NYPD Revokes Media Access To Precinct Offices

The New York Police Department will no longer allow local precincts to release to the media information about crime in communities they serve. Taking the place of that long-standing practice is a new one: talk to the PR guys at headquarters.

News website DNAinfo New York reports that “the city’s 77 police precincts [are] to stop giving out any information to the media about crimes taking place in their neighborhoods, cutting off a long-standing source of information for New Yorkers.”

According to a terse NYPD edict transmitted citywide, precinct commanders were instructed: “Any requests by media to view complaint reports be referred to the office of the Deputy Commissioner For Public Information.”

The NYPD’s public information office, known as DCPI, typically disseminates only select major crimes such as murders, sexual assaults and grand larcenies, but often does not include lower level neighborhood crimes. Those complaints could traditionally be found at the precinct, a reliable source for information of interest for residents.

To the frustration of cop-beat reporters in many towns across the country, this sort of thing is common among police departments whose commissioners, chiefs and sheriffs figured out long ago that the best way to maintain narrative control of raw information is to launder it through a bottleneck public relations official. In smaller cities, reporters often put up with it, because they typically have the cell phone number of the local police chief or county sheriff, and can develop a personal rapport that keeps them in the know about what’s going on – even if the real version of events never makes it into print.

But in a city the size of New York, siphoning all information through a centralized bureaucracy effectively ends street-level crime reporting, because the time required to get a statement is too great to serve a newspaper or web site’s interest. And, the quality of that statement will almost certainly veer toward that of a sanitized press release – or good-cop propaganda.

Outgoing Police Commissioner Ray Kelly has a history of pushing even the city’s major media providers to the margins when it comes to access of information. “Under his stewardship, DCPI has systematically diminished the type of information it provides as well as overall access to department personnel,” reports DNAinfo, which has already had its precinct access revoked, along with other outlets. “The clampdown evolved even though Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a media mogul, pledged that his administration would be a beacon of open government and transparency.”

Report: 70 Percent Of California Doctors Won’t Participate In Obamacare

The California Medical Association (CMA), the State’s largest physician’s organization, estimates that 70 percent of doctors won’t participate in Covered California, the State’s Obamacare health insurance exchange.

That prediction comes after the CMA reviewed Obamacare coverage forecasts provided by independent insurance brokers, even though Covered California is touting an expected 85 percent doctor participation rate.

CMA’s vice president of medical and regulatory policy, Lisa Folberg, told the Washington Examiner that Covered California comes by its 85 percent participation figure through some optimistic statistical legerdemain.

“Some physicians have been put in the network and they were included basically without their permission,” she said.

That’s because Covered California is using a pre-deployment document released in May that came out before doctors had a chance to respond to a memo of understanding with Obamacare insurers. The doctors’ reticence then was understandable – they hadn’t seen a rate schedule, so they had no idea what kind of compensation they were being asked to accept.

“Only in September did insurance companies disclose that their rates would be pegged to California’s Medicaid plan, called Medi-Cal,” reports the Examiner’s Richard Pollock. “That’s driven many doctors to just say no.”

Alameda County Health Care Services Agency director Alex Briscoe said he’s not shocked that doctors aren’t lining up to take a pay cut under Obamacare.

From the report:

“Enrollment doesn’t mean access, because there aren’t enough doctors to take the low rates of Medicaid,” [Briscoe] said. “There aren’t enough primary care physicians, period.”

Briscoe hopes his eight community health centers can handle the 200,000 uninsured individuals he said reside in his county, but he warned that “there is a doctor shortage. It is going to get worse as more people enter the market.”

Briscoe professed not to be surprised by the refusal of doctors to participate in Covered California. “It rings true. I’ve been kind of wondering in my head, ‘How are they offering such low premiums?’”

In addition to low doctor participation, Obamacare is compounding the access problem by incentivizing another way for doctors to opt out: retirement.

“I just turned 55, and a lot of us are kind of going, ‘Maybe there’s something else we can do in the last 10 years,’ because this is just getting too onerous to keep on going,” San Diego ENT specialist Theodore M. Mazer told the Examiner.

Even Al Sharpton Acknowledges The Knockout Game Is Real

A bevy of usual suspects who style themselves as spokesmen for black Americans have come out against the knockout game, with none other than Al Sharpton leading the charge to decry the violent street fad.

Don’t know what the knockout game is? Here you go.

If the pervasiveness of the racial component of the knockout game were nothing more than a racist Tea Party fabrication, wouldn’t the Rev stay quiet, sit back and watch his ideological adversaries make fools of themselves on national TV by overreacting to a few isolated incidents of random, unprovoked black-on-white crime?

Instead, Sharpton and some other people who claim to have their finger on the pulse of American black culture — National Urban League president Marc Morial and rap grandpa Russell Simmons — are joining together in denouncing the attacks and calling on would-be perpetrators to eschew “ugly” racial violence.

Here’s Al in two of his finest smoking jackets, laying nine seconds of smack down on the gamers:

“These kids are targeting innocent people, and in many cases specifically targeting Jewish folks,” Sharpton said in a statement. “We would not be silent if it were the other way around, and we will not be silent now. This behavior is racist, period. And we will not tolerate it.”

According to CBS New York, Simmons has spread a similar message. “This knockout game is some bulls**t,” Simmons offered in a video clip that he later removed from YouTube. “I mean, it’s terrible. I mean, how come you all want to hit people that look like they’ve got on devotional clothing and might not hit you back? Why don’t you hit somebody that might hit you back? I mean, the knockout game is for cowards.”

Sharpton’s acknowledgement comes with an evident qualifier, as does Simmons’. Both men are New York natives, and their anti-violence messages zero in on the Brooklyn version of the knockout game, which in local news reports appears to have been aimed predominantly at Orthodox Jews.

For perpetual minority victims like Sharpton, it would be a stretch to call out thugs nationwide for attacking just any old white guy. But it’s much easier to see the injustice when both perpetrator and victim can, in Sharpton’s eyes, claim special disenfranchised status.

Still, other than his predictable, and presumptuous, supposition that all black Americans have a will to participate in racial gripes (“we” this; “we” that), Sharpton’s statement is more levelheaded than the majority of his typically divisive rhetoric.

And it’s not surprising that Sharpton first dipped his toe into waters critical of the knockout game on Nov. 23, two days after Allen West called him and other race ideologues out in public for their deafening, hypocritical silence.

Confiscate: New York City Coming For Guns That Hold More Than 5 Rounds

New York City is sending notices to gun-owning residents — who already must register their weapons and obtain city-specific ownership permits — telling them they must turn in, dispose of or modify any rifles or shotguns equipped to fire more than five rounds of ammunition.

The NYPD is stepping up enforcement of a local gun law that’s been in place for three years, sending out letters to lawful gun owners giving them one of the three options.

This is one of those stories that best unfolds by letting the subject do the talking. Here’s what the letter actually says, with a hat tip to The Truth About Guns blog for posting its contents (the boldface from the original letter is preserved):

It appears that you are in possession of a Rifle and/or Shotgun (listed below) that has an ammunition feeding device capable of holding more than five (5) rounds of ammunition.

Rifles and Shotguns capable of holding more than five (5) rounds of ammunition are unlawful to possess in New York City, as per NYC Administrative Code 10-306 (b).

You have the following options:

1.  Immediately surrender your Rifle and/or Shotgun to your local police precinct, and notify this office of the invoice number. The firearm may be sold or permanently removed from the City of New York thereafter.

2.  Permanently remove your Rifle and/or Shotgun from New York City and provide the following:

  • Disposition Report/Registration Certificate (PD Form 641-121)
  • Notarized statement of permanent removal and statement of where the firearm will be stored outside the City of New York
  • Utility bill or other proof of residency regarding the address where the firearm will be stored outside the City of New York

3.  You may call to discuss the matter if you believe your firearm is in compliance, or you may request the option to bring your firearm to a licensed gunsmith for a permanent modification and certification proving that it is permanently modified and is in compliance. If you are granted the option of seeking a permanent modification, you must provide proof that the firearm is in the possession of a licensed gunsmith in a timely manner.

The letter goes on to list whichever offending firearms the resident may be guilty of owning.

The administrative code and ordinances governing New York City gun ownership is more restrictive than even that of New York State, which adopted the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement (SAFE) Act while the shock of the Newtown, Conn., mass shooting was still fresh. The city’s confiscation letter pertains not to the SAFE Act, but to city code.

But the NYPD’s approach could have what New York State Assemblyman James Tedisco described to FOX News as an emboldening effect on local police forces statewide to step up hands-on enforcement of the SAFE Act.

“These letters appear to be another example of the Nanny State,” Tedisco said. “Hypothetically, it can start with a letter, and then that can lead to someone knocking on your door saying, ‘I want to see your gun.’”

Another Obamacare Tax That Insurers Are Forced To Pass Along To You

An Obamacare tax that will dump money into the general treasury was finalized last week with little fanfare, locking in a Federal revenue stream that, at least in theory, was set in place to cover the gap in “United States health risks” that Obamacare’s regressive, market-defying structure creates.

The Health Insurance Tax was published Nov. 27, mandating a tax on insurance companies that analysts expect will lead to an additional three percent increase in the cost of already-inflated premiums for Obamacare buyers. The goal for 2014 is to hit a Federal revenue target of $8 billion ($14.3 billion by 2018), even though there’s not a set rate at which insurers themselves can anticipate being taxed.

How does that work?

“It’s an odd sort of tax,” Heritage Foundation Fellow David R. Burton told the Washington Free Beacon. “It’s not at a specific rate, but it raises a specific amount of revenue from insurers who underwrite health insurance outside of the exchanges. You basically have a set amount of money and then it’s allocated among the insurers based on the amount of health insurance premiums they actually wrote.”

In other words, the government is gonna get its money without providing insurers a strategic roadmap that affords them any knowledge of how much each company will be forced to contribute. Worse, the government’s dollar goal is fixed, even though Obamacare’s terrible enrollment rate indicates insurers may not even profit from the few policies they’re able to sell.

Those Americans who do buy an Obamacare plan won’t see the tax itemized on their statements. But they’ll be paying it. The New York Business Council has estimated the Health Insurance Tax will cost participating residents an average of $270 in increased premiums for 2014 – the “cheapest” tax year.

The Health Insurance Tax is just one of many Obamacare taxes. Here’s a long list of others, compiled by The Heritage Foundation.

Obama Will Never Be Found At The Center Of A Lie: White House Throws Staffers Under The Bus To Shield President From Kenyan Uncle Omar Bombshell

President Barack Obama isn’t to blame for a festering lie about his past – his handlers are.

On Thursday, The Boston Globe reported that Obama said he did live with his Kenyan uncle, Onyango “Omar” Obama, for three weeks just before young Barack began his career as a Harvard Law student. The White House had told the press in 2011 that the President had never met the man.

That was an inadvertent lack of diligence on the part of Obama’s staff, said Press Secretary Jay Carney Thursday. “Back when this arose, [White House staff] looked at the record, including the President’s [autobiographical] book, and there was no evidence that they had met,” Carney said.

“However,” The Daily Caller quotes Carney as saying, “nobody spoke to the President.”

“I thought it was the right thing to do to go ask him,” Carney continued. “[A]nd the President said that he, in fact, had met Omar Obama when he moved to Cambridge for law school.”

Flash back to January 7, 2012, when The Boston Globe ran a story about Omar’s legal travails, set against the backdrop of the Obamas’ common Kenyan heritage.

A solemn figure as he strides into his court appearances, [Omar] Obama never married or had children during the years he has been in the United States, according to his lawyer, P. Scott Bratton. He lives with a Kenyan family in Framingham near the liquor store where he has worked as a clerk for 10 years. Although he has a vast number of relatives living near Lake Victoria in western Kenya, many know nothing of him. He has never met his famous nephew, according to the White House.

“The White House never moved to correct the record, until the President’s famously private uncle took the witness stand in Boston immigration court two days ago,” the Globe reported Thursday.

Why not? At the start of an election year, wouldn’t the President want to avoid any political landmines – particularly from the birther crowd – by getting in front of misinformation as quickly as possible instead of letting stories like this sit dormant indefinitely? That he kept quiet about a Boston Globe report that surely must have come to his attention, courtesy of anxious handlers looking toward November 2012, calls into question the President’s own role in allowing the lie to make it through to the Globe’s reporter.

The 2012 article also mentions that Omar had been living illegally in the U.S. for decades. Omar had a deportation hearing earlier this week – an event brought about by his August 2011 drunk driving arrest in Framingham, Massachusetts. At the hearing, Omar revealed that the future President had, in fact, stayed with him before attending Harvard.

Omar was granted legal residency by an immigration judge Tuesday, thanks to his “good moral character and a section of federal law that allows him to get a green card because he arrived before 1972.”

Prize-Winning Obamacare Promo Encourages Crazy Kids To ‘Forget About The Price Tag’

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has awarded a $2,000 prize to the winner of a do-it-yourself advertising contest aimed at promoting Obamacare enrollment among young people. The video that took the pot has at least one thing going for it: truth in advertising.

“Don’t worry ’bout the price tag,” sings Erin McDonald, whose submission won the prize by shoehorning an Obamacare message into an arrangement of British pop star Jessie J’s 2011 single “Price Tag.”

The contest stems from a collaboration between HHS and Young Invincibles, a nonprofit that seeks to channel the political will of millenials.

“Back in August 2013, Young Invincibles, in partnership with the Department of Health and Human Services, launched the Healthy Young America Video Contest, an effort to mobilize young people to help educate and inform one another about the Affordable Care Act,” the official White House blog explains.

Here’s McDonald’s prize-winning hook, transcribed with admirable phonetic accuracy by The Daily Caller:

Ain’t about the, uh, cha-ching cha-ching. Ain’t about the, yeah, bla-bling bla-bling. Affordable Care Act. Don’t worry ’bout the price tag.

What will the Obama Administration resort to next in its surreal effort to mainstream his onerous health care mandate — staging Obamacare-themed happy hours at bars? Oh, wait — they’re already doing that.

Harry Reid Becomes The Only Congressional Leader To Exempt Staffers From Obamacare

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has been almost as strong an advocate for Obamacare as President Barack Obama himself, and for just as long. But he’s no fan of watching those close to him endure Obamacare policies and premiums, now that the Affordable Care Act’s implementation is a reality.

CNN reported Wednesday that Reid has exempted some of his staffers from buying health coverage through Obamacare exchanges, allowing them instead to keep their Federal employee insurance plans.

That makes Reid the one and only top Congressional leader to break the spirit of the near-universal pledge among Washington lawmakers to hew to the same Obamacare mandates that Congress has forced upon the rest of the Nation. Fellow Democrat Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Republican leaders in both legislative chambers have at least remained in character by requiring their staffs to go on the healthcare exchanges.

But not Reid — despite proclaiming in September that Congress and its staff “are going to be part of the exchanges, that’s what the law says and we’ll be part of that.” Reid himself, along with his personal staff will indeed be on the exchanges. But, according to CNN:

But it’s also true that the law lets lawmakers decide if their committee and leadership staffers hold on to their federal employee insurance plans, an option Reid has exercised.

Reid spokesman Adam Jentleson emphasized, “We are just following the law.”

Back in April, Jentleson had emphatically denied that Reid and some members of Congress were discussing, behind the scenes, ways that Congress and staffers could dodge Obamacare. “There are not now, have never been, nor will there ever be any discussions about exempting members of Congress or congressional staff from Affordable Care Act provisions that apply to any employees of any other public or private employer offering health care,” Jentleson told The Hill.

So much for that. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) had the snappy comeback on Twitter, where he linked to the CNN article and questioned why Reid wouldn’t want to inflict Obamacare on select staff members:

Ready For Another Snowden Revelation? NSA Collects 5 Billion Cell Phone Location Records Each Day

The latest leak in the ongoing trickle of information Edward Snowden supplied to newspapers about the National Security Agency (NSA) is a whopper: worldwide, the NSA gathers close to 5 billion records on the whereabouts and digital “relationships” of cell phone users each day.

According to The Washington Post, which broke the story Wednesday, the NSA taps directly into the physical backbone of the global telecommunications infrastructure, “enabling the agency to track the movements of individuals — and map their relationships — in ways that would have been previously unimaginable.”

Here’s more:

The NSA does not target Americans’ location data by design, but the agency acquires a substantial amount of information on the whereabouts of domestic cellphones “incidentally,” a legal term that connotes a foreseeable but not deliberate result.

One senior collection manager, speaking on condition of anonymity but with permission from the NSA, said “we are getting vast volumes” of location data from around the world by tapping into the cables that connect mobile networks globally and that serve U.S. cellphones as well as foreign ones. Additionally, data is often collected from the tens of millions of Americans who travel abroad with their cellphones every year.

In scale, scope and potential impact on privacy, the efforts to collect and analyze location data may be unsurpassed among the NSA surveillance programs that have been disclosed since June. Analysts can find cellphones anywhere in the world, retrace their movements and expose hidden relationships among individuals using them.

The government, of course, says the surveillance is perfectly legal, since learning things about people’s personal lives – such as whom they’re contacting and what their daily habits are – isn’t a goal, but rather a side effect, of the terror-oriented spying.

“[L]ocation data, especially when aggregated over time, is widely regarded among privacy advocates as uniquely sensitive,” the Post story interjects. “Sophisticated mathematical techniques enable NSA analysts to map cellphone owners’ relationships by correlating their patterns of movement over time with thousands or millions of other phone users who cross their paths. Cellphones broadcast their locations even when they are not being used to place a call or send a text.”

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) was among the first of what’s certain to be many civil liberty groups to respond to the news Wednesday afternoon, releasing this statement:

It is staggering that a location-tracking program on this scale could be implemented without any public debate, particularly given the substantial number of Americans having their movements recorded by the government. The paths that we travel every day can reveal an extraordinary amount about our political, professional, and intimate relationships. The dragnet surveillance of hundreds of millions of cell phones flouts our international obligation to respect the privacy of foreigners and Americans alike. The government should be targeting its surveillance at those suspected of wrongdoing, not assembling massive associational databases that by their very nature record the movements of a huge number of innocent people.

Proof That Progressives Have Finally Gone Bananas

It’s not in the Constitution — at least not verbatim — but most of us would agree that each able-minded, law-abiding American citizen is a “cognitively complex autonomous legal person with the fundamental right not to be imprisoned.”

So what about this guy?

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For the first time, making legal people out of monkeys has become a thing. According to Reuters, an animal rights group has filed the Nation’s first lawsuit to establish the “legal personhood” of chimpanzees, seeking to have a 26-year-old monkey named Tommy, along with three of his monkey colleagues, set loose from monkey jail in a research facility at Stony Brook University in New York.

From Reuters:

The lawsuit seeks a declaration that Tommy’s “detention” in a “small, dank, cement cage in a cavernous dark shed” in central New York is unlawful and demands his immediate release to a primate sanctuary.

Chimpanzees “possess complex cognitive abilities that are so strictly protected when they’re found in human beings,” Steven Wise, the president of Nonhuman Rights Project, told Reuters.

“There’s no reason why they should not be protected when they’re found in chimpanzees,” he added.

The lawsuit on Tommy’s behalf is among three the group is filing this week on behalf of four chimps across New York. The other chimps are Kiko, a 26-year-old chimp living on a private property in Niagara Falls, and Hercules and Leo, two young male chimps used in research at Stony Brook University on Long Island, the group said.

Wise said the Nonhuman Rights Project is just warming up, pledging to sue and sue and sue until animals are granted legal rights under U.S. law. “These are the first cases in an open-ended, strategic litigation campaign. We’re just going to keep filing suits,” he said.

But Wise didn’t discuss the group’s discriminatory practice of advocating to establish legal rights for some — but not all — members of the animal kingdom. Nor did he divulge whether the group had struck upon a course of action for other inscrutable nonhuman entities such as plants, minerals, solar radiation, television characters, abandoned shipping containers, orphaned websites and baby dolls — which, for all anybody knows, could have people claim, on those entities’ behalf, equally defensible standing for the “legal personhood” designation.

The lawsuit relies on the habeas corpus argument; that is, that a person has the right not to be detained without due process. Problem is, chimps aren’t people. So the Nonhuman Rights Project is seeking to use New York’s (relatively) liberal body of precedent law on the matter in the hope that Tommy and his chimpanzee cohorts will be legally reborn as people — people with inalienable rights.

“The focus here is whether a chimpanzee is a ‘person’ that has access to these laws,” animal law expert David Favre told Reuters.