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Joe Biden Enters Alternate Timeline, Claims Parkland Students Visited Him As Vice President

Westlake Legal Group media.townhall-8-620x317 Joe Biden Enters Alternate Timeline, Claims Parkland Students Visited Him As Vice President shooting senile Politics Parkland Old Man gun control gaffe Front Page Stories Front Page Florida Featured Story democrats

Joe Biden continues to stumble on the campaign trail now that he’s come out of hiding.

In just the past few days, he’s made several headline producing gaffes. One involved Biden saying there were “at least three genders” when asked about it by a college student. That’s an answer that makes no sense to either the right or the left when it comes to the issue. Just a day before, he remarked in a speech that “poor kids are just as bright and talented as white kids,” a verbal slip that earned him scorn from all sides.

He’s somehow managed to top those.

Yesterday, Biden made the inexplicable, false claim that Parkland students visited him in the White House as Vice President.

 

It’s one thing to say something you didn’t mean to say. You can even understand when politicians exaggerate or claim to be a bigger part of an event than they were. That’s not good, but it’s fairly standard fare unfortunately. This isn’t that. It’s a completely made up, fake memory of something that clearly didn’t happen.

You can’t just chalk this up to forgetfulness. Listen to how detailed he gets while trying to pander about gun control.

Biden told reporters in Iowa on Saturday that “those kids in Parkland came up to see me when I was vice president.” But when they visited Capitol Hill to talk with members of Congress, lawmakers were “basically cowering, not wanting to see them. They did not want to face it on camera.”

In reality, by the time the Parkland shooting took place, Biden had not been Vice President for well over a year.

While conservatives can poke fun at this, the real concern here is for Democrats. There’s a growing movement within the primary opposing Joe Biden, not because of his policy ideas, but because he can’t seem to go more than twelve hours without saying something confusing. The issue isn’t so much that he’s making things up, as that’s par for the course for politics. It’s that he appears so mentally out it when making these claims and gaffes.

If Elizabeth Warren or Donald Trump make a statement that’s misleading, you at least know they are doing it on purpose. With Biden, you are left wondering whether he’s actually going senile. How long can he keep this up? We are nearly six months from just the first primary. We are well over a year out from the 2020 election itself. He’s been on the campaign trail for what amounts to just several weeks at this point given how little actually campaigning he did in the first several months of his candidacy.

Democrats are going to have to make a choice. On paper, Biden continues to be the more formidable opponent to Donald Trump. But elections are run on paper and Biden’s continued struggles are mounting.

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The post Joe Biden Enters Alternate Timeline, Claims Parkland Students Visited Him As Vice President appeared first on RedState.

Westlake Legal Group befuddled-biden-300x153 Joe Biden Enters Alternate Timeline, Claims Parkland Students Visited Him As Vice President shooting senile Politics Parkland Old Man gun control gaffe Front Page Stories Front Page Florida Featured Story democrats   Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Why the Jeffrey Epstein Investigation Is Not Over

Westlake Legal Group merlin_157655712_51152e48-f850-44bc-9554-8c05e3f6bcf6-facebookJumbo Why the Jeffrey Epstein Investigation Is Not Over Women and Girls Suicides and Suicide Attempts Sex Crimes prostitution Manhattan (NYC) human trafficking Florida Federal Bureau of Prisons Epstein, Jeffrey E (1953- ) Child Abuse and Neglect Berman, Geoffrey S

Jeffrey Epstein is dead. But the criminal investigation that led to the sex-trafficking charges against him is not.

Federal prosecutors and F.B.I. agents who built the case against Mr. Epstein will turn their attention to people whom his accusers have said participated in a scheme that dates back more than a decade and involved the sexual exploitation of dozens of underage girls.

That could include a circle of close associates whom accusers said helped recruit, train and coerce them into catering to Mr. Epstein, a wealthy financier.

Soon after Mr. Epstein was found dead of an apparent suicide in a federal jail on Saturday, Geoffrey S. Berman, the chief federal prosecutor in Manhattan, said his office’s investigation would continue, and pointedly mentioned that the government’s indictment against Mr. Epstein included a conspiracy charge.

Daniel C. Richman, a former federal prosecutor in Manhattan who now teaches criminal law at Columbia University, said that meant the government already had identified additional targets despite the death of Mr. Epstein.

“Its use of conspiracy charges suggests it already has some living people in its sights,” Mr. Richman said.

Manhattan federal prosecutors have not charged or named anyone as a co-conspirator. But in 2007, a non-prosecution agreement between Mr. Epstein and federal officials in Florida said that prosecutors would not charge four women it identified as “potential co-conspirators.”

Mr. Berman’s office has maintained that it is not bound by the Florida agreement.

The stunning news of Mr. Epstein’s death prompted a swirl of new questions about its circumstances, including why jail officials removed Mr. Epstein, 66, from a suicide watch program that included daily psychiatric evaluations just days after he was found injured in his cell in what appeared to have been an earlier suicide attempt.

[Read more: Before his suicide, Mr. Epstein was left alone and not closely monitored.]

The United States attorney general, William P. Barr, whose Justice Department oversees the federal Bureau of Prisons, ordered the F.B.I. and department’s inspector general to investigate the circumstances around Mr. Epstein’s death.

But those circumstances also prompted outrage from his many accusers, who saw him as again eluding justice, years after escaping federal prosecution on similar charges of sexually abusing girls. He was allowed to plead guilty in 2008 to state prostitution charges in Florida, and served a 13-month sentence, spending most of his days on work-release.

“I never wanted him to die. I just wanted him to be held accountable for his actions,” said Michelle S. Licata, 31, who was among the dozens of girls who Palm Beach police and the F.B.I. found were recruited to give Mr. Epstein erotic massages, which included his touching her breasts while he masturbated.

Still, many of his accusers can pursue civil claims against his vast estate, which is said to be worth more than $500 million, lawyers for some of his accusers have said.

Mr. Berman, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, appeared to have the frustration of Mr. Epstein’s accusers in mind when he spoke on Saturday.

“To those brave young women who have already come forward and to the many others who have yet to do so,” Mr. Berman said in a statement, “let me reiterate that we remain committed to standing for you, and our investigation of the conduct charged in the indictment — which included a conspiracy count — remains ongoing.”

It is unclear whether others will be charged; but even before Mr. Epstein’s death, it was apparent that the investigation was expanding into his finances, with F.BI. agents and prosecutors gathering evidence from banks and others.

In addition to possible sex-trafficking conspiracy charges against others, prosecutors could also seek charges of aiding and abetting Mr. Epstein or money laundering, which could lead to trials and criminal forfeiture actions. The government could try to seize assets that could be sold and used to compensate his accusers.

Sharon Cohen Levin, a former federal prosecutor who led the Southern District’s money laundering and asset forfeiture unit, said another likely option would be for prosecutors to file a lawsuit known as a civil forfeiture action against Mr. Epstein’s properties, such as his $56 million mansion on the Upper East Side, claiming they were used to facilitate crimes.

The procedure has been used to recover artwork stolen by the Nazis in World II and to return it to victims’ families, she noted.

If prosecutors were to file such an action against Mr. Epstein’s property, Ms. Levin said they would likely offer a detailed narrative of how the mansion, for example, was used to further his alleged trafficking of underage victims.

“The victims will lose the opportunity to face him in court, see him eye to eye and tell their story,” Ms. Levin said, “but they can still work with the government to get their story out.”

Lawyers for Mr. Epstein’s accusers said the news of his death was traumatic, but did not leave them without options.

David Boies, a New York lawyer who represents several of Mr. Epstein’s accusers, said his clients were surprised by the suicide and unhappy that they would never be able to confront Mr. Epstein.

“On the other hand, they have been through a lot and they are not going to give up, and to the extent that they can hold his estate liable and to the extent that they can hold the other people who worked with him responsible, they’re committed to trying to do that,” Mr. Boies said.

Lisa Bloom, a California-based lawyer, said she intended to file a lawsuit in the coming days on behalf of two accusers, naming Mr. Epstein’s estate as the defendant.

“The victims are entitled for compensation for the anguish he put them through over so many years,” Ms. Bloom said. She said her clients were above the age of 18 when Mr. Epstein victimized them in the early 2000s in New York and that they have been in touch with federal investigators.

Roberta Kaplan, who represents a woman who was a minor at the time she said she was abused by Mr. Epstein and was one of the victims cited in the federal indictment, said Mr. Epstein’s death was for her client “not only emotionally devastating but a real emotional roller coaster.”

But Ms. Kaplan was confident her client could still achieve justice through the courts. “It may not be justice through the criminal system,” Ms. Kaplan said, “but there should be some measure of justice as a result of civil lawsuits and civil claims.”

A Florida lawyer, Jack Scarola, said his clients were disappointed. But he suggested that the troubling and strange turn to the case could perhaps bring an unforeseen benefit. “They are hopeful,” he said, “that other victims may be relieved of some of the fear that has prevented them from coming forward while Epstein was still alive.”

Mike Baker and Frances Robles contributed reporting.

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‘Massage’ Was Code for ‘Sex’: New Epstein Abuse Revelations

A rotating cast of girls would sit around Jeffrey Epstein’s waterfront mansion, drinking milk.

To Alfredo Rodriguez, Mr. Epstein’s butler in the mid-2000s, that was one reason he suspected that his boss was engaged in sexual activities with underage girls. At times, Mr. Rodriguez later told a Florida police detective in a sworn statement, he was instructed to dispense hundreds of dollars to the girls after they performed massages for Mr. Epstein; at other times, Mr. Rodriguez gave them “tips” in the form of iPods and jewelry.

Manhattan federal prosecutors last month charged Mr. Epstein, 66, with sex trafficking of girls as young as 14, and details of his behavior have been emerging for years.

But a cache of previously sealed legal documents, released on Friday by a federal appeals court, provides new, disturbing details about what was going on inside Mr. Epstein’s homes and how his associates recruited young women and girls, including from a Florida high school.

The documents — among the most expansive sets of materials publicly disclosed in the 13 years since Mr. Epstein was first charged with sex crimes — include depositions, police incident reports, photographs, receipts, flight logs and even a memoir written by a woman who says she was a sex-trafficking victim of Mr. Epstein and his acquaintances.

The documents were filed as part of a defamation lawsuit in federal court that Virginia Giuffre brought in 2015 against Ghislaine Maxwell, Mr. Epstein’s longtime companion and confidant. Ms. Giuffre and Ms. Maxwell settled the lawsuit shortly before the trial was to begin in 2017.

The Miami Herald and other media outlets petitioned the court to have the lawsuit documents unsealed. The request was initially denied, but an appeals court ordered them released last month, just days before Mr. Epstein was arrested on sex-trafficking charges. He has pleaded not guilty.

Mr. Epstein, a financier with opulent homes, a private jet and access to elite circles, had been dogged for decades by accusations that he had paid dozens of girls for sexual acts in Florida. He previously avoided federal criminal charges in 2008 after prosecutors brokered a widely criticized deal that allowed him to plea to solicitation of prostitution from a minor and serve 13 months in jail.

About 2,000 pages of the materials were posted online by the appeals court on Friday, providing a high-definition glimpse inside what federal prosecutors have said was Mr. Epstein’s long-running sex-trafficking operation.

The fullest account is provided by Ms. Giuffre, who claims that Mr. Epstein forced her into being a “sex slave.”

In a sworn deposition, she said she first met Ms. Maxwell, the daughter of the British publishing magnate Robert Maxwell, and Mr. Epstein in the summer of 2000, when she was 16. At the time, Ms. Giuffre was working as a masseuse at the spa at Donald J. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, where her father was a maintenance worker.

ImageWestlake Legal Group 09epstein3-articleLarge ‘Massage’ Was Code for ‘Sex’: New Epstein Abuse Revelations Sex Crimes Maxwell, Ghislaine Manhattan (NYC) human trafficking Giuffre, Virginia Roberts Florida Epstein, Jeffrey E (1953- ) Child Abuse and Neglect

Mr. Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell, his longtime companion and confidant.CreditJoe Schildhorn/Patrick McMullan, via Getty Images

She said she was sitting outside the locker room, reading a book on massage therapy, when Ms. Maxwell approached her. She said she knew someone who was looking for a traveling masseuse. “If the guy likes you, then, you know, it will work out for you. You’ll travel. You’ll make good money. You’ll be educated,” Ms. Giuffre recalled Ms. Maxwell telling her.

Ms. Giuffre took the job. Ms. Maxwell trained her on how to give erotic massages, and Ms. Giuffre soon began providing them to Mr. Epstein at his mansion in Palm Beach, Fla. Before long, she said, she was being flown on Mr. Epstein’s private Gulfstream jet to perform sexual services on Mr. Epstein’s acquaintances, including politicians and high-powered businessmen.

The word “massage” became code for “sex,” she said in the 2016 deposition. “My whole life revolved around just pleasing these men and keeping Ghislaine and Jeffrey happy,” she said. “Their whole entire lives revolved around sex. They call massages sex. They call modeling sex.”

Ms. Maxwell’s depositions provide, for the first time, a glimpse at her perspective. She denounced Ms. Giuffre, saying that “everything Virginia has said is an absolute lie.” Lawyers for Ms. Maxwell were out of the country and unavailable for comment on Friday, their office said.

In court papers, the lawyers painted Ms. Giuffre as a troubled woman with a history of substance abuse and a turbulent personal life. They said her allegations shifted and became more lurid as she sought to sell her story to the media and publishers.

Ms. Giuffre had said she wrote her recollections of her experiences in a journal, but burned it in a bonfire that she and her husband built in their Titusville, Fla., backyard in 2013, according to court papers.

Back at Mr. Epstein’s Palm Beach home, partially shielded from view by a large hedge, it was hard for workers to miss what was happening.

John Alessi, a maintenance worker there from 1990 until about 2001, said he saw about 100 female masseuses at various times in the house.

After massages, Mr. Alessi said in a deposition, he occasionally found sex toys in Ms. Maxwell’s bathroom in the mansion. He said he put gloves on, rinsed the instruments and placed them in a closet.

Mr. Rodriguez, Mr. Epstein’s butler, had a similar recollection. In July 2006, he told a Palm Beach police detective in a sworn statement that after girls gave massages to Mr. Epstein, Mr. Rodriguez would go into his bedroom to wipe down vibrators and sex toys and then stash them in a wooden armoire near Mr. Epstein’s bed.

On occasion, Mr. Alessi said, he drove Ms. Maxwell from one Palm Beach spa to another, where she left her business cards in order to recruit massage therapists for Mr. Epstein.

Ms. Maxwell recruited Johanna Sjoberg in 2001 on the campus of Palm Beach Atlantic College, where she was a student. Ms. Sjoberg said in a deposition that Ms. Maxwell dangled a job as a personal assistant. She figured she could make some quick money answering phones for Mr. Epstein.

But that was not what the job entailed. Once at Mr. Epstein’s mansion, Ms. Sjoberg said, she was told to perform sexual massages on Mr. Epstein — and was punished when he did not have an orgasm.

Around the mansion, massage tables were ubiquitous, even in outdoor spaces and in guest rooms, where Mr. Epstein would send women to service houseguests. “A massage was like a treat for all the guests at Mr. Epstein’s home,” Mr. Alessi said in an affidavit.

Mr. Rodriguez, the butler, told a Palm Beach police detective, Joseph Recarey, that he suspected the girls were underage in part because their eating habits reminded him of his daughter, who was in high school.

“Rodriguez stated they would eat tons of cereal and drink milk all the time,” according to a report Detective Recarey filed. Mr. Rodriguez died in 2015.

Also among the unsealed materials was an Amazon shipping document that shows a book on “erotic servitude” and a “Workbook for Erotic Slaves and Their Owners,” both of which were delivered to Mr. Epstein at his Palm Beach home.

Lawyers for Mr. Epstein did not respond to requests for comment.

The documents traced the investigation conducted by the Palm Beach Police Department, led by Detective Recarey. With the help of the local sanitation department, investigators sifted through Mr. Epstein’s trash, which yielded written phone messages, sometimes leading the police to potential victims.

Massage tables were ubiquitous, even in outdoor spaces and in guest rooms, at Mr. Epstein’s home in Palm Beach, Fla., according to court documents. CreditJoe Skipper/Reuters

Detective Recarey, who retired in 2013 after more than two decades on the force, said in a 2016 deposition that he interviewed about 30 girls who were sought to give massages. Some of the girls were terrified and tearful as he interviewed them.

A number of the girls, including one who was 15 at the time, said they were brought to Mr. Epstein’s Palm Beach house and told they could make money by modeling lingerie for him, according to reports that Detective Recarey filed and that were unsealed.

Once at the mansion, a chef would prepare the girls a meal. Then they would be escorted upstairs to the master bedroom. Mr. Epstein, clad in a towel, often would request a massage of his feet and calves. He would touch the girls while masturbating under his towel. They were generally paid $200 per visit.

Mr. Rodriguez told Detective Recarey, who died last year, that he was a “human A.T.M.,” required to always have at least $2,000 on hand to pay the women and girls. Once, Mr. Epstein instructed him to deliver a dozen roses to one of the girls at her high school after a drama performance.

Reporting was contributed by Mike Baker, Steve Eder, Michael Gold, Kirsten Danis, David Enrich, Amy Julia Harris, Frances Robles, Jessica Silver-Greenberg and Ali Watkins.

Read more about the Epstein case
Jeffrey Epstein Hoped to Seed Human Race With His DNA

Jul 31, 2019

Westlake Legal Group 31epsteinbabyfarm2-threeByTwoSmallAt2X ‘Massage’ Was Code for ‘Sex’: New Epstein Abuse Revelations Sex Crimes Maxwell, Ghislaine Manhattan (NYC) human trafficking Giuffre, Virginia Roberts Florida Epstein, Jeffrey E (1953- ) Child Abuse and Neglect
Jeffrey Epstein Is Indicted on Sex Charges as Discovery of Nude Photos Is Disclosed

Jul 8, 2019

Westlake Legal Group merlin_157655589_6fac402a-765b-4e32-a85b-7808850a8cfa-threeByTwoSmallAt2X ‘Massage’ Was Code for ‘Sex’: New Epstein Abuse Revelations Sex Crimes Maxwell, Ghislaine Manhattan (NYC) human trafficking Giuffre, Virginia Roberts Florida Epstein, Jeffrey E (1953- ) Child Abuse and Neglect

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

‘Red Flag’ Gun Laws Aren’t Airtight. But Officials Say They’ve Saved Lives.

Last year, a man who worked at a car dealership in San Diego told his co-workers that he would shoot up the place if he were fired, and he praised the man who had carried out the Las Vegas massacre.

Another man told his fiancée he wanted to shoot her in the head, and also threatened to kill her ex-boyfriend. Still another told co-workers that he wished his supervisors would die, and that he could invite them hunting so it would look like an accident.

In all three cases, the men owned firearms. In all three cases, those weapons were taken away after the San Diego city attorney obtained a gun violence restraining order, a measure that the authorities or relatives can request from a judge to temporarily remove firearms from people deemed to be a threat to themselves or others.

California is one of 17 states with a “red flag” law authorizing those kinds of orders. Most of the laws were passed after the February 2018 massacre in Parkland, Fla., where a 19-year-old man used a semiautomatic assault weapon to kill 17 students and others.

Now, in the wake of two shootings last weekend that killed a total of 31 people in El Paso and in Dayton, Ohio, momentum is building in Congress for legislation that would offer federal grants to states to help them pass and enforce red flag laws.

Research is still scant on how many shootings these laws may have averted, something that is essentially unknowable. But law enforcement officials in states with red flag laws say they have already made a vital impact, including taking guns away from people who have posed a threat to schools. There is also strong evidence that the laws have averted some suicides.

“I’m confident we have saved lives,” said Geraldine Valentino-Smith, a Democratic state legislator in Maryland and the lead sponsor of the state’s red flag law, which went into effect last October. Hundreds of firearms have been taken away under the law.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_152070468_7692b29f-b36a-4edf-9cf8-fbaba4cdcf0d-articleLarge ‘Red Flag’ Gun Laws Aren’t Airtight. But Officials Say They’ve Saved Lives. San Diego (Calif) mass shootings gun control Florida El Paso, Tex, Shooting (2019) Dayton, Ohio, Shooting (2019) Betts, Connor (1994- )

High school students at the Capitol on March 14 after a march for gun control. Red flag bills tend to attract more Republican support than proposals to ban particular weapons do.CreditLeigh Vogel for The New York Times

In Florida, where a red flag law was passed after the Parkland massacre, there are currently 1,707 active temporary or permanent protection orders in effect, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

In San Diego alone, the city attorney, Mara Elliott, has obtained about 300 orders in the past two years that have allowed the police to confiscate 400 firearms, including 40 military-style rifles. The city has been the most aggressive in California at exploiting the state’s three-year-old red flag law.

Of the first 100 restraining orders she obtained, one in seven involved people who had threatened violence at a workplace or a school, and about 10 percent involved people who made threats on social media.

“Every time we hear about a mass shooting, the first thing that comes to mind is, had someone had the ability to obtain a gun violence restraining order, could that mass shooting have been prevented?” Ms. Elliott said. “Often the answer is yes.”

Of course, mass shootings still occur in places that have red flag laws, including California and Connecticut, where a gunman killed 20 first graders and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, more than a decade after the state enacted the nation’s first such law.

The laws also have one big limitation: they depend on people to call the authorities about someone before they act. Many mass shooters are never reported.

This dilemma was quantified in an F.B.I. study last year of 63 “active shooters” from 2000 to 2013: They typically gave clues ahead of time that could have been seen by teachers, schoolmates, spouses and partners.

But in only two of out of every five cases where other people observed what the F.B.I. described as concerning behavior — like mental health issues, “problematic interpersonal interactions” and “leakage of violent intent” — was that behavior reported to law enforcement.

Supporters and opponents of a red flag bill at a hearing in the Minnesota State Capitol in February. Gov. Tim Walz, a Democrat, has urged Republicans to get behind the proposal.CreditJerry Holt/Star Tribune, via Associated Press

Connor Betts, the 24-year-old gunman in Dayton, had composed lists of people he wanted to kill or rape, according to the F.B.I. The state of Ohio does not have a red flag law, but since the shooting, Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, has renewed his efforts to get one passed.

Even if Ohio had passed such a law years ago, though, it might not have thwarted Mr. Betts’s rampage. Red flag restraining orders typically last no more than a year, unless they are renewed; an order issued when he made threats in high school several years ago could well have expired by now.

Federal law has long prohibited the mentally ill from owning firearms. But that restriction does not come into play unless a person had been committed to a psychiatric facility, or a judge has ruled that the person is mentally ill. The state red flag laws have a lower threshold, generally requiring only that a judge find that a person presents a significant threat to himself or others.

Proposals to ban or curb ownership of assault weapons — military-style semiautomatic rifles with detachable ammunition magazines and other features like a pistol grip or a telescoping stock — face steep opposition from Republicans in Congress, even though those are the weapons used in almost all of the deadliest mass shootings.

But many lawmakers in both parties have voiced support for red flag legislation, which is seen as having a better chance of passing than a weapons ban.

The National Rifle Association has opposed red flag laws in states. But a statement this week from an N.R.A. spokeswoman, Catherine Mortensen, seemed more open to the concept, saying that any red flag laws “at a minimum must include strong due process protections, require treatment and include penalties against those who make frivolous claims.”

In an acknowledgment of Second Amendment rights, most state red flag laws set a time limit, often six months to a year, after which the subject of an order can reacquire the weapons, unless a court decides the threat remains.

New York’s new law goes into effect this month. An earlier law, passed in 2013 as part of a sweeping set of gun regulations after the Sandy Hook massacre, created a database of people reported by mental health professionals to be unstable. That list is crosschecked with records of those who have applied for pistol permits. If there is any overlap, the state police ask local law enforcement officials to investigate and potentially revoke the permits.

A memorial in Newington, Conn., in March 1988 at the spot where the president of the state lottery was shot dead. After a lottery worker killed four supervisors and himself, Connecticut passed the nation’s first red flag law.CreditRichard Mei/Associated Press

Gun safety advocates praised that legislation, but critics, including mental health professionals, worried that the state’s database was overly broad and could compromise privacy. Since the law was enacted, 97,549 names have been listed in the database. (A name is dropped from the database after five years unless a new report has come in on that person.)

Roughly 800 people in the database were found to have gun permits. But in a possible blind spot, state officials could not say how many guns had been seized as a result of the law, since it is up to local police to collect the weapons, and the police are not required to tell the state whether they followed through.

In the past 10 months in Maryland, there have been 788 applications under the red flag law; almost half were denied or dismissed.

That so many applications were not upheld shows that considerable proof of someone’s danger to themselves or others is required before guns are taken away, said Ms. Valentino-Smith, the law’s sponsor. She added that in many of the denied or dismissed cases, the application alone had already served the law’s purpose, by allowing for a cooling-off period, or for the subject to voluntarily transfer their guns to someone else.

“We have a healthy balance in Maryland, with law-abiding gun owners being able to exercise their constitutional rights, as well as a process that allows for a very temporary removal, with swift judicial action and high levels of proof that there is a need for a temporary time out on that gun ownership,” she said.

The few statistical studies of the effects of red flag laws have focused on Connecticut and Indiana, the first and second states to pass them. Connecticut’s law was enacted in 1999, following a shooting at the state lottery headquarters in which five people, including the gunman, were killed.

Jeff Swanson, a psychiatry and behavioral sciences professor at Duke University who worked on the studies, said researchers found that for every 10 to 20 gun-removal actions, one life was saved by averting a suicide.

He said he believes the laws have probably also averted mass shootings, but that as a scientist, he does not know for sure, because that is something inherently almost impossible to study.

“They’re certainly not a panacea,” Mr. Swanson said of the laws. “But I think they are one piece of the puzzle of gun-violence prevention.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

‘Red Flag’ Gun Laws Aren’t Airtight. But Officials Say They’ve Saved Lives.

Last year, a man who worked at a car dealership in San Diego told his co-workers that he would shoot up the place if he were fired, and he praised the man who had carried out the Las Vegas massacre.

Another man told his fiancée he wanted to shoot her in the head, and also threatened to kill her ex-boyfriend. Still another told co-workers that he wished his supervisors would die, and that he could invite them hunting so it would look like an accident.

In all three cases, the men owned firearms. In all three cases, those weapons were taken away after the San Diego city attorney obtained a gun violence restraining order, a measure that the authorities or relatives can request from a judge to temporarily remove firearms from people deemed to be a threat to themselves or others.

California is one of 17 states with a “red flag” law authorizing those kinds of orders. Most of the laws were passed after the February 2018 massacre in Parkland, Fla., where a 19-year-old man used a semiautomatic assault weapon to kill 17 students and others.

Now, in the wake of two shootings last weekend that killed a total of 31 people in El Paso and in Dayton, Ohio, momentum is building in Congress for legislation that would offer federal grants to states to help them pass and enforce red flag laws.

Research is still scant on how many shootings these laws may have averted, something that is essentially unknowable. But law enforcement officials in states with red flag laws say they have already made a vital impact, including taking guns away from people who have posed a threat to schools. There is also strong evidence that the laws have averted some suicides.

“I’m confident we have saved lives,” said Geraldine Valentino-Smith, a Democratic state legislator in Maryland and the lead sponsor of the state’s red flag law, which went into effect last October. Hundreds of firearms have been taken away under the law.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_152070468_7692b29f-b36a-4edf-9cf8-fbaba4cdcf0d-articleLarge ‘Red Flag’ Gun Laws Aren’t Airtight. But Officials Say They’ve Saved Lives. San Diego (Calif) mass shootings gun control Florida El Paso, Tex, Shooting (2019) Dayton, Ohio, Shooting (2019) Betts, Connor (1994- )

High school students at the Capitol on March 14 after a march for gun control. Red flag bills tend to attract more Republican support than proposals to ban particular weapons do.CreditLeigh Vogel for The New York Times

In Florida, where a red flag law was passed after the Parkland massacre, there are currently 1,707 active temporary or permanent protection orders in effect, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

In San Diego alone, the city attorney, Mara Elliott, has obtained about 300 orders in the past two years that have allowed the police to confiscate 400 firearms, including 40 military-style rifles. The city has been the most aggressive in California at exploiting the state’s three-year-old red flag law.

Of the first 100 restraining orders she obtained, one in seven involved people who had threatened violence at a workplace or a school, and about 10 percent involved people who made threats on social media.

“Every time we hear about a mass shooting, the first thing that comes to mind is, had someone had the ability to obtain a gun violence restraining order, could that mass shooting have been prevented?” Ms. Elliott said. “Often the answer is yes.”

Of course, mass shootings still occur in places that have red flag laws, including California and Connecticut, where a gunman killed 20 first graders and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, more than a decade after the state enacted the nation’s first such law.

The laws also have one big limitation: they depend on people to call the authorities about someone before they act. Many mass shooters are never reported.

This dilemma was quantified in an F.B.I. study last year of 63 “active shooters” from 2000 to 2013: They typically gave clues ahead of time that could have been seen by teachers, schoolmates, spouses and partners.

But in only two of out of every five cases where other people observed what the F.B.I. described as concerning behavior — like mental health issues, “problematic interpersonal interactions” and “leakage of violent intent” — was that behavior reported to law enforcement.

Supporters and opponents of a red flag bill at a hearing in the Minnesota State Capitol in February. Gov. Tim Walz, a Democrat, has urged Republicans to get behind the proposal.CreditJerry Holt/Star Tribune, via Associated Press

Connor Betts, the 24-year-old gunman in Dayton, had composed lists of people he wanted to kill or rape, according to the F.B.I. The state of Ohio does not have a red flag law, but since the shooting, Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, has renewed his efforts to get one passed.

Even if Ohio had passed such a law years ago, though, it might not have thwarted Mr. Betts’s rampage. Red flag restraining orders typically last no more than a year, unless they are renewed; an order issued when he made threats in high school several years ago could well have expired by now.

Federal law has long prohibited the mentally ill from owning firearms. But that restriction does not come into play unless a person had been committed to a psychiatric facility, or a judge has ruled that the person is mentally ill. The state red flag laws have a lower threshold, generally requiring only that a judge find that a person presents a significant threat to himself or others.

Proposals to ban or curb ownership of assault weapons — military-style semiautomatic rifles with detachable ammunition magazines and other features like a pistol grip or a telescoping stock — face steep opposition from Republicans in Congress, even though those are the weapons used in almost all of the deadliest mass shootings.

But many lawmakers in both parties have voiced support for red flag legislation, which is seen as having a better chance of passing than a weapons ban.

The National Rifle Association has opposed red flag laws in states. But a statement this week from an N.R.A. spokeswoman, Catherine Mortensen, seemed more open to the concept, saying that any red flag laws “at a minimum must include strong due process protections, require treatment and include penalties against those who make frivolous claims.”

In an acknowledgment of Second Amendment rights, most state red flag laws set a time limit, often six months to a year, after which the subject of an order can reacquire the weapons, unless a court decides the threat remains.

New York’s new law goes into effect this month. An earlier law, passed in 2013 as part of a sweeping set of gun regulations after the Sandy Hook massacre, created a database of people reported by mental health professionals to be unstable. That list is crosschecked with records of those who have applied for pistol permits. If there is any overlap, the state police ask local law enforcement officials to investigate and potentially revoke the permits.

A memorial in Newington, Conn., in March 1988 at the spot where the president of the state lottery was shot dead. After a lottery worker killed four supervisors and himself, Connecticut passed the nation’s first red flag law.CreditRichard Mei/Associated Press

Gun safety advocates praised that legislation, but critics, including mental health professionals, worried that the state’s database was overly broad and could compromise privacy. Since the law was enacted, 97,549 names have been listed in the database. (A name is dropped from the database after five years unless a new report has come in on that person.)

Roughly 800 people in the database were found to have gun permits. But in a possible blind spot, state officials could not say how many guns had been seized as a result of the law, since it is up to local police to collect the weapons, and the police are not required to tell the state whether they followed through.

In the past 10 months in Maryland, there have been 788 applications under the red flag law; almost half were denied or dismissed.

That so many applications were not upheld shows that considerable proof of someone’s danger to themselves or others is required before guns are taken away, said Ms. Valentino-Smith, the law’s sponsor. She added that in many of the denied or dismissed cases, the application alone had already served the law’s purpose, by allowing for a cooling-off period, or for the subject to voluntarily transfer their guns to someone else.

“We have a healthy balance in Maryland, with law-abiding gun owners being able to exercise their constitutional rights, as well as a process that allows for a very temporary removal, with swift judicial action and high levels of proof that there is a need for a temporary time out on that gun ownership,” she said.

The few statistical studies of the effects of red flag laws have focused on Connecticut and Indiana, the first and second states to pass them. Connecticut’s law was enacted in 1999, following a shooting at the state lottery headquarters in which five people, including the gunman, were killed.

Jeff Swanson, a psychiatry and behavioral sciences professor at Duke University who worked on the studies, said researchers found that for every 10 to 20 gun-removal actions, one life was saved by averting a suicide.

He said he believes the laws have probably also averted mass shootings, but that as a scientist, he does not know for sure, because that is something inherently almost impossible to study.

“They’re certainly not a panacea,” Mr. Swanson said of the laws. “But I think they are one piece of the puzzle of gun-violence prevention.”

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Major Newspaper Merger a Sign of a Deeply Troubled Journalism Industry

Westlake Legal Group Newsstand Major Newspaper Merger a Sign of a Deeply Troubled Journalism Industry Newspapers news outlets News New media Media journalism Front Page Stories Front Page Florida Featured Story Featured Post digital Allow Media Exception

(AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

The Gannett/Gatehouse consolidation is not a solution but a desperate attempt at survival.

Pointing out that print journalism is in dire trouble is already a known quantity. In what is just another sign of how bad the industry fortunes have become it has been announced that Gannett will be bought out by Gate House Media, in a $1.4 billion deal. This merger will entail having over 250 newspapers in 47 states coming together under the Gannett banner.

The purpose of this combining of forces is seen by most as a needed effort at buttressing a collapsing industry. The executives behind the merger cite the need to combine services to scale back some expenditures. Those in the lower-rung positions in newsrooms are bracing for impending layoffs, as cost-cutting is an assured result. What goes unsaid is if these mergers and layoffs do not take place the other option is the paper closing entirely, and all jobs being eliminated.

The language behind the announcement is a thinly veiled explanation of the dire situation. It is expected that over a two year span $300 million will be trimmed, in what it being euphemistically called “cost synergies”. This applies to consolidating executive positions, such as accounting and human resources, but the implication is that this will also apply to the news content as well. The likelihood is a consolidation of content, where features are disseminated to various papers, leading to a lessened reliance on original stories.

This has already been taking place for years. Locally we have seen the evaporation of features like film critics, with movie reviews starting to come from a more centralized critic at a larger outlet. This should only broaden, as Gannett owns USA Today and it is expected that more features from the national level will be used on the local level. This consolidation of talent will also be crucial to the intended focus on digital content for all papers concerned.

These are inevitable moves, and they are needed to keep any viability alive. One study has estimated that in the past 15 years there have been closings on a staggering amount of newspapers; 1,800 have disappeared since 2004. The newspaper employment figures have dropped nearly 50% in that time frame.

To get an idea of what this merger will look like, here in Florida it covers a majority of the state. With the exception of Dade and Broward counties, and the Tampa region, nearly all other areas have daily newspapers and/or weeklies included in the merger — 29 in total. Only the larger outlets seem excused. The Miami Herald, Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel, Tampa Bay Times, the Orlando Sentinel, and Bradenton Herald remain outside ownership by the same company. (Years ago the Miami and Fort Lauderdale papers entered into a partnership.)

This merger is a sign of things to come. Other news syndicates are expected to take place in a sign of desperation. The evolution of journalism grinds forward, and numerous careers are being ground in the process.

The post Major Newspaper Merger a Sign of a Deeply Troubled Journalism Industry appeared first on RedState.

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So we almost had three mass shootings this weekend?

Westlake Legal Group ba0ee6a4-f894-4d73-896d-e4e57e35d950 So we almost had three mass shootings this weekend? Walmart The Blog mass shootings Florida

We either dodged a bullet (both literally and figuratively) yesterday or this story will get chucked into the random, oddball Florida Man category. While the country was reeling from two mass shootings, it turns out that authorities were intervening to prevent what appeared to be a copycat killing spree in the Sunshine State. Law enforcement was alerted to an individual who was allegedly on his way to conduct his own mass shooting at a Walmart, similar to the attack in El Paso. Or was he? (NY Post)

A Florida man was arrested Sunday for threatening to “shoot up” his local Walmart — later telling cops he was “intrigued” by the El Paso and Dayton massacres.

Wayne Lee Padgett, 31, is accused of targeting a Walmart in Gibsonton, just 10 miles south Tampa.

He allegedly called the store and told an employee he was on his way — and armed.

“He was intrigued with the shootings over the last couple of days,” Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister told reporters at a press conference. “This type of behavior seeks to instill fear in people and it will not be tolerated.”

If you click through to the story in the Post you’ll see a picture of this joker. He kind of fits the profile, being a seriously overweight white guy with a pasty, pale complexion, reminiscent of someone who spends too much time in his mother’s basement playing video games. But was the threat ever real?

First of all, if this clown did have aspirations of being the third mass shooter in two days, he hadn’t put much thought into the plan. He called the store in advance to let them know he was armed and coming over. I’m pretty sure we haven’t seen that sort of move in any previous mass shootings. What did he think was going to happen? Obviously, they immediately began emptying out the store and summoned the cops.

As far as the police go, they aren’t even confirming that the guy had a weapon to carry out the plan. On top of that, his mother works at that Walmart. Was he planning on shooting her? And if so, couldn’t he have just done it at home where there was less risk of lethal police response?

The icing on the cake was the confession, where he told the cops that he was “intrigued” by the other mass shootings. By now, you may be coming to the same conclusion I reached. This guy isn’t playing with a full deck. That doesn’t mean that he can’t still be dangerous, particularly if he has access to firearms in the home, but he clearly seems crazy. Telling the cops that you’re “intrigued” with mass shootings is almost a guaranteed ticket to either jail or the funny farm.

Clearly, the police had to respond to this threat and they stepped up quickly and got the job done. But I’d really like to hear the conversations that were going on at the station after they brought him in. I get the feeling he’s going to be the subject of more than a few jokes while he waits in jail for either a trial or a mental fitness evaluation. Or more likely both.

The post So we almost had three mass shootings this weekend? appeared first on Hot Air.

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Failed (and Thirsty) Dem Candidate Goes After Barron Trump

Westlake Legal Group Barron-Trump-620x448 Failed (and Thirsty) Dem Candidate Goes After Barron Trump pam keith Melania Trump Front Page Stories Front Page Florida Featured Story Featured Post donald trump Barron Trump Allow Media Exception

President Donald Trump, first lady Melania Trump and son Barron Trump walk across the tarmac before boarding Air Force One at Morristown Municipal Airport, Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017, in Morristown, N.J., for the return flight to the Washington area. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Pam Keith, bitter failed Florida congressional candidate, needs a little attention.

Pam thinks that tweeting out a claim that President Trump “really doesn’t give a damn about that kid,” referring to Barron Trump, is how she’ll get that attention.

Pam is correct.

Pam’s tweet uses a question to make an accusation – but attempts to paint the question as concern. While one can’t dispute Pam’s claim that she has never heard of Trump spending a weekend with Barron, there are numerous photos of the President, Melania, and Barron leaving the White House together on weekends to board Marine One. And it’s well known that Melania keeps her son out of the spotlight as much as possible, especially after prior photos and videos resulted in diagnoses of autism from medical experts such as Rosie O’Donnell.

Leftists have a weird obsession with the Trump family and some have made disturbing “jokes” at Barron’s expense, including some rape fantasies. Is it any wonder that Barron’s parents want him as far out of the public eye as possible – and that the act of keeping him out of the public eye demonstrates just how much of a damn “45” gives?

The post Failed (and Thirsty) Dem Candidate Goes After Barron Trump appeared first on RedState.

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Florida Woman Jailed for Trying to Stab Someone Who Wouldn’t Give Her a Slice of Pizza – Like Normal

Westlake Legal Group pizza-3007395_1280-620x413 Florida Woman Jailed for Trying to Stab Someone Who Wouldn’t Give Her a Slice of Pizza – Like Normal Violence Uncategorized st. augustine pizza Front Page Stories Florida Featured Story de'erica cooks Culture crime

 

 

Pizza! Pizza!

Sometimes, ya just gotta have it.

As did a woman in Florida Tuesday, according to a police report.

Here’s the alleged tale:

22-year-old De’Erica Cooks was jonesin’ for a slice.

She asked an unidentified woman for a piece of cheesy, breaded goodness, and the woman replied, “No.”

That was absolutely unacceptable.

I mean extremely unacceptable.

Therefore, according to witnesses, De’Erica responded the normal way: While wielding a steak knife, she declared, “I’m going to cut you.”

As reported by The St. Augustine Record:

The woman who was threatened by Cooks told the [St. Johns Sheriff’s Office] that Cooks then tried to attack her with the knife and that she feared for her life.

A guy present had to go all Little Seize-Her:

A man in the house was able to wrestle the knife away from Cooks…

De’Erica wasn’t going out like that:

[B]ut she grabbed another one, according to the report. Cooks told investigators she does not remember much during her fit of anger, the report states.

De’Erica’s been charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon without intent to kill.

She’s also being charged — by me — with Really, Really Loving Pizza.

If you’d like to invite her over for an extra-large Domino’s, you’re welcome to pony up a grand and a half: She’s being held on $1500 bond.

But a word of advice: Buy her her own extra large; you don’t wanna end up fighting over the last piece.

Don’t make her hangry; you wouldn’t like her when she’s hangry.

-ALEX

 

See 3 more pieces from me:

Florida Woman Farts, Pulls Knife On Man In Dollar General, Cops Say

WATCH: A Man Tries To Beat Up A Woman On A Public Sidewalk. The Easter Bunny Comes To Her Rescue & Kicks His A**!

HILARIOUS: A Little Boy Calls 911 Because He’s Hungry. What Happens Next Will Be Your Favorite Story This Week

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Verbal MOAB: Watch as Marco Rubio Lays Waste to “Self Righteous Hypocrites” in the Media and Democratic Party

Westlake Legal Group Rubio-620x341 Verbal MOAB: Watch as Marco Rubio Lays Waste to “Self Righteous Hypocrites” in the Media and Democratic Party washington D.C. The Squad Social Media republicans Politics North Carolina Media Marco Rubio journalism Front Page Stories Front Page Florida Featured Story Featured Post donald trump democrats Culture Congress AOC Allow Media Exception Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

After a week of mainstream media outlets and Democrats alike (but I repeat myself) demanding Republicans respond with the “appropriate” condemnation of Trump’s controversial “Squad” tweets from Sunday and the “send her back” crowd chant from a North Carolina Trump rally on Wednesday, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) has had enough.

In a video posted to his Twitter feed on Thursday, Rubio talked about the media’s and left’s double standards when it comes to incendiary political comments and their demands for reactions. He also noted the media/left’s long history of falsely labeling Republican presidents and presidential candidates “racists” – including Republicans like Sen. Mitt Romney (UT) and the late Sen. John McCain (AZ), who they now claim to respect.

Fox News reports:

“So this is how it’s been working, the president says something and people cringe because you don’t like it, but then the other side- these left-wing politicians, people on the media, they go crazy with their outrage,” Rubio began his video message. “And they demand that you immediately answer what he said and answer the way they want you to answer.”

The Florida Republican then listed several examples of previous GOP presidents and presidential candidates like Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, John McCain, Mitt Romney, who “these same people” called “racist.”

“These are the same people, by the way, who one of their members of Congress from their party says that support for Israel is ‘all about the Benjamins’ and they couldn’t even pass a resolution condemning anti-Semitism by itself, but it took them less than 72 hours to pass a resolution condemning the president of the United State’s tweet as racist,” Rubio said.

He continued, “The hypocrisy, the self-righteousness outrages people too. And on top of it, you have these members, who are all Americans… but they’re also political bullies. They go around attacking people, calling other Democrats just like southern segregationists, but when you hit them back, it’s ‘because they’re women of color.’”

He concluded by asserting that he wasn’t “playing this game anymore.”

Watch the full video of Rubio’s remarks below:

Rubio’s rant was on point. He’s right that the hypocrisy of Democrats when it comes to practicing what they preach is staggering. And the frequent “women of color” card-playing is absurd, ridiculous, and insulting. Or, as Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) would say, “a really cheap shot.”

Perhaps most annoying and troubling of all is how the mainstream media joins in on the Democratic chorus as they water down the definition of the word “racism” to mean “Republican who disagrees with a person of color”, or “Republican who responds to attacks from persons of color.” Or, more to the point, simply “Republican.”

It’s shameful they’ve done this to the word, because real racism unfortunately still exists and will always exist in some form or another. But the media/left’s degrading the meaning of the word have made it so that real victims of racism and racial attacks will be doubted more often than not.

It’s a shame, and we can thank Democrats and their media accomplices for steering the country in that direction.

————–
— Based in North Carolina, Sister Toldjah is a former liberal and a 15+ year veteran of blogging with an emphasis on media bias, social issues, and the culture wars. Read her Red State archives here. Connect with her on Twitter. –

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