Gallup: Small Business Hiring Remains ‘Anemic’

PRINCETON, N.J. (UPI) — Researchers at survey firm Gallup said hiring among small U.S. businesses remained consistent over the past year at a net negative level.

In a survey of 603 small business owners conducted April 1-5, Gallup said 11 percent indicated their company had added workers within the past 12 months, while 23 percent indicated they had dropped workers over the past year.

That left the hiring index for small businesses at minus 12 in April, which is “on par with minus 10 in January and minus nine in April 2012,” Gallup said in a report released Tuesday.

Hiring intentions for the future came out with a slightly improved measure. When business owners were asked if they intended to hire or drop workers in the next 12 months, 20 percent indicated they expected to hire, while 14 percent indicated they would let some workers go, Gallup said.

That left the hiring expectations index among small business owners at plus six, Gallup said.

Despite the surge on Wall Street, hiring intentions among small-business-owners “remains anemic,” Gallup said.

Gallup said the results of the survey include a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points.

For purposes of the survey, Gallup defines a small business as one with $20 million or less in sales or revenue per year.

Southern Baptists Expected To Leave Boy Scouts

NASHVILLE,  (UPI) —  A Southern Baptist leader says the church will probably cut its ties to the Boy Scouts of America following the group’s decision to allow gay Scouts.

Frank Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s executive committee, told ABCNews.com the Scouts will be discussed at the national meeting in two weeks.

“I think I can say with pretty strong accuracy that the vast majority of Southern Baptists are very disappointed in the latest change in policy … deeply disappointed,” Page said.

The Boy Scouts decided last week to continue its policy of barring openly gay adults from serving as volunteer leaders or paid staff. About 70 percent of Scout troops are sponsored by religious groups.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints backed the group’s decision to change its policy, which was also supported by he National Jewish Committee on Scouting, the Episcopal Church, the United Church of Christ, the Unitarian Universalist Association and the Metropolitan Community Church. The Catholic Church plans to discuss the new policy before it takes effect Jan. 1.

Page said the Southern Baptists, the largest Protestant group in the United States, sponsors hundreds of Boy Scout troops.

The Assemblies of God, the biggest Pentecostal group, issued a statement immediately after the decision predicting a “mass exodus.”

Swimming Lessons The Best Way To Prevent Drowning In Kids

ATLANTA (UPI) — When a child begins swimming lessons should be based on a child’s exposure to water, maturity, physical limitations and health concerns, U.S. officials say.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says participation in formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by as much as 88 percent among young children age 1-4, who are at greatest risk of drowning.

The American Academy of Pediatrics supports swimming lessons as young as age 1.

Even in a pool, inexperienced swimmers and young children may benefit from wearing properly fitted life jackets, the CDC says.

Do not use air-filled or foam toys, such as “water wings,” “noodles,” or inner-tubes, in place of life jackets for flotation support — these are toys and are not designed to keep swimmers safe, the CDC says.

“Most young children who drowned in pools were last seen in the home, had been out of sight less than 5 minutes, and were in the care of one or both parents at the time,” the CDC says.

Children should never be in or around a pool alone. Barriers to pool access should be used to help prevent young children from gaining access to the pool area without caregivers’ awareness.

Examples of barriers include: four-sided isolation fencing, door locks, gate locks and alarms triggered when someone enters the water.

Most Patients Prefer To Make Medical Decisions With Doctor

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (UPI) — Most U.S. patients prefer to be actively involved in their medical decision-making with their doctor, researchers say.

Dr. Harlan M. Krumholz of the Yale University School of Medicine and colleagues said they sought to investigate preferences for participation in the decision-making process among individuals hospitalized with an acute myocardial infarction or heart attack.

The researchers combined data from two similar heart attack registries which resulted in 6,636 patients in the study sample. The heart attack patients were asked about who should make decisions on treatment options.

“More than two-thirds of patients with a heart attack indicated a preference to play an active role in the decision-making process, and of those, about a quarter preferred that the decision be theirs alone rather than shared with their physician,” the authors wrote in the study. “Our findings indicates physicians who aspire to provide patient-centered care should assess patients’ decision-making preferences by directly asking each patient.”

The findings were published in the journal Internal Medicine.

U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann Won’t Seek Re-Election

WASHINGTON, (UPI) —  U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., a Tea Party movement leader in Congress, announced Wednesday she wouldn’t seek re-election.

“After a great deal of thought and deliberation, I have decided next year I will not seek a fifth congressional term,” Bachmann said in a video posted on her campaign website. “After serious consideration, I am confident this is the right decision.”

She said the constitutional limit of eight years in office imposed on the president also was “long enough for an individual to serve as a representative for a specific congressional district.”

Bachmann said her decision not to seek re-election wasn’t influenced by questions about whether she could win re-election nor “impacted in any way” about inquiries about her 2012 presidential campaign and presidential campaign staff.

Bachmann had sought the Republican Party presidential nomination in 2012, winning the Ames, Iowa, straw poll, before falling behind in the state’s caucuses. Her presidential bid prompted an ethics investigation into alleged improper payments to campaign consultants.

Bachmann slogged through a tough congressional race last year, besting her Democratic challenger, hotelier Jim Graves, by 4,300 votes. Graves announced last month that he would run again for Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District.

“I’ve never considered holding public office an occupation,” Bachmann said in the video and pledged to fight for conservative causes for the next 18 months. “I’ve always considered it to be an honor and privilege.”

Thanking her husband, children, foster children and constituents, Bachmann said her future “is full. It is limitless and my passion for America remains.”

Heart Failure Hospitalization Odds Worst In January, Fridays, Night

LISBON, Portugal (UPI) — Those with heart failure admitted to the hospital in January, on a Friday and at night have the worst odds of survival, a U.S. researcher says.

Dr. David P. Kao of the University of Colorado School of Medicine and colleagues analyzed nearly 1 million heart failure admissions over 14 years and identified peaks in admissions and mortality.

Seasonal, weekly and hourly variations had been observed in heart failure admissions but the reasons are unclear, Kao said.

Data from all hospitals in the state of New York from 1994-2007 were analyzed. A greater number of factors were included in the analysis than before so that the researchers could confirm or refute previous theories on the reasons behind variations in heart failure morbidity and mortality, Kao said.

The study found daily heart failure admissions increased significantly in January, Fridays and at night. Conversely, the odds were better on Mondays and being admitted in the morning.

“The fact that patients admitted right before the weekend and in the middle of the night do worse and are in the hospital longer suggests that staffing levels may contribute to the findings,” Kao said in a statement.

The findings were presented at the Heart Failure Congress in Lisbon.

Vatican Reverses Francis, Says Atheists Still Going To Hell

VATICAN CITY, (UPI) —  The Vatican retracted Pope Francis’ statement that everyone, “even the atheists,” were saved from sin and redeemed by God and therefore welcome in heaven.

People who know about the Catholic Church “cannot be saved” if they “refuse to enter her or remain in her,” Vatican spokesman the Rev. Thomas Rosica said in an “explanatory note.”

At the same time, people “who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ and his church but sincerely seek God and, moved by grace, try to do his will as it is known through the dictates of conscience can attain eternal salvation,” Rosica wrote.

He added, “No person is excluded from salvation simply because of so-called original sin; one can only lose their salvation through serious personal sin of their own account.”

Francis made headlines when he said in a May 22 homily: “The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the blood of Christ — all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone!

“‘Father, the atheists?'” Francis said as if asking himself. “Even the atheists. Everyone!” Francis said in answering his Socratic-style question.

“And this blood makes us children of God of the first class!” Francis said. “We are created children in the likeness of God, and the blood of Christ has redeemed us all! And we all have a duty to do good. And this commandment for everyone to do good, I think, is a beautiful path towards peace.

“If we, each doing our own part, if we do good to others, if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will make that culture of encounter — we need that so much. We must meet one another doing good,” Francis said.

“‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!'” Francis said, again speaking as if he were someone else. “But do good — we will meet one another there,” Francis said in response.

Atheist Hemant Mehta wrote in his Friendly Atheist blog: “Atheists, according to Christians, are going to hell unless we accept Christ’s divinity. We already knew that. It was still an unusual and welcome gesture from the pope to recognize that everyone, regardless of beliefs, can do good and ‘be saved’ — at least it was a step up from what we’re used to hearing.”

British evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, known for advocating atheism and science, wrote on Twitter: “Atheists go to heaven? Nope. Sorry world, infallible pope got it wrong. Vatican steps in with alacrity.”

“Conversations With God” author Neale Donald Walsch told United Press International Tuesday evening: “It is regrettable that the hidden hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church chose to officially retract the recent statement on eternal damnation bravely made by its new leader, Pope Francis. This rapid retrenchment wiped out what appeared to be one of the major advances in theological thinking within that institution in the past 500 years.”

Heart Failure Accelerates Male ‘Menopause’

LISBON, Portugal (UPI) — Heart failure accelerates the aging process and may bring on early andropausal syndrome — male “menopause,” Polish researchers say.

Professor Ewa A. Jankowska of the Wroclaw Medical University in Poland said as men get older they are more likely to suffer from andropausal syndrome, also called menopause, or a deficiency in the male sex hormones such as testosterone.

The symptoms of andropausal syndrome can be divided into three categories: sexual, psychological and somato-vegetative.

Sexual symptoms include: erectile dysfunction, problems with libido, decrease in beard growth, feelings of “having passed the zenith of life;” psychological symptoms include feeling discouraged, depressed, irritable, anxious, nervous; and somato-vegetative include joint and muscle complaints, sweating, need for more sleep, sleep disturbances, weakness, exhaustion.

“Andropausal syndrome leads to poor quality of life. We wanted to discover whether heart failure increases  andropausal syndrome and whether additional androgen therapies could improve quality of life in heart failure patients,” Jankowska said in a statement.

The researchers compared the prevalence and the severity of andropausal symptoms among 232 men with systolic heart failure ages 40-80 and 362 age-matched healthy peers.

The study found andropausal syndrome affected almost one-third of men with heart failure, regardless of their age group. In men ages 40-59, heart failure led to a four-fold increase in the prevalence of andropausal syndrome and an increase in the severity of sexual and somato-vegetative andropausal symptoms. Men ages 60-80 with and without heart failure had a similar prevalence of andropausal syndrome and severity of andropausal symptoms, the study said.

The study authors concluded heart failure accelerated the natural process of aging and favors early onset of andropausal syndrome.

The findings were presented at the Heart Failure Congress in Lisbon.

Former Police Officer Killed By U.S. Marshals

UPPER DARBY, Pa.,  (UPI) —  A former part-time police officer wanted in a shooting was gunned down by federal marshals at a Philadelphia-area motel Tuesday.

Anthony Galla, 31, was tracked to the Summit Motor Inn in Upper Darby at about 6 p.m., WCAU-TV reported. Hours earlier, at 1 a.m., he allegedly fired shots at a former girlfriend’s home in Mount Carmel in central Pennsylvania, hitting her new boyfriend in the foot.

Upper Darby Police Chief Michael Chitwood said marshals went to the motel with a warrant, the Philadelphia Daily News reported. When they arrived, a man standing outside ran into Galla’s room yelling the police were there, Chitwood said.

Chitwood said Galla opened fire, prompting marshals to shoot back, killing him.

The man who was outside, identified as Galla’s brother, and Galla’s current girlfriend were arrested.

Investigators say Galla had served in the military and as a part-time officer for several police departments in central Pennsylvania.

Excessive Soda As Hard On Teeth As Meth Or Crack

ORELAND, Pa. (UPI) — Drinking large quantities of carbonated soda can be as damaging to teeth as methamphetamine or crack cocaine, U.S. scientists say.

A case study published in General Dentistry found the consumption of illegal drugs and abusive intake of soda could cause similar damage to the mouth through the process of tooth erosion.

Lead author Mohamed A. Bassiouny said tooth erosion occurs when acid wears away tooth enamel — the glossy, protective outside layer.  With compromised enamel, teeth are more susceptible to developing cavities, as well as becoming sensitive, cracked and discolored, Bassiouny said.

The case study compared the damage in three individuals’ mouths — an admitted user of methamphetamine, a previous longtime user of cocaine and an excessive diet soda drinker. The individual who drank soda consumed 2 liters, or 2.1 quarts, of diet soda daily for three to five years, Bassiouny said.

Each participant admitted to having poor oral hygiene and not visiting a dentist on a regular basis.

The study found the same type and severity of damage from tooth erosion in each participant’s mouth.

“The striking similarities found in this study should be a wake-up call to consumers who think soda — even diet soda — is not harmful to their oral health,” Bassiouny said.

Newly Identified Butterfly May Be Last New Species In United States

WASHINGTON (UPI) — Entomologists say a newly identified butterfly in Texas may be the last truly distinctive butterfly species left to be discovered in the United States.

Although specimens of Vicroy’s Ministreak were deposited in the Smithsonian entomology collections a century ago, this species was unrecognized because it was confused with a common, similar-looking butterfly, the Gray Ministreak, they said.

Writing in the journal ZooKeys, Jeffrey Glassberg, president of the North American Butterfly Association, and Bob Robbins, the butterfly curator at the Smithsonian, say the new species can be differentiated from the more common Gary Ministreak by eye color — Vicroy has distinctive olive-green eyes while the Gray has dark brown or black eyes.

The two species differ slightly in wing patterns and have different but overlapping geographic distributions and habitat requirements.

Whether Vicroy’s Ministreak turns out to be the last truly distinctive butterfly to be discovered in the United States, the era of new U.S. butterfly species is ending, they said. The search for new butterfly species must move to tropical Central and South America, where hundreds of species await discovery.

Plants Frozen For Centuries Come Back To Life

EDMONTON, Alberta (UPI) — Plants that haven’t seen daylight since they were frozen more than 400 years ago during the “Little Ice Age” are sprouting new growth, Canadian scientists say.

The plant life has been coming back to life as glaciers in Canada’s high arctic region have been retreating at an accelerated rate since 2004, researchers at the University of Alberta reported.

The retreating glaciers have exposed land — and the frozen plant life — that had not seen light of day since a widespread climatic cooling lasting roughly from 1550 to 1850, a period dubbed the Little Ice Age.

The “back-from-the-dead” capability of the plants, known as bryophytes, could provide insights into to how ecosystems recover from the planet’s cyclic long periods of ice coverage, the researchers said.

The researchers said they were surprised by an emergence of the bryophytes buried under ice for so long.

“When we looked at them in detail and brought them to the lab, I could see some of the stems actually had new growth of green lateral branches, and that said to me that these guys are regenerating in the field, and that blew my mind,” study lead author Catherine La Farge told BBC News.

The retreating ice is uncovering an array of life including cyanobacteria and green terrestrial algae, she said, and many of the species being revealed are entirely new to science.

“It’s a whole world of what’s coming out from underneath the glaciers that really needs to be studied,” she said.

Walmart Pleads Guilty To Illegal Waste Dumping

SAN FRANCISCO (UPI) — U.S. retailer Walmart agreed to pay more than $81 million in penalties for violating laws regarding the disposal of hazardous materials, the EPA said.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Walmart pleaded guilty to multiple counts of violating the Clean Water Act. The suits state the company didn’t have programs to train employees on how to handle hazardous materials and pesticides. As a result, employees either disposed of hazardous waste in municipal trash bins or poured them into the local sewer system.

Walmart Senior Vice President Phyllis Harris said the retail giant has policies in place to address the issue.

“The program was built around training, policies and procedures on how to safely handle consumer products that become hazardous waste, and we continue to run the same program in every store and club that was deployed years ago,” she said in a statement.

The guilty plea was entered in a federal court in San Francisco. The penalties settle allegations filed by the EPA.

Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division Ignacia Moreno said the public was at risk because of Walmart’s violations.

“By improperly handling hazardous waste, pesticides and other materials in violation of federal laws, Walmart put the public and the environment at risk and gained an unfair economic advantage over other companies,” she said in a statement.

Bachmann To Retire, Welfare For The Dead, Majority Of Americans Want Gun Talk Dropped, Rand Welcomes The Freaky People, Larry King’s New Show On RT, And More: Wednesday Morning News Roundup 5-29-2013

Here is a collection of some of the stories that Personal Liberty staffers will be keeping an eye on throughout the day. Click the links for the full stories.

  • Veteran Democratic strategist James Carville said Wednesday that Republicans throughout the Nation would be “relieved” Representative Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) has decided to retire.

 

  • According to a new report from the Massachusetts State auditor, more than 1,000 dead people recently received welfare benefits in State.

 

  • The latest Reason-Rupe national poll finds just 33 percent of Americans feel the “Senate should debate and vote on gun control legislation again,” while 62 percent want the Senate to “move on to other issues.”

 

  • Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on completed his tour of the early Presidential primary States. His message: Republicans must accept newcomers to their Party if they want to win back the White House.

 

  • Iconic American newsman Larry King will host a new political talk show on RT beginning next month. King’s show will feature interviews with leading establishment figures as well as with activists who are not afraid to go against the grain.

 

  • More Saudi abuse of migrant workers on film: A passport official in Jeddah was taped Sunday beating an African worker who had accompanied his Saudi domestic employer to the passport office. “These images are shocking, but unfortunately they offer just one small example of the mistreatment suffered by migrant workers in Saudi Arabia,” said Saudi human rights worker Walid Abou Al Khair.

Check back for updates, news and analysis throughout the day. Like us on Facebook. And follow our improved Twitter feed.

–Staff writer Ben Bullard contributed to this report.

Fed’s Full On Assault On Currency Alternatives Goes Global

Since the virtual currency Bitcoin began receiving widespread attention in the media as a viable alternative to cash, Federal agencies have been keeping a close watch on the startup and on firms with which it does business. The recent Federal attack on Liberty Reserve, another online currency, could provide clues to what government officials have in mind for Bitcoin and all future currency alternatives enabled by technology.

Liberty Reserve is an online money transfer system based in Costa Rica. On Tuesday, the Justice Department charged the company with money laundering and used the Patriot Act to lock it out of the American financial system in what Federal officials say could be the largest global prosecution of this type in history.

Arthur Bodovsky, 39-year-old Ukrainian native who moved to Costa Rica to start the business, was arrested along with five alleged co-conspirators who Federal prosecutors argue designed and operated Liberty Reserve as “a financial hub of the cyber-crime world, facilitating a broad range of online criminal activity, including credit card fraud, identity theft, investment fraud, computer hacking, child pornography, and narcotics trafficking.”

“Overall, from 2006 to May 2013, Liberty Reserve processed an estimated 55 million separate financial transactions and is believed to have laundered more than $6 billion in criminal proceeds,” the government’s indictment reads.

Officials go on to claim that Liberty Reserve “deliberately attracted and maintained a customer base of criminals by making financial activity on Liberty Reserve anonymous and untraceable.”

Police in 17 different countries were involved in the takedown.

The government has built its case around the fact that Liberty Reserve allowed its customers to anonymously convert money into virtual currency and transfer it from account to account with a 1 percent transaction fee. Justice and the Treasury officials say this allows criminals to hide the sources of their money.

“The global enforcement action we announce today is an important step towards reining in the ‘Wild West’ of illicit Internet banking,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement. “As crime goes increasingly global, the long arm of the law has to get even longer, and in this case, it encircled the earth.”

More than 1 million people (200,000 in the United States) were users of the service, according to officials.

U.S. Government Continues To Silently Endorse Saudi Diplomats’ Virtual Enslavement Of Domestic Workers In Virginia

About a month ago, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) began investigating the escape of two Filipino women from a mansion in a Washington, D.C., suburb occupied by a Saudi Arabian diplomatic contingent.

The women had apparently been held in a condition of domestic servitude approximating slavery — something common back in theocratic, male-dominated Saudi Arabia.

Diplomatic immunity reigned supreme in the ensuing investigation, and very little new information has been — or likely ever will be — revealed about that case. The two women, who had been working 14 hours a day, seven days a week without pay and living among the Saudi military attaché after their passports allegedly had been taken from them, ended up in protective custody after escaping. A Saudi embassy spokesman in the United States clammed up when pressed about what was going on in the house.

Now, another alleged foreign national has come forward with a similar human trafficking story, relating how she was essentially kidnapped into domestic slavery at another Virginia home occupied by Saudi diplomats in the Washington suburbs.

NBC 4 in Washington interviewed the woman, speaking under the assumed name of Sheila, by phone. A Kenyan, she had arrived legally in the United States by way of Saudi Arabia on a work visa. Until she established a tentative Facebook communication with an area man, after briefly interacting with him on an Internet page for Kenyans living in the area, she had no contact with the outside world. She wasn’t allowed to go outside. With her passport illegally confiscated and the clock ticking on her work visa, she said, where would she go?

Her escape happened after she agreed to make a break for it with the help of the Facebook associate, whom NBC 4 dubbed “Marikio.”

The rescue ended up being a harrowing one — particularly, Marikio said, because he knew if he called 911, he risked a chance that Sheila’s boss could convince police to arrest him instead, because he was in the country illegally.

Still, Sheila — wearing a head scarf and a veil — ran from of the lobby of Skyline Towers on Seminary Road and jumped into his car. It was the first time the two had met.

Marikio said Sheila was gaunt and in obvious pain. She told him she was hemorrhaging from an untreated medical condition. He told her to go back inside and get her passport, and he’d take her to a hospital.

“She was sick, and she was shaking, and the police asked her, ‘Do you want an ambulance?'” Marikio recalled. “She said yes and the ambulance came.”

But, Marikio said, when she went back for her passport, she was held by the family she worked for.

“She went back, the guy was holding her. He was still holding hostage. She was screaming with her cell phone. … I say, ‘Go out!'”

Said Sheila, “I was afraid, because maybe they could have killed me. Because they have taken all my documents. They have taken my passport.”

Police officers ordered the boss to return the passport, and he did. Sheila then received medical treatment.

These diplomats are people whom both current and previous Presidential Administrations continue to embrace, with nary a comment on their subversion of Constitutional freedoms, both in spirit and in fact, as guests in the United States. While immune from criminal prosecution, Saudi diplomats/kidnappers could, in theory, reasonably expect some form of faceless public excoriation from American leaders of the sort that would bring shame on their behavior while in this country. But instead, Americans get to hear about it on the local TV news, and from conservative websites like TheBlaze, with no national exposure for the culture of domestic islamofascism being perpetrated with the silent approval of the American government.

Handicapped Texas Man Shocked To Death With Taser On Suspicion Of Drugs That Apparently Weren’t There

A 350-pound asthmatic man was sleeping on the couch at his Fort Worth, Texas, home on May 16 when the cops showed up with a warrant to search his house. They were looking for cocaine.

Jarmaine Darden had asthma severe enough that he wasn’t able to sleep lying down. He had to sleep sitting up. From Monday’s CBS DFW report, it appears Darden’s relatives were at his home when the cops showed up and let in the cops.

That didn’t stop the “zero-tolerance” officers from immediately treating the situation like a standoff with a dangerous criminal. According to the victim’s mother:

They physically pulled him off the couch because, like I said, he was asleep. They pulled him off the couch and they tried to put him on his stomach. He can’t breathe on his stomach. He don’t even lie on the bed on his stomach.

He had his hands behind his back the whole time. But me and about five other people were hollering the whole time, ‘He cannot breathe like that. Please handcuff him on his side.’

Instead, Darden’s brother said, the cops warned the victim that unless he hit the floor on his stomach so they could cuff him, he’d get hit with the Taser. He didn’t — he couldn’t — and then they used the Taser on him. Darden immediately started having trouble breathing. They used the Taser on him again. In total, cops used the Taser on Darden three times. Then, he stopped breathing. Shortly after the 4 p.m. “raid” was over, an ambulance came and took Darden to the hospital; compression CPR was administered on the way. But Darden never revived. His relatives, including his two teenage sons, are in shock.

“He wasn’t resisting. He was actually trying to lay on his side, so they could handcuff him on his side, because that pressure on his lungs will cut off his air and he’ll stop breathing,” said Darden’s mother, who was at the scene. She told WFAA that she and other relatives kept pleading with the cops, “He can’t breathe like that — he’s not fighting you.”

Darden had one drug conviction on his record and, as part of his probation, took — and passed — frequent random drug tests.

In their incident report, police noted that Darden resisted arrest. Five others in the house were arrested, but there’s no mention of any drugs being found. And the only thing police are saying to the media is that they were “met with resistance” at the home.

Darden’s death marks the fifth time someone’s died after being shocked with a Taser by Fort Worth police since 2001. The department settled with the family of one victim (a man who died after being shocked for an astonishing 49 seconds in 2009), paying out $2 million in an agreement that saw the offending officer keep his job without reprimand. The department admitted to no wrongdoing, despite the fact the death was ruled a homicide.

Simple, Not Easy

I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before. I call it “the politics of ease.” It’s the liberal tendency to blame every hitch in society’s collective gallop on someone or something other than the actual offender. Guns cause crime. Freedom causes terrorism. Wealthy people cause poverty. Your SUV causes bad weather. Junk food causes Michael Moore’s waistline. And criticizing those who hold the aforementioned nonsense to be true is racist.

With the accumulated wisdom of the human tribe available to anyone with even a spark of curiosity, it’s hard to imagine that anyone beyond the creepiest of the tinfoil-behatted basement dwellers actually still believes the above nonsense. Yet such addled creatures walk among us in numbers large enough to populate an entire “Occupy” riot with enough left over to fill to the local sex offender registries with the sort of people you wouldn’t allow within miles of your children.

Following the Newtown, Conn., massacre, liberals — goaded by their Democrat shepherds — decried gun ownership, the AR-15 rifle and even the National Rifle Association for their purportedly central role in the horror and demanded draconian prophylactic infringements on the Bill of Rights. Oddly, the millions of legal gun owners nationwide were uninvolved in Newtown, the AR-15 in my gun safe had nothing to do with it, and there were no Wayne LaPierre sightings in the Newtown area that terrible day, but no matter. Passing useless laws (like the ones Connecticut already had), restricting law-abiding Americans’ rights and blaming unrelated third parties is counterproductive or worse; but it is dramatically easier.  After all, blaming guns for the violence that has turned cities like Chicago and Detroit into gladiator arenas is unlikely to cost the Democratic Party machines the support of the gladiators. That’s dishonest, and dishonesty is easy.

As the civilized world reeled in horror at the savage brutality of the islamofascist murder of British soldier Lee Rigby, our leftward-leaning friends raced out to reassure us that Muslims present no danger.  Even as the Woolwich murder shook our collective sense of security, the blessed socialist paradise of Sweden was rocked by anti-integration riots perpetrated not by xenophobic red-State types (they don’t have those in Sweden) nor even racist Republicans, but Muslim immigrants. President Barack Obama, who bizarrely declared to the United Nations in the wake of the Benghazi, Libya, massacre that “the future does not belong to those who insult the prophet of Islam,” delivered a speech late last week that condemned terror without acknowledging the religious identity proudly crowed by both the Woolwich butchers and the Stockholm savages. Not only did Obama take pains to avoid insulting “the prophet of Islam” (presuming the prophet of Islam gives a whit about Obama’s mewling), but he went in the opposite direction. “But this war, like all wars, must end… the core of al-Qaida… is on a path to defeat.” I’m guessing the war to which he referred is the war on global terrorism, which will end only after the last terrorist’s passage is booked to the afterlife. And if al-Qaida’s core is on the path to defeat, that path must be as long as the Quran, and it must detour from Benghazi to Boston and all points in between. Following the Boston Marathon attacks, the Democratic Party’s hate machine offered naked wishes that the perpetrators would be “white Americans.”

I’m not suggesting Islam and terrorism share a direct causal relationship. I am noting liberals tend to worry more about hurting the delicate feelings of Tawhal, Dariq and Hassan than they do about reporting the identity and motivation of those who seek to murder Tom, Dick and Harry. We live in a nation that not only tolerates the blatant religious hatred proclaimed by islamofascists like the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Nation of Islam, but offers those hatemongers Constitutional protections. Moreover, the President of the United States is almost as worried about slighting Muhammad’s minions as he is about straightening out his putting stroke. That’s ignorance, and ignorance is easy.

The list of similar hypocrisies goes on. Liberals show an odd preoccupation with despising rich people — at least, rich people who don’t host fundraisers for Obama. To the left, wealth is a zero-sum concept. If, say, George Soros has billions of dollars, then someone in Compton, Calif., must be living in squalor. Soros does have billions of dollars, and there’s no shortage of Comptonian squalor. But the latter has nothing to do with the former. And villainizing the former isn’t going to move the latter to Bel Air.  here’s nothing wrong with envying those who are better off, as long as that envy inspires you to improve your surroundings and not degrade theirs. That’s greed, and greed is easy.

I recently ran across an ABC News report about a 9-year-old girl named Hannah Robertson. Hannah interrupted the annual McDonald’s shareholders’ meeting to “confront” CEO Don Thompson and accuse him of everything except driving past playgrounds and offering Happy Meals to little kids. The story did everything but favorably compare little Hannah to Joan of Arc. Yet the report omits a central fact: McDonald’s didn’t invade Hannah’s home; Hannah invaded McDonald’s. Moreover, McDonald’s doesn’t force-feed anyone. There’s no doubt that obesity is a health issue in today’s America. Our diets are, to put a fine point on it, as crappy as our fitness regimes. But we’re the couch potatoes who eat Big Macs while watching the Oprah Winfrey Network. Blaming our flabby midsections on the Chicken McNuggets and large fries we ate for lunch misses the fact that we ate the McNuggets; the McNuggets didn’t eat us. That’s denial, and denial is easy.

When an oversized semi hit a bridge in Washington, the bridge didn’t collapse because the GOP hates infrastructure spending. When Congressman Darrell Issa interrogated Attorney General Eric Holder, he wasn’t acting out of bigotry; he was expressing outrage over Holder’s arrogant mendacity. When the Internal Revenue Service deliberately targeted citizens over politics, the victims didn’t bring the harassment on themselves. Those may be easier explanations for the low-information set to swallow, but they’re not true.

It’s human nature to seek the simplest answers. Indeed, Occam’s razor, a scientifically fundamental axiom, holds that the simplest explanations are likely the correct ones. So perhaps we should forgive our liberal friends for their folly. But the explanations that they consider simple are nothing of the sort. In order to keep their herds in check, the left has conducted logical contortions worthy of Cirque Du Soleil. The idea that the guns in my gun safe are secretly biding their time for the right moment to shoot up a liquor store is sillier than blaming bad weather on a theory that has required multiple name changes in fewer than 40 years; yet both those inanities are taken as gospel by liberals from Haight-Ashbury to the Hamptons.

The solutions to most of the problems we face as a Nation are, in fact, quite simple. Blame criminals for crime. Blame terrorists for terrorism. Blame the culture of envy for the rise of poverty. Blame the responsible parties for the problems they create. That might not be easy, but it is simple.

–Ben Crystal

Why Isn’t McCain On His Way To Guantanamo?

Senator John McCain consorted with al-Qaida allies — and, hence, enemies of America — during his trip to Syria over the Memorial Day weekend.

In meeting with Gen. Salem Idris, the leader of the Supreme Military Council of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), McCain met with a man who has aligned himself with Arhar al Sham, a partner of Al-Nusra Front, which the U.S. has designated as a terrorist organization. Just last month al-Qaida in Iraq declared al-Nusra was its branch in Syria. Idris claims his group doesn’t work with Al-Nusra, but the two have fought side by side and shared arms in their battle to overthrow Bashar al-Assad. Together, the groups, along with the Forouq Brigades and the Syrian Islamic Liberation Front (a coalition of the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist groups that have vowed to create an Islamic state in Syria), form the FSA. Even The New York Times has reported that the groups that make up the FSA share Islamist ideals.

Two weeks ago, the FSA produced a video and posted it to YouTube showing Abu Sakkar eating the heart of a dead Syrian soldier. Sakkar is commander of the Farouq Brigades. Human Rights Watch recently claimed that Shakkar shelled Shia Villages — populated with women and children — in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. An FSA-produced video last year showed one of its soldiers beheading a civilian. Amnesty International has documented a number of war crimes committed by FSA soldiers and commanders.

Prior to the NATO-inspired coup attempt on the Assad regime, Christians lived in peace in Syria. But the FSA has been killing Christians and burning churches.

The passage of the National Defense Authorization Act gave the President the discretion of deciding that if Americans collaborate with terrorists, they can be indefinitely detained without the right of habeas corpus. The question is: Why isn’t McCain on his way to Guantanamo Bay wearing an orange jumpsuit, handcuffs and shackles?