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"Lets start here: "12,000 people a year die from firearms homicides in the US." Credible source please. Please be sure to include the number of inter-gang killings so we can distinguish them from innocent "civilians"." Source. And I think it's unreasonable for you to ask me to produce statistics for the percentage of inter-gang killings vs. civilian killings because gangs don't wear uniforms: how are you to know which is which? Regarding fertiliser... I would argue that it's much more difficult to create a fertiliser bomb than to shoot a gun. I don't know about you but I certainly don't know how to make explosives out of fertiliser. I've never used a gun in my life, but I'm pretty sure I would be able to if I picked one up. I don't know about the US in this regard, but in the UK the supply of materials to make such fertiliser bombs is tightly regulated; a private individual buying large amounts of such materials will set off plenty of alarm bells. Also, fertiliser and cars have other uses beside killing people; guns (almost always) do not.
@Suzanne: I have no idea. How about you find a credible source instead of just making facts up (like the UK having more 'home invasions' than the US). And anyway I would far prefer my house to be burgled than a bunch of kids to be killed in my local school. Regarding your other point - I just read this post at the HuffPo: "Yes, weird dudes kill people. But you know what really helps - guns and bullets. It's hard to limit weird dudes. It's a little easier to have reasonable limits on the guns they might buy and use against us." Also If a guy was walking around with a load of fertiliser in his backpack, you'd probably be able to smell it. @Cousin Dave: by the words "same day" I meant he went and bought it, and walked out of the shop on that same day, not the same day that he did this.
@Helian you're pretty rude. @Suzanne true, you don't need guns to kill people, but I think this guy would have had a much tougher time trying to kill 33 people in a university with a baseball bat or a knife than with a Glock (which can shoot up to about 30 rounds without reloading, depending on the magazine). You can't get a gun in the UK without a very good reason. 12,000 people a year die from firearms homicides in the US; in the UK it's 50. Is that a price worth paying?
americanbychoice: How do you know that the gun was purchased in a gun store in Virinia? The serial number was filed away. Do ou have any idea what you have to go through to get a gun permit in the USA? Not only a week waiting period, but also an FBI check is involved. If you have a record (Vorbestraft) you can't get a gun legally. The gun was legally bought from a gun shop. And the laws vary by state; there is no permit or waiting period in Virginia (there is a one-gun-a-month law though). And there's no background check in Virginia if you buy guns from gun shows or second-hand. Dan Kauffman: Restrictive gun laws were of no help to the 16 Children murdered in Dunblane, Scotland. Since the Dunblane massacre the gun laws in the UK have been substantially tightened; it is now illegal in almost all circumstances to own a gun, and as a result in 2005/6 in England and Wales there were only 50 homicides involving firearms (compared with 12,000 in the US). I don't understand why people are blaming the media for asking questions about the state of gun laws in the US. There obviously is a problem when someone can go into a shop, buy a gun on the same day and then go and kill 32 people. These are really important questions that desperately need to be answered to put a halt to the endless cycle of school and university shootings.
David: Not being well-versed in the finer points of German (or even Macedonian) abduction law, it's difficult to answer your question - and I suspect you are little better off than me in this respect. That said, there are plenty of examples of laws that have extra-territorial effect. From what I can gather, you've kind of misrepresented the situation above. Yes he was arrested. But then he was released, and *then* snatched by CIA "black renditions" teams. The way you describe it, it sounds like he was arrested by Macedonian authorities and then legally extradited into US custody. That isn't what happened. And he was abducted to a prison in Afghanistan according to reports, like this one from NBC news. You didn't answer my question: if Iran abducted US citizens from Germany, or Macedonia, or wherever, presumably you'd be OK with that? My point is not really whether or not the law was broken in this situation (although let's be honest: kidnap generally is regarded as illegal in most jurisdictions). I just don't understand why you're so upset at this, when what the German judiciary is doing is essentially defending the rights of German citizens.
americanbychoice: I took account of all the government entitlement programs when I created my hypothetical scenario. In this scenario, yes, Jane chose to forego medical coverage. BECAUSE IT WOULD HAVE COST HER 1/3 OF HER INCOME... Joe: how does Jane (in this scenario) have the right to healthcare? Are there any US states that recognise that their citizens have the right to healthcare? Because call me "misinformed", but I'm certainly not aware of any. Instead of just saying "yeah, well, you're wrong," how about you tell me *why* I'm wrong?
I'm not sure I understand what your problem is with this, Ray. Do you think it's acceptable for any country to abduct citizens of another, outside normal legal processes? What about if Iran abducted American citizens from Germany, for example? If this is what happened (and the law was broken), the judiciary has a duty to hold those responsible to account. And obviously (as someone else has pointed out already), you're conflating two separate branches of government. Note from David: Ray will most likely directly respond to your comment. If I may throw in my opinion: if a German travels to Macedonia - as Mr. Al-Masri did -, gets arrested (because he is suspected of terrorism) and is handed over to American authorities who decide to bring him to an American prison in Pakistan - where's the breach of law? I asked that before and didn't get an answer: is it prohibited to arrest German citizens in countries outside of the EU? Please respond.
joe, I realise I didn't identify Jane as being either an Apache or Sioux. So what? As to your second comment - yes, of course I have a position I want to sell because I passionately believe that every person has the right to healthcare, regardless of ability to pay. Pamela, I don't understand the point of your first response. $1700/month = $20,400 a year, which is a lot, lot more than the average of $8400/year for two people that I quoted. So instead of being 32% of Jane's income, it would be 77%. And despite paying over $20,000 a year, your husband wasn't covered? That's pretty crazy. Yes, it is good that the Washington Hospital Center and other similar charities are able to provide free healthcare to people who would otherwise not be able to afford it. BUT, if people could simply get healthcare from charities then there would be no point in paying for health insurance. As people *do* pay for health insurance, one can only assume that it's because the coverage of private charities is either patchy or, in some areas, non-existant. And how was my 'narrative' shallow? It describes a not-uncommon situation where people are too rich for government entitlement programs, but too poor to pay for their own healthcare. Although charities will pick up some of the slack, you can't expect them to be able to pay for the healthcare of 47 million Americans. Anyway, my argument is this: many Americans have no access to healthcare. It's not simply the view of 'ignorant' Europeans, it's a fact. I'll freely admit that the NHS in the UK is far, far from perfect. But eventually, everyone gets treated (and almost everyone within eight weeks of diagnosis). You spend over twice as much on healthcare as the United Kingdom - a whopping 16% of your GDP - and yet still have 12% of your population without any health coverage. There's something seriously wrong about that.
Suzanne- it's not exactly stretching reality to say that 47 million (mostly poor) Americans are not covered by either health insurance or government entitlement programs. And by the way, it's not anti-American to be outraged at the way your government neglects such a large number of your fellow citizens in this way. Take this example (based on this page at the US Department of Health and Human Services). Say a woman called Jane lives in South Dakota. She is a single mother with a daughter aged 6, and an annual income of $26,400. Accordingly, she has too much money for South Dakota's WIC program, her income is far above the federal poverty level of $13,200, and South Dakota does not have a "Medically Needy" program. It does have a CHIP program, but only for income up to 200% of the federal poverty level, so that counts her out again. The only option is private health insurance, which she'll have to pay for herself if her employer doesn't provide health insurance. In 2006, the annual premium for single coverage averaged over $4,200. Doubling that, healthcare would cost her over $8,400, or 32% of her annual income. That's almost a third of all the money she earns in a year. Many people in her situation, I suspect, will either not be able to afford it, or even if they can afford it, they may prefer to gamble and go without. So, Jane and her daughter have no healthcare. Then Jane's daughter develops leukaemia. What happens now? Also, how is your characterisation of "most Europeans" as 'ignorant' any different from similar characterisations of "most Americans"? just sayin'...
sorry, the third sentence should read "I don't think he's defending the Nazis at all, I presume he means that Wiesenthal was acting in a McCarthyist fashion."
Toggle Commented Sep 20, 2005 on Simon Wiesenthal Has Died at Davids Medienkritik
David, I certainly hope that doesn't mean you've banned him. Let's hear his arguments. I don't think he's defending the Nazis at all, I presume he means that Wiesenthal was acting in a McCarthyesque fashion. That's not a view I can personally identify with; I would simply say to him that I think the fact that people such as Eichmann were brought to justice underlines what a significant contribution Wiesenthal made to the world. We shouldn't forget that Wiesenthal not only stood for justice for the murdered Jews of Europe, but also for promoting understanding about and knowledge of the Holocaust throughout the world. And Johannes, I don't quite get the purpose of your comment. Mark
Toggle Commented Sep 20, 2005 on Simon Wiesenthal Has Died at Davids Medienkritik
No, Blair is more right-wing than Merkel because: 1. He has drastically cut welfare benefits since he came to power. Bear in mind that they weren't exactly high in 1997, as the Conservatives were in power beforehand. It's also not true to say that "he opposes further cuts to the welfare system" - having slashed unemployment benefit, he's now planning to take on the disabled and cut incapacity benefit. 2. Blair has failed to reinstate the link between pensions and earnings, and partly as a result, we now have lower pensions than even the USA. (UK 37.1%; USA 38.6%; Germany 45.8%; France 52.9%; Sweden 64.8% of average earnings, source OECD) 3. Blair has introduced both Tuition Fees (1998) - around £1250 a year - and now Top-up-Fees (2005) - up to £3000 a year into university education 4. The reason I mentioned the 40% income tax rate was that this is the main reason that spending on benefits, pensions and tuition fees has decreased. Kirchof's tax plan to decrease income tax to 25% of course would be a more right-wing taxation policy than both Blair's and the former tax policy of the CDU. Blair does not at all "favor increased immigration with no questions asked". That's absolute rubbish, and an idea perpetuated by the Conservatives and the rest of the Right during our recent election. In fact, asylum admissions into the UK are now lower than in 1995, when the Tories were in power, and asylum applications have fallen 65% in the last two years alone... (source: UNHCR) Re Iraq - I certainly don't want this to become a long and protracted argument about the war in Iraq (such arguments have proven themselves to be never-ending and ultimately pointless), but no, I don't think his support for it made him a right-winger. There is a minority opinion on the left which believes that the Iraq war was just on human rights grounds (Harry's Place and David Aaronovitch, for example).
Come on, it's very far from the truth to say that Schroeder got voted in simply because of anti-Americanism. Of course, he brought up his stance on the war in Iraq as can be expected (given that it's a popular position in Germany). But Schroeder also focused heavily on Kirchof's so-called "Flat-Tax", the belief that the CDU/CSU would make big cuts to the welfare state, and also Merkel's lack of experience. Quite simply put, he out-debated her, as was seen in the televised debate two weeks ago. Schroeder is a far more charismatic leader than Merkel will ever be able to be, and in the end I think that perhaps charisma and personality mattered far more than either main party's policies. As for what's going to happen now... well, frankly that's anyone's guess. Possibilities I guess would be: * SPD, Green, Die Linke * SPD, Green, FDP * SPD, CDU * CDU, Green, FDP Almost all of these options seem fairly unlikely though. Die Linke and the SPD are adamantly refusing to even discuss a coalition, the FDP have already declared that they won't enter into a coalition with the SPD & Greens, Schroeder and his SPD have declared they won't enter into a coalition with the CDU. In fact, strangely enough, I think the CDU/Green/FDP coalition is the least unlikely. That said, none of these possibilities seem very plausible or workable. Niko, I have to point out that Blair is no socialist - certainly not of the traditional (or European) type. He's significantly more right-wing than Merkel and probably than the rest of the CDU and FDP parties. While he has increased spending in the NHS (health service), he has drastically cut welfare benefits, and the top rate of income tax (for earnings over £30,000 - $54,000 or €44,000) is only 40%. My personal view is that fresh elections are probably the result of this vote. Whatever happens, it's certainly going to be an interesting, if rocky, road ahead in German politics for the next few months.