look different to users?

While Twitter is one of the most talked-about social networks, it has fewer users than many of its peers.

The company known for its bird logo boasts 436 million monthly active users, according to Statista, making it a distant follower to Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, and messaging services like WhatsApp and Telegram.

In Australia, the company boasts 5.8 million active users — a number that has remained steady.

But despite its smaller user base compared to other firms, Twitter is influential and has become a platform for companies, politicians, celebrities and even emergency services to issue public statements.

Musk’s ongoing focus on no-holds-barred free speech may include allowing the most vocal trolls and sources of disinformation to remain on the platform, despite the company’s past efforts to remove them.

In March, for example, after providing Starlink satellite internet services to Ukraine, Musk vowed not to block Russian news sources “unless at gunpoint,” saying he was a “free speech absolutist”.

In response to his deal for Twitter, he said: “free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated”.

His stance could leave the door open for those banned from using Twitter to return to the service, including high-profile users like right-wing troll Milo Yiannopoulos who led harassment of a Ghostbusters star before his permanent suspension, rapper Azealia Banks who issued a slew of transphobic and homophobic tweets about who should access Covid vaccines, “Pharma bro” Martin Shkreli, who publicly harassed a journalist, and former US President Donald Trump who spread misinformation to a wide audience using the platform.

Trump has said he will not return to the service, despite protesting his ban earlier, telling Fox News he will instead begin using his own social network, Truth, in the coming days.

Twitter allows users to report harassment they receive on the service, and “hide” offensive tweets sent in response to their own tweets. It’s not clear how that would continue.


Another High-tech Titan Falters

You've probably heard of the high-flying Big Tech FAANG stocks -- Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google. Among the five of them, their market cap reached $6 trillion last year, which is more than the GDP of all but a small handful of entire countries. Moreover, their net worth is larger than the entire annual output of India, with more than 1 billion people.

These companies got so big and profitable so fast that politicians on the left, right and center started accusing them of monopolistic behavior. "Break them up!" shouted Democratic Sens. Bernie Sanders and Amy Klobuchar. Some Republicans, such as Josh Hawley, endorsed the same strategy.

But has anyone noticed what has happened to the stock values of these once-invincible powerhouses?

Netflix's stock has gotten crushed of late. Just flattened.

Its share price collapsed by 35% in one day. This was one of the most significant single-day sell-offs in the history of stocks. For now, the rout doesn't seem to be waning. Over the past year, Netflix's market cap has tumbled from $267 billion to close to $96 billion.

Sorry if you own this stock. And most pension funds do own Netflix as part of their portfolios, so it wasn't just millionaires who got hurt.

The Netflix brass blames its demise of late on "fierce competition" for subscribers.

Meanwhile, Facebook has suffered even more considerable losses that exceed one-half a trillion dollars. That's not supposed to happen to monopolies that crush the competition. Instead, the hunters have become the hunted. Facebook is confronting serious competition from other social media platforms such as LinkedIn and China's TikTok, which are elbowing out Facebook's dominance.

What are we to make of all this jostling to be king of the mountain in the digital domain?

I carry no water for Big Tech, and I'm as frustrated with the free speech infringements against conservatives as anyone. But cries of "monopoly" are so early 20th century. Just as no one worries about Standard Oil, Microsoft or General Motors taking over their industries, we see the same cutthroat survival tactics in the hypercompetitive tech sector. This kind of competition is great news for the consumer. It lowers prices and makes a mockery of the "monopoly" rants.

Companies such as Google better look over their shoulders. If you slip up, the marauders are coming to steal away your market share. Sometimes, the raiders aren't even American companies. Globalization and free trade have dramatically lowered the prices of nearly all digital products.

That is as it should be in a free-market capitalist world. One day, you are on top of the world and seemingly in an impenetrable fortress, and the next, you lose half your market cap. We don't need trust-buster regulators in Washington, like the leftist Lina Khan of the Federal Trade Commission, policing our businesses. The market is doing that just fine, thank you.

America has gained tech dominance over our rivals, especially China, Japan and Europe, because we have allowed the digital economy to remain mostly tax- and regulation-free. It's the Wild West in Silicon Valley and Austin, Texas, which created the trillions in wealth in the first place. The high-tech industry has added value and wealth at a blistering pace, and how sad is it that when our American ingenuity and inventiveness succeed, the trust-busters want to tear it down? Then, when these tech giants start to surrender their competitive advantage, the fool politicians want to give them billions of dollars of corporate welfare handouts from taxpayers.

The late and great Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter called the process of inventing new products to challenge the extant corporate power structures in business "creative destruction." The Netflix and Facebook sell-off is a jolting reminder that the market is a better way than government to keep companies honest and on top of their game. It also keeps prices low.


Liberal Corporations Are Confused and Scared Because Conservatives Now Fight Back

It’s always fun when progressive jerks try to leverage their bizarre perceptions of our beliefs to get us to do what they want. It can be some smug Twitter blue check informing us that “Actually Jesus was a socialist who would want us to cancel student debt for spoiled rich kids who got degrees in Transgender Visual Arts” or, more recently, some newly-minted Milton Friedman acolyte goofsplaining that we must submit to the skeevy whims of California corporations and accept the imposition of grooming mandates because, after all, they are private businesses. And sometimes it works, even on alleged conservatives – David French has made whatever passes for his C-list career out of striving to twist conservatism to conform to his lib masters’ version of it.

But this cheesy ploy is not working anymore, at least not on the rest of us.

Ron DeSantis, the Scourge of Odd sitting on his growing throne o’ skulls in Tallahassee, is fresh from laughing off the howls of broken libs enraged that he gerrymandered them in Florida like they gerrymandered us in New York and Illinois. Ron is not one for accepting two sets of rules, one for the ruling caste and another, crappier one for us peasants. He identifies the applicable rule, and applies it good and hard. It’s about time the left learns that norm-breaking has consequences. And one consequence is frequent broken-norm suppositories.

Disney found out the hard way for the same reason as other woke corporations will. These CEOs, who appear to be ruthless robber barons in business, encounter a bunch of their own blue-haired, pierced subordinates who think a penis is irrelevant to determining their gender and suddenly these executives roll-over and give it up so cravenly that even Mitt Romney would look at them and mutter “Get a spine!”

And in the case of Disney, it was so objectively insane that you had to wonder about the thought process, but only for a moment until you realize that this is 2022 and everything is utterly stupid. Disney got welcomed into America’s homes and hearts by purveying safe and wholesome kiddie fare to American families and has decided, to please a pack of mutant employees, to administer a coup de grace to that rep by leaping into the arena to fight against a law that all normal people agree is so manifestly proper that it really should not have to be a law at all – that pervs can’t talk to little kids about sex in schools. But no, Disney had to weigh-in on the side of groomers because the consensus in the rarified circles its leadership circulates in and among the weirdo contingent on its staff is that the world must be made safe for bizarre sexuality.

Oh, and it did not help that a bunch of Disney employees recently got swept up in a child porn sting, and that the strange-os in its bureaucracy decided to brag on leaked Zoom calls about how they were injecting their freak show gender nonsense into its once sacrosanct movies and shows. You know what Buzz Lightyear was missing? Some not-hot girl-on-girl action. We are one revision away from changing the title of “The Lion King” to “The Otherkin Non-Binary Member of the Royalty.” “Hakuna matata” is supposed to mean “No worries,” not “It’s okay to lop off your junk if you’re not feeling like a boy today.”

So DeSantis decided that Disney needed some discipline, and that stepping to him (and, therefore, us) cried out for a response. Some folks worry that this is an attack on the First Amendment, but this was not just because Disney chose to weigh in on an issue (though it’s unclear why you are obligated to continue providing juicy tax breaks to political opponents – the Founders would have tossed you in a madhouse for arguing that). No, Disney has launched a broad offensive against normal people using political, cultural and economic power to change our society without our permission. This is not just about Disney expressing an opinion, though its groomer-tolerant opinion is creepy and gross.

DeSantis’s response was to strip away the special giveaway that Disney got for its overpriced hellscape in Orlando. The left responded by telling Disney it should pick up Disney World and move it to, say, Buffalo. Disney, on the other hand, realized it has stepped in a steaming San Francisco sidewalk sundae and is desperately trying to turn down the temperature.

Disney thought it was going to win, because, you know, Republicans like big companies and defer to them and, well, no. That’s not us anymore. After years of big companies leveraging their power to screw us over, from the NFL to Delta to Coke, now we’re over it. They are free to use their power – a potent cocktail of cultural, economic, and political power – as they see fit. And so are we. We have freed ourselves of the arbitrary rules that formerly prevented us from responding with our own brand of power – which is a little bit economic but mostly political – to fight back.

And a lot of conservatives have mixed feelings. Some part of that is legit – using political power to crush enemies can go too far. Hell, that’s essentially how Chicago works. But our new way of responding to our enemies – who, remember, chose to break the norm of businesses staying out of social issues – is not designed to shake them down but to shake them up. We are not twisting arms for cash tributes. We are trying to keep perverts away from our kids. It’s very clear – you corporations go make money and run your business and we’re not going to hassle you. But if you use your power to pursue the agenda of our enemies, you are now our enemy, and we will gleefully and without apology use all our power to harm you right back.

The fretting conservatives, some in good faith and others because they are worthless and weak, claim to worry that this is some grand violation of our principles. It is certainly not a violation of my principles, starting with this one: If you hit me, I will hit you back twice as hard and then kick your quivering body. One problem with so much of blue check conservative Twitter is that so many of those who would presume to lead us into battle have never been in a fistfight. I have no use for anyone who has never gotten in a brawl and lost – and I prefer ones who have experience winning too.

We’re told that for some reason we are obliged not to use our most effective strength, our primary mode of power, in support of our interests. What we are never told is why that is true. Where we hold the government, we need to use it to deter corporate intervention – when did conservatism drop the concepts of deterrence and righteous retribution? We believe that for criminals who wrong us, and we need to apply them to others who do so as well, including companies. And there’s a track record of not using our power, manifesting in the current crisis. We have seen what not fighting back does, what substituting conservative cliches for conservative ass-kicking has got us. So, what’s the alternative they suggest? We tried doing nothing and that didn’t work. Maybe do nothing twice as hard?

No, we’re way past the phase where our opponents can appeal to our principles to neutralize our ability to resist. Our goal is a freer, more prosperous country where our kids are not the target of weirdos. You don’t get that by holding fire when the California commie contingent comes to make you into second class citizens. And do not think for a moment that making us into serfs is not their desired end state. From running down the idea of free speech to reimagining “democracy” into meaning that they have total control over the levers of cultural and political power to their manifest desire to turn our kids into gender-baffled sex objects for the Democrat pervert constituency, the future our enemies seek is unacceptable.

And we need to follow the principled lead of guys like Ron DeSantis and simply not accept it.




Tuesday, April 26, 2022

A shocking death

The girl had everything!

image from

Sarah Shulze, 21, died by suicide on April 13, her family announced.

“Balancing athletics, academics and the demands of every day life overwhelmed her in a single, desperate moment,” Shulze’s family said. “Like you, we are shocked and grief stricken while holding on tightly to all that Sarah was.”

The California-born runner was a junior and member of the cross country, indoor track and outdoor track teams at the University of Wisconsin.

Wisconsin officials released a statement Friday regarding the beloved student, who was described as a gentle soul and decorated student-athlete.

“The Wisconsin Athletics community is heartbroken by the unexpected passing of Sarah Shulze,” the university said. “We extend our deepest sympathies and sincere condolences to Sarah’s family, friends and Badger teammates during this extraordinarily difficult time.”

She earned academic all-Big Ten honors in 2020 and 2021 for cross country and in 2021 while running at Wisconsin.

A 2019 graduate of Oak Park High, Shulze was a star distance runner at her high school. She was named Ventura County Athlete of the Year and earned a scholarship to Wisconsin in 2018.

Shulze’s family launched the Sarah Shulze Foundation to advance and support women’s rights, student athletes and mental health.

Shulze is survived by her parents, Brigitte and Scott, and her sisters Abbey and Ella.


The Driver Behind the Recent Historic Collapse of Hispanic Support for Democrats

I’m sure you’ve heard about Joe Biden’s approval rating with a voter bloc the Democrats covet: Hispanics. They’re now Republicans. They’re drifted into our camp. The only people who don’t seem to know or care are…white liberals. For years, the narrative was that the GOP was too extreme on immigration enforcement. If only they moderated, they could clinch this voter group. Instead, the GOP stayed the same and the Left became so wild, so extreme, so gross, and so unpalatable that they become Republican voters. It’s all so delicious. The Democrats thought that demography was destiny. It’s not. Public opinion is shiftable sand, guys. You need to work at reaching voters, retool messaging, and in some cases, jettison policy positions because they’re too toxic. Getting cozy with pedophiles seems to be a debated topic among liberal academics. Making all the kids trans is another. Forcing everyone to wear masks is yet another policy position that is not polling well. Why do you think indoor mask mantes only came back in Philly and not anywhere else? Democrats know what’s up this year. It’s not hard to figure out.

It's also not like there have been canaries in the coal mines for Democrats about Hispanic voters. They’re not monolithic. They’re more conservative than liberal Democrats think—and they’re not too eager to back open borders. What about a pathway to citizenship? It’s not popular either. It barely cracks 50 percent, and that’s based on polling data from the past 10 or so years. Who know who mentioned this? It was a liberal data scientist, David Shor, formerly of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. He’s now crunching numbers for Blue Rose Research. Shor was adamant that Democrats doubling down on immigration was a losing proposition. That Democrats had lost the ability to connect with voters who weren’t like them. That liberals need to be aware that they are the minority, and that nonwhite voters, even those who have backed Democrats for years, were not as ideologically rigid as the white college-educated lefties that now dominate the party base


Crime rates drop after prosecutor focuses on repeat violent offenders

Gun control activists insist that by reducing the supply of firearms available to criminals, we can dramatically reduce violent crime, though they’ve never been able to adequately explain how exactly that’s supposed to work in a nation with 400-million firearms, 100-million gun owners, and the constitutionally-protected right to keep and bear arms.

A much more practical and constitutionally-sound approach to crime reduction is to reduce the demand for firearms among those likely to use them in the commission of a violent crime, and the best way to do that is to ensure that there are consequences for violent criminals.

It’s a lesson that Florida State Attorney Melissa Nelson appears to have taken to heart. As Fox News reports, the prosecutor overseeing criminal cases in and around Jacksonville has made prosecuting repeat violent offenders her top priority, and the strategy is paying off.

In 2021, Jacksonville’s murders were down 30% and overall shootings down 17% from the year prior, according to [Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office] data for non-domestic shooting incidents,” David Chapman, a spokesperson for the Fourth Circuit State Attorney’s Office, told Fox News Digital. “Given last year’s downturn, our numbers to date aren’t far off the mark and thankfully have not spiked like other cities.”

The Fourth Circuit covers Clay, Nassau and Duval counties and the city of Jacksonville and is led by State Attorney Melissa Nelson, who made waves for finding new ways to prosecute known criminals, such as pursuing firearms charges in connection with guns flaunted in music videos. She has sought stiffer sentences for people convicted of gun crimes.

This year, Nelson’s jurisdiction is seeing another drop in homicides, although shootings remained even with last year’s at the start of the month, statistics show.

“After experiencing a substantial downturn in violent gun crime in 2021, we continue to work together to combat violent crime in hopes that this trend continues,” Nelson told Fox News Digital. “Currently, we remain on par with last year’s numbers. Improving public safety and fighting violent crime remains a top priority for our office and law enforcement partners.”

This isn’t about just charging as many people as possible with as many offenses as prosecutors can get away with. In fact, Nelson’s office has also been working to get individuals wrongfully convicted out of prison. But the prosecutor’s top priorities in terms of obtaining convictions are the repeat offenders that pop up time and again in the criminal justice system.

“When she decided last year that she was going to really be aggressive about gun crimes, she got mocked, and one of her detractors was going on and on about, this never works, putting people away and throwing away the key,” said Betsy Brantner Smith, spokesperson for the National Police Association and a retired police sergeant with nearly three decades on the job. “And now, look, since she’s been doing it, it’s been working.”

Brantner Smith noted that even when a person is arrested for the first time for a violent crime it may not be the first one they’ve actually committed, adding that most firearms offenses are not linked to legal gun owners.

“Generally speaking, these are not legally held firearms,” Brantner Smith added. “When you’re dealing with people who are willing to use a firearm to commit a crime, you’re dealing with really serious offenders.”

More importantly, the “really serious offenders” aren’t generally guys who commit a single crime. As we’ve noted before, just 1% of a city’s population can be responsible for nearly two-thirds of its violent crime, which means there’s a small group of very prolific offenders at the heart of every city’s crime problem. By focusing the limited resources of a prosecutor’s office on that cohort, officials like Nelson can have a much bigger impact on violent crime rates than gun control activists slapping another gun control law on the books could ever hope to achieve.

Trying to reduce the supply of firearms in a state like Florida is an exercise in futility. Trying to put the most violent and prolific offenders behind bars for as long as possible, on the other hand, seems to be paying off.




Friday, April 22, 2022

You Thought Tax Day Was Bad? Biden Has Worse in Store

You could say “Happy Passover,” you could say “Happy Easter,” but you couldn’t really say “Happy Tax Day.” Tax Day is already bad, and President Joe Biden wants to make it worse.

If you filed for a refund, you may be waiting a while: As of March, the IRS hadn’t processed more than 12 million returns. The latest appropriations bill gave the agency funding to hire 10,000 more people, but that won’t solve the problem.

Biden wanted to give it a further $80 billion and hire another 87,000 agents. We already see IRS people chase waitresses around the table to tax their tips, run up and down city streets to make sure there’s no Uber hanky-panky and in their spare time go after successful small-business and gig workers.

That’s not enough for the president. Biden wants to make America No. 1 . . . in taxes.

If he had his way, the United States would have the highest individual, corporate and capital-gains taxes of all the developed nations. We’d have tax rates even higher than China’s.

And don’t forget his proposed confiscatory wealth tax on unrealized capital gains, which would be unconstitutional and impossible to calculate, besides being stupid.

Of course, Biden never acknowledges that under his tenure, Americans are already paying record taxes.

Just last week, Treasury announced it collected a whopping $2.1 trillion in taxes the first half of the fiscal year. It was the first time in history that tax collections exceeded $2 trillion in a six-month period. More than $1.1 trillion of that came from individual income tax.

You’d think that with record revenues, Biden would return some money to the working folks who earned it. Not a chance.

He wants to use it to expand his big-government regulatory state and control all aspects of the economy.

Instead of rewarding success, Biden and the Democrats want to punish it. They have no interest in economic growth. For them, tax policy is strictly a matter of class warfare and redistributionism.

But by hiking taxes on successful businesses and entrepreneurs, they reduce profits, which in turn reduces middle-class and blue-collar wages, increases consumer prices and throttles investor returns.

The left is always trying to tax the rich without realizing that you can’t be in favor of employees if you’re opposed to employers and you can’t support a system of capitalism without capital.

OK, Democrats aren’t always wrong about tax policy. One understood it well 60 years ago: John F. Kennedy.

So “long as our national-security needs keep rising, an economy hampered by restrictive tax rates will never produce enough revenue to balance our budget just as it will never produce enough jobs or enough profits,” he told the Economics Club of New York in 1962. “In short, it is a paradoxical truth that tax rates are too high today and tax revenues are too low, and the soundest way to raise the revenues in the long run is to cut the rates now.”

JFK had it exactly right. He was describing the Laffer curve before there was a Laffer curve.

And Kennedy was for growth, which should be the top goal of tax policy. He took the top rate from 91% to 70%.

Years later, former Democrat Ronald Reagan took the top rate from 70% to 28%. In fact, when Reagan left Washington, we had a two-bracket income tax: 28% and 15%. His reforms ripped 10,000 pages of tax regulations out of the Federal Register.

As tax rates were lowered, the tax base was broadened, and taxes were simplified. The JFK tax cuts launched a decade of tremendous prosperity. The Reagan tax cuts launched a two-decade prosperity cycle.

The Trump tax cuts are giving us what limited prosperity we have. Congress should make them permanent.

A pro-growth tax-cut plan that flattened rates, broadened the base and simplified the code could generate 3% to 4% economic growth. It’d be a crucial element in a balanced budget that also included a domestic discretionary-spending freeze and a rollback of all the nutty Biden regulations, especially on fossil fuels. That would be a growth budget.

Over the roughly 50 years between the end of World War II and 2000, the US economy grew at a 3.6% annual rate. In the new century, from 2000 to 2021, it’s grown by only half that: 1.8% annually.

Why? Too much spending, too much deficit finance, too much money printing, too much inflation, too many regulations, too much central planning, too much big-government socialism. And Biden wants to raise taxes so he can do more of the same.

It doesn’t have to be this way. America deserves better. America can do better—as it has proved in the past.


Olympic hero's defiant take on trans debate

Australia's most decorated Olympian of all time, swimming superstar Emma McKeon, has made it clear she's against transgender athletes competing in women's sport, declaring "it's just not fair".

The trans-in-sport debate raging in Australia is more intense than ever because of the federal election campaign by Liberal candidate Katherine Deves, who's copped backlash for comparing her activism for women's sport to protesting against the Holocaust.

McKeon weighed in on the debate at Griffith University's A Better Future for All seminar this week. "I personally wouldn't want to be racing against someone who is biologically a male, so that's a concern," McKeon said.

"It's not a new thing, but it's new in that sport, swimming, are going to have to deal with it."

New Zealand's Laurel Hubbard sparked debate when she competed in women's weightlifting at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.

More recently, Lia Thomas of the USA became the first known transgender athlete to win an NCAA swimming title when she took out the 500m freestyle.

On Australian shores, the AFL hasn't allowed Hannah Mouncey to compete in the AFLW, resulting in the former Australian men's national handball player taking the AFL to court.

McKeon says she doesn't think she'll race against transgender athletes in her career but admitted it had become a major point of contention. "I don't think it's going to come to that point," McKeon said.

"But now that it's a growing thing, the sport has to think about how to handle it and how to deal with it, because you do want to be inclusive, but you don't want to have females racing against swimmers who are biologically male, because it's just not fair."


Assault on free speech in Tennessee

America is in a free speech crisis. The mere mention of involvement in issue advocacy has resulted in personal and professional attacks by internet thugs determined to deny Americans, and indeed, Tennesseans the right to participate equally in the political process and petition our government.

In 2008, Brendan Eich, the inventor of Java Script and founder of Mozilla, legally contributed $1,000.00 to a California initiative campaign opposing gay marriage (which incidentally was supported by the electorate.) Eich was forced out of his position as the head of Mozilla due to threats by Internet social justice warriors making threats against his company. Eich shared his position with then-presidential candidate Barack Obama, so it could not have been more mainstream, yet he lost his company and livelihood.

Today, doxing of conservatives is viewed as sport by the current generation of internet warriors, and the impact is that many people will not donate to causes if they believe that their names will be made public.

I don’t have to provide a laundry list of examples, we both know this is true.

SB 1005-HB1201 would paint a target on the back of anyone who donated to a non-profit group which expressed a position on legislation pending in Nashville. While I can certainly understand and sympathize with the intent behind the legislation, the practical violence it does to the basic freedom to petition lawmakers in violation of the First Amendment overwhelmingly argues in favor of a veto.

In the 1950s, the state of Alabama passed legislation which required the NAACP to provide their membership lists to the state with the intent of discouraging participation. In 1958, the Supreme Court unanimously struck down this legislation. The practical effect of SB 1005- HB 1201 is the same, as participation in issue advocacy campaigns that happened to be adjacent to elections would be squelched.

For example, disclosure makes it foolhardy for someone with an interest in developing a green energy technology to publicly support a legislative effort to increase police funding. This simple act would put that donor at risk of losing funding from Wall Street’s Environmental, Social and Governance driven investment instruments due to Black Lives Matter’s word of disapproval.

We live in a world where people’s legitimately held, mainstream opinions are used to cancel their careers and livelihoods. SB 1005-HB 1201 enables that political persecution and no amount of legislative tinkering changes that fact.

For this and other reasons, Americans for Limited Government strongly urges Gov. Lee to veto this well-meaning, but ill-considered, dangerous and unconstitutional legislation.


Australia: Protecting women not a priority for Leftists

Steggall is an "independent" Leftist.

It was a mistake for Zali Steggall to refer to the protection of women, girls, and children as a ‘dead cat strategy’.

In one breath, she dismissed the rights of women to make way for the desires of biological men. Steggall may as well have lashed the history of feminism to the stake. This is not progressive thought – it is a regression back to a Medieval era where women were forced to shut up and put up with the dominance of men.

‘We were basically told to, “suck it up”,’ said one of transgender swimmer Lia Thomas’ teammates. The woman, who was too frightened to be identified, said that they felt uncomfortable and upset being exposed to a naked man in their locker room.

The Member for Warringah uttered her ‘dead cat’ line during a recent interview with Laura Jayes on Sky News Australia. It was not a poorly worded error. When pushed on the subject, Steggall doubled-down, accusing parents that raised concerns about the safety of young girls competing against boys in contact sport of being ‘transphobic’.

Steggall’s callous attitude toward the genuine fears of women confirms speculation that when it comes to the Culture Wars, the Left are prepared to sacrifice women, their rights, and their safety in order to appease biological men. So-called ‘moderate’ Liberal MP and New South Wales Treasurer Matt Kean said that this wasn’t the 1950s – no. Quite right. In the 1950s no self-respecting man would take a medal from a woman and describe it as an ‘act of bravery’.

Matt Kean went on to immediately tweet that, ‘Gender balance on treasury boards will rise from an impressive 40 per cent to a balanced 50 per cent! Chris Minns attacked the policy this morning. He really does stand for nothing. He won’t stand for a fair go for women.’

Kean didn’t clarify if his 50 per cent female quota target was made up of women or men.

The message is not getting through to men in positions of power like Kean. Women do not want men in their bathrooms, change rooms, sports, or other female-specific spaces. Individual groups of women make exceptions on a case-by-case basis – such as a desperate dad taking his female toddler to a public women’s bathroom – but the idea of legal power being used by the State to force the issue is unacceptable.

Shove a woman in front of a camera on national TV surrounded by a thrall of press and she might begrudgingly go along with the ‘tolerance’ line, but that answer is usually coerced out of fear that she may lose her job if she does not comply with the activist line. Shame on society for threatening women into accepting an unsafe situation. The Left are keen to point out the existence of ‘toxic masculinity’, paint every young boy as a potential abuser, and talk at length about women as victims of male violence, but they outright refuse to accept that this biological imbalance remains regardless of modern ‘gender-fluid’ theory.

When a woman says that she feels unsafe with a naked man occupying a change room, is it the woman who is banned from the gym or told to stop complaining. When a woman says that it is unfair for a man to set unattainable records in competitive sport, they are told that sport is meant to be about ‘inclusion’, not winning. When a woman loses her career to man, she is forgotten and left to watch a man take her scholarship, money, and future.

This paradox of political correctness ensures that women who stand up and bravely demand equality are labelled as bigots.

Virtue signalling is a currency best measured in ‘clicks’ and Australia’s media core attack conservative women like seagulls on a chip. These are the sorts of journalists who like to remind us that Warringah is ‘an electorate that voted 70 per cent in favour of same-sex marriage’ as if there is a genuine comparison between two consenting adults entering a marriage and the side-lining of women or surgical mutilation of a child’s body. There is not.

When Deves said that the behaviour of militant activists reminded her of the Nazi regime’s habit of ruthlessly silencing those who opposed it, she was describing the intolerant, hate-fuelled landscape of social media that women are subjected to if they dare to defend their biological rights.

Besides, no one throws the ‘Nazi’ accusation around more liberally than the radical left, who use it as a daily slur against anyone and everyone who stands slightly to the right of Stalin. Trump is a Nazi. Scott Morrison is a Nazi. The Liberal Party are Nazis. Anti-vaxxers are Nazis. J.K. Rowling is a Nazi. Murdoch is a Nazi. Jewish people who support Israel are Nazis. Free speech supporters are Nazis. Anyone who has refused to actively ‘affirm’ the LGBTQ movement has been accused of being a Nazi by someone with pronouns in their bio. Last year in Melbourne, Union members were called Nazis by none other than ex-Labor Leader Bill Shorten. Everyone is a Nazi to the rabid mob.

What we are witnessing is an ideological movement that has become so corrupted by the cheap thrill of outrage that they cannot stand to look at themselves in a mirror. The level of festering violence sitting beneath anonymous social media accounts is astonishing and speaks to a deeper psychological problem rampant in the last few generations who manage their emotions by abusing strangers on the internet. Is social media desensitising people or are these kids being radicalised to hate by a State-sanctioned education program that demonises conservatives and traditional family values?

Matt Kean correctly stated that, ‘This is not an intolerant society.’ Unfortunately, Kean can’t tell the difference between tolerance and cheating, something he has experience with when it comes to women’s issues. No, he wasn’t cancelled. Male privilege, perhaps? Australia has a reputation for fairness, and that is what Katherine Deves campaigns on. The Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins stated that the ‘practical guidance [of the re-interpreted Sex Discrimination Act in 2013] on how sporting organisations, their staff, and volunteers can promote the inclusion of transgender and gender diverse people in line with human rights-based principles.’

And therein lies the problem. Sport is not about ‘inclusion’ and it is not a human right. Sport is a competition divided by gender to promote fairness where contestants are selected based upon merit. It is about finding the limits and peak performance of that gender. If, as of 2013, sport is about ‘inclusion’ then fine – let’s forget the whole gender division thing and throw everyone into the unisex category. We’ll see how long it takes for professional female athletes to tear apart the sporting world when they find themselves losing to teenage boys and excluded from multi-million dollar prizes.

Katherine Deves isn’t being set upon by activist wolves because she’s wrong. Deves is hounded by every able-bodied member of the left because she’s right. The majority of men and women know that there is a fundamental difference between the sexes that cannot be erased by wishful thinking and medical intervention. Deves stated reality and the electorate pulled toward her.

Steggall felt it. Albanese felt it. The activists draining millions out of the taxpayer purse felt it.

At some point, society has to sit down and choose.

Do we honour the biological rights and safety of women – or do we bow to the demands of Labor, the Greens, the ‘moderate’ Liberals, and the so-called Independents who want us to cast women back to the Dark Ages?

Choose. ?




Thursday, April 21, 2022

Leftists’ anti-police policies have led to a startling number of black, Latino crime victims

A Fox News story reports there was a staggering 43% increase in the murders of black Americans in 2020 compared to the past 10-year average.

The finding is shocking — but not surprising. After all, New York proved decades ago that reducing crime disproportionally benefited blacks and Latinos because they comprise most of crime’s victims. Fewer crimes mean fewer victims of all races, but the drop is most pronounced among nonwhites.

If we didn’t know it before, we now know the opposite is also true. More crimes mean more black and Latino victims.

All this matters because the nation’s large cities are so swamped by horrific crime and violence that police, criminologists and a few honest elected Democrats are finally conceding the obvious: the progressive movement, including Black Lives Matter, that ostensibly aimed to protect minority racial groups by defunding the police and coddling criminals backfired big time.

The people the progressives claimed to be helping actually were harmed by the anti-police, pro-criminal policies.

Bill Bratton, who led the Los Angeles police between two terms as head of the NYPD, recently put it this way on a podcast: “The scales right now are tipped very heavily in favor of the reforms of the progressive left . . . and what we have as a result is this growing fear of crime, this growing actual amount of crime in almost every American city.”

Mayor Adams agreed, telling ABC News that while there had been issues of trust between police and some black New Yorkers, “we can’t rebuild that trust by allowing those who are dangerous and that have a repeated history of violence to continue to be on our streets.”

Yet it’s too kind to suggest the proponents were well intentioned but just went too far. All along, there was voluminous evidence showing they were taking huge risks by toying with unprecedented success.

They should have known better but common sense is not so common on the activist left. Besides, it wants revolution, not reform, and is willing to sacrifice others to get it.

The Fox story, based on FBI statistics, captures the failed experiment in bloody detail. Records show 7,484 black Americans were murdered in 2019 and 9,941 in 2020, an increase of 2,457 victims.

Previously, between 2010 and 2019, there was an average of 6,927 black murder victims each year, meaning the 2020 carnage involved 3,014 murders above the 10-year average.

Although blacks make up only 13% of the US population, they often are a majority of murder victims and perpetrators.

The year 2020 was an inflection point for various reasons. Although an anti-police movement has long been a fixture on the left, a series of police incidents in previous years culminated in the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. Captured on video when much of the country was on pandemic lockdown, Floyd’s death sparked nationwide protests and riots.

As in previous anti-police riots, one effect has been that “police pull back while violent crime spikes precipitously,” Hannah Meyers, director of the policing and public safety initiative at the Manhattan Institute, told Fox.

The continuing crime spike is also being fueled by prosecutors and lawmakers who invoked extreme leniency and forced judges to release prime suspects, many of whom then commit new violence and even murder.

New Yorkers know these patterns in up close and personal ways.

For 20 years, under mayors Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg, the NYPD turned Gotham into the nation’s safest big city. Murders fell from about 2,000 a year in the early 1990s to 300, sparking an economic and cultural renaissance that I liken to a new Golden Age.

But political profiteers undermined that success and turned the 2013 mayoral election into a referendum on supposed police brutality and racism. Bill de Blasio won the mayoralty and spent much of his eight years ­fanning the flames of police distrust.

He failed at just about everything else, but was successful in making New York more polarized and ­dangerous.

For example, he cut the NYPD budget by $1 billion to pander to the defund mob and ended the undercover units that searched for illegal guns.

The result is that New York became a microcosm of the national police stats. Murder rose here in 2020 and 2021, as did crimes in all seven major categories, creating more nonwhite victims.

None of that was necessary, and certainly was not what any sector of the public wanted.


Why Local Leaders Don’t Want This Prosecutor Making Their Towns a ‘Petri Dish for Social Experiments’

In the eyes of some Los Angeles County leaders, District Attorney George Gascon is guilty of creating an environment for crime to go unchecked.

“We have great concern about various prosecution policies that basically aren’t being enforced,” Joe Vinatieri, mayor of the city of Whittier about 20 miles southwest of Los Angeles, told The Daily Signal.

Vinatieri says his biggest priority as mayor is to keep his citizens safe, a task that has become more challenging for communities such as Whittier that are part of Los Angeles County and subject to Gascon’s policies as DA.

Gascon, a Democrat elected in November 2020, ran on a platform of ending mass incarceration. He promised to make “neighborhoods safer, hold police accountable to the communities they serve, and reform our justice system.”

As district attorney, Gascon is a progressive prosecutor, or what Heritage Foundation senior legal fellow Cully Stimson calls a “rogue prosecutor.” (The Daily Signal is Heritage’s multimedia news organization.)

“To put it succinctly, Gascon is a rogue among rogues,” Stimson wrote for The Daily Signal in 2021. “And unfortunately, for crime victims and the citizens of Los Angeles County, he is making their communities less safe.”

Gascon, 68, is one of about two dozen prosecutors whose campaigns were financially backed by liberal billionaire George Soros.

Andrew Lara, a city council member in Pico Rivera, 12 miles southwest of Los Angeles, says he would describe Gascon’s approach to criminal prosecution as “inadequate.”

“All his directives are just going to make crime and our quality of life, especially in Pico Rivera, much more difficult,” Lara, a Democrat, said.

Lara and Vinatieri spoke with The Daily Signal during a Heritage Foundation event April 7 in Los Angeles focused on rogue prosecutors such as Gascon.

On his first day in office, Gascon issued a memo listing 13 crimes that the District Attorney’s Office no longer would prosecute, including resisting arrest, prostitution, drug possession, criminal threats, trespassing, and driving without a valid license.

Gascon also announced that he would “cease filing ALL enhancements.”

“Enhancements” refers to factors such as gang activity that can lead to harsher sentencing by a judge.

“When I heard that he [Gascon] was not going to prosecute enhancements related to gang affiliation, I knew that that was going backwards,” Lara, who grew up in east Los Angeles and witnessed a lot of gang activity, said.

In Pico Rivera, population 65,000, residents want to “move away from gangs,” Lara said, adding that “we want the best for our children, just like, I think, any American city.”

Lara and Vinatieri say that Gascon’s policies aren’t serving communities like theirs.

In Whittier, a city of about 86,000 where future president Richard Nixon got his start in politics, “we are seeing an increase in petty thefts, of car break-ins, things like that,” Vinatieri said.

The increase in property crime is caused largely by those who are on illegal drugs, the mayor said, and who steal to pay for their addiction.

Under Gascon, law enforcement in Whittier often have no choice but to release those who commit nonviolent crimes back onto the streets hours after they committed the crime. Already, a California ballot initiative in 2014 known as Proposition 47 had decreased the consequences for many crimes and turned some felonies into misdemeanor offenses.

In 2021, Whittier police no longer could seek prosecutions in over 400 arrests because of Gascon’s progressive policies, a local law enforcement officer who requested anonymity told The Daily Signal.

Instead of incarcerating anyone who commits a crime, Gaston says that as Los Angeles County’s district attorney he will “??employ a holistic paradigm of public safety that requires individualized sentencing and treatment plans, which may or may not include appropriate incarceration, and restoratively holds people who commit crimes accountable, while acknowledging their humanity and capacity for redemption.”

Although it is true that “jail is not the solution for everything,” the local officer said, when you say you have a plan to stop prosecuting, but don’t have plans in place to help those offenders, that causes problems.

Los Angeles County doesn’t have the power to involuntarily commit someone to an institution for drug treatment, the officer said, and that is problematic when so much crime is driven by drug addiction.

People aren’t getting the help they actually need because the county isn’t prosecuting misdemeanors, Pico Rivera’s Lara said.

“If you fail to prosecute prostitution, if you fail to prosecute drug possession or reckless behavior, if you fail to prosecute those crimes, then none of those people get court-mandated diversion,” Lara said.

When individuals don’t go to court for breaking the law, “there’s no legal mechanism to make sure that these people are getting the help that they need,” Lara said, adding that “by doing nothing, nothing is happening. No one is being helped.”

The council member said he is all for slow, gradual changes to the criminal justice system, but is “tired of politicians making communities like mine a petri dish for social experiments.”


Report: Maine, New Mexico, Nebraska and North Carolina take bold steps to end civil asset forfeiture’s deprivation of property rights

By Robert Romano

Every year the federal, state and local governments seize about $3 billion of property via a process known as civil asset forfeiture, a perverse incentive for law enforcement officials to engage in searches in the hopes of finding something valuable to seize, knowing that that it most likely will not be challenged and recovered.

Now, many states are taking action to finally end the practice, a study by the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Dan Greenberg, “Five Myths of Civil Forfeiture,” reveals.

In it, Greenberg advocates to “establish a criminal forfeiture system, as opposed to a civil forfeiture one. A criminal forfeiture system simultaneously adjudicates both the criminal liability of the defendant and the defendant’s rights to the seized property… In contrast to the current civil forfeiture system, defendants would not be deterred from appearing in court under a criminal forfeiture system because of cost concerns… Maine, Nebraska, New Mexico, and North Carolina have adopted this system.”

The key here is litigating asset forfeiture in the context of and side-by-side with bonafide criminal prosecution, where not only the prosecution but any attempts at asset forfeiture can be contested by defense attorneys every step of the way.

In these states, you have to actually be charged with a crime first and convicted before any assets can be seized. The government has to prove that those assets were connected to the crime that was committed, and then the forfeiture is tethered to the prosecution and then sentencing, only attainable upon conviction.

But, Greenberg warns, conviction requirements on their own do not end civil asset forfeiture if they do not get the process out of civil courts, writing, “conviction prerequisites that keep forfeiture litigation in civil court have little or no effect, and that these provisions’ impact on the fairness or the consequences of forfeiture programs is largely insignificant.”

Here, Greenberg is noting that in most states, in order to assert a right against asset forfeiture, a citizen would have to hire an attorney to fight it out in civil courts, which run separately from the original criminal prosecution, if such a prosecution even occurred. In many cases, property is seized without even a prosecution, let alone a conviction.

Those are deprivations of liberty and property without due process of law, a clear violation of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

Instead, Greenberg proposes that asset forfeiture be exclusively a part of the criminal justice process. It still requires a conviction, but keeping the process in the criminal system is an important distinction.

Other keys to these laws are higher thresholds in order for asset forfeiture to come into play and requiring a nexus of the property to law being broken as ill-gotten gains. In New Mexico, property is required to be at least $50,000 in value; in Nebraska, it’s $25,000; and in Maine it’s $100,000. Greenberg dispels the myth that most civil asset forfeiture are in such high amounts. Those, he writes, are the exception, not the rule: “A typical cash seizure and forfeiture often ranges from several hundred dollars to a little over $1,000.”

And that’s generally the problem. Usually, the cost of fighting the seizure costs more than the asset is even worth and so the theft goes uncontested.

In addition, laws should block “equitable sharing” with federal law enforcement. This is the practice where local officials seize property, give it to the feds under the program, and then receive a substantial amount in return — all to avert state laws designed to rein in civil asset forfeiture.

New Mexico’s law explicitly prevents “equitable sharing” in its law, stating, “The law enforcement agency shall not transfer property to the federal government if the transfer would circumvent the protections of the Forfeiture Act that would otherwise be available to a putative interest holder in the property.”

Nebraska allows for property to be transferred to the federal government, but only ill-gotten gains: “The person from whom the money or property was seized is the subject of a federal prosecution or the facts and circumstances surrounding the money or property seized are the subject of a federal prosecution.”

Greenberg outlined two additional reforms that states should consider as well: 1) “require that forfeited assets go to a state’s general fund, rather than to supplement the budgets of police agencies and prosecutors’ offices… reduc[ing] system incentives… that appear to encourage some degree of personal and political corruption among public employees.” And 2) “require greater transparency in seizure and forfeiture processes.”

This theft of property by the government of private citizens needs to come to an end. Here, states like Maine, New Mexico, Nebraska and North Carolina are providing a strong basis for ending civil asset forfeiture the right way and restoring due process under the Constitution. It’s about time.


Seattle’s transit system struggles as riders refuse to pay

Seattle’s Link Light Rail is a freeloader’s paradise.

There are no turnstiles, so passengers are supposed to either buy a ticket or tap their pre-paid card. But so few riders are paying, fares are currently covering just 5% of the system’s operating costs, a fraction of the 40% mark Sound Transit set as a requirement.

At a recent Sound Transit Board meeting, the outgoing CEO summed up the situation. “Our fare collection system relies overwhelmingly on an honor system,” Peter Rogoff said, “and our increasingly acute problem is that our riders aren’t honoring the system.”

By one measurement, as many as a staggering 70% of all passengers are free riders. But even that is only an estimate as there is almost no fare enforcement. Sound Transit did away with fare enforcement officers after a study revealed people of color were disproportionately getting fined. Instead, the system now relies on fare ambassadors. There are only a handful for the whole light rail system, so riders will rarely encounter them. They currently engage only 2% of all riders.

When fare ambassadors do board a train, they ask passengers if they have paid their fare. Most have not. But instead of removing fare evaders from the train, fare ambassadors ask a series of questions starting with a request for identification. About 76% of the free-riding passengers refuse to produce valid ID, which makes it impossible to issue a warning.

Sound Transit allows two warnings before even the first fine is issued. But with so few people providing identification, fines are infrequently given and even more rarely paid.

Fare ambassadors may not get many scofflaws to pay, but they do collect data on them. They ask non-payers for their address, race and gender.

King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn sees the lack of fare enforcement as part of a larger problem.

“What we’re seeing here in Seattle is the systemic decriminalization of everything, all the way from farebox recovery to failure to register as a sex offender, and using the guise of equity and social justice so that there isn’t any enforcement of laws,” said Dunn, “And what you get is higher crime and more evasion.”

There are a few other light rail systems that rely on the honor system, including the ones in Portland, Denver and Dallas. But they all issue hefty fines to fare evaders the first time they are caught. Most of the Sound Transit Board members seem unfazed by the poor fare collection performance. Claudia Balducci is among those who supports the fare ambassador’s light touch.

“People are feeling more welcome on our system and less afraid to use it because there’s less of a fear of fare enforcement,” Balducci said.

But, the lone Republican on the Sound Transit Board says taxpayers who have forked over $168 billion for the system are getting ripped off.

“It’s gotta be safe, secure, reliable and sustainable, or it’s the biggest waste of money we’ve ever seen,” said Bruce Dammeier.

Sound Transit collects money from virtually everyone in Pierce, Snohomish and King counties. Those who live inside the special taxing district have to pay extra property tax and a much higher fee for their car tabs. Depending on the Blue Book value of the car it can easily cost an extra $200-$300 each year to register. And everyone pays an additional 1.4% on their sales tax to fund Sound Transit.

Tax revenue keeps increasing as fare revenue keeps plunging. In 2019, Sound Transit collected $96 million from users. In 2020, it received just $30 million from riders. Some of that is explained by a drop in ridership during the peak of the pandemic. But in recent months ridership has rebounded while fare collection has not.