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by John Stossel

On TV crime shows like "CSI," "NCIS" and "Law & Order," science gets the bad guys.
        In real life, "science" often ensnares the innocent.
        Former NYPD Detective Harry Houck gets annoyed when TV shows make forensic science look infallible.
        "You watch a detective get down and look at a body (and say), 'He's been dead for three hours now... (H)e ate dinner four hours ago,'" scoffs Houck. "I can't do that."
        On TV, experts identify killers by their bite marks. In real life, experts claim they can do that.
        The TV show "Cold Case Files" covered the trial of Alfred Swinton. He was convicted of murder because a bite-mark expert said his teeth matched a bite on the victim.
        "A perfect match!" said Dr. Gus Karazulas, the "forensic odontologist" whose testimony clinched the conviction.
        Karazulas sounded impartial and objective. "A forensic scientist is not on the side of the prosecutor or defense," he said on "Cold Case Files." "We look at the evidence."
        But Swinton was innocent. Lawyer Chris Fabricant helped get him released from jail by doing a DNA test, a much more reliable, less subjective form of science.
        Fabricant scoffs at bite-mark testimony: "The doctor was just wrong. It's an unreliable technique."
        The more room there is for an expert witness's unique interpretation of the data, the more that can go wrong, says Fabricant. "Bite mark is similar to you and I looking at a cloud. I say to you, 'John, doesn't that cloud look like a rabbit?' And you say, 'Yeah, Chris, I think that does look like a rabbit.'"
        That kind of junk science puts innocent people in jail.
        I told Fabricant that I assumed most people in jail are guilty. Also, many people say crime is down because aggressive law enforcement has locked so many people up.
        "If you think that maybe even 1 percent of convicted defendants may be innocent," replied Fabricant, "we have 2.6 million people in prison today, (so) we are talking about tens of thousands of (innocent) people!"
        Fabricant works with the Innocence Project, a group that works to get innocent people freed from prison. Through DNA evidence, the project's lawyers have helped free 191 people.
        That confident bite-mark expert who got Swinton convicted now admits he was wrong. "Bite mark evidence is junk science," he told us via email. He resigned from the American Academy of Forensic Sciences.
        But police still trust bite marks.
        "Let's say one tooth is missing in the front" of a bite mark, explains Houck. "You've got to go, well, our suspect's got one tooth missing in the front. That's pretty good!"
        Houck says he'd demand other evidence. But not all cops do -- especially when scientific "experts" say someone's guilty.
        Bite marks are just one dubious method police and prosecutors use.
        FBI researchers claim fingerprints are right more than 99 percent of the time. But that still leaves plenty of wrongful convictions.
        After terrorists killed 193 people in Madrid, the FBI matched a fingerprint on a terrorist's bag to a man in Oregon named Brandon Mayfield. They arrested him. But Mayfield was innocent. Weeks later, Spanish investigators compared the prints more carefully and found the real terrorist.
        Other techniques are even less accurate: carpet-fiber evidence, gun tracing, use of psychics, hair matching.
        "A dog hair was associated wrongfully with a human hair," says Fabricant. "Since the turn of this century, there have been 75 wrongful convictions (based on hair matches)."
        Why do judges and lawyers accept such dubious evidence?
        "We all went to law school because we don't know science, we don't know math," he replied. "If somebody comes in in a white lab coat, and says, 'I've been accredited by the American Board of Forensic Odontology,' that's good enough for government work."
        That shouldn't be. Too much is at stake.
        Jurors tend to believe people who call themselves "scientists."
        Judges should be more skeptical. They should ban junk science from courtrooms.
        John Stossel is author of "No They Can't! Why Government Fails -- But Individuals Succeed." For other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.
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    Robert Mueller's investigation into whether President Donald Trump and the Russians colluded to rig the 2016 presidential election so far has borne little fruit. The Democrats and their media allies would love to find some Russian collusion and interference. I can help them discover some, but I doubt that they will show much interest. Here it goes.
    For years, Russia has been the world's largest oil producer. Within recent times, the U.S. has edged Russia out of the No. 1 spot. Much of the increased U.S. production is attributable to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in the shale formations in Texas and North Dakota. Now the U.S. is a net exporter of oil. Exports of oil have exceeded oil imports since 2011. This hasn't sat well with Russia, which has taken measures to hinder our oil productivity.
    An American Spectator magazine story points to the kind of Russian collusion and domestic meddling that meets the approval of Democrats, leftists and their media allies. The story is aptly titled "Russian funding of U.S. environmental groups shows how collusion is done" (http://tinyurl.com/y897kbt3). A 2014 U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee report identified that the San Francisco-based Sea Change Foundation receives funding from a Bermuda-based shell company known as Klein Ltd. Klein Ltd. was created by attorneys from Wakefield Quin, a law firm that has close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Klein Ltd. operates as a "pass-through" organization for foreign funds going into the U.S.
    The IRS requires nonprofit organizations to file 990 forms that report their activities. Those 990s show that Klein Ltd. contributed $23 million to the Sea Change Foundation in 2010 and again in 2011. That's about half of the contributions Sea Change Foundation received during those years. Those same 990 forms show that the Sea Change Foundation distributed more than $20 million in grants in 2010 and 2011 to environmental organizations. It gave more than $40 million in grants to leftist environmental groups, such as the Natural Resources Defense Council, The Sierra Club Foundation, the League of Conservation Voters Education Fund, the Tides Foundation, the Union of Concerned Scientists and the World Wildlife Fund.
    In return for the grant money, those leftist environmentalists were "to promote awareness of climate change," "reduce reliance on high carbon energy," "educate the public about climate and clean energy" and "promote climate and clean energy communications." A U.S. House Science, Space and Technology Committee report, titled "Russian Attempts to Influence U.S. Domestic Energy Markets by Exploiting Social Media," details that the environmental groups used the Russian money to protest the process of fracking and fight the building of the Keystone XL pipeline. If environmentalists can thwart U.S. oil production, Russia, which is a major energy supplier to Europe, stands to gain greater economic and political power.
    Rep. Lamar Smith, the chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, has raised the possibility that those complicit in the scheme to use American environmentalists to advance Russian propaganda and interests could be in violation of federal statutes that apply to foreign agents lobbying in behalf of foreign interests.
    Russia is also a major supplier of natural gas to all of Europe. U.S. natural gas producers long wished to export some of their product to Europe and Japan to take advantage of higher prices. But up until 2016, they were blocked by natural gas export restrictions. In the case of natural gas, the Russians didn't have to bribe environmentalists to do their dirty work. They had willing support from U.S. industrial giants such as Dow, Alcoa, Celanese and Nucor, members of America's Energy Advantage. These U.S. companies lobbied against natural gas exports, saying that it would be unpatriotic to allow unlimited natural gas exports. Export restrictions kept natural gas prices artificially low and gave U.S. manufacturing companies a raw material advantage. The lifting of export restrictions has raised natural gas prices in the U.S. but lowered them in the recipient countries and weakened Russia's economic and political hold on Europe. In my book, that's a good thing.
    Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University. To find out more about Walter E. Williams and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.
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by Taylor Kovar

Hey Taylor – Do you have any suggestions for affordable marketing? I’m starting a business and want to get the word out without draining all my financial resources. I know this isn’t exactly what you do, but I’m hoping you might be able to offer some sort of guidance. Thanks. — Bianca in Dallas  

 Hey Bianca –  Thanks for reaching out. You’re right, this isn’t exactly what I do, but I’ve been in the business world long enough to know a thing or two about marketing. I’m glad you’re trying to advertise affordably. At the end of the day, no matter how much you spend, you never know exactly how a marketing campaign will play out. With that in mind, here are three tactics that shouldn’t cost much and give you a good chance of producing results.

 1. Social media marketing

This is a great way to promote a product or service, and there are several different options within this market. You’ve probably seen hundreds of paid promotions running through your Twitter feed or Facebook page. Oftentimes, these ads don’t cost much and still produce sizeable returns. That said, I think an even better approach is to use your own social media strategically and purposefully. Reach out to the right people, publish the right content, comment on the right threads and let your existing network help spread the word for you. Especially if you’re just starting out, self-promotion is the best way to save money and find out what works.  

2. Social marketing 

Wait, didn’t he just talk about that? No. Confusingly enough, social marketing and social media marketing are two different things. Social marketing means connecting with people on an issue they care about, and it can be done through whichever medium you choose. Since you’re starting a business, think about the people you want to reach and then consider the issues that matter most to them. If you’re going to use this method, you need a clear message and it can’t sound like you’re advertising. Attach your brand to the right topic and do it in a genuine way, and there’s a good chance people will start talking about your business.  

3. Email campaigns 

It may seem overdone and ineffective, but studies show email blasts still produce a huge ROI. Spread the word about your business startup, build up as many leads as possible and then start sending a monthly email that’s concise and full of useful information. If you put in the effort for making your emails relevant and targeted, you’ll add more subscribers than you’ll lose with each mailing.  Being creative with your marketing is always smart, and it’s especially wise when you’re trying to save a few dollars. If you’re able to be pointed in your approach and diligent with your efforts, the results should follow. Best of luck, Bianca, and let me know how it goes.

Submitted by 

Taylor J Kovar
​Author, Speaker, Wealth Advisor

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by Walter E. Williams

    In the aftermath of the Kanye West dust-up, my heart goes out to the white people who control the Democratic Party. My pity stems from the hip-hop megastar's November announcement to his packed concert audience that he did not vote in the presidential election but if he had, he would have voted for Donald Trump. Then, on April 21, West took to his Twitter account, which has 28 million followers, to announce, "I love the way Candace Owens thinks." Owens is Turning Point USA's director of urban engagement and has said that former President Barack Obama caused "damage" to race relations in the United States during his two terms in office.
    West's support for Trump, along with his criticism of the "plantation" mentality of the Democratic Party, has been met with vicious backlash from the left. In one song, West raps, "See, that's the problem with this damn nation. All blacks gotta be Democrats. Man, we ain't made it off the plantation." Rep. Maxine Waters said West "talks out of turn" and advised, "He should think twice about politics -- and maybe not have so much to say." The bottom-line sin that West has committed is questioning the hegemony of the Democratic Party among black Americans. The backlash has been so bad that West had to hire personal security to protect him against threats made against his life. Fortunately, the police are investigating those threats.
    Kanye West is not saying anything different from what Dr. Thomas Sowell, Larry Elder, Jason Riley, I and other black libertarians/conservatives have been saying for decades. In fact, West has tweeted quotations from Sowell, such as "Socialism in general has a record of failure so blatant that only an intellectual could ignore or evade it" and "The most basic question is not what is best but who shall decide what is best." Tweeting those Sowell quotations represents the highest order of blasphemy in the eyes of leftists.
    The big difference between black libertarians/conservatives and West is that he has 28 million Twitter followers and a huge audience of listeners whereas few blacks have even heard of libertarian/conservative blacks outside of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. (I might add in passing that Dr. Thomas Sowell is one of the nation's most distinguished and accomplished scholars alive today.)
    The Kanye problem for the Democratic Party is that if the party doesn't keep blacks in line and it loses even 20 to 25 percent of the black vote, it can kiss any hope of winning any presidential and many congressional elections goodbye. Democrats may have already seen that threat. That's why they support illegal immigration and voting rights for noncitizens. Immigrants from south of the border who are here illegally may be seen as either a replacement for or a guarantee against the disaster of losing the black vote.
    Keeping blacks blind to the folly of unquestioned support for the Democratic Party by keeping blacks fearful, angry and resentful and painting the Republican Party as racist is vital. Democrats never want blacks to seriously ask questions about what the party has done for them. Here are some facts. The nation's most troublesome and dangerous cities -- Indianapolis, Stockton, Oakland, Milwaukee, Cleveland, Kansas City, Baltimore, Memphis, St. Louis and Detroit -- have been run by Democrats, often black Democrats, for nearly a half-century. These and other Democratic-run cities are where blacks suffer the highest murder rates and their youngsters attend the poorest-performing and most unsafe schools.
    Democrats could never afford for a large number of black people to observe, "We've been putting you in charge of our cities for decades. We even put a black Democrat in the White House. And what has it meant for us? Plus, the president you told us to hate has our unemployment rate near a record low." It turns out that it's black votes that count more to black and white politicians than black well-being, black academic excellence and black lives. As for black politicians and civil rights leaders, if they're going to sell their people down the river to keep Democrats in power, they ought to demand a higher price.
    Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University. To find out more about Walter E. Williams and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.
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by John Stossel

  Seattle is worried about the well-being of the poor and mentally ill people living there, so it's going to drive businesses out of town.
    OK, that's not how the politicians describe their plan, but that's probably how it will work out.
    Members of Seattle's city council want all big Seattle businesses to pay a tax of $500 per employee.
    In response, Amazon stopped building a new complex. Construction workers joined Amazon in protesting the new tax.
    On the other side are city council members like Kshama Sawant. She and members of her political party, Socialist Alternative, demonstrated in support of the tax. They chanted, "Housing is a human right!"
    Seattle does have large encampments of street people. Some are mentally ill. Some are young people looking to get stoned and live free. Some are homeless simply because they cannot afford apartments. There are many reasons for that, but one is that Amazon and other companies have brought so many new jobs to Seattle that the demand for housing exceeds the supply.
    Normally, when that happens, the free market quickly solves the problem. Builders view the rising prices as a wonderful thing. They quickly build new housing to sell to the new customers. But in Seattle, and many towns in America, politicians make that very hard.
    Seattle's building code is 745 pages long.
    If you want to build apartments, you better hire lawyers and "fixers" to keep you on the right side of the rules.
    Seattle's rules insist that "Welded splices shall be of ASTM A706 steel" and "foam plastic signs shall not be greater than 1/2 inch" thick.
    On the majority of Seattle's land, building any  high-rise is illegal; zoning rules say only single-family houses may be built.
    Want to run a cheap flophouse with single rooms? Seattle's rules make that just about impossible.
    Finally, if a landlord decides to take a building off the market, he must pay each of his tenants $3,000 in relocation costs.
    No wonder there's a housing shortage.
    Seattle's big-government restrictions created a housing problem. So now they propose to solve it with more heavy-handed government.
    Seattle promises its new per-employee tax will only hit "big" companies, those grossing more than $20 million per year (about 3 percent of Seattle's businesses).
    Don't the politicians realize that many growing companies will simply stop expanding when they get close to $20 million in income, just as companies, looking to escape Obamacare, avoid employing more than 49 workers?
    Some pay lawyers to split the company into pieces. Some expand in another state. Don't politicians see that raising taxes has nasty side effects? I guess not.
    Monday, after Amazon's pushback, the city council imposed a tax of $275 per worker instead of the originally proposed $500 tax.
    They called that "compromise," but it sounds like replacing a bad plan with a half-as-bad plan.
    It's not only government bureaucrats who are to blame. The consulting firm McKinsey weighed in with an analysis of Seattle-area homelessness and concluded the city needed to spend $400 million a year to solve the homelessness problem.
    I'm sure Seattle, and many other governments, will manage to spend $400 million without solving the problem.
    It's good that Amazon pushed back against the tax. Their reminder that they could reduce or close up business if Seattle's government got too greedy helped cut the tax roughly in half.
    You can't just keep squeezing businesses or other taxpayers forever and not expect them to try to escape. At some point, businesses will pack up and leave. Then there will be fewer paying jobs that make a city's population less likely to be homeless in the first place.
    Sawant and the other big-taxers try to make productive companies, which employ people so they can afford things like rent, sound like villains. She called Amazon's threat to leave "extortion." The activist group Working Washington asked Seattle's attorney general to charge Amazon with the crime of "issuing mob-like threats."
    Mob-like threats? Amazon just wants to be left alone so it can build complexes, hire people and sell stuff.
    As usual, government is the organization that sounds mob-like.
    John Stossel is author of "No They Can't! Why Government Fails -- But Individuals Succeed." For other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.
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