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“If Guns Are Outlawed, Outlaws Will Have 3D Printers.”

Forbes has a fascinating article on the technical achievement and possible ramifications of the work of a person who goes by the name of “HaveBlue” who, using a 3D printer and about $30 worth of materials, “printed” a fully functional receiver for an AR-15 rifle.

The receiver usually contains the bolt carrier group, trigger group, and magazine port. In most handguns, the receiver, or frame, holds the magazine well or rotary magazine as well as the trigger mechanism.

The receiver is, in effect, the framework of a gun and holds the barrel and all of the other parts in place. It’s also the part of the gun that is technically, according to US law, the actual gun and carries the serial number.

The cost of 3D printers, like most things that are computer based, have dropped in price as time has passed. In fact, you can get a basic 3D printer for about $550 from a company called Printrbot. Or, if you’d like, you can get involved in the RepRap community, which is an open source development group which starts out by people making and or selling the basic parts of the printer in kit form for about $90.00. Once assembled, the basic printer itself can then make parts which allows the printer to be more accurate and versatile. With some open source 3D software such as Blender, Google Sketchup, or even just go to 3DTin, an online 3D design program, you are only limited by the size of the object you wish to create or print in 3 dimensions.

(If you aren’t sure what a 3D printer is, you can go to 3ders.org for basic information.)

Which brings us back to the AR-15 receiver made by HaveBlue.

When the weapon was assembled with the printed receiver HaveBlue reported he fired 200 rounds and it operated perfectly.

It is important to note that even though HaveBlue’s receiver was made out of ABS plastic, it still was able to be used with other metal parts such as the barrel and not blow up.

Image of HaveBlue’s receiver.

So here is the issue: if the government tries to regulate or pass ultra strict gun laws, how will those laws prevent criminals from “printing” their own weapons?
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Teachers, Leave Those Schools Alone!

A teacher’s union in Louisiana, the “Louisiana Association of Educators” has taken to threatening legal action against schools that accept educational vouchers from the state.

Schools that are accepting vouchers received a letter (seen below) from attorney Brian Blackwell of Blackwell and Associates in Baton Rouge.

The letter asserts that voucher program, known as the “Student Scholarships for Educational Excellence” is “blatantly unconstitutional” which is an odd claim to make as just two weeks ago, Judge Tim Kelley denied an injunction sough by Blackwell and Associates on behalf of the teacher’s union to stop the program. Blackwell and the union are appealing and the case is headed to the 19th Judicial District Court for the Parish of East Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

The teachers union lost the fight to prevent a voucher system in Louisiana so now they have taken to the courts to prevent what the parents, students and citizenry of Louisiana want – a good education for the children of the state. How bad is the education system in Louisiana?

The American Legislative Exchange Council ranks Louisiana 49th out of 51 states and the District of Columbia when it comes to performance of schools. The US Department of Education ranks Louisiana in the bottom 10 states in the union when it comes to education. All this is in spite of of Louisiana having more teachers per capita than the national average, as well as having an average class size of 14.2 students compared to the national average of 15.6 students per classroom according to the NEA.

It doesn’t take a genius to see the state of education in Louisiana is deplorable and instead of being held accountable for their failures, the union is seeking to blame those who wish to have a quality education for their children.

Instead of fixing the issue of quality education, the union went out and hired Blackwell and Associates who sent the letter to schools enrolled in the voucher program basically threatening them with legal action (based on what theory he never explains) but Blackwell is “kind” enough to include a form letter the school can send to the John White, the Superintendent of the School System opting out of the voucher program. As long as the school sends White the letter and sends a copy to Blackwell, the union won’t include the school in any sort of legal action.

Isn’t that nice of Blackwell? /sarcasm off

Many people are shocked by this action taken by Blackwell and Associates and the teacher’s union.
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This One Is Going To Get Us Into Trouble.

The Satellite Beach Police Department’s Motorcycle unit has won top prize in the Florida Motor Unit Challenge, which is a statistically based ranking of such units in the state. When you realize the unit (not even large enough to be a “division”) of two men and two Harley Davidson Road Kings were competing against 106 other police departments, many of whom are far larger in budget, equipment and personnel, the award of being the best is especially satisfying.

It was very nice to be recognized,” said Sgt. Eric Fuller of the Satellite Beach police. “I was very surprised when we were in the running against agencies like the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.”

[Sgt. Eric] Fuller and Cpl. Rob Mench, who both started work in Satellite Beach in the mid-1990s, make up the motor unit in the 23-officer beachside department.

The Florida Today Newspaper even had a nice picture gallery of the two officers, as well as a short video:

Both officers and the Satellite Beach Police Department should be congratulated for their award.

Nothing we say from this point on should diminish the award or the accomplishments of the two officers.

NOTHING.

We want to make that clear. Our next comments should not be taken as any type of disparaging remarks on the award, the officers, or the department.
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Stifling Speech Through Theft.

One of the issues that has arisen in the little town of Satellite Beach is that of a citizen who has a sign in his front yard which read “IMPEACH RHODES” and “RECALL SHERYL DENAN.” The signs are in reference to Vice Mayor Scott Rhodes and Councilwoman Denan. It is safe to say the citizen and the two Council members do not see eye to eye on much of anything, so there is some animosity between them.

Animosity is not a crime. Theft is.

The citizen has notified us that the signs were stolen from his property.

The citizen filed a police report which we believe will result in absolutely nothing – not because of the lack of effort by the police, but because the signs are probably in a landfill somewhere by now.

The theft raises a greater issue, however. It is hard to imagine the signs being stolen by people who are opposed to Denan and Rhodes. It is therefore logical to assume the signs were stolen by supporters of Denan and / or Rhodes. Will Denan and or Rhodes come out for the right of free speech and against the theft of private property?

It was Denan who had these signs on the City Council agenda for the Council’s July 18th meeting. During the actual meeting, the Council focused more on political signs and not signs such as this citizen has which are not regulated by the city. However, City Attorney Jim Beadle was to attend a symposium on “signs and speech” the following Thursday and Friday and the Council essentially tabled the item until he could report on the symposium.
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$35 Billion Lost And Obama Wants To Criticize Romney’s Record On Business?

One of Obama’s recurring themes is the successful turn around of General Motors. How successful has that been you ask?

The headline says it all:

Government Motors: GM Stock Hits New Low, Taxpayer Loss Hits $35 Billion

How can a $35 billion dollar loss to taxpayers can be considered as anything but an unmitigated disaster?

In the bailout of GM, the company was given extraordinary breaks on debt relief – relief that bordered upon, if not was, being illegal. The government ruled in declaring bankruptcy, GM did not have pay back several creditors. GM also managed to emerge from the bankruptcy without having to pay claims on defective products, or lawsuit judgements resulting from pre-bankruptcy cases.

So despite having unprecedented financial breaks, how are we on the hook for $35 billion?

GM doesn’t have to pay back anything else, but taxpayers are still out $26.4 billion in direct aid. The Treasury still owns 26.5% of GM — 500 million shares. The stock would have to rise to about 53 to break-even on that direct aid. At the current price, the Treasury’s stake is worth just $9.51 billion. (Taxpayers lose $5 million for each penny that GM stock falls).

That would leave taxpayers out $16.9 billion. But the true cost is much higher.

President Obama let GM keep $45 billion worth in past losses to write off future earnings. These carry-forwards are typically wiped out or severely cut along with debts as part of bankruptcy. But in this case, the administration gifted huge tax breaks with an $18 billion book value. (That’s how GM avoided taxes last year despite a bumper $7.6 billion profit.)

Including those tax write-offs, taxpayers are sitting on a bailout loss of $35 billion. (emphasis ours)

We highlighted two things we want people to remember. Think about the stakes here. For every penny the stock declines, taxpayers lose $5 million dollars. We accept the fact that the loss is on paper, but why are we in this predicament to begin with? Why does the US government have a stake in a private company?
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It Appears “Tolerance” Depends On Who Is Talking, Not What Is Said.

Chik-Fil-A President Dan Cathy has somehow managed to ignite a firestorm concerning his views on traditional marriage.

In remarks to the Baptist Press, Cathy, whose father founded the fast food giant, said:

Some have opposed the company’s support of the traditional family. “Well, guilty as charged,” said Cathy when asked about the company’s position.

“We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.

“We operate as a family business … our restaurants are typically led by families; some are single. We want to do anything we possibly can to strengthen families. We are very much committed to that,” Cathy emphasized.

“We intend to stay the course,” he said. “We know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles.”

Despite only advocating traditional marriage, those remarks have people claiming Chik-Fil-A is anti-gay, homophobic, intolerant, prejudicial, bigoted, hateful and a slew of other adjectives we cannot post on a “family friendly” blog.

Boston Mayor Tom Menino has taken a shot at Chik-Fil-A. The company is looking to open a franchise in the city and the Mayor is looking to block it.
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“About That Work Of Art You Can’t Sell? You Owe $29 Million In Taxes.”

To the left is a picture of Robert Rauschenberg’s work of art entitled “Canyon.” The piece is currently on loan to the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The artwork was part of a collection owned by New York art dealer Ileana Sonnabend who passed away in 2007, leaving to her children one of the most extensive collections of art in the world.

Her children have already paid $471 million in estate taxes on the collection, being forced to sell off most of it to meet the bill.

But “Canyon” is different. The work is a mixture of mediums – what some call a “combine” – that is not a painting, not a sculpture, or a mosaic.

One of the items in the work is a stuffed bald eagle. The eagle has been documented to have been stuffed in the days of Teddy Roosevelt. The date is important as it pre-dates the passage of the “Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act” which makes it a crime to:

….take, possess, sell, purchase, barter, offer to sell, purchase or barter, transport, export or import, at any time or any manner, any bald eagle … [or any golden eagle], alive or dead, or any part, nest, or egg thereof.”

Indeed, the only reason Mrs. Sonnabend was able to hold onto “Canyon,” Mr. Lerner said, was due to an informal nod from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service in 1981.

Even then, the government revisited the issue in 1998. Rauschenberg himself had to send a notarized statement attesting that the eagle had been killed and stuffed by one of Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders long before the 1940 law went into effect. Mrs. Sonnabend was then able to retain ownership as long as the work continued to be exhibited at a public museum.

The children of Ileana Sonnabend had three appraisers, including renowned auction house Christie’s, look at the work to appraise its value. Because “Canyon” cannot be sold under the Bald Eagle Act, all three appraisers assessed the market value of the piece to be zero, as in $0.00.

The IRS, which is supposed to base its value assessment on “market value,” initially assessed “Canyon” to be worth $15 million. After the family said they would not pay the taxes, the IRS Art Advisory Panel increased the evaluation to $65 million.
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Crotty Park Sign.

One of the the things that we did not cover in our summary of the Satellite Beach City Council Meeting of July 23, 2012 was an agenda item dealing with a sign for Sunrise Park, now to be named in honor of long time City Manager Mike Crotty.

There were several options on the table. Everything from a $70 enamel sign to a brass plaque on some coquina stone to a 6′ by 7′ unlit “monument sign.”

The Council was against funding the monument sign due to budgetary issues. We can talk all we want about the correctness of that position, but we have to say that Councilwoman Denan stepped up to the plate and said she would seek donors to fund the monument sign. Apparently she has already talked to some citizens and businesses in the area that are willing to donate to make the sign happen.

The Council then voted to fund up to $1000 of the cost of the sign, leaving Denan to find donors to cover the remaining $3200.00.

As people reading this blog know, we disagree with Denan on many issues, but on this one she got it right. Councilwoman Denan displayed the type of spirit that we believe is true to the people and ideals of Satellite Beach.

For that, she should be applauded.



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