Great Leap Forward

More News That You Just Cannot Makeup

*Updated, with a fourth story added

1. How many Americans have been shot-to-death by guns since Sandy Hook? Oh, I know, guns don’t kill people. But, anyway, you know what I mean. Apparently no one has been keeping track of gun deaths in the US–that would be a bit inconvenient for our gun nuts. But Slate has started a project to tally them up:

So far, 306 murders, although by the time I finish writing this sentence no doubt there will be another dozen or so. Hey, Christmas Eve was a big day for gun deaths in America–it is such a festive season. Nice graphics as well as an excel spreadsheet available at the site. Someone with a bit of spreadsheet skill can link the locations of the killings on the national map to total population to get the kill rate by state. Sure looks like the South wins, judging by a quick eyeball look. Note also these data mostly do not include suicide-by-guns which typically account for 60% of gun deaths but are not typically counted. Guns don’t kill people, people kill people, and when the people you kill is you I guess we just don’t need to keep track of that one. You can also help out by sending in information on murders by guns in your own neighborhoods.

2. What happens if you were one of the early Euro Skeptics, who proclaimed loudly and clearly back in 1995 that the EMU was a terrible mistake? Well, you get fired by the EU. And, get this, you lose in court, which also orders you to pay all the court costs! Yes, folks, this happened to Bernard Connolly, a British economist who wrote the great book, The Rotten Heart of Europe. Bernard, along with economists Charles Goodhart and Wynne Godley, helped to keep the UK out of the flawed EMU. Bernard had worked at the European Commission and forcefully criticized all the mistakes that were made in moving toward union. And for that he got fired. The European Court of InJustice ruled against him, arguing that the Commission was entitled to  “protect the rights of others” and to punish individuals who “damaged the institution’s image and reputation”. By doing what? By telling the truth: Bernard’s book argued that monetary union interferred with democracy, freedom and peace.

He was right, of course. I participated in a conference in London shortly after publication of his book, at which he summarized his main arguments. And here we are a decade and a half later watching as the whole Euroland project unravels–with high double-digit unemployment in most countries, with highly unpopular austerity imposed by unelected Central European Officials (CEOs), and with divisive separatist movements gaining momentum. All of this could have been predicted. Indeed, it was predicted. And for that you get fired in Europe. See the article here: In Europe there is no longer any such thing as freedom to state the truth–if that truth is inconvenient for EU officials.

3. Ok, here is one I just don’t know what to think of. I certainly couldn’t have made it up, although I have sometimes used it as an analogy. In ancient times, tribal societies practised a custom known as Wergild–imposing fines for transgressions in order to prevent bloodfeuds. In Russia, the fine for shearing off the beard of an unwilling victim was very hefty–reflecting the value Russian society placed on beards. I always wondered how often this happened, and why on earth would anyone cut-off another’s beard.

Well, it really happened here in America. In Ohio: Apparently, it’s quite a crime in Ohio, too–where it is being treated as a hate crime. Seems excessive to me to put someone behind bars for life for improper shearing of male beards and female hair. To be sure, the fear of force against one’s own person, as well as the humilation suffered by the victims should not be ignored. But let’s hope that reason will prevail in the court.

Oh, more guns would have helped, I suppose. If both Amish clans had been armed to the teeth with assault rifles, there could have been a real bloodbath.

4. And you can’t make this one up, either. From Today’s WashPost: “The words were tucked deep into the sprawling text of President Obama’s signature health-care overhaul. Under the headline “Protection of Second Amendment Gun Rights” was a brief provision restricting the ability of doctors to gather data about their patients’ gun use — a largely overlooked but significant challenge to a movement in American medicine to treat firearms as a matter of public health. The language, pushed by the National Rifle Association in the final weeks of the 2010 debate over health care and discovered only in recent days by some lawmakers and medical groups…NRA officials say they requested the provision out of concern that insurance companies could use such data to raise premiums on gun owners….  physician groups and researchers see the provision as part of a decades-long strategy by the gun lobby to choke off federal support for studies of firearms violence….The research restrictions began in the 1990s, when the NRA urged Congress to cut funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s division that studied gun violence. In 1996, Congress sharply limited the agency’s ability to fund that type of research….More limits came last year in a spending bill setting restrictions on the National Institutes of Health after complaints from gun rights advocates about an NIH-backed study drawing links between alcoholism and gun violence. The provision, added by Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.), prohibits the NIH from spending money to “advocate or promote gun control” — language that researchers say does not explicitly forbid studies but sends a signal to federal research agencies to steer clear of the topic….The NRA push has extended into state capitals as well, with Florida lawmakers last year crafting a plan to impose jail time on doctors for inquiring about their patients’ gun ownership. Gov. Rick Scott (R) signed a scaled-back version of the proposal requiring health-care workers to “refrain” from asking patients about their ownership or possession of firearms unless the providers believe “in good faith” that such information would be relevant. A federal judge this year declared the law unconstitutional and blocked its enforcement, but the ruling was appealed by the state and is under review.”

So, you cannot speak truth in America, either, when it comes to guns.


One Response to “More News That You Just Cannot Makeup”

CaroleDecember 31st, 2012 at 8:26 pm

You could also add statistics from the recent 2012 documentary: THE INVISIBLE WAR

An investigative and powerfully emotional documentary about the epidemic of rape of soldiers within the US military, the institutions that perpetuate and cover up its existence. For example:

In 2010, 108,121 veterans screened positive for military sexual trauma, and 68,379 had at least one Veterans Health Administration outpatient visit for related conditions.
In 2010, The Department of Defense processed reports of 3,198 new assaults but estimated the actual number of assaults to be closer to 19,000.
These reports only resulted in convictions against 244 perpetrators.