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Global Skywatch

Retail sales down, with one intriguing exception

by Vin Suprynowicz

America’s remaining retailers were already pretty well shell-shocked after seven years of Great Recession administered by those geniuses from Goldman Sachs. But store owners got whacked again when they totaled up retail sales for the long Thanksgiving weekend — traditional start of the Christmas shopping season — and found they were down 11 percent from an already lackluster 2013.

Who would have expected otherwise? Investors in America today operate in a high-risk environment. Our overreaching federal government, run by socialist rabble-rousers who have never had to meet payroll in any enterprise as expansive as a corner yogurt stand, can now shut down any enterprise by deciding it endangers some previously unrecognized weed or bug, or somehow generates too much “carbon pollution.” (A term purposely chosen to make you think of black smokestack soot but which has now been redefined, a la George Orwell, to mean colorless, odorless, carbon dioxide — necessary to life on earth. Really. Every time you or the nearest cow exhale, it’s “carbon pollution.” The federal courts say so.)

Survival thus means knowing who to bribe. Of course, we’re not supposed to call it “bribery.” Let’s just say some big “campaign contributions” — and retaining a senator’s sons or sons-in-law to handle “lobbying” and “legal services” — might be wise.

If you wanted to encourage honest investors to open businesses and develop new products and build factories and thus create new jobs in this country, you might want to offer them a high rate of return to compensate them for these risks. Instead, the current policy of our Keynesian pals at the Federal Reserve is to keep rates of return on U.S. investments as close as possible to zero. Brilliant.

Isn’t there any sector that’s doing better? I’m glad you asked.

Firearms retailers had a huge Black Friday — the first big shopping day after Thanksgiving. The FBI reported background check requests were coming in at a rate of three per second.

More than 144,000 background checks had to be performed to catch up with just those Friday sales, CNN reported. The three-requests-per-second number is three times the daily average. Some 600 FBI and contract call center employees had to work 17-hour workdays to complete the background checks in three business days, as required by law, FBI spokesman Stephen Fischer said.

“We are averaging three checks per second,” he said. “The challenge is to have staff keep up with this volume. We do that by limiting personal leave, asking employees to work extra shifts and re-utilizing former . . . employees to serve in NICS during this busy period.”

Why?

First, firearms hold their value pretty well. Fifty years ago, a five dollar bill would fill up a car with gasoline. Filling up a 1964 gas-guzzler today could probably cost you fifty dollars (even though gasoline has gone down in price when adjusted for inflation — now often costs less than bottled water.) So saving fiat greenbacks isn’t the answer. But a gun safe full of high-quality firearms from 40 or 50 years ago will have gone up considerably in value, providing you clean and oil them every couple of years. Stockpiling some guns and ammo makes sense, economically. Long shelf life, proven demand.

SHOOT FIRST, HANDCUFF THE CORPSE

But there’s another reason. A lot of Americans used to figure, “What do I need with a gun? If anyone ever threatens me or my family, I can always call the police.”

Well, first women started to figure out the police aren’t likely to show up in time if someone with bad intent breaks into your house, or spots you in a darkened parking lot or parking garage. Not only that, police can’t be held legally responsible to help you, even if you manage to get through on the phone. (Look up Warren v. District of Columbia — 444 A.2d. 1, D.C. Ct. of Ap. 1981.)

But increasingly, many Americans also take the view that if someone is going to shoot you, it may very well turn out to be the police.

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, author of “How America Was Lost,” was an Assistant Secretary of the Treasury and an associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. His columns have run in Business Week and through the Creators Syndicate.

In a Nov. 28 column headlined “Ferguson Reexamined,” Roberts wrote: “Few, if any, of the correct questions were asked in the grand jury hearing to decide whether policeman Darren Wilson would be indicted for killing Michael Brown.

“The most important unexamined question is whether police are trained to use force immediately as a first resort before they assess a situation or determine if they are at the correct address. Are the police trained that the lives of police officers are so much more valuable than the lives of possible suspects, or a houseful of people into whose residence a heavily armed SWAT team enters, that police officers must not accept the risk of judicious behavior when encountering citizens?

“If this is the case as all evidence indicates that it is,” Mr. Roberts continues, “then the police when they gratuitously murder members of the public are merely doing what they have been trained to do. As police are trained to use violence as a first resort, the police cannot be held accountable when they do.”

There are a large number of videos now available online that show that the first thing police do when they arrive is to initiate the use of force, Roberts points out.

(One video which is prominently missing, of course, is that which would show Clark County police gunning down Army veteran Erik Scott outside a Las Vegas Costco store in 2010. All the store’s other surveillance cameras were recording, that day — just not the one that might show us why three Metro officers ordered a panicked evacuation of the store and then drew their guns on a man with a holstered legal weapon who had not harmed anyone. Or so we’re told.)

UNIFORMED ‘PSYCHOPATHS’

“No sooner is Michael Brown in the grave than Cleveland cops kill a 12-year old boy who has a toy gun that shoots plastic pellets,” wrote columnist Roberts on Nov. 28. “The child is threatening no one — indeed, there is no one else present. The boy seems to be playing a fantasy game in his head. A busy body calls the police. The police arrive and instantly shoot the kid down.”

Videos are available. Search for “Tamir Rice”; you’ll find them.

“The police arrive and instantly open fire, making no effort whatsoever to assess the situation.”

Just a few days before Michael Brown was killed, Ohio police “murdered John Crawford inside a Walmart store. What had Crawford done?” columnist Roberts asks. “He had picked up a BB rifle from a Walmart shelf and was on the phone with the mother of his two children, perhaps checking with her whether he could purchase it for the kids. A busy body named Ronald Ritchie felt threatened and called the police. The police rush in and shoot Crawford. The police claim that they ordered Crawford to drop the rifle, but the video shows the police shooting Crawford on sight. The busy body Ritchie actually caused two deaths, as the incident of Crawford’s murder caused Angela Williams to die from a heart attack as she fled the store in response to the police gunfire.”

The Wal-Mart surveillance video is available online.

And “Yes, you guessed it. The grand jury decided the police were justified.”

Another incident in which policemen shoot instantly without cause (www.msnbc.com/all-in/watch/dashcam-shows-cops-shooting-an-unarmed-man-333655619609) turns out to be that “rare case in which the policeman was held accountable, most likely because the video prevented authorities from fabricating the usual story of police justification,” Roberts notes.

“In this video, police shoot down an unarmed black man in the street. After shooting Kajieme Powell ten times, the cops hold guns on the dead body while they handcuff a dead man. Like an almost endless number of other such videos, this one shows that either psychopaths are recruited for the police force, or police training turns cops into psychopaths. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_68bmTlGtQ8 .

“Most likely, Michael Brown was just another victim of the gratuitous violence that police are trained to use. Darren Wilson’s use of deadly force was in keeping with his training,” Paul Craig Roberts concludes.

“Anyone familiar with the American criminal justice (sic) system knows that any prosecutor can get or prevent an indictment from a grand jury. Prosecutors are allowed to determine what evidence is presented. Prosecutors are permitted to bribe witnesses with money or dropped charges. . . . Seldom does an indictment or refusal to indict turn on the true facts. The U.S. justice system is no longer concerned with justice, but with the careers of prosecutors, punishing the powerless, and protecting the powerful. As justice has largely departed the justice system, it is hardly surprising that police lack any concept of justice.”

Nor any concern that they’ll ever spend a day in jail.

So once again, as in 1776, Americans are reminded why, if we seek to remain in “a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

Vin Suprynowicz is the author of “Send in the Waco Killers” and “The Ballad of Carl Drega.” His new novel “The Testament of James,” is available at http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/BookDetailsPL?bi=14453647811 or on Kindle at http://www.amazon.com/Testament-Matthew-Hunter-Chantal-Stevens-ebook/dp/B00RNI9UVW .