Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for September 27th, 2021

The American way of life: Debt

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Umair Haque writes in Medium:

Continue reading. There’s more. 

Something is wrong, very wrong.

Written by Leisureguy

27 September 2021 at 4:01 pm

Gun Policies that Save Lives

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Brennen Jensen writes at the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health about some sensible and practical gun policies to minimize the dangers guns pose to the public. In my view the government is obligated to protect the public by (for example) driver licensing, vehicle inspections, checking the quality and purity and cleanliness of drinking water, air, food, and drugs, and so on. Protecting the public from the harms guns have caused is much the same.
With more than 390 million guns in civilian hands, the U.S. has more firearms than people. This daunting fact can make the problem of gun violence seem unsolvable. But research led by the Center for Gun Violence Prevention and Policy has identified laws that are already making a difference—primarily by keeping guns from people who shouldn’t have them.


When individuals are behaving dangerously and make credible threats to harm themselves or others, judicial authorizations called ERPOs allow law enforcement to temporarily remove firearms from these individuals—and prohibit them from purchasing guns. “These are people who are in crisis and truly at risk of committing violence, either self-directed or directed at others,” says Shannon Frattaroli, PhD ’99, MPH ’94, a professor in Health Policy and Management. “These orders provide a tool for intervening to temporarily remove guns from the mix.” In all states with such laws—currently 19 plus the District of Columbia—law enforcement can petition courts for these orders. In some states, family members, intimate partners, clinicians, and school administrators may do so as well. “Compared with other gun violence prevention policies, these are relatively uncontroversial,” Frattaroli says. “There’s been tremendous interest in them from lawmakers.” While more research is needed, studies from Connecticut and Indiana, which have had these laws for over 15 years, estimate that one life was saved for every 10–20 gun removal actions.


These approaches are used to prevent gun purchases by individuals with past criminal activity, outstanding warrants, or mental health or substance abuse issues. Federally mandated background checks at the point of sale ensure that the purchaser isn’t on a national database of those prohibited from gun ownership. (The law does not apply to private gun sales.) Licensing laws require purchasers submit applications in person to local or state law enforcement. The process involves background checks, waiting periods, and sometimes fingerprinting. “If you want to buy a gun this afternoon, you can’t do it without this license,” says Alexander McCourt, PhD ’19, JD, MPH, an assistant scientist in HPM. Connecticut has required background checks and licensing since 1995. The combined laws reduced firearm homicides by an estimated 27.8% and firearm suicides by 23.2%–40.5%, according to a 2020 study McCourt co-authored. The study, which examined four states, shows that background checks alone are not effective in reducing firearm homicides or suicides. “It seems to work best to have both in place as a way of making sure that everything’s valid and to double-check the system,” McCourt says.


Research shows that a woman is five times more likely to be killed in a domestic violence situation if a gun is present. Federal law prohibits people under DVROs issued after a court hearing from possessing firearms. (Some states strengthen this prohibition to include ex parte restraining orders, those issued by a judge in emergency situations.) The federal law defines domestic partners as people who are or were married or living together, or those who have a child together. Some states also include couples who are dating—an important addition, notes April Zeoli, PhD ’07, MPH, an associate professor at the Michigan State University School of Criminal Justice. “Dating partners make up about half of the people who commit intimate partner homicide,” she says. Another area where these laws need tightening: While those newly placed under restraining orders are flagged in background check databases, Zeoli says some courts don’t order the relinquishment or removal of existing firearms—a step that could save lives. “My research suggests that in states where the law requires or allows judges to order gun relinquishment, intimate partner homicide decreases an estimated 12%,” Zeoli says.


Police have long focused on getting illegal guns off the streets, especially in violence-prone areas. In Baltimore and beyond, police often rely on stop-and-frisk practices to detain and search individuals suspected of carrying guns—a “general tactic often too broadly applied,” says Center director Daniel Webster, ScD ’91, MPH, a Bloomberg Professor of American Health in Health Policy and Management. A 2020 report by Center researchers suggests a more data-driven and accountable strategy. Webster envisions specialized . . .
Continue reading. There’s more.

Written by Leisureguy

27 September 2021 at 1:40 pm

Kidnapping, assassination and a London shoot-out: Inside the CIA’s secret war plans against WikiLeaks

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Zach Dorfman, Sean D. Naylor, and Michael Isikoff report for Yahoo News:

In 2017, as Julian Assange began his fifth year holed up in Ecuador’s embassy in London, the CIA plotted to kidnap the WikiLeaks founder, spurring heated debate among Trump administration officials over the legality and practicality of such an operation.

Some senior officials inside the CIA and the Trump administration even discussed killing Assange, going so far as to request “sketches” or “options” for how to assassinate him. Discussions over kidnapping or killing Assange occurred “at the highest levels” of the Trump administration, said a former senior counterintelligence official. “There seemed to be no boundaries.”

The conversations were part of an unprecedented CIA campaign directed against WikiLeaks and its founder. The agency’s multipronged plans also included extensive spying on WikiLeaks associates, sowing discord among the group’s members, and stealing their electronic devices.

While Assange had been on the radar of U.S. intelligence agencies for years, these plans for an all-out war against him were sparked by WikiLeaks’ ongoing publication of extraordinarily sensitive CIA hacking tools, known collectively as “Vault 7,” which the agency ultimately concluded represented “the largest data loss in CIA history.”

President Trump’s newly installed CIA director, Mike Pompeo, was seeking revenge on WikiLeaks and Assange, who had sought refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy since 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden on rape allegations he denied. Pompeo and other top agency leaders “were completely detached from reality because they were so embarrassed about Vault 7,” said a former Trump national security official. “They were seeing blood.”

The CIA’s fury at WikiLeaks led Pompeo to publicly describe the group in 2017 as a “non-state hostile intelligence service.” More than just a provocative talking point, the designation opened the door for agency operatives to take far more aggressive actions, treating the organization as it does adversary spy services, former intelligence officials told Yahoo News. Within months, U.S. spies were monitoring the communications and movements of numerous WikiLeaks personnel, including audio and visual surveillance of Assange himself, according to former officials.

This Yahoo News investigation, based on conversations with more than 30 former U.S. officials — eight of whom described details of the CIA’s proposals to abduct Assange — reveals for the first time one of the most contentious intelligence debates of the Trump presidency and exposes new details about the U.S. government’s war on WikiLeaks. It was a campaign spearheaded by Pompeo that bent important legal strictures, potentially jeopardized the Justice Department’s work toward prosecuting Assange, and risked a damaging episode in the United Kingdom, the United States’ closest ally.

The CIA declined to comment. Pompeo did not respond to requests for comment.

“As an American citizen, I find it absolutely outrageous that our government would be contemplating kidnapping or assassinating somebody without any judicial process simply because he had published truthful information,” Barry Pollack, Assange’s U.S. lawyer, told Yahoo News.

Assange is now  . . .

Continue reading. And there’s a video at the link.

The US seems to have a fair number of thugs in the top echelons of government. Of course, the CIA, with its programs of systematic torture (and its deliberate destruction of evidence) is prominent among them.

Written by Leisureguy

27 September 2021 at 12:46 pm

Sandalwood and Fire Fighter

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Although this Tcheon Fung Sing Crazy Sandalwood is labeled “Forte,” the fragrance is not nearly so strong as AOS Sandalwood, though certainly pleasant, and the soap provides a good lather, today with the aid of Phoenix Artisan’s Amber Aerolite brush. It has a 24mm knot, and the handle is large, so a big brush. (PA offers another brush in the Aerolite style, the Phantom Aerolite, but though it looks attractive, the knot is 26mm, which for me is too large.)

The stubble fell quickly to my iKon stainless steel slant with a DLC-coated head. The handle, I noticed this morning is from Above the Tie — they round the end of the handle, which you can just detect in the photo if you enlarge it (click it, then click the result) and can readily detect if you try to stand the razor on its base.

Three passes to a perfect result — this is another razor where I learned to ride the cap for the best result — and then a dab of Origins Fire Fighter, a very nice balm, finished the job..

A new week, with a new month awaiting at the end. 

Written by Leisureguy

27 September 2021 at 9:25 am

Posted in Shaving

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