Archive for March, 2008

Misguided laws

March 30, 2008

In 2007, the last horse slaughterhouse in the U.S. was shut down, the end result of a campaign by horse lovers and animal rights organizations to stop the killing of horses for human food consumption.

It was a fight based on emotional appeal and on the part of the non-affiliated and bona fide horse lovers it was made, from their viewpoint, with all of the best intentions.

Opponents argue that domestic horses shouldn’t be used to satisfy foreign palates. Horses played a special role in U.S. history, they say, helping conquer the West, providing the sinews of early commerce and serving as majestic friends — but not food animals.

It was also a perfect battle for animal rights groups who would like to see all slaughterhouses shut down but are quite happy to take what they can get, one step at a time.

“It’s a step closer to the long-term goal of banning slaughter in North America,” said Wayne Pacelle, chief executive of the Humane Society of the United States. “There are fewer horses slaughtered.”

Like so many laws that are passed based on passion and pandering to a narrow vision, this one had its own set of unintended consequences.

No one disputes that slaughter-bound horses have it far worse today than before U.S. courts, upholding state bans, ended horse slaughter at two plants in Texas earlier this year and at the nation’s single remaining one in Illinois on Sept. 21.

and

The forced closure of the last horse-killing facilities in the USA, done at the urging of animal rights activists, has caused a herd of unwanted horses in animal shelters nationwide, according to breeders, ranchers and horse rescuers.The surplus threatens to worsen if Congress passes a bill to ban the selling of unwanted horses to slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico.

The fact is that although the law shutting down the slaughterhouses in the US may give a warm glow to those who see horses as an icon animal and may satisfy the animal rights groups ongoing agenda, those horses that have outlived their time will still be dead, although not eaten – and maybe that is what this is all about. You can kill them when they become redundant but for God’s sake, you can’t eat them!

I would guess that very few horse owners have the facilities or the finances to maintain an animal once it has gone lame or simply aged beyond its useful days. As sad as that may be, it is just a fact of life. Those animals will be disposed of one way or another.

Where prior to the legislation they would have been sold to a US slaughterhouse where the methods used can be monitored and controlled, now there is no control.

The American slaughterhouses killed horses quickly by driving steel pins into their brains, a method the American Veterinary Medical Association considers humane. Workers in some Mexican plants, by contrast, disable them by stabbing them with knives to sever their spinal cords, said Temple Grandin, a professor of animal science at Colorado State University.

“My worst nightmare has happened,” Dr. Grandin said. “This is an example of well-intentioned but very bad unintended consequences.”

It isn’t the first time that misguided laws have been passed and it certainly won’t be the last. Politicians have a strong tendency to vote where the noise comes from.

All of this could easily lead me into a rant about Canadian gun laws, but I will forego that indulgence.

Is there something in the British water?

March 29, 2008

It seems these days when something really stupid comes out of the bureaucracy you can make a fairly safe bet that it came from Britain.

Here is one on the dangers of fire extinguishers.

Fire extinguishers could be removed from communal areas in flats throughout the country because they are a safety hazard, it has emerged.

The life-saving devices encourage untrained people to fight a fire rather than leave the building, risk assessors in Bournemouth decided.

How do these idiots get into positions of responsibility?

Thanks to Blunt Object for the pointer.

Lies and exaggeration on the seal hunt

March 29, 2008

The annual seal hunt off the East coast stirs up a great deal of hysteria amongst the various animal rights groups each spring. More accurately it probably brings joy to their hearts as this is a great fund raising event for them.

Back in the days of the Brigitte Bardot photo-ops they locked onto photos of the appealing seal pups with their glistening white coat and enormous eyes as the fundraising icon for their anti-sealing campaigns. When the killing of seal pups, or white coats was stopped in 1987 the anti-sealing activists appeared to have lost their best fundraising image. But to read the lamentations from animal rights spokespersons today, reported faithfully by the media, the sealers are still killing those photogenic little ‘white coats’.

“Just three days ago, we stood on the ice floes with beautiful baby seals still covered in white fur,” said Rebecca Aldworth of the Humane Society of the United States.

“It is heartbreaking that the commercial seal hunt has begun and these pups are being brutally clubbed, shot and skinned to produce fashion items nobody needs.”

It is difficult to believe that Ms. Aldworth really believes this rhetoric and is unaware that these pups are no longer being killed by the sealers. More probably, she can clearly hear the sound of donation money rolling in every time she intones the words ‘white coats’ and ‘clubbed’ in the same sentence.

The government of Newfoundland and Labrador certainly recognized that the animal rights groups were playing fast and loose with the facts back in 2005, when they sent out a press release trying to set the record straight.

“White coats” have not been harvested since 1987, but there is evidence that they are being exploited by the anti-sealing interest groups who profit from Eastern Canada’s seal harvest.

It has long been recognized in Newfoundland and Labrador that the white coat (which references a harp seal’s white fur that molts away after approximately three weeks) is a critical component to some lobbyists’ fundraising campaigns. A harvesting and trading ban of white coats has existed under Marine Mammal Regulations since 1987. However, some political action committees appear to rely on the donations that are generated in response to their blatant promotion of such images.

“We respect even extremist groups’ right to disagree with Newfoundland and Labrador’s cultural, historical, and economic links with the seal harvest,” says Trevor Taylor, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. “But many anti-seal groups must come clean. They purposely promote the more appealing image of white coats, which have not been harvested for almost two decades. It’s time that they stopped exploiting these seals for their own fundraising purposes.”

Where they got it wrong was they thought that the campaign was against the killing of the pups. But the campaign was, and is, about stopping the seal hunt completely and animal rights groups, in their religious fervour, will use any means within their grasp, fair or foul, to achieve that goal.

And if it means using misleading statements and emotional issues that no longer exist, then so be it.

To loosely paraphrase Barry Goldwater, “extremism in the defense of an animal rights agenda is no vice”.

Thanks to Small Dead Animals for this pointer, although SDA’s focus was that in our time of climate change the sealers were having trouble getting to the seal herds due to thick ice.

A light in the sky

March 23, 2008

This one made me feel a bit insignificant.

Scientists have detected an interstellar explosion so bright that it was briefly visible to the naked eye—from 7.5 billion light-years away. Viewers looking at the right patch of night sky on Wednesday would have seen several afterglows from the massive gamma-ray burst, slightly brighter than the faintest visible stars.

What the hell is happening out there? Could it be – I dare ask - global galaxy warming?

Gun rights and Heller vs District of Columbia

March 21, 2008

There is an interesting article by Tom Gresham in the Shooting Wire on the DC gun ban case, or Heller vs District of Columbia.

Gresham gives a quick overview of the case and some commentary on where he thinks the decision by the Supreme Court Judges will go – he’s very positive.

But what I found interesting was his analysis of how the gun control debate has changed over the years and why. I think he is bang on.

Several points should be noted. First is that it took 20 years to set up this case. Over the course of two decades, beginning with the publication of Sanford Levinson’s article “The Embarrassing Second Amendment” in the Yale Law Journal, constitutional scholarship of the Second Amendment appeared (it was invisible before that) and grew. Almost all law journal articles about the amendment concluded that the widely-accepted (by courts and the media) concept that the right to keep and bear arms is a “collective right” was, in fact, wrong. Eventually, under the weight of this barrage of articles, even noted constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe changed his view, supporting the individual right concept in the latest version of his book, American Constitutional Law,” a standard text in law schools.

Two things have changed which also made it possible to reach this point. One is the destruction of the information gatekeepers — the mainstream media. Twenty years ago the established media could and did prevent any stories about effective use of guns for self defense from getting to the public. The media hammered gun owners in ways that can only be called bigoted. They could get away with it because there was no other way to reach the general public. Enter the internet and talk radio. Talk radio is the end run around the mainstream media, which is why the traditional news outlets hate it so much. When a national radio talk show called “Gun Talk” can reach a audience of some 20 million listeners with simple, reasonable, coherent conversations about gun rights, it rings true to the public. Of course, with the internet, all controls are off, and the validity of any argument must stand up to scrutiny often reaching the level of assault. The gatekeepers are out of business. Additionally, 20 years ago, no one could have imagined a television series called “Personal Defense TV,” where we go to gunfighting schools each week!

Through those communication devices, we have been able to make the other major change. We changed the vocabulary. A big tip of the hat to Alan Korwin (www.gunlaws.com) for understanding early on that the words we use make a difference. Alan and I have pushed for a decade to have those on “our” side realize that we aren’t speaking to gun banners. We are speaking to the uncommitted public, and that we need to choose our words carefully.

Did you note that the media reports no longer call us “pro-gun?” That’s huge. Now, the stories talk about us supporting gun rights, and there are no quotation marks around that phrase. We are not “anti-gun control,” but rather, we are “pro gun rights.” That puts our opponents in the position of being against rights. “A day long-awaited by gun-rights activists,” said the Chicago Times. “To gun rights advocates, the numbers prove a different point,” noted the Associated Press. USA Today’s story began, “The Supreme Count will hear oral arguments Tuesday in the gun rights case . . . .”

That single change in vocabulary may be one of the most important things to happen to the gun rights movement.

I love his comment about the “information gatekeepers”, except that I think that the term extends not only to the media but to government bureaucrats and probably others as well. If you can control information and communications you can pretty well manipulate whomever and whatever you want. The internet has put an end to much of that, which is why totalitarian governments do their damnedest to restrict internet access to their citizens and why there is always talk about legislation to ‘control’ the internet in so-called more enlightened countries.

There are a enough politicians and bureaucrats out there who think that democracy is fine as long as it doesn’t leak down to the masses.

A Darwin Award Finalist?

March 19, 2008

I would think that this would qualify for a Darwin Award.

Gabriel Thomas Mondragon, 29 years old, who recently arrived from New Mexico, explained to Sheriff’s Deputies that in an attempt to make the people on Orcas “suffer just like the whales and trees”, he attempted to use a tree limbing saw -on a metal pole- to cut through a 69,000 volt power line.

According to the sheriff’s report, the man, identified as Gabriel Mondragon, also stated he wanted to protest “the death of Luna the whale and the destruction of the rain forest.”

Being well informed on the power of high voltage power lines, Mondragon cleverly put on several pair of latex dish washing gloves to isolate him from electrocution, and proceeded to touch saw to power line.

Mondragon was found laying on his back some distance from the line, his pants had been on fire, where they had burned away from his hips down. His gloves had partially melted, and he had “first, second and third degree burns’ on various parts of his body. He was, in short, lucky to be alive. He now has some medical and legal problems to deal with, including some interest in his actions by the FBI.

If this guy turns out to be a college graduate he has forever damaged the reputation of his Alma Mater.

He has also added a new dimension to extreme environmental activism.

Thanks to Small Dead Animals for the pointer.

Update: In checking the Darwin Awards rules I find that Mr. Mondragon doesn’t qualify as he didn’t remove himself from the gene pool. I think that least he should get an honourable mention.

Thieves steal government guns

March 18, 2008

One of the gun control items that keeps popping up is the central storage idea. The idea being that it is unsafe to have all of those firearms owned by law-abiding citizens out there spread around the countryside where criminals could steal them.

The solution? Of course – central storage facilities where all legally owned guns would be stored under lock and key and you as an owner would have to check your guns out when you wanted to go hunting or shooting at the range and then check them back in once you were finished.

The argument that these facilities would be the obvious targets of criminals looking for guns is brushed aside.

Well it turns out that the crooks do exactly that.

According to this news story, in 2006 “thieves nabbed 12 gauge shotguns and scores of rifles in a massive heist” from Parks Canada at Riding Mountain National Park in Manitoba.

An official from Parks Canada says the weapons, stolen in November 2006, were not kept in special gun lockers or monitored by surveillance cameras.

But they were kept in a locked inventory room, said Andre Leger, the agency’s chief financial officer.

“Since this incident, they’ve improved upon the way they are stored,” he said. “They’ve even added a video surveillance system . . . (and) they’ve since bought some gun-specific lockers.”

They didn’t follow the rules in the federal government’s Firearms Act? Ordinary citizens have been criminally charged for less.

RCMP spokeswoman Sgt. Nathalie Deschenes said police officers would be able to trace the firearms through a national weapons database.

And this would be if the crooks decide to register those stolen guns? Actually, I wonder if those federally owned firearms were even registered and in the database system.

Theft is one of the major sources of illegal firearms, said the head of a coalition of gun control advocacy groups.

“Virtually every illegal gun starts as a legal gun, either in Canada or somewhere else,” said Wendy Cukier of the Coalition for Gun Control.

This is an amusing sound bite that the Coalition for Gun Control pumps out to the media these days.

Since you very rarely see any firearms that weren’t originally produced in a licensed manufacturing operation then the statement would be pretty much a no-brainer, unless there are a bunch of criminal types out there manufacturing illegal guns in their basements for the criminal trade. Somehow I doubt that.

Regardless, that central storage idea didn’t work very well for Parks Canada.

And just to clarify; There does not appear to be any definitive information available to confirm the statement that theft is the major source of illegal firearms.

In fact a 2004 Toronto Police Services study with 123 firearms identified as ‘crime guns’, only 9% were identified as stolen. A 2005 study with 214 ‘crime guns’ identified 16% as being stolen.

Make your own definition of ‘major’.

Lones Wigger – Olympic Hall of Fame Nominee

March 14, 2008

Multi years ago I was fortunate to be chosen to be part of a Shooting Federation of Canada team that twice went to Fort Benning Georgia on a coaches training courses. That was where I first made the acquaintance of Lones Wigger who was stationed there as part of the internationally known US shooting team which included Jack Foster, Margaret Murdock, and Bill Krilling, among others. I crossed paths with him again at the 1975 Pan Am Games in Mexico City and then again at the Canadian National Matches one year.

Wigger was a phenomenal competitor as his record shows, but on top of that he was truly a gentleman, funny and down to earth and willing to help other competitors along the way.

Shooting has for many years been downgraded in Olympic competition but it shouldn’t be. It has a tradition that goes back to the first of the modern Olympics held in Athens in 1896 and has had great champions. Unfortunately it does does fit well for television coverage. No running or throwing or visible heroics. Just concentration, mental discipline and incredible skill.

Which is a long way around to the point of all this.

Lones Wigger has been named as a finalist for the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame Class of 2008 and the public can participate in the vote.

The press release sent out by the U.S Hall of Fame explains how it works.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The United States Olympic Committee today announced the finalists for the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame Class of 2008 and invites the public to vote online at usolympichalloffame.com to help determine who will comprise the next class of inductees. Six individual Olympians, one Olympic team and one Paralympian, along with a coach, a veteran and a special contributor, will be honored during the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony Presented by Allstate.

I would ask you to take a moment and put in your vote for a well deserving shooter. VOTE WIGGER!! Voting ends on March 28th.

License and register cars to reduce the killing!

March 12, 2008

Winnipeg police say that, increasingly, cars are being used as weapons.

Winnipeg police fired at a moving vehicle for the second time in recent weeks – and the fourth time in four months – during a chase Sunday in the city’s north end.

Police had laid a spike belt across the road in an effort to puncture the vehicle’s tires, but the driver swerved toward a police officer standing nearby, a police spokeswoman said yesterday.

The officer, who narrowly avoided being hit, fired at the car, but the bullet struck the side of the vehicle and failed to injure any of its four occupants.

Constable Jacqueline Chaput said the officer had no choice but to try to stop the threat.

[*****]

Police say it’s becoming more common for vehicles to be used as weapons on the city’s streets. Constable Chaput said it may be something that has to be specifically addressed in police training.

“We may need to change certain tactics on certain things depending how many times these types of occurrences happen,” Constable Chaput said.

Obviously, what we need to do is license the drivers of these wheeled weapons and register them as well.

Damn, we already do that.

OK – concerned citizens need to rise up and demand that our politicans pass legislation banning motorized vehicles outright.

But then would only criminals have cars?

A fallback position: Commission a poll.

Laws, laws and more laws

March 11, 2008

Although the British Columbia ‘3 metre’ smoking law‘ is, in my opinion, silly because of enforcement problems, it could be defended (by those who feel the need to do so) with the argument that it is really an exercise in social engineering and therefore it doesn’t have to make sense.

This bit of legislation out of Chicago doesn’t even pass that test.

Tiny plastic bags used to sell small quantities of heroin, crack cocaine, marijuana and other drugs would be banned in Chicago, under a crackdown advanced Tuesday by a City Council committee.

Ald. Robert Fioretti (2nd) persuaded the Health Committee to ban possession of “self-sealing plastic bags under two inches in either height or width,” after picking up 15 of the bags on a recent Sunday afternoon stroll through a West Side park.

Lt. Kevin Navarro, commanding officer of the Chicago Police Department’s Narcotics and Gang Unit, said the ordinance will be an “important tool” to go after grocery stores, health food stores and other businesses. The bags are used by the thousand to sell small quantities of drugs at $10 or $20 a bag.

What in the hell is this all about? Do these people really think that banning tiny plastic bags is going to have an effect on the drug trade in Chicago? Isn’t this like trying to cure measles by putting pancake make-up on to hide the spots?

Of course there was a dissenting opinion.

Prior to the final vote, Ald. Walter Burnett (27th) expressed concern about arresting innocent people. He noted that extra buttons that come with suits, shirts and blouses — and jewelry that’s been repaired — come in similar plastic bags.

But Alderman Burnett was easily convinced.

Burnett was reassured by language that states “one reasonably should know that such items will be or are being used” to package, transfer, deliver or store a controlled substance. Violators would be punished by a $1,500 fine.

But the police spokesman said that it would “be an “important tool” to go after grocery stores, health food stores and other businesses”. Is that where they are dealing drugs?

It sounds more like a desperate move by a police department and a city council that have a serious problem and no answers and who are simply grabbing at straws to at least look as though they have a plan.

Actually it sounds much like the City of Toronto where the council wants a country-wide ban on handguns in order to control gang shooting in a localized area of the city. This apparently in the belief that if you make it illegal to own handguns and take them away from all of the legitimate, licensed citizens, that the thugs and drug dealers will also give up their guns and turn to legitimate business practices, where presumably they will solve their personal differences through law suits and arbitration rather than drive-by shootings.

I’ve probably said this before, but shouldn’t there be some kind of ‘Rational Thinking’ test that you have to take before you can run for public office?


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.