Latest Crystal Coast Tea Party News and Views

Thumbs_StickyBlock

Crystal Coast Tea Party Patriot groups   (Everyone is cordially invited to any of our meetings.  If you can, come an hour or so early to eat, chat, and get acquainted!):

MOREHEAD CITY GROUP, Weekly Meeting:   Every Tuesday @ 6 PM, Golden Corral in Morehead City, NC, on Arendell Street.

WEST CARTERET GROUP, Semi-monthly Meeting:   On the 1st & 3rd Tuesdays @ 7 PM, Ribeye’s Restaurant, Cape Carteret, NC.

JACKSONVILLE-ONSLOW TEA PARTY PATRIOTS:   Every Tuesday @ 7pm, Logan’s Roadhouse on Western Boulevard in Jacksonville.  For more information, contact ThomasHAustin@hotmail.com.


 

  

Hobgood Strikes Again, but Roy Cooper Steps Up

The News-&-Observer put up a piece yesterday detailing the ruling of Judge Robert Hobgood on the school voucher case:

Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood ruled on Thursday that a 2013 law to use public money for tuition at private and religious schools violates the North Carolina constitution.

Then later in the article, this response from NC Attorney General Roy Cooper:

N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper, a Democrat who has raised concerns about parts of the Republican legislative agenda, quickly announced plans for his office to appeal, according to Noelle Talley, his spokeswoman.

“Our attorneys believe that this is a constitutional issue that must be decided by the appellate courts,” Talley said in a statement shortly after the ruling.

The full article is HERE.

  

More Chinese Provocations in the South China Sea

In a report from late Thursday by Bill Gertz in the Washington Free Beacon, it seems that the Chinese are continuing, even accelerating, their provocative reactions to the US military presence in the South China Sea.  From the article:

The P-8, a new, militarized Boeing-737 anti-submarine warfare aircraft, was conducting routine surveillance of the Chinese coast over the East China Sea on Monday when the incident occurred, said U.S. defense officials familiar with reports of the encounter.

Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Jeffrey Pool had no immediate comment but said he would provide “an explanation of the event” on Friday.  The defense officials said the Chinese Su-27 interceptor jet flew within 50 feet of the P-8 and then carried out a barrel roll over the top of the aircraft—a move described by officials as dangerous and meant to threaten the surveillance aircraft.

It was the second threatening encounter of a U.S. surveillance aircraft this year.  In April, a Russian Su-27 flew within 100 feet of a U.S. Air Force RC-135 aircraft during another dangerous intercept over waters north of Japan.

One defense official said the Pentagon’s failure to produce a tough response to the April event likely spurred the Chinese to conduct the similar threatening intercept on Monday.

Chinese military officials have said they oppose all U.S. electronic surveillance flights and described ship-based monitoring of their facilities and territory an encroachment of sovereignty.  U.S. military officials have said the monitoring is carried within international airspace and thus does not violate international or Chinese law.

Is it too early to be describing the South China Sea as a “powderkeg”?  View the full piece, HERE.

  

Yep, the Bergdahl Swap was Illegal

Per a piece from earlier today by reporter Joel Gehrke of National Review, the US Governmental Account Office (GAO) has pronounced the Bergdahl swap to be illegal.  Here is the majority of the text from the article:

President Obama violated a “clear and unambiguous” law when he released five Guantanamo Bay detainees in exchange for Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, the Government Accountability Office reported Thursday.

“[The Department of Defense] violated section 8111 because it did not notify the relevant congressional committees at least 30 days in advance of the transfer,” the GAO report said.  “In addition, because DOD used appropriated funds to carry out the transfer when no money was available for that purpose, DOD violated the Antideficiency Act.  The Antideficiency Act prohibits federal agencies from incurring obligations exceeding an amount available in an appropriation.”

The GAO rejected the idea that the action was legal and sidestepped the Obama team’s suggestion that the law is unconstitutional.

I assume heads will soon be rolling.  The full article, only one paragraph longer than the above, is HERE.

  

New development in NC Board Of Dental Examiners vs. FTC

Back in late January, I put up a post (HERE) on the Federal Trade Commission’s anti-trust suit against the NC Board of Dental Examiners, in which I mused that the case might end up in SCOTUS, the Supreme Court of the United States.

Well, it has.  But, although SCOTUS has accepted the case, it will not be heard until the next term.  However, two groups have already filed briefs with the court in support of the FTC’s side of the argument.  Here’s an excerpt that encapsulates the essence of the argument put forth by the FTC:

The central legal question in this case is whether the North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners – which consists almost entirely of licensed dentists selected by other licensed dentists – should be entitled to the benefit of state-action immunity against federal antitrust laws.  Amici contend that the answer to that question must turn not only on legal principles, but also on the best available social-science evidence regarding the way that occupational-licensing boards like North Carolina’s operate in the real world.  As this brief will explain, in the real world, occupational-licensing boards routinely use government power to promote the private financial interests of their own members and licensees, rather than to promote any legitimate government interests.  The evidence for this conclusion is supplied by a branch of economics known as “public choice economics.”  Public choice economics is the application of economic theory to study the causes and effects of government actions.  Public choice economics has been widely and successfully used to explain and predict the forces that lead to the enactment of occupational-licensing laws and the behavior of occupational-licensing boards.  A central finding of this research is that when self-interested economic actors – such as licensed dentists – are given the power to influence or, as in this case, actually write the rules by which others will compete with them, they behave as self-interested private actors, rather than as stewards of the public interest.

For those who may wish to delve further into the arguments presented in these briefs, click HERE for the brief filed by the Institute of Justice, and HERE for the one filed by the Antitrust Scholars group.

And in a related bit, there is hair-braiding, which in NC and many other states, also requires occupational licensing.  Click HERE for an example from Mississippi.

  

Some Useful Information for College Frosh

For those who have one or more college freshpersons (frosh) in the family, Rose-Helen Graham has written an interesting piece about how a student can best organize their course work to facilitate their collegiate goals.  As one would expect, it helps to have a goal worked out before the college course work commences, or soon thereafter.  Here’s an excerpt, in which she describes her use of online sources that provide detailed information, not only about the courses, but about the competence of the various professors and their grade distribution patterns:

… Each provides feedback from previous students on individual professors and the classes they teach.  Each delivers the content in a slightly different manner, and some sites include additional tools designed to promote student “success.”  My go-to source for student-written evaluations is Rate My Professors; however, I do use UNC Blinkness and Koofers as comparative sources if I feel that I need further reviews.

Rate My Professors:  The [RTM] site is easy to navigate.  To get started one only needs to select the state and school of interest.  From there it becomes as simple as searching by the professor’s last name or department to access comments and ratings left by other users.  [The site] uses a numerical rating system (1-5, one being the lowest and 5 being the highest) to rate professors on overall quality, helpfulness, clarity, easiness, and even “hotness.”  These ratings are accompanied by reviewers’ comments about specific courses.  I enjoy this site because the content is displayed in an extremely user-friendly layout.  Because Rate My Professors is one of the more well-known professor review sites, has multiple ratings on most professors, making it easy to compare student experiences and discern serious reviews from those which are pointless.

UNC Blinkness:  This site is less easy to read.  It can be useful in the few instances when Rate My Professors does not provide enough (or good enough) reviews on a professor.  Other useful features provided by Blinkness include average class size and the “overall grading history” of each course.  The overall grading history is displayed by a grade distribution chart, which purports to give the percentage of each letter grade given by that professor.  Going a step further, Blinkness also provides students with a list entitled “Most A’s Classes at UNC.”  This list details the course name, percentage of As given in the past for that course, and the average class size.  The list currently contains 195 courses, with the percentage of As being at least 95 percent.

Koofers (UNC):  The reviews on Koofers are also a helpful supplement to those provided on Rate My Professor.  In addition to general comments on courses and professors, it provides details on grade distribution, the difficulty and number of exams, quizzes, projects, and homework assigned, as well as any textbooks used and whether or not the professor chooses to curve final grades.

The fourth site I use is MyEdu:  MyEdu is a wonderful tool when it comes to planning class schedules.  I can create a calendar that allows me to see if the classes I want fit into my schedule and make changes if they don’t.  It also provides the average GPA grade that previous students received from the course.  After a student creates a schedule on MyEdu, the website automatically generates an estimated average overall semester GPA based on the data collected from previous years.

Ms. Graham’s article contains other interesting material on how to balance college course work to gain the most from the time spent getting a college education.  The full article is HERE.

  

X-47B Carrier Test Flights Successfully Completed

Over the weekend, another phase of testing for aircraft carrier operations was completed for the Navy’s jet powered stealth drone, the X-47B.  The tests were conducted in the Atlantic Ocean off the entrance to Chesapeake Bay from the nuclear powered carrier Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71).  From the Navy’s official spokesman:

“Today we showed that the X-47B could take off, land and fly in the carrier pattern with manned aircraft while maintaining normal flight deck operations,” Capt. said Beau Duarte, program manager for the Navy’s unmanned carrier aviation office, in a statement.  “This is key for the future carrier air wing.”

The full article, HERE, also includes a great video of the X-47B being launched from the ship using it’s steam catapult.

  

America’s Weather Satellites on Life Support?

Could be, according to an article published late last week at the Popular Mechanics website.  A telling excerpt:

To pull together your five-day forecast, meteorologists rely on two types of satellites.  The first sits 22,000 miles up, capturing basic information on a fixed location.  The second orbits the poles, 500 miles up, filling in crucial image gaps and, more important, providing essential information about cloud formation, surface temperatures, and atmospheric conditions—the data that help us know where a storm is heading and how big it will be when it gets there.

Those polar-orbiting satellites, a primary and its backup, are the ones in crisis.  The primary satellite—a short-term pathfinder built to test emerging technologies—was never really intended for use.  Its backup isn’t much better: an aging satellite with failing sensors that passed its predicted life expectancy last year.  We would send up a replacement now, but it’s still being built.  When it is ready, should it survive launch, it could take until as late as 2018 to transmit usable data.  Which means that, depending on when our current satellites stop working, the U.S. could be without crucial data for years.  That’s worse than inconvenient.  It could cost us trillions of dollars, and hundreds, if not thousands, of lives. 

Check out the full article, HERE.

  

NC’s Voter ID Will Govern the 2014 Fall Election

The Federal court for North Carolina’s Middle District ruled on Friday that the NC Voter ID law will remain in effect for the upcoming November elections.  The suit brought against North Carolina and Governor McCrory by the US Department of Justice, the NC-NAACP, the NC League of Women Voters, and various religious groups is to be heard in Federal court sometime in July of 2015, but the Justice Department, the NC-NAACP, and their allies wanted the court to enjoin the implementation of the new law so that it’s provisions would not be in effect until the trial ended.

From the text of the Court’s opinion, HERE, the core ruling:

After careful consideration, the court concludes that Defendants’ motion for judgment on the pleadings should be denied in its entirety.  Plaintiffs’ complaints state plausible claims upon which relief can be granted and should be permitted to proceed in the litigation.  However, a preliminary injunction is an extraordinary remedy to be granted in this circuit only upon a “clear showing” of entitlement.  After thorough review of the record, the court finds that as to two challenged provisions of SL 2013-381, Plaintiffs have not made a clear showing they are likely to succeed on the merits of the underlying legal claims.  As to the remaining provisions, the court finds that even assuming Plaintiffs are likely to succeed on the merits, they have not demonstrated they are likely to suffer irreparable harm – a necessary prerequisite for preliminary relief – before trial in the absence of an injunction.  Consequently, the motions for preliminary injunction and the United States’ request for federal observers will be denied.

Sweet.  For more commentary on this opinion, check out THIS post at PJ-Tatler.

  

Brainstorming Ways To Isolate the Gaza Strip

Back on July 25th, I posted about the efforts of the Israeli Defense Forces (HERE) to find and destroy the numerous cross-border HAMAS tunnel system.  In that post, I advocated for some sort of “no-mans land” perimeter around Gaza on which Israel could install tunneling detection equipment such as vibration detectors, ground imaging radar, or other technologies.

This morning, in THIS interview with the Jerusalem Post, Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni discusses similar options with reporters Gil Hoffman and Julie Steigerwald.  Some excerpts:

Israel is considering physically separating itself from the Gaza Strip, using some sort of underground barrier to ward off remaining threats from Hamas, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni said Monday.  Speaking on Army Radio, Livni responded to criticism that Israel was taken by surprise by the vastness of the network of Hamas tunnels from Gaza into Israel.  She revealed that creative ideas were being considered to counteract the threat when Operation Protective Edge concludes.

“There are ways of doing it [separating Gaza from Israel],” she said.  “The [barrier] may not need to be visible from above ground.  There are of course also technological means that are being checked that could be effective.”

and

A source close to Livni said did not know which barrier Livni preferred.  She said she was not aware of whether Livni favored building a moat between Israel and Gaza.

A moat?  Hadn’t really considered that one, but now that I do, the idea sorta grabs me.  A moat.  Yeah, that’s the ticket, a moat, with acid instead of water, and acid-resistant dragons!  And snakes!

  

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down, or Nuttin’?

Some readers may have noticed that, beginning on the first day of this month, each post on this page, as well as all the older posts, has two icons appended to the bottom right of the text.  The icons represent the options each reader now has for voting, thumbs up or thumbs down, on each post.  Readers are encouraged to use the voting icons, keeping in mind that their vote should be an expression of whether they felt the post was worth reading, i.e., was interesting, informative, or both.  If it was neither, a thumbs-down would be in order.  If the reader is ambivalent about the post, then no rating should be given.  Readers are also welcome and encouraged to rate previous posts, as far back as they wish to go.

  

What is crude, but sweet, and with a lightness of being?

No, not me, silly, but thanks just the same.  I’m actually referring to the crude oil being extracted from the Bakken reserves in North Dakota and elsewhere along the Canadian border by means of hydraulic fracking.

The left in our country vehemently opposes any explorations by American oil companies aimed at expanding the proven petroleum reserves in the United States, any improvements in extraction technology that will tend to produce more oil more cheaply, and the creation of any infrastructure (such as a new pipeline) that will expedite the movement of that crude oil to the epicenter of U.S. refining capacity.  Consequently, in order to diminish the perceived value of the newly proven reserves, they denigrate the quality of the petroleum being pumped out of the Bakken formation at every turn.

However, Tessa Sandstrom is setting the record straight.  Ms. Sandstrom is Communications Manager for the North Dakota Petroleum Council and an expert on all things Bakken.  Earlier this week, she wrote an interesting and enlightening article to dispell many of the myths that have been spreading about Bakken Crude.  The article is HERE.

  

ObamaCare Auto-Renewals Becoming Problematic

Over the weekend, the Associated Press put up an article on the Newsday website, HERE, about the growing apprehension of “industry officials” and other health care administrative experts on the efficacy of the ObamaCare mechanism for correctly calculating the subsidies when automatically renewing health care policies.  If the calculations result in a premium amount that is too low, consumers will get a rude awakening when their actual premium bills start coming in from the health insurance companies.  Conversely, if the amount is too high, they may owe a refund to the IRS later.

From the article:

“It was our preference for [the Obama administration] to have the capacity to update people’s subsidy information, but they haven’t been able to get that built,” said Brendan Buck, a spokesman for the industry trade group America’s Health Insurance Plans.

But, wonder of wonders, it appears that it will not work that smoothly:

First, financial aid is partly based on premiums for a current benchmark plan in the community where the consumer lives.  Because more plans are joining the market and insurers are submitting entirely new bids for 2015, the benchmark in many communities will be different.

Second, financial aid is also based on household income.  If your income goes down, you are entitled to a bigger health insurance tax credit.  If it goes up, you get less.  The 2014 amounts could well be out of date and incorrect for many people.  Financial assistance is also affected by age, family size and where people live.

And that doesn’t get into another motivation for consumers to shop around: Premiums and choices for 2015 are changing, so your current plan may no longer be a good deal.  “Just continuing in the same plan with the same credit is not going to be the optimal outcome for most people,” said Judy Solomon of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which advocates for low-income people.  “Your 2014 credit is going to be lower in most cases, and in some cases it could be too high.”

About 8 in 10 of those who signed up for private coverage under the health care law are getting financial aid.  In the 36 states served by the federal insurance exchange, the tax credits average $264 a month, reducing the average monthly premium of $346 to just $82. … But the subsidy scheme created by Congress to keep premiums affordable has so many moving parts that it’s turning out to be difficult for the government to administer.

Open enrollment for 2015 begins on November 15th, about a week after the fall elections, and it will close about one month later.  During this brief period, health care consumers who already have a policy will need to renew or make changes to their policies in order to avoid a break in coverage on January 1st.

  

One-Third of Americans facing Debt Collectors

In yet another aspect of the Obama non-recovery, the Urban Institute has released a new study showing that, even though the debt patterns are shifting, over 35% of Americans have debts so far in arrears that the debts have been turned over to debt collection agencies.

From the article:

Health care-related bills account for 37.9 percent of the debts collected, according to a new report commissioned by the Association of Credit and Collection Professionals. Student loan debt represents another 25.2 percent and credit cards make up 10.1 percent, with the rest of the collections going for local governments, retailers, telecoms and utilities.

The delinquent debt is overwhelmingly concentrated in Southern and Western states. Texas cities have a large share of their populations being reported to collection agencies: Dallas (44.3 percent); El Paso (44.4 percent), Houston (43.7 percent), McAllen (51.7 percent) and San Antonio (44.5 percent).

Almost half of Las Vegas residents- many of whom bore the brunt of the housing bust that sparked the recession- have debt in collections. Other Southern cities have a disproportionate number of their people facing debt collectors, including Orlando and Jacksonville, Florida; Memphis, Tennessee; Columbia, South Carolina; and Jackson, Mississippi.

Among the primary factors producing the trends in these areas are low-paying jobs in the construction and services sectors, along with higher than average populations of retirees living on fixed incomes.

The full article is HERE.

  

New Court-Ordered IRS Testimony on Lerner’s HDD

Josh Hicks, a reporter for the Washington Post, wrote a new piece late last week about the court-ordered filings of under-oath statements by two IRS officials on the subject of Lois Lerner’s computers and her HDD crash.  The statements were mandated by the presiding judge as a consequence of the lawsuit filed by the conservative group True The Vote.

Although it now appears that Lerner had both a desktop computer and a laptop at her workstation, it was the laptop drive that crashed.  However, the fact that she also had a desktop means that there may have been e-mail messages stored on it as well.

  

Money and Votes: The Michelle Nunn Strategy

Get money from the Jews, the Asians, and the LGBTs, and get votes from the Blacks and Hispanics.  In a nutshell, that is the campaign strategy from Georgia’s Michelle Nunn, who, much like our own Senator Kay Hagan, is a liberal female Democrat Senate candidate seeking election (or re-election in Hagan’s case) in a red state that turns more blue as you move inward from it’s coastline toward and beyond it’s capital city.  Nunn’s strategy, drafted last December and subsequently leaked, is a summary of the advice given her and her campaign staff by a number of Democratic pollsters, strategists, fundraisers, and consultants.  Although the strategy document was supposed to remain confidential, National Review reporter Eliana Johnson outlines the details in full, HERE.

  

Cellphones will now be more “portable” than ever

On Friday, The U.S. House of Representatives joined the Senate in passage of the “Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act”, a lengthy moniker that translates into a law that enables cellphone owners to buy cellular phone service without having to buy the cellphone itself from the cellular phone service provider.

President Obama is expected to sign the bill, and if he does, this will be a good thing for consumers.  When it becomes effective, cellphone service providers will be required to unlock your cellphone upon request, thereby allowing you to shop for cellphone services using an existing phone.  This will increase competition between service providers, and should lower rates over the long term.

The announcement, from Senator Patrick Leahy’s office, is HERE.

  

Three Cheers for Senator Rand Paul

Civil asset seizure by Federal and State law enforcement agencies has been, in recent decades, all to often followed by a declaration of forfeiture by the government, from which the owner of the property usually has no recourse. To his credit, Senator Rand Paul realizes that this practice is a violation of the Fifth Amendment’s “No person shall … be deprived of … property … nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation” clause, and he has taken action to do something to rectify the situation.

According to an article in Friday’s Washington Post by Radley Balko:

Sen. Rand Paul yesterday introduced S. 2644, the FAIR (Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration) Act, which would protect the rights of citizens and restore the Fifth Amendment’s role in seizing property without due process of law.  Under current law, law enforcement agencies may take property suspected of involvement in crime without ever charging, let alone convicting, the property owner.  In addition, state agencies routinely use federal asset forfeiture laws; ignoring state regulations to confiscate and receive financial proceeds from forfeited property.

The FAIR Act would change federal law and protect the rights of property owners by requiring that the government prove its case with clear and convincing evidence before forfeiting seized property.

The details, HERE, are worth reading.

  

CCTPP Meeting of Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Attending our meeting earlier this week was former 3rd District Congressional Candidate Taylor Griffin, who brought along Mike MikeRobinsonRobinson, a candidate on the November ballot for the North Carolina Supreme Court.  Robinson, pictured at right, spent some time elaborating on his conservative judicial principles, after which he took questions from the attending Tea Partiers.  For readers interested in more information about Robinson, the URL for his website is www.VoteMikeRobinson.com.

  

Carteret County Link Corrections

Some weeks ago, Carteret County completed some revisions to their official website, and as a result, some of the links to County website pages on the Crystal Coast Tea Party Patriots “Contacts” page for the County, HERE, got broken.  This post is merely to advise readers that the links on that page are now fixed.

As always, should a reader encounter a malfunctioning link on this site, please e-mail me, the Webmaster, and I will attempt to rectify the problem as soon as possible.

  

The HAMAS Rocketeers: What Is To Be Done?

UPDATE

Earlier this evening on FoxNews’ Hannity show, guest host Eric Bolling interviewed one of the regular FoxNews military advisors on the situation in the Gaza Strip.  During that interview, two things were discussed that bear on this post.  First, the military advisor put the cost of each Tamir missile used with the Iron Dome system at $40K, not the $50K that I got from another source.  Secondly, and more importantly, the advisor pointed out that Israel is, at present, letting 14 out of each 15 rockets fired by HAMAS from Gaza come to earth unimpeded, because the Iron Dome system is so good at projecting the landing spot of a rocket based on radar tracking that the Tamir missiles can be reserved only for the 1 out of 15 that will hit an important target.  Therefore, if the targeting accuracy of HAMAS rocketry does not improve, defending against the portion of the 5,000 rockets that Israel is anticipating over the long term would require only about 333 Tamir missiles, not 5,000.  Both of these factors combined would greatly reduce the aggregate cost of using Iron Dome over the long run.

ORIGINAL POST

In an ongoing effort that began on July 8th, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) are busily looking for and destroying tunnels running from the Gaza Strip into Israel, a task that is apparently going to take considerably longer than expected.  Last week it was reported that the IDF had found 13 tunnels.  In an article on FoxNews, Middle East reporter Paul Alster now reports that the current count is 28 tunnels leading to about 60 outlets, and he elaborates in these excerpts:

IDF officials initially expected that most of the tunnels would be destroyed within days, but once on the ground learned there were more than intelligence sources knew.  And on Tuesday, a U.S. intelligence source revealed that American satellite imagery had suggested that as many as 60 tunnels might have been built underneath Gaza.

The maze of tunnels and access shafts appears to weave its way throughout much of the Gaza Strip.  Access points are reportedly found in homes, mosques, public buildings, and more …

and

The tunnels vary in length, height, and width, but some are well-constructed using concrete blocks.  Some have electricity feeds and sewage channels, suggesting they are designed for terrorists to remain inside for long periods, possibly days at a time.  The materials used to construct the tunnels appear most likely to have been diverted by Hamas from the building materials allowed into Gaza by Israel for civilian construction.

Israel simply cannot tolerate these mechanisms that enable HAMAS terrorists to surreptitiously cross the boundary between Israel and the Gaza Strip at will.  I think that, after the current operations are concluded, the Netanyahu government should consider widening the unofficial 300-foot “no-mans” zone into a 1500-foot strip running the entire length of the boundary between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, as well as the entire length of the boundary with Israel, extending for a distance into the Mediterranean.  This narrow land area, which would be roughly 40 miles in length, should have two fences separated by an exclusionary zone that would contain nothing but tunneling detection devices, such as vibration detectors and underground radar imaging.

There would be enormous resistance from the usual human rights groups, of course, as such a zone would encompass about 15% of the agricultural land in the Gaza Strip, which in its entirety, covers about 139 square miles.  In my view, however, even this hardship to the Gaza Palestinians is justified in order to reduce the danger to Israel, as the one-kilometer wide post-Intifada buffer zone created by Israel in 2001 seems to be largely ineffective against tunneling.

This would do nothing to prevent HAMAS from launching rockets across the Gaza border into Israel, I know, but it would prevent the rockets from coming into the Gaza Strip from Egypt in the first place.  As to funding, the Tamir missiles that the Israeli “Iron Dome” system uses cost $50,000 each, and the Iron Dome batteries themselves each cost about $45-million.  Israel now has about 15 batteries, and is contemplating, long term, having to launch as many as 5,000 Tamir missiles.  Five thousand Tamir missiles at $50K each is $250-million bucks, to say nothing of the cost of the Iron Dome batteries.  For that kind of money, I think the Israelis could fund quite a bit of tunnel-detection infrastructure.

For the FoxNews article, click HERE.  For information on underground imaging technology, click HERE, and for a way-cool interactive video that illustrates what the technology can reveal, click HERE.

  

Target May Be Having Second Thoughts

Most readers are probably aware that early this month, Target Stores, bending under the weight of criticism from gun control advocates, adopted a policy of continuing to permit concealed carry on their store properties while simultaneously asking people not to do so.  They apparently thought this would be a good compromise, but it meant, of course, that if a person with a CCL opted to comply with Target’s preference, they could be at risk of being unable to defend themselves while on Target properties.

Well, that didn’t take long.  ABC-News affiliate ABC7 in Los Angeles reported on Tuesday of this week the fatal shooting of what appears to be a crime victim on the parking lot of a Van Nuys Target store in the early morning hours, around 5am.  From their short article:

A suspect was arrested, and a weapon has been recovered.  He was also taken to a local hospital because police suspected he was under the influence of drugs.

The circumstances of the shooting remain unknown.  Authorities say the suspect is a known gang member, but the victim is not believed to be involved with gangs.

In a not surprising aspect, the shooter disregarded the wishes of Target Stores management.  Obviously, then, had he been a CCL holder, the victim might still be dead, but at least he would have had a chance of rehabilitating the gang member in the process.

  

Encouraging ObamaCare Ruling from the DC Circuit

A three-judge panel of the liberal DC Circuit Court of Appeals, which is headquartered in Washington, D.C., has ruled that the Federal exchanges that were set up by the Feds to service those states that refused to set up their own state ObamaCare exchanges (such as North Carolina) are issuing illegal subsidies to policyholders because the ObamaCare legislation clearly delineates state exchanges as the portals for obtaining health insurance coverage through the health care law.

The ruling, in a case known as Halbig v. Burwell, was by a 2-1 majority.  The Obama administration is now likely to ask for an en banc hearing, in which the full DC Circuit will review the case again and make a final ruling for the court.  If the administration does not prevail in the en banc hearing, the next stop will be the Supreme Court.

The Federal exchanges offer health insurance in 36 states, mostly through the online portal, HealthCare.gov.  On average, health insurance obtained via the federal exchanges are offered with a 76% subsidy in taxpayer funds.  Currently, of the eight million persons signed up for ObamaCare, slightly more than two-thirds of them signed up through the Federal HealthCare.gov portal.  If, and I emphasize IF, the en banc court and SCOTUS validate the panel’s ruling, this two-thirds would be denied subsidies, their premiums would jump 76%, and the vast majority would find the coverage unaffordable and drop out.

If that should come to pass, the Obama administration would probably try to exercise the maximum degree of pressure and coercion to get the 36 abstaining states to create their own exchanges.

  

Kay Hagan, Penny-Focused and Pound Foolish

You may have heard that NC Senator Kay Hagan is running for re-election this fall.  In an obvious ploy to curry favor with one of the most liberal demographics, single women, a statement came from Senator Hagan in which she said that:

she is hopeful a federal bill requiring employers to offer contraception in their insurance plans can be resurrected in the U.S. Senate — despite a Supreme Court decision partially rejecting such coverage.

Hagan has no problem with a trillion dollars of spending on ObamaCare, but she gags at requiring women to buy their own contraception meds?  Anyhoo, of the bill Hagan refers to, the article goes on to say this:

The bill is meant to offset the Supreme Court’s decision last month involving the Hobby Lobby arts and crafts company.  The court’s ruling allowed some religiously oriented businesses to opt out of the federal health care law’s requirement that contraception coverage be provided to workers at no extra charge.

Birth control is used by women for a variety of reasons outside of planning pregnancy, including preventative care for ovarian cancer and other diseases, Hagan said.  “Employers who make their employees pay out-of-pocket for contraceptives just aren’t imposing their personal beliefs,” she said.  “They’re also making it much more difficult for women to access important, potentially lifesaving medical prescriptions and medical treatment.”  [ my boldface added. ]

Aww, c’mon, Kay.  My expenditures for my birth control meds, so far, have come to exactly zero.  However, I have read at multiple sources that women can easily purchase them for about $9 per month.  Nine bucks.  Nine bucks per month seems pretty reasonable to me, about the same as I would pay for a manly meal at McDonalds.

But if the poor womenfolk can’t shoulder this modest economic load, I am confident that they can always shanghai the necessary funds from their guys’ wallets.  I believe this because, soon after they became available, back in the early sixties, I drove my then-girlfriend to the clinic to get a prescription, and then to the drugstore to get the birth control pills.  I can’t say that I remember which of us paid, but I know that I would have been deliriously happy to pay if that was what it took in exchange for the piece of mind that the pills gave us both.

The full article, from the Greensboro News & Record, is HERE.

  

Behind the success of Iron Dome

We have all seen and read much lately about the great success the Iron Dome system has proved to be in protecting Israel from HAMAS rocketry.  The folks at the military blog Strategy Page put up an article last week that goes into quite a bit of detail about the system, it’s effectiveness, it’s costs, and the frantic efforts of the Israelis to get more batteries up and running when they first learned of the impending attacks.

An excerpt:

The latest war with Hamas began on July 7th as Hamas ceased even pretending to halt the rocket attacks (by non-Hamas Islamic terrorists) on Israel coming out of Gaza.  Hamas began firing a lot more rockets and the seven Iron Dome batteries in service were the primary defense against a rocket hitting an inhabited area.  One additional battery had already been delivered but was not activated yet.  [The] Israelis wanted more Iron Dome batteries, so the air force and the manufacturers went to work.  Inventory was checked and it was found that there was enough equipment in stock (newly manufactured, used for development work or almost completed) to quickly equip two more batteries.  Because there were already seven batteries active and personnel had been selected, trained, and assembled for the new eighth battery, it was calculated that by prying away a few key people from each of the eight existing batteries, activating reservists with Iron Dome experience, using some contractor personnel (civilians who had worked on Iron Dome even if they had not done so while in the military), and calling in some military personnel with similar skills (maintenance, operations) to those used by Iran Dome crews … [more could be put online].  By speeding up the training and certification of the eighth battery as well as the newly formed two batteries, all could be in action soon (as in a week or less).  The eighth and ninth batteries went online by the 11th and the tenth battery was active by the 15th.  Military and contractor personnel, instructors, and the new crews had to work round the clock for over a week to make it happen.

and

So far Iron Dome has shot down 85 percent of the rockets it calculated were headed for a populated area. The Tamir missiles used by Iron Dome weigh 90 kg and have a range of 70 kilometers against rockets, mortar shells, and artillery shells up to 155mm.  Iron Dome can also shoot down aircraft and helicopters (up to 10 kilometers/32,000 feet altitude).  Iron Dome is the principal defense against short range rockets fired from Gaza or Lebanon.  Work is underway to increase Iron Dome range from 70 to over 200 kilometers.

Hamas has already (in 2012 and 2014) tried to defeat Iron Dome by firing a lot of long range missiles simultaneously at a few cities.  In theory this could overwhelm one or two Iron Dome batteries.  But Israel is able to keep 24/7 UAV watch on Gaza and spot attempts at large scale simultaneous launchers.  This enables Israel to bomb or shell many of the launch sites.  This results in many rockets [being] destroyed on the ground or launching erratically, and [then] landing within Gaza or nowhere near where they were aimed.  Because Iron Dome can track hundreds of incoming missiles, quickly plot their trajectory and likely landing spot, and ignore the majority that will not land near people, Hamas needs to put hundreds of larger (long range) missiles into the air at the same time to be sure of causing lots of Israeli casualties.  So far Hamas has … been unable to get enough rockets into the air at the same time to make this work.

Much more to read, HERE.

  

State Insurance Commissioner Goodwin on Insurance Law

Did you know that NC law allows an insurance company to send you a homeowner insurance bill for up to 250% more than the maximum rate set by the Insurance Rate Bureau?  ‘Tis true, acknowledges NC State Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin in this WRAL article, which airs the outrage felt by some NC homeowners who have recently been on the receiving end of such bills.

Read the whole article, HERE, as it’s an eye-opener.

  

Coming Not-So-Soon To a Burglar Near You

Below is the full text of an article that appeared a few months ago on the military blog Defense Tech, an article entitled “Scientists Develop Night Vision Contact Lens”:

Troops might be able to replace those heavy night vision goggles strapped to their helmets and replace them with contact lenses.  The University of Michigan has developed a prototype contact lens that enhances night vision by placing a thin strip of graphene between layers of glass.  The graphene — a form of carbon — reacts to photons, which makes dark images look brighter.

The development of the lens still has quite a ways to go before soldiers can scrap those heavy goggles.  Right now the graphene only absorbs 2.3 percent of the light.  Those percentages have to rise before true night vision can be achieved.

Ted Norris and Zhaohui Zhong of Michigan’s College of Engineering are the ones who have developed the prototype.  This technology is not limited to a contact lens.  The developers said the graphene could be incorporated into windshields and amplify night vision while driving.  According to reports, the U.S. Army has already shown interest in the technology.