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How Worshiping The Market Can Bring Ebola to the US

By: spocko Wednesday July 30, 2014 2:24 pm

Anyone watching The Strain? It combines some real science with zombie/vampire stuff mixed in. What stuck me about the show was how realistic some parts were (like the first CDC team sweep of the plane) combined with a ridiculous number of people carrying the idiot ball. But the part that seems craziest is actually more realistic than people realize.

In this clip the CDC is overruled in a medical quarantine situation by the Director of Health and Human Services.

There is no way this would happen in real life in the US. I just can’t suspend my disbelief when they get stuff like this wrong. When it comes to people’s health the medical community always has the final say, like Bones had over Captain Kirk on the Enterprise.

But then I remembered when Christine Todd Whitman overruled the EPA and ignored the medical community and doctors’ advice regarding people working at ground zero after 9/11.

The EPA was not given full control over its press releases in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks. Administrator Whitman issued a memo on September 12 announcing that “all statements to the media should be cleared through the NSC [National Security Council] before they are released,”5 and the New York Post reported that National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice was “the final decision maker” regarding the release of information by the EPA.6 In addition the OIG report details how the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) pressed the EPA to “add reassuring statements and delete cautionary ones” from agency press releases.7 For example, information discussing the potential health risk for “sensitive populations” from exposure to particulate matter was discouraged from inclusion in a press release by a CEQ official, and language discussing detected levels of asbestos was softened.8 The involvement of NSC and CEQ officials raises questions as to whether public health concerns were trumped by political and security priorities.

-World Trade Center Rescue Workers Believed EPA, Ended Up Sick
Union of Concerned Scientists.

What were Whitman’s motives for downplaying the risk? “Political and security priorities.” Now of course the circumstances in that case were extraordinary. But decisions like this are made all the time under less extraordinary circumstances.

Ebola outbreak: Liberia shuts most border points

We are focusing on Ebola because it is news. We won’t get Ebola here in the US for a number of reasons. One reason is Ebola doesn’t have a good lobbying and PR firm. When it comes to infectious diseases, it helps to have people in high places. People who want to describe their pathogen as “naturally occurring,” who delay life saving performance standards, dictate which words doctors can use to describe a condition and most astonishingly, convince everyone the burden of protection is on the victims in order to avoid responsibility for their problems.

People in the US are not dying from Ebola, however they are dying from Salmonella, Listeria, Norovirus, Campylobacter spp, E.Coli O157:H7, and host of other food-borne pathogens.

Our doctors know that protecting the lives of the people is more important than the parts of economy that might be negatively affected in the short term. But as we see in this fictional show and in real life, sometimes the doctors aren’t in charge when it comes to prevention and spread of disease. What would seem outrageous behavior if it happened with one infectious disease is considered the “industry standard” when it comes to another.

We can dance around the reasons, but we should acknowledge that in our current unfettered capitalist world, human lives have a price. Some are more valuable than others. Until the correct number of “valuable” lives die in a splashy way, “the market” as a whole, and “shareholder value” often wins. But just like scary or sparkly vampires, we don’t have to buy into these myths. On the podcast, Virtually Speaking, Jay Ackroyd discusses the book, The Shareholder Value Myth: How Putting Shareholders First Harms Investors, Corporations, and the Public with the author Lynn Stout.

Like vampires, corporations are not living entities. But these fictional creations wield a lot of power, are immortal and hold people in thrall to their ideas. They put their self interest and continued existence over the lives of the humans who created them, the ones they feed on, and those who serve them. 

Currently Reps. DeLauro and Slaughter have  introduced legislation to strengthen USDA’s power to protect public health. I ask you, who would be against protecting public health? What kind of hypnotic trance could dark, powerful entities exert over the people’s power to protect human lives? You know the answer.

This summer corporations will hire lobbyists to block laws so that science is ignored. If you attack a corporate entity for putting profits before people, you are seen as the unreasonable one, and may get sued and/or arrested. (Related: Journalists subpoenaed in Pink Slime maker’s lawsuit against news organizations)

We know how money power works on elected officials, but these entities don’t just use money, corporate lobbyists also twist facts and exploit myths many believe, such as “for-profit companies must maximize returns to shareholders.” The fact is that there is no legal requirement for for-profit companies to maximize returns to shareholders. Some push the myth that “The Market” will eventually fix the problem if government would just get out of their way. (This of course ignores the pile of sick, dead and dying humans needed to finally get”The Market” do its magic.)

I know vampires and zombies aren’t going to kill me, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t non-living creations out there whose human-directed actions can lead to my death. I try not to take it personally. It’s just business.


BREAKING: UPDATE Malaysia Airlines Plane Reported Shot Down on Ukraine-Russia border

By: spocko Thursday July 17, 2014 8:43 am


A Malaysian Airlines craft in flight

Spocko anticipates the media spin as another Malaysian Airlines flight crashes.

In the minutes, hours and days to come you will be reading a lot about this story. This is a tragedy with the loss of multiple lives that will effect thousand of people’s families and friends. There will be a lot of speculation, incomplete information and conflicting reports. My friend Dave Johnson often reminds me that people who closely follow the news with a critical eye notice how it is shaped, spun and redirected.

We will be told not to speculate without enough information, while all the experts and both ‘fair and balanced’ broadcasters and journalists WILL speculate. Even people we respect will offer opinions based on certain biases. This is a chance to watch for them. Maybe even to point them out.

Here is the Google News headlines and links as off 9:29 PST:

Malaysia Airlines Loses Contact With Passenger Plane Over Ukraine ABC News


Realtime Coverage

  • Ukraine Accuses Russia of Shooting Down Fighter Jet Wall Street Journal
  • Malaysia Airlines Passenger Jet Crashes in Ukraine, Reports Say NBCNews.com 
  • Ukraine accuses Russia of downing plane; Moscow attacks new sanctions Los Angeles Times
  • Ukraine says Malaysian airliner shot down, 295 dead -agency Cyprus Mail
  • Ukraine’s president say his nation did not shoot at any airborne targets; Minneapolis Star Tribune
  • Malaysian airliner crashes in east Ukraine DigitalJournal.com 
  • Malaysia Airlines Loses Contact With Plane Over Ukraine KUOW
  • Malaysia Airlines Passenger Jet Crashes in Ukraine, Reports Say NBCNews.com 

Here are a few questions that will come up in maybe 24 or 48 hours. I don’t want to minimize the tragic loss of life, but that will not stop Fox News from working hard to pin this on liberals, Obama, Hillary Clinton or John Kerry.

  1. How does this help John McCain? In his comments about Foreign policy? (UPDATE. John McCain just appeared on CNN at 10:30 PM)
  2. What did Obama know about this? Did his failure to act in the Ukraine crisis help this happen?
  3. Isn’t this just a distraction from Benghazi? (Three to five days for this one, I’m starting the clock.)
  4. Has John Kerry responded? Hillary? Why are they always so slow to respond when it involves Obama’s failures in foreign policy?


If you were Roger Allies what spin would you suggest your anchors use on this news piece to attack liberals, the White House and Hillary Clinton?

If you compare headlines then substance and analysis as the story develops you will see how Fox New, Limbaugh and the RW media move the needle away from the issues there and move them to the issues here. They will be asking, How does this effect the November election of Obama? That is how it is done by the grandmaster of deception to further his agenda.

Can We Talk About the Economics, Politics and Religion in Snowpiercer?

By: spocko Wednesday July 2, 2014 5:00 pm

Snowpiercer. Have you seen it? Heading into the blizzard

I saw the movie Brazil when it was first released in a big domed theater in San Jose.

It blew me away. I dragged others to it so I could see it again and again. I wanted people to see it so we could discuss it. I feel the same way about Snowpiercer.

I’ve read about 20 reviews of the movie and most reviewers assume everyone “gets” the various issues the film brings up and focuses on the directing, acting and cinematography. Some call the allegories and metaphors “heavy handed.” Others touch on the economic theories shown and class struggles, but don’t spell them out. I’d like to hear from people who can spell them out and talk to me about what they mean.

For example, there are a lot of references to Ayn Rand’s work. I know about her work but not enough to spot all the connections. Someone asked me if Snowpiercer portrayed her views in a good or bad light. I said both, it depended on which part of the train you were on. Which raised the question, “Where am I in our economic train? How did I get here? Why am I not revolting?” (Although some may disagree on that last bit.)

Before I watched the movie I read Thomas Franks’ interview with author Barry Lynn. The title is, “Free markets killed capitalism: Ayn Rand, Ronald Reagan, Wal-Mart, Amazon and the 1 percent’s sick triumph over us all.”

They discuss the concentration of economic power in many different industries, it’s really shocking to read and describes how we got here and how certain ideas are harming us. He brings up interesting history from the era when people understood why concentration of power was a bad thing and what they did to prevent it.

When did America stop suspecting and fighting power, concentration and dominance? 

I recently had a great conversation with a friend on this issue who reminded me of some small “r” republican values that are out of favor. One was the idea that dominance is something that should be thwarted. As in the East Indian Company and a certain Boston Tea party. Steps were put into place to stop concentrations of power. Some are still in place, but not enforced or toothless. During Reagan’s era the idea was to switch focus to the consumer and prices. Frank asks:

All the stuff you’re saying about industrial liberty and freedom from bigness, private governance, whatever, industrial feudalism, all that’s gone and it’s about the consumer and prices?

Another aspect of the movie were religious themes and human empathy. I spotted Christianity and Hinduism, but also the dominant religion of many in America, the religion of the free market. 

I don’t want to spoil the movie for people, I want people to see it. I want to ask the people who call themselves Christians, how can you actively embrace programs that are clearly against the teaching of Christ? I want to ask their response to real world scenarios, not just movie ones. But if I shove real hypocrisy in their face what do I get? “Well I’m not perfect, we are all sinners.” If you really worship Christ show me. Show me in every action of your life. Are you really following His teachings or Ayn Rand? I understand not following all of a Church’s teachings, some are out of date, but if you aren’t following those, what model ARE you following? Are you a cafeteria capitalist? Or a cafeteria Catholic?

In the movie Snowpiercer are you more like John Hurt’s character or Tilda Swinton? Do you relate to the cook or the gate lock designer? Or do you think you run the train? Do you punch down or punch up when it comes to injustice?

Murdoch’s Favorite Editor, Rebekah Brooks, Cleared of Phone Hacking Charges

By: spocko Tuesday June 24, 2014 4:12 pm

News International in front of the Select Committee

Former News of The World editor Rebekah Brooks cleared of all charges. Fellow former editor Andy Coulson found guilty of conspiracy to hack phones.

The former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks has been cleared of all charges in the phone hacking trial at the Old Bailey.<

Brooks, the one-time editor of the News of the World, was overcome with emotion as she was found not guilty of involvement in a conspiracy to hack phones between 2000 and 2006, as well as misconduct in a public office and perverting the course of justice.

But while Brooks walked free from court to a waiting black cab today, her fellow former editor and ex-Downing Street spin doctor Andy Coulson was found guilty on one count of phone hacking.

The jury returned this morning after continuing its deliberations for an eighth day, following the high profile trial that began in October last year.

Brooks and Coulson, along with retired managing editor Stuart Kuttner, had been accused of being part of a conspiracy to hack phones over the course of a six-year period.  – The Independent, Adam Withnall

In July of 2012 I hosted a Book Salon on Tom Watson’s and Martin Hickman’s book: Dial M for Murdoch: News Corporation and the Corruption of Britain. At the time I remember thinking what a great story it was and I wanted to learn how we could have a similar impact on Fox News and News Corp here in the US.

Now we see what political power can get you. I’m sure there is a lesson for us here in the US. I remember thinking, “With a combo of good journalists, lawyers and politicians we could uncover dirt at Fox News.” We could even use the Corrupt Foreign Practices Act. But the trick was to find others who felt as strongly as I did.

I’m an idealist and a fighter. I’m not a prosecutor or politician. One of my big take aways from this trial is that your target and goals don’t have to be the same. The King will protect his favorites but he will also sell out almost anyone else to do it. Aim for the top knowing the King will even burn the Prince if necessary, which gets you the Prince! The Prince’s crimes are just as bad, and that can lead to reforms.

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life?

This last week I’ve been rather depressed about the ability of powerful people to skirt and use the law, the political system and a cooperating media to avoid accountability. 

But I don’t want to discount all the good work that was done by the journalists, lawyers and politicians like MP Tom Watson who brought this hacking case to light. It was used to reign in some of Murdoch’s power.

I sometimes wonder, “What can we do to reign in Roger Ailes power?” Is there a strategic campaign to make it happen? We can see that it’s not just money in politics that has an impact, it is also the media in politics. Murdoch loses 100′s of millions of dollars on some newspaper properties because he knows that is a different kind of power. (Which reminds me of the old joke, “Sure we lose money on every paper we sell but we make it up in VOLUME!”) Murdoch wants and has VOLUME!

LOL Comedy Media, But We Need the Real Media Too

The people that really cover the media today are the comedy media. The comedy media is great, but their work doesn’t lead to prosecutions, firings, civil damages and prison time. I’m sure Colbert and Stewart will have a hilarious story about this case but they are just reacting to and mocking the media. The non-comedy media shouldn’t be afraid of taking on Fox News, but they are since they think they might get a job there some day.

Maybe Fox News Shouldn’t get the Press Exemption 

I don’t think Fox News is a “Press entity” but the house PR and advertising firm for the Republican party and the conservative agenda. (FEC might even agree with me see press exemption part some day.) A story about illegal actions going on behind the scenes at Fox would help make this clear. The story about Alies and his PR guy could have been a criminal case if we had some of that zeal for prosecution here in the US instead of pay offs.

How Foster Farms Used the USDA, Big Chicken Lobbyists and Lawyers to Avoid a Recall

By: spocko Thursday June 19, 2014 8:12 pm

On the surface this story is good news. But read further as I dissect this announcement, the media coverage and wonder what levers were pulled and words tweaked to get there.
All Safeway Chicken Is Foster Farm Chicken!
Amid Outbreak, Foster Farms Steps Up Food Safety

Foster Farms poultry producers announced Monday that they’ve dramatically lowered levels of salmonella in chicken parts — and invested $75 million to do it — even as the firm battles a food poisoning outbreak that has sickened nearly 600 people in more than a year.

Most recent 10-week data shared with the U.S. Department of Agriculture showed that salmonella levels in the firm’s chicken parts had dropped to 2 percent — far below the industry benchmark of 25 percent, Foster Farms officials said. 

The announcement came at a Modesto, California, gathering aimed at marking the family-owned firm’s 75th anniversary. Foster Farms was lauded by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Dr. David Acheson, former chief medical officer of the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service and former associate commissioner for foods at the Food and Drug Administration.

‘Certainly there was a problem,’ said Acheson, who is now serving as a paid member of the Foster Farms Food Safety Advisory Board. ‘They are definitely addressing the problem going forward.’

Why does this make me sick? Three reasons:

1) This phrase is cleverly misleading: “salmonella levels in the firm’s chicken parts had dropped to 2 percent — far below the industry benchmark of 25 percent.

This “industry benchmark” is suggested by the poultry industry saying, “This is our average. Some better, some worse but on average one out of four packages of chicken parts is contaminated.”  The phrase that really means something, because it can have regulatory teeth, is performance standard. However, right now there is no USDA performance standard for chicken parts. 

The performance standard the USDA has is only for whole chickens and it is 7.5 percent. (BTW, getting the USDA FSIS to admit this was like pulling teeth.) Here is the note from them:

In 1996, FSIS set the first performance standards for young chickens (broilers). At that time, the national average for Salmonella on young chickens (broilers) was 20%. Today, the national average of Salmonella on young chickens (broilers) is 7.5%. The performance standard for young chickens (broilers) is not the same for chicken parts. FSIS recently completed the first baseline survey of chicken parts and determined the national average of Salmonella on this product type was 24%. FSIS will use the information gathered in the baseline survey to develop a performance standard for chicken parts.

What this means is that until the performance standard for chicken parts is set and violated, often over a few months, there will not be a suggestion for a recall. With whole chickens when you go over 7.5% you are in category 3 danger zone and get extra monitoring.

Also, with a few exceptions, the USDA can’t mandate a recall. When they are serious they will do things like remove their approval unless things are fixed. That often triggers a recall, but even that action can be forestalled with the right set of strategies, connections and understanding of the system.

The other brilliant part about using “industry benchmark” and setting it at 25%  is that it gets people to think 25% is average, so 15% looks good, 7.5% is great and 2% is a heroic miracle.  

We are all familiar with the Overton Window and the power of word choice in shaping the narrative. It is in the best interests of the industry to start with a high “industry average” so any progress won’t be too hard to show. But note who is driving the bus to use that top line number. Why not take the best number in the industry and demand the others meet it?

2) Lauded by Sen. Dianne Feinstein. I’m really glad I didn’t go to Feinstein’s office to ask why my FOIA request about the lack of a recall on the Foster Farms outbreak was rejected. Now I need to expand it to include Foster Farms’ correspondence with her office. If they won’t provide it, maybe the NSA can.

3) Dr. David Acheson, is now serving as a paid member of the Foster Farms Food Safety Advisory Board. I’m sure Dr. David is a great guy and at least he’s transparent that he is being paid. 

Anyone else a little queasy? Before I go further I’m going to give a huge tip of the hat to the lobbyists, lawyers, former USDA people and the communications people at Foster Farms. You have protected your industry, client and employer, but what about the chicken eating public?

I attempted to find out exactly how and why this Salmonella Heidelberg outbreak didn’t lead to a recall. The power of industry to work the system is  almost awe inspiring. If you weren’t a victim of food poisoning, you might agree.

“I was sick for seven unsolid days.” 

Last year I got sick from eating Salmonella Heidelberg contaminated Safeway Farms chicken parts. I prepared the leg and thighs myself and used my high-end digital thermometer to ensure it was over 165 degrees. Mrs. Spocko was fine. I was sick for seven unsolid days–if you know what I mean.

FTC Busts Company for Using Dr. Oz To Sell Products — Is Halliburton Next?

By: spocko Tuesday June 17, 2014 6:00 pm

Last month the Federal Trade Commission sued Pure Green Coffee for using footage from “The Dr. Oz Show” to sell a weight lost supplement on their websites. 

The sites featured footage from The Dr. Oz Show, supposed consumer endorsements, and purported clinical proof that dieters could lose weight rapidly without changing their diet or exercise regimens. The defendants also ran paid banner and text ads that appeared on search engines and contained phony weight loss claims.

The defendants set up websites to look like legitimate news sites or blogs.  

The fake news sites featured mastheads of fictitious news organizations such as Women’s Health Journal and Healthy Living Reviewed, as well as logos they appropriated from actual news organizations, like CNN and MSNBC.

This week Dr. Oz went before the Senate subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance to examine protecting consumers from false and deceptive advertising of weight-loss products. Dr. Oz admitted there is no medical evidence verifying the efficacy of many supplements he promotes, including green coffee beans. 

‘Not only did these defendants trick consumers with their phony weight loss claims, they also compounded the deception by advertising on pretend news sites, making it impossible for people to know whether they were seeing news or an ad,’ said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.

Now let’s do some parallel construction here folks (I learned this from watching a lot of TV).

In 2003 retired generals went on TV using bogus claims plus false and deceptive information to sell a war. Many worked for military contractors, which would make money in a war selling weapons and other goods and services. Their relationships with their contractors were not made public at the time.

The generals’ information, as well as other deceptive information from the White House went onto the “fake news” sites like Fox News. Actual news organizations, like the New York Times, CNN and MSNBC also used this information. Years later participants admitted there was no evidence verifying weapons of mass destruction.

The actual story of how the war was sold to us is worse.  In his Pulitzer Prize winning story, Behind TV Analysts, Pentagon’s Hidden Hand David Barston describes how it was done, who did it and how the media cooperated. 

False info spread:

In turn, members of this group have echoed administration talking points, sometimes even when they suspected the information was false or inflated. Some analysts acknowledge they suppressed doubts because they feared jeopardizing their access.

Unlike Dr. Oz, who didn’t profit from the companies using his image, for many of the military analysts financial gain and conflicts of interests were clear.

The group was heavily represented by men involved in the business of helping companies win military contracts. Several held senior positions with contractors that gave them direct responsibility for winning new Pentagon business.

Now everyone is pointing to Paul Wolfowitz or Bill Kristol getting another bite at the war apple. I wonder if the media is going to look at all these military analysts they had on at the time. Will some of them be back? Will they look at their business interests this time? Will they mention the business interests they had at the time of the war?

The Bush/Cheney/Rumsfield White House people understood just how powerful military analysts were to the sale. Torie Clarke, assistant secretary of defense for public affairs and a former public relations executive, oversaw the Pentagon’s dealings with the analysts. She believed in our current spin-saturated news culture opinion is swayed most by voices perceived as authoritative and utterly independent.

That is why the retired generals didn’t talk about their business relationships and the networks either didn’t ask or blamed the analysts:

If I’m Right, China Will Step In and Stabilize Iraq

By: spocko Friday June 13, 2014 5:59 pm

This time around with the Iraq war I want to be on the “winning side” I don’t mean being right, I mean getting paid to be wrong. What good is being right if you can’t monetize it? My contract work at one of the Big 8 peace firms is up, so I’ve been shopping around for new clients.

I can’t reveal who they are but this client wants a stable Middle East. They aren’t as concerned with Iraqis as they are with keeping the spice (I mean oil) flowing. They also believe war is the answer. I can’t dissuade them of this, and as I said, it’s not profitable being right, so I came up with a solution.

Get China to step in and stabilize Iraq.
War Is A Racket

It’s their turn to be muscle for Big Business.

As Old Gimlet Eye, Smedley Butler, told us back in the 1930′s. US troops are used to protect industry players and their assets around the world. Why do people in the US have to do all the dying, spending all the money and still not have any control? It is especially annoying if we aren’t getting the benefits anymore. Let some other country throw a couple of trillion down that bloody sand hole.

Now some of these companies have a sentimental attachment to using the US military because that is where they started. They aren’t so attached to the US that they pay full taxes here, but their wives tell them that “American boys” dying in a war is a bad thing. 

So I’m getting the idea out there now, let China fix the problem. It will be like we are the French leaving Vietnam and they are the US coming in later.

Think about how many ways that this will work for us (and by us I mean me and my new client.)

The Chinese are sitting on tons of money from making crap for the people in the US. They can send pallets of 20 billion Yen to Iraq and not even notice it unless someone starts talking about raising taxes. If they do, imprison them.

They have a surplus of men. They can can balance their whole population gender problem with a couple of poorly thought out ground deployments against the well-armed ISIS groups.

Now of course this isn’t how I will sell it to the Chinese. I would first work up some historic grudge between Iraq and China. Then I would find some kind of story about how Iraq was behind supporting Falun Gong or the Tienanmen Square riots or something. Oh, I know, I’ll plant the story that “Iraq is where Tank Man went to hide!” finally I would leak though the Great Firewall of China that Iraq used all those US pallets of cash to buy some nukes, but it’s not Israel that should be afraid–it’s China. China is getting too big and their desire for resources is too much. Tank Guy has been telling everyone in Iraq how terrible China is–they are worse than the US! They all know how bad we are plus China has human rights violations! Also, ocean’s can’t protect them!

What is great about this plan is that the state controlled media will love this, it is a drama they can show on TV that is not about attacking their own countrymen! Besides, if everyone is going to get cars, they need more oil. If people complain about picking up a war they didn’t start they can be ignored, locked up or conscripted. In fact conscription might be better than working at a Foxconn plant, if they want to commit suicide they just have to walk into enemy gun fire trying to “rescue” someone and they die a hero. Win Win!

Speaking of winning, as a capitalistic country their weapons manufacturers will have a chance to make some real money. They will have to maintain the same level of technology that the US had. Since they are already making most of the parts for the drones, they will just hack into our computers, get the few extra bits of code, change the location of the deliveries and it’s off to the races!

I’m working on some of the backing documents now. Look for my Project for a New Chinese Century coming out soon.

Sunday’s Shooting: 2 Vegas cops, 1 bystander killed in ambush; 2 suspects dead

By: spocko Sunday June 8, 2014 8:47 pm

Cici Pizza shooting street signs

Five people were dead Sunday after a man and a woman ambushed two police officers at a Las Vegas pizzeria and then stormed a nearby Wal-Mart, where police said they killed themselves after a gun battle with officers.

An unidentified woman, described as a Wal-Mart customer, was also found dead inside the store just inside the door.

No motive for the tag-team attack is known, police said, although witnesses said at least one of the suspects shouted remarks about the arrival of a “revolution” and alluded to some kind of war. – LA Times

The shooters walked into CiCi’s Pizza and gunned down Officers Alyn Beck, 41, and Igor Soldo, 31, Las Vegas police officials said. One of the officers was able to fire back before he died, but it’s unclear if he hit the suspects, Sheriff Doug Gillespie of the Las Vegas Metro Police Department said at a news conference Sunday afternoon. - Yahoo News.

Following the most recent shooting I went to Google Street view to get an idea of what the location and what shops were in the area of the shooting. What jumped out at me was the sign on the street, “Gun Shop” It referred to On Target Guns which is right across the parking lot. Next to it is a State Farm Insurance office and a U-Swirl Frozen Yogurt shop.

Across the street from Cici’s Pizza is the Wal-Mart, where the bystander was shot and where the two suspects shot and killed themselves.

I have no idea if On Target Guns was open on Sunday. I wrote the owner today to see if he had any comment. Monday I’ll call the State Farm office and U-Swirl Frozen Yogurt to see if they have any comments about insurance for gun owners, open carry in retail stories and if they know any of the people involved.
OnTarget across the parking lot
When I was working on the open carry issue in the Bay Area I went around to the shops where an open carry event was being planned. I asked them what their policy was on guns. I asked the customers at a yogurt shop where members of California Open Carry had discussed visiting. I found out a few things.

1) Not one of the clerks working in the stores knew their policies.

2) The managers and owners didn’t know the law, and either didn’t have a policy or didn’t know it.

3) The retail workers would not know what to do if a person carrying a gun came into the store.

4) The national HQ of the stories didn’t always have a policy.

If the shops didn’t have policy I gave them a copy of both Peet’s and California Pizza Kitchen’s policy and informed them of their rights as property owners.  If the national HQ had a policy I informed them that the local shop managers did not know it and the retail workers weren’t aware of it. I suggested that they inform them of their rights. (This was a few years ago and I spoke to both Target and Chili’s national HQs)

Finally, I alerted everyone I spoke to of the date and time of the planned Open Carry event so that they would make sure to be prepared. Maybe I should not have told the people at the stores about the event. Some people might call the police in a panic. But I felt that it would be best if the stores knew in advance so nobody would over react. When there is misunderstanding and tension with guns people can get hurt. I wanted owners and workes to be ‘armed with knowledge, prepared with policy.

In my experience the open carry people were very well informed of their 2nd Amendment rights, but they were not going to remind the store owners of their property rights, nor could they alert all bystanders of the event in advance.

My primary goal was to show the shop owners that I was a calm, rational person explaining the situation. They could feel free to agree or disagree with me, without the intimidation factor of a perfectly legal gun in a holster, on strapped around my neck.

Open carry people want to “normalize” guns in the community so that people won’t react and run away. But is that really the instinct we want people to have?