Ohio Woman Arrested Over Gun After SHE Called Police

H/T Bearing Arms.

This is one more reason I like living in Indiana you are not required by law to report you have a License To Carry A Handgun and are armed.

Duty to inform” is a legal obligation on a gun owner to tell police they’re armed during any kind of contact with law enforcement. Some people, especially police officers, like this because it keeps surprises to a minimum. Some gun carriers do it even without a duty to inform because they don’t want officers getting punchy if they see a firearm.

Obviously, there are some who want this to be the law of the land.

I’m not one of them. Frankly, I don’t tell the police I’m a registered voter, or that I exercise my right to free speech on a daily basis, so I don’t see any reason to tell them I’m exercising my right to keep and bear arms. I just also make sure they have no reason to suspect I’m reaching for a firearm, either.

Frankly, I do that whether I’m armed or not.

Part of why I oppose duty to inform laws is that people in stressful situations may well forget to tell the police things. That includes that they’re armed for whatever reason. That seems to have landed one Ohio woman in handcuffs after she called the police herself.

In the fight to change the law regarding the duty to promptly notify a law enforcement officer that one is legally exercising their right to bear arms in the State of Ohio, Buckeye Firearms Association is often asked what harm is the current law actually causing.

Another such example comes to us this week from the city of Warren, where a woman who called police for help in removing a wanted man from her home was charged for having forgotten to notify the officer that she had a concealed handgun license (CHL) and had her firearm in her purse.

From WMFJ (NBC Youngstown):

A Warren woman who called the police to remove a man from her home was cited for failing to tell officers she had a gun in her purse.

Police say they seized the conceal carry permit and handgun from Ashley Heiskell after she had called officers to remove a man who was at her Commerce Street townhouse early Tuesday.

Officers arrested the man after confirming Heiskell’s claim that he is wanted on a warrant out of Cuyahoga County.

One of the officers also asked dispatchers about the 33-year-old woman and discovered Heiskell had a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

When the officer asked her about the permit, she showed him a 9mm handgun she carried in her purse.

Asked why she didn’t tell officers that she had the gun as required under Ohio law and taught in CCW classes, Heiskell said she didn’t know she had to do that and didn’t remember much about the classes, according to the police report.

Police issued a summons for Heiskell to appear in Warren Municipal Court to answer a charge of failure to notify. The officer also took Heiskell’s gun and the permit.

This woman was literally charged because she had armed herself when a wanted man was in her home and neglected to mention that fact to the responding officers.

Now, I’m sorry, nothing about this is right and this right here is why I refuse to support any duty to inform laws. While I believe it’s no one’s business whether I’m carrying or not, I also don’t want to see someone get jammed up because they either didn’t know they had to tell police or they simply forgot under the stress of the situation.

Look, I have a lot of respect for the police. However, we all need to remember that while some officers are very pro-Second Amendment, others aren’t. They take an “us versus them” approach to society and will find anything to charge you with that they can. These aren’t the majority of officers, but there are enough of them that you have to be careful.

Removing duty to inform laws simply makes life easier for everyone.

Bankrupt and Dying from Cancer, Ulysses S. Grant Waged His Greatest Battle

H/T History.com.

Ulysses “Sam” Grant did while dying did what most healthy men could not he wrote his complete biography leaving his family financially well off.

Aided by Mark Twain, the former president and Civil War hero raced to complete a literary masterpiece that saved his wife from destitution.

Shortly before noon on May 6, 1884, Ulysses S. Grant entered the office of his Wall Street brokerage firm a wealthy man. Hours later, he exited a pauper.

Thanks to a pyramid scheme operated by his unscrupulous partner, Ferdinand Ward, Grant’s investment firm had instantly collapsed, wiping out his life savings. “When I went downtown this morning I thought I was worth a great deal of money, now I don’t know that I have a dollar,” the swindled Civil War hero lamented to a former West Point classmate. In fact, Grant had all of $80 to his name. His wife, Julia, had another $130. Kind-hearted strangers responded by mailing Grant checks. Desperate to pay his bills, the former U.S. president cashed them.

Still smarting from bankruptcy’s bitter sting, Grant that summer suffered from an excruciating sting in his throat as well. When he finally visited a doctor in October, Grant learned he had incurable throat and tongue cancer, likely a product of his longtime cigar-smoking habit. 

Grant had been no stranger to financial misfortune. Failing as a farmer and a rent collector prior to the Civil War, he lived in a log cabin that he dubbed “Hardscrabble” and sold firewood on the streets of St. Louis to make ends meet. However, now that he was confronting the terrifying prospect of leaving Julia a penniless widow, the grizzled general who fought to save the Union undertook one final mission to save his family from impoverishment.

Mark Twain paid Grant to publish his memoirs

Ulysses S. Grant and his family


Former Civil War General and U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885) sits (center, with top hat) for a family portrait with his wife, Julia Dent Grant, and their children and grandchildren at the family’s seaside cottage in Long Branch, New Jersey, circa 1883.

Oscar White/Corbis/VCG/Getty Images

Divested of his property and possessions, Grant still retained something of great value—his recollections of past glories. Lurking behind the taciturn façade was a convivial storyteller who entertained friends such as Mark Twain with yarns of war and politics. “While we think of Grant as silent and reserved, he was a captivating raconteur with a dry wit and a ready fund of stories,” says Ron Chernow, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Grant.

For years Twain had suggested that Grant pen his memoirs. Now destitute, the former president finally agreed to cash in on his celebrity. In need of financial rescue himself after a series of failed investments, the debt-ridden Twain inked Grant to a contract with his newly launched publishing house and gave him a $1,000 check to cover living expenses.

Engaged in a furious race against time as the cancer attacked his body, Grant dug into his writing with military efficiency, churning out as many as 10,000 words in a single day. “Grant approached his memoirs with the same grit and determination as he tackled his Civil War battles,” says Chernow, who also serves as executive producer of HISTORY’s documentary series “Grant.” “As in those encounters, he was thorough and systematic, a real stickler for precision and the truth. In his home, he amassed tall stacks of orders and maps that helped him to recreate his most famous battles with minute fidelity. In war and in writing, Grant had the most amazing ability to marshal all his energy in the pursuit of a single goal.”

Grant astounded Twain with not just the quantity, but the quality of his prose. “Grant prided himself on his writing skills,” Chernow says. “His wartime orders were renowned for their economy and exactness, and he made a point of writing all his own speeches as president—something unthinkable today.”


With just weeks to live, Grant made one final push

Ulysses S. Grant


Ulysses S. Grant reading on a house porch, thought to be the last photograph taken before his death, 1885.

Afro American Newspapers/Gado/Getty Images

Grant penned his manuscript until his hand grew too feeble in the spring of 1885, forcing him to employ a stenographer. Even speaking, however, became laborious as his condition deteriorated. Following the advice of doctors who vouched for the salubrious power of pure mountain air, Grant decamped at the onset of summer from his Manhattan brownstone to an Adirondack resort north of Saratoga Springs. In a cottage on the slopes of Mount McGregor, Grant launched his final campaign to complete his tome.

With excruciating pain accompanying every swallow, Grant was unable to eat solid food. His body withered by the day. The voice that once commanded armies could barely muster a whisper. “He endured great pain with incredible stoicism,” says Ben Kemp, operations manager at the U.S. Grant Cottage State Historic Site. While Grant’s doctors gave him morphine only sparingly in order to keep his mind clear for writing, they swabbed his throat with cocaine to provide topical pain relief and used hypodermic needles to inject him with brandy during the worst of his coughing fits.

Through it all, Grant persisted in honing his manuscript—editing, adding new pages and poring over proofs of his first volume—as he sat on the cottage porch on even the steamiest of days swaddled in blankets, a wool hat and a scarf covering his neck tumor, which was now “as big as a man’s two fists put together” according to the New York Sun. When his voice finally abandoned him, Grant scribbled his thoughts in pencil on small slips of paper.

When Twain visited Grant at the cottage, he brought the good news that he had already pre-sold 100,000 copies of the autobiography. A relieved Grant knew he had succeeded in giving Julia and his children financial security. “Taking care of his family is all that mattered at that point,” Kemp says. “Grant knew at that moment this was going to be a success. Like in a battle, that was the moment he knew the tide had turned.”

With his mission accomplished, Grant finally laid down his pen on July 16 after crafting a herculean 366,000 words in less than a year. “There is nothing more I should do to it now, and therefore I am not likely to be more ready to go than at this moment,” he wrote. Seven days later, Grant’s pulse flickered and ultimately gave out.

Grant’s autobiography was a commercial and literary smash

Ulysses S. Grant memoir


The personal memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant.

MPI/Getty Images

Employing an army of door-to-door salesmen, Twain sold more than 300,000 copies of the Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant. The two-volume boxed set even outsold Twain’s latest work, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and resulted in Julia Grant receiving $450,000 in royalties (equivalent to $12 million today).

Grant’s memoir proved not just a commercial success, but a literary one as well. Although Grant omitted discussion of his presidency or sensitive personal matters such as his drinking, many scholars consider his autobiography the finest memoir ever penned by an American president and perhaps the foremost military memoir in the English language. “The emotion of the situation probably lent energy and eloquence to his work,” Chernow says. “In all likelihood, he had narrated many of these stories in the years since the war and they had acquired a certain smoothness and polish in the retelling.”

“There was no doubt among his family and friends that Grant had willed himself to stay alive to complete the book,” Chernow says. “He may have originally undertaken the memoirs to provide for his wife after his death, but it must also have soothed and consoled him at the end of his life to recount his glorious victories in the Civil War.”

Research Update: It’s [Still] Not the Guns


Mark  Twain once said there are Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics.

Much has changed since last summer. In July 2020, notoriously anti-gun researchers circulated a paper that alleged an association between what they deemed “excess” gun purchases early in the pandemic and violence. This year, the same researchers disproved their original findings with the addition of new data.

Doctor Garen Wintemute and his team at the University of California Firearm Violence Research Center at UC Davis found no association between what they dubbed “excess” firearm purchases and non-domestic firearm violence, and the association they found between excess purchases and domestic firearm violence through May disappeared when either state trends were included in the model or when June and July were added to the time frame.

The findings are buried in the UC Davis press release. ABC News dedicated an article to the original study, but there’s no mention of the newly published research. Bloomberg’s “reporters” at The Trace spent over 700 words on the original study. They added a brief note to that article with a single sentence about the new and contradictory research.

“News” outlets reported on the original non-peer-reviewed paper but spent little to no ink on the new research published in the journal Injury Epidemiology.

Instead, CNN published a piece entitled, “How crime stats lie — and what you need to know to understand them” that cited an anti-gun web scraper for statistics to show an increase in “gun violence.” CNN, of course, used the combined total of suicides, homicides, accidents, and every other intent but focused in on homicides and inserted this line:

“Gun sales also soared during the pandemic.”

That line could only be intended to suggest causality, as if the increase in firearm sales was responsible for the reported increase in homicides. This makes no sense on its face and certainly not considering the latest research from UC Davis. Reports from retailers indicated that self-defense was the primary reason for obtaining a firearm during an unprecedented year of civil unrest, inmate releases, and efforts to defund the police.

Thanks to Wintemute’s team at UC Davis, there is evidence of no association between “excess” firearm sales and increasing firearm-related violence during the early months of the pandemic.

One might say that Wintemute found a protective effect of firearms against non-domestic violence though the results may not be statistically significant. The finding related to domestic violence is what the anti-gun crowd will promote but it does not hold up to scrutiny.

Wintemute’s team claims that “Increases in purchasing may have contributed to additional firearm injuries from domestic violence in April and May.”

The researchers’ found a positive association for April and May when they included “COVID-19 cases and deaths, mobility [a supposed measure of social distancing adherence, using cell phone data], unemployment, baseline firearm purchasing rates, police violence during the George Floyd protests, stay-at-home orders, and average temperature” in the model.”

Take those out, and April no longer has an association between “excess” purchases and firearm-related domestic violence. Add in state-specific linear trends, and both April and May lose the claimed association.

The UC Davis findings are very much dependent on the model specification.

Also of interest is the decrease in effect as successive months of “excess” purchases are added to the model. How could there be an association between “excess” sales and domestic violence through April and May, but not through June or July?

Wintemute and his team claim there were more “excess” purchases in June and July than in any prior month in the study period. June 2020 had the highest number of NICS checks ever (until December 2020). There’s nothing to suggest that “excess” purchases in April and May should be associated with violence but not later “excess” purchases.

As each new month is added, the effect of so-called “excess” purchases on domestic violence perpetrated with firearms decreases. April and May saw a lower rate ratio – meaning a weaker effect – than April; April through June saw a lower rate ratio than April and May; and, April through July saw a lower rate ratio than April through June. One might reasonably expect any effect from “excess purchases” to increase as the excess stock increases in aggregate but that is not the case in this analysis. The final two time frames were not statistically significant – there was no association between “excess purchases” and domestic violence.

We debunked the notion of excess purchases last summer, when the original article came out and now Wintemute and his staff at the Firearm Violence Research Center at UC Davis have rejected the theory of an association between the so-called “excess” purchases and violence.

Bloomberg-funded researcher Daniel Webster commented on the study for The Guardian and provided the sort of dizzying spin usually reserved for desperate politicians.

It seems Webster wanted a way to reconcile these findings with the anti-gun worldview. Webster offered that perhaps more Americans were willing to carry their firearms, or that the surge in sales was predominantly existing gun owners, or that the increase in homicides may be due to increased illegal carrying of firearms.

Well, he may be on to something with that last trial balloon. Webster referenced reports of an increase in weapons found during arrests in several cities even as the pandemic and other 2020 pressures reduced the overall number of arrests. Key in on the phrase, “during arrests.”

In other words, criminals.

An increase in criminal behavior just so happens to coincide an increase in certain types of crime. Next, they’ll tell us that background checks don’t impact crime.

That’s right – both criminals and from Wintemute and Webster, whose previous research determined that California’s universal background check law had no effect on homicide rates, have already proved this.

It’s what we’ve been saying all along.

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the “lobbying” arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess, and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Visit: http://www.nra.org

TV Commercials Are Getting Much Louder—Here’s Why

H/T Mental Floss.

Commercials are the reason I pay more for my streaming video so I can avoid the Damned Commercials.

Before the rise of VCRs, DVRs, and premium channels, to watch television was to endure commercial breaks. That episode of Webster was free to view, but only if you considered sitting through margarine ads a fair trade-off.

Thanks to streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime, monthly subscriptions have largely taken the place of ad blocks. But that doesn’t mean advertising is going away. In fact, it’s getting louder—and streamers aren’t exempt.

According to Business Insider writer Walt Hickey, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) received more than double the typical number of complaints about excessively loud commercials between November 2020 and February 2021. That’s for broadcast, cable, and streaming spots. (Streamers like Hulu offer ad-supported tiers that are less expensive than ad-free subscriptions.)

Advertisers are, of course, looking to capture the attention of audiences. But the FCC is supposed to cap commercial audio volume via the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act of 2011, which put standards in place beginning in December 2012 for excessive increases compared to regular programming. While it’s not a government-endorsed volume knob, it does help monitor and regulate excessive ad noise by mandating it’s no louder than program dialogue.

The problem is that the FCC rarely enforces the CALM Act. And if it did, it would apply only to broadcast and cable. The FCC has no jurisdiction over Amazon or any other streaming service blasting your eardrums.

Instead, in the years following the introduction of the CALM Act, stations were expected to self-monitor and report any abnormalities. The honor system went about as well as you’d expect, with hardly anyone raising their hand so the FCC could scold or fine them. Instead, some advertisers devised a cheat, editing commercials to have 15 seconds of silence and 15 seconds of loud audio. On balance, it was an “average” volume compared to programming. (The FCC closed that loophole, at least.)

With lax enforcement and no oversight on streaming, what else can be done? On a consumer level, viewers can look for a volume leveling option on their television, streaming stick, or soundbar that will help moderate audio. This will vary by manufacturer, but going to “Settings” and looking under “Audio” should give you the option.

This adjustment can also help with varying audio levels between streaming services or channels. At TechHive, writer Jared Newman found YouTube TV was roughly 8 decibels higher than Netflix.

On an industry level, the Audio Engineering Society might be able to help. The organization sets media standards for audio that might be adopted as a matter of technical, not government, policy. Volume limits might be embedded in metadata of the programming itself. Until then, there’s always the mute button.

[h/t Simplemost]


H/T Smithsonian Magazine.

Exhibition in Illinois centers the stories of the 20,000 Jewish refugees who fled to the Chinese city during WWII.

When European Jews targeted by the Nazis sought help from nations around the world, most of their pleas went unanswered: At a 1938 conference of 32 countries, for instance, only the tiny Dominican Republic agreed to welcome additional German Jewish evacuees. Countries such as the United States, Canada and Cuba, meanwhile, turned away ships of desperate refugees at ports and tightened immigration laws.

While most places shut Jews out, one offered safe harbor: Shanghai, the cosmopolitan coastal city then under Japanese occupation. About 20,000 Jews settled in Shanghai between 1938 and 1941. But by 1943, Japan—under pressure from its German allies—had forced these stateless refugees into a one-square-mile ghetto known as the Hongkew District (now Hongkou).

In Shanghai’s so-called “Little Vienna,” residents had to contend with strict surveillance, overcrowding and rampant disease. But their Chinese neighbors treated them kindly, and refugees established synagogues and businesses that afforded a measure of stability compared to the devastation back home, as Barbara Demick wrote for the Los Angeles Times in 2012.

A yellowed image of a small girl and an older boy, smiling on the deck of a ship; dated 1939
Survivor Doris Fogel, pictured here, was just 4 years old when she and her mother made the journey to Shanghai. (Gift of Doris Fogel, in memory of her mother Edith Warschawski / Illinois Holocaust Museum)

Visitors to the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center in Skokie can now explore this lesser-known chapter of Chinese and Holocaust history at the “Shanghai: Safe Haven During the Holocaust” exhibition. On view through September 2022, the show highlights 22 large-scale snapshots by American journalist Arthur Rothstein, who photographed Hongkew on assignment for the United Nations in 1946.

Also featured are the stories and heirlooms of Chicago-area residents who once lived in the Chinese neighborhood, reports the Associated Press (AP).

Survivor Doris Fogel was just 4 years old when she fled Berlin for Shanghai, where her single mother found work in a soup kitchen.

“Sharing one room with four other people for five years, going without tap water for nearly a decade, using a bucket as a lavatory,” recalls Fogel in a statement. “… It made me tough, made me street smart. It made me learn how to take care of myself.”

A black and white image of many young children looking upward at the camera, many squinting as though bothered by the sun
Children of Stateless Refugees, Hongkew, Shanghai, China April 1946 (Photo by Arthur Rothstein / Illinois Holocaust Museum)
A black and white image of a woman sitting and heating a steaming pot on a small heated pot, with a man behind her and a bunk bed visible
Matzah Balls Made on a Chinese Fire Pot, Hongkew, Shanghai, China, April 1946 (Photo by Arthur Rothstein / Illinois Holocaust Museum)

Judy Fleischer Kolb’s family fled Germany the year after Kristallnacht, the Nazis’ brutal, November 1938 raid on Jewish communities. Her grandmother, Martha Frankenstein, successfully negotiated the release of her husband, Julius, from the Sachsenhausen concentration camp and sold most of the family fabric business to purchase boat tickets to Shanghai.

“Basically, when they left Germany, [my family] had to give up everything,” the now 81-year-old Kolb tells Smithsonian magazine.

Each family was allowed to bring 10 marks—about $4 USD at the time—and a smattering of clothing and furniture, which Martha used to illicitly stow some of her jewelry.

Kolb’s parents, Carla and Cantor Leopold Fleischer, married just one month before the group set sail on the 8,000-mile journey from Germany to a Yangtze River port. Kolb was born the following year, in March 1940.

Shanghai proved a popular destination for Jewish refugees in part because it allowed entry with both visas and boat tickets, such as the ones purchased by Kolb’s relatives. Heroic Chinese officials also went out of their way to offer shelter: Feng-Shan Ho, the Chinese chief consul in Berlin, defied orders and risked his job to issue thousands of visas to Jewish Austrians during the war.

Sometimes dubbed the “Chinese Schindler,” Ho “was reprimanded and ultimately fired,” as his granddaughter, Bettie Carlson, told Tyler Dague of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette last year.

A man and woman sit at a small table in an archway; the man reads the paper and the woman pours a cup of tea
Reading the Shanghai Herald, Hongkew, Shanghai, China, April 1946 (Photo by Arthur Rothstein / Illinois Holocaust Museum)

Even before World War II, Shanghai was home to a sizable Russian Jewish immigrant population, most of whom had fled the country following Vladimir Lenin’s rise to power in 1917, reports Ronan O’Connell for BBC TravelThese existing communities established housing and kitchens for the new refugees, ensuring that “people were well taken care of,” says Kolb.

In the exhibition, Rothstein’s images capture moments of levity amid dire poverty. Refugees sip tea and read the German-language Shanghai Herald outdoors, dine and play cards in mess halls, cook food in a ramshackle outdoor kitchen, and prepare matzo balls in a Chinese fire pot.

Likewise, in a family photograph from the same period, Kolb appears as a cheery toddler smiling and hugging her friends in a Hongkew school yard.

Despite everything, “I had a very happy childhood,” she says. “Of course, I no idea where I was, or that it wasn’t the ideal place to be.”

Kolb remembers playing in the courtyard with her Chinese neighbors—play being a “universal language,” as she never learned Mandarin—and eating pastries at a German bakery opened by her uncle.

Her parents’ official documents, resident papers and other ephemera are displayed in the exhibition. Kolb grew up sharing a bedroom with her grandparents; their room also doubled as an office for the transportation business that the family ran to keep afloat.

A group of men and some boys gather close to a posted list of names; on the side of a building, German writing is visible
Refugees Search Lists of Concentration Camp Survivors, Hongkew, Shanghai, China, April 1946 (Photo by Arthur Rothstein / Illinois Holocaust Museum)
A black and white image of three people working in an outdoor kitchen, cooking with laundry hanging behind them
Community Courtyard Kitchen and Laundry, Hongkew, Shanghai, China, April 1946 (Photo by Arthur Rothstein / Illinois Holocaust Museum)
A two-story building with porches and doors, crowded with people and laundry hanging to dry
Jewish communities in Shanghai established heime—German for “homes”—or communal living shelters for the thousands of refugees that arrived from Europe during World War II. Rothstein photographed Ward Road Heim, pictured here, and its inner courtyard in April 1946. (Photo by Arthur Rothstein / Illinois Holocaust Museum)

Hanging next to Rothstein’s photographs is a replica of one of the Kolb family’s most cherished possessions: a knitted red dress with faint gray trim and white buttons. Martha made the garment for her granddaughter shortly after her birth.

Another Rothstein image depicts a crowd of people scanning lists of names of concentration camp survivors after the war, presumably in search of news of their relatives and friends. Kolb’s father, Leopold, spent years desperately attempting to secure passage to Shanghai for his parents and sister. Despite his efforts, they were all deported and murdered at Auschwitz.

Leopold never let these horrors touch Kolb’s childhood.


“He still gave me this loving life, my whole life,” she says. “… As I look back, I think, coming from uncertain times, that maybe this was a little stability. It was something to keep [my parents’] minds off what was going on, that they had a child that they had to protect and take care of.”

The family obtained a sponsorship to travel to the U.S. in 1948 and arrived in San Francisco just shy of Kolb’s 8th birthday. They later moved to Chicago’s Hyde Park.

Kolb visited her birthplace, where memorials and a museum commemorate the now-vanished Jewish enclave, in 2005 and 2015. But it wasn’t until long after her parents and grandparents died that Kolb realized the full extent of what they must have gone through.

“I watched a documentary” about the Hongkew district, she recalls, “and I must have sat there with my mouth open. I could not believe the conditions of Shanghai and what people did to survive.”

Shanghai: Safe Haven During the Holocaust” is on view at the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center in Skokie through September 5, 2022.

A small red dress with white buttons and gray edging
Judy Kolb’s red knitted red dress, made by Martha Frankenstein, c. 1941, Shanghai, China. (A replica of this dress is included in the “Shanghai” exhibition; the original is on display in a different exhibition at the museum.) (Photo courtesy of Illinois Holocaust Museum)



Gun rights back at U.S. Supreme Court.

Civil rights group files amicus brief with U.S. Sup. Ct.

Every American has a Second Amendment right to self-defense, which is at the heart of an amicus brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court by Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership, supporting a challenge of New York State concealed carry laws by the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association.

JPFO is joined by the DC Project Foundation and Operation Blazing Sword—Pink Pistols. The brief was prepared by attorneys Charles R. Flores and Daniel N. Nightingale, Beck Redden LLP in Houston, Texas.

Jews, Blacks, Gays, Women and other victims of hatred are under increased threats, making them more vulnerable, JPFO contends.

“Whatever arguments may be made or invented for gender equality, men are at virtually no risk for rape. Police are incapable—and it is settled law that they are not even legally required—to act in defense of any individual,” said Alan Korwin, author and spokesperson for the organization. “When seconds count, citizens are on their own. The Supreme Court must act on behalf of the people, and remove New York’s unconstitutional ban on our right to bear arms for personal safety,” he said.

With calls for defunding the police rampant—and acted upon in some segments of society—the need for an unfettered ability to act in self-defense has become paramount, the organization said. This is one key element of the amicus brief filed today by JPFO. Both the Heller and McDonald decisions recognized the need for arms to defend “homes, families or themselves,” (referring specifically to Blacks), which was “widely held.” In McDonald the need for women is emphasized since they are “especially vulnerable to violent crime.” The LGBTQ community is disproportionately affected by violent crime, more than four times more likely and rising. Extensive statistics are backed up with citations and deep research included in the brief.

Requiring people to be defenseless is, in JPFO’s opinion, indefensible, violating not only the Constitution, human rights and common sense, but the Torah itself. So-called “gun-control” legislation exacerbates the problem.

“New York pretends its police can meet the need, but this is fantasy and goes against legal precedent,” JPFO said. “The New York law, which requires ‘proper cause’ to receive the nearly impossible-to-get carry permit, denies decent citizens the right to defend life, liberty and their constitutional rights, in an arbitrary and capricious manner. People of color, LGBTQ and religious groups face particular risk. The standards New York applies are unreasonable, designed to deny rights, not to protect citizens.”

To New York, even “a showing of extraordinary personal danger, documented by proof of recurrent threats to life or safety” (their unreasonable standard) gets turned down, JPFO said. That state believes you have no rights. This long standing unconstitutional and lethal affront must be overturned.

The Old Headquarters of Murder, Inc.

H/T Atlas Obscura.

Imagine running a murder for hire out of a candy store.

This otherwise innocuous bodega was once the headquarters of the most feared assassin’s guild in American history. 

The Old Headquarters of Murder Inc. Luke J Spencer Atlas Obscura user


ON THE CORNER OF SARATOGA and Livonia Avenues in Brownsville, Brooklyn, there used to be a 24 hour candy store. 

During the 1930s and 40s, the Midnight Rose Candy Store, located under the elevated portion of the 3 subway train, was run by a little old lady in her 60’s, Mrs. Rosie Gold. It’s hard to imagine a more innocuous and unoffending picture. But all was not as it seemed at the Midnight Rose, for this was the secret headquarters of one of the most infamous and deadly groups in the history of organized crime: Murder, Inc. 

Murder Incorporated was created in the 1930s to act as the execution squad of the newly formed National Crime Syndicate. The death squad was comprised of mostly Jewish and Italian gangsters centered around the Brownsville neighbourhood of Brooklyn. Exact numbers aren’t known, but it is estimated that Murder Inc., carried out 400-1000 executions, making the innocent looking candy store responsible for more murders than anywhere else in the United States. 

The National Crime Syndicate was the ruling elite of East Coast organized crime, counting amongst their ruthless members Lucky Luciano, Meyer Lansky, Bugsy Siegel and Dutch Shultz. Murder Inc. was run by  Louis “Lepke” Buchalter and Albert Anastasia, known as the ‘Lord High Executioner’. The group of killers were paid a basic retaining salary and a freelancer fee for each hit of anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000. Rosie Gold kept a wall of pay phones along the back wall of the candy store; the members of Murder Inc., would pass the time at the Midnight Rose, sipping on Rosie’s malted milks until one of the phones rang, giving the details of the hit.

The group included such cold blooded killers as Abe “Kid Twist” Reles, “Pittsburgh Phil” Strauss, Allie “Tic Toc” Tannenbaum, and Martin “Buggsy” Goldstein. As the murders were carried out by men unknown to the victims, Murder Inc., was able to remain unassociated with executions that took place all along the East Coast, and as far west as Detroit. Strangers were often dispatched at the whim of the National Crime Syndicate with the preferred weapon of choice for Murder Inc., the ice pick. 

The assassins eventually met their downfall in 1940 when “Kid Twist” Reles was caught by a police informant. Ratting on each of his colleagues, the majority of members of Murder Inc., would go on to meet their own grisly ends in the electric chair at Sing Sing. On November 12th, 1941, whilst staying at the Half Moon Hotel in Coney Island under 24 hour police supervision, Kid Twist was found dead after falling seven stories from his room. The case was never solved, but it seems likely that he paid the price for turning informant. As one member of the National Crime Syndicate is supposed to have said of Reles, “the canary could sing, but he couldn’t fly.”

With most of its members in prison or executed, Murder Inc., faded into memory; but immortalized in film, literature, and television shows such as “Boardwalk Empire” and Neil Kleid & Jake Allen’s comic book “Brownsville” (2006), their name has passed into legend.

Rosie Gold disappeared into obscurity, but her corner candy store is still there, on the corner of Saratoga and Livonia. For the past three years it has been a 24 hour bodega. The current owner when interviewed had no idea that his corner deli was once the headquarters of one of  the most feared collection of assassins in American history. The row of telephones have gone, and with it the ring of an incoming call that would have meant the end of someone’s life at the deadly hands of Murder Incorporated. 

The “Real” Cardiff Giant

H/T Atlas Obscura.

It turned out to be a giant hoax. Pun intended.

Fort Dodge Museum
Fort Dodge, Iowa

Hidden in the grounds of the Fort Dodge Museum is a “real” and terrifying petrified giant.


THE FORT DODGE MUSEUM, AS far as historical reconstructions go, is pretty customary. This well-curated reconstruction of a pre-Civil War military fort has been around for decades. Historic additions like log cabins, a one-roomed schoolhouse, and a general store are standard fare in these places. But there is something unusual, a hidden treasure in the back of the grounds, that makes this place special.

An octagonal building stands just outside the back gate of the fort with no particular signage to warn you of what you are about to experience. Entering the front door, you come to a significant depression below floor level. The building was constructed around a now-walled pit, the location of what appears to be a significant archaeological dig. Within the pit lies a petrified giant, over 10 feet tall. Everything about the giant is giant; His ears are huge, his head is massive, his arms lengthy, his feet colossal, his intimates… well, everything is huge.

In 1868, New York tobacconist George Hull, visiting his sister in a nearby Iowa town, started a debate with a traveling revivalist who loved to quote scripture in Genesis about giants in the earth. An idea sprung into Hull’s head, a grand hoax that might make him some money and expose the fool-preachers buzzing around America. Hull was a fired-up agnostic, an instigator, and an avid entrepreneur.

He traveled to the gypsum quarry in Ft. Dodge, bought a five-ton block of rock for a barrel of beer, and had it shipped to Chicago where he hired an artist and stonecutter to create a giant in stone. He instructed them to take the utmost care in aging the stone and making it look a real as possible. The petrified “giant” was shipped to a farm near Cardiff, New York, and buried in a field for a year. With a few paid insiders, Hull pulled off one of the greatest hoaxes in American history. For over a year, Hull fooled scientists, scholars, preachers, and common folk into what they thought was the eighth wonder of the world. Hull especially loved preacher’s proclamations of the petrified giant as clear proof the book of Genesis was true.

Hull made boatloads of money on people paying a dollar piece to see the archaeological miracle. Mark Twain wrote a couple of articles and a short story about the Petrified Man. Twain appreciated a good gaff on the American people. P.T. Barnum tried to lease the Cardiff Giant, as it became known, but when rebuffed by Hull, he had his own made declaring it the real giant. Years after the hoax was exposed (the giant became known as “Old Hoaxy”) it continued to travel across the U.S., displayed at state fairs, carnivals, and even a World’s Fair. Today, Hull’s original giant resides in the Farmer’s Museum in Cooperstown, New York. Barnum’s fake of the fake is in Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanic Museum in Farmington Hills, Michigan.

Fort Dodge’s own giant was “discovered” in a block of Fort Dodge gypsum, right on this spot, exactly 100 years after the first fake giant was found in New York. Artist Cliff Carson said that as he took his chisel to the gypsum, the stone fell away revealing a giant big toe. A few more hits revealed a huge foot. He had discovered the real giant, encased in gypsum. A Blue-Ribbon Commission, after carefully examining the body, declared this was a true petrified stone giant.

A few minutes with the giant will make you a believer in the real Cardiff Giant. All the others are hoaxes.

Know Before You Go

The Fort Dodge Museum is open every day from 10:00 – 5:00.  Entrance fees range from free to $10. There is nothing on the website about the giant. This is to keep it a surprise for visitors. 

Wisconsin Man Charged with Multiple Felonies for Voting Twice in 2020 Presidential Election

H/T Western Journal.

There will beyond a doubt more election fraud uncovered by sadly the election results will not be over turned.

A Wisconsin man who cast two absentee ballots in the 2020 presidential election has been charged with four felonies, making him the second person in the battleground state to face charges stemming from the election.

Former President Donald Trump has claimed there was widespread fraud in Wisconsin, a state that President Joe Biden won by just under 21,000 votes.

Charges of election fraud are exceedingly rare in Wisconsin, but there typically are a handful after every major election. The crime of election fraud is a felony.

The latest charges, filed in June, come in one of 27 cases referred by Wisconsin election officials to prosecutors out of more than 3 million ballots cast.

No other charges have been brought from that group, and district attorneys have said they are not pursuing charges in 18 of those cases. The other eight are either still under review, or the district attorney did not provide an update Monday.

Trump continues to make claims that the election was stolen, targeting Wisconsin and other key swing states such as Arizona.

In that state, an Associated Press investigation found 182 cases where problems were clear enough that officials referred them to investigators for further review.

So far, only four cases have led to charges, including those identified in a separate state investigation. No one has been convicted.

In Wisconsin, the numbers are even smaller. But Republicans have ordered a review by the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos hired three retired police investigators to look into claims of irregularities.

In the latest fraud case filed in St. Croix County, 64-year-old Michael Ray Overall claims that his voting twice was unintentional, according to the criminal complaint filed June 16. Overall, reached by phone on Monday, said he has not hired an attorney and reiterated that his voting twice was a mistake.

“Hell no,” he said when asked if he intended to vote twice.

He declined to say who he voted for in the presidential election.

Overall registered to vote in St. Croix County in 2007 but sold his house in 2019 and changed his address on his driver’s license to Beloit in May 2020.

According to the complaint, Overall requested an absentee ballot from St. Croix County in western Wisconsin last October. It was mailed to a Rockford, Illinois, address.

A week later, on October 12, he signed the absentee ballot using a Star Prairie, Wisconsin, address, which is in St. Croix County. The ballot was received before the election.

On October 13, just a day after he signed that absentee ballot, Overall registered to vote using a Beloit, Wisconsin, address, using a vehicle title as proof of residence, the complaint said. On Oct. 27, Overall voted absentee in person at a voting location in the Town of Beloit, in Rock County.

Overall said he was told by an election official in Rock County that his absentee vote there would cancel out his request for the St. Croix County absentee ballot, which he said he remembered filling out but not returning.

“I’ve got memory problems,” Overall said Monday.

“I can’t even remember what day it is.”

The investigator recommended charging Overall with election fraud because he had moved from St. Croix County in 2019 and changed his driver’s license address, but presented an old driver’s license when applying for the absentee ballot there.

He faces one charge of voting by a disqualified person; one charge of providing false information to an election official; one charge of registering to vote in more than one place; and of voting more than once. Each charge is a Class I felony punishable by a $10,000 and up to 3 and a half years in prison, or both.

Overall is due in court for his initial appearance on August 5.

His case comes after a Florida man was charged with election fraud in Sawyer County, Wisconsin, in March.

Luke Aaron Frazier, 36, unsuccessfully tried to obtain an absentee ballot for the November 2020 election by falsely claiming he was a resident of the village of Radisson. His case was not among the 27 others that local elections officials forwarded to the Wisconsin Elections Commission, as state law requires.

Frazier is scheduled to be in court on August 31 for a status hearing.


The Reason Why a Standard Piece of Paper Is 8.5 Inches by 11 Inches

H/T Mental Floss.

I wondered how these dimensions were arrived at.

Whether you’re printing documents at home or the office, you know it’s wise to keep reams of paper on hand. But when you visit an office supply store, there isn’t a wealth of options. The standard paper size is 8.5 inches wide by 11 inches long.

Which invites a bit of pulpy pondering: Who decided that?

According to Marketplace writer Jack Stewart, the answer resides in the early days of paper production, when workers dipped paper molds made of wood into vats containing pulp and water. Once dried, you had paper.

This technique was pioneered by the Dutch paper makers of the 1660s. Through trial and error, the frames settled into a standard size of 44 inches long to accommodate the outstretched arms of the laborers. Divided up by four, that gave paper makers a paper size of 11 inches.

The width is a little bit murkier. It may be that the Dutch allowed for 17 inches on the mold to make room for watermarks. Cutting those in half meant paper that was 8.5 inches.

But that’s only part of the standardization process. With people using typewriters, copiers, and printers, it made little sense to have multiple sizes of paper available. There needed to be a one-size-fits-all philosophy. Paper coming in at 8.5 inches by 11 inches fit the bill—or, in this case, the typewriter. The size allows for a comfortable 65 to 78 characters per 6.5 inches per type, which is what you get after subtracting 1-inch margins.

This size became more ubiquitous when Presidents Herbert Hoover and Ronald Reagan both mandated the dimensions for all government forms in the 1920s and 1980s, respectively. (Hoover was looking to minimize paper waste.)

There is another standardized length of paper—14 inches. That extra 3 inches is thought to be the result of lawyers needing more room for wordy contracts, which is why it’s often referred to as legal-size paper. It’s gotten increasingly popular in restaurants, where the additional space is helpful to list menu items. Most paper, however, is the result of craftspeople who simply couldn’t get their arms around anything else.

[h/t Marketplace]