‘One Boy’s Grades Improved’ says Brianne Altice, Former Utah English Teacher Accused of Sex with Students

Brianne Altice

The parents claim the school did nothing when employees complained about Altice’s behavior with students.

A former teacher in Utah who pleaded guilty to sexual abuse charges made surprising admissions in a written response filed Tuesday in federal court.

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Brianne Altice, 35, was taken into custody and ordered to stand trial in 2nd District Court after Judge John R. Morris refused to set bail, Thursday, January 15, 2015. Altice, is facing a total of 14 felony charges for allegedly having sexual relationships with three male students: five counts of first-degree felony rape, two counts of first-degree felony forcible sodomy, three counts of second-degree felony forcible sexual abuse, along with three counts of unlawful sexual activity with a minor and one count of dealing harmful material to a minor, all third-degree felonies.

Brianne Altice is facing a total of 14 felony charges for allegedly having sexual relationships with three male students. (Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune)

Brianne Altice is in prison for having sexual contact with three boys aged 16 and 17. She filed a two-page response last month after one of the victim’s parents filed a lawsuit against her and the school district. The parents claim the school did nothing when employees complained about Altice’s behavior with students.

Brianne Altice listens to the testimony during a preliminary hearing in 2nd District Court in Farmington, Utah. (Leah Hogsten/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP, Pool, File)

Brianne Altice listens to the testimony during a preliminary hearing in 2nd District Court in Farmington, Utah. (Leah Hogsten/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP, Pool, File)

Altice, a former English teacher, said the then-16-year-old boy whose parents are suing her would “thwart inappropriate comments directed at her.”

[Read the full story here, at nbc41.com]

Altice wrote that the teen would come to her for advice on his relationship with his parents. She said she told him “to communicate with his parents and continue to do his best in school.” Read the rest of this entry »

The Formerly Alive Artist Formerly Known as Prince is Dead


Legendary musician Prince has died at the age of 57

The artist known as Prince has died … TMZ has learned. He was 57.

Prince’s body was discovered at his Paisley Park compound in Minnesota early Thursday morning.

Multiple sources connected to the singer confirmed he had passed.

The singer — full name Prince Rogers Nelson — had a medical emergency on April 15th that forced his private jet to make an emergency landing in Illinois. But heappeared at a concert the next day to assure his fans he was okay. His people told TMZ he was battling the flu. Read the rest of this entry »

Legislating from the Bench: Court Strikes Down Wisconsin Right-to-Work Law 


Right-to-work laws prohibit businesses and unions from reaching agreements that require all workers, not just union members, to pay union dues. Twenty-four other states have such laws.

Wisconsin’s right-to-work law, championed by Republican Gov. Scott Walker as he was mounting his run for president, was struck down Friday as violating the state constitution.

Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel, also a Republican, promised to appeal the decision and said he was confident it would not stand. Schimel has not made a decision on whether to seek an immediate suspension of the ruling while the appeal is pending, spokesman Johnny Koremenos said.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker Associated Press

“We are confident Wisconsin’s freedom-to-work law is constitutional and will ultimately be upheld.”

Governor Scott Walker, on Twitter

Three unions filed the lawsuit last year shortly after Walker signed the bill into law. Right-to-work laws prohibit businesses and unions from reaching agreements that require all workers, not just union members, to pay union dues. Twenty-four other states have such laws.

The unions argued that Wisconsin’s law was an unconstitutional seizure of union property since unions now must extend benefits to workers who don’t pay dues. Dane County Circuit Judge William Foust agreed.

“Once again, a liberal Dane County judge is trying to legislate from the bench. No one should be forced to join a union or pay union dues as a condition of employment.”

— Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester

He said the law amounts to an unconstitutional governmental taking of union funds without compensation since under the law unions must represent people who don’t pay dues. That presents an existential threat to unions, Foust wrote. Read the rest of this entry »

Chicago to Apply 9% ‘Amusement Tax’ for ‘the Privilege of Witnessing, Viewing or Participating in the Chewing of Gum’


[See also – Chicago to Apply 9% ‘Netflix Tax’]

Indie Rock Musician? Or Convicted Murderer?


Answer after the jump Read the rest of this entry »

Hastert Pleads Innocent To Federal Indictment

CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 9: Former Republican Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert arrives for his arraignment at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse on June 9, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Hastert was in court to answer charges that he knowingly lied to the FBI and intentionally evaded federal reporting requirements involving bank transactions. Hastert is alleged to have withdrawn more than $1.5 million dollars in several installments from bank accounts to make payments to an "Individual A" to cover-up sexual abuse that reportedly took place when Hastert was a teacher and wrestling coach at Yorkville High School. Since Hastert was charged, other reports of sexual abuse by Hastert have surfaced.  (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)

CHICAGO (CBS) — Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges he paid hush money to conceal wrongdoing before he entered politics, and lied to the FBI when questioned about the money.

Dressed in a dark blue suit, the 73-year-old Hastert appeared frail, hunching over as he walked through a crowd of photographers and reporters waiting outside the Dirksen Federal Courthouse on Tuesday.

Hastert pleaded guilty when he appeared before U.S. District Judge Thomas Durkin.

Hastert, who was second in line to succeed the president while he served eight years as the Republican Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1999 to 2007, has not spoken publicly since he was indicted in late May on one count each of structuring currency transactions to evade Currency Transaction Reports and making a false statement to the FBI.

The indictment accused Hastert of illegally structuring bank withdrawals to hide $1.7 million in payments he made to a longtime acquaintance, and lying to the FBI when questioned about the banking activity.

Hastert’s arraignment drew so much media attention, a judge in a neighboring courtroom complained about noise from the throng of reporters waiting to get into Durkin’s courtroom before Hastert’s hearing. Read the rest of this entry »

Off-Duty Oak Park Police Officer Shot On Chicago’s Far South Side


An off-duty Oak Park police officer was shot Sunday morning on Chicago’s Far South Side.

The shooting happened in the 300 block of West 103rd Place at 5:13 a.m., police said.

The 57-year-old officer was exiting his personal vehicle when he was approached by two males, one of which fired numerous shots at the officer, striking him in the arm and leg, police said. The officer was able to return fire, and made contact with one of the suspects….(read more)

CBS Chicago

World’s Hottest Pepper Saves Man’s Life


Randy Schmitz Survives: ‘The Tumor Would Not Have Been Discovered had it not been for the Hot Sauce’

MYRTLE BEACH (WITI) —  reports: A man claims hot sauce saved his life!

Randy Schmitz of Orland Park, Illinois has always loved hot sauce. So when he was vacationing in Myrtle Beach last summer, he decided to stop at a hot sauce store and take their challenge.


Contestants had to dip a toothpick in the hot sauce and put it on their tongues. One of the hot sauces in this hot sauce challenge is so incredibly hot, people are required to sign waivers before sampling it.

“The next thing I knew, I had woken up on a stretcher in a hospital room — covered in vomit.”

It’s called “Flashbang” and combines Carolina Reaper, scorpion, and habanero peppersaccording to the Huffington Post. The Carolina Reaper was crowed the world’s hottest pepper a few years ago.


“Schmitz was rushed to an emergency room for an MRI scan of his brain. That’s when they discovered a cancerous brain tumor in its early stages.”

“I made it the five minutes. My sister then said she wanted to take the challenge, but I said, ‘you might want to hold off. I’m feeling really sick,’” Schmitz told ABC News.

The sauce caused Schmitz to suffer a seizure.


“Within a few days, he had the tumor removed and the treatment was complete. The tumor would not have been discovered had it not been for the hot sauce.”

“The next thing I knew, I had woken up on a stretcher in a hospital room — covered in vomit,” he said in the letter he sent to the Pepper Palace, the business that hosted the challenge. Read the rest of this entry »

Cook County Cops Find More Than a Ton of Marijuana in Frozen Avocado Packages


About $10 million of marijuana was found

Police in Illinois seized more than a ton of marijuana that was hidden in packages of frozen avocado pulp, the Cook County Sheriff’s Office said Wednesday.



About 2,100 pounds of marijuana, worth an estimated $10 million, was discovered on March 4 in bricks dispersed throughout more than 1,500 boxes of packaged avocado at a cold storage facility in Cook County. Read the rest of this entry »

‘I Tried to Vote for a Republican and the Machine Registered a Vote for a Democrat’


CHICAGO — Paul Miller reports: Early Voting in Illinois got off to its typical start Monday, as votes being cast for Republican candidates were transformed into votes for Democrats.

Republican state representative candidate Jim Moynihan had trouble voting for himself on Monday when early voting started inJimMoynihan-FB-Photo Illinois.

“I tried to cast a vote for myself and instead it cast the vote for my opponent.”

“You could imagine my surprise as the same thing happened with a number of races when I tried to vote for a Republican and the machine registered a vote for a Democrat.”

The conservative website Illinois Review reported that “While using a touch screen voting machine in Schaumburg, Moynihan voted for several races on the ballot, only to find that whenever he voted for a Republican candidate, the machine registered the vote for a Democrat in the same race.

[See Pundit Planet’s Ongoing Coverage of Voter Fraud]

Republican state representative candidate Jim Moynihan went to vote Monday at the Schaumburg Public Library.

[Also see – What could go wrong? Volunteers go door-to-door ‘ballot harvesting’ in Colorado]

He notified the election judge at his polling place and demonstrated that it continued to cast a vote for the opposing candidate’s party. Moynihan was fund-bookeventually allowed to vote for Republican candidates, including his own race.

 [A good time to check out John Fund’s book Who’s Counting?: How Fraudsters and Bureaucrats Put Your Vote at Risk available from Amazon.com]

Moynihan offered this gracious lesson to his followers on Twitter: “Be careful when you vote in Illinois. Make sure you take the time to check your votes before submitting.” Read the rest of this entry »

Teen Arrested at O’Hare, Wanted to Join ISIS


The suspect, who appeared in court today, planned to slip through the porous Turkish border to Syria or on to Iraq

An Illinois teenager was arrested Saturday at a major airport as authorities say he was attempting to travel to the Middle East to join the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

UPDATE: From CNN: The search at Khan’s Bolingbrook, Illinois, home, where he lives with his parents, turned up documents allegedly written by Khan that stated his intentions.

“We are all witness that the Western societies are getting more immoral day by day. I do not want my kids being exposed to filth like this.”

— Khan in the letter, according to the complaint.

Mohammed Hamzah Khan, a 19-year-old U.S. citizen from Bolingbrook, appeared in court today to face charges for allegedly attempting to provide material support for a terrorist organization. If convicted, Khan could face up to 15 years in prison. Read the rest of this entry »

Department of Not Surprised Announcement: Chicago Crime Rate Drops as Concealed Carry Gun Permit Applications Surge


City of Chicago sees fewer homicides, robberies, burglaries, car thefts as Illinois residents take arms

Kelly Riddell for The Washington Times: An 86-year-old Illinois man with a concealed carry permit fired his weapon at an armed robbery suspect fleeing police last month, stopping the man in his tracks and allowing the police to make an arrest.

“It isn’t any coincidence crime rates started to go down when concealed carry was permitted. Just the idea that the criminals don’t know who’s armed and who isn’t has a deterrence effect.”

— Richard Pearson, executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association.

Chicago's finest not happy that law-abiding citizens can exercise their constitutional rights without asking for special permission

Chicago’s finest not thrilled about law-abiding citizens exercising constitutional rights without their permission

Law enforcement authorities described the man as “a model citizen” who “helped others avoid being victims” at an AT&T store outside Chicago where he witnessed the holdup. The man, whose identity was withheld from the press, prevented Topeka-Gun-store-APothers from entering the store during the theft.

“There’s a lot of academic research that’s been done on this, and if you look at the peer-reviewed studies, the bottom line is a large majority find a benefit of concealed carry on crime rates — and, at worst, there’s no cost.”

— John Lott Jr., president of the Crime Prevention Research Center

Police said the robber harassed customers and pistol-whipped one.

Since Illinois started granting concealed carry permits this year, the number of robberies that have led to arrests in Chicago has declined 20 percent from last year, according to police department statistics. Reports of burglary and motor vehicle theft are down 20 percent and 26 percent, respectively. In the first quarter, the city’s homicide rate was at a 56-year low.

“It isn’t any coincidence crime rates started to go down when concealed carry was permitted. Just the idea that the criminals don’t know who’s armed and who isn’t has a deterrence effect,” said Richard Pearson, executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association. “The police department hasn’t changed a single tactic — they haven’t announced a shift in policy or of course — and yet you have these incredible numbers.” Read the rest of this entry »

BREAKING: Victory in Palmer v. D.C. ‘The Court finds that the District of Columbia’s complete ban on the carrying of handguns in public is unconstitutional’


Just in: For Reality-Based Litigationalangura writes,

Justice never sleeps…. not even on a Saturday afternoon, when this opinion was just handed down.

In light of Heller, McDonald, and their progeny, there is no longer any basis on which this Court can conclude that the District of Columbia’s total ban on the public carrying of ready-to-use handguns outside the home is constitutional under any level of scrutiny. Therefore, the Court finds that the District of Columbia’s complete ban on the carrying of handguns in public is unconstitutional. Accordingly, the Court grants Plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment and enjoins Defendants from enforcing the home limitations of D.C. Code § 7-2502.02(a)(4) and enforcing D.C. Code § 22-4504(a) unless and until such time as the District of Columbia adopts a licensing mechanism consistent with constitutional standards enabling people to exercise their Second Amendment right to bear arms.4 Furthermore, this injunction prohibits the District from completely banning the carrying of handguns in public for self-defense by otherwise qualified non-residents based solely on the fact that they are not residents of the District.

In 2012, I won Moore v. Madigan, 702 F.3d 933 (7th Cir. 2012), which struck down Illinois total ban on the carrying of defensive handguns outside the home…(read more)

Read the rest of this entry »

Science: Murder Rate Drops as Concealed Carry Permits Rise, Says (Another) New Study


A dramatic spike in the number of Americans with permits to carry concealed weapons coincides with an equally stark drop in violent crime, according to a new study, which Second Amendment advocates say makes the case that more guns can mean safer streets.

“When you allow people to carry concealed handguns, you see changes in the behavior of criminals.”

– John R. Lott, Crime Prevention Research Center

The study by the Crime Prevention Research Center found that 11.1 million Americans now have permits to carry concealed weapons, up from 4.5 million in 2007. The 146 percent increase has come even as both murder and violent crime rates have dropped by 22 percent.

Six states don’t require a permit for legal gun owners to conceal their weapons, and Lott notes those states have some of the lowest violent crime rates in the nation.

“When you allow people to carry concealed handguns, you see changes in the behavior of criminals,” said the center’s president, John R. Lott, a Fox News contributor. “Some criminals stop committing crimes, others move on to crimes in which they don’t come into contact with victims and others actually move to areas where they have less fear of being confronted by armed victims.”

Increasing gun ownership, litigation and new state laws have all contributed to the rise in concealed carry permits. In March, Illinois became the 50th state to begin issuing concealed weapons permits. But the cost and other requirements for obtaining the permits varies greatly, from South Dakota, where a permit requires $10, a background check and no training, to Illinois, where the cost of obtaining a permit comes to more than $600 when the fee and cost of training programs are taken into account. Read the rest of this entry »

‘Illinois Voters Have Used Many Elections to Make Theirs the Worst-Governed State’


The Effect of One Party Rule

George Will writes: Democracy can be cruel because elections deprive the demos of the delight of alibis and the comfort of complaining. Illinois voters have used many elections to make theirs the worst-governed state, with about $100 billion in unfunded public pension promises and $6.7 billion in unpaid bills. The state is a stark illustration of the effect of prolonged one-party rule, conducted by politicians subservient to government employees unions.

new Gallup poll shows that Illinois has the highest percentage — 50 percent — of residents who want to leave their state. If Illinois voters reelect Gov. Pat Quinn, they will reject Bruce Rauner, who vows to change the state’s fundamental affliction — its political culture.


The state’s strongest civic tradition is of governors going to jail. Four of the last nine have done so. Lt. Gov. Quinn ascended to the governorship in 2009 because Gov. Rod Blagojevich, of fragrant memory, tried to sell the Senate seat Barack Obama vacated. In 2010, Quinn defeated a downstate social conservative by 32,000 votes out of 3.7 million cast. Quinn’s job approval today is about 35 percent.

(AP Photo/Robert Ray)

Rauner, born a few blocks from Wrigley Field, grew up in a Chicago suburb — his father was an electrical engineer at Motorola; his mother was a nurse. He attended Dartmouth, earned a Harvard MBA and joined the private-equity firm GTCR, where he made enough money to buy his nine homes. When a reporter asked him if he is among the 1 percent, he cheerfully replied, “Oh, I’m probably .01 percent,” an answer that was better arithmetic than politics. Read the rest of this entry »

Half of Illinois Wants to Leave State


If everybody in America had the opportunity to pack up and move to the state of their choice, Illinois, Connecticut, and Maryland would empty out, according to a new Gallup poll. Around half of residents in all three states said they would relocate to another state given the chance, with Illinois having the highest rate of people (50%) who want to get out; Connecticut clocked in at 49%, and Maryland at 47%. People in Montana, Hawaii, and Maine were the most inclined to stay put, with just 23% of residents of each state saying they would take the opportunity to move. Read the rest of this entry »

[VIDEO] Rep. Schock: Japanese Leaders Privately Told Us Theyre Worried about U.S. Support

For NROAndrew Johnson writes: As tensions rise between China and Japan, the latter is growing less and less confident in American diplomatic support in the event of a conflict, according to one Republican congressman who recently visited Japan.

“Those are a bit unprecedented, and it’s because of the uncertainty they feel about America’s commitment to the treaty and to ultimately defend them if and when they were to get into military conflict. I think that’s why the president was asked that same question following later in the week when he visited.”

Read the rest of this entry »

What It’s Like to Spend 20 Years Listening to Psychopaths for Science


For WIRED, Greg Miller writes: Ted Bundy, shown here in 1978, unwittingly had a role in sparking Kent Kiehl’s interest in psychopaths. Photo: Donn Dughi/Bettmann/CORBIS

Kent Kiehl was walking briskly towards the airport exit, eager to get home, when a security guard grabbed his arm. “Would you please come with me, sir?” he said. Kiehl complied, and he did his best to stay calm while security officers searched his belongings. Then, they asked him if there was anything he wanted to confess.


Kiehl is a neuroscientist at the Mind Research Network and the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, and he’s devoted his career to studying what’s different about the brains of psychopaths — people whose lack of compassion, empathy, and remorse has a tendency to get them into trouble with the law. On the plane, Kiehl had been typing up notes from an interview he’d done with a psychopath in Illinois who’d been convicted of murdering two women and raping and killing a 10-year old girl. The woman sitting next to him thought he was typing out a confession.

[Order The Psychopath Whisperer: The Science of Those Without Conscience from Amazon]

Kiehl recounts the story in a new book about his research, The Psychopath Whisperer. He has been interviewing psychopaths for more than 20 years, and the book is filled with stories of these colorful (and occasionally off-color) encounters. (Actually, The Psychopath Listener would have been a more accurate, if less grabby title.) More recently he’s acquired a mobile MRI scanner and permission to scan the brains of New Mexico state prison inmates. So far he’s scanned about 3,000 violent offenders, including 500 psychopaths.

Read the rest of this entry »

Michelangelo’s David the Tranquil Heroic Naked Guy vs. Michelangelo’s David the Conquering Warrior Hero


“They commissioned statues of David because he was a martial hero who had felled an intimidating foe. They made him a beautiful nude to emphasize his heroism, not to disguise his bloody deed.”

— Virgina Postrel

armalite-gallery-1This controversy is news to me. Author  Virginia Postrel has an item about this in Bloomberg that I recommend, with the (wonderfully not-subtle) headline: Michelangelo’s David Has a Right to Bear Arms

So a gun company, ArmaLite, depicts Michelangelo’s David with a powerful firearm. Potent image. Effective advertising, too. It gets attention. Did ArmaLite think the Italian cultural establishment would view this…favorably? The backlash was perhaps stronger than they anticipated. What does David represent? Asymmetrical warfare, for one.

Come to think of it, Glenn Reynolds wrote a whole book on asymmetrical warfare (the digital revolution) in his classic An Army of Davids. Virginia Postrel’s book The Power of Glamour, makes her uniquely positioned to comment on the controversy.

Read the rest of this entry »

Fleeing Democrats Will Turn Texas Blue

 reports: In Los Angeles this week, three city council members blamed fracking for an earthquake, though they are not actually certain whether any fracking has occurred. In New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio is continuing his fight to crush charter schools that are primarily helping black and Hispanic children. In Illinois, the House Speaker announced plans to raise taxes on millionaires, despite proof that doing so will hurt the state’s ailing economy.

Even some Democrats know that their party is being unreasonable.

California’s Gov. Jerry Brown, for example, refuses to ban fracking. New York’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo may hate conservatives just as much as de Blasio, but he is defending the charter schools. In Illinois, there aren’t yet any Democrats willing to oppose the millionaire tax. Yet millions of Democrats are voting with their feet, leaving Illinois for more conservative jurisdictions.

And perhaps that is the point.

Texas is the number-one destination for California’s émigré population, for example. It is popular among migrants from other blue states as well, owing to its warm climate, job opportunities, and lack of a state income tax. Over time, that is changing Texas’s political culture.


For years, Democrats have hoped to take Texas back. The Lone Star State has produced the last two Republican presidents, some of the most important conservative legislators, and untold millions of dollars for GOP candidates across the country. Read the rest of this entry »

Illinois State Police Mails First Wave Of Concealed-Carry Permits

The handful of states left in the US that don’t do this are becoming increasingly isolated. I’m glad to see a Illinois finally take this step.


[VIDEO] ‘Incomprehensible’: Convicted Terrorist Worked as Obamacare Navigator


 Woman involved in deadly terror bombings kept her past secret from authorities in President’s home state

For National Review OnlineJillian Kay Melchior writes:  A terrorist from Jordan briefly worked as an Obamacare navigator in Illinois while authorities remained unaware of her conviction for involvement in a deadly grocery store bombing and two other attacks.

Rasmieh Yousef Odeh was convicted in Israel for her role in several bombings, including the 1969 attack on an upscale Shufersol grocery store, which killed two Hebrew University students who had stopped in to buy groceries for a hiking trip in the Jerusalem hills. Leon Kanner and Eddie Joffe were killed by a bomb hidden in a candy box tucked on a shelf, which also injured nine or 10 others, according to a website maintained by the Israeli government to commemorate terror victims.

Read the rest of this entry »

With Ban on Concealed Carry Lifted, Chicago Residents Learn to Protect Themselves


“Most of what Americans know about guns they learned from TV and the movies, and 99 percent of it is wrong.”

— Gerald Vernon

Katie Pavlich writes:  In December 2012 the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Illinois’ ban on concealed carry as unconstitutional, finally opening the door for residents in crime ridden areas of Chicago to protect themselves and their communities. Although permits must be approved by local police and a state licensing board, it’s a start. People who have applied for permits are expected to get approvals and permits in the mail by the middle of  March 2014.

As more people carry concealed in Chicago, the crime rate will decrease. Guaranteed.

Now that Illinois residents have finally been given their rights back, they’re flocking to concealed carry classes to learn more about how to safely carry a firearm. The Reader just did a feature story Gerald Vernon [see Dismantling the Stigma of Guns] a long time Second Amendment advocate and firearms instructor living in Chicago’s south side.

The first lesson Gerald Vernon shared with his conceal-and-carry class is, to him, the most fundamental: “The only thing that stops bad people with guns is good people with guns.”

His ten students—eight men and two women, all African-Americans—were listening intently. They had gathered in a meeting room at a south-side social service center to learn about gun ownership and self-defense from Vernon, a veteran firearms instructor who was seated at the front of the room next to a table set with an array of revolvers and semiautomatic handguns from his collection.

Read the rest of this entry »

Dismantling the Stigma of Guns


Gerald Vernon believes conceal-and-carry laws and responsible firearm owners are crucial to keeping people safe—especially in the communities hit hardest by crime

  writes:  The first lesson Gerald Vernon shared with his conceal-and-carry class is, to him, the most fundamental: “The only thing that stops bad people with guns is good people with guns.”

His ten students—eight men and two women, all African-Americans—were listening intently. They had gathered in a meeting room at a south-side social service center to learn about gun ownership and self-defense from Vernon, a veteran firearms instructor who was seated at the front of the room next to a table set with an array of revolvers and semiautomatic handguns from his collection.

The students didn’t appear to need any convincing. “I’m interested in protection,” explained Thomas Brandon, 57, when it was his turn to introduce himself. The others said they were there for the same reason.

Read the rest of this entry »

Illinois Conceal Carry Applications Overwhelmingly Outpace Obamacare Enrollment

A group of local public school teachers from nearby schools use rubber training guns as they practice proper firearms handling during a teachers-only firearms training class offered for free at the Veritas Training Academy in Sarasota, Florida January 11, 2013. The December 14 tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, where 20 first-graders and six adults were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School, has sparked a national debate about whether to arm teachers, prompting passionate arguments on both sides.  REUTERS/Brian Blanco  (UNITED STATES - Tags: SOCIETY POLITICS EDUCATION)

A group of local public school teachers from nearby schools use rubber training guns as they practice proper firearms handling during a teachers-only firearms training class offered for free at the Veritas Training Academy in Sarasota, Florida January 11, 2013.  REUTERS/Brian Blanco

On the heels of a federal court striking down Chicago’s ban on gun sales, those seeking gun permits in Illinois flooded the State Police website over the weekend to begin the permitting process.

In fact, the amount of Illinois residents seeking a conceal carry permit already surpasses those who enrolled in Obamacare after the first two months of the launch of healthcare.gov. The Chicago Sun-Times reported 4,525 individuals signed up on Sunday alone for their firearms permits, when the State Police first opened the process to all concealed carry applicants.

Illinois State Police spokeswoman Monique Bond said that number is included in Sunday’s total of more than 11,000 people who have signed up because of an early application process that began December 18 and was open to only firearm instructors. Officials told the Sun-Times they expect 350,000 to 400,000people (about 1,000 per day) will sign up for conceal carry firearm permits this year.

Read the rest of this entry »

Report: Student Claims Improper Arrest For Filming NYPD Station

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A Brooklyn student has filed a lawsuit against the NYPD, after he said he was arrested for taking video of the outside of a police station, according to published reports.

Cops Can’t Interfere With Filming In Public, Says Attorney

School of Visual Arts graduate student Justin Thomas, 29, filed the lawsuit Wednesday in Brooklyn U.S. District Court, according to a New York Daily News report. He claimed he was within his First Amendment rights as he recorded the 72nd Precinct stationhouse in Sunset Park while standing on the sidewalk, the paper reported.

But the suit said a sergeant identified in the suit as Viet Cato came outside and told Thomas he needed a permit, and took the camera away while another officer took the memory card, the newspaper reported. A second undetected memory card preserved the incident, and the law firm Rankin & Taylor PLLC released the video on YouTube.

Read the rest of this entry »

Tweet of the Day: Plaque at Jacob Carruthers Center for Inner City Studies of Northeastern Illinois U


The End of Gun Registry in Chicago


Richard A. Pearson: “It was just harassment of law-abiding gun owners, and that’s all it was ever meant to be”

Katie Howland writes: Gun owners in Chicago no longer have to register firearms with local authorities, the New York Times reports. Read the rest of this entry »

Carry at the Office

If you’re lucky enough to be legally permitted to carry a concealed firearm at work, here are some tips for the best methods.

There are many options for concealed carry in everyday “street” clothes, but the work environment limits the options for concealed carry in the office. Carrying a firearm discreetly is always a tradeoff between firepower and concealability, and the office environment places a higher priority on concealment than other considerations. This makes it a challenge to find ways to carry a firearm safely and comfortably in today’s “business casual” workplace.

The recent popularity of .380 ACP semi-automatic “pocket” pistols has made concealed carry in the office much easier. Manufacturers such as RugerSmith & Wesson and many others have introduced (or reintroduced) small, thin, lightweight pistols that conceal easily yet are reliable and powerful enough to carry with confidence. If revolvers are more to your liking, there are also new offerings in .38 Spl. and .357 Mag., such as the Ruger LCR and Smith & Wesson Bodyguard.

It’s important to consider the legal ramifications of concealed carry in your workplace. State laws regarding firearm carry on private property such a business or office building vary widely, and it is imperative to thoroughly study your state’s laws and applicable federal law before deciding to carry at work. Also consider the legal and ethical consequences of carrying a concealed firearm at work, such as the human-resources policies of your employer or landlord, and what might occur if those rules are not followed.

Read the rest of this entry »

Licensed to Carry

Gun ownership is regulated more than critics ever admit.

By  Charles C. W. Cooke

Perhaps the most boring thing that gun-controllers throw at advocates of the right to bear arms is the assertion, almost guaranteed to rear its doltish head in any conversation about the Second Amendment, that it is easier in the United States to own and operate a gun than it is to own and operate a car. This contention most often takes the form of a rhetorical question. “Every state requires its residents to pass a test in order to drive a vehicle,” its adherents ask. “So why doesn’t it require them to take a test before they can own a lethal weapon?”

As is typical, this inquiry misses the glaring truth that keeping and bearing arms is explicitly recognized as an unalienable right in the country’s Constitution, whereas driving a car is a privilege that is subject to the plenary powers of the states. The 2008 Heller decision correctly recognized the right to bear arms as an individual right, and the subsequent McDonald ruling applied that right to the states. No such guarantees apply to motor vehicles, nor should they. Nevertheless, in almost all states, in order to carry a weapon, one does in fact need to take a test and acquire a license. The “keep” part of the Second Amendment is fairly unregulated, yes; but the “bear” part? Not so much.

As a result of a 20-year trend toward liberalization, in which many states now have some sort of concealed-carry regime, and of the president’s recent push for gun control, concealed-carry applications are soaring. A Wall Street Journal survey conducted this month revealed that “early figures for 2013 show that many states are on pace for their biggest year ever.” This has provoked the usual wailing and gnashing of teeth from the gun-control crowd, as well a new round of witless predictions that the rise in the number of armed Americans will inexorably lead to a national Shootout at the OK Corral.

This is a peculiar reaction. Certainly, the anti-gun brigade doesn’t want people carrying guns at all. But if free people are going to — and make no mistake, they are — then I daresay that their opponents ought to welcome the prerequisite accreditation process. In almost every state in the union, a concealed-carry permit is issued only after the applicant has undergone a training course of some description. In some states, the rules are so strict that even ex-cops and military veterans are required to participate; and in Connecticut, one needs to go through such a course in order just to buy a firearm.

I live in New York City, which for some reason will issue concealed-carry permits only to those who can afford armed bodyguards. As I am neither famous nor a politician, I am not likely to be considered worthy. Still, as there is nothing to stop me from taking a gun class elsewhere — or, for that matter, from applying for CCW permits in states of which I am not a resident — I thought I’d have a look into how the system works in freer parts of the country. After a little research, I elected to do the National Rifle Association’s “Basic Pistol Course,” which is accepted as a training requirement in almost every states and which doesn’t expire. (A few states have their own proprietory training requirements.)

My instructor for this course, whom I found online through the NRA’s website, was a charming and kind retiree who conducts pistol classes for small groups primarily because he “enjoys teaching.” At the outset of the day we chatted a bit about the gun-control issue, and he expressed reasonable frustration at the manner in which gun owners are stereotyped. “I don’t have a pickup truck, I don’t hunt, I don’t like country music, and I don’t like the Confederate flag,” he told me. Instead, he takes frequent trips to Europe with his wife, grows his own wine grapes, and enjoys jazz. Not exactly your cartoon hoplophile. I sympathize with his irritation: “You try going back to England and telling your friends that you think you should be able to own a machine gun . . . ”

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Why I got my CCW Permit and Why You Should Too

From thesurvivalistblog.net  by Guest Blogger on June 17, 2013 · 48 comments

This is a guest post by Mr. Mac”  and entry in TheSurvivalistBlog’s non-fiction writing contest.

In the fall of 2001, I completed the process of securing a permit to carry a Concealed Weapon, called a CCW. I had debated for over a year as to whether to do the work necessary to apply for it. For a number of years I had been an occasional shooter, but it wasn’t until the hoopla of Y2K that I began to get more serious about shooting, took some classes, and become relatively proficient. I soon found that I loved to shoot. And since an indoor range was within easy driving distance, I often found myself visiting it, along with several other outdoor ranges.

That, plus the advent of a new pro-CCW County Sheriff, caused me to think that I might have a chance at getting the CCW permit. It was, however, with both some trepidation, and frankly, a lot of excitement that I finally decided to take the coursework necessary, complete the required paperwork, do the interview, got fingerprinted for the DOJ, all necessary activity to be considered for the permit. It was only after I had been approved that I started thinking about why this seemed so important to me; what was it that stirred me so?

Over the last few months I have given it quite a bit of thought. Am I really that concerned about crime…we live in a pretty low-incident area. Was I on some ego trip? Was I trying to prove my masculinity? All of these may have had some minor influence, but, as I probed, I found that there were other, more significant motivations that sprung more from who I am as a man, and reflected certain core values that comprise my person. I’d like to put those down on paper.

1) I am both disturbed and frustrated by much of what I see in this country’s politics these days, and am often left wondering how to properly respond. It occurs to me that, as just one man, I have very little impact on this nation, just one voice out of 280,000 million. Yet, this country means a great deal to me. I lost my father to the Korean Conflict, all my uncles served in WWII, and I have studied and understand what unique and precious rights are afforded the citizens of this country I am privileged to live in.

Additionally, I hold as a strong value the opinion that every man and woman has the God-given right to be responsible for his or her own personal safety, that no one is obligated to be a victim, and that this right is not a privilege bestowed on me by some governmental entity. I also believe that, if a person of good character is willing to do the work necessary and takes the responsibility, then that person has the basic right to carry a defensive weapon. However, it seems that there are those in this country who disagree with me, who fear that I, and others like me, are a danger to society; that this freedom which is so basic to natural law and so thoroughly entrenched in the Constitution, must be taken from us.

These usurpers are even now furiously working to legislate that right out of existence. Mistakenly believing that this issue is “guns”, they feel quite comfortable trampling on my freedom. And so, it is to the anti-gun fascist, those who would deny me my rights as a free man and an American citizen that I am responding. It is in the spirit of those American’s before me who cried out “give me liberty, or give me death,” “damn the torpedoes,” and “let’s roll” that I acted. As a political statement, as an act of patriotism, as my way of hoisting the flag, and my finger, in enraged defiance of those despots who say I can’t, I got my permit to carry a gun; it was my patriotic duty.

2) Concurrent with this is the fact that much of what I hear today about gun control from the anti-gun crowd in just plain infuriating. It’s not just that it is bad science, emotional, illogical, and just plain ignorant; it’s the assumption that they make and propagate about me as a gun-owning person that I take personal offense. It’s my character they are impugning. I take exception to the notion that Society somehow needs to be protected from me because I might carry a gun.

Actually, I am a responsible, mature man, an adult, and I resent like hell being treated as if I am somehow untrustworthy and suspect. It judges me, and millions like me, as weak and without moral and intellectual vigor. It tells me that my affinity for guns and my desire to carry one is a suspicious problem that requires legislation, registration, and control. And it is demeaning.

So, to the elitist crowd who would look down their noses at my personhood, who fear my masculinity, who believe that I am somehow part of the problem, and that my character is defective, I say this to you: I will not let you treat me like a child, I will not let you “nanny” me, suspect me, or disrespect me with your paranoid attitudes and your laws. Acquiring my CCW is my firm response to being patted on the head and told to get in line and behave myself. I will not go quietly into the night.

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California Can Top New York as Nation’s Worst State

By Steven Greenhut 

Whenever a free-market research or business group releases a “best and worst” list of states, my eye goes straight to the bottom: To see whether California is last or was edged out for the lowest rank by one of the other mismanaged liberal bastions. Illinois seems to exist to boost the self-esteem of Californians.

I can raise a glass of zinfandel to California’s great victory in the Mercatus Center’s recent “Freedom in the 50 States” study. The state didn’t place last. That distinction went to New York, thanks to its highest-in-the-nation tax rates and entrepreneur-crushing economic regulations. I owe an apology to residents of the Land of Lincoln.

For all the study’s detail about tax rates and regulation, this information jumps out as the most telling about New York: “9.0 percent of the state’s 2000 population, on net, left the state for another state between 2000 and 2011, the highest such figure in the nation.” Moving is the surest sign of dissatisfaction, especially when people relocate from a state that has long been an economic and cultural magnet.

Californians talk incessantly about high-tailing it to Texas or Nevada, yet New Yorkers flee at about double our rate. Migration numbers aside, I would still rank the Golden State as the Most Hopeless State. There are other studies that bolster that case, including Chief Executive magazine’s “2013 Best and Worst States for Business” that places California dead last, with New York in 49th place.

Regulatory Overload

The magazine ranks states based on three categories: taxation and regulation, workforce quality, and living environment. Even with its natural advantages in the last category and high ranking in the second one, California still flopped because its officials have adopted a punitive environment in the first category. That takes some doing…

More Via Bloomberg.

Bummer! Perry’s poaching starting to annoy other states


I assume this means that Governor Rick Perry’s poaching has been successful:

Gov. Rick Perry’s high-profile efforts to lure jobs to Texas from other states may be good business and smart politics back home, but they’re infuriating to prominent Democrats around the country.

And now at least one Republican business leader says Perry’s taking the Lone Star swagger a little too far.

Perry’s forceful recruitment campaigns, featuring radio and magazine ads as well as personal appearances, promise low-tax, pro-growth policies in Texas —and they also trash the business climate in places like California (“…I hear building a business in California is next to impossible”) and Illinois (“…an environment that, intentionally or not, is designed for you to fail.”)

Those attacks hit where it hurts and have touched off an angry political backlash against Perry outside the Texas borders, with Democrats mocking his attempts to steal jobs as clownish – and warning the Republican governor to keep his handsoff. In a memorable put-down, Gov. Jerry Brown said Perry’s incursions into California were about as effective as breaking wind.

But other observers say Perry knows exactly what he’s doing.

“At the end of the day, no matter how any of the [states] respond, people are left with two distinct messages: That guy down in Texas has got big brass balls and he’s creating a lot of jobs,” Mark McKinnon, a political strategist with deep Texas ties, told POLITICO. “It’s brilliant marketing and very smart politics.”

Well, that’s usually the case when competition produces dominant players — a lot of less-competitive players get annoyed, resentful, and dismissive.  A few of them will start trying to compete better. The rest simply go out of business altogether.  Perry’s critics seem to be in the dinosaur group.

via The Greenroom


Tax That Stripper!

stripper tweets

 Bubbles Burbujas is a Texas-based stripper. In high school, she spent a summer working for a state representative. Today, she dances at clubs across the country.

In Texas, strip clubs must pay a so-called “pole tax.” The Sexually Oriented Business Fee Act collects money ($5 a customer) from Texas gentleman’s clubs that feature nudity and serve alcohol and uses the funds to assist the state’s anti-sexual assault programs and help low-income residents pay for health care. For years, the act, which was passed in 2007, was caught up in court actions after a club owner asserted the tax impinged upon First Amendment rights; since, the Texas Supreme Court has ruled the tax would stand. Advocates of the tax claim clubs must pay for the negative secondary effects the clubs supposedly cause in their communities. Most recently, Illinois has imposed a similar tax.

Here, Bubbles reveals what it’s like to work with a pole tax.

What’s a “pole tax”?

In Texas, the pole tax is a $5 surcharge added to the club’s cover charge and is supposed to be charged to each customer who walks through the door. The money from the pole tax is supposed to go to low-income health insurance and programs that combat sexual assault. While the tax is being collected, the continuing appeals mean that none of it has been spent.

You work in Texas. How has the tax impacted you?

Mainly it means that customers ask questions about why the cover is an odd amount.

What do customers think of the tax?

They mostly don’t know about it, I think. If they ask “Why was the cover $15 when the ad says $10?” and I explain it to them, they don’t really ask further questions.

The supporters of the tax argue there’s a correlation between sex crimes and strip clubs. You say?

Definitely not. The data cited in the Texas Supreme Court’s decision a couple of summers ago almost all come from now-discredited studies. Secondary effects have never been proven.

In “Pole Taxes Not ‘Genius,’” you point out it’s the dancers, not the clubs, who are financially penalized by the tax. How does that work?

As it turned out, the club I work at chose to raise its cover rather than the house fee, so I’ll step back from that statement. I appreciate the fact that they passed the financial burden on to the consumer. I’m not sure if this is the case at every club, though. If the higher cover deters customers from entering the club, we both suffer, but I’m not sure that it has had an effect on customer volume.

Jezebel, as you pointed out, called Houston’s pole tax “genius,” adding, “Pretty smart to use money from folks who enjoy sexualized women to aid sexually assaulted women.” Are pole taxes feminist — or anti-feminist?

The pole tax is a regressive and optional tax and as such is definitely not progressive, liberal, or in line with a statewide economic policy that would further the interests of most of the working women in the state.

Do you believe pole taxes violate the First Amendment?

While I am grateful to the First Amendment-based victories strip clubs have won, I’m not sure that this is necessarily a violation of free speech rights because they aren’t taxing the performers specifically, which would arguably restrict their ability to perform. These are probably some fine legal points I am in no way qualified to address. I do believe that these types of regressive and specific taxes set a bad precedent.

As of this year, there’s a pole tax in Illinois, and other states are introducing their own. Do you expect more states to have pole taxes in the future?

Yeah, I do, because if the strip clubs in Texas couldn’t get it together to hire effective lobbyists and attorneys to fight them, who will?

You dance all over the country. What’s the best state to dance in and why?

I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Texas regardless of my complaints because it’s the one place I’ve been treated as a true independent contractor, free to make my own schedule and hours. There’s also the advantage that most clubs don’t take a percentage of your earnings, just a flat fee. If you can avoid the most macho of the Texans, it’s a great place to work.

via Forbes.