Patterico's Pontifications


The Second Amendment and the Zoo (Updated)

Filed under: Second Amendment — DRJ @ 8:40 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

A tiger at the San Francisco Zoo escaped, killing one zoo visitor and critically injuring two others before it was killed by the police:

“A tiger escaped its cage at the San Francisco Zoo today, killing one person and injuring two others, according to San Francisco police. The victims were all non-employees, said police spokesman Sgt. Steve Mannina. The condition of the two people who were wounded remains unclear.

The tiger was shot after the last attack. It had climbed on top of the victim, but started moving toward a group of approaching police officers. Several officers shot it with handguns, Mannina said.”

This blog post claims four tigers were loose at one point and that the tiger responsible for this attack also attacked a keeper earlier this year.

My sympathy to these victims. A fun, holiday trip to the zoo turned into a tragedy. However, if the SF Zoo is a gun-free zone – and it probably is – maybe it should rethink that rule. In addition, San Francisco should (but probably won’t) rethink its pending appeal of a trial court order overturning San Francisco’s city-wide gun ban.

After all, self-defense can be necessary anywhere – even at the zoo.

UPDATE 12/27/2007 – The director of the SF Zoo admits the wall around the tigers’ den was too low. A follow-up post is here.


Illegal Immigration Hurts … Illegal Immigrants

Filed under: Crime,Immigration — DRJ @ 2:47 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Illegal immigration has pros and cons but anecdotal reports suggest it can be especially dangerous for illegal immigrants. The story of 14-year-old Luis Antonio Gonsalez is one example:

“Police canceled an Amber Alert this afternoon after finding the 14-year-old boy in good health in an Austin apartment, less than 24 hours after his alleged abduction. Investigators said Santos Vasquez, 33, kidnapped Luis Antonio Gonsalez from the Shell station at U.S. 290 and Becker Road on Monday evening, while Gonsalez’s mother was left behind. Vasquez was arrested and remains in custody in San Marcos.

Authorities said Gonsalez’s mother owed money to Vasquez, a coyote, for bringing her daughter to the U.S. Investigators said Vasquez kidnapped Gonsalez and intended to hold him until his mother paid the debt.

Vasquez is being held without bail and will face kidnapping charges in Harris County. Four other suspects were arrested after being found with Gonsalez.

Illegal immigration is not a victimless crime.


Christmas in Iraq

Filed under: War — DRJ @ 2:30 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Christmas in Iraq is surging:

Iraqis Crowd Churches for Christmas Mass

Thousands of Iraqi Christians made their way to church through checkpoints and streets lined with blast walls, many drawing hope from a lull in violence to celebrate Christmas Mass in numbers unthinkable a year ago.
Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly, leader of the ancient Chaldean Catholic Church and Iraq’s first cardinal, celebrated Mass before about 2,000 people in the Mar Eliya Church the eastern New Baghdad neighborhood of the capital. “Iraq is a bouquet of flowers of different colors, each color represents a religion or ethnicity but all of them have the same scent,” the 80-year-old Delly told the congregation.

Muslim clerics—both Sunni and Shiite—also attended the service in a sign of unity. “May Iraq be safe every year, and may our Christian brothers be safe every year,” Shiite cleric Hadi al-Jazail told AP Television News outside the church. “We came to celebrate with them and to reassure them.”

William Jalal, a 39-year old father of three attending Mass at Mar Eliya, said this Christmas was clearly different.

“We didn’t celebrate like this in the past two years as we were holding limited celebrations for relatives in an atmosphere filled with fear,” said Jalal, a cook in one of Baghdad’s social clubs. “Now we feel better as we see all these security forces in the streets to protect us.”

It sounds like Iraqi Army and Police are the ones providing protection. That’s good news, too.


New York Times: MasterCard Reports Dissappointing Holiday Sales

Filed under: Economics — DRJ @ 1:52 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

In an article dated December 26, 2007 (but available online at 3:00 PM EST Christmas Day), The New York Times reports “bleak” holiday sales based on disappointing MasterCard charges:

“American consumers, uneasy about the economy and unimpressed by the merchandise in stores, delivered the bleak holiday shopping season retailers had expected, if not feared, according to one early but influential projection.

Spending between Thanksgiving and Christmas rose just 3.6 percent over last year, the weakest performance in at least four years, according to MasterCard Advisors, a division of the credit card company. By comparison, sales grew 6.6 percent in 2006, and 8 percent in 2005.

“There was not a recipe for a pick up in sales growth,” said Michael McNamara, vice president of research and analysis at MasterCard Advisors, citing higher gas prices, a slowing housing market and a tight credit market.

Strong demand at the start of the season for a handful of must-have electronics, like digital frames and portable GPS navigation systems trailed off in December. And robust sales of luxury products could not make up for sluggish sales of jewelry and women’s clothing.

What did eventually sell was generally marked down — once, if not twice — which could hurt retailers’ profits in the final three months of year. “Stores are buying those sales at a cost,” said Sherif Mityas, a partner at the consulting firm A.T. Kearney, who specializes in retailing.”

However, online and luxury sales increased significantly:

MasterCard found that online spending rose 22.4 percent, a healthy, if not robust, showing, given fears that Web purchases would slow after a decade of impressive growth.

Clothing sales rose a meager 1.4 percent, but there was a stark split between genders. Sales for women’s apparel dropped 2.4 percent. Sales for men’s apparel rose 2.3 percent. Analysts said women complained of dreary fashions. “Even when the dust settles, women’s clothing is likely to be one of the weakest categories in retail this season,” said John D. Morris, senior retail analyst at Wachovia Securities.

Luxury purchases rose 7.1 percent, as the nation’s well-heeled splurged on $600 Marc Jacobs trench coats and $800 Christian Louboutin shoes. Footwear, at all prices, proved a bright spot for the clothing industry, with sales surging 6 percent.”

An increase of 22% is definitely robust by anyone’s evaluation. I’m sure the New York Times would be glad to see its ad rates and stock price increase 22%.

The article noted Target’s sales were weak while Wal-Mart and Best Buy were big winners. That makes me curious how the author knows – as stated in the first line of the article – that people didn’t use their MasterCards because they were unimpressed with the merchandise. Apparently they liked the merchandise at Wal-Mart and Best Buy. This illustrates why it’s hard to extrapolate MasterCard’s data to the US Christmas market and answer “Why?” questions based on solely on data.

Nevertheless, the author’s conclusion may be correct. Certainly one reason that supports his conclusion that people are uneasy about the economy is that more people have reached their credit card limits or are in default. There can be many reasons for credit card defaults, including not only the reasons mentioned in the Times’ article but also things like changes in federal bankruptcy law and the ready availability of credit. Easy credit lets people use credit cards to incur debt far beyond what they can reasonably repay, and more and more people are taking advantage of that kind of credit.

In addition, I think health care costs are a factor for some households. Even with health insurance, catastrophic medical events can devastate a family’s budget. The nature of our health care system makes it almost impossible to determine what treatment will cost until it’s completed, so people have no ability or incentive to evaluate whether the costs are worth incurring.


Merry Christmas 2007

Filed under: General — DRJ @ 11:07 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

This Merry Christmas is brought to you by HRH HM Queen Elizabeth II, courtesy of YouTube (embedding disabled by request). She also has a MySpace profile but there are no blog entries yet but her “About Me” section is pretty impressive.

Our home is far more humble but our family sends best holiday wishes from our house to yours.


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