Shared posts

03 Apr 15:38

Craft Breweries Fight Florida Bills That Benefit Big Distributors

by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

As seems to be happening around the country, Florida is enjoying a boom in craft beer breweries that open their doors to the public. These generally informal drinking establishments—think folding chairs and picnic tables—tend to offer draft beer by the pint, flight, or growler, and give customers a chance to try seasonal or less popular beers that may not be available in local bars or stores. Some, such as Jacksonville's Intuition Ale Works, also sell special, limited-run brews—such as its bourbon-barrel aged Underdark—by the bottle. 

But selling bottled or canned beer at breweries would become untenable under a new bill making its way through Florida's legislature. Senate Bill 1714 would force breweries to sell all bottled or canned beer directly to distributors.

If a craft brewery wanted to sell its own beer on site, it would have to buy it back from the distributor with what is typically a 30 to 40 percent mark-up, according to Reuters. This would hold true regardless of whether the beers ever left the brewery.

Craft brewers—defined as those producing under 6 million barrels per year—say the new regulation is being pushed by big, national distributors with political clout. Direct-to-consumer sales from breweries cut into their long-established business as intermediaries. And craft beers account for a growing portion of overall beer sales. According to the Brewer's Association, overall beer sales across the country dropped 2 percent by volume in 2013, while craft beer sales grew by 18 percent. 

Another Florida bill, this one in the House, would end the state's ban on half-gallon growler sales but come with other downsides for craft brewers. Among these: prohibiting guest beers to be sold in brewery taprooms and limiting vendor's licenses to no more than two locations per brewery. It would also prohibit more than 30 percent of beer sold in a brewery's taproom from having been made off-premise, which could hurt businesses that brew beer in more than one facility but only operate one taproom. 

03 Apr 14:41

Will We Ever Accept that Exercise is Often the Best Medicine?

by Mark Sisson

pillsvsexerciseFor years, experts have known that in mild to moderate cases of depression exercise is as effective (or more effective) a treatment as prescription drugs. Yet, here we are in 2014, with still climbing obesity rates and higher than ever numbers of people taking anti-depressants – a 400% jump in the last 20 years.  This past week, exercise as medical therapy got another round of press after The Atlantic highlighted the issue in their thought provoking feature “For Depression, Prescribing Exercise Before Medication.” Let me add, however, that we aren’t just missing the boat in terms of depression therapy. Research has shown time and again that exercise offers just as good if not better results for an array of medical conditions. I might be preaching to the choir with the general theme, but let’s go beyond the basic assumptions and home in on the critical underlying messages reflecting why exercise isn’t just the safest and often most effective choice but why it so often remains the least accessed therapy.

Yes, the whole picture is profoundly intuitive to any Primal type (or maybe anyone not sold on the pharmaceutical solution to living). Isn’t it a funny, head-scratching coincidence that basic exercise can prevent – and treat – psychological and physical decline? Who would’ve thought that movement was useful to our bodies – that offering our physical forms the activity they were designed to perform for eons would confer some actual benefit? Still, the actual results themselves are fun if not impressive to read. Consider this…

  • Regular exercise resulted in a 30% remission rate for those with depression who didn’t respond to SSRI medication.
  • Study participants with heart disease who exercised had the same risk of dying as those who took popular drugs such as statins, antiplatelet drugs or ACE Inhibitors.
  • Research subjects with prediabetes who took the array of common prescription medications had the same mortality risk as those who simply exercised.
  • Among study subjects who had experienced stroke, those who exercised had a significantly lower mortality risk than those who took medications such as anticoagulants and antiplatelets.

On the flip side of this coin, of course, are the negatives. We’ve established that exercise confers physical, cognitive and emotional advantages for the prevention and/or treatment of many medical conditions. Add to this equation the question of drawbacks. Does exercise have disadvantages? In all fairness, your hair gets messed up. You’ll likely sweat. You perhaps need to take an extra shower or time the day’s toilette to match your workout schedule. You need to buy a pair of shoes (but then again you can just go barefoot). You’ll need to invest a little time for heavier workouts but perhaps can try to get some of the low level movement in while using a handy-dandy treadmill desk (or, more old school, work a job with heavy manual labor or lots of activity). Then we come upon the whole inertia argument, but in response there are even effective exercise options for the motivationally challenged.

While I’m not trying to minimize the nuisance of smelly armpits or losing an hour on the sofa, let’s take a look now at the potential downsides of pharmaceutical solutions.

  • Side Effects for SSRIs: gastrointestinal disturbances, anxiety, agitation, insomnia, sleep disturbance, weight gain, sexual dysfunction
  • Side Effects for Statins: memory loss, forgetfulness, confusion, muscle damage, increased risk of diabetes, liver injury
  • Side Effects for Anti-coagulants: excessive bleeding, severe bruising, bloody urine or stool, headache, back pain, chest pain, difficulty breathing
  • Side Effects for ACE-inhibitors: dizziness, headache, fatigue, loss of appetite, gastrointestinal problems, diarrhea, numbness, fever, joint pain
  • Side Effects for Beta-blockers: diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, rash, blurred vision, muscle cramps, fatigue, headache, depression, confusion, dizziness, sexual dysfunction, low or high blood glucose

The final kicker? A study out just last month showed that more than 20% of older adults being treated for multiple medical conditions are prescribed medications that worsen the symptoms of another condition. In other words, their medications work at odds or in “therapeutic competition” with each other. The more we dig ourselves into the pharmaceutical hole, it appears, the worse (and more ironic) it all gets.

Knowing all of this, why does the obvious solution feel so impossible? Why won’t people accept exercise as a genuine medical option? Why do we tend to go with a pill (at times, an awfully expensive one) rather than a simple, natural behavior change? Why are we individually invested in this choice? Why are we as a culture – or medical establishment – so invested in this approach?

We’ll spend billions of dollars researching which gene “lights up” or which protein levels rise all in the name of better understanding the physiological mechanisms of disease while the solution itself is staring us in the face. Let me back up for a moment and suggest that I’m not arguing that exercise covers any and all medical need. I’m not saying it has the absolute power to cure or prevent any particular person from developing illness in his/her lifetime. Our physiology is inherently complex. People should avail themselves of the broad medical options that allow them to lead the fullest and healthiest lives possible. That said, there’s rarely an instance in which lifestyle choices can’t make a powerful difference either unto themselves or in conjunction with conventional or complementary medical treatments.

The million dollar question in all this, of course, is how do we get people to accept exercise as a treatment? How do we convince doctors to literally prescribe exercise (understanding, of course, that some already do)? How can patients be convinced to avail themselves of the safest, perhaps most effective treatment option? The Atlantic feature chose to address this question from the perspective of psychiatrists. Their answer? To treat it “like real medicine.” For one psychiatrist interviewed, that means addressing it in his appointments with patients as he would a prescription for medication, discussing the details of studies that support the effectiveness of exercise, talking about effective “doses” and intensity levels, emphasizing the importance of consistency by comparing it to a diabetic’s occasional versus regular use of insulin.

It’s a provocative thought. What if doctors talked about exercise as medicine in their sessions? Would it be convincing to the majority of people who walk through their doors? (Would it win you over?) The results, according to doctors in The Atlantic piece, seem mixed. The most difficult factor is the obvious elephant in the living room – that the pill is there ready to be prescribed, whether it’s called “a last resort” or not. Nonetheless, can the rhetoric sway at least some people to take exercise to heart? Will homing in on the technical details of dosage and variety get people to take the usually friendly advice as medical law – and personal treatment plan?

There’s an interesting wrinkle to this that I don’t often see discussed with how we tend to downplay the value of lifestyle interventions. Research into the placebo effect demonstrates that the more costly we believe a certain placebo “medication” is, the higher we rate its “effectiveness” in treating our symptoms. The value we attach to a treatment influences the actual results we think we experience.

This point, in turn, brings up another dimension. While we (rightly) exalt the everyday accessibility of exercise, are we simultaneously downgrading its appeal to those who need it most? Let’s just brainstorm for a minute. What would happen if doctors could prescribe personal training and/or fitness center/class use as they do physical therapy? People often skip physical therapy or bow out before they’ve met their goals, but generally people take advantage of it when a doctor orders it. Would it boost people’s buy-in if we promoted general fitness training and support the same way? Are we kidding ourselves to think we can put the onus solely on the individual when the system so clearly supports the opposite choices?

There’s an interesting cultural dichotomy at work here. I think a lot of ordinary people would bristle at the suggestion that they need a trainer or that this person’s service should cost them in treating their illness. Yet, they think nothing of spending as much or considerably more on medications than they would the guidance (and motivation) of a personal trainer. Simultaneously, there’s an odd fascination with the most extreme representation of the trainer figure as millions watch Jillian Michaels et al. every week in the disturbing entertainment of televised panopticon meets “fat camp.” We’re a confounding, nonsensical populace (collectively speaking)….

On the other end of the “medical speak,” when prescribing exercise is the self-care justification. You deserve to take care of yourself. You deserve to thrive. You deserve to not have to take insulin every day or deal with the complications of statins. Is this line of reasoning any more convincing for people than dosing out activity according to medical study suggestion? My own sense is it depends on the patient.

Either way, it always intrigues me how put out we are by our bodies’ needs. Are we naturally this lazy, or has the culture just gotten to us that we feel so put upon having to exercise ourselves – having to make the effort to pick up our 100 lb gym shoes and walk out that 1000 lb front door to go for a walk? That hour we have to “waste” on fitness could’ve been used for three dozen other, more pressing needs. Why not see a pill as the ultimate “easy button” that allows us to have it all. It’s hard to kick the collective faith in that assumption even if the research suggests a much different picture. Where does medical logic fit in a modern mindset? It’s hard to tell, but the simple Primal perspective as always holds – that we naturally live through our bodies and have the ability to physically and psychologically thrive when we offer ourselves the age-old inputs our genetic blueprints anticipate. Maybe Primal logic’s time has come.

Thanks for reading today, everyone. What thoughts does all this raise for you? Is there any clarity or direction to be found in how to prescribe movement over medicine?

Join Mark Sisson and Friends at the Mohonk Mountain House this June 5-8! Get Your Tickets for PrimalCon New York Today and Finally Meet Your Tribe!

03 Apr 11:50

More Like Jaw-Clenchingly Arrogant

by Don Boudreaux
(Don Boudreaux)

Here’s a letter to Pacific Standard:

Twenty-seven year old Johnie L. Jones is the first person profiled in your “Top 30 Thinkers Under 30” (April 1).  According to your description, he is among an elite few “social-science wunderkinds,” each of whom boasts a “brawny brain” and “jaw-droppingly impressive” ideas for “addressing society’s toughest challenges.”  And the challenge for Mr. Jones - as he describes it - is to “advance the mission of providing our country with healthy food options.”

Is Mr. Jones an innovative farmer staking his own funds on experiments to improve agricultural yields?  Is he an entrepreneur with a new business plan for reducing the costs of retailing food in poor neighborhoods?  Is he an agronomist testing new varieties of plant seeds that might grow abundantly in poor soil?  Nope.  Nothing like that.  Mr. Jones is a government bureaucrat who aspires to be elected to Congress.  Yawn.

Rather than creatively figuring out how to spend his own money, or money voluntarily entrusted to him, on ways to improve the life of Paul, Mr. Jones’s only idea is the depressingly primitive one of forcing Peter to spend money on ways to improve the life of Paul (or, more accurately, on ways that Mr. Jones merely fancies​ will improve the life of Paul).

So while Mr. Jones might have admirable intentions, there’s nothing remotely new or “brainy” or ”jaw-droppingly impressive” about his ideas.  Quite the opposite.

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA  22030

“I want power to order people about!” is an idea neither new nor noble.

02 Apr 18:55

FDA Delays Threaten Kid's Life; Parents Plead With White House

by Zenon Evans

Austin Leclaire, 15, and his brother Max, 12, of Vermont, both suffer from a form of muscular dystrophy that leaves them with a life expectancy of 25 years. In 2012, Max began showing signs of improvement while participating in a clinical study with a drug called eteplirsen. Austin didn't qualify for the study, because he is wheelchair-bound. His condition has continually deteriorated: He can barely get himself out of bed or unlock a door. Making matters worse, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is now effectively blocking Austin's ability to access the drug by delaying its release. So, the Leclaire boys' parents are petitioning the White House.

The Boston Herald reports:

Cambridge-based Sarepta Therapeutics has been testing its [Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy] drug in 12 boys for more than two years and says the results are good, but the FDA has stalled approval until it sees results from a larger trial.


Sarepta spokesman Jim Baker said the company plans to launch a new, larger drug study later this year, with input from the FDA.

The process could take years.

But, "There is no reason in the world for this drug to not be approved. It’s 100 percent safe," Jenn McNary, mother of the Leclaire boys, told the Herald. She isn't alone:

Dr. Jerry Mendell of Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, who designed the Sarepta drug trial, said eteplirsen is a first-of-its-kind therapy and has shown "superb" results so far.

"I think the product is very good, and I think it deserves to be approved. … It has absolutely no side effects," he said.

Frustrated by the bureaucratic delays, the Leclaire family teamed up with a campaign called "The Race To Say Yes." They filed a "We the People" petition at late in February, hoping to get at least 100,000 signatures in favor of accelerating the approval process for the drug. They met that mark this past Saturday.

Unfortunately, as the Herald notes, the White House has not yet replied.

For more Reason coverage of the FDA stifling progress in medicine, click here or watch the video below:

02 Apr 15:30

Bomber blows self up after forgetting to set watch forward for Daylight Saving Time...

Bomber blows self up after forgetting to set watch forward for Daylight Saving Time...

(Third column, 9th story, link)

02 Apr 14:40

Resistant Starch: Your Questions Answered

by Mark Sisson

potatoes22Last week’s Definitive Guide to Resistant Starch garnered a lot of attention. While the article covered a lot of ground, many of you had lingering questions and concerns about the topic: What is and isn’t resistant starch? How much resistant starch should I be eating? Why is resistant starch good for me? What is resistant starch again?

I don’t blame you; it’s a confusing one that appears, on first glance, to challenge some of the fundamental Primal ideas about food and nutrition.

Today, I’m going to answer as many questions from last week as I can. Hopefully it clears up most of the bigger questions.

Let’s get right to it:

Do the benefits of RS outweigh the negatives of rice, legumes, potatoes, etc.?

Great question.

Rice and potatoes, yes. I’ve already spoken on both those subjects in previous posts, and my basic conclusion is that both rice and potatoes are relatively toxin-free sources of starch that an insulin-sensitive, sufficiently-active individual can likely consume in moderation without ill effect. For both foods, the negative effects come from the carb load they represent, which is simply too high for some people. But by cooking and cooling them, you reduce the carb load, reduce the glucose response, and improve your insulin sensitivity. In essence, any “negatives” are mitigated by the emphasis on resistant starch. If you have trouble with glucose tolerance, and you’re looking to drop weight, you should still exercise caution with these foods and heed the Carb Curve, but preparing them in a way that increases the RS content will only make them less problematic.

One note: potatoes are iffy for people with nightshade intolerance. So there’s that to consider.

Legumes, I’m not sure. I strongly suspect that the health benefits ascribed to legumes are solely due to the prebiotic, RS effects, which interest me but are not the sole province of the legume. But the fact remains that many people simply don’t tolerate legumes very well. It could be that some of the tolerance issues stem from disrupted gut flora and introducing RS will ameliorate your troubles, but who knows? We’re still learning a lot. In the meantime, I’m not too interested in soaking beans. There’s nothing essential about them, so long as we’re getting RS from other sources.

I’m a little confused…how does one go about adding RS in whole food form without doubling or tripling their normal daily carb intake? I can’t see eating 1-2 green bananas and a couple raw potatoes each day, in addition to normal amounts of carbs from veggies and fruit (I usually have one serving of fruit a day– berries, if possible) and still staying under 100-150 carbs. Please, enlighten me!

Believe it or not, you can easily eat green bananas without tripling your digestible carb intake. And that’s the key: you don’t digest these carbs, your gut flora do. An average large banana contains a hair over 30 grams of carbohydrate. If it’s green and totally unripe, the majority of that carbohydrate will be resistant starch that your body does not digest into glucose.

You’ll know you’re getting the good stuff when the banana is crispy and leaves a chalky aftertaste in your mouth. Pleasant, I know. But added to a smoothie, it’s actually quite nice. In fact, here’s a recipe I’ve been playing around with:

  • Cup of milk (coconut, almond, cow, goat, etc)
  • Large green banana, peeled and sliced
  • Quarter teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • Quarter teaspoon of cinnamon
  • Half teaspoon of honey (may be unnecessary depending on the sweetness of your bananas)

I assume that the time of day you take RS does not matter?

It shouldn’t. Once you’ve established a healthy population of butyrate-producing gut bugs, they don’t need to be fed at a certain time every day. They’re quite malleable and adaptive, and they’ll also begin feeding on other fermentable fibers in your foods.

What is the reason to supplement RS instead of getting it from food? How much RS is “good enough” and how much real food would meet that amount?

Supplemental RS is just easier, and most of the research in support of it has used supplemental RS-rich powders – so we know it works. But real food probably works even better since it comes with vitamins, minerals, and polyphenols (which have prebiotic effects in their own right), and it most closely resembles the way our early ancestors consumed RS.

Let’s see. If you can work your way up to between 30 and 40 grams of RS, whether from food or from powders, you’ll be in a good place. That’s the dose used in much of the research, and it’s where butyrate production is maximized.

What does that look like in food form?

600 grams of baked, then cooled, potato has around 25 grams. You can even lightly heat the potato after it’s been cooled and retain the RS.

1 large (8 inch) green, fully unripe banana has somewhere between 20-25 grams. A large green plantain has about 50 grams. Not the most palatable, but it’s doable, especially if you slice into discs and dehydrate into chips. A smoothie masks it well, too.

Any idea if heating the potato starch (like using it as a thickening agent in soups/stews) negates its RS function?

Yes, the RS will be completely negated. Sorry. It does make a good thickener, though.

Cooked and cooled rice – as in sushi? Or does the vinegar somehow negate the benefit of the resistant starch?

Yes, cold sushi rice will contain RS. Good sushi restaurants generally keep their rice at room temperature, though, so I’m not sure you’ll get the retrograde RS effect unless you go for grocery store deli case sushi. And hey, I actually like that stuff, so there’s no shame in eating it. Just avoid gas station sushi if you know what’s good for you.

Vinegar shouldn’t affect it either way. Vinegar does reduce the blood glucose response when consumed with carb-rich foods, so it might be a nice supplement in its own right if that’s an effect you’re after.

So that pizza crust recipe has mostly tapioca starch/flour (same) in it. (Also, not Potato Starch–potato flour) If I make the crusts and freeze them and then reheat and eat, would the RS still be usable? Same as the potatoes and rice I would think. So perhaps that is a go on the RS.

I don’t think it works like that. For retrograde RS to form, it has to be in its whole form – potatoes, not potato starch; cassava, not tapioca starch; rice, not rice flour.

Question about “cooked and cooled” – what the heck does that mean? So, I cook it, and cool it. Does that mean I have to eat it cold to get the resistant starch? If I zap my bowl of bean soup and rice that came out of the fridge, when does it lose the resistance to digestion?

Retrograded RS (cooked and cooled) is maintained during subsequent heating. You can even heat it and cool it once again to create even more RS. So you don’t have to eat it cold, though I would advise against re-heating a cooked and cooled RS source into oblivion. Keep the heat relatively low.

Should the carbohydrates from resistant starches (for example, a cooked and cooled potato) still be counted in daily consumption if it is not digested?

Some of it should still be counted, because not all – or even most – of the starch is resistant. Most of it is good old digestible glucose. But you can subtract the 4-5 grams of RS from the 21 grams total starch in every 100 grams of cooked and cooled potato. Not bad, eh?

And remember, it’s not that the 4-5 grams become inert, useless matter passing through your body. They are bioactive, just not with the biology of the host. They turn into fatty acids that fuel your colon and improve your ability to tolerate the digestible glucose you consumed along with them.

Is just eating Pistachio’s (or other seeds) enough RS to do the trick?

Probably not. To hit the 30-40 grams of resistant starch that maximizes benefits in most trials with pistachios would require a lot – of money, of calories, of shelling. 100 grams of roasted pistachios has around 3.5 grams of RS. That may be in the shell, and raw pistachios may have more, but either way it’s not a huge amount. Not bad, not great. The beauty of the less calorically dense RS sources is that they allow a more varied diet. It’s nothing to add a couple tablespoons of potato starch to your diet.

That said, pistachios are potent prebiotics. One recent study found that they increased butyrate-producing bacteria in the colon, outperforming almonds. You should definitely eat pistachios, but I think you should also eat other more concentrated sources of RS.

That’s the beauty of it all: it’s not a competition! We can eat pistachios and other things at the same time without disrupting the effectiveness of either.

Question: would hummus fit the bill as cooked & cooled legumes?

Yes, hummus seems to qualify even though it’s not Primal. According to the PDF from last week’s post, 100 grams of hummus has 4.1 grams of RS. Hummus made from soaked chickpeas will have more than hummus made from canned chickpeas, however.

What would be the best way to gradually incorporate RS into the diet for a person that has gut inflammation with chronic bloating?

You need probiotics. And in your case, I doubt yogurt or even kefir will be sufficient. Try something soil-based, as in the same types of probiotic organisms that Grok was getting on a regular basis simply from living. These are likely the microbes to which our guts are evolutionarily accustomed.

Primal Flora works (worked for me with RS!); it provides a high dose of two specific soil-based strains that have been shown to be helpful in clinical trials. You could also go more broad-spectrum, with more soil-based strains but lower concentrations.

Start really, really, really small with the RS. If you’re going with the unmodified potato starch, start with 1/4 to 1/2 a teaspoon. It will look like almost nothing. Increase it by 1/4 tsp slowly as comfort allows.

If that doesn’t work – but I imagine it would – and your gut is really compromised, I suggest trying Dr. BG’s gut healing protocol. It involves probiotics, prebiotics, and a number of other, more drastic but potentially necessary steps. The good doc is a bit wild, but in a good way. Just read her stuff at least twice and you’ll figure it out. Reading it out loud seems to help, too. She certainly has a way with language!

Does this mean I can start eating sushi and potato salad??! icon wink

Well, you can choose to eat anything you want, of course. That’s never changed. What this does indicate is that those foods, when cooled, have unique effects, different than if you were to eat a bowl of hot steamed rice or a large baked potato fresh from the oven.

The preponderance of evidence suggests that the potato salad and the cold sushi rice will result in a lower blood glucose response and feed the helpful critters in your gut – both good things. But before you go digging into that store bought potato salad on a regular basis, consider avoiding the seed oils and making your own. I’m a fan of lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and fresh herbs, myself. I can rarely be bothered to make my own mayo, although that’s also a good option.

Anyone have a recipe using raw potato starch that can be easily incorporated into a primal/paleo diet (meat, eggs, veges, occasional fruit)? I don’t do smoothies, nor do I do fruit juice or yogurt.

Aside from smoothies, sparkling water is the best vehicle I’ve found for potato starch. The bubbles seem to enhance the dispersal of potato starch granules into the medium, even without a blender. Just a fork or even a quick stir with your index finger is enough to get it completely mixed in.

So what to use? Bob’s Red Mill Potato Starch or Bob’s Red Mill Tapioca Flour?

Potato starch seems to be the most reliable way. From reading the comment sections on blogs and posts on various forums, the digestibility of tapioca starch/flour varies from person to person. Many people seem to get elevated blood sugar after taking a tablespoon or two of the tapioca, whereas potato starch is almost invariably indigestible.

Can the potatoes be fried in lard and then cooled? I would rather try a yummy food source then a powder.

A few weeks back, I described my method for foolproof, easy crispy root vegetables. You pre-bake them and store in the fridge. This increases the RS content of the potato. When you’re ready to fry them, simply peel the skin, cut them up into the desired shape (cube, fry, etc), and lightly pan fry them in the fat of your choice. Lard is a great option. Since they’re already cooked, you don’t need a lot of heat or a lengthy cooking time, and the RS is preserved.

If we’re taking probiotics without RS as well – what is happening? The bacteria in the probiotics are starving? But don’t they eat other stuff besides RS? Sorry, I know I sound like a boob, but – I’m still a little confused.

No, the probiotics can still help, by partial colonization. But for the best results, you’ll want to provide food so that the probiotics have more lasting power and can hitch a ride into the colon where they do the most good. Feed the animals; they aren’t bears and it’s not Yellowstone! It can be resistant starch and/or any other prebiotic fiber. The point is to feed them stuff they can eat, thrive on, and ride on.

RS fits the bill.

One more question – how does this need for RS fit into the Grok-lore? What did our Paleo ancestors do that we aren’t doing?

As I’ve written before, wild tubers, roots, and other underground storage organs are frequently highly fibrous with lots of indigestible starch. That’s what Grok would have encountered, not the smooth, starchy goodness of a Russet potato, which had to be selected for by the experienced hands of agrarian tuber breeders.

We can’t all eat dirt-encrusted cattails rich in resistant starch, but we can approximate the effects with modern tools. Taking soil-based probiotics and emphasizing preparation methods that maximize resistant starch content is, by all accounts, an extremely Primal and biologically-appropriate way to emulate one important aspect of our evolutionary metabolic environment.

Any thoughts on the resistant starch found in Quest Bars? Quest Bars contain isomalto-oligosaccharides. The makers claim this is a resistant starch.

It’s not a resistant starch per se, but rather a prebiotic fermentable fiber. Studies indicate that while its consumption does improve constipation and increase production of the short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) propionate and acetate, it does not increase production of the most beneficial SCFA, butyrate.

Is consuming RS the only way to feed our gut?

No, definitely not. Other prebiotic substances matter, like various plant fibers (inulin, pectin), dark chocolate, and even connective tissue (yes, animal fiber - the crunchy gristle and cartilage too many people discard). With a Primal eating plan rich in plants and whole animals (including bones and broth), you should be getting plenty. But resistant starch is an important, unique prebiotic that makes feeding our gut a whole lot easier and more effective.

That’s it for today, folks. Thanks for reading!

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02 Apr 15:25

TX Cops Lobby to Ban Man from Exposing Speed Traps (Nanny of the Month, 3-14)

by Ted Balaker

Mind your hedges because this month the control freaks are abusing the definition of blight in Connecticut, spying on you (all of you!) as you tool around town in Los Angeles, and barring you from warning drivers about speed traps in Texas. Check out Nanny of the Month for March 2014!

Top dishonors come to us from Frisco, Texas, where ignorance of the law is no excuse, unless you're one of Police Chief John Bruce’s officers. In that case, feel free to bust a man for a non-existent offense that, even if were against the law, should call for a ticket, not the whole “cuff ‘em and stuff ‘em” treatment.

Sure, it may not have been technically “against the law” when officers arrested Ron Martin after they spotted him standing in a center median with a sign warning drivers about officers with itchy ticket-writing fingers lying in wait up the road. Good ol’ Chief Bruce can fix all that simply by leaning on his pals in the city council to pass an ordinance that makes what Martin did a fineable offense.

And sure, Chief Bruce has long been irritated by Martin who has volunteered plenty of time giving drivers a friendly heads up, but the chief’s actions definitely have everything to do with safety (says so in the ordinance itself!), and absolutely nothing to do with retaliating against Martin or maintaining a strong stream of traffic-ticket revenue.

1 minute, 41 seconds.

Follow Nanny of the Month on Twitter (@NannyoftheMonth) and submit your nominees for next month!

Nanny of the Month is written Ted Balaker (@tedbalaker) and produced by Balaker and Matt Edwards (@MattChrisEd). Edited by Edwards. Opening graphics by Meredith Bragg.

To watch previous episodes, go here.

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02 Apr 14:30

Zoning’s Racist Roots Still Bear Fruit

by A. Barton Hinkle

“Blacks,” said Mayor Barry Mahool, “should be quarantined in isolated slums in order to reduce the incidents of civil disturbance, to prevent the spread of communicable disease into the nearby White neighborhoods, and to protect property values among the White majority.”

Mahool was the mayor of Baltimore who, in 1910, signed into law a racial zoning ordinance. According to Christopher Silver’s The Racial Origins of Zoning in American Cities, he was also “a nationally recognized member of the ‘social justice’ wing of the Progressive movement.”

The cities employing racial zoning included many Southern ones: Norfolk, Atlanta, Louisville, Birmingham, and more. But they were not limited to the South: Chicago practiced a form of racial zoning, too. San Francisco and other California cities used it to keep Chinese laundries in their place.

Yet the ball really got rolling in Richmond, where a 1911 zoning ordinance made it illegal to sell a house on a majority-white block to a black person, or a house on a majority-black block to a white person.

Even back then, the only color that some people cared about was green. The ordinance was challenged by whites and blacks who wanted to do business with one another. In 1915 it was upheld. “There is no discrimination between the races,” a Richmond court ruled in Hopkins v. City of Richmond, because the law applied to blacks and whites alike. What’s more, the ordinances were written “to do a public good” by keeping “one race from encroaching upon the other. The ordinances are intended to protect each race from harm from the other.”

That justification held for two years, until the Supreme Court struck down racial zoning in Buchanan v. Warley — a case George Mason University law professor David Bernstein has called “one of the most significant civil rights cases decided before the modern civil rights era.” As he wrote at SCOTUSblog back in 2004, the “right at issue” was the “civil right” of property — a right enjoyed equally by both whites and blacks: “ ‘Colored persons,’ Justice [William R.] Day wrote for the court, ‘are citizens of the United States and have the right to purchase property and enjoy and use the same without laws discriminating against them solely on account of color.’ ”

Regrettably, the highest court did not get the last word. No longer able to enforce explicitly racial zoning regulations, many cities used “expulsive” zoning to the same effect, by putting factories in certain neighborhoods to drive blacks out.

They also used other, indirect methods — such as housing betterment. According to Silver, “Richmond’s reform movement produced its own catalog of housing horrors when the Society for the Betterment of Housing Conditions published [a] graphic depiction of the city’s dilapidated black neighborhoods. [The] report made no direct reference to racial zoning as a remedial action but, instead, concentrated on housing codes [and] building regulations.”

Ancient history? Hardly. Progressivism likes to think of government as defending minorities from discrimination by private enterprise. But time and again, history has shown progressive ideas marching in lockstep with racist motives.

In 1954, the Supreme Court allowed the District of Columbia to use eminent domain to eradicate blight. The court’s language was high-toned: “The concept of the public welfare is broad and inclusive,” it ruled. “The values it represents are spiritual as well as physical, aesthetic as well as monetary.” The victims, however, shared mostly skin tone: The “urban renewal” district to be bulldozed was 97.5 percent black.

In the 2005 eminent domain case Kelo v. New London, the Supreme Court allowed government to seize private property for someone else’s ostensibly higher use — condemnation in the name of social progress. Dissenting Justice Sandra Day O’Connor warned that “the fallout from this decision will not be random.” She was right. An Institute for Justice study of 184 eminent domain cases occurring since the 2005 decision in Kelo v. New London found condemnation was used disproportionately against minority property holders.

Another study, in 2009, found “a strong and significant … relationship” between low-density zoning policies and racial segregation. Yet another paper, published last year, found that “over half the difference between levels of segregation in the stringently zoned Boston and lightly zoned Houston metro areas can be explained by zoning regulation alone.”

That would not be news to the Bukharian Jews of New York — immigrants from Central Asia whose voluble architectural tastes offend the more subdued sensibilities of their neighbors in Queens. As Melinda Katz, head of the New York City Council’s land-use committee, complained in 2008, the houses in the area “have a specific aesthetic character” and “a lot of the houses that are [now] going up there are just simply too big. … They are out of character.” Oh, gracious.

To Boris Kandov, head of a Bukharian association, the issue looked rather different: “Why are we in America? Because we’re dreaming of this freedom! We were dreaming to build big house!” (New York to immigrants: Dream on.)

Related concerns are now raising hackles in Fairfax County. On Sunday, The Washington Post reported that longtime residents of some neighborhoods have taken to calling or emailing the county’s code-enforcement division with complaints about too many cars in certain driveways and too many people in certain houses. By an amazing coincidence, the objects of the complaints are always immigrants — usually large Asian or Hispanic families. As Tim Cavanaugh observed in Reason three years ago, the attraction of urban planning is that it “allows discrimination but dresses it up as discriminating taste.”

But to the complainers, the issue isn’t race or ethnicity — it’s “quality of life.” You can’t have a bunch of people sharing a house, fixing cars in the yard and so on. It’s out of character with the neighborhood. It causes tensions and creates civil disturbance. And it’s bad for property values. There’s no discrimination in simply wanting the rules enforced, right?

Baltimore’s Barry Mahool would certainly agree.

01 Apr 21:23

It’s official – Chicago experienced the coldest four months ever on record

by Anthony Watts
An over a century-old record falls. The average temperature for December 2013 to March 2014 period in  Chicago was only 22.0°F, 10 degrees below freezing, beating the old record set in the winter of 1903-04. It even beat the harsh … Continue reading →
31 Mar 19:05

Ex-NSA Official Breezily Reveals Details Of NSA Surveillance Capabilities In Iraq

by Mike Masnick
Throughout the whole Ed Snowden ordeal, defenders of the NSA and the surveillance state keep insisting that revealing even the slightest details of the NSA's capabilities help our enemies "win" because they'll learn how to avoid the surveillance. As such, they've been wringing their hands about how any revelation of what the NSA is up to will cause immense damage. Just recently, the NSA pressed hard on the Washington Post not to reveal the name of the country where the NSA is currently recording every single phone call. The Washington Post agreed to withhold this information -- a decision that some have challenged.

However, barely a week later, in a glowing profile by the LA Times of now-retired NSA boss Keith Alexander, his former number two guy at the NSA, Chris Inglis, who also just retired, breezily admits to the depth of the NSA's surveillance capabilities in Iraq, information that prior to this had not been public:
In Iraq, for example, the National Security Agency went from intercepting only about half of enemy signals and taking hours to process them to being able to collect, sort and make available every Iraqi email, text message and phone-location signal in real time, said John "Chris" Inglis, who recently retired as the NSA's top civilian.
The entire article is a weak (and grossly transparent) attempt to recast General Keith Alexander's legacy -- and thus it seems that Inglis, Alexander and the NSA have no problem at all revealing the details of its capabilities in Iraq when the entire purpose in doing so is an attempt to show how good Alexander was for the NSA. Rest assured, however, had the same bit of information come out from one of the reporters with access to the Snowden documents, the NSA and all its defenders would be screaming as loud as possible about how the publication of such information would cost lives and create immense damage to American interests while aiding our enemies. Yet, apparently, it's all fine and dandy to reveal such information... when it's part of the effort to canonize the NSA retired leader.

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31 Mar 19:26

Flying Out of NYC, Gun Owners? Not So Fast. The Locals Want To Bust You and Steal Your Firearms.

by J.D. Tuccille

Gun lock boxesThe tale of a 65-year-old engineer, flying home to Alabama through LaGuardia Airport, and then dragged off in handcuffs after following all of the Transportation Security Administration's extensive rules for getting his .22 pistol from Point A to Point B, features in an Associated Press story.

As it turns out, Mike Connolly was arrested simply because he owned a firearm and was within the grasp of New York City authorities. City officials used the opportunity to mug him and steal his gun.

From Jake Pearson at Associated Press:

Mike Connolly thought he was doing everything by the book after a vacation last fall when he packed his handgun for the flight home from New York’s LaGuardia Airport.

Following Transportation Security Administration guidelines, the 65-year-old Alabama engineer locked his unloaded Ruger .22 in a hard-sided container, put it in a checked bag, handed it to the ticket agent and told the agent the weapon was inside.

That’s when he was slapped with handcuffs, arrested on a felony weapons possession charge and hauled off to jail.

Such incidents—travelers passing through New York City with locked, unloaded firearms and being arrested just because—are sufficiently common that at least one Queens Attorney maintains a page on his website devoted to his expertise in such matters. According to Martin Kane:

If you have been arrested for possession of a firearm or other weapon at JFK or LaGuardia airports in Queens County, NY, you probably share several traits with almost all of my airport gun arrest clients:

1) You are a law-abiding citizen who is careful to follow the law.

2) You recognize the responsibilities of gun ownership and are careful to handle, store, and transport your handgun in the safest way possible.

3) When you flew to New York, you carefully checked with both your airline and the TSA as to whether it was legal to transport your firearm in your luggage. You also learned and followed the strict requirements such as unloading and segregating ammunition, using a TSA approved lockbox, and submitting a TSA Declaration form.

The Associated Press agrees, saying of the 25 travelers arrested at New York City airports last year, "They were hardly nefarious gun runners. Most were otherwise law-abiding gun-owners who mistakenly thought they had appropriately packed their heat for travel."

For their troubles, if they don't fight, the "offenders" get their charges reduced to non-criminal violations with hundreds of dollars in fines—and city officials steal their guns. That's in addition to the time the travelers spent in jail for trying to do things by the rules.

If they fight, they face felony charges.

Why has New York City become such a trap for gun owners who are trying to follow the rules to get out of the place? Writes Kane, "The short answer is that New York has the toughest gun control laws in the world and does not recognize the legitimacy of any out of state licenses as conveying any rights in New York. To make matters worse, our current mayor has made gun law enforcement a signature issue and accordingly, the Queens District Attorney has set up a separate bureau headed by a high ranking official just for gun cases."

Queens Executive District Attorney Robert J. Masters, who sounds like quite the jerk, puts the blame on the arrestees. "There is, frankly, an element of irresponsibility. They’ve traveled. They realize that licenses are different around the country."

Remember, these travelers were trying to get out of New York City, so there's no pretense of keeping residents safe from (**gasp**) unloaded, locked guns. So licenses may be "different," but this is just a game of gotcha.

Update: And another New York attorney addresses gun-owning travelers busted at airports, and another, and another.

In 2012, the Guns & Patriots newsletter at Human Events called these incidents "shakedowns," noting that travelers who call airlines or LaGuardia to check on legal processes for transporting firearms are given no warning of special restrictions beyond TSA rules at all. They just face arrest once within the grasp of New York City officials.

31 Mar 12:00

Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux
(Don Boudreaux)

… is from page 268 of Armen Alchian’s profound 1976 essay “Problems of Rising Prices,” as it is reprinted in Vol. 1 of The Collected Works of Armen A. Alchian (2006) (original emphasis):

The so-called shortage of gasoline and energy in the United States [during the 1970s] was precisely and only such a political attack.  It could not have been brought about more cleverly and deceitfully even if the politically ambitious had explicitly written the script.  Inflate the money stock; when prices rise, impose price controls to correct the situation.  These controls lead to shortages which “require” government intervention to assure appropriate use of the limited supply and to allocate it and even to control and nationalize the production of energy.  The powers of political authorities are increased; the open society is suppressed.

Last night in Chicago I dined with Johan Norberg.  (By the way, if you’ve not yet read Johan’s book In Defense of Global Capitalism, do so.  It’s a masterpiece.)

Johan and I were discussing our introductions to classical liberalism.  My own introduction came in January 1977 when I first saw supply-and-demand analysis in a Principles of Microeconomics course at my alma mater, Nicholls State University.  My professor – Michelle Francois – explained the consequences of government-imposed price ceilings.  Shortages.  Queuing.  Arbitrary and grossly unfair rationing.  Higher costs to consumers of acquiring the goods and services whose money prices are capped by government diktat.  Increased demands for further government intervention.

The Nixonian price controls of the 1970s were not good for much, but they did reveal to those of us who suffered through them the truths of economics much more vividly than those truths might otherwise have been revealed.

29 Mar 01:39

Kansas Legislative Committee Pushes Bill That Would Make It A Felony To File False Complaints Against A Police Officer

by Tim Cushing

How can you tell if an introduced bill is a bad piece of legislation? Well, there are several indicators to look for -- overly broad language, written as a reaction to a recent tragedy -- but when a bill is referred to as the "retaliation bill" by a large majority of the press, the problems are right there on the surface. (h/t to Techdirt reader Rekrul)

The Kansas legislature's Committee on Corrections and Juvenile Justice recently introduced a bill with some very chilling implications for citizens.

The bill, titled "filing false complaints against a law enforcement officer," was introduced in February by the Committee on Corrections and Juvenile Justice and moved quickly to the Taxation Committee before ending March 13 in the Committee for Transportation and Public Safety Budget. In its one-hour Tuesday hearing, according to the legislative research department, only one person spoke in favor of the bill while eight others, including legislators and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, spoke against it…

According to the bill, a complaint over a law enforcement officer that a department finds to be false "shall be closed immediately and the law enforcement agency shall seek criminal prosecution against the complaint for perjury." All complaints would be submitted with a signed affidavit that included the time, date, place and nature of the offense. Current law requires that law enforcement departments review all complaints, whether anonymous or signed.
This bill, currently stalled, would make it a felony to file a false complaint against a police officer, something that used to be handled via civil litigation. And there would be no option for filing anonymous complaints, which would further discourage the reporting of alleged police misconduct.

In addition, officers would be allowed to view the complaint and any related evidence before making a statement, giving accused officers a chance to craft narratives before issuing statements that might be contradicted by the evidence submitted. The complaint's lack of anonymity would give accused officers the name, address, phone number, etc. of their accuser, something that could easily lead to harassment. (Of course, law enforcement agencies could strip this information before presenting it to the accused officer [the bill contains no stipulation to do so], but how many here believe that would actually happen -- or that the information couldn't be accessed otherwise?)

Also problematic is the fact that the bill stipulates that "no other law enforcement agency" can open an investigation on a complaint if another agency has performed an investigation and found no evidence of wrongdoing. This would keep all investigations "in-house," which greatly contributes to the likelihood that complaints will be found false (and subsequently, result in felony charges against the filer). This would prevent agencies like the FBI and DOJ from investigating closed complaints to see if anything was missed or covered up. This stipulation would further insulate police from accountability.

The bill is so bad even the attorney for the local police union (the entity that usually works hard to restore bad cops to their former positions) found the wording somewhat problematic.
The one person who testified in favor of the bill Tuesday was Sean McCauley, an attorney for the Kansas chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police and the Kansas State Troopers Association. While he had reservations about allowing departments to pursue charges for unfounded or minor allegations, local FOP President Sgt. Tyson Meyers did see some value in the bill.

"I'd like to protect officers against false allegations," he said, stating officers can be subject to administrative leave following a complaint or suffer from a tarnished reputation even if the allegation is proved to be false.

"At the same time, we should police our own and have the integrity to monitor our department."
He also added that it was a bad idea to limit complaint investigations to one department, noting that previous investigations by outside agencies had led to the rooting out of bad cops who otherwise would have gone unpunished.

As it stands now, the bill is effectively dead. The coverage of the bill has been universally negative, and after its nearly one-sided showing during its floor appearance, no further discussions on the bill have been scheduled. The question remains as to why such a bill, loaded with negative side effects for the public, was ever introduced, as well as who exactly is behind it. The committee page lists several names, but the bill's sponsor is the committee itself, rather than a certain legislator. Safety in numbers applies to bad legislation, it seems. The bill seeks to out anonymous complainants, but has been shepherded into the public forum by no one in particular.

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28 Mar 20:39

FDA Moves to Stop Sharing Between Beer Makers and Farmers

by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

As anyone who's ever brewed their own beer knows, the process leaves a lot of excess ... stuff. This goopy aftermath of the brewing process is known as "spent grain," and it would generally go to waste. But many brewers have developed relationships with farmers, who feed the spent grain to cows and other livestock. It's a win-win: Farmers get cost-effective feed, while brewers cut down on environmental waste and also possibly make some extra cash (or at least save cash by not having to dispose of the spent grain). 

Obviously, this won't do

Under new rules proposed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, breweries would be required to dry and package spent grain before it could be given or sold to farmers to use as feed. Both brewers and farmers are upset by the proposal, which they say would pose a big financial burden and also just generally makes no sense.

"The transfer of spent grain ... has been going on for decades," said Jason Perkins, brew master for Allagash Brewing Company. "It is just this kind of perfect, symbiotic relationship between a brewer and a farmer."

According to, spent grain accounts for as much as 85 percent of a brewery's total byproducts. Allagash creates about 10,000 pounds of spent grain each day, according to Perkins, which the brewery donates (free of charge) to a local farmer.

But processing the spent grain would require additional equipment investment and additional labor. If the FDA has its way, brewers are likely to back out of their once-symbiotic relationships with farmers (or at least stop giving away spent grain for free), thereby raising farmers' operational costs. Or they'll see their own costs go up, whether they choose to process the feed for farmers the FDA's way or simply dispose of it (which still costs more than giving it away for free to livestock farmers). Either way, nobody wins under the new proposal. Thanks, FDA! 

28 Mar 17:43

Sixth Grade Whiz Figures Out How to Save the Government Almost $400 Million by Changing Fonts

by Peter Suderman

Figuring out how to save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars on ink is so easy a sixth grader could do it. In fact, one did. 

Suvir Mirchandani, a student at a Pittsburgh middle school, decided he wanted to look for ways to reduce waste at his school. So for a science project, he measured how much ink was used in creating enlarged versions of commonly used letters in his teachers' handouts. And then he measured how ink usage would be reduced by using different fonts. 

Printer ink can be quite expensive—almost double the per ounce price of Chanel No. 5 perfume, as Mirchandani tells CNN, which first reported the story

It turned out his school district could reduce its annual ink usage by 24 percent and save $21,000 a year by switching to Garamond, a lighter font with thinner, less ink-heavy strokes. 

After submitting his work to a journal for young researchers run by Harvard grad students, Mirchandani was encouraged to expand his research. 

The task was tougher. But the potential savings were much, much bigger. CNN reports:

With an annual printing expenditure of $1.8 billion, the government was a much more challenging task than his school science project.

Suvir repeated his tests on five sample pages from documents on the Government Printing Office website and got similar results --change the font, save money.

Using the Government Services Administration's estimated annual cost of ink -- $467 million -- Suvir concluded that if the federal government used Garamond exclusively it could save nearly 30% -- or $136 million per year. An additional $234 million could be saved annually if state governments also jumped on board, he reported.

So will the Government Printing Office make a change? I wouldn't count on it:

Gary Somerset, media and public relations manager at the Government Printing Office, describes Suvir's work as "remarkable." But he was noncommittal on whether the GPO would introduce changes to typeface, saying the GPO's efforts to become more environmentally sustainable were focused on shifting content to the Web.

Sounds like Mirchandani may end up learning two lessons: With a little thought, a smart person can find simple ways for the government to save money—and the government doesn't seem terribly interested in pursuing them. 

28 Mar 18:00

IPCC admission from new report: ‘no evidence climate change has led to even a single species becoming extinct’

by Anthony Watts
In 2007, the IPCC predicted that rising global temperatures would kill off many species. But in its new report, part of which will be presented next Monday, the UN climate change body backtracks. There is a shortage of evidence, a … Continue reading →
27 Mar 18:42

Obamacare Navigators Helping People Enroll At Mexican Consulates

The Obama administration has been helping to facilitate a series of events nationwide at Mexican Consulate offices to enroll people in Obamacare – and a key activist says the efforts are “our responsibility” regardless of citizenship.

“Whether they’re Mexican nationals or whether they’re United States citizens or whether they’re in transition-- and if they’re there it is our responsibility within all of America to educate on the Affordable Care Act,” Enroll America Field Organizer Jose Medrano told Breitbart News on Wednesday.

Health Care insurance navigator groups hosted an Obamacare enrollment fair on Tuesday in the Mexican Consulate’s Brownsville office, The Rio Grande Guardian reported last Friday, where Mexican nationals among others were counseled about enrolling in the ACA.

“The Mexican consulate is a very reliable source of information to the Latino community. And therefore when they host their events, yesterday being the health fair, there are several hundred people that show up,” Medrano said.

Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), undocumented immigrants aren't supposed to be receiving government-run health benefits or subsidized coverage. However, President Barack Obama told Latinos in early March that the website would not be used to find out about an individual’s immigration status.

“None of the information that is provided in order for you to obtain health insurance is in any way transferred to immigration services,” he said.

According to Medrano, 101 families were represented at the ACA enrollment and education fair at the Brownsville Mexican Consulate on Tuesday and about 60 percent of them spoke to a health care counselor. Medrano says that the consulate’s office is helpful “as part of the transition” to “mainstream… America.”

This is not the first time the Mexican Consulate has been used to enroll individuals into Obamacare. Get Covered Illinois announced in late February that the Erie Family Health Center hoped to increase its enrollment numbers at the Mexican Consulate in Chicago, The Sun Times reported.

According to Vegas Seven, in Nevada, the Latino community is being targeted for ACA enrollment at the Mexican Consulate in downtown Las Vegas. Insurance News says Hispanic National Advocacy groups like National Alliance for Hispanic Health have helped lead the push to get more Latinos enrolled in Obamacare.

“Promoting Obamacare at a Mexican consulate raises three major policy concerns,” Stephen Miller, a spokesman for top immigration hawk Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) told Breitbart News.

“One, the possibility that illegal immigrants could fraudulently access federal subsidies; two, that such promotions provide a financial inducement to unlawfully enter the U.S. (or overstay a visa) by offering households headed by illegal immigrants federal subsidies through their legal relatives or dependents; and three, that these activities widen an existing flaw in our legal admissions process by continuing to subvert the principle that those seeking to lawfully enter the US should be financially self-sufficient,” Miller said.

Mexican Consulates have been used previously to advance USDA assistance programs like food stamps to Mexican nationals, The Daily Caller reported in July of 2012. Mexico promoted the program to 50 of its consular offices in the U.S.

In 2012, ranking members of the Senate Budget, Finance, Judiciary, and Agriculture Committees wrote an oversight letter to Secretaries Napolitano and Clinton that said in part:

The [Immigration and Nationality Act] specifically states: ‘An alien who… is likely at any time to become a public charge is inadmissible.’ … We were thus shocked to discover that both the State Department and DHS exclude reliance on almost all governmental welfare programs when evaluating whether an alien is likely to become a public charge… Under your interpretation, an able-bodied immigrant of working age could receive the bulk of his or her income in the form of federal welfare and still not be deemed a ‘public charge.’”

Medrano, however, said the Mexican Consulate is a trusted source of information for Latinos, who use “those who they relied on for good information” in the past.

“So many of these, of course, while they are U.S. citizens have very strong ties to the consulate in terms of news and information and events and things like that,” he said.

He added, “And also, it was a health fair. The Mexican consulate was providing a community health fair and as part of that, they asked us to come in, because that was the tie in.”

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has been taking time out of her schedule to push for more ACA enrollment within the Lone Star state. She has made at least four visits to Texas for ACA outreach and enrollment and education related events since December 20, 2013.

"I’m sure [she was aware],” Medrano said when asked if Sebelius knew about the event at the Mexican Consulate. “We put our events in a database that several organizations are connected to at mainly HHS, so they are fully aware of who was here.”

Medrano says that Sebelius has not visited South Texas yet but Obama Small Business Administrator Yolanda Garcia Olivarez did make an appearance at the consulate during the fair and “met with the consul so it was an event that was driven by that presence as well." Olivarez also made a visit that day to the Brownsville Chamber of Commerce to promote SBA programs.

Olivares told Brownsville’s Action 4 News, "If they don’t meet the deadline they've lost the opportunity to have and to have coverage of affordable health care."

The fair was one of two events (the other was at the McAllen Convention Center) where ACA navigators are scouring the Rio Grande Valley to enroll Latino individuals into the government health care program.


27 Mar 17:18

Venezuela Says Subliminal Crosswords Stoking Violent Protests...

Venezuela Says Subliminal Crosswords Stoking Violent Protests...

(Second column, 25th story, link)

27 Mar 19:00

Navigators Enrolling People at Mexican Consulates...

Navigators Enrolling People at Mexican Consulates...

(First column, 9th story, link)
Related stories:
26 Mar 19:05

Sheriff's Dept. Charges Man With No Drugs With 'Intent To Distribute Counterfeit Controlled Substances'

by Tim Cushing

Live a clean life and the cops should leave you alone, right? RIGHT?!? Harvey Silverglate wasn't being facetious when he wrote "Three Felonies A Day." There are all sorts of laws waiting to be broken, laws that boggle the mind in their insipidity.

As we covered recently, the FBI arrested one of its own handcrafted "terrorists" for "conspiring" to materially aid a terrorist organization. This "conspiring" apparently took the form of the suspect talking about possibly joining a terrorist group and, with undercover agents' urging, traveling to Canada to fill out some sort of terrorist job application. He was arrested at the border, having really done nothing more than talk big and wear the "rube" label really well.

More recently, Techdirt covered Judge Otis Wright's beration of the ATF for setting up stooges to pull off a fake crime -- a conspiracy to rob a "stash house." Of course, the stash house didn't exist, but this didn't stop the government from bringing criminal charges against the "criminals" and seeking sentences based on the entirely fictional contents of the fictional house. The ATF told its stooges that the house contained 20-25 kilos of coke in the house. Judge Wright asked why not just say 10, or 100 or 1,000, as long as the government's just making up numbers? No crime here because said "stash house" simply didn't exist and yet, people were arrested and put on trial.

Here's another case of no criminal activity somehow turning into a crime in the hands of zealous law enforcement officers who apparently couldn't handle not getting the drug bust they were obviously seeking. (via Reason)

Deputies said they stopped Delbert Dewayne Galbreath at NW 10th Street and Interstate 44 for a broken brake light. The deputy said Galbreath admitted he did not have a license to drive. Two deputies asked to search his car and he agreed.

A deputy found a cigarette pouch that had 16 pieces of a rock-like form, which authorities generally associate as crack cocaine. The deputies said they also found a digital scale.

Authorities tested the rocks and said they did not contain cocaine. When they asked Galbreath what the rocks were, he said they were Scentsy.
Galbreath was arrested on suspicion of possession with intent to distribute imitation controlled dangerous substance (CDS), possession of drug paraphernalia, driving under a revoked license and defective equipment.
Read that again: a man was arrested for not possessing drugs. Note the oddly specific denial. The man said they were "Scentsy." This doesn't sound like someone just blurting out the first thing that came to mind when deputies searched his vehicle.

If you're not familiar with Scentsy, it's a direct marketing company that specializes in "wickless candles," which are scented wax cubes that are warmed on its proprietary warmers. (All images taken from Scentsy's catalog unless otherwise noted)

Here's how the process works.

Here's a shot of a couple of Scentsy cubes sitting in a warmer with a vaguely scale-like shape.

Here's some more scale-esque warmers Scentsy offers.

And here's another scale-like warmer that's included in every Scentsy starter kit.

And here's some vaguely crack-colored wax sitting in a Scentsy warmer.

And for comparison's sake, here's a DEA file photo of crack cocaine.

So, this seems like an entirely plausible explanation. The plausibility factor shoots way up when you factor in the negative test results. But rather than investigate whether Galbreath's claims were accurate after the "NOT COCAINE" determination, the deputies ran with their original plan: nail Galbreath for drug dealing. Instead of dealing drugs, Galbreath was trying to sell fake drugs, which is completely indistinguishable from actual criminal activity when you're sitting in a jail cell.

Maybe the Sheriff's Dept. is hoping to sweat out some more info from the jailed "dealer," like who his pissed off customers are or who's further up the chain supplying him with fake drugs and taking a percentage of each sale he makes. (My hunch? A regional director in Oklahoma as well as any number of intermediaries along the direct marketing food chain.)

"Don't do the crime if you can't do the time," they say. But they somehow fail to add, "Don't NOT do the crime if you can't do the time," because everyday citizens like you and me might find that statement baffling, horrifying and complete bullshit.

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26 Mar 18:31

If You Don't Want a SWAT Team at Your Door, You Shouldn't Be Drinking Tea

by Jacob Sullum

Why did a SWAT team raid Bob and Addie Harte's house in Leawood, Kansas, two years ago, then force the couple and their two children to sit on a couch for two hours while officers rifled their belongings, searching for "narcotics" that were not there? KSHB, the NBC station in Kansas City, reports that the Hartes made two mistakes: Bob went to a hydroponics store in Kansas City, Missouri, with his son to buy supplies for a school science project, and Addie drank tea. It cost them $25,000 to discover that these innocent actions earned them an early-morning visit by screaming, rifle-waving men with a battering ram.

The Hartes, who tried to reassure their neighbors by showing them the search report indicating that nothing was taken from their home, were naturally curious what they had done to attract police attention. But the Johnson County Sheriff's Office would not say, so the Hartes hired a lawyer to help them obtain the relevant records, which according to KSHB is not easy in Kansas because state law favors darkness over sunshine. Eventually the Hartes learned that a Missouri Highway Patrol trooper saw Bob at the hydroponics store on August 9, 2011. Seven months later, state police passed on this hot tip to the sheriff's office, which sprang into action (after a few weeks), rummaging through the Hartes' garbage three times in April 2012. On all three occasions, they found "wet plant material" that a field test supposedly identified as marijuana.

Such tests are notoriously unreliable, confusing chocolate with hashish, soy milk with GHB, and soap with cocaine, among other hilarious errors that result in fruitless searches, mistaken arrests, and false imprisonment. But the cops did not bother to confirm their field results with a more reliable lab test before charging into the Hartes' home, three days after their third surreptitious trash inspection. When the Hartes starting asking questions about the raid, the sheriff's office suddenly decided to test that wet plant material, which it turned out was not marijuana after all. The Hartes figure it must have been the loose tea that Addie favors, which she tends to toss into the trash after brewing. Field tests have been known to misidentify various possible tea ingredients, including spearmint, peppermint, lavendar, vanilla, anise, and chicory, as marijuana.

Since mistakes like this are pretty embarrassing, the Hartes think Kansas cops would be more careful if obtaining police records were easier. "You shouldn't have to have $25,000, even $5,000," Addie Harte tells KSHB. "You shouldn't have to have that kind of money to find out why people came raiding your house like some sort of police state."

24 Mar 22:01

Watch Repairer Goes Legal Over Tame Yelp Review, Streisand Effect Takes Over

by Timothy Geigner

There must be something about Yelp reviews that make people act all crazy-like. Maybe it's the personal nature behind someone reviewing your goods or services, or perhaps there's something about seeing a review online in text that drives people off the deep end, but the number of legal threats and lawsuits connected to simple Yelp reviews always surprises me. Specifically, I'd have thought we've had enough of these stories by now that competent businesses would realize that issuing threats over reviews is a great way to get the Streisand reputation multiplier going.

But, apparently not. This latest example is of a watch repair shop issuing a legal threat over what I have to say is a relatively innocuous review of their business. The most scathing section appears to me to be this.

This is where Ron really lost points. I took both watches to a place called Precision Watch Repair, right around the corner, which had good ratings here on Yelp. I met with Eric, who told me first that he definitely could fix the vintage one, and also that he could repair the Ebel without sending it out - all for a good price. The Ebel was repaired in a day. I went from hopeless to happy within a span of 15 minutes. In addition, Eric called me THAT DAY with the estimate, and followed up the next day. So Ron Gordon loses in terms of creativity, and just overall slowness....which seems appropriate for a review of a watch repair shop.
No big deal, right? The review is on point, relevant to the business, and omits any real inflammatory language. Even if it turned out the claims in the review were exaggerated, we're not exactly talking about a vilification here. Well, the watch repair shop isn't taking all this mild complaining lying down, damn it.

Well, okay then. Call me crazy, but it seems to me that the claim that this one mild review was detrimental to Ron Gordon's business is probably more melodramatic than a high school freshman that just got stood up to the spring formal. This story going viral on the other hand? Yeah, that Streisand Effect is probably doing some actual harm to the business and its reputation for treating their customers well. Actually moving forward with any defamation lawsuit would be particularly tricky as well, given they'd have to prove the falsehood of the claim. Meanwhile, a whole lot more people know the name Ron Gordon Watch Repair than they did yesterday, and for all the wrong reasons.

As the original article notes, however, perhaps we shouldn't be surprised if Ron is getting bad legal advice, judging by the Yelp reviews for his lawyer.

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24 Mar 22:53

Florida Man Arrested for Resisting Arrest, Suing Cop for Seizing His iPhone

by Ed Krayewski

the tapeAn Orlando police officer seized a man’s iPhone for recording an arrest and then arrested him for resisting arrest, according to a lawsuit filed by the man, Alberto Troche, who prosecutors declined to try on the charge of resisting arrest without violence. Troche was recording a late night arrest he thought seemed excessive when police asked bystanders to stop recording and give up their phones. The Orlando Sun-Sentinel reports:

One woman complied, the suit alleges, but Troche kept recording, he said.

The video he shot appears to show an officer walking up and pulling it from his hand.

"They saw me recording," Troche said. "He came and said, 'Good. I'll be taking that,' and took my cell phone. To me that didn't seem right."

Troche was handcuffed and jailed for 15 hours, accused of resisting arrest without violence.

Troche got his phone back three weeks later, with the footage still on it. In his report, the arresting officer, Peter Delio, accused Troche of shoving him. The officer said he needed the phone because it had evidence of a crime, and insisted he didn’t seize it until arresting Troche and putting him in a police car.

Troche’s attorney says the aim of the lawsuit is to “fix OPD and train police,” and the lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for the violation of Troche’s constitutional rights.

24 Mar 20:56

AZ Corporation Commission's Completely Inadequate Response to My Critique on their Site Security

by admin

A while back I wrote about my concerns about the total absence of any security at all in the Arizona corporate annual reporting system

I started the annual reporting process by just typing in the name of my company and getting started.  There was no password protection, no identity check.  They had no way of knowing I had anything to do with this corporation and yet I was answering questions like "have you been convicted for fraud."  The potential for mischief is enormous.  One would have to get the timing right (an annual report must be due before one can get in) but one could easily open the site on January 1 and start entering false information in the registrations for such corporations as Exxon and Wal-Mart.

See for yourself.  Here is their web site.

I showed how one could open and file the report for a company like Wal-Mart, changing all their officers names, and confessing to all sorts of imagined corporate crimes

Again, note what I am saying.  This is not the result of hacking.  This is not lax security I figured out how to evade.  This is the result of no security whatsoever.  I simply went to the link above, clicked on the Wal-Mart Associates link, and then clicked on the annual report link.  I know from doing my own registration that there is a signature page at the end, but all you do is type in the name of an officer and a title -- data that is right there on the site.  It's like asking you for a password after the site just listed all the valid passwords.

The head of the Arizona Corporation Commission wrote me back. Here is here email in its entirety:

Dear Mr. Meyer:

Thank you for your email regarding the Corporations Division.  The Arizona Corporation Commission is the repository for all business formation documents for corporations and limited liability corporations.  We are in full compliance with state statutes.

Submitting false documents to alter another’s corporate structure or status is a crime and carries a Class 4 or Class 5 penalty.  The Commission or the aggrieved business entity may refer the false filing to the Attorney General’s office for prosecution.  Additionally, the individual business entity may pursue a civil cause of action.  The Commission only accepts on-line charges for a few services such as name reservation or to order a certificate of good standing, and the online payment process is completely secure.

Even though the Commission’s existing security measures comply with the state law and are similar to most other states and other Arizona governmental entities like the County Treasurer’s Office, the Commission is looking at implementing new technology to allow for the online submission of additional services – such as the filing of original Articles of Organization and Articles of Incorporation.  We do intend to provide password protected security features when that new technology is offered to the public.

J. Jerich

Executive Director

Arizona Corporation Commission

I had no doubt that submitting a false annual report for Wal-Mart would be illegal.  Duh.  However, it is just incredibly naive that this is the sole extent of the Commission's security, to prosecute people once the damage is done.  Can you imagine if Amazon had the same security policy - "we are getting rid of passwords because it would be illegal for you to buy something from someone else's account."  I wonder if the commissioners leave their doors unlocked at night, trusting in the threat of future prosecution to deter burglary and mayhem in their homes?

24 Mar 17:03

Law Enforcement Association Urging Sheriffs Not to Enforce Gun Control

Constitutional Sheriffs and Police Officers Association (CSPOA) president Richard Mack is calling on Vermont Sheriffs to refuse to enforce new gun control measures passed earlier in the month.

The new measures ban the carrying of concealed handguns in bars and restaurants, "[require] gun owners to keep guns locked up at home, [and authorize] police to confiscate guns during domestic disputes."

According to Fox News, CSPOA president Mack said:

It's astonishing that people are so cavalier about violating the Second Amendment. Burlington City Council sounds like they are just following the trend to do things that are unconstitutional and go around sheriffs, and go around the laws, or subvert the laws, or disobey the laws. 

Mack added: "We're seeing sheriffs in New York oppose the SAFE Act and Gov. Cuomo. If we have sheriffs in New York doing this, how much more should we have sheriffs doing it in Vermont?"

Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter @AWRHawkins  Reach him directly at 


24 Mar 15:15

Mass. Bill Would Ban Sex at Home for Divorcing Parents

by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

Yes, you are reading that headline correctly: A measure proposed in Massachusetts would make it illegal for parents in the midst of divorce proceedings to engage in "a dating or sexual relationship" with anyone within the marital home. The mandate would apply not only until a divorce is final but until "all financial and custody issues are resolved." Is Massachusetts nanny statism trying to parody itself? 

It seems highly improbable this bill could pass the state legislature, let alone stand up in court. And even in some bizarro universe where this could hold up, I'm not sure how it could possibly be enforced (though it could sure muck up custody battles a little more). 

Still, I thought it was worth sharing as a particularly egregious example of politicians' overreach and arrogance. State Sen. Richard J. Ross (R-Wrentham) is behind Senate Bill 787, filed "by request" on behalf of one of his constituents. Here's the full text: 

In divorce, separation, or 209A proceedings involving children and a marital home, the party remaining in the home shall not conduct a dating or sexual relationship within the home until a divorce is final and all financial and custody issues are resolved, unless the express permission is granted by the courts.

According to, it's been referred to the Joint Committee on the Judiciary. 

Update: In the wake of the negative publicity this bill has been getting, Sen. Ross just issued a statement stressing that SB 787 was filed by request and that he is not the sponsor of this legislation nor does he endorse it. "First and foremost, I believe in the democratic process and true representation of the people," said Ross. "For that reason, when a constituent requested that I file a free petition on his behalf, I did so." 

24 Mar 13:52

Toyota Stumbles Into a Dark Legal Alley...

by Walter Olson

Walter Olson

…and the U.S. Department of Justice emerges whistling with $1.2 billion. I explain how it happened in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece today (more: Overlawyered). Toyota’s cars are very safe indeed, and “sudden acceleration” was a concoction of media-fueled panic, as the government’s own safety engineers have confirmed. But now the company is being punished not just for alleged data-reporting and compliance infractions unlikely to have caused any genuine material risk to the public, but also for defending itself and its products at Congressional hearings and in the arena of public opinion. DoJ’s demagogic press release cites, among the instances of supposed fraud for which Toyota is now being punished by the gigantic forfeiture, such standard exercises in bland crisis communication as, “The safety of our owners and the public is our utmost concern and Toyota has and will continue to thoroughly investigate and take appropriate measures to address any defect trends that are identified.” 

A couple of other points I didn’t have room for in the WSJ piece: Toyota is settling the government’s trumped-up single charge of mail fraud by way of a so-called Deferred Prosecution Agreement, or DPA, and its terms really must be seen to be believed. “Toyota understands and agrees that the exercise of the Office’s discretion under this Agreement is unreviewable by any court,” appears on clause 14 on page 6, with “Office” referring to the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, currently Preet Bharara. And if you are expecting even the tiniest squeak from anyone at Toyota in contradiction to the government line, even around the coffee machine at the local dealership, consider clause 13, which states: that Toyota “agrees that it shall not, through its attorneys, agents, or employees, make any statement, in litigation or otherwise, contradicting the Statement of Facts or its representations in this Agreement.” If DoJ catches wind of any such statement it can revoke the agreement not to prosecute, without of course having to give back the billion dollars. “The decision as to whether any such contradictory statement shall be imputed to Toyota for the purpose of determining whether Toyota has violated this agreement shall be within the sole discretion of the Office.” 

When people talk about federal prosecutors having become a law unto themselves, this is the sort of thing they mean.

23 Mar 23:19

Anti-Science: Those Who Wish to Debate Climate Threatened with Death or Jail

by George Washington

Preface:  The scientific method requires allowing a free-for-all of hypotheses, which then rise or fall based upon the results of actual experiments.  In other words, science means that you throw out theories - no matter how good they look on paper - that are disproven by experimental results, and adopt those confirmed by the results. [Economics is supposed to do that, too ... but hasn't.]

For example, imprisoning Galileo for life because he didn't agree with the "accepted" consensus that the Sun revolved around the Earth was not a great example of the scientific method. Instead of conducting experiments to see whether the Earth or Sun were the center of the Solar System, those with the prevailing view simply silenced the dissenter.

Anyone who has studied the history of science knows that many theories that were universally accepted and “known” to be true turned out to be false.   See these examples from the Houston Chronicle and the Guardian.


Noam Chomsky said years ago that he would submit to fascism if it would help combat global warming:

Suppose it was discovered tomorrow that the greenhouse effects has been way understimated, and that the catastrophic effects are actually going to set in 10 years from now, and not 100 years from now or something. Well, given the state of the popular movements we have today, we’d probably have a fascist takeover-with everybody agreeing to it, because that would be the only method for survival that anyone could think of. I’d even agree to it, because there’s just no other alternatives right now.”

In 2006, Grist called for Nuremberg-style trials for climate skeptics.  (The article was later retracted.)

Environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. lashed out at global warming skeptics in 2007, declaring “This is treason. And we need to start treating them as traitors.”

In 2007, a UN official – Yvo de Boer – warned that ignoring warming would be ‘criminally irresponsible’ Excerpt: The U.N.’s top climate official warned policymakers and scientists trying to hammer out a landmark report on climate change that ignoring the urgency of global warming would be “criminally irresponsible.”

The same year, another UN official – UN special climate envoy Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland – said “it’s completely immoral, even, to question the UN’s scientific consensus on climate.

In 2008, prominent Canadian environmentalist David Suzuki called for government leaders skeptical of global warming to be “thrown into jail.”

The same year, British journalism professor Alex Lockwood said that writers questioning global warming should be banned.

In 2009, a writer at Talking Points Memo advocated that global warming “deniers” be executed or jailed. (He later retracted the threat.)

James Lovelock – environmentalist and creator of the “Gaia hypothesis” – told the Guardian in 2010:

We need a more authoritative world. We’ve become a sort of cheeky, egalitarian world where everyone can have their say. It’s all very well, but there are certain circumstances – a war is a typical example – where you can’t do that. You’ve got to have a few people with authority who you trust who are running it. And they should be very accountable too, of course.


But it can’t happen in a modern democracy. This is one of the problems. What’s the alternative to democracy? There isn’t one. But even the best democracies agree that when a major war approaches, democracy must be put on hold for the time being. I have a feeling that climate change may be an issue as severe as a war. It may be necessary to put democracy on hold for a while.

Earlier this month, an assistant philosophy professor at Rochester Institute of Technology said he wants to send people who disagree with him about global warming to jail.

And there are many other examples of threats made in regard to the climate debate.

Postscript:  If we can’t have free speech and an open scientific debate, then we are no longer living in a democracy or a society which follows the scientific method. Threatening scientific debate is anti-science and anti-liberty.

It is especially troubling given the background of climate discussions.  Specifically, in the 1970s, many American scientists were terrified of an imminent ice age.   Obama’s top science advisor – John Holdren – was one of them.  Holdren and some other scientists proposed pouring soot over the arctic to melt the ice cap and so prevent the dreaded ice age.   Holdren warned of dire consequences – including starvation and the largest tidal wave in history – if mankind did not rally on an emergency basis to stop the coming ice age.

Were those who questioned the likelihood of an imminent ice age also threatened with death or imprisonment?

Moreover, it is also concerning that many of the “solutions” proposed to combat a changing climate could do more harm than good (and see this).    That’s sort of like invading Iraq after 9/11 because we had to “do” something…

Let’s say that – hypothetically – 100% of all climate scientists reached a consensus that manmade global warming from carbon dioxide was an imminent threat.   Shouldn’t we choose approaches that actually work – and which do more good than harm (more) – instead of messing things up even further?

23 Mar 19:36

Woman Who Held Burglar at Gunpoint: 'Be a Survivor, Not a Victim'

On March 14th, Breitbart News reported on how Lisa Atkin pulled a handgun on a burglar in her home and pinned him down until police arrived 23 minutes later.

The burglar, Joseph Baker, broke through two doors to get inside Atkin's Junction City, Oregon, home at approximately 9 a.m. on March 12th.

Breitbart News recently talked to Atkin about that morning, asking about her experience with firearms and how it came about that she was ready to defend her life and property when the burglar appeared.

Atkins told us she is originally from the UK, so she did not grow up around guns and was not even exposed to one for the first 37 years of her life. Then she moved to the United States in 2005 and realized a gun "is an inanimate object, relying on its operator as to whether it is put to good or bad use."

Said Atkin, "My training originally consisted of my husband (who is a US citizen by birth) taking me out shooting, simply to allow me the experience. He has been shooting and hunting for over 40 years and has extensive personal experience."

With her husband she shot and familiarized herself with a .30-06 rifle, .22 rifle, Ruger .357 revolver, Kahr PM40, and a .22 pistol. She then enrolled in Oregon Firearms Academy for range time and concealed carry courses.

Atkin said: 

Women are often the target of violent crimes because they are generally more easy to overpower. So criminals have an advantage through pure strength or through the misuse of weapons. Firearms allow women to introduce an equalizer into the situation, [and carrying one] clearly shows that a woman refuses to be a victim, and will instead stand firm as a survivor.

She said her advice to women everywhere is, "We have our Constitution and Second Amendment rights for a reason... and every woman should care about exercising [her] Second Amendment rights."

Atkin concluded by saying, "Be a survivor, not a victim."

Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at


22 Mar 20:06

Why Don't Public Schools Give Parents What They Want?

by David Boaz

David Boaz

The Washington Post reports today that it’s “harder to describe” the mission of one of the magnet schools in Arlington County, Virginia: Arlington Traditional School. Not that hard, if you just read the quotes from the principal and parents:

“Our emphasis is on basic education,” Principal Holly Hawthorne said….

“The word ‘traditional’ implies a cachet to us,” said Craig Montesano, a lobbyist for the shipping industry who visited Arlington Traditional with his wife. To him, the word conjures ancient Rome and Greece and the promise that his daughter will be “grounded in the learning that has come down through the ages in Western civilization.”

Some parents say the selective nature and more disciplined culture remind them of private school. 

And it seems to work:

The federal government has twice named Arlington Traditional a National Blue Ribbon School for its academic performance. And its students routinely outscore district averages on the Standards of Learning tests.

And parents like it:

Last spring, 298 families applied for 72 slots.

So why doesn’t the Arlington County School Board expand it, or build more such schools around the county to accommodate all the parents who want their children to get this exotic thing called “traditional” or “back to basics” education? Maybe they just didn’t realize until today – or last spring – how popular it is? Well, as it happens, I live in Arlington, and I recall that the Washington Post has been reporting on the popularity of Arlington Traditional School since the late 1970s. Parents used to camp out overnight to get their children into the school until they created a lottery system. Through the Nexis service, I found some of the stories I recalled. Most of these articles are not online. 

Here’s what the Post reported in September 1982 when the school, then called Page Traditional School, was three years old: 

For Arlington school board member Margaret A. Bocek and her husband, the first day of school this year began late Monday night when they and 40 other parents camped out on the lawn of the county’s Page Traditional School to ensure that their 3-year-old children could attend there on opening day, 1984…. 

In the last three years, such parent stakeouts have become commonplace at Page, a public alternative school that stresses a traditional format of self-contained classrooms, regular homework and strict standards for behavior and appearance. Page parents have been lobbying recently for expanding the program to the eighth grade and for expansion of the school’s program to other schools.

And here’s a report from September 1985:

This year, the line began to form at 10 a.m. on Labor Day, 23 hours before Page Traditional School in Arlington would begin accepting applications for the kindergarten class of 1987.

By the time Principal Frank Miller arrived at 9 a.m. the next day, about 80 parents were waiting on the lawn – more than triple the 25 slots that would be available in the school’s one kindergarten class.

Seven years after its much-heralded establishment as a back-to-basics, structured alternative to the open-classroom schools popular in the mid-1970s, Page is a cause of both enthusiasm and consternation in Arlington.

Each September, eager parents camp out on the lawn at 1501 N. Lincoln St. to put the names of their 3-year-olds on the kindergarten waiting list.

December 1991:

In an effort to stop overnight campouts by parents eager to register their children at Arlington’s three popular alternative schools, county school officials have proposed dropping the first-come, first-served admissions policy in favor of a random drawing.

An October 1999 headline:

School’s Excellence Is in Demand

Now you’ll notice that the 1991 story mentions three “popular alternative schools,” and indeed the other two, Drew Elementary and H-B Woodlawn Secondary, offer a very different alternative, a more informal, individualized style of education reflecting the “alternative” ideas of the 1960s and 1970s. The Post referred in 2004 to Woodlawn’s “quirky, counterculture ways.” In November 1991 the Post reported that “Last weekend, dozens of parents camped in front of H-B Woodlawn to register their children for the 70 sixth-grade slots.”

In 2012 the Arlington school board did vote to expand Arlington Traditional School by 12 classrooms. But why did it take so long? And why not open more “back to basics” schools, and also more “counterculture” schools, if that’s what parents want?

I wrote about that years ago in a book I edited, Liberating Schools: Education in the Inner City.   

In the marketplace, competition keeps businesses on their toes.  They get constant feedback from satisfied and dissatisfied customers. Firms that serve customers well prosper and expand. Firms that don’t respond to the message they get from customers go out of business. Like all government institutions, the public schools lack that feedback and those incentives.

No principal or teacher will get a raise for attracting more students to his or her school. A successful manager in a private business gets a raise, or gets hired away for a bigger salary. A successful entrepreneur expands his or her store or opens a branch. Can one imagine a public school choice system allowing a successful principal to open another school across town and run both of them? 

If Virginia were even a little bit tolerant of charter schools, or if Virginia allowed real private school choice, parent groups or entrepreneurs could organize to deliver the kinds of schools – from traditional to counterculture – that families want. But in a bureaucratic monopoly, the local paper can run thirty years of stories about parents desperate to get their children into particular types of schools, and the central planners can ignore them.