Soar to Allow More Concealed Guns Proponents Say Practice
Cuts Crime; Police Raise Concern
By JACK NICAS and ASHBY JONES
A growing number of Americans are getting permission to carry
firearms in public—and under their clothes—a development that
has sparked concern among some law-enforcement authorities.
Applications for "concealed-carry" permits are soaring in many
states, some of which recently eased permit requirements. The
numbers are driven in part by concern that renewed gun-control
efforts soon could constrain access to weapons, along with heightened
interest in self-defense in the wake of mass killings in Newtown,
Conn., and Aurora, Colo.
Since July 1 of last year, Florida has granted more than 173,000
new concealed-carry permits, up 17% from the year before and twice
as many as five years ago, for a total of about 1.09 million permits
in the state.
Ohio, meanwhile, is on pace to nearly double last year's total
of 65,000 new permits, which would be nearly three times as many
as in 2007. And Oklahoma, Tennessee, Wyoming and Nebraska all
have nearly matched or surpassed last year's totals with half
of 2013 still to go.
A dozen states surveyed for this article, including Texas, Utah
and Wisconsin, issued 537,000 permits last year, an 18% increase
compared with a year prior and more than double the number issued
in 2007. Early figures for 2013 show many states are on pace for
their biggest year ever.
About eight million Americans had concealed-carry permits as of
last year, the Government Accountability Office said in what it
called a conservative estimate.
"I suppose it's the same reason people are reporting gun sales
are up and ammunition sales are up," said Ohio Attorney General
Mike DeWine, referring to concern among gun owners about the recent
push for gun control. "It's nothing unique in Ohio.…It seems to
be a consistent trend across the board."
States across the U.S. have loosened restrictions amid a spate
of mass shootings in public spaces, making it easier to get concealed-carry
permits and allowing concealed weapons in more places, including
schools, churches and bars.
Some leaders in law enforcement call the increasing requests for
concealed-carry permits unwelcome, citing safety concerns. Thomas
Dart, sheriff of Illinois's Cook County, which encompasses Chicago,
said that although the effect on crime is disputed, more people
carrying guns "makes our job more difficult."
"Without the gun, it's a fistfight. With the gun, it's a shooting,"
Craig Steckler, president of the International Association of
Chiefs of Police, said he could remember only "one instance in
which someone effectively defended himself" with a firearm during
his 21 years as police chief in Fremont, Calif. Otherwise, "it's
a whole lot of cases of guns being used not in ways they're designed:
kids shooting themselves, gun-cleaning accidents, crimes of passion,
that sort of thing."
Research is split on whether more armed citizens deter or exacerbate
gun violence. Economist John Lott, a conservative commentator
and author of "More Guns, Less Crime," said data show concealed-carry
laws reduce violent crime.
But the National Research Council, part of the congressionally
chartered National Academies, has disputed links between concealed-carry
laws and drops in crime. And the Violence Policy Center, a nonprofit
group that advocates for gun control, said that since 2007, concealed-carry
permit holders have fatally shot about 500 people, that 128 of
them have been convicted of manslaughter or homicide, and 36 have
In 2008 and 2010 rulings, the U.S. Supreme Court found that the
Second Amendment to the Constitution grants broad license to keep
and bear arms in the home. But the court left unclear whether
and to what degree the right to carry a weapon extends outside
the home, leaving states largely free to set up their own rules.
In 2002, seven states banned concealed-carry, according to the
GAO. By later this year, every state will allow it.
Ten states require applicants to show "good cause" to get a permit.
But 39 states—10 more than in 2002—grant permits to anyone who
meets a few basic requirements, such as a clean criminal record
and proof of residency.
Residents of Alaska, Arizona, Wyoming and Vermont don't need permits
to carry a concealed weapon. In 2002, that was the case only in
The surge in applications in recent months is linked at least
in part to the Newtown tragedy, which rekindled a national gun-control
debate at state and federal levels. Many permit holders say they
feel safer carrying a gun, or knowing they could bring one into
a potentially dangerous situation.
"Everyone has the right to be responsible for his or her own personal
safety," said Bob McGinty, a small-business owner in Golden Valley,
Minn., who obtained a concealed-carry permit earlier this year,
after Minnesota made them cheaper and easier to get.
While Connecticut, Colorado, California, New York, Delaware and
Maryland have tightened gun restrictions this year, at least 20
states have loosened laws on concealed-carry, according to the
Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, which tracks and advocates
for gun-control laws. States have streamlined the permit process,
made concealed-carry records confidential or lifted bans on carrying
concealed firearms in many public places.
Texas stopped requiring concealed-carry permit holders to undergo
training to renew their licenses, West Virginia stopped requiring
background checks for permit renewals, and Louisiana introduced
Andrew Arulanandam, a spokesman for the National Rifle Association,
said: "Crime can happen anywhere, and it's reasonable for people
to have an effective means of defending themselves and their loved
Law Neglects What Drives Healthcare Costs
After months of research and detailed study of what hospitals charge,
Brill determined that the real problem of accelerating healthcare
costs lies in the providers, and specifically with the hospitals
- an area the Obamacare law mostly ignores.
What Brill found was shocking. Comparing the line items on the bills
of numerous individuals to what each actually cost the hospital
revealed huge markups - often 100%, 400% and even 1,000% and higher
-- on everything from gauze pads to lab tests.
In one case a patient was charged $199.50 for a test that Medicare
had determined should cost just $13.94
. Another patient was charged $49,237 for a specialized neurostimulator
that cost the hospital about $19,000 and probably cost the company
that sold it about $4,500 to produce.
Hospitals essentially invent inflated arbitrary charges for everything
because they can.
Patients usually don't ask much about cost when they have a medical
problem, and assume that their insurance will cover most of it anyway.
Competitive market forces that drive prices lower are virtually
non-existent in healthcare.
Another problem is the "fee-for-service" nature of the system. The
more a hospital does for you, the more it can charge you.
That leads to such games as duplicated testing (at those highly
inflated prices), and visits from doctors only barely connected
to a case so they, too, can bill the hapless patient.
Of course the insurers negotiate fees about 50% to 60% lower than
the hospital's "official" list prices ("the chargemaster"), but
even those reduced payments are far higher than the cost to the
Hospitals historically have tried to justify their crazy-high charges
by pointing to the rock-bottom reimbursements they get from Medicare
and the fact that they don't get paid for treating some impoverished
patients. They claim they need to charge everyone else more accordingly.
But Brill found that charity cases made up less than half of 1%
of U.S. hospitals' annual revenue. And while Medicare only pays
a bit more than what it determines the service or item costs the
hospital, most hospitals make concerted efforts to attract more
Medicare patients. It doesn't make sense that they'd advertise for
patients that cost them money.
Unfortunately, the Obamacare law addresses none of these issues.
Gas Prices Forecast to Soar During Peak Summer Vacation Period
By Brad Tuttle @bradrtuttle July 12, 2013
Analysts are saying that it will soon cost nearly 10% more to fill
up your gas tank. And wouldn’t you know it: The predicted spike
in gas prices will coincide with the vacations of millions of Americans.
The national average for a gallon of regular gasoline, which has
been hovering around $3.50, is expected to spike by 25¢ to 30¢ over
the next few weeks, according to analysts cited by CNN Money and
NBC News. Wholesale prices of oil have surged over the past month,
and these increases are inevitably passed along to consumers in
the form of steeper prices at the pump. There’s some indication
the price hikes have already begun, and it’s anticipated that per-gallon
rates will keep rising by 1¢ or 2¢ daily, perhaps more.
“Short-term, we’re going to see the average go into the $3.60, $3.70
range,” said Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at GasBuddy.com. “You’re
looking at some markets that were closer to $3 a gallon, like the
upper Great Lakes, and they’re going to go back up and be closer
According to the AAA Fuel Gauge Report, one year ago at this time,
the national average was $3.38 per gallon, 14¢ less than the average
as of Thursday of this week. If prices rise in July and August as
experts anticipate, it’ll basically be a repeat of 2012, when prices
dipped in early summer before soaring from mid-summer on. During
one week in early August of last year, the national average rose
from $3.53 to $3.66, apparently due to inclement weather and refinery
Let’s at least hope this September doesn’t follow the pattern set
last year. Prices at the pump were expected to decline once Labor
Day had passed, and yet the opposite happened, with the national
average topping $3.80 toward the end of September of last year.
The 2012 end-of-summer surge, combined with previous pricing spasms,
made it the most expensive year ever for gasoline.
Earlier this year, most analysts forecast that 2013 wouldn’t beat
out 2012 for that dubious title. And yet thus far gas prices in
2013 have proven to be exceptionally volatile and unpredictable.
So perhaps it’s time to cross your fingers, and hope that the latest
prediction — that gas prices will increase sharply now and into
August — winds up being wrong.
Ashton to review shooting during FBI interrogation
State Attorney Jeff Ashton will conduct 'independent review' of
Ibragim Todashev shooting, his office says.
By Jeff Weiner, Orlando Sentinel 5:08 p.m. EDT, August 8, 2013
Orange-Osceola State Attorney Jeff Ashton confirmed his office is
reviewing the death of Ibragim Todashev, a friend of one of the
alleged Boston Marathon bombers who was killed during an interrogation
in a condo in Orlando.
Todashev, 27, was killed May 22 while he was being questioned by
a Boston-based FBI agent, Massachusetts state troopers and other
law-enforcement officers. The FBI has released little information
about the shooting.
In a statement Thursday, the Orange-Osceola State Attorney's office
said it "is in receipt of the preliminary investigation from the
Department of Justice in regards to the death of Ibragim Todashev."
"Mr. Ashton will conduct an independent review of the circumstances
surrounding the use of deadly force in this case, as he does in
all cases involving use of force by a law enforcement officer resulting
in death," the statement said.
There is "no timetable" for the review to be completed, and the
agency will not comment again until it is done, Ashton's statement
said. Initially, the FBI said Todashev initiated a "violent confrontation"
during the questioning.
"During the confrontation, the individual was killed and the agent
sustained non-life threatening injuries," the FBI said then. The
federal agency has not said whether Todashev was armed.
The agency also blocked the Orange-Osceola Medical Examiner's Office
from releasing the autopsy report. The ACLU had asked the Florida
Department of Law Enforcement to review the case, but that agency
declined last month.
Todashev is a friend of Tamerlan Tsarnaev who, with his brother,
set off pressure-cooker bombs that exploded near the finish line
of the marathon April 15, authorities say. Three people were killed
and more than 250 injured.
Miami man pleads guilty to theft in $90 million prescription drug
Posted on July 3, 2013 by Intervention Services
A man who was charged with stealing over $90 million in prescription
drugs from a Connecticut warehouse owned by pharmaceutical company
Eli Lilly in 2010 pled guilty in federal court on July 1.
Amed Villa, a Cuban citizen who was living in Miami at the time of
his arrest, along with his brother Amaury, was accused of breaking
into an Enfield, Connecticut warehouse by scaling an exterior wall
and cutting a hole in the roof. Then, the two lowered themselves to
the floor and disabled alarms before using a forklift to load pallets
of drugs into a waiting truck.
The men are thought by authorities to be members of an even larger
larger ring of warehouse burglars who have stolen from several facilities
on the East Coast.
The stolen drugs, which included antidepressants, antipsychotics and
chemotherapy medications, were uncovered in a storage facility last
year. Villa was tracked down through DNA on a water bottle that was
found in the hiding place.
"The Eli Lilly theft is reportedly the largest in Connecticut history,"
said acting U.S. Attorney Deirdre Daly in a statement. "I commend
the FBI in New Haven and the Enfield Police Department, as well as
our counterparts in [...] other jurisdictions, for their cooperative
investigative efforts in dismantling a prolific cargo theft ring."
Law enforcement officials are concerned that the number of major drug
thefts will continue to grow criminals try to feed an ever-increasing
demand for high-priced prescription medications. There have been recent
thefts similar to the one in Connecticut in Virginia, Tennessee and
If someone you love is engaging in risky and desperate behavior to
feed a prescription drug addiction, now is the time to act. Intervention
Services can connect you with a professional interventionist who can
help you get your friend or relative into an effective treatment program.