(NYPost)Take a big gulp, New York: Hizzoner is about to give you a pop.
Nanny Bloomberg unleashes his ban on large sodas on March 12 — and there are some nasty surprises lurking for hardworking families.
Say goodbye to that 2-liter bottle of Coke with your pizza delivery, pitchers of soft drinks at your kid’s birthday party and some bottle-service mixers at your favorite nightclub.
They’d violate Mayor Bloomberg’s new rules, which prohibit eateries from serving or selling sugary drinks in containers larger than 16 ounces.
Bloomberg’s soda smackdown follows his attacks on salt, sugar, trans fat, smoking and even baby formula.
The city Health Department last week began sending brochures to businesses that would be affected by the latest ban, including restaurants, bars and any “food service” establishment subject to letter grades.
And merchants were shocked to see the broad sweep of the new rules.
“It’s not fair. If you’re gonna tell me what to do, it’s no good,” said Steve DiMaggio of Caruso’s in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. “It’s gonna cost a lot more.”
And consumers, especially families, will soon see how the rules will affect their wallets — forcing them to pay higher unit prices for smaller bottles.
Typically, a pizzeria charges $3 for a 2-liter bottle of Coke. But under the ban, customers would have to buy six 12-ounce cans at a total cost of $7.50 to get an equivalent amount of soda.
“I really feel bad for the customers,” said Lupe Balbuena of World Pie in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn.
Domino’s on First Avenue and 74th Street on the Upper East Side is doing away with its most popular drink sizes: the 20-ounce and 2-liter bottles.
“We’re getting in 16-ounce bottles — and that’s all we’re going to sell,” a worker said.
He said the smaller bottles will generate more revenue for the restaurant but cost consumers more.
It will also trash more plastic into the environment.
Deliveryman Philippe Daniba said he had brought countless 2-liter bottles of soda to customers over his 19 years at the restaurant. The ban, he said, “doesn’t make sense.”
Industry-group officials agreed.
“It’s ludicrous,” said Robert Bookman, a lawyer for the New York City Hospitality Alliance. “It’s a sealed bottle of soda you can buy in the supermarket. Why can’t they deliver what you can get in the supermarket?”
Families will get pinched at kid-friendly party places, which will have to chuck their plastic pitchers because most hold 60 ounces — even though such containers are clearly intended for more than one person.
Changes will be made at the Frames bowling alley in Times Square, where 26-ounce pitchers are served at kids’ parties, said manager Ayman Kamel.
“We’re going to try to get creative,” he said, noting drinks with 100 percent juice are exempt from the ban.
“We’re figuring out a way to have freshly squeezed juice for the birthday parties. We might have to raise the price about a dollar or so.”
Dallas BBQ at 1265 Third Ave. will retire its 60-ounce pitchers and 20-ounce glasses, manager Daisy Reyes said.
“We have to buy new glasses,” she said. “We’re in the process.”
And if you’re looking for a night of bottle service at a Manhattan hot spot, be warned: Spending $300 on a bottle of vodka no longer entitles you to a full complement of mixers.
If you get bottle service at a city nightclub or restaurant, you cannot also get a carafe of cranberry juice like the one hostess Maggie is serving up here at Le Souk Harem in the West Village. Tonic water and other beverages are also limited, even though they are only used as mixers.
The carafes in which mixers are typically served hold 32 ounces, and the most common mixers — sodas, cranberry juice and tonic water — will be limited. Only water and 100 percent juice will be unlimited.
“Oh, my God. Seriously?” said Lamia Sunti, owner of the swanky West Village club Le Souk Harem. “It’s not like one person is going to be drinking the whole carafe. It’s silly.”
The rules are hard to unravel.
Alcoholic drinks and diet sodas are not subject to the ban, nor are fruit smoothies if they don’t have added sweetener, or coffee drinks and milkshakes if made with 50 percent milk.
But what about drinks with small amounts of added sugar? Vendors must determine if the beverages have more than 3.125 calories per ounce.
But they should double-check their math: Violations cost $200 each.
(Tech Dirt) -As the Congressional investigation into the DOJ’s prosecution of Aaron Swartz has continued, apparently a DOJ representative has admitted that part of the reason it insisted on having Swartz plead guilty to a felony and go to jail, no matter what, was that it feared the public backlash for the original arrest if they couldn’t then show a felony conviction and jailtime. According to a Huffington Post article, quoting various sources:
Some congressional staffers left the briefing with the impression that prosecutors believed they needed to convict Swartz of a felony that would put him in jail for a short sentence in order to justify bringing the charges in the first place, according to two aides with knowledge of the briefing.
The odd thing is this little tidbit comes at the very, very end of a longer article, most of which focuses on the DOJ telling Congressional staffers that part of the reason they went after Swartz with such zeal was because of his infamous Guerilla Open Access Manifesto. That might explain why they were so eager to arrest him, but it seems like the much bigger deal, considering all the concern about prosecutor discretion, that after they arrested him, they then didn’t want to look bad, which is why they continued to demand jailtime and felony convictions.
Many people have assumed all along that the Manifesto played a big role in the case — and the Manifesto has certainly been a lightening rod concerning Swartz’s activities. If you read the actual “manifesto” it’s not quite as extreme as some make it out to be — with much of it talking about taking stuff that is public domain, but still hidden behind walls, and making that available again. The controversial bit really is this paragraph, which starts out with legal activities, but gets much more ambiguous at the end:
We need to take information, wherever it is stored, make our copies and share them with the world. We need to take stuff that’s out of copyright and add it to the archive. We need to buy secret databases and put them on the Web. We need to download scientific journals and upload them to file sharing networks. We need to fight for Guerilla Open Access.
Note that initially he’s talking about stuff that is out of copyright. When he’s talking about databases, note that he talks about buying them for the sake of putting them online, not infringing on the works. It’s just that bit about scientific journals. And, yes, if those works are covered by copyright, there’s likely infringement there, but it’s not entirely clear. Especially in an age where many professors post up free copies of their research any way, and where it looks like we’re moving to an age where more and more research is open access anyway. In that context, is what he said really so bad?
Apparently the DOJ thought it was a reason to throw the book at Swartz, even if he hadn’t actually made any such works available.
The “Manifesto,” Justice Department representatives told congressional staffers, demonstrated Swartz’s malicious intent in downloading documents on a massive scale.
Some may agree with that, but it seems like a jump towards “thoughtcrime” since he hadn’t actually made any move towards making the JSTOR data available. It’s possible that he planned to only make the public domain works (of which there are many) available. It’s also possible he planned to leak the whole thing. But, really, you would think that there should be a bit more evidence of that before prosecutors throw the book at him.
More importantly, it suggests that Swartz was arrested and prosecuted for expressing his opinion on how to solve a particular problem. You may or may not agree with it, but I thought the US was supposed to be a place where we were free to express ideas. There’s even some famous part of our Constitution about that…
(Examiner) -Daniel Brewington was not happy with the way that Dearborn County, Indiana, Judge James D. Humphrey handled his divorce case, during which he lost custody of his children, and he explained why at length in various strongly worded online commentaries. Largely as a result of those posts, Brewington is serving a two-year sentence at the Putnamville Correctional Facility for intimidation, attempted obstruction of justice, and perjury. The punishment Brewington received for condemning Humphrey’s actions has attracted criticism from a wide range of First Amendment advocates, including UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh, conservative lawyer James Bopp, a former executive director of the Indiana Civil Liberties Union, the Indiana Association of Scholars, The Indianapolis Star, and the James Madison Center for Free Speech. In an amicus brief filed the week before last, they urge the Indiana Supreme Court to overturn Brewington’s conviction for intimidating Humphrey, arguing that the provision under which he was convicted, as interpreted by a state appeals court, threatens constitutionally protected speech about the official acts of public officials.
Dearborn County Sheriff’s DepartmentThe intimidation charge related to Brewington’s comments about Humphrey, which was treated as a felony because it involved a judicial officer, was based on the allegation that he “communicated to another person a threat with the intent that the other person be placed in fear of retaliation for a prior lawful act.” The threat in this case was that Brewington would “expose the person threatened to hatred, contempt, disgrace, or ridicule.” Upholding Brewington’s conviction on this count, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled last month that “the truthfulness of the threatened disclosure is not necessarily relevant to prosecution because the harm, placing a victim in fear, occurs whether the publicized conduct is true or false.” It added that some of Brewington’s statements about Humphrey were demonstrably false. “Over the course of at least a year,” the court said, “Brewington repeatedly called Judge Humphrey a ‘child abuser.’…Brewington also called Judge Humphrey ‘corrupt’…and accused him of engaging in ‘unethical/illegal behavior.'”
It is not clear to me that, as the appeals court claimed, Brewington’s comments “went well beyond hyperbole and were capable of being proven true or false.” As Brewington explained, he believed Humphrey’s custody decision, which was coupled with restrictions on Brewington’s visitation rights, was tantamount to child abuse. That claim and the accusations of “corrupt” or “unethical” behavior seem like expressions of opinion to me. In any case, the appeals court made it clear that for purposes of the intimidation charge it did not matter whether what Brewington said was true. It rejected Brewington’s argument that his speech was protected by the First Amendment, saying “the conduct that is criminalized here, communicating a threat to a victim to place the victim in fear of retaliation for a prior lawful act, necessarily falls outside the realm of protected criticism of government decisions due to the requirement of criminal intent”—i.e., an intent to “place the victim in fear.” As Volokh points out in the amicus brief, this reading of the law suggests that prosecution would be appropriate in situations like these:
1. a columnist’s writing, “Legislator A’s vote on issue B is ridiculous, and I intend to ridicule him until his constituents view him with contempt”;
2. an advocacy group’s picketing a store with signs saying, “The store owner’s decision to stock product C is disgraceful, and we hope our speech will expose the owner to disgrace and ostracism”;
3. a politician’s saying, “The incumbent’s decision D is so foolish that, once I publicize it, the incumbent will be the laughingstock of the state.”
Under the appeals court’s interpretation of the statute, all that’s necessary for a conviction is an explicit or implied threat of speech aimed at portraying the “victim” in a negative light. It is not hard to see why Volokh concludes that the appeals court’s decision “endangers the free speech rights of journalists, policy advocates, politicians, and ordinary citizens.”
(DailyTech) -This amount is strictly for the September-December 2012 quarter
Some U.S. states — like California — are starting to see new revenue from sales tax on internet purchases from the likes of Amazon.
The California Board of Equalization said it made $96.4 million in sales tax on internet commerce from September-December 2012, which is the first full quarter that the state started collecting. This is good news for the California Department of Finance, which has a forecast budget goal of $107 million in new e-taxes for the fiscal year starting July 1, 2012.
While these numbers look great for the state of California, they’re a bit off from the estimates provided by a 2009 University of Tennessee study that said California would make $1.9 billion in 2012 revenue if it collected online sales tax. It also said states would miss out on $11.4 billion in 2012 revenue nationwide if they failed to collect online sales tax.
As of right now, Amazon collects sales tax in nine states (including California) and will collect in seven more over the next year.
Georgia is one the most recent to collect online sales tax. Amazon started collecting sales tax in Texas in July 2012, and California and Pennsylvania in September 2012.
Amazon has been fighting states that force it to collect sales tax for years (except in Kansas, Kentucky, New York, North Dakota and Washington). The e-tailer fled many states that attempted to force tax collection on the company, such as California and Illinois. But between states looking for ways to offset large financial deficits and brick-and-mortar stores like Best Buy complaining about Amazon being unfair competition, the issue swelled.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said many times that his company would agree to collect taxes if there were some sort of federal legislation.
But eventually, Amazon finally broke down and started collecting sales tax in certain states, which allowed it to build more distribution centers within those states. For instance, Amazon announced that it would collect sales tax in New Jersey last May so that two Amazon distribution centers could be built. This led to faster shipping for customers, such as Amazon’s same-day delivery program, making it more competitive than ever.
But earlier this month, Amazon and Overstock.com challenged a New York law passed in 2008, which forces companies with affiliates within the state to collect sales tax. However, Amazon said this law is unconstitutional because a 1992 Supreme Court decision said retailers that don’t have a nexus of operation in a state does not need to collect sales tax. While New York said that websites with purchase buttons for Amazon as well as other national retailers are local solicitors because they receive fees for doing so, Amazon said argued that web referrals are less like solicitors or a local sales force and are more like advertising.
(Washington Examiner) -Chinese and other Asian coal-fired electricity plants belching dangerous mercury-laced smoke are mostly to blame for mercury warnings now in every U.S. state and covering the total fish populations of 25 states, according to a startling new federal audit.
Just as alarming: Despite herculean efforts in many states to slash emissions of two acid rain producing pollutants, nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide, many lakes, bays and streams along the Appalachian and Pacific Coast ranges and Great Lakes can’t meet federal guidelines because of pollution floating in from Canada, Mexico and nearby states.
An exhaustive new Government Accountability Office audit of Environmental Protection Agency water programs laid out the worrisome findings while presenting a vexing policy issue: They want the EPA to do more to stop pollution, but how can EPA stop foreign pollution from fouling American waters?
The GAO said Chesapeake Bay suffers from a similar problem of pollutants flowing in from states that don’t neighbor the watershed.
While acid rain pollutants spoil waters, mercury ingested by fish can harm humans, especially children, when eaten. But, said GAO, the U.S. effort is being thwarted by Asian industrial plants. GAO said that 67 percent of human-cause mercury emissions come from Asia, while only 8 percent are from North America.
A GAO map of the nation showing mercury warnings for fish shows a continuous red line from the Maine-Canada border to the Texas-Mexico line. Citing an EPA report, the GAO said that in 2010, “all 50 states reported mercury-related fish consumption advisories, and 25 states reported statewide freshwater advisories. Additionally, Alaska, Hawaii, all of the Gulf states, and most of the East Coast states, reported statewide coastal advisories.”
The administration is currently negotiating mercury levels with international partners.
The memo illustrates this by showing why high capacity magazine bans, gun buybacks, and “assault weapons” bans have failed to work in the past.
For example, according to the memo, the high capacity magazine bans that were in place from 1994-2004 had little impact because the bans contained too many exemptions. The memo says one of the key errors was that “the 1994 ban exempted magazines made before 1994 so that the importation of large capacity magazines manufactured before 1994 continued [throughout] the ban.”
Moreover, the memo points out that while the price of the magazines rose sharply, it was not driven up far enough to make them “unaffordable.”
According to the memo, for a high capacity magazine ban to succeed Obama needs to ban not only the manufacture and sale of said magazines, but also the importation and possession. There also must be a federal buyback of all high capacity magazines already in circulation to ensure private owners haven’t held on to any covered by the ban.
Regarding gun buybacks, the memo says they have also been ineffective “as generally implemented.” Because such buybacks have been voluntary, they have been “too small,” have resulted in the surrender of guns that are rarely used in crime, and have removed guns that are easily replaceable.
The memo intimates that the corrective for such ineffective buybacks are non-voluntary buybacks that are targeted at the kinds of weapons used in crime.
Lastly, the memo says the first “assault weapons” ban failed to work for many of the same reasons magazine bans and gun buybacks failed to work–there was simply too much wiggle room for gun owners. Moreover, the memo says that because “assault weapons” are used in such a low percentage of crimes, the only way a ban can be effective is if it eliminates every “assault weapon” in the country.
According to the memo, the only way to fix it is to couple a ban with “a gun buyback and no exemptions.”
(The Hill) -The Senate Budget Committee’s top Republican said a new government report shows that President Obama’s healthcare law will add $6.2 trillion to the deficit over the next 75 years.
“The report reveals the dramatic falsehoods that were used to push [the bill] to passage,” Sessions said in opening remarks at a Budget Committee hearing.
“The big taxes increases in the bill come nowhere close to covering the bill’s spending. … The big-government crowd in Washington manipulated the numbers to get the financial score they wanted, to get their bill passed and to increase their power and influence.”
The GAO will release its report later Tuesday, according to Sessions’s staff. The senator requested the study from GAO.
Republicans have argued since the law’s passage that it will prove a major liability for the federal budget.
The Obama administration, meanwhile, cites estimates from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) that the law will reduce the deficit.
Repealing the Affordable Care Act would increase deficit spending by $230 billion, the CBO wrote in January 2011.
(CNSNews.com) – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security no longer uses control of the actual border as a measure of how well the Border Patrol is doing its job, according to written testimony released today by the Government Accountability Office.
The GAO said that by the end of fiscal 2010, the Border Patrol had been able secure “operational control” of only 44 percent of the U.S.-Mexico border. Then, with 56 percent of the border not under “operation control,” DHS simply stopped using “operational control” as a measure of the Border Patrol’s performance.
Since then, DHS has counted the number of illegal border crossers the Border Patrol apprehends, and used this count as an “interim” measure of whether the Border Patrol is accomplishing its mission.
According to GAO, this “interim” measure limits DHS’s accountability and Congress’s ability to conduct oversight of the department.
“At the end of fiscal year 2010, DHS reported achieving varying levels of operational control of 873 (44 percent) of the nearly 2,000 southwest border miles,” Rebecca Gambler, the GAO’s director of Homeland Security and Justice Issues told the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on the Border.
“In fiscal year 2011, citing a need to establish new goals and measures that reflect a more quantitative methodology and an evolving vision for border control, DHS transitioned to using the number of apprehensions on the southwest border as an interim goal and measure,” Gambler said. “As GAO previously testified, this interim measure, which reports on program activity levels and not program results, limits DHS and congressional oversight and accountability.”
Starting in 2004, Congress provided the Border Patrol with a significant increase in resources, which until 2010 were focused on actually securing the physical border of the United States.
“For example, from fiscal years 2004 through 2011, the number of Border Patrol agents on the southwest border nearly doubled, from about 9,500 to about 18,500; and DHS reported that since fiscal year 2006, about $4.4 billion has been invested in southwest border technology and infrastructure,” Gambler testified. “Through fiscal year 2010, these resources were used to support DHS’s goal to achieve “operational control” of the nation’s borders by reducing cross-border illegal activity.”
The Border Patrol reported that it has “operational control” of a mile of border when it could not only detect illegal border crossers there but actually interdict them when they crossed.
“The extent of operational control—also referred to as effective control—was defined as the number of border miles where Border Patrol had the capability to detect, respond to, and interdict cross-border illegal activity,” Gambler testified.
In its most recent strategic plan, the Obama Administration indicated that it intended to begin focusing resources on “mitigating risk” from illegal penetration of the U.S. border rather than increasing the security of the border itself.
“In May 2012, Border Patrol issued the 2012-2016 Border Patrol Strategic Plan (2012-2016 Strategic Plan), stating that the buildup of its resource base and the operations conducted over the past two decades would enable the Border Patrol to focus on mitigating risk rather than increasing resources to secure the border,” Gambler testified.
The GAO said that the administration pointed to its “evolving vision for border” as explanation of why it needed a new “interim” measure as it work to develop an all-new measure.
“Citing a need to establish a new border security goal and measure that reflect a more quantitative methodology as well as the department’s evolving vision for border control, DHS established the interim performance goal and measure of the number of apprehensions between the land border ports of entry until a new border control goal and measure could be developed,” GAO said.
But GAO concluded that the interim measure of counting the illegal border crossers the Border Patrol actually apprehended was not a good measure of the agencies effectiveness.
“We previously testified that the interim goal and measure of number of apprehensions on the southwest border between ports of entry provides information on activity levels, but it does not inform program results or resource identification and allocation decisions, and therefore until new goals and measures are developed, DHS and Congress could experience reduced oversight and DHS accountability,” Gambler testified. “Further, studies commissioned by CBP have documented that the number of apprehensions bears little relationship to effectiveness because agency officials do not compare these numbers with the amount of cross-border illegal activity.”
(Business Insider) -JPMorgan Chase is holding its investor day in Manhattan today.
The bank’s CEO Jamie Dimon is slated to speak and open up for Q&A this early afternoon.
In the Firm Overview JPMorgan released, the bank said it expects to have expense reduction of $1 billion and about 4,000 in job cuts.
Check it out:
(Before It’s News) -When man falls on hard times, what’s his best friend to do?
A new donation-based program called Pet Food Stamps aims to provide food stamps for pets of low-income families and for food stamp recipients who otherwise could not afford to feed their pets, reported ABC affiliate KVIA in Las Cruces, N.M.
Based in New York, the program is open to anyone in the United States. More than 45,000 pets have already been signed up in the past two weeks, according to the program’s founder and executive director Marc Okon. Once need and income is verified, the families will receive pet food each month from pet food retailer Pet Food Direct for a six-month period.
“We’re not looking for government funding at this point,” Okon told ABCNews.com. “Should the government be willing to provide assistance further down the line, we will look into it.”
The only way to apply for the program is through an online application, but Okon said applications would be accepted through mail once the program moved to its new office.
Okon said the program’s nonprofit status was still pending. MOREHERE
When asked about the potential for civil war following a gun confiscation attempt, the 12-term Congressman explained that while the government is not necessarily planning to ban guns for the sole purpose of sparking a civil war, it would definitely be a possibility. He believes that the gun control advocates believe in government, as opposed the people, owning guns as a philosophy. “Whether that is exactly what they want it’s hard to say,” said Congressman Paul “but I know one thing; they don’t want the people to have the guns.” Paul finally said, with Alex Jones’ agreement, that he doesn’t believe the American people will willingly give up their guns.
(IntelHub) -The United States Supreme Court will not let Americans challenge a provision in a foreign intelligence law that lets the federal government secretly eavesdrop on the intimate communications of millions of Americans.
On Tuesday, the top justices in the US said the country’s highest court will not hear a case in which Amnesty International and a slew of co-plaintiffs have contested a provision of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, or FISA, that lets the National Security Agency silently monitor emails and phone calls.
Under the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 (FAA), the NSA is allowed to conduct electronic surveillance on any US citizen as long as they are suspected of conversing with any person located outside of the United States.
That provision was scheduled to expire at the end of 2012, but Congress voted to re-up the bill and it was put back on the books for another five years.
Along with human rights workers and journalists, Amnesty International first challenged the FAA on the day it went into effect, arguing that the powers provided to the NSA under the FISA amendments likely puts the plaintiffs and perhaps millions of other Americans at risk of surveillance.
Now years later, though, they are finally being told that they cannot challenge the law that, while meant to collect foreign intelligence, puts every person in the country at risk of being watched.
“Under the FAA, the government can target anyone — human rights researchers, academics, attorneys, political activists, journalists — simply because they are foreigners outside the United States, and in the course of its surveillance it can collect Americans’ communications with those individuals,” the American Civil Liberties Union wrote on behalf of the plaintiffs in a legal brief filed last year with the court.
Amnesty, et al have been pursuing an injunction against the NSA in their lawsuit, which names former NSA-Chief James Clapper is a co-defendant. Because the plaintiffs cannot prove that they’ve actually been targeted under the FAA, however, the case is been stalled endlessly.
In last year’s filing, the ACLU acknowledged that an appeals court panel agreed in 2011 that “plaintiffs have good reason to believe that their communications, in particular, will fall within the scope of the broad surveillance that they can assume the government will conduct,” and the full body of US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit later refused the government’s attempts to have them reconsider.
“But instead of allowing the case to be heard on the merits, the Obama administration asked the Supreme Court to review the case,” the ACLU’s Ateqah Khaki, wrote. “Our brief urges the Court to affirm the appeals court’s decision.”
On Tuesday, however, the Supreme Court dismissed the claims that the plaintiffs were being watched under the FAA. Amnesty and others had argued that the presumed surveillance they were subjected to has caused them to go out of their way to maintain working relationships with clients, forcing them to travel abroad to communicate without the fear of being monitored.
In the suit, the plaintiffs have said that because they communicate “with people the Government ‘believes or believed to be associated with terrorist organizations,’ ‘people located in geographic areas that are a special focus’ of the Government’s counterterrorism or diplomatic efforts, and activists who oppose governments that are supported by the United States Government,” they’ve undertaken “costly and burdensome measures” to protect the confidentiality of sensitive communications.
“This theory of future injury is too speculative,” Justice Samuel Alito said in announcing the 5-4 decision, calling it “hypothetical future harm.”
“In sum, respondents’ speculative chain of possibilities does not establish that injury based on potential future surveillance,” the court ruled. “[R]espondents’ self-inflicted injuries are not fairly traceable to the Government’s purported activities under [the FAA] and their subjective fear of surveillance does not give rise to standing.”
Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy and Clarence Thomas joined Alito in the ruling. Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan all dissented.
(RT) -Bradley Manning will remain in military prison awaiting his eventual trial after an Army judge refused again a request to dismiss charges against the alleged whistleblower.
The military judge presiding over the case of Army Private first class Bradley Manning denied a motion entered by attorneys for the accused WikiLeaks source which would have dismissed charges against him due to the absence of a speedy trial.
Manning, 25, recently celebrated his one-thousandth day in military custody. From Ft. Meade, Maryland on Tuesday morning, however, Col. Denise Lind said that nearly three years of delays didn’t constitute a violation of the speedy trial statute provided under the United States Rules for Military Commissions.
Under RMC 707, the court had 120 days to get the case against Pfc Manning off the ground. But although the accused has yet to be formally tried, the judge said that Army prosecutors were able to start pre-trial matters well before the deadline, with the arraignment occurring after only three months — taking into consideration, of course, delays that Lind considered excusable by the court.
Nathan Fuller of the Bradley Manning Support Network reports from the courthouse that the judge ruled that delays in the case in 2011 caused by the government weren’t grounds to dismiss the charges since the Original Classification Authorities delegated to complete lengthy classification reviews in the case were permissible.
Lind found those delays “reasonable” and the prosecution of Pfc Manning “diligent,” the Guardian’s Ed Pilkington reports from Ft. Meade. On the other hand, he says, attorneys for the defendant called the ruling “shameful.”
Private Manning was arrested in May 2010 and accused of leaking sensitive documents to the whistleblower website WikiLeaks. His formal court-martial is currently scheduled to begin in June, more than three years after he was first detained by the US military.
Last year, Manning’s attorney lost a bid to dismiss the charges against him based off of the egregious treatment the soldier endured while detained in a brig at Quantico Military Base in Northern Virginia. Col. Lind credited Manning with 112 days off of whatever sentence is handed out if he’s convicted when he’s brought to trial later this year. Manning himself is expected to testify for only the second time later this week when he enters a plea deal: in lieu of charges that could put him in prison for life, Pfc Manning intends to plead guilty to lesser charges.
“Pfc Manning is attempting to accept responsibility for offenses that are encapsulated within, or are a subset of, the charged offenses,” his attorney David Coombs said last year.
(Telegraph) -Elizabeth Jones, 22, admitted she lied about the latest rape allegation because she “did not like” the man she accused of attacking her, Southampton Crown Court was told.
Her latest victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was arrested and questioned for nine hours before being released without charge.
After a judge jailed her for 16 months, it emerged today that she made her first complaint in 2004 aged just 13 before alleging other men had attacked her over the next nine years.
In 2009 she was given a ten month detention and training order for a similar offence.
Between 2005 and 2007 she had made eight other allegations, which police investigated, but she was never charged.
In the latest incident, Hampshire Police launched an investigation after Jones, from Southampton, Hants, urged an unidentified friend to report she had been assaulted.
She later went to the police station for a medical examination and repeated the false allegation.
Jennie Rickman, prosecuting, told the court that a man was arrested but he denied the rape allegation.
Detectives later viewed CCTV covering part of the house in which Jones claimed to have been attacked, which did not support her story as it showed she was not forcibly taken there.
“There is a history of her making false allegations of this nature and this is the 11th incident,” she said.
“Police had to take her allegation seriously and carried out an appropriate investigation.
“She was later arrested and accepted she had lied about being raped – she said she did it because she did not like him.”
Jones admitted one count of attempting to pervert the course of justice.
Jailing her for 16 months, Judge Derwin Hope said her offences had caused a “terrible emotional experience” to her alledged attacker.
But he also said it struck at the heart of the criminal justice system.
Megan Topliss, defending, said her client had endured a disturbed childhood and had been left traumatised after being taken into care.
Jones immediately accepted she had lied when approached by the police and pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity, she added.
(Guardian) -The military court that is handling the prosecution of the WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning is likely to rule this week on whether the drawn-out nature of his court martial is in breach of his rights to a prompt trial.
The latest Bradley Manning pre-trial hearing at Fort Meade in Maryland that starts on Tuesday will focus on a “speedy trial” motion brought by the defence. It argues that the legal build-up to his eventual court martial has been so agonisingly slow that the defendant’s basic rights have been violated.
Last weekend, Manning, who was arrested in May 2010 at the US army base outside Baghdad where he was working as an intelligence analyst, entered his 1,000th day in detention without trial. The moment was marked by scores of demonstrations around the world.
Military personnel are afforded similar protection against excessive delays before trial as are civilians. Under Article 10 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the US government is required to use “reasonable diligence” in proceeding to trial for anyone held in pre-trial confinement.
But in legal argument to the court prepared by Manning’s main lawyer, David Coombs, the government is accused of deliberately dragging its feet.
“The government’s behavior is nothing short of shameful,” Coombs writes. He points out that it took 530 days to elicit classification reviews of sensitive material from different government departments.
“These classification reviews were not Tolstoy novels – they were generally documents that spanned three or four pages. Under no stretch of the imagination can a 530 day lag in completing a three or four page classification review be characterized as reasonably diligent,” the defence lawyer wrote, adding: “530 days spent languishing in a brig is a very long time.”
The Rules for Courts Martial (RCM) 707 states that under normal circumstances the accused should be brought to trial within 120 days of charges having been brought. With the start of the court martial now pencilled in for 3 June – more than three years after Manning was arrested – the defence is calling for all charges against him to be thrown out because of the breach of his rights.
The prosecution has argued that the material under discussion – the hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables and other confidential state documents that Manning has effectively admitted passing to WikiLeaks – is so sensitive and potentially damaging to national security that the legal process has been by necessity slower to advance than usual. The government has also pointed out that some of the delays in the trial process have come as a result of defence requests.
It will fall to the military judge, Colonel Denise Lind, to decide which side of the argument holds sway. She could agree with the government and dismiss the defence motion out of hand; or she could side with the defence and dismiss the charges, even theoretically allowing Manning to walk free, though few close observers expect such a dramatic outcome to happen.
“I put my money on this film to win the Best Picture Oscar (even though there is nothing remotely “best” about it) especially if Obama can pull off winning the Presidential election,” wrote cultural critic Kim Nicolini in an article published in October 2012.
“Argo, above all else, is a piece of conservative liberal propaganda created by Hollywood to support the Obama administration’s conservative liberal politics as we move toward the Presidential election,” she said before Obama was re-elected for the second term.
“It also primes the war wheels for an American-supported Israeli attack on Iran, so that Leftists can feel okay about the war when they cast their vote for Obama in November (2012),” the critic pointed out.
At the 85th edition of Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California, on Sunday, Michelle Obama, the US First Lady, announced Argo as winner of the Best Picture Oscar, live from the White House.
The thriller directed by US filmmaker Ben Affleck is loosely based on the allegedly historical account by former CIA agent Tony Mendez about the rescue of six American diplomats during the takeover of the US Embassy in Tehran after Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution.
The revolutionary Iranian university students who took over the US Embassy believed that the embassy had turned into a den of espionage which aimed to overthrow the nascent Islamic Republic establishment.
Argo only tells the rescue operation of the six Americans from the Canadian Embassy in Iran, with no mentioning of the 53 Americans who spent 444 days in the US Embassy.
Nicolini lashed out at Argo for completely neglecting to provide the Iranian’s side of the story, noting, “The film is a sanitized version of the events.”
She argued that “there is nothing authentic about the film’s manipulation of historical events,” and described the movie as “pure political propaganda.”
“Given the vast number of people who have died in the Middle East (Americans, Iranians, Iraqis, Afghanis, etc.), why should we give so much attention to 6 white American diplomats who were saved by Hollywood and the CIA? What about all the other people from so many cultural demographics who have and are continuing to be massacred, murdered and tortured daily?” the critic questioned.
One of the most disputed aspect of Argo’s version of events has to do with Canada’s role in the escape, as the film is considered to be a very inaccurate dramatization of a purported joint CIA-Canadian secret operation.
Former Canadian Ambassador to Iran Ken Taylor has heavily criticized the movie, saying, “The amusing side is the script writer (Chris Terrio) in Hollywood had no idea what he’s talking about.”
He said Argo downplays the actual extent of the Canadian involvement which was considerable.
Taylor criticized Argo for incorporating a myriad of creative liberties that included the “black and white” portrayal of Iranian people and fabricated scenes, adding that Argo “characterizes people in a way that isn’t quite right.”
The former Canadian envoy argued that Argo didn’t portray “a more conventional side,” and “a more hospitable side” of the Iranian society as well, an “intent that they were looking for some degree of justice.”
Political analysts say Argo unmasks the elaborate US scheme to employ every medium in its propaganda apparatus to incite Iranophobia across the globe.
“Argo is an arrant instance of Hollywoodism. In point of fact, it is yet another attempt to foment Iranophobia not only in the USA but across the world as well,” Iranian academic Dr. Ismail Salami wrote in an article on Press TV website in November 2012.
“In recent years, Iranophobia has come to encompass a wider scope of media including cinema which is incontestably capable of exercising a more powerful effect on manipulating the audience,” he said.
The analyst also lashed out at Argo’s director for portraying a “stereotyped and caricatured view” of the Iranian society and noted that Affleck has consciously sought to ridicule “the very customs and traditions” of Iran.
In an interview with Press TV, top Iranian official Masoumeh Ebtekar who was a spokeswoman of the students who took over the US Embassy in 1979, says she initially thought that the film would be a balanced representation of events, but after seeing the film, she says it does not tell the story of the takeover as it actually happened.
“The group who took over the American Embassy were a group of young, very orderly and quite calm men and women … The scenes that you see in Argo are totally incorrect,” Ebtekar said.
Iranian film critic Masoud Foroutan told Press TV that Argo was “politically-motivated,” noting, “The making of the film from the technical aspect is ok but the story is not authentic. The story is custom-made and you could see where it would end up. The film was a politically-motivated one.”
On the 19th of January 1981, the Algiers Accords was signed by the United States and Iran which secured the release of the American diplomats. A day later, the 53 Americans were released in Tehran and minutes later former US President Ronald Reagan was sworn into office.
Meanwhile, political observers contend that the US has always sought to keep the Algiers Accords hidden from the general public and it comes as no surprise as Argo makes no mention of the accords either.
(IBI Times) The Afghan government Sunday ordered all U.S. special forces to leave a province after reports from local officials that the elite force is behind several cases of Afghan civilians being tortured or disappeared.
The decision seems to have caught the coalition and U.S. Forces Afghanistan, a separate command, by surprise, the Associated Press reported.
Officials in Maidan Wardak, a province that borders Kabul on the west and where security has deteriorated over the past year, had presented evidence to President Hamid Karzai and other officials alleging that nine people had disappeared after being seized by U.S. special forces in raids on their homes, the Guardian reported.
U.S. special forces were also accused of the death of a university student whose tortured remains were found days after he went missing.
“People have been complaining about U.S. special forces units torturing and killing people in that province, and nine individuals were taken from their homes recently and they have just disappeared and no one knows where they have gone,” said Aimal Faizi, spokesman for Karzai.
Officials made the decision at a meeting Sunday morning chaired by Karzai, Faizi said, but the government has known of the allegations for months.
Karzai’s office gave no additional details and didn’t specify the identities of the Afghans working alongside the U.S. forces. And the Wardak province chief of police told The Los Angeles Times that he had no evidence to back up the claims.
The announcement comes days after NATO defense ministers said they had made progress planning a military assistance mission in Afghanistan after the alliance’s combat role expires at the end of 2014.
A draft proposal discussed last week in Brussels for possible NATO operations in Afghanistan after 2014 envisions a force of up to 9,500 American troops and up to 6,000 more from other coalition nations, according to alliance officials, who stressed that no final decisions had been made, the AP reported. Other NATO officials said the combined American and allied force would be smaller, falling in a range of 8,000 to 12,000 troops.
The Taliban have staged many attacks against coalition forces in Maidan Wardak. In August 2011, insurgents shot down a Chinook helicopter, killing 30 American troops, mostly elite Navy SEALs, in Wardak. The crash was the single deadliest loss for U.S. forces in the war.
Afghan forces have taken the lead in many special operations, especially so-called night raids.
“Those Afghans in these armed groups who are working with the U.S. special forces, the defense minister asked for an explanation of who they are,” Faizi said. “Those individuals should be handed over to the Afghan side so that we can further investigate.”
The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Kabul said it was aware of the order, but declined to provide further information. It was also unable to confirm the number of U.S. special forces currently in Maidan Wardak.
“We take allegations of misconduct seriously and go to great lengths to determine the facts surrounding them, but until we’ve had a chance to talk to senior government of Afghanistan officials, we’re not in a position to comment further,” a spokesman said.
“These individuals in the U.S. special forces, who are behind these crimes like murdering and torturing people and harassing people, this is in itself an elemental factor in the deteriorating security situation” in the province, Faizi said.
Afghanistan’s own elite commando forces, including the 1st, 2nd and 6th Special Operations Kandak, also operate in Maidan Wardak, often working alongside the Americans. Faizi said that association was making enemies for the government.
Sunday’s decision comes as Afghan forces face mounting pressure to show they are fit to fully inherit Afghanistan’s security from their foreign backers in 2014. Tensions between Karzai’s government and the alliance also hit a new low last week after he condemned a NATO airstrike that killed nine civilians. He then issued a decree banning Afghan security forces from calling in NATO airstrikes.
Faizi said security in Maidan Wardak, and nearby Logar province, which also borders Pakistan, has been of particular concern to the Afghan government because of heightened violence and Taliban activity there.
Maidan Wardak currently hosts mainly U.S. troops. A brigade of 3,000 to 4,000 Afghan soldiers is also deployed in the province, according to ISAF.
Meanwhile, Taliban suicide bombers attacked several Afghan military installations in Kabul and eastern Afghanistan Sunday.
The administration’s drone program has come under scrutiny since a confidential Justice Department memo — leaked earlier this month — detailed the basis for drone strikes against alleged al-Qaeda operatives, including U.S. citizens.
In an appearance on MSNBC’s “Up with Chris Hayes” on Sunday, Gibbs was asked if he believes the White House has been “sufficiently forthcoming” about its drone-strike program.
“Well, I think you’ve seen recently the president discuss the need and desire to be more forthcoming,” Gibbs said. “I certainly think there are aspects of that program that are and will remain highly sensitive and very secret.”
“But let me give you an example here Chris,” Gibbs said. “When I went through the process of becoming press secretary, one of the things, one of the first things they told me was, ‘You’re not even to acknowledge the drone program. You’re not even to discuss that it exists.’”
“So I would get a question like that—literally I couldn’t tell you what Major [Garrett] asked, because once I figured out it was about the drone program I realized I’m not supposed to talk about it,” Gibbs said.
“But here’s what’s inherently crazy about that proposition,” he added. “You’re being asked a question based on reporting of a program that exists. So you’re the official government spokesperson acting as if the entire program—pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.”
Gibbs said denying the drone program, as he was told to do, “undermines people’s confidence” in government.
“I think in many ways, and I think what the president has seen–and I have not talked to him about this, so I want to be careful, this is my opinion,” he said. “But I think what the President has seen is, is our denial of the existence of the program when it’s obviously happening, undermines people’s confidence overall in the decisions that their government makes.”
The Justice Department memo, released by NBC News on Feb. 4, reveals that American citizens can be the target of a drone strike if an “informed, high-level” official of the U.S. government determines they have “recently” been involved in “activities” posing a threat of violent attack, though the terms remain undefined.
(Ron Paul) -While I oppose most gun control proposals, there is one group of Americans I do believe should be disarmed: federal agents. The use of force by federal agents to enforce unjust and unconstitutional laws is one of the major, albeit overlooked, threats to liberty. Too often Americans are victimized by government force simply for engaging in commercial transactions disproved of by Congress and the federal bureaucracy.
For example, the offices of Rawesome Foods in Venice, California, have been repeatedly raided by armed federal and state agents, and Rawesome’s founder, 65-year old James Stewart, has been imprisoned. What heinous crime justified this action? Rawesome sold unpasteurized (raw) milk and cheese to willing customers – in a state where raw milk is legal! You cannot even drink milk from a cow without a federal permit!
This is hardly the only case of federal agents using force against those who would dare meet consumer demand for raw milk. In 2011 armed agents of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) raided the business of Pennsylvanian Amish farmer Dan Allgyer. Federal agents wasted a whole year and who knows how many millions of our tax dollars posing as customers in order to stop Allgyer from selling his raw milk to willing customers.
The use of force against individuals making choices not approved of by the political elite does not just stop with raw milk. The Natural News website has documented numerous accounts of federal persecution, including armed raids, of health food stores and alternative medical practitioners.
Yes, every smartphone can record you and take pictures. But you know when this is happening. It isn’t a constant feeling that everyone around you is filming you from every angle. You see them when they do it.
Google Glasses are different. More than just photos and filming, what happens to this data?
Let’s say that I’m standing behind the counter at a businessestablishment — bank, fast-food restaurant, airline check-in counter, whatever. My Google Glasses might display the social security number, the general rap sheet, social media appearances, and so on, of the person in front of me.
Perhaps that’s a good thing. Some people will think it’s creepy, though. Can you imagine the bar scene when people start wearing Google Glasses? Within a second or two, you will have all available information about the person in front of you. Some of that information may not be so flattering.
Public places will have to come up with new policies. Hotels, airports, restaurants, gyms and schools will want some say in whether you are allowed to wear these Google Glasses on their premises. You can just hear the panic buttons after the first pictures from people cheating in school or filming in the locker room are released on YouTube. Conflicts about are certain to get very ugly.
Other dimensions immediately appear. What if future versions of Google Glasses are very difficult to detect in terms of looking different from regular glasses?
What happens when you walk into an establishment today wielding a video camera in the faces of the staff? In a restaurant, a bank lobby, or a gym? You will be asked to turn that thing off, and if you don’t obey quickly, you will be escorted from the premises.
Google Glasses will make all social/public interaction highly awkward. You’re on YouTube everywhere you go. A few short months after their introduction, Google Glasses could already be so widespread that you will be on camera once you stick your nose out your front door.
Privacy lawyers, saddle up!
The Google Glasses data captured in the form of pictures and videos will not only be used by the person wearing the glasses. The person capturing the images may want to “auto-tag” these media with the identities of the people in the picture/video.
Some people prefer to stay off the grid. They pay cash, they drive a car without GPS, they don’t have a cell phone, and they’re not members of online social networks. They have been able to stay out of most publicly available databases.
Once a meaningful percentage of people start walking down the street wearing Google Glasses, not so much. There will be no place to hide — unless the government legislates Google Glasses, or private establishments decide to ban them.
What about Google itself?
Google Glasses will be the critical ingredient in the personal information arms race of the (soon to arrive) future. If other people wear them, why shouldn’t I? I predict that everyone with means will rush to obtain them, especially as the price falls from $1,500 to $1,000 to $500 and eventually below, over the first two years.
If Google succeeds in bringing these kinds of glasses to market before key competitors, most notably Apple(AAPL_), but also Microsoft(MSFT_), the advantage could prove to be decisive. Google already has a 70% smartphone market share with Android, so it’s pretty much already there, but don’t forget the Microsoft’s market share in the PC business was close to 95% until only a few short years ago.
Seeing as Google is likely to engineer some sort of tie-in between the Glasses and Android smartphones, the Glasses should be a tremendous boon for Android. Anyone looking at their iPhone would have to seriously consider switching.
Google Glasses may cause societal chaos, but they will be great for Google’s finances.
(Economic Collapse) -The U.S. health care system is a giant money making scam that is designed to drain as much money as possible out of all of us before we die.
In the United States today, the health care industry is completely dominated by government bureaucrats, health insurance companies and pharmaceutical corporations.
The pharmaceutical corporations spend billions of dollars to convince all of us to become dependent on their legal drugs, the health insurance companies make billions of dollars by providing as little health care as possible, and they both spend millions of dollars to make sure that our politicians in Washington D.C. keep the gravy train rolling. Meanwhile, large numbers of doctors are going broke and patients are not getting the care that they need. At this point, our health care system is a complete and total disaster.
Health care costs continue to go up rapidly, the level of care that we are receiving continues to go down, and every move that our politicians make just seems to make all of our health care problems even worse. In America today, a single trip to the emergency room can easily cost you $100,000, and if you happen to get cancer you could end up with medical bills in excess of a million dollars.
Even if you do have health insurance, there are usually limits on your coverage, and the truth is that just a single major illness is often enough to push most American families into bankruptcy. At the same time, hospital administrators, pharmaceutical corporations and health insurance company executives are absolutely swimming in huge mountains of cash. Unfortunately, this gigantic money making scam has become so large that it threatens to collapse both the U.S. health care system and the entire U.S. economy.
The following are 50 signs that the U.S. health care system is a massive money making scam that is about to collapse…
#1 Medical bills have become so ridiculously large that virtually nobody can afford them. Just check out the following short excerpt from a recent Time Magazine article. One man in California that had been diagnosed with cancer ran up nearly a million dollars in hospital bills before he died…
By the time Steven D. died at his home in Northern California the following November, he had lived for an additional 11 months. And Alice had collected bills totaling $902,452. The family’s first bill — for $348,000 — which arrived when Steven got home from the Seton Medical Center in Daly City, Calif., was full of all the usual chargemaster profit grabs: $18 each for 88 diabetes-test strips that Amazon sells in boxes of 50 for $27.85; $24 each for 19 niacin pills that are sold in drugstores for about a nickel apiece. There were also four boxes of sterile gauze pads for $77 each. None of that was considered part of what was provided in return for Seton’s facility charge for the intensive-care unit for two days at $13,225 a day, 12 days in the critical unit at $7,315 a day and one day in a standard room (all of which totaled $120,116 over 15 days). There was also $20,886 for CT scans and $24,251 for lab work.
#3 The United States spends more on health care than Japan, Germany, France, China, the U.K., Italy, Canada, Brazil, Spain and Australia combined.
#4 If the U.S. health care system was a country, it would be the 6th largest economy on the entire planet.
#6 Why does it cost so much to stay in a hospital today? It just does not make sense. Just check out these numbers…
In 1942, Christ Hospital, NJ charged $7 per day for a maternity room. Today it’s $1,360.
#7 Approximately 60 percent of all personal bankruptcies in the United States are related to medical bills.
#8 One study discovered that approximately 41 percent of all working age Americans either have medical bill problems or are currently paying off medical debt.
#9 The U.S. health care industry has spent more than 5 billion dollarson lobbying our politicians in Washington D.C. since 1998.
#10 According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the U.S. is currently experiencing a shortage of at least 13,000 doctors. Unfortunately, that shortage is expected to grow to 130,000 doctorsover the next 10 years.
#11 The state of Florida is already dealing with a very serious shortage of doctors…
Brace yourself for longer lines at the doctor’s office.
Whether you’re employed and insured, elderly and on Medicare, or poor and covered by Medicaid, the Florida Medical Association says there’s a growing shortage of doctors — especially specialists — available to provide you with medical care.
And if the Florida Legislature goes along with Gov. Rick Scott’s recommendation to offer Medicaid coverage to an additional 1 million Floridians — part of the Affordable Care Act that takes effect next January — the FMA says that shortage will only get worse.
#12 At this point, approximately 40 percent of all doctors in the United States are 55 years of age or older.
#13 In America today, many hospital executives make absolutely ridiculous amounts of money…
In December, when the New York Times ran a story about how a deficit deal might threaten hospital payments, Steven Safyer, chief executive of Montefiore Medical Center, a large nonprofit hospital system in the Bronx, complained, “There is no such thing as a cut to a provider that isn’t a cut to a beneficiary … This is not crying wolf.”
Actually, Safyer seems to be crying wolf to the tune of about $196.8 million, according to the hospital’s latest publicly available tax return. That was his hospital’s operating profit, according to its 2010 return. With $2.586 billion in revenue — of which 99.4% came from patient bills and 0.6% from fundraising events and other charitable contributions — Safyer’s business is more than six times as large as that of the Bronx’s most famous enterprise, the New York Yankees. Surely, without cutting services to beneficiaries, Safyer could cut what have to be some of the Bronx’s better non-Yankee salaries: his own, which was $4,065,000, or those of his chief financial officer ($3,243,000), his executive vice president ($2,220,000) or the head of his dental department ($1,798,000).
#14 Health insurance administration expenses account for 8 percent of all health care costs in the United States each year. In Finland, health insurance administration expenses account for just 2 percent of all health care costs each year.
#15 If you can believe it, the U.S. ambulance industry makes more money each year than the movie industry does.
#16 All over America, people are reporting huge health insurance premium increases thanks to Obamacare. The following example is from a recent article by Robert Wenzel…
A California small businessman tells me that he switched healthcare insurance carriers in 2012. The monthly premium for him and his wife was about $400, but when he received his first bill in January of this year it was for $1,200. He hasn’t been to a doctor in years, his wife has only gone for minor care.
Apparently there is some clause in the Affordable Healthcare Act that results in health insurance firms using a new method to calculate premiums. Those who have health insurance plans that have been in effect since at least 2010 are grandfathered under the old calculation method, but insurance carriers are using a new formula for new plans.
#17 Blue Shield of California has announced that it wants to raise health insurance premiums by up to 20 percent this year in an effort to keep up with rising health costs.
#18 Aetna’s CEO says that health insurance premiums for many Americans will double when the major provisions of Obamacare go into effect in 2014.
#19 Close to 10 percent of all U.S. employers plan to drop health coverage completely when the major provisions of Obamacare go into effect in 2014.
#20 According to a survey conducted by the Doctor Patient Medical Association, 83 percent of all doctors in the United States have considered leaving the profession because of Obamacare.
#21 Approximately 16,000 new IRS agents will be hired to help oversee the implementation of Obamacare, and the Obama administration has given the IRS 500 million extra dollars ”outside the normal appropriations process” to help the IRS with their new duties.
#22 During 2013, Americans will spend more than 280 billion dollarson prescription drugs.
#23 Prescription drugs cost about 50% more in the United States than they do in other countries.
#24 In the United States today, prescription painkillers kill more Americans than heroin and cocaine combined.
#25 Nearly half of all Americans now use prescription drugs on a regular basis according to the CDC. Not only that, the CDC also says that approximately one-third of all Americans use two or more pharmaceutical drugs on a regular basis, and more than ten percent of all Americans use five or more pharmaceutical drugs on a regular basis.
#26 The percentage of women taking antidepressants in America is higher than in any other country in the world.
#27 In 2010, the average teen in the U.S. was taking 1.2 central nervous system drugs. Those are the kinds of drugs which treat conditions such as ADHD and depression.
#28 Children in the United States are three times more likely to be prescribed antidepressants as children in Europe are.
#29 There were more than two dozen pharmaceutical companiesthat made over a billion dollars in profits during 2008.
#30 According to the CDC, approximately three quarters of a million people a year are rushed to emergency rooms in the United States because of adverse reactions to pharmaceutical drugs.
#31 According to a report by Health Care for America Now, America’s five biggest for-profit health insurance companies ended 2009 with a combined profit of $12.2 billion.
#32 The top executives at the five largest for-profit health insurance companies in the United States combined to bring in nearly $200 million in total compensation for 2009.
#33 The chairman of Aetna, the third largest health insurance company in the United States, brought in a staggering $68.7 million during 2010. Ron Williams exercised stock options that were worth approximately $50.3 million and he raked in an additional $18.4 million in wages and other forms of compensation. The funny thing is that he left the company and didn’t even work the entire year.
#34 It turns out that the financial assistance that Barack Obama promised would be provided for those with “pre-existing conditions” under Obamacare is already being shut down because of a lack of funding…
Tens of thousands of Americans who cannot get health insurance because of preexisting medical problems will be blocked from a program designed to help them because funding is running low.
Obama administration officials said Friday that the state-based “high-risk pools” set up under the 2010 health-care law will be closed to new applicants as soon as Saturday and no later than March 2, depending on the state.
#35 In America today, you are 64 times more likely to be killed by a doctor than you are by a gun.
#36 People living in the United States are three times more likely to have diabetes than people living in the United Kingdom.
#37 Today, people living in Puerto Rico have a greater life expectancy than people living in the United States do.
#38 According to OECD statistics, Americans are twice as obese as Canadians are.
#39 Greece has twice as many hospital beds per person as the United States does.
#40 The state of California now ranks dead last out of all 50 states in the number of emergency rooms per million people.
#41 According to a doctor interviewed by Fox News, “a gunshot wound to the head, chest or abdomen” will cost $13,000 at his hospital the moment the victim comes in the door, and then there will be significant additional charges depending on how bad the wound is.
#42 It has been estimated that hospitals overcharge Americans by about 10 billion dollars every single year.
#43 One trained medical billing advocate says that over 90 percent of the medical bills that she has audited contain “gross overcharges“.
#44 It is not uncommon for insurance companies to get hospitals to knock their bills down by up to 95 percent, but if you are uninsured or you don’t know how the system works then you are out of luck.
#45 According to a study conducted by Deloitte Consulting, a whopping875,000 Americans were “medical tourists” in 2010.
#46 Today, there are more than 56 million Americans on Medicaid, and it is being projected that Obamacare will add 16 million more Americans to the Medicaid rolls.
#47 Back in 1965, only one out of every 50 Americans was on Medicaid. Today, one out of every 6 Americans is on Medicaid.
#48 Today, there are more than 50 million Americans on Medicare, and that number is projected to grow to 73.2 million in 2025.
#49 When Medicare was first established by Congress, it was estimated that it would cost the federal government $12 billion a year by the time 1990 rolled around. Instead, it cost the federal government $110 billionin 1990, and it will cost the federal government close to $600 billion this year.
#50 Even if you do have health insurance, that is no guarantee that medical bills will not bankrupt you. Just check out what a recent Time Magazine article says happened to one unfortunate couple from Ohio that actually did have health insurance…
When Sean Recchi, a 42-year-old from Lancaster, Ohio, was told last March that he had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, his wife Stephanie knew she had to get him to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Stephanie’s father had been treated there 10 years earlier, and she and her family credited the doctors and nurses at MD Anderson with extending his life by at least eight years.
Because Stephanie and her husband had recently started their own small technology business, they were unable to buy comprehensive health insurance. For $469 a month, or about 20% of their income, they had been able to get only a policy that covered just $2,000 per day of any hospital costs. “We don’t take that kind of discount insurance,” said the woman at MD Anderson when Stephanie called to make an appointment for Sean.
Stephanie was then told by a billing clerk that the estimated cost of Sean’s visit — just to be examined for six days so a treatment plan could be devised — would be $48,900, due in advance.
By the way, that hospital down in Houston made a profit of 531 million dollars in one recent year.
So what can be done about all of this?
Well, the truth is that the status quo is a complete and total disaster, and every “solution” being promoted by politicians from both major political parties would only make things worse.
In the end, the U.S. health care system needs to be rebuilt from the ground up, but we all know that is not going to happen.
Instead, our politicians and the health care industry will just find additional ways to extract money from all of us, and the level of care that we all get will continue to decline.
If you don’t believe this, just check out what Paul Krugman of the New York Times had to say recently…
We’re going to need more revenue…Surely it will require some sort of middle class taxes as well.. We won’t be able to pay for the kind of government the society will want without some increase in taxes… on the middle class, maybe a value added tax…And we’re also going to have to make decisions about health care, doc pay for health care that has no demonstrated medical benefits . So the snarky version…which I shouldn’t even say because it will get me in trouble is death panels and sales taxes is how we do this.
Others are urging us to become more like Europe.
But do we really want what they have in the UK?…
Sick children are being discharged from NHS hospitals to die at home or in hospices on controversial ‘death pathways’.
Until now, end of life regime the Liverpool Care Pathway was thought to have involved only elderly and terminally-ill adults.
But the Mail can reveal the practice of withdrawing food and fluid by tube is being used on young patients as well as severely disabled newborn babies.
One doctor has admitted starving and dehydrating ten babies to death in the neonatal unit of one hospital alone.
Writing in a leading medical journal, the physician revealed the process can take an average of ten days during which a baby becomes ‘smaller and shrunken’.
In the end, my philosophy is just to avoid the U.S. health care system as much as possible. Most doctors are just trained to do two things – prescribe drugs and cut you open. In an emergency situation where you are about to die, those may be your best options, but otherwise I would just as soon avoid the gigantic money making scam that the U.S. health care industry has become.
But just don’t take my word for it. The following is some very sound advice from Dr. Robert S. Dotson…
Avoid contact with the existing health care system as far as possible. Yes, emergencies arise that require the help of physicians, but by and large one can learn to care for one’s own minor issues. Though it is flawed, the internet has been an information leveler for the masses and permits each person to be his or her own physician to a large degree. Take advantage of it! Educate yourself about your own body and learn to fuel and maintain it as you would an expensive auto or a pet poodle. One does not need a medical degree to:
1. avoid excessive use of tobacco or alcohol or, for that matter, caffeine;
2. avoid poisons like fluoride, aspartame, high fructose corn syrup, and addictive drugs (legal or illicit);
3. avoid unnecessary and potentially lethal imaging studies (TSA’s radiation pornbooths, excessive mammography, repetitive CT scans – exposure to all significantly increases cancer risk);
4. avoid excessive cell phone use and exposure to other forms of EMR pollution where possible (the NSA is recording everything you say and text anyway);
5. avoid daily fast food use and abuse (remember: pink slime and silicone) ;
6. avoid untested GM foods (do you really want to become “Roundup Ready?”):
7. avoid most vaccinations and pharmaceutical agents promoted by the establishment;
8. avoid risky behaviors (and, we do not need a bunch of Nanny State bureaucrats to define and police these);
9. exercise moderately;
10. get plenty of sleep;
11. drink plenty of good quality water (buy a decent water filter to remove fluoride, chloride, and heavy metals);
12. wear protective gear at work and play where appropriate (helmets, eye-shields, knee and elbow pads, etc.):
13. seek out locally-grown, whole, organic foods and support your local food producers;
14. take appropriate nutritional supplements (multi-vitamins, Vitamin C, Vitamin D3);
15. switch off the TV and the mainstream media it represents;
16. educate yourself while you can;
17. QUESTION AUTHORITY!
Doing these simple, common-sense things will add healthy years to a person’s life and help one avoid most medical encounters during his or her allotted time on earth.
So what do you think?
Do you believe that the U.S. health care system is a gigantic money making scam that is about to collapse?
Temperance advocates like Stroudwater resident Lillian Stevens, who in 1913 decried the “home-destroying, heart-breaking curse of liquor traffic,” fought to maintain the “dry Maine” first established in 1851.
“Wet Maine” proponents at the time urged repeal of a state constitutional amendment that prohibited the sale of alcoholic beverages in Maine, in part because the ban was ineffective and impossible to enforce.
“Dry Maine” prevailed until 1934, when the United States repealed the national prohibition on liquor sales. Since then, liquor sales have become an important revenue source for state government, and Maine lawmakers have shaken and stirred the state’s liquor laws, incrementally expanding the time frames in which merlot and Millers can be sold.
State law now allows licensees in Maine to sell liquor “from 6 a.m. on any day until 1 a.m. the following day.” Liquor sales also are prohibited until 9 a.m. Sunday. The law allows certain exceptions related to New Year’s Eve revelry; there are slightly different rules for the times alcohol can be consumed on premises.
Two proposals before the Legislature would alter the time limits for alcohol sales again. LD 15, sponsored by Rep. Paul Gilbert, D-Jay, would allow sales to start at 5 a.m. seven days a week. LD 216, sponsored by Rep. Barry Hobbins, D-Saco, would simply allow earlier liquor sales on a Sunday if St. Patrick’s Day falls on Sunday, as is the case this year.
It’s ironic that the Legislature would pass LD 216 on an emergency basis “for the preservation of the public peace, health and safety,” so the bill could take effect immediately and allow Mainers to honor a saint on a Sunday by imbibing stout, whiskey or other libation before 9 a.m. But that irony shouldn’t stop Hobbins’ bill, and LD 15, from passing.
Both measures came in response to constituents’ requests, drew scant opposition and would help support businesses, albeit in a small way. But the proposals also call into question the drip-drip-drip approach to amending Maine’s liquor laws. What is the reasoning behind forbidding convenience stores and liquor stores from selling alcohol in the early morning hours?
The Community Preventive Services Task Force — an independent body of public health and prevention experts whose members are appointed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — reviewed existing research in 2009 and found some evidence that limiting the days or times alcohol can be sold prevents excessive alcohol consumption and related harms. But none of the studies were completed in the U.S.; there was considerable variation across different sites; and they all focused on businesses that sold alcohol to be consumed on-site — bars, not convenience stores.
There doesn’t appear to be any convincing reason why people should be prohibited from purchasing alcohol from their convenience store at 3 a.m., for example, but not 6 a.m. Instead of Maine banning the sale of alcoholic beverages for a few hours in the middle of each night, then revising state law to reflect changing work patterns — or in response to “emergencies” such as when St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Sunday — why not remove all state restrictions on the times when alcohol can be sold at a store?
Gilbert said he introduced the bill at the request of a constituent who owns a convenience store whose customers include mill workers with shifts that end at 5 a.m. The same arguments in support of Gilbert’s bill would apply if shifts ended two hours earlier, and Gilbert said he would not object to an amendment allowing liquor sales any time.
Unless someone in Maine can demonstrate that the state’s residents are safer because they can’t buy alcoholic beverages between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m. — or 5 a.m., if LD 15 passes — it’s time to toss away the last vestiges of Prohibition.
(Breitbart) -Oregon is the latest state to draft legislation that puts major restrictions on the 2nd Amendment. House Bill 3200’s summary states the “crime of unlawful possession or transfer of assault weapon or large capacity magazine” is punishable “by maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment, $250,000 fine, or both.”
The entire first part of the bill tries to define an assault weapon. The definition will hinge upon one or more of the items in a list of cosmetic additions. Some examples include, “a shroud attached to the barrel, or that partially or completely encircles the barrel, allowing the bearer to hold the firearm with the non trigger hand without being burned, but excluding a slide that encloses the barrel.” Somehow that cosmetic addition makes a gun an assault weapon.
There has been much chatter about governments confiscating guns, and this law would give the Oregon government that power. Typically, such a law is not retroactive, but this one is applicable to those legally in possession of such “assault” weapons.
Any person who, prior to the effective date of this law, was legally in possession of an assault weapon or large capacity magazine shall, within 120 days after the effective date of this 2013 Act, without being subject to prosecution:
(a) Remove the assault weapon or large capacity magazine from the state;
(b) Sell the assault weapon or large capacity magazine to a firearms dealer licensed under 18 U.S.C. 923 for lawful sale or transfer under subsection (2) of this section;
(c) Surrender the assault weapon or large capacity magazine to a law enforcement agency for destruction;
(d) Render the assault weapon permanently inoperable; or
(e) If eligible, register the assault weapon or large capacity magazine as provided in section (4) of this 2013 Act.
That section four (4) is scarier than the previous section. If a citizen wants to register the gun, they need to agree to some eyebrow-raising conditions. These include the following:
(4) A person may not register more than one assault weapon and three large capacity magazines under this section. Additional assault weapons and large capacity magazines must be disposed of in the manner specified in section (3) of this 2013 Act.
(b) Submit to a criminal background check conducted by the department to confirm that the person is not a prohibited possessor under ORS 166.250.
(5) A registered owner of an assault weapon or large capacity magazine is required to:
(a) Securely store the assault weapon or large capacity magazine pursuant to rules and regulations adopted by the department;
(b) Allow an inspector from the department to inspect the storage of assault weapons and large capacity magazines to ensure compliance with this subsection;
But the law violates another amendment. By Oregon’s logic, in order to keep your 2nd Amendment rights, you must give up your 4th Amendment rights. If a citizen wants to have guns in his house, he has to agree to forfeit his right to privacy and allow an “inspector” into his house.
It appears Oregon is giving reason for citizens to cling to their guns and their right to privacy. The question is which state is next?
(ArsTechnica) -Though FBI agents are held to a high standard of conduct, some fall short—far short. Take, for instance, an incident in 2007 when an FBI employee “drove past a felony traffic stop, yelled ‘Rodney King’ out his car window and momentarily lost control of his vehicle, swerving into the oncoming lane and almost striking a police officer,” according an account of an internal FBI investigation. (When cops pulled him over, the employee claimed he had yelled, “Geeze Louise.”)
Thanks to the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), which rounds up accounts of these infractions and distributes the cautionary tales to employees each quarter, we get glimpses of the seedier side of life inside the agency. CNN has obtained a recent set of these memos (after obtaining earlier ones last year) that show employees sexting, breaking e-readers, viewing pornography in the office, improperly accessing databases, and even shoplifting “two ties from a local retailer.”
Given the FBI’s size, the number of such infractions is quite low, and the OPR investigations are encouraging. Still, they serve as a reminder of the need to watch the watchers. Here are some of the most intriguing technology-related offenses from FBI personnel over the last five years.
- “During argument with spouse, Employee broke spouse’s e-reader in half and pointed unloaded gun at dog’s head while dog was sitting in spouse’s lap.” The OPR report notes that the use of a handgun was “an extraordinarily serious escalation” of the situation.
- “Employee had a recording device in supervisor’s office. In addition, without authorization, Employee made copies of supervisor’s negative comments about Employee that Employee located by conducting an unauthorized search of the supervisor’s office and briefcase.” The employee in question then turned this information over to a lawyer and lied about the whole thing during an internal investigation. The employee was subsequently dismissed.
- “Employee destroyed or hid electronic surveillance (ELSUR) evidence instead of properly processing it. An enormous backlog of unprocessed evidentiary material accumulated over several years. When questioned about it, Employee repeatedly lied to supervisors and hid/destroyed the unprocessed tapes.” The mishandling “negatively impacted investigations” and led to the employee’s dismissal.
- “An employee failed to properly identify and secure materials on a thumb drive related to a child pornography investigation. As a result, the material was inadvertently viewed by other FBI employees.”
- “An employee used FBI equipment to view pornographic movies in the office while sexually satisfying himself. In aggravation, the employee was a supervisor.”
An entire class of bad behavior concerns unauthorized usage of the FBI’s vast databases. In a January 2013 internal e-mail, OPR said it had found only one recent case where an employee “made unauthorized use of FBI database to search for information about friends and coworkers”; that person was suspended for five days.
This is pretty tame stuff compared to past infractions. In late 2007, for instance, an employee was found to have “conducted more than 1,500 unauthorized FBI database searches” and to have shared some of that material with people outside the agency.
In early 2008, an FBI employee “searched FBI databases for information on public celebrities the employee thought were ‘hot.’ The employee also conducted NCIC searches on two employees’ boyfriends and shared the results with those employees.”
In late 2010, an employee was found to have “misused government database [sic] to conduct name checks on to friends who were foreign nationals employed as exotic dancers. Employee also failed to report his contact with foreign nationals and brought the two friends into FBI space after hours without proper authorization.” And lest you think the employee was some intern who may not have known the rules, the report notes that the employee had already served a suspension for misusing a government database and was currently “in a leadership position at the time of this offense.”
Smart phones, dumb people
Smartphones have created a new series of opportunities for humans to do stupid things involving naked bodies and cameras, and FBI employees are not immune to the siren song of sexting.
“Employee e-mailed nude photograph of herself to ex-boyfriend’s wife,” says the report on one of the oddest incidents. “Ex-boyfriend and wife reported the incident to the local police. Employee failed to cease contact with ex-boyfriend and wife after twice being ordered to do so by supervisor and Chief Security Officer.” The sexting employee was “suffering from depression related to break-up” and was suspended for 10 days.
Another employee used a personal cell phone “to send nude photographs of self to several other employees. In aggravation, Employee’s conduct created office gossip and negatively impacted office operations.” Indeed, the pictures were enough to affect “the daily activities of several squads.”
Finally, one employee used a government BlackBerry to send sexually explicit messages to another employee and did so repeatedly, intentionally, and “during work hours.”
ThinkProgress reports that HB 486 was tabled when it was brought before a legislative committee, meaning it is unlikely to advance and become law. But campaign finance reform advocates say the measure is still an alarming development in the post-Citizens United era.
In 2010, the US Supreme Court voted 5-4 in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that corporations are people, money is free speech and therefore corporations are constitutionally entitled to spend as much money as they please influencing the outcome of American elections via “electioneering communications.” The ruling, which has been widely decried as one of the most disastrous in US history, gave rise to the era of super PACs, “dark money,” and accelerated what critics call the corporate takeover of the US political process.
The impact of Citizens United was felt in Montana last June when the US Supreme Court ruled in American Tradition Partnership v. Bullock (another 5-4 vote) that the state’s century-old law limiting corporate spending on political campaigns was unconstitutional.
Rep. Lavin has a strong history of corporate advocacy. According to the Center for Media and Democracy, he was a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) Public Safety and Elections Task Force, a defunct group that pursued the interests of corporations, including voter suppression.
(Activist Post) -The anti-NDAA movement continues to gain traction. There is still much more work to be done as part of Operation Homeland Liberty, but People’s Blog for The Constitution highlights the latest development we can add to the victory column in Montana’s step toward resisting federal intrusion.
By a vote of 20-0, a bill that bans cooperation with federal agents over the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) has just passed the Montana House Judiciary Committee. Known as HB 522, the bill would also require the state’s attorney general to report any attempts by federal officials who try to enforce the NDAA. HB 522 is now one step closer to becoming law.
Additional details below with contact information for Montana legislators..
Introduced by freshman Republican state Rep. Nicholas Schwaderer, the bill has gathered over 20 Democratic and Republican cosponsors in the House, including the Speaker Pro Tempore Austin Knudsen and the chair of the Judiciary committee, Krayton Kerns.
Speaking at a committee hearing on Wednesday, Schwaderer articulated why he opposes the NDAA and indefinite detention: “There’s a lot of us on both sides of the aisle that feels that this flies in the face of habeas corpus and a free society and the better part of a millennium of human progress.”
Address letters to:
PO Box 200500
Helena, MT 59620-0500
Montana House of Representatives
PO Box 200400
Helena, MT 59620-0400
Please visit constitutioncampaign.org and lend your support for this and other NDAA activist initiatives.
(Activist Post) -Two powerful dairy organizations, The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), are petitioning the Food and Drug Administration to allow aspartame and other artificial sweeteners to be added milk and other dairy products without a label.
The FDA currently allows the dairy industry to use “nutritive sweeteners” including sugar and high fructose corn syrup in many of their products. Nutritive sweeteners are defined as sweeteners with calories.
This petition officially seeks to amend the standard of identification for milk, cream, and 17 other dairy products like yogurt, sweetened condensed milk, sour cream, and others to provide for the use of any “safe and suitable sweetener” on the market
They claim that aspartame and other artificial sweeteners would promote healthy eating and is good for school children.
According to the FDA notice issued this week:
IDFA and NMPF state that the proposed amendments would promote more healthful eating practices and reduce childhood obesity by providing for lower-calorie flavored milk products. They state that lower-calorie flavored milk would particularly benefit school children who, according to IDFA and NMPF, are more inclined to drink flavored milk than unflavored milk at school.
Although the FDA considers aspartame to be a “safe and suitable” sweetener, a recent Yale University study appears to directly challenge the claim that aspartame would reduce obesity. In fact, the study concluded just the opposite, that artificial sweeteners actually contributed to obesity and Type 2 diabetes.
The IDFA and NMPF argue “that the proposed amendments to the milk standard of identity would promote honesty and fair dealing in the marketplace” yet they don’t want changes to the labels on dairy products.
Accordingly, the petitioners state that milk flavored with non-nutritive sweeteners should be labeled as milk without further claims so that consumers can “more easily identify its overall nutritional value.”
It’s unclear how consumers can more easily identify the overall nutritional value of milk products that are flavored with non-nutritive sweeteners without labels.
Quoting Section 130.10 of the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990, the dairy giants claim a new label is not required because sugar is added to milk without labeling it, and “the modified food is not inferior in performance” and “‘reduced calorie’ (labels) are not attractive to children” so marketing as such is of no benefit or detriment.
The FDA has opened public comments until May 21 for anyone interested to “submit comments, data, and information concerning the need for, and the appropriateness of, amending the standard of identity for milk and the additional dairy standards.”
To submit a formal comment or send data to the FDA concerning adding aspartame and other artificial sweeteners to milk products CLICK HERE.
(TechDirt) -Fun, dubious, privacy-violating stuff happening out in Texas where the Dept. of Motor Vehicles has made a tidy sum selling the information it collects (including names, addresses and makes/models owned) to a variety of private companies.
The Texas DMV claims its “top priority” is protecting drivers’ information, but that hardly seems to be the case when it’s pulling in $2.1 million a year selling it off. There are protections in place, but they are flimsy at best.
“The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles is the custodian of over 22 million currently registered vehicles in the state of Texas,” Randy Elliston, Director of the Texas DMV, explained. “All of those records that are in our database, however, are protected under the Driver Privacy Protection Act.”
Randy Elliston says the Driver Privacy Protection Act (DPPA) limits who can buy your information and what they can do with it.
It would be interesting to see what these “limits” are. The spreadsheet obtained by CBS 11 of Dallas, TX shows that 2,448 different entities purchased this information from the DMV last year. The purchasers listed range from towing companies to debt collectors to university parking lot patrols. Elliston states that the purchasing companies are not allowed to use the information for direct contact or advertising purposes.
A brief look at the spreadsheet seems to indicate the opposite: auto dealers make up the largest percentage of purchasers. Moreover, Elliston seems to have his facts wrong on the Driver Privacy Protection Act, at least as it pertains to Texas drivers.
The Driver Privacy Protection Act is a federal law. And the fine print actually says businesses can use your information for marketing or solicitations if the state has obtained your consent. That means, some drivers can opt in or out of these databases.
Problem is – Texas didn’t adopt that portion of the law. So, drivers in the Lone Star State are stuck.
This has opened up driver data to nearly anyone who wants it. The spreadsheet shows insurance companies, debt collection agencies, title loan specialists, towing services and auctioneers all have access to these records. The response from Elliston? If you don’t like it, complain about it.
Elliston says if you feel like your information is being abused you can report the company. “It has occurred in the past and when it has we’ve pulled the company’s ability to use that data,” Elliston noted.
Well, that is one way to deal with an influx of unsolicited mail after registering your vehicle to comply with state law. Another, better, way to deal with it would be to adopt the opt-in/out language that’s currently missing. Registering a vehicle isn’t optional, but having your name, address and vehicle info turned over to whoever requests it certainly should be.
(NewsOK) -In a backroom of a coin and gold shop in Oklahoma City, thousands of bullets, in various sizes, containers and boxes, cover a table.
Chelsey Davis said he’s buying most kinds of ammunition, so long as it’s been stored properly and is still usable. He’s been doing it for about a week.
“The first three days we purchased 10,000 rounds, which was a couple thousand dollars spent,” Davis said. “These are people that had them in the garage, in the closet … they either no longer had the guns or no longer had use for them.”
Ammunition is becoming so hard to get in the Oklahoma City area — and elsewhere across the nation — that Davis’ coin and gold shop is now in the “Cash for Bullets” business.
It’s the latest twist on a nationwide gun craze, fueled by a presidential election, a mass shooting on the East Coast and — depending on who’s asked — a variety of other factors.
Tactical weapons, guns like the AR-15 rifle, are nearly impossible to buy from a retail store. Accessories, such as high-capacity magazines, can be difficult to find, too.
Now the very bullets needed to load and fire all these guns are becoming scarce.
At Oklahoma Coin & Gold, 4001 N Pennsylvania Ave., the bullet shortage means opportunity. At least that’s the hope.
Davis, 39, said he is planning to stockpile the ammunition — for the moment — but said he may sell it in the future. He said it’s no different from buying gold, silver or other precious metals.
“People are having trouble trying to purchase them, stores are running out everywhere,” Davis said. “Even the distributors and the manufacturers … there’s shortages all the way up the chain.”
On the other hand, there are people with ammunition they don’t need.
Davis said he’s “creating a marketplace” where the two groups can do business.
“In the U.S., in the Old West, it was used to barter with,” he said. “I don’t believe we’re headed in that direction anytime soon, but there still are people that keep and store it.
(Economic Collapse Blog) – Is the U.S. economy about to experience a major downturn? Unfortunately, there are a whole bunch of signs that economic activity in the United States is really slowing down right now. Freight volumes and freight expenditures are way down, consumer confidence has declined sharply, major retail chains all over America are closing hundreds of stores, and the “sequester” threatens to give the American people their first significant opportunity to experience what “austerity” tastes like. Gas prices are going up rapidly, corporate insiders are dumping massive amounts of stock and there are high profile corporate bankruptcies in the news almost every single day now. In many ways, what we are going through right now feels very similar to 2008 before the crash happened. Back then the warning signs of economic trouble were very obvious, but our politicians and the mainstream media insisted that everything was just fine, and the stock market was very much detached from reality. When the stock market did finally catch up with reality, it happened very, very rapidly. Sadly, most people do not appear to have learned any lessons from the crisis of 2008. Americans continue to rack up staggering amounts of debt, and Wall Street is more reckless than ever. As a society, we seem to have concluded that 2008 was just a temporary malfunction rather than an indication that our entire system was fundamentally flawed. In the end, we will pay a great price for our overconfidence and our recklessness.
So what will the rest of 2013 bring?
Hopefully the economy will remain stable for as long as possible, but right now things do not look particularly promising.
The following are 20 signs that the U.S. economy is heading for big trouble in the months ahead…
#2 The average price of a gallon of gasoline has risen by more than 50 cents over the past two months. This is making things tougher on our economy, because nearly every form of economic activity involves moving people or goods around.
#3 Reader’s Digest, once one of the most popular magazines in the world, has filed for bankruptcy.
#4 Atlantic City’s newest casino, Revel, has just filed for bankruptcy. It had been hoped that Revel would help lead a turnaround for Atlantic City.
#5 A state-appointed review board has determined that there is “no satisfactory plan” to solve Detroit’s financial emergency, and many believe that bankruptcy is imminent. If Detroit does declare bankruptcy, it will be the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.
#6 David Gallagher, the CEO of Town Sports International, recently said that his company is struggling right now because consumers simply do not have as much disposable income anymore…
“As we moved into January membership trends were tracking to expectations in the first half of the month, but fell off track and did not meet our expectations in the second half of the month. We believe the driver of this was the rapid decline in consumer sentiment that has been reported and is connected to the reduction in net pay consumers earn given the changes in tax rates that went into effect in January.“
#7 According to the Conference Board, consumer confidence in the U.S. has hit its lowest level in more than a year.
#8 Sales of the Apple iPhone have been slower than projected, and as a result Chinese manufacturing giant FoxConn has instituted a hiring freeze. The following is from a CNET report that was posted on Wednesday…
The Financial Times noted that it was the first time since a 2009 downturn that the company opted to halt hiring in all of its facilities across the country. The publication talked to multiple recruiters.
The actions taken by Foxconn fuel the concern over the perceived weakened demand for the iPhone 5 and slumping sentiment around Apple in general, with production activity a leading indicator of interest in the product.
#9 In 2012, global cell phone sales posted their first decline since the end of the last recession.
#10 We appear to be in the midst of a “retail apocalypse“. It is being projected that Sears, J.C. Penney, Best Buy and RadioShack will also close hundreds of stores by the end of 2013.
#11 An internal memo authored by a Wal-Mart executive that was recently leaked to the press said that February sales were a “total disaster” and that the beginning of February was the “worst start to a month I have seen in my ~7 years with the company.”
#12 If Congress does not do anything and “sequestration” goes into effect on March 1st, the Pentagon says that approximately 800,000 civilian employees will be facing mandatory furloughs.
#13 Barack Obama is admitting that the “sequester” could have a crippling impact on the U.S. economy. The following is from a recent CNBC article…
Obama cautioned that if the $85 billion in immediate cuts — known as the sequester — occur, the full range of government would feel the effects. Among those he listed: furloughed FBI agents, reductions in spending for communities to pay police and fire personnel and teachers, and decreased ability to respond to threats around the world.
He said the consequences would be felt across the economy.
“People will lose their jobs,” he said. “The unemployment rate might tick up again.”
#14 If the “sequester” is allowed to go into effect, the CBO is projecting that it will cause U.S. GDP growth to go down by at least 0.6 percent and that it will “reduce job growth by 750,000 jobs“.
#15 According to a recent Gallup survey, 65 percent of all Americans believe that 2013 will be a year of “economic difficulty“, and 50 percent of all Americans believe that the “best days” of America are now in the past.
#16 U.S. GDP actually contracted at an annual rate of 0.1 percent during the fourth quarter of 2012. This was the first GDP contraction that the official numbers have shown in more than three years.
#17 For the entire year of 2012, U.S. GDP growth was only about 1.5 percent. According to Art Cashin, every time GDP growth has fallen this low for an entire year, the U.S. economy has always ended up going into a recession.
#18 The global economy overall is really starting to slow down…
The world’s richest countries saw their economies contract for the first time in almost four years during the final three months of 2012, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development said.
The Paris-based thinktank said gross domestic product across its 34 member states fell by 0.2% – breaking a period of rising activity stretching back to a 2.3% slump in output in the first quarter of 2009.
All the major economies of the OECD – the US, Japan, Germany, France, Italy and the UK – have already reported falls in output at the end of 2012, with the thinktank noting that the steepest declines had been seen in the European Union, where GDP fell by 0.5%. Canada is the only member of the G7 currently on course to register an increase in national output.
#19 Corporate insiders are dumping enormous amounts of stock right now. Do they know something that we don’t?
#20 Even some of the biggest names on Wall Street are warning that we are heading for an economic collapse. For example, Seth Klarman, one of the most respected investors on Wall Street, said in his year-end letter that the collapse of the U.S. financial system could happen at any time…
“Investing today may well be harder than it has been at any time in our three decades of existence,” writes Seth Klarman in his year-end letter. The Fed’s “relentless interventions and manipulations” have left few purchase targets for Baupost, he laments. “(The) underpinnings of our economy and financial system are so precarious that the un-abating risks of collapse dwarf all other factors.”
So what do you think is going to happen to the U.S. economy in the months ahead?
(Washington’s Blog) -To Protect Against Abuse By An Oppressive Government
Professor Jonathan Turley is one of the nation’s top constitutional law experts. Turley:
- Is the second most cited law professor in the country
- Has worked as both the CBS and NBC legal analyst during national controversies
- Ranks 38th in the top 100 most cited ‘public intellectuals’ in a recent study by a well-known judge
- Is one of the top 10 lawyers handling military cases
- Has served as a consultant on homeland security and constitutional issues
- Is a frequent witness before the House and Senate on constitutional and statutory issues
As Wikipedia notes, he’s also a “card-carrying liberal”:
Professor Turley is widely regarded as a champion of the Rule of law; his stated positions in many cases and his self-proclaimed “…socially liberal agenda…” have led liberal and progressive thinkers to also consider him a champion for their causes, especially on issues such as separation of church and state, environmental law, civil rights, and the illegality of torture. Politico has referred to Turley as a “liberal law professor and longtime civil libertarian.”
So one might assume that Professor Turley believes that the Second Amendment is to protect hunting or militias … and not the right of people to protect ourselves from government abuse.
In fact, Turley wrote in 2007 … in a post entitled “A Liberal’s Lament: The NRA Might Be Right After All“:
For more than 200 years, progressives and polite people have avoided acknowledging that following the rights of free speech, free exercise of religion and free assembly, there is “the right of the people to keep and bear arms.” Of course, the very idea of finding a new individual right after more than two centuries is like discovering an eighth continent in constitutional law, but it is hardly the cause of celebration among civil liberties groups.
Like many academics, I was happy to blissfully ignore the Second Amendment. It did not fit neatly into my socially liberal agenda.
It is hard to read the Second Amendment and not honestly conclude that the Framers intended gun ownership to be an individual right. It is true that the amendment begins with a reference to militias: “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” Accordingly, it is argued, this amendment protects the right of the militia to bear arms, not the individual.
Yet, if true, the Second Amendment would be effectively declared a defunct provision. The National Guard is not a true militia in the sense of the Second Amendment and, since the District and others believe governments can ban guns entirely, the Second Amendment would be read out of existence.
More important, the mere reference to a purpose of the Second Amendment does not alter the fact that an individual right is created. The right of the people to keep and bear arms is stated in the same way as the right to free speech or free press. The statement of a purpose was intended to reaffirm the power of the states and the people against the central government. At the time, many feared the federal government and its national army. Gun ownership was viewed as a deterrent against abuse by the government, which would be less likely to mess with a well-armed populace.
Considering the Framers and their own traditions of hunting and self-defense, it is clear that they would have viewed such ownership as an individual right — consistent with the plain meaning of the amendment.
None of this is easy for someone raised to believe that the Second Amendment was the dividing line between the enlightenment and the dark ages of American culture. Yet, it is time to honestly reconsider this amendment and admit that … here’s the really hard part … the NRA may have been right. This does not mean that Charlton Heston is the new Rosa Parks or that no restrictions can be placed on gun ownership. But it does appear that gun ownership was made a protected right by the Framers and, while we might not celebrate it, it is time that we recognize it.
Indeed, the Founding Fathers’ own words prove Professor Turley right:
What country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance. Let them take arms. – Thomas Jefferson
A free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined, but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government. – George Washington
(The Constitution preserves) the advantage of being armed which Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation…(where) the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms. –James Madison.
If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no recourse left but in the exertion of that original right of self defense which is paramount to all positive forms of government… – Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist (#28) .
To disarm the people is the best and most effective way to enslave them. – George Mason
The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any bands of regular troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States. –Noah Webster, “An Examination into the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution (1787) in Pamplets on the Constitution of the United States (P.Ford, 1888)
The Constitution shall never be construed to authorize Congress to prevent the people of the United States, who are peaceable citizens, from keeping their own arms. –Samuel Adams, debates & Proceedings in the Convention of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 86-87.
Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are ruined…The great object is that every man be armed. Everyone who is able might have a gun. –Patrick Henry.
Those who beat their swords into plowshares usually end up plowing for those who didn’t. – Ben Franklin
Arms discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as well as property… Horrid mischief would ensue were the law-abiding deprived of the use of them. –Thomas Paine
Are we at last brought to such an humiliating and debasing degradation that we cannot be trusted with arms for our own defense? Where is the difference between having our arms under our own possession and under our own direction, and having them under the management of Congress? If our defense be the real object of having those arms, in whose hands can they be trusted with more propriety, or equal safety to us, as in our own hands? – Patrick Henry, 3 Elliot, Debates at 386.
The right of the people to keep and bear…arms shall not be infringed. A well regulated militia, composed of the people, trained to arms, is the best and most natural defense of a free country… –James Madison, I Annals of Congress 434 (June 8, 1789).
The best we can hope for concerning the people at large is that they be properly armed. –Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist Papers at 184-B.
[T]he unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or the state governments, but where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the People. – Tench Coxe, Pennsylvania Gazette, Feb. 20, 1788.
And – as hard as it might be to believe – Gandhi also railed against gun control by the British in India as taking away the right of the Indian people to defend themselves from abuse by the government.
(Breitbart) -Something strange is going on. Federal non-military agencies have bought two billion rounds of ammunition in the last 10 months. The Obama Administration says that federal law enforcement agents need the ammunition for “mandatory quarterly firearms qualifications and other training sessions.”
Radio show host Mark Levin is suspicious. He commented:
To provide some perspective, experts estimate that at the peak of the Iraq war American troops were firing around 5.5 million rounds per month. At that rate, the [Department of Homeland Security] is armed now for a 24-year Iraq war. A 24-year Iraq war! I’m going to tell you what I think is going on. I don’t think domestic insurrection. Law enforcement and national security agencies, they play out multiple scenarios. … I’ll tell you what I think they’re simulating: the collapse of our financial system, the collapse of our society and the potential for widespread violence, looting, killing in the streets, because that’s what happens when an economy collapses. I suspect that just in case our fiscal situation, our monetary situation, collapses, and following it the civil society collapses, that is the rule of law, they want to be prepared. I know why the government’s arming up: It’s not because there’s going to be an insurrection; it’s because our society is unraveling.
Even though the National Rifle Association says that the amount of ammunition bought isn’t excessive, considering the number of federal agents and the fact that the ammunition is used over a five-year period, there are others who question why the need for so many federal agents. Among them is Jeff Knox, director of The Firearms Coalition, who said:
It’s not the number of bullets we need to worry about but the number of feds with guns it takes to use those bullets. There are currently more than 70 different federal law enforcement agencies employing over 120,000 officers with arrest and firearms authority . . . That’s an increase of nearly 30 percent between 2004 and 2008. If the trends have continued upward at a relatively steady rate, that would put the total number of federal law enforcement officers at somewhere between 135,000 and 145,000. That’s a pretty staggering number, especially when you consider that there are only an estimated 765,000 state and local law enforcement officers. That means that about one in seven law enforcement officers in the country works directly for the federal government, not a local jurisdiction.
(Natural News) – It’s one thing for Americans who don’t believe in the Second Amendment to refrain from carrying or owning a firearm for self-defense if they choose to do so, but it’s a completely different thing for an anti-gun politician to push for laws that disarm Americans and put them at risk of harm from criminals.
That is especially true for women, who are often victimized by much stronger, much larger men.
But that doesn’t matter to Colorado state Rep. Joe Salazar. As far as he’s concerned, even women at risk of being raped should not be allowed to carry a gun.
Get a whistle, not a gun
While arguing for the disarmament of college students recently on the floor of the state Legislature, Salazar said guns weren’t the answer for women at risk – “call boxes” and “whistles” were better protective choices.
“It’s why we have call boxes, it’s why we have safe zones, it’s why we have the whistles. Because you just don’t know who you’re gonna be shooting at. And you don’t know if you feel like you’re gonna be raped, or if you feel like someone’s been following you around or if you feel like you’re in trouble when you may actually not be, that you pop out that gun and you pop … pop around at somebody.”
In Salazar’s world, absurdity obviously knows no bounds.
To his way of thinking, potential rapists would back off if they encountered a woman in a “safe zone.” If she were near a “call box” or had a “whistle,” her protection would be exponentially stronger because, you know, rapists pay attention to such things when planning their criminal acts.
Well, I can’t rape her. She’s got a whistle. She’s in a ‘safe zone.’ And look – she’s carrying a whistle.
“Representative Joe Salazar (D-Colo.) isn’t a ‘boorish, macho Latino’ as some have stated. In his zeal to ban guns, he’s shown himself to be a Todd Akin-level fool,” writes Amy Sterling Casil at PolicyMic.com. “Akin’s 2012 comments to the effect that women could ‘prevent pregnancy’ in the case of ‘legitimate rape’ arose from his desire to ban abortion, no matter what the circumstance of pregnancy. The statements of both men arose from political zeal which led them to voice opinions at odds with common sense and human decency.”
Adds St. Louis-area talk radio host Dana Loesch, “This is the real ‘war on women’ I’ve talked about: the progressive insistence that women disarm. Women, according to Rep. Salazar, are hysterical things which shoot indiscriminately at any and everything.”
Loesch goes onto back up her assertions with hard stats:
— In the vast majority of self-defense cases involving a firearm, the potential victim will only brandish a weapon or fire a shot in warning;
— In less than 8 percent of such incidents, the person bearing the firearm will even wound the attacker;
— Over 1.9 million self-defense instances annually involve defending oneself with a gun;
— Nearly a half-million self-defense incidents take place away from the home;
— And the one statistic that is most pertinent to the issue of self-defense involving women, almost 10 percent of self-defense instances are women defending themselves against sexual assault or abuse.
For real and future female victims of sexual assault, apology should not be accepted
So, not only do one in 10 cases of self-defense each year involve women defending themselves against sexual predators, these women do so a) without wounding or maiming innocent people; and b) without using a “call box” and “whistle.”
Salazar has since apologized – sort of – for his idiocy.
“I’m sorry if I offended anyone,” he said in a statement. “That was absolutely not my intention. We were having a public policy debate on whether or not guns makes people safer on campus. I don’t believe they do. That was the point I was trying to make.”
He’s wrong, of course, but when you’re an anti-gun hack apparently any form of logic is applicable.
In case you couldn’t bring yourself to watch this indisputable display of abuse — this disgusting mistreatment of a little girl and her family about which her mother (Annie Schulte) and father comment “look at her all dressing like a potential terrorist/drug trafficker; people who roll in on hot pink wheelchairs, wearing a gingerbread coat and clutching a stuffed baby lamb, are just begging to be harassed” — let me itemize the violations and absurdities at hand (perhaps you can identify more; as a mother myself, I’m too upset by what I just watched to further research the laws, statutory and logical):
First, there is the obvious Fourth Amendment violation against unwarranted search and seizure. I don’t care what kind of pretzel logic the TSA twists itself into parroting in order to justify groping a three-year-old in a wheelchair who’s on her way to Disney World: it’s a violation of her Constitutional rights. Period. Full stop.
And this should not stand. Not in the country that calls itself the United States of America. Citizens and residents who accept otherwise should not only be ashamed of themselves, but should, in my opinion, be constantly, and in strenuous terms, be made aware that they’re engaging in a kind of treason against the very freedoms the nation’s founders established (and countless fought for and died to protect), and thus, by extension, debasing the idea of America itself.
Second, travelers are indeed permitted to photograph and/or videotape the so-called “screening procedure” (more accurately, security theatre), including aggressive pat-downs that would be defined as sexual assault in any other context and nude photography of their bodies. The only subject matter exempt from passengers’ freedom-to-document are the screening machines themselves. As shown in the above video, these TSA screeners try to claim otherwise and keep harping on their imagined rule that the passengers can’t record the incident, even as the parents ask them to cite the actual law pertaining thereto.
Third, the tactics here are insensitive and unkind on their face, as well as pointless. Not only is this little girl so obviously terrified to the point of crying out loud, and desperately upset that her comfort toy — her stuffed animal — is being taken away, she is distraught that her parents’ attempts to protect her are being summarily ignored. Imagine how frightening that must be. If indeed the child “alarmed,” the screeners could have resolved the matter by allowing one of the cleared parents to carry her through the metal detector in their arms while they checked her wheelchair for hidden bombs, machetes, or fusilage-piercing grenade launchers.
What will it take for the American public to recognize how wrong this is, all of it, and demand that our so-called leaders put an end to it? Why are citizens not carrying out a full-on economic boycott of the airlines for all non-essential travel? What will it take, if not the unconstitutional persecution of a little child in a wheelchair?
(ArsTechnica) -Leaking information and materials regarding upcoming consoles is serious business. Just ask SuperDaE, the anonymous source whose parceling of information and attempted sale of his supposed Microsoft “Durango” development kit has purportedly earned him a visit from police and an FBI agent.
The mysteriously well-informed source posted on Twitter this morning that “police raided me,” apparently based on a warrant that cited Microsoft, eBay, and Paypal. He later followed up to say that an FBI agent and seven to eight police were involved in the raid.
We’ve been unable to independently confirm SuperDaE’s claims. The clandestine source says he was tweeting from an Apple Store and was therefore unable to post proof of the warrants that were sitting at home. While his location on Twitter is listed as North Carolina, the second attempted eBay sale of the Durango kit (Which went for over AUD$50,000) lists the location as Perth, Australia. That would raise questions about the involvement of the US FBI, but it would help explain how he was supposedly posting from an Apple Store during what was the middle of the night for the United States.
Console makers routinely place strict controls on the distribution of development kits, especially before a system’s formal announcement and release. Developers are required to sign strict nondisclosure and no-resale agreements before receiving hardware, so the thought that Microsoft would get law enforcement involved isn’t outside the realm of possibility. When Curt Schilling’s 38 Studios was liquidated recently, Microsoft publicly intervened to try to prevent the resale of its Xbox 360 development kits. Then again, SuperDaE has said that his first attempt to sell the kit on eBay was blocked by Microsoft—without the need for a police raid.
Last June, supposed documents describing the next Xbox’s features and hardware specs were taken down from the Web at the request of an IP law firm that frequently represents Microsoft.
(Biz Insider) -When Virginia Beach pizza owner Jay Laze heard about a Utah frozen yogurt shop that gave discounts to gun carrying customers in celebration of the Second Amendment, he didn’t think that it seemed unsafe.
Rather, Laze told local station WTKR, “I thought it was a great idea, and I was wondering why nobody here was doing it. It should be happening all around the country.”
And that’s how All Around Pizzas and Deli, which boasts delivery guys who carry guns, started giving 15 percent off to people who were carrying or flashed their permit.
Apparently, it has been effective. Laze told the AP that 80 percent of customers have brought in a gun thus far, and one went so far as to bring in an AK-47.
In case you are not up to date on this scenario, it was originally admitted by Burger King that its burgers did contain mystery meat (that at the time was identified as horsemeat) just hours after claiming that their UK burgers were pure. The exact statement confirming the horsemeat in the burgers from the Burger King rep, or what was thought to be horsemeat at this point, was:
“Four samples recently taken from the Silvercrest plant have shown the presence of very small trace levels of equine DNA… we have established that Silvercrest used a small percentage of beef imported from a non-approved supplier in Poland. This is a clear violation of our specifications, and we have terminated our relationship with them.”
As it turns out, the admission means that either Burger King has no idea what’s in it’s own food, or in a more sinister scenario does not care about what consumers think and instead is interested in securing profits without causing a stir (or lawsuits). The report originally appeared in The Guardian, which developed as the night went on.
A new report in The Independent, however, asserts that the meat may in fact be donkey meat — a prospect that I am not entirely sure is more concerning or equally as concerning. This is due to a recent law change in Romania that virtually no one would initially piece together as being responsible for mystery meat inside Burger King Whoppers. As it turns out, though, Romania recently banned a very common form of transportation which included horse-drawn carts. As a result of the ban, struggling citizens therefore sent their horses to be slaughtered for the fraudulent sale of horsemeat that has permeated the European beef market.
But what about the donkeys? Well, it turns out that they also used donkeys to pull their carts as well. According to the vice-president of the European Parliament agriculture committee Jose Bove, it has affected millions of animals — donkeys and horses alike:
“Horses have been banned from Romanian roads and millions of animals have been sent to the slaughterhouse…”
This is where it gets to be an entirely new story. Millions of animals were culled in order to produce meat, which then leaked into the beef supply, and now no one knows what some of the meats produced by some European facilities really are. French officials began to take the issue seriously as well after it started hitting the news, and French consumer minister Benoît Hamon is now going after European meat corporations. In fact, it may escalate to serious legal action if it turns out that these companies are fully aware of the horse and donkey meat that they may be selling off as beef.
Whether or not you find it disturbing that you may be eating horse or donkey in your burger, it also comes down to a matter of knowing what’s in your food. It comes as no surprise to many of us who are aware of just how mysterious fast food is as a whole, but the existence of horse or donkey meat inside Burger King burgers (and other burgers even available in supermarkets) means that consumers really don’t know what they’re putting into their mouths when they purchase these items. This, regardless of what you think about eating these animals, is of serious concern and risk.
According to Consumer Lab, the drugs seized included SlimXtreme, SlimXtreme Gold, SlimPlus, SlimLee, GelSlim, SlimDrops, and Colonew.
Speaking about the action, Howard Sklamberg, director of the Office of Compliance in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, is quoted by UPI as saying: “Companies that distribute products containing undisclosed drugs are not only breaking the law, they are putting consumers at risk. With these kinds of hidden dangers, consumers cannot make informed decisions about the products they are taking.”
The drug in question is Meridia, a weight loss dietary supplement. The drug is usually in the form of the hydrochloride monohydrate salt compressed into a tablet, and is taken as an oral anorexiant. The drug was withdrawn in 2010 because of concerns that consumption of the pills could increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. This was based on a study, reviewed by the FDA, which showed that the drug (under the drug’s generic name Sibutramine) posed a significant risk of an adverse cardiovascular event occurring in patients.
Although the FDA, along with the European Union, banned the drug from sale, in October 2011, the FDA warned that 20 brands of dietary supplements were tainted with sibutramine.
The news of the FDA raid follows other concerns with dietary supplements, pills that are not subject to the same regulations as prescription medicines. In 2012, the Digital Journal reported that a dietary supplement called Reumofan Plus, manufactured in Mexico and sold in the USA, has been found to contain ‘unlisted ingredients’ which are harmful to human health. Also during 2012, three different supplements manufactured in the U.S: Cataplex ACP, Cataplex C, and Pancreatrophin PMG were withdrawn from the market due to suspected contamination with Salmonella bacteria.
(Prepper Podcast Radio) -“People think that a liar gains a victory over his victim. What I’ve learned is that a lie is an act of self-abdication, because one surrenders one’s reality to the person to whom one lies, making that person one’s master, condemning oneself from then on to faking the sort of reality that person’s view requires to be faked…The man who lies to the world, is the world’s slave from then on…There are no white lies, there is only the blackest of destruction, and a white lie is the blackest of all.”
― Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
“When truth is replaced by silence,the silence is a lie.” ― Yevgeny Yevtushenko
As an investigator I learned early two things: How to lie well enough to get the information I wanted, and the other is never to believe what you’re told. As Ronaldus Magnus (Ronald Reagan) love to repeat, “Trust, but verify”. It is an old Russian proverb that I’m afraid many people have never learned.
Fox News recently ran a story by the Associate Press, presenting the Government’s case in the ammunition purchase. But it was poorly written and the reporter did not ask the right questions, nor did they do all their homework.
From the story:
ICE’s ammunition requests in the last year included:
- 450 million rounds of .40-caliber duty ammunition
- 40 million rounds of rifle ammunition a year for as many as five years, for a total bullet-buy of 200 million rounds
- 176,000 rifle rounds on a separate contract
- 25,000 blank rounds
This small segment highlights the poor research conducted by the AP reporter. Right off the top – The 176,000 rifle rounds were cancelled. As we reported 2 October 2012:
“Put this in the “I don’t believe it” file, but something unusual has happened. The Department of Homeland Security /Immigration Customs Enforcement (DHS/ICE) has CANCELLED their request to purchase 176,000 rounds of .308 hollow point boat tail ammunition. According to an email that was passed onto me, Harry at the Federal Service Desk stated that a notice could be cancelled for a variety of reason.”
Another glaring issue is the “450 million rounds purchased”. What are not considered are prior year purchases. The following chart provides the breakdown of three branches of DHS that purchases ammunition: Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Customs Border Protectorate (CBP), and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) over the past four years.
I could present a chart, but ICE’s purchases make the others seem insignificant. The large numbers are taking the total number of contracted purchases to the date the contract was signed. Many contracts were for 4 or 5 years. Click HERE for the Excel file.
If Mr. Obama’s administration had no ammunition at the very beginning, they certainly develop a stockpile very quickly.
Had the Associated Press reporter had done their job; they would have asked the following questions:
- If FLETC requires 15 million rounds a year, how did they get their required ammunition in 2009, 2010, and 2011?
- If FLETC borrowed ammunition from ICE, is it not possible that ammunition could be allocated to Mr. Obama’s Civilian Army Corps without public notification?
- If FLETC has contracted out for 63,000,000 rounds of various ammunition in 2012, why then are they purchasing 200,000 rounds of .40 caliber JHP ammunition in December 2012 and 140,000 rounds of 9 mm and 100,000 rounds of .40 caliber February 2013?
- If over 15 million rounds of .40 caliber JHP ammunition is required per year, why did ICE order 38 years of ammunition in 2009, and another 23 years in 2011?
- If over 15 million rounds of .223 EP ammunition is required per year, why did ICE order 11 years of ammunition in 2012?
- If over 15 million rounds of .40 caliber JHP ammunition is required per year, why did CPB order 13 years of ammunition in 2012?
- Does the DHS Inspector General know that the December 2012 contract may have been fraudulently awarded?
- If the grand total that we’ve come up with is: 1,405,455,670. That roughly translates to 1,000 people firing 1 round a second for 16 days, at what point has too much ammunition has been purchased?
Transferring assets from one Department or Agency is as easy as filling out a sheet of paper listing the departments, assets, and quantities involved. Don’t be fooled. Bureaucracy has been around since Roman times. Bureaucrats know how to manipulate paper, and how to make it disappear.
And the silence becomes the lie.