Now is the Time


 

Here we are again. How unfortunate it is that we can now probably recite gun violence statistics from memory. Some of the all too familiar numbers, thanks to NBC News:

  • Every year in the U.S., an average of more than 100,000 people are shot, according to The Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence.
  • Every day in the U.S., an average of 289 people are shot. Eighty-six of them die: 30 are murdered, 53 kill themselves, two die accidentally, and one is shot in a police intervention, the Brady Campaign
  • Between 2000 and 2010, a total of 335,609 people died from guns -- more than the population of St. Louis, Mo. (318,069), Pittsburgh (307,484), Cincinnati, Ohio (296,223), Newark, N.J. (277,540), and Orlando, Fla. (243,195) (sources:  CDFS. CensusCDC)
  • One person is killed by a firearm every 17 minutes, 87 people are killed during an average day, and 609 are killed every week. (source: CDC)

That bastion of liberty and freedom, the NRA, wraps itself in the American flag and wielding the Constitution as if it were a sword, fools the public into believing that they are really only interested in a person’s rights, but we all know their real agenda is to maximize the profits for gun manufacturers. Be reminded that the right of the individual to ‘bear arms’ does not go back to the Founding Fathers: it is the result of the Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008).

One of the NRA’s primary tactics is to instill fear, and convince people that the only way they can protect themselves and their family is to possess one or more guns, the more powerful the better.   There is, however, evidence that just the opposite is true. From Statistics on the Dangers of Gun Use for Self-Defense (http://smartgunlaws.org/dangers-of-gun-use-for-self-defense-statistics/):

  • A gun is more likely to be used to kill or injure an innocent person in the home than a threatening intruder.
  • Research published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that living in a home where guns are kept increased an individual’s risk of death by homicide by between 40 and 170%.
  • A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology determined that the presence of guns in the home increased an individual’s risk of death by homicide by 90%.3
  • Research published in the American Journal of Public Health reported that, even after adjusting for confounding factors,  individuals who were in possession of a gun were about 4.5 times more likely to be shot in an assault than those not in possession.
  • The gun lobby has often cited to a thoroughly debunked statistic that guns are used defensively 2.5 million times per year in the United States.  That discredited estimate came from a 1995 study that suffered from several fatal methodological flaws, including its reliance on only 66 responses in a telephone survey of 5,000 people, multiplied out to purportedly represent over 200 million American adults.6  The authors of that discredited study themselves stated that in up to 64% of their reported defensive gun use cases, the guns were carried or used illegally, including cases where the victim was actually the aggressor.

Reportedly, in their information release following the tragedy, this largest of the gun lobby organizations made three points:

  1. Lots of assault rifles are being made,
  2. Lots of people own or desire to own an assault rifle,
  3. They are great for hunting.

Clearly, items one and two are related: you know, that supply and demand feature of the revered free market. This author has heard an estimate that there are 25 million assault rifle owners in the US. Sales can be attributed to the NRA’s focus on fear-mongering to increase the market for assault rifles. And as for their laudable use in hunting, think about this. People probably hunt for four main reasons. First, for those that hunt for food, the use of an assault rifle would seem strange considering the damage that the ammunition can do to the carcass and hide. Second, for those that hunt for the challenge of the sport, blasting away at prey hardly seems to require great skill. Third, there are probably those that participate in hunting for the bonding that takes place which may relegate the weapons to a symbol of something – perhaps power or prowess.. Finally, there are those that hunt simply for the thrill of killing and it is only for this group that using an assault rifle might make any sense. Apparently, the NRA has become so convinced that they have the public thoroughly conned that they do not even take the time to prepare a cogent argument.

This is the assault rifle used in Orlando (Sig Sauer MCX – ‘Black Mamba’).

Make no mistake. ‘What the Orlando attacker used was a weapon of war. It was designed to kill as many people as possible, as quickly as possible.’  Mother Jones reported that an audio captured by a bystander outside the Pulse nightclub recorded Omar Mateen firing 24 shots in 9 seconds.

(http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/06/assault-rifle-used-by-orlando-mass-shooter)

 

The manufacturer describes it as compact and lightweight, modular, and quotes a fan extolling that it is a ‘blast to shoot’. Modularity supports the substitution of different stocks, grips, and other parts of the rifle. It also means that it can easily be disassembled and reassembled – perhaps the better to conceal?

The thirty round high-capacity magazine uses large-sized ammunition, similar to the second and third bullets from the left.

A bullet exits the muzzle at a speed of well over 500 feet per second, which means it can travel a mile in under 10 seconds. At closer range, this velocity makes the weapon even more lethal.   It is a powerful, high-velocity implement of death that kills quickly, effectively, with maximum damage and carnage to the bodies of the victims and minimal effort by the shooter.

On Wednesday, June 15th, Rachel Maddow did a segment devoted to this weapon which is very informative and well worth seeing. http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow/watch/orlando-killer-s-gun-popular-for-ease-of-use-705747011593?cid=eml_mra_20160615 

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(What) A Long, Strange Trip (It’s Been)

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The Rescue of Joshua Glover,
as seen at the Fond du Lac underpass in Milwaukee.
(Artist: Ammar Nsoroma, photo: Jimmywayne on flickr)

Wisconsin, the United States’ thirtieth state was admitted to the Union on May 29, 1848. Under the 1787 Northwest Ordinance, which founded our state, slavery was prohibited. The new state, according to the constitutional convention, would retain the appellate system for higher adjudication. Five circuit judges would meet once per year, effectively acting as the Supreme Court of Wisconsin.  After five years, in 1853, three justices made up the official Supreme Court of Wisconsin.

Just as the territory joined the Union, a skilled carpenter named Joshua Glover planned his escape from Bennami Garland’s plantation near St. Louis, Missouri.  Wisconsin, it was known, was a safe haven for those who were fleeing bondage.  Glover knew the risks. He did not know that in 1850, the U.S. Congress passed amendments to the Fugitive Slave Laws of 1793, subsequently called the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. It required all citizens, not only state and federal officers of the court, to comply with the capture and return of runaway slaves to their "owners."  Proof of ownership was verified by the testimony of one witness.  All alleged fugitive slaves were denied representation. They were not allowed to raise a defense.  Not a word.  The safety of freed or escaped black men and women was in the hands of venal slave traders, bounty hunters and "owners" as well as agents of the government.  Anyone refusing to aid in the capture of an escapee was violating federal law and subject to arrest and imprisonment.  The Fugitive Slave Act did, in fact, embolden and unify the many anti-slavery citizens in Wisconsin, indeed in all the free states. Feeling the strength of their convictions, abolitionists were compelled to disobey the Act, thereby becoming criminals in the eyes of the law.

Traveling north in the spring of 1852, aided by the Underground Railroad, Glover made his way well past the Illinois state line.  Once safely within the borders of Wisconsin, he felt, for the first time in his life, that he might be his own man.  Glover found housing in a cabin and employment at a sawmill, both owned by local Racine businessman, Duncan Sinclair.  Glover lived there peacefully for nearly two years.

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The Problem with Insuring Health

cms_for_healthcare.pngInsurance is a system in which premiums are paid by subscribers into a pool of funds used to compensate losses from future events. Because insured events are usually infrequent, are not recurrent, and are of limited duration, most enrollees pay premiums but do not receive money for claims, so that the pool of premiums exceeds the cost of claims. Think of your homeowners policy or your car insurance. The surplus money becomes profit for the insurance company. Typical insured risks include car accidents, home damage and theft. Skillful estimation of risks allows premiums to be set that are both competitive and profitable. According to Warren Buffet, an important source of income for insurance companies comes from the gap between the time premiums are paid in and the time claims are reimbursed. During this gap substantial free money is available to be invested profitably.

Insurance has existed since ancient times. The Babylonians and Romans paid a ’Bottomry fee’ to receive compensation if one of their ships sank in the Mediterranean Sea. The first written insurance contract was made in Genoa in 1347. In 1777 Benjamin Franklin started a company to insure Philadelphians against fire. Today many additional risks are insured.

However, insurance for health care costs was uncommon before the 1940’s when World War II forced the United States to impose wage controls. Employers could no longer compete for scarce workers by offering more money, and stagnant income made employees unhappy. Adding health benefits attracted workers and made up for frozen wages.

After the war publicly supported health insurance was considered, but in the end a system funded by employers and administered through commercial companies was instituted. Donated care and public hospitals provided care for the poor and uninsured. In the 1960’s Medicare and Medicaid were enacted to cover medical costs for the elderly, the disabled and the indigent. But some people still remained uncovered and had to pay medical bills out of pocket or rely on charity.

Health problems are substantially different from other insured risks. Unlike ship wrecks and car accidents, medical needs are common, recurrent, and often chronic. Pre-existing conditions have nearly a 100% probability of ongoing medical expenses. Only a minority of people do not have significant health care needs at some time in their lives.

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LET'S TALK ABOUT GUN SENSE

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Does State Representative Dan Knodl, 24th Assembly district, present a threat to public health and safety with his new "anyone, any gun, anywhere" bill? On the basis of his co-authorship of Assembly Bill 247, the question bears asking.

The bill would eliminate the requirement for a background check, training, and permit in order to carry a concealed weapon. When asked to reconsider allowing the bill to come up for a vote, Rep. Knodl replied:

I am a co-sponsor and supporter of LRB – 2039.

Current law allows individuals without a license to open carry anywhere in Wisconsin that is not currently posted. This bill would allow those individuals to simply put on a jacket without becoming a criminal. It would make further changes to ensure that those individuals who choose to carry concealed are able to pick up their children from school without inadvertently committing a felony. School districts, private entities, and local governments would still be able to decide on the local level if they would like to post their buildings, and in the case of schools, if they’d also like to post their grounds. If a building is posted, a person carrying a firearm may not enter. I would expect that most districts will choose to post their property and buildings.

Perhaps Rep. Knodl should learn a lesson from a recently deceased, former Republican Congressman named Jay Dickey. In the mid-1990s, Representative Dickey attached an obscure amendment that prevented the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from spending any funds to conduct research on the public health effects of firearm violence. The bill to which the amendment was attached passed and was signed into law in 1996.

Sixteen years later — long after he had left Congress and just after the Aurora movie theater massacre — he recanted his earlier position. Together with Mark Rosenberg, who had been the director of the disease control center’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control when Dickey’s amendment became law, Dickey published an op-ed in the Washington Post reversing his earlier position.

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PARTY LIKE THERE IS NO TOMORROW

Before adjourning to the White House Rose Garden for their celebratory ‘kegger’, the House of Representatives managed to pass the American Health Care Act (AHCA) by a very slim margin. Virtually all of the provisions of this $800 billion tax-cut masquerading as health care reform are incredibly odious and worthy of discussion; perhaps the most odious are the provisions, or lack thereof, for addressing pre-existing conditions.

Do you recall when Sarah Palin was claiming that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) included ‘death panels’ that would decide who would live and who would die? What she was referring to was a provision in the ACA that would allow health care providers to discuss end of life care with their patients. Clearly she had misinterpreted the language, either from ignorance or the desire to mislead. In short, ‘fake news’. While speaking nonsense for political effect, she was, however, prescient. The GOP AHCA, if enacted without substantial change, will have turned the Republican caucuses in the House and Senate into their own “death panels” for people with pre-existing conditions.

Pre-existing conditions
ACID REFLUX (GERD), ADDISON’S DISEASEALCOHOL ABUSE AND RECOVERY, ALS, ANEMIA, ANEURYSM, ANGINA PECTORIS, ANGIOPLASTY, ANOREXIA, ANXIETY, AORTIC ANEURYSM, ARRHYTHMIA, ARTHRITIS, ASTHMA, ATRIAL FIBRILLATION, ATRIAL FLUTTER, ADHD, AUTISM, BARIATRIC SURGERY, BASAL CELL CARCINOMA, BERGER’S DISEASE, BENIGN PROSTATIC HYPERTORPHY, BIPOLAR DISORDER, BLOOD CLOT, BLOOD PRESSURE, BRADYARRHYTHMIAS, BREAST CANCER, BRONCHIECTASIS, BRONCHITIS (CHRONIC), BULIMIA, BUNDLE BRANCH BLOCK, CANCER, CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE, CELIAC DISEASE, CEREBRAL ANEURYSM, CEREBRAL EMBOLISM, CEREBRAL PALSY, CEREBRAL THROMBOSIS, CHOLESTEROL, (COPD), CHOLITIS (ULCERATIVE), CLAUDICATION, COLON CANCER, COLON POLYPS, CONGESTIVE HEART FAILURE (CHF), CORONARY BYPASS , CROHN’S DISEASE, DEPRESSION, DIABETES TYPE 2, DIABETES TYPE 1, DIGESTIVE TRACT DISORDER, DISABLED, DIVERTICULITIS, DOWN SYNDROME, DUI/DWI, DUODENAL ULCER, DRUG ABUSE, EATING DISORDER, EMPHYSEMA, ENDOCARDITIS, ENDOMETRIOSIS, ENLARGED PROSTATE, EPILEPSY, EROSIVE ESOPHAGITIS, FELONY, FIBROMYALGIA, FOCAL SEGMENTAL GLOMERULOSCLEROSIS, GASTRIC ULCER, GASTRIC BYPASS, GERD, GASTROPLASTY, GENERAL DISABILITY, GENETIC FINDINGS, GLAUCOMA, GOUT, HEART ATTACK, HEARTBURN HEART DISEASE, HEART MURMUR, HEART VALVE, HEMOPHILIA, HEPATITIS, HERPES, HIGH CHOLESTEROL, HODGKIN’S LYMPHOMA, HYPERLIPIDEMIA, HYPERTENSION, HYPERTHYROIDISM, HYPOTHYROIDISM, HYSTERECTOMY, INFLAMMATORY BOWEL DISEASE, INSOMNIA, INTESTINAL POLYPS, IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME, KIDNEY STONES, KIDNEY TRANSPLANT, LEFT-SIDED COLITIS, LUPUS, MARIJUANA, MIGRAINES, MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS, MUSCULAR DYSTROPHY, MYOCARDIAL INFARCTION, NARCOLEPSY, NASAL POLYPS, NON-HODGKIN’S LYMPHOMA, OBESE, OBSESSIVE COMPULSIVE DISORDER, ORGAN TRANSPLANT, OSTEOPOROSIS, OVERWEIGHT, PACEMAKER, PAGET’S DISEASE, PARKINSON’S DISEASE, PANCOLITIS/UNIVERSAL COLITIS, PANCREATITIS, PANIC DISORDER, PEPTIC ULCER, PERIPHERAL VASCULAR DISEASE, PREMENSTRUAL DYSPHORIC DISORDER, POLYCYSTIC KIDNEY DISEASE, PTSD, PROCTOSIGMOIDITIS, PROSTATE (ENLARGED), PROTEINURIA, PULMONARY EMBOLISM, RESTLESS LEG SYNDROME (RLS), RIGHT BUNDLE BRANCH BLOCK (RBBB), SCHIZOPHRENIA, SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER (SAD), SEIZURES, SICKLE CELL DISEASE, SLEEP APNEA, SLEEP DISORDERS, STENT (CARDIAC), STROKE, SQUAMOUS CELL CARCINOMA, SUICIDE (ATTEMPTED), TACHY-BRADY SYNDROME, TACHYCARDIA, THORACIC ANEURYSM, THROMBOSIS, THYROID, TRANSIENT ISCHEMIC ATTACK (TIA), TUBERCULOSIS, ULCERATIVE COLITIS, ULCERATIVE PROCTISIS, ULCERS, VENTRICULAR ARRHYTHMIA, VENTRICULAR SEPTAL DEFECT, VENTRICULAR TACHYCARDIA, ZOLLINGER-ELLISON SYNDROME
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Let's Have Fun Making Fun

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Golf Balls to Trump

An Indivisible group in Miami has come up with what sounds like a fun idea. They're writing messages about Trump's agenda on golf then sending them to the White House. Here are a few examples:

Trump chips away at science
Trump chips away education
Trump chips away at the arts
Trump tee’d off at response to budget
Trump shanks his first swing at budget

There are dozens more. We'd be writing them directly on the balls or else on slips of paper that we then glue to the balls.

If there's enough interest in this project, we will find a day/time for a golf ball party with pens, and food, and drinks, and laughs. To let us know whether you'd like to come to a golf ball party, register your interest at the linked page below and we'll get back to you.

Yes, this sounds like fun. Count me in.

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Join Us to Defend Democracy

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All over the country, people are taking actions to Defend Democracy and Fight Fascism. Grassroots North Shore is joining the effort by encouraging all of our supporters to take part. For a full explanation and instructions about how to participate, visit our Defend Democracy page and sign up.

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