Monday, June 16, 2014

Prospective airline pilots can save $1000s by taking ATP test before August

Time is growing short for prospective airline pilots to take the written test for the Airline Transport Pilot license without taking a course that includes 10 hours of simulator training. As detailed in Examiner, on August 1 candidates for the written test will must have a graduation certificate from an approved course that will cost $15-20,000.

As Rick Durden pointed out on Avweb, the regulations as currently written provide a last chance for prospective airline pilots to take the ATP written without enrolling in the approved simulator course. As Durden points out, FAR 61.156, which spells out the requirements for the written test (“knowledge exam” in FAA parlance), does not contain any prerequisites for the test until after July 31, 2014. This means that a pilot who does not yet meet the requirements for the ATP can still take the test before August 1.

Once a candidate passes the written test, the results are good for two years. If the pilot met the flight experience and eligibility requirements within two years, he could take the checkride (“practical test”) and earn the ATP license without passing the FAA-approved simulator course. If the written test expires, the pilot must then pass the new ATP simulator course in order to retake the test.

The changes to the ATP are likely to exacerbate the pilot shortage that regional airlines are already experiencing. As the need for qualified pilots becomes more pronounced, Congress and the FAA are likely to issue regulatory changes to make it easier for pilots to qualify as ATPs. These changes are likely to be long in coming, however, and pilots who are close to meeting the requirements would be well advised to take the written test before August 1 if at all possible.

There are several traditional study methods for FAA knowledge exams. There are books available that familiarize test-takers with the questions in the FAA written test bank. There are also computer training courses that simulate taking the actual test on your own computer. Many vendors for these test prep services can be found on

Given the short amount of time left to take the test, a classroom seminar might be the best solution. These courses often last one to two days and are essentially cram sessions for test-takers. ATP Flight School is one of several companies that offer one-day test preps at locations around the country. These “quickie” courses are perfect for busy professionals who don’t have a lot of time to study.

It is possible that the shortage of qualified pilots will force the FAA to change the regulations regarding the ATP, but there is no way of knowing how long those changes will take. In the meantime, a pilot who has already passed the ATP written may very well have an advantage in getting hired by the airlines.

Read the full article on Aviation Examiner

Sunday, June 15, 2014

New FAA ATP rules will reshape airline hiring

On August 1, 2014, a new FAA regulation goes into effect that will reshape the way that airlines hire pilots. The Colgan Air crash in 2009 led to changes in the requirements for airline first officers. Previously, FOs were only required to hold a commercial pilot license. Under the new rules, effective in August 2013, first officers were required to hold an Airline Transport Pilot License. The last phase of the regulatory change, coming in less than two months, will change the requirements for the ATP.

The changes were detailed by Aviation International News last year. Under FAR 61.156, ATP candidates must graduate from an FAA-approved course that includes a minimum of 30 hours of classroom instruction covering a variety of aviation and airline topics and 10 hours in a FSTD (flight simulation training device) before taking the written exam. At least six of the simulator hours must be in a Level C (full motion) simulator that replicates a multiengine turbine airplane with a maximum takeoff weight of more than 40,000 pounds. This is equivalent to the size of a regional jet. The flight simulator requirement is going to cause problems for both airlines and pilots.

The combination of higher licensing requirements and low pay for entry-level airline pilots has already created a pilot shortage at 11 of 12 regional airlines according to the Wall St. Journal. According to the laws of supply and demand, when a commodity, in this case qualified pilots, becomes more scarce, the price, in this case wage, of the commodity goes up. So far, this has not happened in the airline industry, partly due to the prevalence of union contracts.

One airline that has been feeling the pinch is Great Lakes. The regional operator of 31 turboprop airliners that typically fly into small airports, Great Lakes Airlines pays its new first officers $16 per hour according to Airline Pilot Central. This isn’t as much as it sounds because pilots are typically paid by the flight hour. Great Lakes guarantees its pilots only 75 hours per month for a gross monthly paycheck of $1,200. This is the equivalent of $14,400 annually. To make matters worse, Great Lakes pilots are not paid at all during new-hire training, a process that can last up to three months. They also incur a training contract that requires them to pay $7,500 if they leave the company within 15 months.

The economic reality is that there are too few pilots who are willing to work for the wage that Great Lakes is offering. In March, USA Today reported that the airline was suspending flights to some destinations due to the shortage of pilots. In spite of this, the airline and the pilot union cannot come to an agreement on raising contractual wages.

Great Lakes is not alone. A Wall St. Journal analysis found that the average regional airline first officer earns $22,400. Five years later, if the pilot is still a first officer, the average base pay would only be $35,100.

This brings us to the question of the flight simulator training to earn the ATP. AIN estimates that the new training rule will cost ATP applicants “thousands of dollars.” In truth, the cost will be probably be on the order of $20,000. Simulators are not plentiful and they are not cheap. The obvious question is why any pilot would pay $20,000 for a job that only pays $15,000.

The most obvious answer is that airlines should hire pilots who meet ATP requirements and provide them with the training required to pass the ATP written test and checkride as a part of the new-hire curriculum. After all, airlines are providing new hires with simulator training already. The problem is more acute for airlines like Great Lakes that operate airliners that weigh less than 40,000 pounds.

Minimizing the impact of the changes to the ATP is only half the battle. To attract new hires, regional airlines will be forced to raise wages to compete with other industries. To gain the experience and flight time needed to earn an ATP will still take years and thousands of dollars in training costs. Many of the traditional “time-builder” flying jobs, such as flying checks, no longer exist. It will be difficult and costly for neophyte pilots to gain the 1,500 hours required for the ATP. The entry-level jobs at the airlines will have to become more attractive to encourage prospective pilots to make the commitment in time and money.

There are several possible outcomes to the airline pilot crisis. One is that Congress will issue a legislative fix when the problem becomes so extensive that airline lobbyists and passengers alike demand a solution. An easy way to fix the problem would be to expand the restricted ATP license. Currently, the restricted ATP is available only to graduates of specific “institutions of higher education” or military training. Congress and the FAA could expand the list of acceptable institutions to include FAR 141 training schools. The unrestricted ATP could be earned after being hired by an airline and passing the initial simulator training.

Another helpful fix would be to eliminate the requirement to train on a 40,000 pound aircraft simulator for pilots who will fly smaller airliners. There is no reason that pilots of airplanes like the Beech 1900s that are operated by Great Lakes would need to train on a high performance jet that is more than twice the weight of the plane that they will actually fly in airline service.

If congressional help is not forthcoming, there is little doubt that the changes will drive up airline ticket prices. Regional airliners are already more expensive to operate than larger planes on a per seat basis. As ticket prices increase, more passengers will elect to either drive to their destination or to a major airline hub where fares are lower. This will lead to less airline service into many smaller destinations.

As regional airlines are squeezed by increasing labor costs on one side and shrinking revenues on the other, they may become targets for takeovers. One possibility is that regional airliners will be absorbed into the major airlines that are now their code share partners. It might make more sense for the name brand airline to control the hiring process and establish pay scales for regional jets and turboprops than to keep outsourcing to third parties. This would also allow the airline to exercise more quality control over its brand and customer service. The change would require agreement of pilot unions and the adjustment of scope clauses in their contracts. Absorption of regional jets into mainline carriers could introduce a new golden age of regional jets.

A final possibility is that some airlines will consider ab initio (“from the beginning”) training. The concept of hiring prospective pilots and training them from zero hours to the cockpit of an airliner is one that has been used by the U.S. military and some foreign airlines for years. Lufthansa operates a flight school in Goodyear, Arizona to train prospective pilots for airline service. Boeing is currently partnering with Emirates Aviation College in Dubai on an ab initio course that will take cadets from zero hours to an ATPL in 16 months. Ab initio training would allow airlines to utilize long-term planning for personnel needs rather than scrambling to hire pilots as positions become open.

The future of airline hiring and the ATP license is uncertain, but the airlines definitely need qualified pilots. The need is immediate and will persist for the foreseeable future. The new ATP requirements make the pool of available and qualified pilots smaller, which will have the effect of making the pilot shortage worse. If corrective steps are not taken, canceled flights will soon become much more common.


Read the full article on Aviation Examiner

Thursday, June 12, 2014

USDA gun buy is symptom of too-large government but not tyranny

In recent years, a number of alarmist reports have detailed how various agencies of the federal government have planned to purchase large quantities of ammunition and weapons. The most recent such report, a solicitation for bids to provide .40 caliber submachine guns to the Department of Agriculture, was detailed in May. Many conspiracy theorists believe that the purchase orders are harbingers of the government’s intention to impose martial law and declare war on its own citizens.

The solicitation, posted on the FedBizOpps website on May 7, specifies that the weapons be equipped with “semi-automatic or 2 shot burts [sic] trigger group, Tritium night sights for front and rear, rails for attachment of flashlight (front under fore grip) and scope (top rear), stock-collapsilbe [sic] or folding, magazine - 30 rd. capacity, sling, light weight, and oversized trigger guard for gloved operation.” The posting is real and the website is a legitimate federal government website.

The previous reports of purchases of large quantities of ammunition by federal agencies as varied as the Postal Service, the Department of Education and Homeland Security, while real, have been thoroughly debunked as an indication of imminent tyranny by sites such as the conservative as well the longtime debunker, Snopes. These sites point out that the conspiracy theorists underestimate the amount of ammunition required for currency and training. They also fail to account for the fact that the government contracts are multi-year purchases that specify an upper range of quantity. Ammunition, like other commodities, is purchased in bulk in order to obtain volume discounts.

An additional theory is that the government was attempting to corner the market on ammunition in order to facilitate de facto gun control. With ammunition in short supply, guns would be almost useless. Forbes found a different explanation. Record high purchases of firearms logically lead to record high purchases of ammunition. There is a shortage of ammunition because there are many new gun owners. Dean Weingarten, writing on recently suggested that pent up demand for ammunition is being satisfied and that prices are already dropping.

Ammunition shortages are easily debunked, but why does the Department of Agriculture need submachine guns? To find out, Examiner spoke with Alison Decker, Assistant Counsel to the USDA Inspector General.

In a prepared statement, Ms. Decker said that the submachine guns were intended to replace older, semi-automatic weapons used by agents of the USDA Office of the Inspector General. The weapons are intended to be used by USDA OIG agents in conducting “hundreds of criminal investigations each year” into “criminal activities such as fraud in farm programs; significant thefts of Government property or funds; bribery and extortion; smuggling; and assaults and threats of violence against USDA employees.”

The USDA was authorized to investigate and prosecute criminal activity that affected USDA programs and activities by the Inspector General Act of 1978. According to Ms. Decker, the OIG’s law enforcement activities led to more than “2,000 indictments, 1,350 convictions, and over $460 million in monetary results” from fiscal year 2012 through March 2014.

There is no evidence that the firearms purchased by the USDA are part of a sinister plot to impose martial law or tyranny on the American people. In fact, the very idea seems to defy logic. If the federal government intended to impose martial law, there are already hundreds of thousands of combat-experienced, well-armed soldiers in the U.S. Army, Marine Corps, and National Guard. There are also thousands of armed federal agents already positioned throughout the country. It seems ludicrous to suggest that such a plot would hinge on equipping the agents of the USDA Office of the Inspector General with .40 caliber automatics.

While not a sign of imminent danger or martial law, the USDA gun procurement may be symptomatic of a too large federal government in which a myriad of federal agencies duplicate efforts. In 2011, the Wall St. Journal detailed how the sharp increase in the number of criminal laws and regulations had led to a surge in the number of federal law enforcement agents. By the Journal’s estimate, there are more than 138,000 armed federal agents from more than 70 agencies. Fox puts the number at high as 73.

The expansion of rulemaking and policing has led to more criminal prosecutions for trivial matters. Enforcement of rules that was once a civil matter can now bring a raid by a squad of federal agents armed with assault rifles. This was the case for Morgan Mok in 2008 when agents of NOAA and the Fish and Wildlife Service raided her Miami business looking for illegal coral. According to the WSJ, Mok had obtained the coral legally, but paid a $500 fine for failing to complete the paperwork properly. A similar instance from 2011 involved a raid on Gibson Guitar by armed Fish and Wildlife agents searching for illegal wood. No criminal charges were filed, but the company agreed to pay $350,000 in penalties reported CNS News. In 2012, Fox News reported that armed EPA agents in body armor descended on an Alaska town looking for violations of the Clean Water Act.

The USDA OIG website details a number of recent investigations. The majority of these investigations seem to be the equivalent of “white collar” crimes such as crop insurance fraud, SNAP (food stamp) fraud, misbranding meat or the sale of property that was collateral for USDA loans. Some investigations, such as the attempted theft of a truckload of meat, could have legitimately required armed officers.

A question to consider is whether the number of crimes that require armed intervention is enough to justify the USDA’s own armed agents. In many instances, the USDA could be backed up by local law enforcement or other armed federal agents such as the FBI or US Marshals. A Freedom of Information Act request was submitted to USDA for more information on OIG investigations and use of force, but a reply has not yet been received.

The core problem is that the federal government is too large, not that it is about to implement martial law. The answer is reform, not revolution. Law enforcement officers and military personnel are not the enemy.

Read the full article on Atlanta Conservative Examiner

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Response to the Busta Troll hoax

10390208_231986757010994_3054098547521847130_nIn light of the revelations regarding the hoax of Busta Troll’s alleged outing and retirement, I feel that a few personal comments are necessary to complete the record.

First, the world of Facebook politics, goats and trolls is a shadowy world where many people on both sides protect their anonymity with fake names and “alts,” fictitious accounts. “Busta Troll” is simply one (or possibly several) of many people with a fake identity on Facebook. With such a high premium placed on anonymity, it can be extremely hard to verify who is who and what is true.

This is not to say that I posted the article without fact-checking. Busta suggests that searches for “Christopher Lyman” in Orono, Maine would yield no results. This is not true. I found several results for Christopher Lyman in Maine, some close enough to the Orono area that they could be considered legitimate hits. What I did not find was a phone number that I could use to call and make a direct verification.

Addresses are funny things. Depending on the area, who one is talking to, and what medium is used, a person might give different answers to the question of “Where do you live?” For example, a person from New York City might answer that he lives in Queens, the neighborhood of Astoria, or on 50th Street in addition to saying that he lived in New York. All three different answers could be equally truthful. In smaller towns, the address might be a post office in the larger city nearby, but a small, unincorporated community could legitimately be listed as a hometown on a medium such as Facebook.

Additionally, I attempted to check the legitimacy of Kevin Kopper, another anonymous source. No one seemed to know who Kopper was, but everyone seemed to consider him legitimate. Anyone who has seen the goats harass people online could understand Kopper’s desire for anonymity.

When dealing with anonymous sources, especially on the internet, there is always the chance that they are lying or are not who they claim to be. This is particularly true when dealing with goats who, by definition, base their online personas and actions on deception and dishonesty. That turned out to be the case with both Christopher Lyman and Kevin Kopper. Nevertheless, the information in the article was the best available at the time.

As it turned out, the deception was only half false. Christopher Lyman was Busta Troll. When I submitted a series of questions in good faith to Lyman, it was Busta who answered them as he admits in his video. Busta trumpets the fact that I published his unedited replies, but that was always the point. I submitted the questions to him because I and my readers wanted to know what made a liberal troll tick, why they do what they do. By definition, an interview is an attempt to find out what someone else thinks and to communicate it to others. In that, I was successful. The fact that Busta’s answers were not based in fact is an indictment of him and not me. I chose not to rebut Busta’s answers in the interview piece because that was not its purpose, but I can do so here.

First, I must agree with Busta that it irks me to see “ridiculous rumors that can be easily debunked by five minutes of searching Google.” In fact, I’ve written more than a few “tinfoil hat” articles that debunk conspiracy theories from the right. Some recent examples include the rumors that Barack Obama was planning to run for an unconstitutional third term and that Obamacare would make beheadings legal in the U.S. Where I disagree with Busta and his trolls is their notion that people with “ridiculous” ideas don’t have as much right to share them as anyone else. The best cure for ridiculous and untruthful speech is more speech.

Further, Busta seems to have a partisan view of what is “ridiculous.” I’m not aware of any liberal pages ever being goated in spite of the fact that there are some liberals spout stories just as outlandish as any conservative site. In fact, the idea that Barack Obama is not a “natural born” U.S. citizen is not a right wing idea at all; this conspiracy theory has its roots in a 2007 memo from Mark Penn, Hillary Clinton’s chief strategist, according to Businessweek. Further, as late as 2011, Politico reported that more than half of Democrats subscribed to 9/11 conspiracy theories propagated by liberals such as Michael Moore.

Second, Busta’s claim that page owners “posted pure hate and lies” and “refused to talk about it, listen to reason or even debate in a civil manner” is not true in every case. Some page owners had posted indefensible material such as the infamous “noose” meme. Others were guilty only of operating conservative pages.

I first became aware of the goats when they took my friend Jason Doolin’s “Citizens’Post” Facebook page. Doolin did post the “noose” meme “in an attempt to defend the original poster.” The goats never contacted him with their objections to the meme, however. In fact, Doolin says that he doesn’t think that he realized that they existed prior to their hijacking his page.

As I described in an article in January, a goat purporting to be Patrick Blair contacted Doolin and several others with promises to help them expand their page reach. Blair claimed to be a representative of the Freedom Alliance, a real organization. The goats say that they were given control of the pages and that they have done nothing wrong. In reality, their actions are a textbook example of fraud. In other cases, their actions could be considered slander, harassment, and cyber stalking.

In fact, the trolls seem to be part of a left wing that is focused on shutting down debate through harassment and intimidation. Some of the most famous harassment of conservatives came during and after California’s “Prop 8” definition of marriage campaign in 2008. The blog Tom O’Halloran has compiled a list of incidents against Prop 8 supporters that include harassing emails and phone calls, attempts to jeopardize employment, vandalism, threats and actual acts of violence. Liberals are attempting to use campaign disclosure laws and other means to attempt to intimidate other conservatives as well. The ultimate fulfillment of the liberal intention to stifle debate is the Udall Amendment which would gut the First Amendment and allow Congress to regulate money “that may be spent by, in support of, or in opposition to” candidates.

Third, Busta’s concerns about conservative harassment and endangering children were revealed to be totally false. In fact, it was Busta himself who put an innocent man, the real Christopher Lyman, a firefighter in Maine, in danger of losing his job. By citing his fictitious role as an umpire in a real Little League, Busta also was the one who brought innocent children into a potentially dangerous situation. In essence, Busta did what he accused conservatives of doing. If anyone endangered children, it was Busta himself. The fact that Busta claims to have planned the hoax for more than a year speaks volumes as well.

For what it’s worth, I do have to admit to laughing at a number of goat memes. There are some clever and creative people among the goats and trolls. The problem is how they use their talents as a tool for bullying and conning others. Perhaps they will take to heart the words of President Obama who said, “Bullying can have destructive consequences for our young people. And it's not something we have to accept.” In 2011, Obama pointed out that “bullying is just a harmless rite of passage or an inevitable part of growing up.” It doesn’t make it better when the behavior is that of adults.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Interview with Busta Troll

Last week, the infamous internet “goat” leader, the identity of Busta Troll was revealed by a group of conservative activists (read the story here). Examiner contacted Christopher Lyman, Busta’s true identity, via Facebook messages on Monday. Lyman agreed to the email interview with the stipulation that his answers be repeated in their entirety. What follows are Busta’s own words with only minor grammatical editing for clarity. The conclusion is also Busta’s.

How and why did you start goating pages?

I started goating pages because I can’t stand it when a page posts ridiculous rumors that can be easily debunked by five minutes of searching Google. When they post those things and won’t listen to reason, I feel it’s better for the general public to see a harmless picture of goats instead.

Why goats?

Goats became a staple of our [liberal troll] community before I became Busta Troll. I use them out of respect for those who started this movement.

How many pages were you responsible for goating?

I personally goated 17 pages.

Are you done with goating for good?

This is how my career will end. I don’t see a future in it or in Facebook for that matter. I plan to ride off into the sunset having accomplished my mission.

Now that you are out of the goating business, will you return control of the goated pages to their original owners, shut them down, or leave them in place?

The pages I was given were in turn given to others. I remained an admin on them until yesterday when I deleted myself. After the initial admin change, I very rarely post. The herd takes over from there. Those pages will always be for the goats.

Have you actually been harassed or contacted by anyone since your identity was revealed? Are you still concerned for your safety or your job?

The employment information given about me was old. I am no longer employed there. I have resigned my position as Little League umpire for the safety of the people in my town and my children. I am and always have been an advocate for responsible gun ownership, gun safety law, and reasonable restrictions on military grade equipment like most Americans. If these nut jobs think they’re going to show up at my house and threaten me or my family they have another think coming.

Are you concerned that the owners of the goated pages will take legal action against you (i.e. theft by fraud)?

I’m not at all concerned that the previous admins of goated pages will take legal action against me. Before you make someone an admin on your page, you have to enter your password after reading the disclaimer that they will have the same power as you. The pages are still there and I have never even been contacted by Facebook telling me I’ve violated their terms of service.

Is it true that you were a “paid liberal troll?” If so, who paid you?

No. I was not paid to troll.

Do you have anything to say to the owners of the pages that you goated?

To the original owners of the goated pages I say this: You posted pure hate and lies. You refused to talk about it, listen to reason, or even debate in a civil manner. Therefore, you got what you deserved.

~Busta Troll smiles and waves and walks off into the sunset.


Read the full story on Atlanta Conservative Examiner

Monday, June 2, 2014

Santa Barbara murderer had much in common with other spree killers

By now, most are familiar with the story of Elliot Rodger, the Santa Barbara mass murderer who killed six people last weekend before turning his gun on himself. Rodger’s loneliness, angst and longing for meaningless sex are now well known. What may be less well known is that Rodger shared many characteristics with a number of other recent spree killers.

As Examiner reported last year, a number of features are common in the random mass killings that seem prevalent in recent years. First, almost all of the mass killers are known to be habitual players of violent video games. Second, the killer often comes from a broken family. Finally, in most cases, the killer can be reasonably determined to have undiagnosed or untreated mental illness. Elliot Rodger fits into all three categories.

Rodger’s own writings, excerpted here in the Daily Mail, say that he was “immersed entirely” in “online games like World of Warcraft.” Other reports, including this one from World Net Daily, suggest that Rodger used phrases from the game in his manifesto.

Frequent use of video games alone does not explain Rodger’s actions. Millions of people around the world play video games, even the most violent games, without descending into madness. There is the possibility, however, that violent video games can trigger violent behavior in some people. Lt. Col. (ret.) Dave Grossman, a former West Point psychology professor, has long studied the phenomenon in a field that he calls “killology.”

Two other factors that may act as triggers are broken families and mental illness. CNN reports that Rodger’s parents had divorced in 1999 when he was seven years old. While the specifics of Rodger’s family life are not known, it is well established that children, particularly boys, do not fare well in single parent families for reasons that vary from economic insecurity to inadequate supervision and time with their parents.

Mental illness was also a factor in Rodger’s actions. According to Hollywood Life, his mother said that he had Asperger’s syndrome, the same form of autism that Sandy Hook murderer Adam Lanza was known to have. A friend of the family told Radar Online that Elliot had “heard voices” and suffered from “extreme paranoia.” The source also said that Rodger had been prescribed a psychiatric medication, but refused to take it. Before moving to Santa Barbara, Rodger had been under the care of a psychologist.

There were warning signs. Rodger had posted violent threats on the internet before. About a month before the killing spree, the videos prompted his mother to send the police to his apartment. According to the Washington Post, the murders were not his first brush with violence. He had splashed hot coffee on girls who didn’t smile at him, shot people in a park with a Super Soaker filled with orange juice, and, shortly before his last birthday, tried to push girls off a 10 foot high ledge at a party.

Culture, like video games, cannot bear the brunt of the blame, but also likely played a role. Cultural icons have spent decades giving children and teenagers the message through movies and television that sex can – and perhaps should - be free of love and commitment. The normalization of pornography and the hookup culture, while seen as empowering to women by some feminists, does much to dehumanize and objectify women. This may be especially true to boys from broken homes who lack positive male role models to show them how women should be treated.

Rodger’s ramblings show that his sense of entitlement was complementary to his view of women as nothing more than sexual playthings. He believed that his family status and connections entitled him to sex with beautiful girls and he resented the boys that were chosen over him. He viewed wealth as a means to attract girls and blamed his parents for not providing him with the money he needed for a lavish lifestyle. He felt that his mother should have remarried to a wealthy man and was angry that his father’s failed documentary, “Oh My God,” had caused the family financial hardship.

The easiest solutions to the problems that created Elliot Rodger and the other spree murders deal with reforming how we treat mental illness. After the Sandy Hook massacre, psychiatrist E. Fuller Torrey described the federal mental health failure in the Wall St. Journal. Speaking on the May 28 episode of Michael Medved’s radio show, Torrey listed several reforms that would make future spree killings by the mentally ill less likely. First, he cited the need to reform commitment laws for those who are mentally ill and refuse voluntary treatment. Second, HIPAA privacy laws need to be reformed to make it easier for doctors and government officials to communicate about potentially threatening patients. Third, more beds are needed in mental health facilities to treat patients. Finally, mental health experts should perform evaluations. Currently, police who are not trained in mental health make field determinations about whether someone is potentially dangerous.

As the list of mass murders by the untreated mentally ill grows, it should be possible to get a bipartisan agreement on mental health reform. In a time of close scrutiny of federal spending, most Americans would probably agree that preventing the violently ill from arming themselves and committing mass murder would be money well spent.


Read the full story on Atlanta Conservative Examiner

Leader of liberal ‘goat’ con men outed on Facebook

The true identity of the leader of the group of liberal con men known as “goats” has been made public by a rival group of conservative internet activists. The leader of the goats, who used the online persona of “Busta Troll” as well as many other false identities, was revealed last week by a Facebook community page called Kevin Kopper. Kopper provided the details of the outing to Examiner.

As Examiner reported last January in a story that went viral, Busta Troll and the goats would befriend the administrators of conservative Facebook pages to gain their trust. This was accomplished by using false identities and making promises to help administrators expand their pages by gaining “likes.” In some cases, the goats apparently ran their own pages and recruited real conservatives to run them. When the administrators could be convinced to give the con men administrator status on their pages, the goats would hijack the page, deleting the other administrators and replacing the content with memes of goats and vulgar attacks on conservatives and Republicans.

“One of our friends had their pages taken and goated by Busta Troll and we decided to stop him,” Kevin Kopper told Examiner. “We posted a $1,000 reward for the real identity of Busta Troll so we could shut him down and stop him from stealing and goating any more conservative pages. We had no idea how many different people were working on it independently from our efforts and the leads started pouring in.”

Eventually, Kopper said that several leads led to Christopher Lyman, a cabinet maker from a small town in Maine. When Lyman’s name and personal information were linked to Busta Troll in online postings, Busta/Lyman admitted that the information was accurate in a post on the Busta Troll Facebook page saying, “Posting my name is all well and good, I don’t really care, but when someone posts the name of my employer and the little league I umpire at so a bunch of teatarded [sic] gun nuts can show up and scare a bunch of kids, mine included, they’ve crossed the line.” Lyman continued, “My wife is absolutely mortified and I actually fear for the safety of my children.” Christopher Lyman’s Facebook page currently features a meme that announces “I am Busta Troll.” Examiner attempted to contact Lyman, but had received no response at press time.

Kopper says that Busta/Lyman “is lying about his family being threatened. Nothing could be further from the truth. We simply posted his correct ID. If anyone else has acted in a threatening manner we are unaware of those activities and certainly would not condone any threats of harm to him or his family.”

The personalization of politics is becoming more common as the country becomes more divided. Liberal activists have harassed the supporters of conservative initiatives such as California’s Prop 8 definition of marriage amendment. The most well known victim of the effort was Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich who was forced to resign in April after the fact that he had contributed to the effort to pass Prop 8 became publicized. In another incident, the IRS leaked the donor list of the conservative National Organization for Marriage to its chief political foe, the Human Rights Campaign, which then passed the list along to the Huffington Post. National Review reported that NOM chairman John Eastman told Congress that the harassment and intimidation of the group’s backers included business boycotts, physical assault and vandalism. Eastman said, “Our donors tell us ‘We are fearful of giving money to you to help support the cause that we believe in because our businesses and our family are at risk.’”

So far the goats have apparently limited their harassment to the internet. R.W. Burgin, owner of a Facebook page called “The Seditionist,” said that liberal internet trolls had copied pictures from his page and used them to make parody pages and videos. The pictures, which included Burgin, his girlfriend, their parents and grandchildren, were put on other pages. In some cases, the pictures were photo shopped onto pornographic videos. Burgin says that he was called a pedophile and that personal information, including his employer’s name, was posted online and that the trolls threatened to try to get him fired. The trolls also contacted his mother and girlfriend. Burgin is not sure if the trolls that harassed him were affiliated with Busta/Lyman, but says the he hopes Busta’s unmasking “will make people start to think before they threaten or torture people.”

Kopper says that he has been in contact with Busta/Lyman via Facebook private messages and that “he has informed us that he has taken down his pages and is done.” Examiner confirmed that the Busta Troll Facebook page, as well as a second page called “Busta’s Army,” is no longer active.

“We feel very satisfied with the outcome and will be providing Lyman’s information and messages to the admins of the pages he took,” Kopper said. “If they decide to pursue legal action we won’t have any problem with that.”

Kopper said that the $1,000 reward would be sent on Monday. He declined to name the recipient, citing the source’s wish to remain anonymous. He did note that the source was a retired military veteran.

The desire to remain anonymous is understandable given the vitriol that the goats have unleashed upon Kevin Kopper’s Facebook page. The postings there by the goats include the typical goat pictures along with profane insults and graphic sexual innuendo.

Jason Doolin, owner of the goated Citizens’ Post Facebook page, hailed the news of Busta’s retirement: “I’m happy about it. He deserves the agony of every person he terrorized and stole from” Doolin said that he hoped that Lyman would find something less harmful to replace “whatever was leaving that hole in his heart which he used hatred to fill.”

Doolin added, “There was a time when I would have gladly disseminated his personal information, whether or not anything negative came out of it. I would have been neutral or happy even. I’m ashamed of myself for that. In an effort to be more like [my friends who were calling for people not to be hateful] I want to share that same message: Love. Period.” Doolin says he has no plans to take legal action.

Kopper says that the team that identified Busta will remain in place. “We will absolutely be continuing our work, focusing on stopping goatings wherever and whenever possible. We have more tools and tactics at our disposal and we intend to use them.”

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