New Hampshire Senate Rejects Occupational Licensing Bill

The New Hampshire Senate Executive Departments and Administration Committee rejected a bill that would have created a state commission for reviewing occupational licensing rules.

The committee voted to reject House Bill 1685 (H.B. 1685) on April 5. The state House of Representatives had approved the bill in March.

Opportunities Squashed

H.B. 1685’s sponsor, state Rep. Bill Ohm (R-Nashua) says his bill could have helped people get  jobs and lift themselves out of poverty and drug addiction.

“New Hampshire has an interesting dichotomy,” Ohm said. “We have extremely low unemployment but high levels of opioid addiction. We have perhaps 15,000 recovering opioid addicts sidelined from our workforce, and a need for able-bodied working adults. One part of the bill was to make New Hampshire ‘recovery friendly’ by requiring licensing boards to determine, in advance, whether an individual’s criminal record would disqualify that individual from obtaining the appropriate license.”

Ohm says H.B. 1685 would have created opportunities for those seeking to better themselves.

“The intention of the bill was to increase employment opportunities for those who wish to work,” Ohm said. “It does that by starting a process to review all occupational licensing over a five-year period to see if the current laws are appropriate.”

Hoped to Cut Cronyism

Ohm says many occupational licensing rules reflect obvious cronyism.

“Some professions, such as cosmetology, require more than 1,000 hours of training to get an appropriate license,” Ohm said. “The expense of that training serves to discourage job seekers who wish to enter that profession, and seems to primarily benefit those who wish to restrict additional competition. If an EMT can qualify for a license with 40 hours of training, is cosmetology that much more dangerous to public health and safety?”

‘Little Public Purpose’

David Harrington, an economics professor at Kenyon College, says his research has led him to conclude occupational licensing needlessly increases the prices of goods and services.

“Most of my studies of occupational licensing involve the funeral industry,” Harrington said. “I have found evidence that more stringent requirements to become a funeral service worker increase funeral prices paid by consumers and reduce the likelihood that they choose cremation, because funeral directors persuade many of them to purchase a more expensive, traditional earth burial.”

Ohm says many government occupational restrictions have little real benefit for the general public.

“Licensing is certainly appropriate for occupations that put the health and safety of the public at risk, such as medical professionals, but other licensed professions, such as an athletic trainer or an auctioneer, seem to involve little public risk,” Ohm said. “Requiring a state license to enter certain professions seems to create a high barrier to entry with little public purpose.”

Disparate Impacts

The burden of government permission slips is especially heavy for women and ethnic minorities, Harrington says.

“Women are less likely to be funeral directors in states that require all funeral directors to be embalmers,” Harrington said. “I also think that these laws make it difficult for immigrants to enter funeral directing to serve their communities.”

Free-Market Alternatives

Ohm says the public can ensure the safety and quality of goods and services without government control.

“Professions should be open to jobseekers who meet appropriate standards of training and proficiency,” Ohm said. “Industry or government certifications, proof of insurance and bonding, and even social media reports are less restrictive ways to protect consumers than licensing.”

Editor’s Note: This article was published in cooperation with The Heartland Institute’s Budget & Tax News.

PHOTO: New Hampshire State House in Concord, NH. Photograph taken and uploaded by Jared C. Benedict on 29 December 2004. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

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Ben Shapiro: The Suicide of Europe

On Friday, the British police arrested Tommy Robinson, founder and former leader of the English Defence League, a far-right anti-Islam group. Robinson is a controversial character, to be sure, a sort of Milo Yiannopoulos lite. His chief focus is on the threat of radical Islam, which he believes threatens the integrity of the British system.

You don’t have to like Robinson. But whatever you think of him, his arrest is absurd by any measure. You see, Robinson was arrested for standing outside a court building and reporting on a trial involving the alleged grooming of young girls for sexual assault by radical Muslims.

Now, what would be illegal about that, you ask? It turns out that Robinson was given a suspended sentence last year for filming outside another court building, where a trial for alleged gang rape by radical Muslims was taking place. He wasn’t inside the courtroom. Nonetheless, the judge believed he was somehow biasing the jurors. According to the judge, Robinson was sentenced thanks to “pejorative language which prejudges the case, and it is language and reporting … that could have had the effect of substantially derailing the trial.”

This time, Robinson was again arrested for prejudicing a case, only he wasn’t inside the court building. He was outside. And the media were originally banned from reporting on his arrest so that his trial wouldn’t be biased. In other words, Britain has now effectively banned reporting that actually mentions the Islamic nature of criminal defendants for fear of stirring up bigotry — and has banned reporting on reporting on such defendants. It’s an infinite regress of suicidal political correctness.

But at least the Europeans have their priorities straight: While it’s perfectly legal to lock up a provocateur covering a trial involving Muslims, the European Union is now considering a ban on products like cotton buds, straws and other plastics for fear of marine litter. And just as importantly, it’s now perfectly legal to kill unborn children again in Ireland, where voters — with the help of a cheering press — decided to lift the ban on abortions until the 20th week, condemning thousands of children to death.

This is how the West dies: with a tut-tut, not with a bang. The same civilization that sees it as a fundamental right to kill a child in the womb thinks it is utterly out of bounds to film outside a trial involving the abuse of children, so long as the defendants are radical Muslims. The Europeans have elevated the right to not be offended above the right to life; they’ve elevated the right to not be offended above the right to free speech, all in the name of some utopian vision of a society without standards.

Discarding those standards was supposed to make Europeans more free; it was supposed to allow Europeans to feel more comfortable. But the sad truth is that no society exists without certain standards and Europe has a new standard: enforcement of its “tolerance” via jail sentence, combined with tolerance of multiculturalism that sees tolerance itself as a Trojan horse. The notion of individual rights sprang from European soil. Now they’re beginning to die there.

PHOTO: Ben Shapiro speaking at the 2018 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. Photo by Gage Skidmore. Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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Convicted felon threatens concealed carry holder with gun. It doesn’t end well for the criminal.

Florida police are investigating a shooting outside a Cape Coral business after a law abiding concealed carry permit holder defended himself and another man from an armed felon.

What happened?

Cape Coral Police were called to a local roofing business Friday afternoon where they discovered 29-year-old Kevin Bruzos injured with multiple gunshot wounds. Bruzos is a convicted felon.

According to police, Bruzos threatened a man at the business with a firearm, left and returned where he threatened the same man again as well as another man. The second man was licensed to carry a concealed weapon — and he was.

The man with the concealed weapon drew his firearm and ordered Bruzos to drop his. However, instead of complying with the man’s orders, Bruzos pointed his weapon at the armed citizen, leaving the man with no choice but to neutralize the threat. He reportedly shot Bruzos multiple times, but not fatally.

Police arrived to the scene around 3:45 p.m., after which Bruzos was transported to a local hospital to be treated for his injuries.

Bruzos is “charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and possession of a weapon by a convicted felon,” according to police. The armed citizen who shot Bruzos in self-defense is not facing charges, police said.

Court records show Bruzos has previously been charged with third-degree battery, drug possession and criminal mischief, according to The News-Press.

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Prosecutors Grill Comey as U.S. Attorney’s Office ‘Seriously’ Weighs Charging McCabe

A new report says the D.C. U.S. Attorney’s office recently interviewed fired FBI Director James Comey, in what is being described as “an indication the office is seriously considering” whether former bureau Deputy Andrew McCabe should face criminal charges.

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UK contractor to pay $20 million to settle lawsuit claiming it overcharged US Navy

U.K. contractor Inchcape Shipping Services Holdings Limited has agreed to pay $20 million to settle a lawsuit alleging the company intentionally over-billed the U.S. Navy under contracts for ship husbanding services.

The marine services contractor violated the False Claims Act, the U.S. Department of Justice announced this week.

Inchcape provided ships with food and other survival items, waste removal, telephone services, ship-to-shore transportation, force protection services and local transportation to U.S. Navy ships.

The Navy ships were located at ports in southwest Asia, Africa, Panama, North America, South America and Mexico.

The lawsuit alleged that from 2005 to 2014, Inchcape submitted intentionally inflated invoices for goods and services, and in some instances even double billed.

“Federal contractors may only charge the government for costs allowed by their federal contracts. The Department of Justice will take action against contractors that knowingly submit inflated claims to the armed forces — or any other agency of the United States — as those inflated claims wrongfully divert taxpayer dollars,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad Readler said.

U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Jessie Liu said: “We trust contractors supporting our warfighters to act with the utmost integrity and expect them to comply with their obligations to bill the government as called for by their contracts. This settlement reflects our Office’s strong commitment to holding accountable those who violate these fundamental principles, no matter where they may be located.”

“This settlement demonstrates that the Department of the Navy will continue to hold contractors accountable for the agreements they make to supply our fleet. The Department expects strict adherence to higher standards within the Department and expects the same from its contractors,” Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer said.

Jeremy Gauthier, Special Agent in Charge of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service’s (NCIS) D.C. field office, said: “Fraud is an abuse of the system that siphons resources away from the American warfighter. NCIS will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to hold responsible those who would put personal gain above corporate integrity.”

Read more from American Military News…

Breaking: A big development in the case against Harvey Weinstein

Harvey Weinsten, the disgraced Hollywood movie mogul, has been indicted on criminal sex and rape charges according to a statement from the Manhattan district attorney’s office.

Here’s what happened 

Weinstein was arrested Friday on first and third-degree rape charges stemming from accusations by two women, one identified as a former acting student. He was released on $1 million bail, but ordered to wear an ankle bracelet.

“This indictment brings the defendant another step closer to accountability for the crimes of violence with which he is now charged,” said district attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. on Wednesday.

“Our office will try this case not in the press, but in the courtroom where it belongs,” he added. “The defendant’s recent assault on the integrity of the survivors and the legal process is predictable. We are confident that when the jury hears the evidence, it will reject these attacks out of hand.”

Earlier during the hearing, Weinstein’s attorney indicated that he would not be testifying on his behalf in front of the grand jury. Weinsten has denied the charges against him.

Weinstein’s defense

Weinstein’s defense attorney Ben Brafman told reporters Tuesday that one of the accusers had a longtime relationship with the movie producer, in an attempt to cast doubt on the allegations.

“This is an extraordinary case in my judgement where the only rape victim that Mr. Weinstein is accused of raping is someone with whom he has had a 10-year consensual sexual relationship,” Brafman said, “both before and after the alleged incident.”

Brafman came under fire for his previous statement in defense of his client, when he said that Weinstein “did not invent the casting couch in Hollywood.”

The beginning of the “Me Too” movement

The “open secret” of Weinstein’s abuses spurred the “Me Too” movement when it was finally documented and revealed numerous accusations from his alleged victims. The culture of silence that helped him allegedly continue to wield his power to pressure and abuse women was unveiled in the entertainment industry, and encouraged other victims to reveal their abuse in other parts of society.

Some have claimed that the movement has gone too far and has caused false or exaggerated accusations to be made against men who were unfairly harmed in a courtroom of unaccountable public opinion.

Here’s a local news story on the indictment:

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Is the FBI Trying to Bolster Its War on Cryptography?

Christopher WrayIf you were to take law enforcement at its word, you would believe that the encryption techniques that secure our data actually end up serving criminals who would do us harm. For the past few years, the FBI and other authorities have revived the “War on Crypto” because they say it prevents them from accessing devices that they need to bring killers and terrorists to justice.

FBI director Christopher Wray has been fond of claiming that the Bureau was locked out of some 7,775 devices last year. In January, he argued that “being unable to access nearly 7,800 devices in a single year is a major public safety issue.”

It turns out that the FBI wildly inflated those figures, according to the Washington Post. The Bureau still doesn’t know the exact number of devices that have apparently been so central in the miscarriage of justice. If previous numbers are to be believed—which have hovered around 700 to 800 devices—the true number is probably closer to 1,000.

The FBI told the Post that “programming errors” were responsible for the over-counting, since they were apparently pulling their numbers from three separate databases. But that excuse seems awfully convenient, given the agency’s recent antagonism towards security technologies.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) issued a scathing letter to the FBI in response to their admission of error, chiding that because the FBI is “struggling with basic arithmetic” it should “not be in the business of dictating the design of advanced cryptographic algorithms.” He pointedly noted that such a major miscalculation could either be the product of “sloppy work” or something more nefarious: “pushing a legislative agenda.”

Could this “accidental miscounting” have been a purposeful ploy to undermine strong encryption? A review of the FBI’s recent public and behind-the-scenes activities certainly makes it look that way. The agency has been engaged in an all-out public war on encryption using emotional rhetoric to push for the access into our devices they have long sought.

Encryption technologies have been a chief bugaboo of America’s top feds for about as long as these security technologies have been available to the public, which is to say for most of you and I’s experiences on the internet. In the 90’s, authorities argued that strong encryption techniques were a kind of munition, and tried to prevent computer scientists from deploying security measures. Thankfully, the computer scientists won the previous battles over public-key encryption.

But the question of device encryption has taken on a new political urgency following the high-profile attacks in San Bernardino in December of 2015. With the so-called “Going Dark” problem, authorities argue that the measures that keep our phones secure can prevent them from accessing critical data in an investigation. Thus, they want technology companies to build special government access into our phones, called a “backdoor.”

It is easy to sympathize with investigators who work to bring criminals to justice. But unfortunately, with the San Bernardino incident, it looks like FBI leadership was more motivated by a general antipathy to encryption than a specific need to access particular data.

Consider the specifics of the case. Authorities could have discreetly and respectfully approached engineers for solutions to access suspected terrorist Syed Rizwan Farook’s locked iPhone. After all, the FBI was eventually able to access the phone through a technical tool purchased by a private vendor. No across-the-board security-limiting technology changes needed.

But that’s not what the FBI did. Instead, it engaged in a public-relations blitz against Apple to argue that government operatives needed a backdoor into all of our devices so that they could access data at their leisure. The feds pushed this issue all the way through the courts, attempting to litigate a backdoor, until it eventually turned tail when it was able to access the data without it.

An inspector general’s report from March finds that the FBI “may not have been interested in researching all possible solutions” and “[delayed seeking] and obtaining vendor assistance that ultimately proved fruitful.” One Bureau employee told the IG that the San Bernardino case was viewed as a “poster child” for the Going Dark crusade. As Sen. Wyden’s letter points out, the report suggests that “the FBI was more interested in establishing a powerful legal precedent than gaining access to the terrorist’s iPhone.”

Other evidence corroborates the theory that the intelligence community used Apple as a convenient foil to promote their crusade against encryption as well. In August of 2015, a top lawyer for US intelligence urged authorities to wait for “a terrorist attack of criminal event where strong encryption can be shown to have hindered law enforcement.” Officials could then take advantage of that tragedy to pull on America’s heart strings and put pressure on legislators to finally mandate the backdoors for which they have long salivated. Just a few months later, San Bernardino presented a perfect opportunity.

Thankfully, there has not been another “San Bernardino” that authorities could exploit to promote their political ends. Perhaps this is why the FBI turned to numbers, instead. Without a newsworthy event to point to, FBI director Wray may have found the sky-high number of reported locked phones to be a convenient rhetorical fallback.

But even the lower figure deserves our scrutiny. The mere presence of a locked device in some investigation on its own is not very compelling. Perhaps there is no relevant information on the device. Maybe the device belonged to some suspect who was later cleared. And how many devices are associated with a single case? The lower figure that the FBI provided likely contains many such instances.

What we need to know is how many investigations were significantly hindered because authorities could not access specific data on a specific device. It’s relatively rare for people to solely store data on their phone, given the rise of cloud computing. Much inference can be gleaned from metadata, which is often unencrypted. And perhaps the evidence on any particular device is redundant with other evidence, anyway.

Wyden demanded answers to these and related questions in his blistering rebuke to the FBI. Until we have more information on how many cases fall into this narrower and relevant bucket, we should take the FBI’s figures with a grain a salt.

The FBI should not have inflated the number of devices that they say they cannot access. This egregious error would be especially contemptible if it was a naked lie in pursuit of a policy goal. But even if those figures were true, it wouldn’t really change the Going Dark debate. Undermining encryption would make us all less secure, no matter what the justification for doing this. The FBI’s recent “miscalculations” and behind-the-scenes antagonism toward security technologies suggest that the agency is unfortunately far from internalizing these truths.

Read more from Reason.com…

The ‘Real Butcher of the Balkans’ was NATO

More than 20 years after the Srebrenica massacre, Bosnian Serb General Ratko Mladić was found guilty of war crimes by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia this past November. Along with Mladić, the ICTY convicted the other so-called “Butcher of Bosnia”, the Bosnian Serb and former Republika Sprska leader Radovan Karadžić in 2016. Meanwhile, it fully exonerated the Bosnian Muslim army commander Naser Orić of similar charges which outraged the people of Serbia. Yet, it was the same court that posthumously exonerated former Serbian President Slobodan Milošević in 2016. If you weren’t aware of the latter, it’s because it was not widely reported in Western media. Milošević is still generally viewed to be the central villain of the entire conflict even though the charges against him didn’t hold up, but not until a decade after he died of heart failure while on trial in the Hague. The ICTY in its ruling stated “there was no sufficient evidence presented in this case to find that Slobodan Milošević agreed with the common plan to create territories ethnically cleansed of non-Serbs.” The ICTY, established in violation of the UN charter, is itself viewed to be an arm of NATO and biased against the Serbs but even it seems to have determined that any alleged war crimes and ethnic cleansing by the Bosnian Serbs was strictly a Karadžić-Mladić affair and not part of a chain of command leading to Milošević.

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Schock Loses Appeal of Criminal Indictment

“A three-judge panel of a federal appeals court on Wednesday rejected former Rep. Aaron Schock’s (R-IL) effort to throw out his criminal indictment, a major setback for the Illinois Republican’s efforts to avoid a trial on corruption charges,” Politico reports.

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Why Police Have Problems Returning Stolen Guns

Guns get stolen, unfortunately. While most of us try to secure our weapons as best we can; unless you have an actual safe, that doesn’t necessarily keep your guns safe from a determined thief. And as a result, the guns law-abiding citizens bought and paid for end up on the streets in the hands of criminals.

And while police often arrest people with those guns, they appear to be having problems returning them to the rightful owners, according to a spokesperson with the police in Saint Louis.

Every year, Louisville police officers take hundreds of guns off the streets. Some of them were purchased legally, but were being used illegally. Some were confiscated during arrests or drug searches. Some were owned by felons.

And some were stolen — though only a small percentage of those were likely reported as stolen.

Louisville Metro Police Department Officer Tyler Blissett said it’s likely more weapons are stolen than what’s reported.

Blissett has helped LMPD to recover more than 100 firearms so far this year, and said many guns are stolen from people who don’t remember their weapons’ serial numbers.

When gun-owners can’t report those serial numbers, it’s nearly impossible to return a stolen gun to its owner.

“There’s a chance that half of these guns that we’ve recovered are potentially stolen, but people just don’t have the serial numbers so we don’t know if they are stolen or not,” Blissett said. “A lot of these reports that have been going for stolen handguns — [gun owners] don’t have serial numbers. So potentially, that gun never gets recovered.”

It’s a real problem, and I get it. So many people purchase their guns and then never look at the serial number. It’s not something they think about, in part because they’ll never need it unless it gets stolen. Since the vast majority of guns are never taken by a criminal, a lot of people never bother to think about it again.

However, if something does happen and your guns are stolen, it’s too late to gather serial numbers for the police.

Luckily, there are things you can do.

The most obvious option is to just write them down on a piece of paper and stick it somewhere you’ll be able to find it. A good place would be anywhere you keep your important documents such as in a fireproof safe or in a safety deposit box.

However, if you’re like a lot of people these days, you don’t do paper so much anymore, and that’s fine too. Keeping a digital file of serial numbers can work just fine too, but you have to be smart about it. Unless a thief is only targeting your guns, there’s a good chance your computer will get jacked as well. Leaving those serial numbers there and there alone may end up being just as bad as not recording them at all.

Instead, consider uploading the file to a cloud service like Google Drive. Then you can access that information from any computer and forward the information to police so they can list the serial numbers in their report. If you’re uncomfortable storing data on a cloud service, there are options.

One is to keep a USB drive with the relevant information handy. As the drives are cheap, they’re not likely to attract a thieves attention. However, they’re also small, so if you’re not an organized sort, this might not be the best idea.

Another option is to use a web-based email service like Gmail or Yahoo and upload your file to an email draft, then never send it. The system will store it indefinitely as a draft, but it will be somewhere that no one would generally even think of looking for such information.

Now, some might want to keep the data on their phone, and that has an allure, but I recommend against it. Phones can be stolen themselves and the last thing you want is thieves to know what kind of guns you have. A smart criminal may be able to use the information on the phone to find out where you live. I can think of a couple of ways, though I’ll opt not to list them lest I give someone ideas.

Folks, keep your serial numbers handy. If God forbid, your guns get stolen, I’d much rather the police have the opportunity to return them to you rather than destroy them because they don’t know whose they are.

 

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