#murder

When it is citizens that require sanctuary

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For all the loony decisions that are out there, how can jurors in a San Francisco court possibly acquit a person that was deported 5x for multiple felonies and awaiting a 6th deportation before he ended up murdering a citizen, Kate Steinle in 2015? The court ruled it wasn’t murder but an accident because he didn’t intend to fire the gun. So even if the perpetrator, Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, didn’t intend to discharge the weapon in her direction he was none-the-less in possession of a weapon in a manner that had a risk of killing someone intentionally or not. It is irrelevant whether the bullet ricocheted. Steinle is needlessly dead. Not even a manslaughter charge and the taxpayer funded the defence.

For all the arguments supporting sanctuary cities, how little care for actual taxpaying and law abiding citizens can there be if convicted felons get hit with a feather duster while friends and family members end up being traumatized for life as a result? While he may face 3 years jail for possessing a stolen firearm, what society do people want when sentencing is so lenient for people who aren’t even legally allowed to be there?

Which again begs the question of illegal immigrants or refugees seeking asylum. If they are fleeing oppression or any place where their lives might be in danger, what on earth are these people doing trying to be anything other than grateful, courteous and law abiding individuals? Then you have to question the sanity of some Californians thinking these people deserve voting rights! Hmmm.

Even Zarate’s actions are dismissed as being a minute percentage it doesn’t prevent the fact that any country should maintain strict control of its borders and focus on helping those truly in need rather than turn a blind eye to those that exploit the social and economic generosity of others.

While some will no doubt use the Las Vegas shooting as a yardstick, the major difference is that the shooter purchased guns legally and was a citizen. That doesn’t justify what happened rather a shortcoming in gun laws that allowed bump stocks. If enough Americans don’t like it then they’ll force the change. Sloppy Immigration policies where poor screening and even worse border protection is self evident then that in and of itself is no less important a discussion to protect citizens of any country.

Shocking state of suicide

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The National Institute of Health (NIH) lists the top 10 categories of causes of death in America in 2015 as above. Heart disease was the highest cause leading to over 633,800 deaths. Cancer was slightly under 600,000. Respiratory disease came in 3rd at 155,000. Homicide, while not listed in the Top 10, was around 14,000. Total drug related deaths were around 50,000, equivalent to deaths from car accidents and murder combined. Death from heroin and illicit opioid overdoses exceeded 20,000.

F4BB85AF-601B-44CD-8232-83590DB4455E.jpegSadly suicides in the US totaled a shocking 44,193 in 2015, most prevalent in younger age groups. Over the last 15 years we can see that suicides per head of US population has continued to climb.

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In 15 years, the incidence of female suicides has climbed 45% per head of population. While male suicide outnumbers female suicides per head of population by almost 4x the relative increase in 15 years has been 16.3%. In aggregate total suicides have grown 20.4%, an awful statistic. Half of the suicides were the result of self inflicted gunshot wounds. 1/3rd of women tended to commit suicide by taking poison versus 10% by males.

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The detrimental economic impacts are also quite heavy, The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Suicides cost around $51bn annually while homicide is around $26bn.

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Perhaps the most alarming part of the NIMH study was the 1.1mn people that made proper attempts to take their own life. Almost 10mn contemplated it.

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In Australia, suicide rates are also at a decade high of 12.6 people per 100,000 or almost identical to those rates in the US. 3,000 took their life in 2015. According to Beyondblue 3 million Australians suffer from anxiety or depression.

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The suicide rate in Northern Ireland has increased dramatically over the last 30 years – the male rate has increased by 82% in this time. Male rates remain consistently higher than female suicide rates across the UK and Republic of Ireland – most notably 5 times higher in Republic of Ireland and around 3 times in the UK.

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Since 2007, suicides in the UK have started to mildly trend back upwards from 10,8/100,000 to 10.9.

China accounts for 26% of the world’s suicides. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the country saw c.500 by women per day taking their own lives in 2009 or around 183,000 a year. At that rate some 1.5 million Chinese women have taken their own lives in the past eight years.

Japan is approximately down to 19.5 suicides per 100,000 but South Korea remains persistently high at 28.5.

It is a point worth reflecting on. There have been six people from my own high school year who have taken their own life. Seemingly happy and healthy on the outside, matters have taken a turn that not even friends could have detected until it is too late.

The most common symptoms that lead to suicide are due to depression or anxiety onset by

-substance abuse
-incarceration
-family history of suicide
-poor job security or low levels of job satisfaction
-financial insecurity
-history of being abused or witnessing continuous abuse
-being diagnosed with a serious medical condition, such as cancer or HIV
-being socially isolated or a victim of bullying
-being exposed to suicidal behavior

Worsening economic conditions are undoubtedly pushing more people toward suicide. Greece, which does not have a high suicide rate (8.8) compared to other EU countries (average of 11.6 people per 100,000), saw tough financial austerity measures leading to a 35% jump in suicide rates in a little less than 2 years, not dissimilar to Russia between 1989-1994. Each 1 percentage point rise of unemployment rates in men aged 20 to 59 was associated with a 0.19/100,000 population rise in suicide. Spain saw 20% higher suicides in 2015 vs 2008.

This is the mark of suicide prevention. Note that most countries have suicide prevention hotlines.

America

Australia

UK

Help is at hand.

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Try taxing the bullets if guns won’t be banned

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Sensless acts of violence as we saw several days ago in Las Vegas once again sent out calls to ban guns. The latest stats from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) can be seen here. There has been a huge shift in gun manufacture since GFC. Over 9mn guns of all types were made in the US in 2014 ( the latest figs to hand), Twice the level of 2008. Less than 5% are exported. One can see the proliferation in weapons sales by type below. Banning guns in the US is a taboo subject because there are many “responsible” gun owners as they like to view themselves. Comedian Chris Rock had perhaps the best solution if guns couldn’t be banned  – to tax bullets to exorbitant levels that the cost per shot would limit such atrocities. To be sure if Paddock went to a gun smith asking for $100,000 worth of bullets then surely that would be a red flag in itself!

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60 deaths and 500 wounded people is no laughing matter but we should ask ourselves why have weapons manufacture/purchase skyrocketed like they have? If less than 5% of guns are going overseas then the home market is the only place they are ending up. Note these stats only include civilian and police purchases not military.

While 2014 sales were down from the peak of 10.5mn ownership is still estimated by the ATF to be around 35% of households down from 50% in the 1970s.

Smith & Wesson and Ruger shares have soared as demand has fueled earnings since GFC. Since 2017 the shares have slackened off for both companies. Is this because there is a feeling of economic hope and a lower level of uncertainty? Or could it be the risk of a ban on weapons was greatly reduced when Trump took office. The latter seems most plausible.

Do we deduce that the rebound in gun sales since GFC has been driven by the fear of a lack of security? The concern that localized theft, car jackings and break & enter would rise pushing the need for self protection? The FBI stats (below) show the prevalence of crime has been in a long term decline per head of population for almost 25 years  in 2015 there has been a small bump but relatively inconsequential.

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Perceptions can often be far removed from reality however the purchase stats speak for themselves. Economically the value of crime in a recession should fall as the access to black markets is curtailed and the “bang for the buck” per stolen item is likely less meaning the risk-reward ratio is more acute.

Reading through the newsfeeds on who Paddock was, which political affiliation he had or those host of other conspiracy theories the fact remains innocent people were slaughtered. Parents, children, relatives and friends must surely carry a psychological burden which is unfathomable.

After the Port Arthur Massacre in Australia in 1996 the federal government had an amnesty where the state bought back guns. In Australia there was nowhere near the scale on an absolute or relative basis versus the US. Will the US amend the second amendment? It is unlikely but Rock’s suggestion of an exorbitant bullet tax would certainly limit the extent of damage and flag irrational purchase orders.

The other question lies in the black market. If one wants to get a gun, provided they have the financial ammunition there is little to stop such atrocities even if guns were banned. Yes Australia hasn’t seen a massacre since yet there was never a big problem in the first place. 661,000 firearms were removed from circulation. Or 1 gun for every 33 people. In the US it is c.1 gun for every person in circulation. Even if a third of households have them we are looking at 1 gun per 3 people in the US.

The Aussie government offered $500/gun average. If Trump ran the same programme (albeit 21 years later) and taking into account inflation then conservatively at $1,000 a gun he would be looking at a cost of $320bn. To put that in perspective the annual US military budget is around $680bn. So a combined spend of $1 trillion.

National Felon League (NFL)

It changes the moral high ground on the debate on the NFL when dragging it down into the statistics of the players themselves. Perhaps some players are taking a knee to stop themselves being held accountable by the very laws they break. 713 different players between 2000-2014 have been arrested, Shocking list of charges – rape, murders, shootings, animal cruelty, prostitution rings, assault, robbery, illegal gun possession, DUI, resisting arrest and so forth. So ask yourself why fans might get turned off being lectured to by these social justice footballers? Great role models.

Makes the NRL in Australia look like a bunch of choir boys.

With pay TV viewership and game attendance continuing to fall (according to Nielsen) we are seeing some team owners like the Steelers begging fans to accept it’s just a misunderstanding and sponsors like Nike sticking up for the NFL because they want to make sure their investment sustains a return. Budweiser will be the big swing factor on the NFL. It proudly promotes it has 11,000 veterans working for it. Pepsi, Budweiser’s Anheuser-Busch InBev paid $1.4 billion to sponsor the NFL out to 2022. When AB InBev first inked this deal in 2011 (to last through the 2017 Super Bowl) it paid $1.2 billion. Not small pennies. DirecTV has announced they will give full refunds to customers who want to cancel their NFL channel. Of course DirecTV will be asking the NFL to cover the costs of that.

No matter what one’s views are, the NFL will live and die by their actions. As mentioned yesterday, taking a knee is now so commonplace it is actually no longer seen as the protest it was originally done for. Then again, all the NFL is bringing on itself is the double standards of many of its players.