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A tax cut

Is not a wonderful Christmas present. It’s borrowing against future needs, and after 30 years of this horseshit, the loan is coming due.

Time-Warner customers

You might want to call and let them know how you feel about this.

Wikileaks fund drive

The’re running out of money and as you know, American banks have blocked their funds. You can still send checks or donate via Paypal.

I have this proposal, one I’ve brought up before and I still think it’s a great idea. Here it is: If you own a handgun, you have to own gun insurance.

Handguns cause untold damage to other human beings, mostly because that’s what they’re designed to do. And since craven politicians won’t offend the NRA by talking sense, I say it’s time to get the insurance lobby involved. (After all, they’re always looking for a new revenue stream!)

If you have a history of violence or other anti-social behavior, your premium will reflect that higher risk. If you keep your guns in a locked gun cabinet, have approved triggers locks and have taken a gun safety class, your premium will reflect responsible gun ownership.

Oh, and just like when you buy a car, you can’t walk out of a gun dealer’s without showing proof of insurance.

It’s legal, it rewards people who are careful with their handguns — and it makes it a lot more expensive for those who aren’t. What’s not to like?

A federal judge this week tossed out a lawsuit filed by the National Rifle Association challenging the constitutionality of a federal law prohibiting the sale of handguns to people under 21 years of age.

The suit is one of two filed by the National Rifle Association challenging state and federal laws regarding the purchase and carry of firearms by young adults.

Because, as we all know, young people will certainly exhibit the same self-control and restraint on the use of guns as they display with the use of alcohol, motor vehicles and baseball bats!

U.S. District Judge Sam Cummings on Thursday dismissed the suit challenging a federal ban on the sale of handguns to people age 18-20, writing that precedent shows restrictions on the sale of firearms do not violate the U.S. Constitution.

The suit against the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and others was filed by the NRA on behalf of the organization and three young adults, including Lubbock resident Andrew Payne, who claim they are harmed by the ban.

The plaintiffs claim the ban violates the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the Equal Protection clause of the 14th Amendment.

[…] Although the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2008 in District of Columbia v. Heller that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to possess and carry weapons, the high court held that laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of firearms is constitutional.

This post is written as part of the Media Matters Gun Facts fellowship. The purpose of the fellowship is to further Media Matters’ mission to comprehensively monitor, analyze, and correct conservative misinformation in the U.S. media. Some of the worst misinformation occurs around the issue of guns, gun violence, and extremism, the fellowship program is designed to fight this misinformation with facts.

I spy, you pay

So $150 million of our money is going to a government facility in lower Manhattan where representatives of Wall Street firms get to sit alongside the New York Police Department and spy on your basic law-abiding citizens:

According to newly unearthed documents, the planning for this high tech facility on lower Broadway dates back six years. In correspondence from 2005 that rests quietly in the Securities and Exchange Commission’s archives, NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly promised Edward Forst, a Goldman Sachs’ Executive Vice President at the time, that the NYPD “is committed to the development and implementation of a comprehensive security plan for Lower Manhattan . . . One component of the plan will be a centralized coordination center that will provide space for full-time, on-site representation from Goldman Sachs and other stakeholders.”

At the time, Goldman Sachs was in the process of extracting concessions from New York City just short of the Mayor’s firstborn in exchange for constructing its new headquarters building at 200 West Street, adjacent to the World Financial Center and in the general area of where the new World Trade Center complex would be built. According to the 2005 documents, Goldman’s deal included $1.65 billion in Liberty Bonds, up to $160 million in sales tax abatements for construction materials and tenant furnishings, and the deal-breaker requirement that a security plan that gave it a seat at the NYPD’s Coordination Center would be in place by no later than December 31, 2009.

The surveillance plan became known as the Lower Manhattan Security Initiative and the facility was eventually dubbed the Lower Manhattan Security Coordination Center. It operates round-the-clock. Under the imprimatur of the largest police department in the United States, 2,000 private spy cameras owned by Wall Street firms, together with approximately 1,000 more owned by the NYPD, are relaying live video feeds of people on the streets in lower Manhattan to the center. Once at the center, they can be integrated for analysis. At least 700 cameras scour the midtown area and also relay their live feeds into the downtown center where low-wage NYPD, MTA and Port Authority crime stoppers sit alongside high-wage personnel from Wall Street firms that are currently under at least 51 Federal and state corruption probes for mortgage securitization fraud and other matters.

In addition to video analytics which can, for example, track a person based on the color of their hat or jacket, insiders say the NYPD either has or is working on face recognition software which could track individuals based on facial features. The center is also equipped with live feeds from license plate readers.

According to one person who has toured the center, there are three rows of computer workstations, with approximately two-thirds operated by non-NYPD personnel. The Chief-Leader, the weekly civil service newspaper, identified some of the outside entities that share the space: Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, the Federal Reserve, the New York Stock Exchange. Others say most of the major Wall Street firms have an on-site representative. Two calls and an email to Paul Browne, NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Public Information, seeking the names of the other Wall Street firms at the center were not returned. An email seeking the same information to City Council Member, Peter Vallone, who chairs the Public Safety Committee, was not returned.

In a press release dated October 4, 2009 announcing the expansion of the surveillance territory, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Kelly had this to say:

“The Midtown Manhattan Security Initiative will add additional cameras and license plate readers installed at key locations between 30th and 60th Streets from river to river. It will also identify additional private organizations who will work alongside NYPD personnel in the Lower Manhattan Security Coordination Center, where corporate and other security representatives from Lower Manhattan have been co-located with police since June 2009. The Lower Manhattan Security Coordination Center is the central hub for both initiatives, where all the collected data are analyzed.” [Italic emphasis added.]

The project has been funded by New York City taxpayers as well as all U.S. taxpayers through grants from the Federal Department of Homeland Security. On March 26, 2009, the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) wrote a letter to Commissioner Kelly, noting that even though the system involves “massive expenditures of public money, there have been no public hearings about any aspect of the system…we reject the Department’s assertion of ‘plenary power’ over all matters touching on public safety . . . the Department is of course subject to the laws and Constitution of the United States and of the State of New York as well as to regulation by the New York City Council.”

Members of outlaw motorcycle gangs used to refer to themselves as “one-percenters.” When we hear “one-percenters” these days, the reference usually is to establishment types who are obscenely wealthy and powerful. More here.

Monkey gone to heaven

Pixies:

Why are they so very predictable?

College Republicans, I mean.

Crossed a diamond with a pearl

I didn’t realize until last year that this song is about Owsley Stanley, the Johnny Appleseed of LSD:

One of those bizarre amphibious “duck boats,” crammed with tourists, cruised past me on South Street today. The driver/tour guide, using a mic and amp system, was saying, “Pay attention, I’ll tell you how to speak Philadelphian… One, two, three… Yo cous, how ya doin’, wadda ya say?” More here.

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