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Is This a Great Country, or What?

News of the Weird by Chuck Shepherd

By News of the Weird by Chuck Shepherd

Published April 13, 2015

Is This a Great Country, or What?

Felons, and those convicted of domestic assault, and those with a history of mental illness, cannot by federal law buy firearms or explosive devices, but Americans on the National Counterterrorism Center's consolidated watch list can -- and may possess an unlimited quantity. (In 2013 and 2014, 455 of 486 prospective purchasers on the list passed the background check, and going back to 2004, 2,043 of 2,233, according to a recent Government Accountability Office report.) Legislation to add watch listees as a banned category was introduced again this year, but has failed several times in the past. [New York Times, 2-26-2015; press release of U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, 2-24-2015]

The annual National Basketball Association All-Star game in February provided a windfall for the co-host arena's proprietor, James L. Dolan, whose family owns not only Madison Square Garden but also the NBA's richest franchise (the Knicks), hockey's second-richest (the Rangers), and the New York region's telecom juggernaut Cablevision. Among the government handouts Dolan receives is the 33-year (and counting) exemption from property taxes for the Garden's four square blocks ("among the most valuable (plots of land) on Earth," according to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio) -- a government gift, in 2014 alone, worth $54 million. [New York Times, 2-14-2015] [New York Daily News, 5-29-2014]

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