Dec 18 2016

Liberty Update: VA Gives Vets HIV, Florida Tickets Dead Man, & School’s Kool-Aid Crackdown

According to the American Action Forum, the new implementation of EPA fuel standards for heavy trucks has caused the 10-year regulatory burden on America to soar above $1 trillion, or an annual cost of $540 per person. AAF studied data from 2005 on, and found that over 75% of the regulation costs were implemented by the Obama administration, largely due to his record-breaking number of new regulations, which I discussed in episode 9. As of last summer, Obama had passed over 500 new major regulations, bringing total cumulative costs up to $625 billion. By this year, he published the administration’s 600th regulation, which increased the burden to $743 billion. The final bump up past 1 trillion was caused by additional information from Bush’s final term, as well as the new EPA regulation. AAF states that these numbers are estimates received directly from federal regulators.
Also in the realm of regulation, Senators Bob Casey and Tim Scott, of Pennsylvania and South Carolina, respectively, have introduced a new bill called the Antisemitism Awareness Act. According to a statement on Casey’s website, the bill is supposed to help combat rising incident of Antisemitism on college campuses by making sure the Dept of Education has the “necessary statutory tools” to investigate what he calls “anti-Jewish incidents.”

Casey says the bill was inspired by a recent FBI crime report that claims that over 58% of religiously-motivated hate crimes in 2015 were due to antisemitism, a claim that the Anti-Defamation League echoes in a report stating that anti-Semitic attacks at colleges doubled that year. An important note here, is that any crimes in the report are bound to increase on a yearly basis, as hate crimes only began to appear on the report in the 90s, but only included data from limited organizations in 11 states. Each year, more states and agencies have started participating in the reporting program, causing the number of incidents to inevitably rise. Even so, the FBI reported a total of only 5,850 hate crimes over the entire year, two-thirds of which involved no physical violence whatsoever. Of this 5,850, 664 incidents were due to anti-Jewish sentiment.

The Dept of Ed’s Office for Civil Rights has stated that they simply won’t put up with anti-Jewish incidents, but Casey claims that the problem is that the office hasn’t DEFINED what Antisemitism is. Now, antisemitism has been defined by the US State Dept’s Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism, but according to Casey, the government simply can’t fight hate crime unless the Dept of Education defines it too. By the way, Casey wants us all to know that this is not a dig a free speech whatsoever, even though some of the examples of hate-crime he provides include saying pretty much anything negative about Israel or recognizing their role in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, even if these things are said to non-Jewish people. After all, he wants to make sure that college campuses are all-inclusive safe spaces, and his other examples of antisemitism, including murder, are already illegal.

Nearly 600 veterans could be infected with HIV, Hepatitis B, or Hepatitis C due to a VA dentist in Wisconsin not properly cleaning his instruments between patients. VA rules require the use of disposable equipment and that new tools be used for each patient. The dentist has not been fired, but has been removed from patient care while an investigation is pending. The VA has alerted all veterans in his care to obtain testing and has offered free treatment to anyone who has been infected. The facility has struggled under the weight of several scandals in recent years, including patient deaths due to overpresciption of medications and improper care, as well as the deaths of several veterans who were turned away from services. A Senate investigation of the facility found “systematic failures” and that the facility’s nickname is Candy Land.

11 people were injured in a knife attack on Monday at Ohio State University. Original reports called it an active shooter, when in fact the only shots fired were by a police officer who as already present on campus. The assailant, Abdul Artan, drove his car into a group of pedestrians before attacking people with a butcher knife. He was a student at the University and was a Somalian refugee who had spent some time in Pakistan. He became a permanent US resident after arriving here in 2014. ISIS has taken responsibility for the incident, though officials say that he acted on his own and fits the pattern of a “lone wolf” militant. At school, Artan was enrolled in a social justice class called “Crossing Identity Boundaries” that focused on promoting intercultural leadership and was studying microaggressions at the time of the attack.

9 Elementary school students were suspended in Dorchester County, South Carolina last month for violating a school drug policy when they were found to be in possession Kool-Aid powder with added sugar. All nine children were put up for expulsion for having the mixture which the school called “happy crack.” The school told parents that the sugary Kool-Aid mix was a rising epidemic in the school system and needed to be stopped. The school board provided the following statement:
“No student will market or distribute any substance which is represented to be or is substantially similar in color, shape, size or markings of a controlled substance in any of the circumstances listed above. Look-alike substance or substances that mimic the effect of drugs will be treated as illegal substances.”

Violation of this school policy is a level three offense and is considered criminal conduct under South Carolina law and can carry of punishment of up to five years in prison and a $10k fine. Both parents and students said they were unaware of the policy, and were equally confused as the children thought they were walking around with the homemade equivalent of Pixie Sticks.

In March, the same school called in a K9 unit in to investigate another two students found with a bag of “happy crack.” The police report makes it obvious that the happy crack wasn’t actually drugs by specifically noting it’s orange color and “strong fruity mango smell.” None the less, school officials told parents that it was part of their zero tolerance policy on drugs – the superintendent even suggested that the candy may predict future drug use. In that instance, both boys were not only suspended, but also denied a field trip they had been planning for two years as part of the school’s Young Astronauts program.

Also in school-related news, one of Virginia’s school districts has decided to put Huckleberry Finn and To Kill a Mockingbird back on the banned book list after a parent complained that the novels promote racism. The mother complained at a school board meeting, filled out a Request for Reconsideration of Learning Resources form, and objected to both books’ combined 250 uses of the n-word. She told the Delmarva Daily Times that kids won’t understand the “classic” part or “literature” part of the phrase “classic literature.” She also claims that by using the books, the school is teaching her biracial children that racism is acceptable. Other parents jumped on board, agreeing that if the word is included in school materials, that they will think it’s appropriate for every day use.

31-year-old Benjamin Barber became the first individual to be prosecuted and sentenced under Oregon’s new revenge porn law this week. Barber was sentenced to 6 months in jail and 5 years of probation after posting several pornographic videos of himself and a woman that allegedly did not give her permission to have the videos put online. Barber claims that he is in fact the victim, as both he and the woman were attempting to produce porn commercially, and then she turned around and tried to use the videos as blackmail. When speaking to reporters for KOIN 6, he added, “I understand people are going to think I look creepy. I have this blown out eye.”

A new report from the Labor Department is being hailed by many liberal outlets as an improvement – after all, the economy saw 178,000 new jobs in November and the official unemployment rate dropped to 4.6%, which is a nine year low. While these stats sound nice, the labor participation rate has continued to plummet. October’s jobs report was discussed back on Episode 7, when the labor participation rate was 62.8%, which was one of the worst numbers on record. November saw that number go down to 62.7%, which might not sound like much, but is an increase of about 450,000, pushing the non-participation number over the previous 95 million mark.

Trump and Clinton campaign managers met at a Harvard conference this week and discussed whether or not a fourth debate closer to the election would have changed the outcome. For the most part, the conference involved angry shouting, accusations of racism, complaints about the media, and a Trump campaigner using the phrase “Hashtag-he’s-your-president.” Moderators had difficulty keeping the panelists focused on the questions at hand and audience members called it a “goddamn food fight” filled with expletives, sarcasm, and downright childish behavior.

Dashcam footage of the police-involved shooting that left Todd Browning dead was released this week. The shooting was found justified in September, but Tennessee authorities are refusing to release why East Ridge police officer Daniel Stephenson was at Todd Browning’s home in the first place.
Stephenson was called to an AutoZone near Browning’s home after a report that he was acting erratically and brandishing a knife at the store. After only 30 seconds inside, Browning and the officer emerge, speak in the parking lot, and Browning drives away. Stephenson is then seen leisurely strolling back to his car while speaking in his radio. He then gets in the car, drives three minutes to Browning’s home, gets out of the car, and takes an AR-15 out of the trunk. Less than a minute later, he points it at Browning, who is off screen.

Browning can be heard yelling, “You wanna shoot me? Do it!” and approached with a metal rod, which officials say is a water key. At that moment, Stephenson fires 6 rounds at Browning, five of which hit him in the chest. Authorities are refusing to answer any questions around what happened inside the AutoZone and the DA claims that authorities simply don’t have any information about the encounter. Despite Stephenson’s calm demeanor when leaving the store, his attorney claims that Browning charged at him with a knife and threatened to kill both himself and the officer during the 30-second encounter.

Authorities have also refused to release any security footage from the store or any photos of the knife. Again, the DA said that they don’t have any of that evidence, but if they did, they don’t have to release it.

Internal Affairs are investigating an incident in Houston after deputies Tazed a 36-year-old woman in a wheelchair. The Sheketha Holman’s pregnant daughter was being arrested at a local gas station for marijuana possession. She claims that when officers rammed her daughter into the back of a car, she began recording. She reports that an officer told her she was trespassing and had to leave the property. She admits to yelling at the deputies as she attempted to wheel herself back to her car, at which point officers accused her of resisting arrest. Holman says she was told to put her hands behind her back but cannot physically do that. Surveillance video from the gas station shows three officers attempting to handcuff her hands behind her, until one walks away and tases her from behind, causing her to fall out of her wheelchair. She is being charged with trespassing and resisting arrest.

Fort Lauderdale parking officials ticketed an SUV parked three blocks from the County Courthouse for four days in November before realizing that the driver was dead inside the vehicle. The body of 62 year old Jacob Morpeau wasn’t even found by parking officers – it was found by a woman who was walking by and, feeling curious, looked inside. Medical examiners say the man died of natural causes and had suffered from cardiovascular disease. The city has dismissed the $160 in parking tickets.

Socialist Venezuela, who is suffering from an inflation rate of 808% under an economics czar that does not believe in inflation, hit a new low recently as Bloomberg reports that shopkeepers have taken to weighing money instead of counting it. The country has been suffering massive food shortages and is seeing a mass exodus of citizens fleeing any way they can, including being dumped off boats in the middle of the ocean and attempting to swim to nearby islands. The government has also been rationing electricity for most of the year, as the largely hydro-electric reliant country has been facing a harsh drought. Government officials blame the drought on global warming and political sabotage, but still insist that socialism and government corruption have nothing to do with any of their problems, demonstrating that it’s a GREAT time to be a socialist!

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