Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Last Call For That Domestic Terror Problem Of Ours

Meanwhile, in Texas, here's a domestic terrorism story that nobody cared about because when a white guy is charged with trying to blow up a building, none dare call it terrorism.

A Houston man is set appear before a federal magistrate Monday afternoon on charges he participated in a bomb plot, trying to transport deadly explosives, according to a news release from U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson. 
Cary Lee Ogborn, 50, was arrested late Friday after retrieving a package he thought contained explosives powerful enough to maim or kill people or destroy buildings. 
In 2013, Ogborn pleaded guilty in Harris County to knowingly possessing illegal metal knuckles and served a 30-day jail sentence. That same year he pleaded guilty and served time in Montgomery County for illegal possession of a firearm. Ogborn has a prior convictions from 2004 for driving with a suspended license in 2004 and committing insurance fraud, lying about a stolen car, in 1996. He served time for 1989 convictions for auto theft, and possession of cocaine and marijuana. 
Investigators believe Ogborn tried to order the explosive materials online from an illegal weapons marketplace through an encrypted network, that rendered his IP address undetectable and made him anonymous. He sent a private message to a vendor on this network in August saying he intended to use the materials to blow up a building. It turned out the vendor was an undercover FBI agent, according to court documents.

If Cary Lee Ogborn was a brown-skinned Muslim from Pakistan, this would be national news and we'd be talking about TERROR CELL IN TEXAS.  If he was black, we'd be breathlessly asking about his connections to Black Lives Matter and why black culture is responsible for his long criminal past.  If he was from Mexico, we'd be screaming about border security and La Raza and the failure of ICE, and probably Operation Fast & Furious to boot.

But because Cary Lee Ogborn is a 50-year-old white guy who plotted to blow up a building, he gets a few paragraphs in the Houston Chronicle and nobody cares to ask "Where was he radicalized?" or questions about his religion or his international travel or if Houston police should be racially profiling middle-aged white men.  Nobody is on CNN or FOX or MSNBC asking if Christianity is really just a terrorist ideology masquerading as religion and if it should actually receive any First Amendment protections as a result, or whether we should just accepting Christians at all in this country, and maybe deport all the Christians we already have here just to be safe.


Here endeth the lesson.

The Gunmerican Way

New figures from Harvard show that the concentration of firearms ownership in America is shocking. Only 3% of Americans account for a whopping 50% of firearms ownership, with on average 17 firearms a piece.  That's more than 130 million firearms.

The survey's findings support other research showing that asoverall rates of gun ownership has declined, the number of firearms in circulation has skyrocketed. The implication is that there are more guns in fewer hands than ever before. The top 3 percent of American adults own, on average, 17 guns apiece, according to the survey's estimates. 
The survey is particularly useful to researchers because it asked respondents not just whether they own guns, but how many and what types of guns they own. This makes for one of the clearest pictures yet of American gun ownership, showing the concentration of most guns in the hands of a small fraction of American adults.

The study found that 22 percent of American adults say they personally own a firearm. This is lower than the percentages reported in some other recent surveys, such as those by the Pew Research Center (31 percent) and Gallup (28 percent)
Based on the percentage of people owning guns and the number of guns that respondents reported owning, the survey estimates that 265 million guns are in circulation, or more than one for every adult. This is lower than other estimates, which put the number of guns in circulation at 300 million or more
Gun rights advocates are often skeptical of gun-ownership surveys, saying that many owners may not disclose the presence of guns to a stranger over the phone or in person. Survey researchers have generally found little evidence to support this claim. The Harvard-Northeastern survey was conducted anonymously via an online panel. The researchers told the Guardian newspaper that they did not receive any pushback from respondents about the questions, leading them to be confident in the results. 
The finding that the overwhelming majority of firearms are owned by a small number of adults isn't particularly surprising. Similar patterns of concentration are seen with many other consumer goods and services, from alcohol to health care. The researchers who conducted the study say that most gun owners cite a need for protection from other people as a primary reason to own guns. 
"When I look at our survey, what I see is a population that is living in fear," Deb Azrael, a Harvard researcher and one of the study's lead authors, told the nonprofit news organization the Trace. "They are buying handguns to protect themselves against bad guys, they store their guns ready-to-use because of bad guys, and they believe that their guns make them safer."

It's these folks who are the NRA nutjobs making any sort of gun safety legislation impossible.  We're literally being held hostage by 3% of America's population when it comes to guns and common sense in America.

It's time to put that to an end.  I can understand owning one or two firearms for protection, I grew up in small-town NC, you have that right. But seventeen?  That's insane and dangerous, and we should have better laws than that.  You don't need 17 guns any more than I need 17 laptop PCs or 17 televisions, you know?

That's just ridiculous.

The Bridge Too Far, Con't

Meanwhile the other big story in New Jersey this week is the start of the Bridgegate trial, where both the defense and prosecution agree that GOP Gov. Chris Christie is the central figure as the man behind the scheme to punish Democrats in the state by closing lanes on the George Washington Bridge.

Bill Baroni, 44, was Christie’s top appointee at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns and operates the world’s busiest bridge. He is on trial alongside Bridget Anne Kelly, 44, Christie’s former deputy chief of staff.

The pair are accused of creating gridlock in Fort Lee over five mornings in September 2013 to punish the town’s mayor, a Democrat, for not endorsing the Republican governor’s reelection bid. They are charged with misusing federally funded property, wire fraud and depriving residents of their constitutional right to travel freely in the town. They face the possibility of years in jail and fines totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Not only was Christie told of the lane closures in the midst of gridlock on the Fort Lee side of the bridge, lawyers said during opening statements, he was so entrenched in the politics and activities of the Port Authority that he conferred considerable powers on an old schoolmate. That person, David Wildstein, who was named to an influential post at the agency by Christie, is expected to be the trial’s star witness after he negotiated a plea deal with federal prosecutors.

“When David Wildstein spoke, Governor Christie’s voice came out and everybody knew it,” said Michael Baldassare, Baroni’s attorney. He added that evidence in the trial will show that Wildstein “looks like a ventriloquist doll sitting on Christopher J. Christie’s lap.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Vikas Khanna contradicted Christie’s repeated public statements that he knew nothing about the lane closures until months after they were found to have been politically motivated.

Christie did not respond to questions about the trial at a town hall meeting on education funding in Whippany on Monday.

Khanna said that Wildstein and Baroni boasted about the traffic problems to Christie three days into the week-long closures at a Sept. 11 memorial ceremony at the World Trade Center in 2013, celebrating the fact that they were ignoring pleas for help from Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich.

The evidence will show that Baroni and Wildstein were so committed to their plan to punish Mayor Sokolich during those few minutes they had alone with the governor they bragged about the fact there were traffic problems in Fort Lee and Mayor Sokolich was not getting his calls returned,” Khanna said.

Bridgegate would have been the end of Christie's presidential aspirations anyway, even if he somehow had beaten Trump in the primaries.  It's just that closing lanes on a bridge to punish a city for a week is so cartoonishly corrupt, petty, and vindictive that I can't honestly believe we're in the trial phase of this already.  But apparently we have plenty of evidence to prosecute and a star witness, and as the trial begins, Chris Christie's political career looks to be coming to an end.

Couldn't have happened to a nicer friggin guy.


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