Hackers reveal financial records of 1st Lady, VP and celebrities

(Digital Journal) -Hackers have revealed, and continue to release, the alleged  financial records of various US politicians and celebrities including the First  Lady Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, Kim Kardashian and even Donald Trump.

According to RT, the website  revealing the information has a .su domain, which was a country code used for a  short period in the USSR, just before the Soviet Union collapsed.  However, RT  explains that the website is not, in fact, Russian.  On finding a Twitter account linked from the hacker’s website, the tweets  are apparently in badly machine-translated Russian.

At the top of the home page the website  quotes the TV show, Dexter, saying “If you believe that God makes miracles, you  have to wonder if Satan has a few up his sleeve.”

Reportedly, TMZ, the gossip website, was the first to report the leak on  Monday.

The website lists the following, with links which supposedly  take you to the information.

The first is a link to information on  First Lady Michelle Obama, on which the hacker states “Blame your husband, we  still love you, Michelle [heart].”

This is followed by links to the  alleged contact and financial information of Kim Kardashian, Joe Biden, Robert  Mueller (FBI Director), Hillary Clinton, Eric Holder (U.S. Attorney General),  Charlie Beck (LAPD Chief), Mel Gibson, Ashton Kutcher, Jay Z, Beyonce, Paris  Hilton, Britney Spears, Sarah Palin, Hulk Hogan, Donald Trump and Arnold  Schwarzenegger.

More names may be added as time goes  by, as apparently the list has grown since first reported on Monday.

Images from a hacker s website

No reason is given for the hacking, but it is noted that while the  hacker appears to like the First Lady, and displays an image saying “I [heart]  Michelle”, the other government people and celebrities are all represented by  rather unflattering photos, as per Ms Clinton on the right.

The webpage for the LAPD Chief, Charlie  Beck, displays the following tag: #YouCantCornerTheDorner, apparently in  reference to the former police officer and alleged cop-killer, Christopher Dorner, recently killed after a police chase,  together with a photo of a woman protesting police brutality.

Britney Spears’ webpage has an image of  her crying, together with sound of an impassioned plea by a friend or fan to  leave poor Britney alone.

Both RT and AP apparently attempted to  contact the listed celebrities, but without success.  They either declined to  comment or could not be contacted.

The LAPD will investigate leaks of personal information for  celebrities living in the city, should they require it.  Apparently so far the  FBI has declined to state whether they are investigating the leak of FBI  Director Robert Mueller’s personal data.

 

Tiny, Suicidal Drone/Missile Mashup Is Part of U.S.’ Afghanistan Arsenal

 


(Wired) -U.S. troops may be winding down their war in Afghanistan, but they’re now also operating one of the most bleeding-edge lethal drones available. 

Afghanistan is the trial by fire of the Switchblade, AeroVironment’s much-hyped miniature mashup of drone and missile. Most killer drones are designed like aircraft and fire missiles at a target. The Switchblade is the missile.

Unveiled to much fanfare in 2011 — it even got its own weird Taiwanese animation — as of last fall, Army soldiers in Afghanistan had yet to use the six-pound Switchblade they paid some $10 million to procure. But the U.S.-NATO military command there says they’re loving what they’re seeing from it.

“Switchblade is in use in Afghanistan and has proven to be a very effective tool in our campaign,” the 3rd Infantry Division’s Lt. Col. Ben Garrett, a spokesman for U.S. troops in southern Afghanistan, confirms to Danger Room.

 

But that’s all the military will confirm. It’s not saying anything about “deployment, effectiveness, distribution or tactical employment” of the system, Garrett says, beyond an assurance that the Switchblade is “very effective.” Nothing about how many times it’s been operate; nothing about the breakdown between its surveillance missions and its lethal ones; and certainly nothing about its accuracy.

This is getting to be a thing with the International Security Assistance Force. The U.S.-NATO military command recently opted to stop publishing data on Taliban attacks. Danger Room has filed a Freedom of Information Act request with U.S. Central Command to learn more about the Switchblade.

Still, the specs alone on the Switchblade make it worth watching. Unlike every other drone in military use, the Switchblade only looks like an aircraft once its wings unfold, following a launch from a tube. Once in the air, the Switchblade’s size limits its flight time, but its cameras send a video feed back to a remote operator who could be a dismounted soldier. AeroVironment bills it as a tool for pursuit of an adversary on the move or for close air support-in-a can for troops pinned down by enemy fire. That’s because once a target comes into view, the operator can send the Switchblade on a one-way mission, careening it into an enemy position to detonate. It can also be pre-programmed to hit a set target.

While little battlefield information on the Switchblade has emerged, the Army already wants more than the 75 units it’s sent to Afghanistan, as Danger Room pal Paul McLeary of Defense News reports. Ultimately, the Army wants to acquire a “Lethal Miniature Aerial Munition System” of tiny Switchblade-like drones — possibly based on the Switchblade itself — to spot and kill a target from six miles away. Much hinges on just how effective the Switchblade’s trial by fire in Afghanistan actually is.

Cinema Shooting: Judge Approves ‘Truth Serum’

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(NewsSky)- The student accused of the Colorado cinema massacre could be given “truth serum” to help determine whether he is insane, a judge has ruled.

James Holmes, 25, who is accused of killing 12 people and injuring 70 others during a shooting rampage at a Batman movie premiere, is expected to enter a plea today.

Defence lawyers have indicated that the former neuroscience graduate might plead not guilty by reason of insanity.

If he does, the judge has ruled he might have to submit to a “narcoanalytic interview” – including the use of what some have dubbed a “truth serum” – as part of the evaluation of his mental state.

A narcoanalytic interview is a decades-old process in which patients are given drugs to lower their inhibition.

The judge said Holmes could also be given a lie detector test as part of the evaluation.

Holmes will face 166 counts during an arraignment hearing in connection with the shooting spree at a cinema in Aurora, Colorado, last July.

Last week, the same judge rejected defence claims that the rules relating to an insanity plea were unconstitutional.

Holmes was arrested immediately after the shootings at a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises.

A preliminary hearing in January was presented with harrowing evidence of the scene inside the cinema in the aftermath of the shooting and the desperate attempts to save lives.

The court also heard evidence that Holmes spent months planning the mass killing, purchasing weapons, ammunition and body armour, and booby-trapping his apartment.

Prosecutors will have 60 days after a plea is entered to announce whether they will seek the death penalty.

The United States of Murder: A cancer on the world

(PressTV) The US government, and its bankster owners, have been overthrowing and/or murdering the best leaders in Latin America, and the world, for decades. Iran’s Mossadegh, Guatemala’s Arbenz, the Dominican Republic’s Trujillo and Bosch, Ecuador’s Velasco and Roldos, Zaire’s Lumumba, Indonesia’s Sukarno, Cambodia’s Sahounek, Chile’s Allende, and Panama’s Torrijos are just a few examples.

The same killers, and the institutional forces they represent, murder the best American leaders too. John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Senator Paul Wellstone are notable victims. Two excellent books have appeared in recent years proving, to any reasonable reader, that a shadow government working through the CIA, FBI, and organized crime killed JFK and Dr. King. Those books are JFK and the Unspeakable by James Douglass, and An Act of State by William Pepper.

When the most powerful empire on earth insists on resolving disputes through murder, rather than reasoned dialogue, that empire has become a cancer on the world.

The US government’s “kill first, ask questions later” policy is exemplified by its drone attacks on political opponents. Senator Lindsey Graham recently admitted that the US has murdered more than 4,700 political opponents around the world in drone strikes. One of them, Anwar al-Awlaki – a US citizen whose criticisms of the US government were factually correct and morally justified – was silenced not by counter-arguments (apparently there are none) but by a drone strike on his house. His teenage son was also murdered. Mr. al-Awlaki had not even been accused of any crime, much less charged or convicted.

He was killed for one reason and one reason only: To silence his eloquent voice.

The Empire’s preference for killing over dialogue is obvious to anyone who compares the current US military budget to those of other countries. The US spends $711 billion per year on organized mass killing (i.e., the military). The combined total for China, Russia, the UK, France, Japan, India, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Brazil, Italy, South Korea, Australia, and Canada is only $695 billion annually.

And the official US military budget of $711 billion is just the tip of the iceberg. A gigantic “black budget” funded by bankers like the Rothschilds, whose net worth is said to be over $100 trillion, using leveraged criminal activity including the $1.5-trillion-per-year money laundering industry, pushes the real annual cost of empire into the trillions. It is these black budget funds, not official military budgets, that are used to build the most advanced and secret killing technologies – the kind of technologies that were recently employed to afflict the Empire’s six leading Latin American enemies with cancer.

This gargantuan outlay on the Empire’s killing machine is a huge drain on the planet’s resources. And it isn’t just the US murder budgets, official and unofficial, that suck the life-blood of the planet. The US war budget forces other countries to hemorrhage their own money on death and destruction. Other nations would spend vastly less on defense if the US were not constantly threatening, bullying, and invading sovereign nations all over the world…while selling weapons to its puppet “friends” and slaughtering its more principled “enemies.”

Obviously, the American exceptionalists are correct. The United States of America is an exceptional country: It is exceptionally evil.

But when they say America is the one indispensable country, they are wrong. That would be like saying that a cancerous tumor is the most indispensable part of the body.

The US bankster empire needs to be surgically removed from the face of the planet.

How did the USA, once a self-proclaimed light unto the world, become a festering tumor?

Before 9/11, American policy had a certain balance: Alongside its psychopathic imperial behavior were occasional flashes of genuine concern for human rights, democracy, and other humanitarian ideals.

But then on 9/11 – as the neocon propagandists never cease to remind us – everything changed. Human rights, and the US Constitution itself, were thrown into the proverbial dustbin of history. The USA became like Mordor in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings: An empire of pure, unadulterated evil.

One of the world’s leading moral philosophers, John McMurtry of the University of Guelph, has brilliantly analyzed this process. In his essay “The Moral Decoding of 9-11” Professor McMurtry argues that the seeds of evil were planted long before 9/11 brought them to fruition. He describes the murderous “morality” of empire as follows:

“The moral thought system (of the US-bankster empire) is not unlike that of Mein Kampf without the racist rant, camouflaged everywhere in practice by the method of big lies – ‘noble lies’ as Strauss exalts them. The innermost value driver is a perpetual war of dispossession of the weaker for the private transnational money-capital multiplication of the rich.”

John McMurtry sees 9/11 as the epitome of the Straussian neoconservative philosophy, which exalts bullying, murder, and the big lie, and scorns reasoned dialogue and cooperation. What McMurtry doesn’t say is that the Straussian neoconservative takeover of the USA on 9/11 was a coup d’état by Israel against America. The Israelis rely on lies and murder, and scorn reasoned dialogue, for a very good reason: The existence of the apartheid Zionists in Palestine cannot be successfully defended by reasoned argument. Its only defense is mendacity, torture, and mass slaughter.

By contrast, America’s core values – individual liberty, religious and ethnic pluralism, democratic republicanism, equality of opportunity, and the rule of law – can only be defended by reasoned dialogue. “Defended” by big lies and mass murder, these values die an abject death.

Will planet earth ever be cured of its two biggest cancerous tumors, the US and Israeli empires? Will the USA return to its core values and abandon its attempt to dominate the planet?

I believe that this planetary cancer can be cured – but only through a very painful treatment: The official, public establishment of the truth about 9/11.

The Chart That Proves Mainstream Media Is Lying To You About Unemployment

The mainstream media is absolutely giddy that the U.S. unemployment rate has hit a “four-year low” of 7.7 percent. But is unemployment in the United States actually going down? After all, you would think that it should be. The Obama administration has “borrowed” more than 6 trillion dollars from future generations of Americans, interest rates have been pushed to all-time lows, and the Federal Reserve has been wildly printing more money in a desperate attempt to “stimulate” the economy. So have those efforts been successful?

Well, according to the mainstream media, the U.S. unemployment rate is falling steadily. Headlines all over the nation boldly declared that “236,000 jobs” were added to the economy in February, but what they didn’t tell you was that the number of Americans “not in the labor force” rose by 296,000. And that is how they are getting the unemployment rate to go down – by pretending that huge numbers of unemployed Americans don’t want jobs.
Sadly, as you will see below, the truth is that the percentage of working age Americans that have a job is just 0.1% higher than it was exactly three years ago. And we have not even come close to getting back to where we were before the last economic crisis. For example, more than 146 million Americans were employed back in 2007. But today, only 142.2 million Americans have a job even though our population has grown steadily since then. So where in the world is this “economic recovery” that they keep talking about?

At this point, the “unemployment rate” has become so meaningless that it really isn’t even worth paying much attention to. If you really want to know what the employment picture looks like in the United States, you need to look at the employment-population ratio.

As Wikipedia tells us, many economists consider the employment-population ratio to be far superior to other measurements of employment…

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development defines theemployment rateas the employment-to-population ratio. The employment-population ratio is many American economist’s favorite gauge of the American jobs picture. According to Paul Ashworth, chief North American economist for Capital Economics, “The employment population ratio is the best measure of labor market conditions.” This is a statistical ratiothat measures the proportion of the country’s working-age population (ages 15 to 64 in most OECD countries) that is employed. This includes people that have stopped looking for work.

A chart of the employment-population ratio in the United States over the past several years is posted below…

As you can see, the percentage of Americans with a job fell from about 63 percent to below 59 percent during the last economic crisis. Since that time, it has not risen back above 59 percent. This is the first time in the post-World War II era that we have not seen the employment rate bounce back following a recession. At this point, the employment-population ratio has been below 59 percent for 42 months in a row.

Yes, we should be thankful that things have stabilized, but as you can see there has been no recovery. The percentage of Americans with a job is essentially exactly where it was three years ago. Despite the trillions of dollars that the U.S. government has borrowed, and despite the recklessmoney printing that the Federal Reserve has been doing, the employment situation in the U.S. has not turned around.

Data for the employment-population ratio from the beginning of 2008 is posted below…

2008-01-01 62.9
2008-02-01 62.8
2008-03-01 62.7
2008-04-01 62.7
2008-05-01 62.5
2008-06-01 62.4
2008-07-01 62.2
2008-08-01 62.0
2008-09-01 61.9
2008-10-01 61.7
2008-11-01 61.4
2008-12-01 61.0
2009-01-01 60.6
2009-02-01 60.3
2009-03-01 59.9
2009-04-01 59.8
2009-05-01 59.6
2009-06-01 59.4
2009-07-01 59.3
2009-08-01 59.1
2009-09-01 58.7
2009-10-01 58.5
2009-11-01 58.6
2009-12-01 58.3
2010-01-01 58.5
2010-02-01 58.5
2010-03-01 58.5
2010-04-01 58.7
2010-05-01 58.6
2010-06-01 58.5
2010-07-01 58.5
2010-08-01 58.5
2010-09-01 58.5
2010-10-01 58.3
2010-11-01 58.2
2010-12-01 58.3
2011-01-01 58.3
2011-02-01 58.4
2011-03-01 58.4
2011-04-01 58.4
2011-05-01 58.4
2011-06-01 58.2
2011-07-01 58.2
2011-08-01 58.3
2011-09-01 58.4
2011-10-01 58.4
2011-11-01 58.5
2011-12-01 58.6
2012-01-01 58.5
2012-02-01 58.6
2012-03-01 58.5
2012-04-01 58.5
2012-05-01 58.6
2012-06-01 58.6
2012-07-01 58.5
2012-08-01 58.4
2012-09-01 58.7
2012-10-01 58.7
2012-11-01 58.7
2012-12-01 58.6
2013-01-01 58.6
2013-02-01 58.6

So is there anyone out there that still wants to insist that the employment picture in the United States is getting significantly better?

Anyone that wants to claim that “unemployment is going down” should at least wait until the unemployment-population ratio gets back up to 59 percent. Otherwise they just look foolish.

Yes, the Dow is at an all-time high right now. But a bubble is always the biggest right before it bursts.

Most Americans understand that the Dow has been pumped up with all of the funny money that the Fed has been printing. Most Americans understand that the stock market really does not accurately reflect the health of the U.S. economy as a whole.

Just consider these numbers…

-The number of homeless people sleeping in homeless shelters in New York City has increased by 19 percent over the past year.

-The number of Americans on food stamps has risen from 32 million to 47 million while Barack Obama has been in the White House.

-According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 146 million Americans are either “poor” or “low income” at this point.

-Median household income in the United States has fallen for four consecutive years.

No, the truth is that everything is most definitely not fine.

If everything is fine, then why did the Federal Reserve inject another 100 billion dollars into foreign banks during the last full week of February?

The U.S. government and the Federal Reserve are desperately trying to prop up the entire global economy. Unfortunately, the global financial system has been built on a foundation of sand and the tide is coming in.

Back in 2008, a derivatives crisis was one of the primary causes of the worst financial panic since the Great Depression.

So did we learn our lesson?

No, the boys on Wall Street are back at it again as a recent article by Jim Armitage described…

Historically, stock markets, being driven by humans, have tended to have a similar length memory of catastrophes, before making the same dumb mistakes again.

But it hasn’t even been five years since derivatives (on that occasion based on daft mortgages) blew up the world, and yet these exotic creatures have already returned. With a vengeance.

Research from Thomson Reuters declared that banks were creating more derivatives known as asset-backed securities than at any time since before the Lehman Brothers crash. Of those, 22 percent were made up of – and forgive me the alphabet soup here – CDOs and CLOs. The very type of derivatives that exploded last time. At this stage last year, only 6 percent fell into those categories.

In other words, banks are creating more of the riskiest types of the riskiest products.

At some point, we will have another derivatives crisis even worse than the last one.

When that happens, financial markets all over the globe will crash, economic activity will grind to a standstill and unemployment will go skyrocketing once again.

But, as you saw above, we have never even come close to recovering from the last crisis.

So you can believe the mind-numbing propaganda that the mainstream media is trying to feed you if you want. Unfortunately, the reality of the matter is that we have not recovered from the last major economic crisis, and another one is rapidly approaching.

I hope that you are getting ready.

This article first appeared here at the Economic Collapse Blog.  Michael Snyder is a writer, speaker and activist who writes and edits his own blogs The American Dream and Economic Collapse Blog. Follow him on Twitter here.

Disabled man on scooter told to get off his scooter and walk by police… Because he was speeding

(refreshingnews99) A disabled pensioner was recently stopped by German police for speeding on his electric cart and reportedly ordered to continue his journey on foot.

Klaus-Dieter Stellmacher, 63, was on his way home in the town of Schwedt in the eastern state of Brandenburg last week when he zoomed passed a parked police car. He was confronted by five officers who claimed he exceeded the 6 kph speed limit which applies to drivers with no third-party insurance, he told the regional daily Märkische Oderzeitung.

According to specifications provided by manufacturers of the Shoprider 889-XLS, the vehicle’s maximum speed-limit is the prescribed 6 kph.

But Stellmacher, handicapped after a series of strokes, says this explanation was not accepted and he was told to continue his journey home on foot while pushing the heavy cart.

Police spokesman Gerald Pillkuhn confirmed that colleagues had encountered Stellmacher travelling at excessive speed. “If he doesn’t know how fast his vehicle is able to travel, it would have been careless to allow him to continue his journey”, Pillkuhn told Die Welt newspaper.

Whether the officers really instructed him to continue his journey on foot, however, remains unclear.

A test conducted on the cart later revealed that it’s able to reach double the speed claimed by the manufacturer. Apparently the retiree wasn’t aware of this.

“Does the police now want to make a name for itself at the expense of the handicapped?” Elke Grunwald, Schwedt’s senior citizens’ representative, told theMärkische Oderzeitung.

“The police should rather be present on the streets during the evening. Many of the elderly are afraid to step outside for fear of being mugged.”

She said she will refer the matter to the mayor.

US Air Force scrubs drone strike data from reports

 

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(RT) -As the US military continues to court scrutiny regarding drone use, the Air Force has stopped sharing information on the number of drone strikes in Afghanistan. Going one step further, it has removed those statistics from prior reports on its website.

The Air Force’s Central Command began keeping track of drone weapon releases in October 2012, according to the Air Force Times. The move was described at that time as a bid to “provide more detailed information on [drone] ops in Afghanistan,” said Central Command spokeswoman Capt. Kim Bender, the magazine reports.

Statistics were recorded as part of the policy for November, December and January. But when February’s numbers were published on March 7, there was only a blank space where the drone statistics were normally placed.

And beyond that, the monthly reports posted to the Air Force’s website had the drone data removed from them in recent weeks, with the data still being posted as late as February 16.

The data wipe comes as drone-use has fallen under close scrutiny in connection with the nomination of John Brennan to lead the CIA. Brennan faced fierce opposition in the Senate, though he was ultimately approved, because of his defense of drone use while acting as President Barack Obama’s national security adviser.

CIA Head Sworn In On Draft Constitution WITHOUT Bill of Rights

(WashingtonsBlog) -The government has absolutely shred the Bill of Rights in the last decade or so.

New CIA boss John Brennan endorses torture, assassination of unidentified strangers (including Americans) without due process, and spying on all Americans.

As such, it is fitting that Mr. Brennan specially requested that he be sworn in on a draft of the Constitution lacking the Bill of Rights.

A draft which doesn’t even begin with the famous preamble we all know and love:

We the people of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America ….

But rather starts with:

We the People of the States of New-Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New-York, New-Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North-Carolina, South-Carolina and Georgia, do ordain, declare and establish the following Constitution for the Government of Ourselves and our Posterity….

That has a very different tone from the final version of the Constitution. And again, this version has no Bill of Rights.

Here’s the actual draft Brennan swore in on, courtesy of the National Archives (click any image for larger view):

The handwriting is that of George Washington.

Washington was a brave leader (but a terrible general). More importantly, he was one man … and the whole idea of the Bill of Rights is that the people have inalienable rights – e.g. no deprivation of life, liberty or property without due process of law – which cannot be taken away by any leader … including the president or the head of the CIA.

Parallels of the Fall of the Roman Empire and that of America Today

rome US

Today, the United States has many parallels as an empire to that of the collapse of the ancient Roman Empire. There were many causes of the fall of Rome however, but the main problems which led to it are exactly the same as those we face currently, here in America as a nation. The fall of the Roman Empire took a few centuries for the total dissolution of that government to take place. However, in America the same problems that brought down the Roman Empire are expedited to the point that we are looking at decades, rather than centuries before the collapse of the US government. The following are examples of what brought Rome down as an empire, and what is going to destroy the American government in a very short time. Continue reading

Obama Meets Privately With Jewish Leaders

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(Washington Post) Jewish leaders urged President Obama on Thursday to make clear during his upcoming trip to Israel that he will prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons — and to correct an early diplomatic misstep when he appeared to trace Israel’s historic claim to a modern state to the Holocaust rather than to the Bible. 

In a White House meeting that lasted longer than the scheduled hour, Obama listened to leaders of more than a dozen Israel advocacy groups, representing a spectrum of views over the challenges facing the Jewish state at a moment of regional instability and mounting threats.

The meeting was described by nearly a half-dozen participants as cordial, led by a president who, after an early setback attempting to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, appeared far more self-assured and with a policy more in line with those of his guests than in previous encounters. 

The gathering was not listed on the president’s public schedule, and some participants spoke on the condition of anonymity to recount the discussions. Some said Obama engaged most energetically, although never angrily, with those with whom he most disagreed.

In one exchange, Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, expressed concern that Obama might be softening his pledge to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, based on recent reports of frustrated international diplomatic efforts.

Obama has said his policy is to prevent Iranfrom developing a nuclear weapon, not containing the Islamic republic if it does achieve that capability. Vice President Bidenmade the same point earlier this week in an address to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, but Hoenlein asked Obama what actions he intends to take to stop it, according to participants.

“I’m not going to beat my chest to prove my toughness on this,” Obama said, according to participants.

Obama continued by citing a quote attributed by some to the Chinese military tactician Sun Tzu, who suggested that a “golden bridge” must be built to give what Obama described as a “proud people” a face-saving retreat to a diplomatic solution.

“The president outlined in general terms what he hopes to accomplish during his trip,” said Robert Wexler, the former Democratic congressman from Florida who attended the meeting as the director of the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace.

“All of that was underlined by the president’s commitment — the reiteration of his commitment — to an unprecedented security relationship with Israel and with the president’s desire to have a meaningful conversation with the Israeli people,” he added.

Obama is scheduled to leave in just under two weeks for his first trip to Israel as president. He will also visit the occupied Palestinian territories and Jordan, whose leader, King Abdullah II, is facing growing public unrest over his family’s long rule of the desert kingdom of strategic importance to the United States.

Obama has met with Jewish leaders before, including a seminal July 2009 meeting held a few weeks after his call for a “new beginning” with the Muslim world in Cairo.

The president followed that speech, in which he criticized Islamic extremism, Arab authoritarianism and Israeli settlement construction in the territories it occupied in the 1967 war, with a visit to the Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany. 

While a moving afternoon in which Obama highlighted the suffering of the Jewish people, the visit — and decision to skip Israel — appeared to locate the modern state of Israel’s right to exist in the Holocaust rather than in the period outlined in the Bible.

For some critics, it became the central example of how Obama does not understand how the Jewish people view the modern state and its historical claims. 

Obama’s visit to Israel, which will be focused in Jerusalem, is an effort to reset his relationship not with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with whom he has had a rocky one, but with a still-suspicious Israeli public.

Nathan Diament, director of the Institute for Public Affairs of the Orthodox Union, said he told Obama at the Thursday meeting that he must reach out not only to young secular Israelis but also to the nation’s growing religious community.

“I emphasized the importance that as part of what he does in that regard is speak, directly and symbolically, to the religious sectors of society and the millennia of connection the Jewish people have with the land of Israel,” said Diament, whose organization is the largest orthodox Jewish umbrella group.

Asked if that would help correct the impression left with Israelis in his Cairo speech, Diament, who attended Harvard Law School with Obama, said, “No comment.”

Obama was also urged Thursday to deliver a message to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, whom Obama will meet in Ramallah, that Palestinians should not obstruct Israeli peace efforts.

According to participants, Obama said he would. But he added that he also planned to tell Israelis that they must do more than talk about peace.

He said they must also act in a way that encourages an acceptable resolution with the Palestinians, according to several participants.

“And that will be a difficult balance to accomplish,” Obama said, according to one participant.

White House officials said Thursday that Obama had no plans at this point to meet with Palestinian — or other Arab — leaders before the trip.

A White House official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the private meeting, said Obama during the Thursday meeting “noted that the trip is not dedicated to resolving a specific policy issue.”

“He also underscored that the trip is an opportunity for him to speak directly to the Israeli people about the history, interests and values that we share,” the official said.

Using secret travel ban, Israel prepares to deport activist Adam Shapiro preventing him from being at the birth of his first child

Huwaida Adam(mondoweiss.net) Israel’s deportation policy entered a new phase on Monday when Huwaida Arraf and Adam Shapiro, co-founders of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), arrived at Ben Gurion airport and discovered an entry ban on Shapiro, despite inquires made in advance by a lawyer for the couple. Arraf and Shapiro, now expecting their first child, are perhaps the most recognizable pair in the Palestine solidarity movement, and architects for building an international activist presence on the ground since the beginning of the second Intifada.

At the airport on Monday afternoon Israeli authorities informed Shapiro that in 2009, unknown to him, the Israeli Ministry of Interior issued a 10-year entry ban for him. Initially the border police “weren’t making much sense,” Arraf told Mondoweiss, but then Shapiro was taken to jail where he remained for two days until he and Arraf were briefly reunited at a court hearing Tuesday.

After Shapiro’s Monday arrest, Arraf sent a letter to friends and supporters on her husband’s arrest:

Adam and I are expecting our first child, a boy in about 5 weeks. As joyful as this blessing is, we’ve had / we have to make some difficult decisions (besides what to name our son that is!) I am an Israeli citizen (in addition to a US citizen). This fact has made it possible for me to continue accessing my homeland all these years in spite of some attempts by Israel to kick me out. Israel did however deport Adam in 2002 because of our human rights work and banned him from re-entering the country (including the occupied Palestinian territory) since, which is why we’ve had to spend so much of our married life apart. In order for us to ensure that in the future, if Israel remains the racist, apartheid state that it is, it won’t deny our son the right to visit his homeland and all his family in Palestine, we’ve had to think about getting Israeli citizenship for our son. However, because I’m Palestinian, and not a Jewish citizen of Israel, our child will not have the automatic right to visit the country or to claim citizenship. The only way for me to pass down my citizenship to our son is to have him in Israel.

Arraf explained that in Tuesday’s court hearing the state claimed that Shapiro was presented “a document all in Hebrew” that stipulated a 10-year entry ban when he was detained by Israeli authorities in 2009 and “they said that Adam refused to sign.” But Arraf says Shapiro was never given such a document, “this is the first time he’s been told he has a 10-year ban.” Yet at the trial, Arraf says the state’s attorney produced a copy of the letter, “it’s the state’s word against Adam’s.”

“When the judge ruled, it was basically a technical ruling,” explained Arraf. He “wouldn’t listen to evidence on the ban itself, whether it is legal,” and Arraf summarizes it was clear “they did not want Adam to enter the country.”

Arraf is Palestinian with U.S. and Israeli citizenship, and Shapiro is a U.S. citizen—facts that dictate the couple’s ability to live together, travel together, and now will impose a separation during the birth of their first child after 11 years of marriage. Because of Arraf’s Palestinian national identity, she traveled to Israel late in her pregnancy so she could give birth to her son in country, ensuring she could bequeath her Israeli citizenship. Although it is technically possible for Arraf to transfer citizenship abroad, for Palestinians it is an arduous task. By contrast, children of Israeli-Jews born outside of the country can be issued Israeli identification numbers, even in instances where the child is not registered by the parents. This past year an American activist born to an Israeli father toldMondoweiss that despite never applying for citizenship, the Israeli Ministry of Interior told her she was already registered in the system. They said it was illegal for her to enter on a U.S. passport as the state already considered her an Israeli citizen.

Last month a lawyer for Arraf and Shapiro twice inquired with the Israeli government on Shapiro’s ability to enter Israel. Both times Arraf said Shapiro “was never given any written notice that he has a 10-year ban.” In addition, in 2008 Arraf wrote a letter to the Ministry of Interior to inquire into Shapiro’s travel status. At the airport on Monday, border officials produced a copy of the letter and told Arraf that she should have waited for a response before entering. “Well it’s been five years, you want us to wait longer for a response?” said Arraf.

Arraf and Shapiro’s current predicament dates back to 2002 when Shapiro was working in the West Bank as a human rights activist. After an arrest that led to deportation Shapiro discovered he was persona non grata, when attempting to re-enter through an Israeli controlled border. Over the next ten years he tried to enter the country three times. The pair was advised that Shapiro had been issued one of the notoriously vague 10-year entry bans, typically given to activists without notice, or formal explanation. Indeed Shapiro was never officially told he had a 10-year ban, but it was a logical deduction.

Later in 2009 while aboard the flotilla to breach the Israeli sea blockade of the Gaza Strip, Shapiro was taken into Israel by Israeli forces against his will and was again deported. According to Arraf, at the time the judge in that case acknowledged that Shapiro did not intend to enter Israel and was taken into the country while under custody of Israeli authorities. Now the state is alleging a new entry ban was issued at that time.

Because Arraf and Shapiro have been in communication with Israeli officials about their travel plans, Shapiro’s secret 10-year entry ban is especially alarming. The couple seems to have taken every measure to ensure Shapiro could be present for the birth of their son. But with Shapiro’s looming deportation anticipated to take place this evening, their case demonstrates that Israel not only issues entry bans, but also conceals them until the time of arrival.

“A couple of years ago,” said Arraf, “a lawyer once told me that [the 10-year entry ban] is not in any official Israeli law.” Yet, the threat of a 10-year ban is considered a final banishment doled out to the most high profile activists. It is viewed as a punitive measure for internationals who are known supporters of Palestinian rights, a fact that is underscored by the fact that only Palestine solidarity activists have received it.

Because of an Israeli policy that allows for anyone who is a perceived “security threat,” to be denied entry on spot, Arraf was aware her husband could face complications upon arrival. It is not uncommon for activists working in the West Bank to be deported from Israel, even without ever exiting the airport. This policy was employed en masse in 2012 and in 2011 when dozens of internationals were denied entry when traveling for a “fly-in,” a protest against the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.

“I’m usually very optimistic” said Arraf in regards to Shapiro’s ability to be present for the birth of their son. But with “all of his human rights work and his activism the state doesn’t like him.”

Arraf has a reputation for hopefulness and resilience, and it is not surprising that despite this situation she is still committed to working for the rights of Palestinians. I interviewed her after she was arrested on the 2010 flotilla, and Arraf told me that the Israeli police beat her until she was concussed, ultimately dumping her from their car. She regained consciousness while medics put her on a stretcher after seemingly being left for dead in the middle of the desert. Arraf was then taken to a hospital. After treatment she left on her own and walked until she found a phone to call her family. She didn’t know where she was, or how much time had passed.

But a few days later Arraf was back on the ground, demonstrating and fighting for her cause. Now, just as in 2010, she moves forward even though her husband’s case will likely become a benchmark for secret travel bans.

“We continue our work on the larger picture,” wrote Arraf in her latest update to friends. “If our situation can be used to help shed more light on the racism and inhumanity rampant here (as well as Israel’s contempt for human rights defenders), with the goal of changing the system someday for the future of all the children of this region, that would be one of the best things that we could hope for.”

Majority of U.S. Senators back President Obama’s ability to Kill American Citizens.

McCain(offgridsurvival.com) In case you missed what happened yesterday, because it was not covered by the Mainstream Media, Senator Rand Paul led a 12 hour filibuster of CIA Nominee John Brennan, after the White House refused to say they don’t have the authority to kill American Citizens on American Soil.

In what should have had 100% support by every member of the Senate, only managed to garner the support of a handful of senators. In fact this morning, the Senate, led by Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, took to the Senate floor to denounce Rand Paul’s demands. Senator McCain said he was doing a “disservice” to the country.

A disservice to the country?

Since when is standing up for our right to live a disservice to the country? Every last one of these people needs to be voted the hell out of office. The fact that we couldn’t even get a majority of the U.S. Senate to agree that the President does not have the authority to Kill American Citizens on American Soil (without a trial), is an absolute travesty of justice. What a sad day it is for America when it’s even up for debate.

What the hell happened to America? The sad reality of what happened yesterday, on the Floor of the Senate, should send chills through the spines of every red blooded American. Can you believe we have come to a place where it’s now being debated whether or not the federal government can ignore the Constitution and kill Americans without a trail?

For the last couple of years we’ve highlighted the drone programs, the effort to disarm America, and how the Department of Homeland Security is stockpiling massive amounts of Ammunition. What some called wild conspiracy theories, don’t seem so wild anymore do they?

Senate Refuses to Pass Non-Binding Bill Saying President doesn’t have the right to Kill Americans

To bring the Filibuster to a close, Senator Rand Paul offered a non-binding resolution opposing the President’s ability to kill Americans in drone strikes on US soil. Something that should have received 100% support in the Senate, couldn’t even get enough votes to pass. We are living in a country where only a handful of our elected representatives seem to have a problem with our government conducting the targeted killing of American Citizens.

Democrat Senator Dick Durbin, speaking for the majority, was designated to say he objects to Paul’s non-binding resolution. The fact that a majority of the U.S. Senate could not even stand together in opposition to something as simple as opposing (in a non-binding resolution) the President’s ability to assassinate citizens in drone attacks on US soil is simply inexcusable.

This is not a Partisan Issue: Both Sides are to Blame

For those that want to claim this as a partisan issue, I want to remind people that both political parties, Democrats and Republicans, overwhelmingly supported President Obama’s ability to kill American Citizens without a trial. In fact, at the same time Rand Paul made his stand to say that, “No President has the right to say that he is judge, jury, and executioner”,  a huge number of Republican Senators decided to ignore what was going on in the Senate, and instead attended a swanky dinner with President Obama.

The Following Republicans decided it was more important to be seen eating dinner with the President than it was to Stand with Rand Paul and Support the Constitution and your right to live.

senatorsobamadinner

When asked this morning whether the president has the power to kill Americans here at home, Senator Lindsey Graham said “I find the question offensive, I do not believe that question deserves an answer.” Senator John McCain then went to the Senate floor and defended President Obama’s ability to kill American Citizens on American Soil, by arguing that America is part of the worldwide battlefield. He publicly stated that the President has the right to kill Americans (without a trial) who are deemed to be “enemies” of the country.

Cheney Admits that He Lied about 9/11

 

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(Washington’s Blog) -What Else Did He Lie About?

The New York Times’ Maureen Daud writes today:

In a documentary soon to appear on Showtime, “The World According to Dick Cheney,” [Cheney said]  “I got on the telephone with the president, who was in Florida, and told him not to be at one location where we could both be taken out.” Mr. Cheney kept W. flying aimlessly in the air on 9/11 while he and Lynn left on a helicopter for a secure undisclosed location, leaving Washington in a bleak, scared silence, with no one reassuring the nation in those first terrifying hours.

“I gave the instructions that we’d authorize our pilots to take it out,” he says, referring to the jet headed to Washington that crashed in a Pennsylvania field. He adds: “After I’d given the order, it was pretty quiet. Everybody had heard it, and it was obviously a significant moment.”

***

When they testified together before the 9/11 Commission, W. and Mr. Cheney kept up a pretense that in a previous call, the president had authorized the vice president to give a shoot-down order if needed. But the commission found “no documentary evidence for this call.”

In other words, Cheney pretended that Bush had authorized a shoot-down order, but Cheney now admits that he never did.  In fact, Cheney acted as if he was the president on 9/11.

Cheney lied about numerous other facts related to 9/11 as well.  For example, Cheney:

Americans Protest Against AIPAC Conference

 

Presstv.ir March 7, 2013

With mock settlements, an apartheid wall and chants urging for cuts in funding to Israel, protesters collected outside of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee commonly called AIPAC.

They’ve come here from around the country for what they say is an important issue largely ignored by US media. Activist groups such as CODEPINK and others spring into activist mode every year to protest the Israel lobby’s annual policy conference.

AIPAC is considered the most powerful lobbying group in support of Israel. The power comes from money. The committee operates on a budget of $67 million each fiscal year. Some of that money goes to politicians through smaller organizations and committees, many of which support Israeli interests.

There are an estimated 13,000 people who attend the AIPAC conference. It’s a gathering that reportedly attracts more members of the US government than virtually any event other than the President’s State of the Union address.

More cities get military tanks they don’t need

 

 

(Image credit: The Brain Toad/Flickr)

 

(EndTheLie) -Last month I reported on how Georgia law enforcement agencies have acquired a massive arsenal of military-grade vehicles and weapons through  the Department of Defense. Unfortunately, it’s far from isolated.

Many law enforcement agencies acquire military equipment through the Pentagon’s 1033 program. Police have also acquired military robots through the DoD but they have other  ways to get their hands on armored surveillance vehicles and armored personnel carriers as well.

Indeed, the Department of Homeland Security gave the city of Keene, New  Hampshire, with a population of less than 25,000, $285,933 to buy an armored  counter-attack vehicle called a BearCat, according to Radley Balko.

Keene has had a whopping three murders since 1999 according to City Data and according to the American Civil Liberties  Union (ACLU), the city lied about the need for the tank-like vehicle built by Lenco Industries, Inc.

The ACLU points out that a Keene City Councilmember actually admitted that  the city lied about their need for the BearCat to DHS.

“Our application talked about the danger of domestic terrorism, but that’s  just something you put in the grant application to get the money,” the  councilmember said, according to the ACLU. “What red-blooded American cop isn’t  going to be excited about getting a toy like this? That’s what it comes down  to.”

Another example of this type of completely unnecessary equipment being  acquired by a law enforcement agency can be seen in Richland County, South  Carolina.

With a violent crime rate down 3.7% and property crime down 3.9% compared to last year, Richland doesn’t seem to have a  massive crime problem. Furthermore, many of the crimes there are related to drug  use or gambling, according to the ACLU.

Yet Richland’s Sheriff’s Department for some reason has an armored personnel  carrier they call “The Peacemaker.”

As was reported by Reason in 2008, the armored personnel carrier has a belt-fed  .50-caliber turreted machine gun which even the US military is reluctant to use  on humans.

(Image credit: mpeake/Flickr)

(Image credit: mpeake/Flickr)

How exactly a weapon usually reserved for use against armored vehicles will “save lives” is anyone’s guess.

These, like the examples in Georgia are far from isolated.

“Law enforcement agencies throughout the country have sweeping access to military equipment and to billions of  dollars in federal grant money to purchase heavy weaponry designed for overseas  combat missions, as well as access to anti-terrorism tactical training,” the  ACLU reports.

The ACLU recently launched a new project on the militarization of policing in America in response to  this growing trend.

While some may claim this type of equipment is necessary to assure the safety  of officers when facing massive shootouts or similar encounters, in reality, the  use is much more mundane in most cases.

“And in Maryland, the transparency law has shown that police departments in  the state are using SWAT tactics in precisely the ways critics have claimed: to  break into homes to serve warrants on people suspected of low-level drug  crimes,” according to a March 6 article by Radley Balko. “Many times, they’re not  even finding enough contraband to make an arrest. Yet there haven’t been any  calls in the state to reform the way SWAT teams are used.”

The disturbing results of the militarization of police are many. In 2010 a nine-year-old girl was shot in the neck and killed by a  SWAT team.

(Image credit: verifex/Flickr)

(Image credit: verifex/Flickr)

Shortly before she was killed, the SWAT team threw a flashbang grenade through the window of her home in Detroit,  Michigan, immediately setting her blanket on fire.

In another incident, Iraq war veteran Jose Guerena was shot 60 times by a  SWAT team when serving a search warrant as part of a multi-house drug  crackdown.

Guerena he picked up his own gun (but didn’t fire it) in an attempt to defend  his family after his wife saw a shadowy figure in their front yard holding a  gun. Police later defended their actions after retracting their claim  that Guerena shot first and declining to say if they found any drugs in his  house.

According to the ACLU, their affiliates in 23 states filed over 255 public  records requests on March 6 with law enforcement agencies and National Guard  offices to “determine the extent to which federal funding and support has fueled  the militarization of state and local police departments.”

More on the ACLU’s new project can be seen here.

Did I forget anything or miss any errors? Would you like to make me aware of  a story or subject to cover? Or perhaps you want to bring your writing to a  wider audience? Feel free to contact me at admin@EndtheLie.com with your concerns, tips, questions, original writings, insults or just  about anything that may strike your fancy.

 

California councilman proposes email tax

A USPS employee sorts mail. (Brian Kersey/Getty Images)

 

BERKELEY (CBS SF) – A Berkeley city councilman has suggested that a tax on email may be wise way to help fund the United States Postal Service, according to the blog Berkeleyside.

District 8 Supervisor Gordon Wozniak, who represents an area that includes the Claremont Hotel and the eastern end of the UC Berkeley campus, made the comments Tuesday as city officials moved to halt the sale of a Post Office building on Allston Way due to a decline in business.

“There should be something like a bit tax. I mean a bit tax could be a cent per-gigabit and they would still make, probably, billions of dollars a year…And there should be, also, a very tiny tax on email,” Wozniak said at Tuesday’s meeting.

Wozniak said this would not only help fund the cash-strapped post office, but also discourage spam. According to Berkeleyside, the idea was even studied by the United Nations in 1999 as a means of funding global communications infrastructure.

The Postal Service, which suffered a $15.9 billion loss in the past budget year, announced plans last month to end regular Saturday mail delivery. The delivery of letters and other mail has plummeted in recent years. Email has decreased the mailing of paper letters, but online purchases have increased package shipping, forcing the Postal Service to adjust to customers’ new habits.

However, much of the service’s red ink comes from a 2006 law forcing it to pay $11 billion a year into future retiree health benefits, something no other agency does. Without that and related labor expenses, the mail agency sustained an operating loss of $2.4 billion last year, lower than the previous year.

Ohio man charged with shooting police robot that entered his bedroom

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(NaturalNews) It’s not a zombie apocalypse but it could be the next best  – or worst – thing, depending on your point of view, but one thing is for  certain: The robots are coming, and with them new laws that will undoubtedly be  utilized to protect them.

According to the Chillicothe Gazette, a  Gannett-owned Ohio newspaper, a 62-year-old man, Michael Blevins, who was  heavily inebriated was recently arrested for shooting (but not killing) a police robot following a six-hour stand-off.

The report said that  officers in the town of Waverly initially responded to a complaint that shots  had been fired inside a bedroom at a home, and that the homeowner had a number  of guns and was threatening neighbors.

Police knocked on the front door  of the home, called on the telephone and even brought in a trained negotiator in  an effort to make contact with Blevins, but he refused to speak to anyone for  hours. At that, officers decided to contact the Pike County Sheriff’s Department  as well as the state Highway Patrol’s Strategic Response Team for help. They got  a pair of search robots instead.

Attack of the drones?

The  first robot to enter the Blevins’ home was camera-equipped. Its mission was to  locate the man and his guns. A second, larger robot was then sent inside, but  when Blevins spotted that machine, he opened fire on it with a small caliber  pistol, damaging it.

After all that, police finally entered his home and  used a simple stun gun to subdue and arrest him.

Later, after obtaining a  search warrant, cops found several firearms in Blevins’, including a pair of  AK-47-style, semi-automatic rifles and a 75-round ammunition magazine, an item  that is illegal to own in Ohio.

Following an  evaluation by medical doctors and mental health professionals, Blevins was  charged with two felony counts of unlawful possession of a dangerous ordnance  and vandalism of government property, among other charges, the local paper  reported.

The use of robots by the military has grown exponentially over  the past decade. They are utilized as bomb-sniffing devices and for other  counter-IED missions in Afghanistan and were used is similar capacities in Iraq  before U.S. troops pulled out.

And just as the military has replaced a  lot of missions that can be harmful to soldiers with robots, civilian  authorities are doing the same for certain dangerous situations, to protect  officers. Other technologies being used by police  are alarming, however: They include automated license plate readers; taser  cameras; face ID scanners; facial recognition software; and drones. Robots are  only the latest high-tech device employed by police.

In fact, reports  David J. Hill at SingularityHub.com, another Ohio police department last  fall was showing off a recently acquired $11,000 AVATAR surveillance robot  from a firm called RoboteX; its mission is assisting the department’s SWAT  team.

Writes Hill:

Robots like these are increasingly being  used in standoffs in which armed people are not cooperating with police. For  example, a related event occurred last year in Utah when two cousins  who were roommates got into an argument and shots were fired. When SWAT arrived,  one cousin surrendered but the other refused to come out. He did, however,  surrender his shotgun when the police sent a robot in.

Increased  technology impinges on the Constitution

Departments are increasingly  looking to high-tech, high-end systems that make it easier to catch lawbreakers  while protecting the lives of officers, but as technology often does, with the  advances come additional new concerns about constitutional issues such as  privacy and other individual rights, Hill notes. “After all, the consequence of  the intoxicated Ohio man’s actions is to be charged with damage to police  equipment rather than, at the least, attempted murder charges if he had fired on  police.”

But would he have fired on police? These implications of  increased robot use are only now coming into focus. Notes  Hill:

Incidents between citizens and police  robots will be on the rise as more bots are brought into service. Hopefully,  we can remember that a potentially deadly armed standoff resulted in no one  being hurt, thanks to technology and those who use it  responsibly.

The key word, of course, is responsibly.

NH Gun Store Depicts Obama As ‘Firearms Salesman Of The Year’

 

MERRIMACK, NH (CBS) – One of the posters in the front window of a New Hampshire gun shop depicts President Obama as “Firearms Salesman of the Year.” Below the president are two AK-47 rifles.

A second poster featuring the images of Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin and Mao Zedong accompanies a statement that reads, “All Experts Agree, Gun Control Works.”

WBZ NewsRadio 1030′s Carl Stevens reports

 

 

The signs are in the front window of Collectable Arms & Ammo in Merrimack. Store Co-owner Keith Cox makes no apologies for the storefront that has irritated some neighbors.

“We like to have the creative storefronts which are sort of fun in one aspect and in another aspect if we have an opportunity to make a statement we’ll do that as well,” said Cox.

(Photo Credit: Carl Stevens)

(Photo Credit: Carl Stevens)

Cox says he is sending two separate messages and is not connecting Obama to the dictators.

He says Obama’s picture is meant to thank him for sending gun sales surging with all the talk in Washington about gun control.

As for the images of the three dictators, Cox says his message is that people armed with guns are better able to protect themselves against tyranny.

Chuck Mower, who lives down the street from the shop, says he understands free speech, but says the message is over the top and unnecessary.

“I can’t even imagine any president’s picture being portrayed on the front of a business with crossed assault weapons underneath it,” Mower said. “When those kinds of things appear and take the public presence…they paint us more as a gooberville in Arkansas.”

Mower, a longtime Merrimack resident, has filed a complaint with the city.

“It’s not a good community standard message and it doesn’t add to solving any of the complicated issues,” he said.

Outside the store on Friday, there was curiosity about the controversy.

“If people want to show it then so be it, it’s their freedom of rights,” said one Merrimack resident.

“One thing great about this country is you can agree to disagree, but to take these extremes I think it’s shameful and I’m sad to say it’s the town I live in,” said another resident.

Regardless of the controversy, the signage is not coming down.

“I certainly would not ask them to change a flag hanging on their homes or a sign in their yards because I am offended by it or disagree with it,” said Cox. “I will support anybody’s freedom of speech.”

Town officials in Merrimack tell WBZ-TV the storefront is not breaking any town ordinances.

Wash. state bill allows police to search students without parental consent

 

Bill would allow police to search children without probable cause or parental consent

(Examiner) -A Washington state bill, S.B. 5618, that would allow police officers, or “school resource officers,” to search students without probable cause or parental consent, passed the State Senate Monday, 30-19.

The legislation would allow police to search a student’s person, locker and possessions if they are believed to be violating the law or any school rule. Searches are already mandatory under state law if a student is suspected of possessing a firearm.

Currently under Washington state law, if a school employee has a reasonable suspicion to search a student, they have the right, but a police officer serving as a school resource officer cannot search a student without probable cause.

Reasonable suspicion is a term that means a person has been or will be involved in a crime based on specific circumstances and facts. Reasonable suspicion is more than a hunch that a crime has been committed but does not require as much evidence as probable cause.

The bill opens by reading:

“The legislature recognizes that both the federal and state constitutions contain certain sacred protections against warrantless searches by law enforcement. Federal and state courts have recognized certain reasonable exceptions to the warrant requirement consistent with common sense and public safety.”

In a recent opinion, the Washington State Supreme Court overruled previous case law and determined that a school resource officer could not conduct searches of students. If enacted, this new law would allow police to search students much more easily.

Some believe if enacted, the law will help make schools a safer environment. Others parents feel it undermines their parental rights and worry about the possible consequences.

Washington state parents like Doug Weller, who homeschools his children, sees this as yet another example of the way public schools are becoming.

“This is indicative of the attitude of the federal government: security trumps freedom. This, of course, is a patently false and dangerous mindset, to sacrifice freedom for a sense of security only available through the government. This bill fails to even acknowledge parental rights,” said Weller.

In fact, according to the National Household Education Survey Program, 1.5 million students were homeschooled in 2007, a 36% increase since the last study conducted in 2003.

“I believe the states accepting so much federal money for public education strips schools from their ability to determine education free of the social engineering that is taking place in our schools today.

“The state has been allowed to believe that they hold deed to your children. Apathy in the home and voting booth have made this possible as parents cede more and more authority and responsibility over to the state in general and the public schools in particular,” continued Weller.

Recent incidents at public schools have caused concern from many regarding police interaction and lack of parental oversight.

A 6-year-old girl at a Florida elementary school was handcuffed and put in a mental facility after throwing a temper tantrum in 2010.

In 2011, at a school in Connecticut, A 17-year-old boy in Connecticut was thrown to the ground and tasered five times because he was yelling at a cafeteria worker who had yelled at him.

Last year, a student in Stockton, California was handcuffed with zip ties on his hands and feet, forced to go to the hospital for a psychiatric evaluation and was charged with battery on a police officer. The student was 5 years old.

The bill will now be sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Obama DHS Purchases 2,700 Light-Armored Tanks to Go With Their 1.6 Billion Bullet Stockpile

(thegatewaypundit.com) This is getting a little creepy.
According to one estimate, since last year the Department of Homeland Security has stockpiled more than 1.6 billion bullets, mainly .40 caliber and 9mm.

DHS also purchased 2,700 Mine Resistant Armor Protected Vehicles (MRAP).
homeland security mrap

Modern Survival Blog reported:

The Department of Homeland Security (through the U.S. Army Forces Command) recently retrofitted 2,717 of these ‘Mine Resistant Protected’ vehicles for service on the streets of the United States.

Although I’ve seen and read several online blurbs about this vehicle of late, I decided to dig slightly deeper and discover more about the vehicle itself.

The new DHS sanctioned ‘Street Sweeper’ (my own slang due to the gun ports) is built by Navistar Defense (NavistarDefense.com), a division within the Navistar organization. Under the Navistar umbrella are several other companies including International Trucks, IC Bus (they make school buses), Monaco RV (recreational vehicles), WorkHorse (they make chassis), MaxxForce (diesel engines), and Navistar Financial (the money arm of the company).

DHS even released a video on their newly purchased MRAPs.
Via Pat Dollard:

The MRAP featured in this video is was in Albuquerque, New Mexico for Law Enforcement Day which was held at a local area Target Store. This MRAP is stationed in El Paso, Texas at The Homeland Security Investigations Office. MRAP is a Mine Resistant Armor Protected Vehicle.

 

 

‘Bedroom tax’ will hit single parents and disabled people hardest

single mother with baby

(Guardian) Single parents with spare bedrooms in social housing will soon be around £700 poorer per year.

Nearly a quarter of those due to be affected by the so-called “spare bedroom tax” will be single parents, according to new research.

Government figures show that 150,000 of the 660,000 people expected to have their benefits reduced because they have at least one unused room are lone parents under 60, Labour claim.

The average amount taken from each person per week is £13, which amounts to £676 a year, according to the party’s analysis.

The claim comes amid new concerns that disabled people will also be disproportionately affected by the change in benefit rules, due to be introduced in April.

New rules state that housing benefit and universal credit claimants deemed to have one unused bedroom in their council or housing association home will lose 14% of their housing benefit and those with two or more will lose 25%.

The Department for Work and Pensions estimates that 660,000 people living in social housing will lose an average of £728 per year as a result of the change.

Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary Liam Byrne said: “David Cameron promised to stand up for parents, but his bedroom tax is a £100m tax bombshell for single mums and dads.

“The bedroom tax has now been exposed as a chaotic disaster, but it’s not too late for the prime minister to do the decent thing, admit he has got this wrong and think again.”

The planned changes will also affect hundreds of thousands of disabled people, according to the National Housing Federation.

A fund to help people eligible for disability living allowance was given a £30m boost this year by Cameron. But an analysis of figures by the federation claims that this will leave a £100m shortfall which will have to be made up by claimants.

David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, said: “The bedroom tax is ill-thought and unfair as thousands of disabled people will have no choice but to cut back further on food and other expenses in order to stay in their own homes.”

Tax Bicyclists For Exhaling CO2 When They Ride, Says Wash. Rep

(KGW.com) Taxing the air we breathe may be coming to Washington state.  Yes, the insane taxing of every behavior is rising to a whole new level with the proposed “bike tax” in Washington.

According to lawmakers who proposed the bike tax, it would help raise $1 million over the next decade to be used for road maintenance. The new $25 tax will be applied on every bike sold for over $500 in the state.

One Washington lawmaker is making twisted argument in support of the new fee. Rep. Ed Orcutt wrote in an email to a bike shop that the CO2 that bicyclists exhale while riding is just one of the reasons he supports the bike tax.

“Since CO2 is deemed a greenhouse gas and a pollutant, bicyclists are actually polluting when they ride,” Orcutt wrote. Therefore, they should pay taxes to help the environment as well as the roads.

Here is his full email:

 

US doctors cure child born with HIV

(Refreshing News) Doctors in the US have made medical history by effectively curing a child born with HIV, the first time such a case has been documented.

The infant, who is now two and a half, needs no medication for HIV, has a normal life expectancy and is highly unlikely to be infectious to others, doctors believe.
Though medical staff and scientists are unclear why the treatment was effective, the surprise success has raised hopes that the therapy might ultimately help doctors eradicate the virus among newborns.
Doctors did not release the name or sex of the child to protect the patient’s identity, but said the infant was born, and lived, in Mississippi state. Details of the case were unveiled on Sunday at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Atlanta.
Dr Hannah Gay, who cared for the child at the University of Mississippi medical centre, told the Guardian the case amounted to the first “functional cure” of an HIV-infected child. A patient is functionally cured of HIV when standard tests are negative for the virus, but it is likely that a tiny amount remains in their body.
“Now, after at least one year of taking no medicine, this child’s blood remains free of virus even on the most sensitive tests available,” Gay said.
“We expect that this baby has great chances for a long, healthy life. We are certainly hoping that this approach could lead to the same outcome in many other high-risk babies,” she added.
The number of babies born with HIV in developed countries has fallen dramatically with the advent of better drugs and prevention strategies. Typically, women with HIV are given antiretroviral drugs during pregnancy to minimise the amount of virus in their blood. Their newborns go on courses of drugs too, to reduce their risk of infection further. The strategy can stop around 98% of HIV transmission from mother to child.
In the UK and Ireland, around 1,200 children are living with HIV they picked up in the womb, during birth, or while being breastfed. If an infected mother’s placenta is healthy, the virus tends not to cross into the child earlier in pregnancy, but can in labour and delivery.
The problem is far more serious in developing countries. In sub-Saharan Africa, around 387,500 children aged 14 and under were receiving antiretroviral therapy in 2010. Many were born with the infection. Nearly 2 million more children of the same age in the region are in need of the drugs.
In the latest case, the mother was unaware she had HIV until after a standard test came back positive while she was in labour. “She was too near delivery to give even the dose of medicine that we routinely use in labour. So the baby’s risk of infection was significantly higher than we usually see,” said Gay.
Doctors began treating the baby 30 hours after birth. Unusually, they put the child on a course of three antiretroviral drugs, given as liquids through a syringe. The traditional treatment to try to prevent transmission after birth is a course of a single antiretroviral drug. The doctor opted for the more aggressive treatment because the mother had not received any during her pregnancy.
Several days later, blood drawn from the baby before treatment started showed the child was infected, probably shortly before birth. The doctors continued with the drugs and expected the child to take them for life.
However, within a month of starting therapy, the level of HIV in the baby’s blood had fallen so low that routine lab tests failed to detect it.
The mother and baby continued regular clinic visits to the clinic for the next year, but then began to miss appointments, and eventually stopped attending all together. The child had no medication from the age of 18 months, and did not see doctors again until it was nearly two years old.
“We did not see this child at all for a period of about five months,” Gay told the Guardian. “When they did return to care aged 23 months, I fully expected that the baby would have a high viral load.”
When the mother and child arrived back at the clinic, Gay ordered several HIV tests, and expected the virus to have returned to high levels. But she was stunned by the results. “All of the tests came back negative, very much to my surprise,” she said.
The case was so extraordinary, Dr Gay called a colleague, Katherine Luzuriaga, an immunologist at Massachusetts Medical School, who with another scientist, Deborah Persaud at Johns Hopkins Children’s Centre in Baltimore, had far more sensitive blood tests to hand. They checked the baby’s blood and found traces of HIV, but no viruses that were capable of multiplying.
The team believe the child was cured because the treatment was so potent and given swiftly after birth. The drugs stopped the virus from replicating in short-lived, active immune cells, but another effect was crucial. The drugs also blocked the infection of other, long-lived white blood cells, called CD4, which can harbour HIV for years. These CD4 cells behave like hideouts, and can replace HIV that is lost when active immune cells die.
The treatment would not work in older children or adults because the virus will have already infected their CD4 cells.
“Prompt antiviral therapy in newborns that begins within days of exposure may help infants clear the virus and achieve long-term remission without lifelong treatment by preventing such viral hideouts from forming in the first place,” said Dr Persaud. “Our next step is to find out if this is a highly unusual response to very early antiretroviral therapy or something we can actually replicate in other high-risk newborns.”
Children infected with HIV are given antiretroviral drugs with the intent to treat them for life, and Gay warned that anyone who takes the drugs must remain on them.
“It is far too early for anyone to try stopping effective therapy just to see if the virus comes back,” she said.
Until scientists better understand how they cured the child, Gay emphasised that prevention is the most reliable way to stop babies contracting the virus from infected mothers. “Prevention really is the best cure, and we already have proven strategies that can prevent 98% of newborn infections by identifying and treating HIV-positive women,” she said.
Genevieve Edwards, a spokesperson for the Terrence Higgins Trust HIV/Aids charity, said: “This is an interesting case, but I don’t think it has implications for the antenatal screening programme in the UK, because it already takes steps to ensure that 98% to 99% of babies born to HIV-positive mothers are born without HIV.”

Are the elites going into hiding?

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(InvestmentWatch) -Pope “quits” first time in 600 years.

Rockefellers flee to Fiji after they “stripped the US Federal Reserve System  of all major assets, just as previously they had stripped Fort Knox of all  deliverable, non-tungsten, gold.”

http://lightworkersxm.wordpress.com/2013/02/11/more-cracks-and-clost-closing-going-on-rockfellers-scarper-to-fiji-all-eyes-on-nazi-queen-lizzie-2-as-pope-ratslinger-throws-the-towel-in-on-a-disgraceful-career-of-total-disgust/

Congress leaves town for a quote “LONG WEEKEND” with no deal struck.  Sequester hits the fan.

http://radio.foxnews.com/2013/02/28/congress-leaves-without-avoiding-sequester-video/

http://washingtonexaminer.com/congress-leaves-town-after-failing-to-stop-sequester/article/2522909

Head of DHS “quits” unexpectedly

“I extend my deepest appreciation to DHS Chief of Staff Noah Kroloff for his  over four years of service to the Department of Homeland Security and his eight  years of service to me while I served in Arizona as Governor and Attorney  General. Noah has been a trusted advisor, a good friend, and a superb Chief of  Staff to this department. Since January 2009, he has been instrumental in  establishing and guiding many of the department’s key initiatives,” wrote Napolitano, according to the email obtained by Mike Allen. – See more  at:  http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/chief-staff-out-dhs_704981.html#sthash.xzXvmCcp.dpuf

http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/chief-staff-out-dhs_704981.html

Queen Lizzy cancels all engagements.

Dutch Queen Beatrix announced that she will abdicate on April 30  after 33 years as head of state,  clearing the way for her eldest son, Crown Prince Willem-Alexander, to become  the nation’s first king in more than a century.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2013/01/28/dutch-queen-beatrix-abdication/1871275/

This CANNOT be ignored. The list keeps growing. Something IS up. Time to  bring in the tomatoes.

http://www.philly.com/philly/news/nation_world/20130228_ap_benedictbecomes1stpopein600yearstoresign.html

– See more at:  http://investmentwatchblog.com/are-the-elite-going-into-hiding-pope-quits-head-of-dhs-quits-rockefellers-flee-to-fiji-queen-cancels-engagements-more-list-growing-daily/#sthash.IqeWU8II.dpuf Read more at http://investmentwatchblog.com/are-the-elite-going-into-hiding-pope-quits-head-of-dhs-quits-rockefellers-flee-to-fiji-queen-cancels-engagements-more-list-growing-daily/#WGHJptdc0ezxqSCK.99

EPA Under Fire for Damaging Corexit Use in BP Oil Spill Despite Known Dangers

 

oilrigabandoned1 265x165 EPA Under Fire for Damaging Corexit Use in BP Oil Spill Despite Known Dangers

(Natural Society) -A company specializing in oil spill science has accused the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of violating the Clean Water Act by blocking science regarding oil spill cleanup that could have aided in better cleaning up the BP oil spill of 2010 while simultaneously cutting billions in costs.

In a press release by Gulf Oil Spill Remediation Conference group, the Oil Spill Eater International (OSEI) company calls out the EPA for what founder Steve Pedigo says boils down to blocking the development of oil spill cleanup science that is environmentally safe while also effective. In the release, Pedigo cites research and investigation by the Lawrence Anthony Earth Organization (LAEO) on the current industrial cleaning agents used in the aid of cleaning up oil spills. The agents used in the cleaning process, such as the notorious Corexit, have been found time and time again to be highly dangerous to human health and the environment as well.

Despite this fact, the EPA has failed to utilize alternatives. A move that Pedigo says is purposeful, as the EPA has favored dispersants like Corexit that studies have actually shown can be even more damaging than the oil itself. As NBC reported back in late 2012, Corexit was actually found to make oil from spills a whopping 52 times more toxic. When considering that 2 million gallons were dumped into the ocean during the ‘cleanup’, this is very concerning news.

Despite cleaning teams requesting environmentally-friendly alternatives, which Pedigo says includes OSEI’s Oil Spill Eater II, the EPA did not honor the requests and instead enforced the usafe of dispersants like Corexit in the face the concerning evidence. According to the statements in the release, BP even made a direct request to switch to a better alternative. In the write-up, Peido goes against the EPA for:

“Violating the very Clean Water Act it is there to enforce by pre-approving toxic dispersants and tampering with science testing and results to justify inadequate oil spill cleanup protocols used on the BP Oil Spill.”

Overall, the mass use of Corexit has polluted the Gulf like never before, leading many consumers to avoid the purchase of seafood from the Gulf due to serious health concerns. When it comes to marine life, Corexit poses a special risk to the very delicate balance of life within the world’s oceans — a balance that has been disrupted by the introduction of over 2 million gallons of the extremely toxic dispersant.

KFC halts chicken supply from 1,000 Chinese farms after antibiotics scare

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(NaturalNews) Another day, another Chinese food scare. KFC is dropping more than  1,000 farms from its network of suppliers in China to make sure the food it  serves is safe after a scandal over tainted chicken hurt company sales in that  key (meaning large) emerging market last year.
The issue came up  in December when officials in China’s commercial hub of Shanghai and the  northern province of Shanxi were looking at KFC suppliers following claims that  the chicken the company was selling had a high antibiotics content.
The  scare caused a six percent drop-off in China sales of KFC’s parent company, Yum!  Brands in the final quarter of 2012, Agence France Presse reported, which  was more severe than the firm’s previous estimate of a four percent  decline.
Company officials knew of the problem in 2010, but kept  quiet
KFC says it will no longer use chicken farms that run potential  risk of further supplying tainted product, step up its screen process of  suppliers and increase self-inspections to address future food safety concerns,  the company said in a statement.
“It will always be our top priority to  provide customers with the safest chicken with the best quality,” Yum China’s  chairman and top executive, Sam Su, said in the statement. “We have seen some  safety problems from the incident…and we aim to address the issue within the  shortest time.”
The company also vowed to improve its communication  efforts with the Chinese government and the public following an admission by the  Chinese branch of Yum in January that it failed to inform the proper authorities  about tests showing high levels of antibiotics  in chicken.
Yum officials said the company was aware of the problem via  testing by a third party in 2010 and 2011 but did not report the findings to  authorities, according to a statement by the Shanghai government in  December.
China has been the focus of a number of food safety incidents  in recent months and years. Here are just a few of the most high-profile  incidents:
In 2008, one of the biggest scandals occurred when  melamine, an industrial chemical, made its way into dairy products, killing at  least six babies and making 300,000 people sick. This scandal was kept under  wraps by Chinese  authorities for months to avoid embarrassment ahead of the Olympic games held in  Beijing. When word got out, average Chinese citizens were outraged at the  government, as confidence in the ruling regime’s ability to regulate food safety  fell dramatically.
Our editor-in-chief and founder, Mike Adams, the  Health Ranger, has reported recently that China is essentially awash in  pollution, and that the nation is “an environmental nightmare.” As such, it’s  difficult if not impossible to trust that so-called “organic” products from the  world’s most populous nation are safe, let along truly organic. (http://www.naturalnews.com)
In April 2011,  police in the northeastern city of Shenyang seized 40 tons of bean sprouts  that were tainted with sodium nitrite and urea, as well as antibiotics and a  plant hormone known as 6-benzyladenine. The chemicals were used to make the  sprouts grow more quickly and look “shinier” at the marketplace. 12 people were  arrested.
More than three-and-a-half tons of “yard-long” green  beans that were contaminated with a banned pesticide, isocarbophos, were  destroyed after being found on sale in the central city of Wuhan in March 2010.  The beans originated in the southern city of Sanya; allegations of another  attempted cover-up came after the Sanya agricultural law enforcement bureau  decided it would be “inconsiderate” of Wuhan authorities to make the case  public.
A professor from Wuhan Polytechnic Universityconducted an undercover investigation in March 2010 and turned up this  disturbing fact: One in 10 of all meals in China were made using recycled oil,  “often scavenged from the drains beneath restaurants,” London’s Telegraph  newspaper reported. State food and drug administration officials issued a  nationwide emergency before launching an official investigation into the use of  the “sewer oil.”

7 Year old suspended for… a pastry made in the form of a gun

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(Fox45) -Children at Park Elementary School went home with a letter today explaining there was a disruption in school. Seven year old Josh Welch, and his father, say the disruption lead to a two day suspension for the second grader in Brooklyn Park.

Academics are hard for Josh, who suffers from ADHD, but he excels in art class. It is Josh’s own creativity that may have gotten him into trouble.

At Park Elementary school, Josh was enjoying his breakfast pastry when he decided to try and shape it into a mountain.

Josh said, “It was already a rectangle and I just kept on biting it and biting it and tore off the top and it kinda looked like a gun but it wasn’t.”

Josh takes full responsibly for trying to shape his breakfast pastry, but admits it was in innocent fun. He told FOX45, “All I was trying to do was turn it into a mountain but, it didn’t look like a mountain really and it turned out to be a gun kinda.”

When his teacher saw the strawberry tart he knew he was in trouble, he recalls, “She was pretty mad…and I think I was in big trouble.”

Josh’s dad received a phone call from the school saying that Josh has been suspended for two days because he took his breakfast pastry and fashioned it into a gun. Josh’s dad was astounded to learn the school chose such a harsh punishment, even after no one was hurt.

Late Friday afternoon a letter went home with students explaining the incident saying, “A student used food to make an inappropriate gesture.”

But Josh’s dad is not happy saying, “I would almost call it insanity. I mean with all the potential issues that could be dealt with at school, real threats, bullies, whatever the real issue is, it’s a pastry.., Ya know?”

Josh just wishes he could go back to class, but maintains a good sense of humor through the whole debacle saying, “I didn’t get to eat all my breakfast, so, really I am still hungry.”

Obama: “I never want to make myself 100 percent clear with you guys.”

(DailyCaller) -In a press conference after his meeting with congressional leaders, President Barack Obama told reporters he “never” wants to make himself “100 percent clear” with members of the media.

“Just to make it 100 percent clear, you’d sign a budget that continued to fund the government even at the lower levels of the sequester even if you don’t prefer to do that,” a reporter asked Obama at the White House on Friday.

“Zach, I’m not going to — I never want to make myself 100 percent clear with you guys, but I think it’s fair to say that I made a deal for a certain budget, certain numbers. There’s no reason why that deal needs to be reopened. It was a deal that Speaker Boehner made, as well and all the leadership made, and if the bill that arrives on my desk is reflective of the commitments that we previously made, then obviously I would sign it.”

Obama was also asked why he couldn’t keep the Republican and Democrat leaders in a room and refuse to let them leave until an agreement is reached to replace the sequester.

“I am not a dictator, I’m the president,” Obama responded.

 

High School Student Disarms Gunman…Gets Suspended

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FOX4: FORT MYERS, Fla. – A 16-year-old Cypress Lake High School student, who wrestled a loaded revolver away from a teen threatening to shoot, is being punished.

The student grappled the gun away from the 15-year-old suspect on the bus ride home Tuesday after witnesses say he aimed the weapon point blank at another student and threatened to shoot him.

The student, who Fox 4 has agreed not to identify because he fears for his safety, says there’s “no doubt” he saved a life by disarming the gunman. And for that he was suspended for three days.

“I think he was really going to shoot him right then and there,” the student said. “Not taking no pity.”

The student says he wrestled the .22 caliber RG-14 Revolver away from the suspect, a football player, who witnesses say threatened to shoot a teammate because he had been arguing with his friend.

“No doubt,” the student said, “he was going to shoot him point blank.”

The teen we spoke to and authorities both confirm the Revolver was loaded. According to the arrest report the suspect, who Fox 4 is not naming because he is a minor, was “pointing the gun directly” at another student and “threatening to shoot him.”

That’s when the student we spoke with says he and two others tackled the teen and wrestled away the gun. The next day the school slapped him with a three day suspension.

“It’s dumb,” he said. “How they going to suspend me for doing the right thing?”

According to the referral, he was suspended for being part of an “incident” where a weapon was present and given an “emergency suspension.”

“If they wouldn’t of did what they had to do on that bus,” the teen’s mother said, “I think there would have been a lot of fatalities.”

The mother agreed to talk with us in disguise. She can’t understand why her son, and two other students who disarmed the gunman, were all suspended.

“Those kids had to fight for their lives,” she said. “All the kids that was involved in this they should have a pat on their backs because they did the right thing to save someone from burying their child.”

According to the mother, the school suspended her son because he refused to cooperate in the investigation. She says he was scared.

Fox 4 asked the Lee County School District about the suspension.

“We cannot discuss specifics involving students,” said district spokesman Alberto Rodriguez in a statement. “Florida law allows the principal to suspend a student immediately pending a hearing.”

On Thursday Fox 4 tried to get answers from Tracey Perkins, the principal of Cypress Lake High School.

“Were those students suspended?,” asked Fox 4 reporter Matt Grant, before she drove off.

“Ya’ll should be ashamed of yourselves,” the teen’s mother said referring to the school’s administration, adding that the suspended students “need their education.”

The teen who wrestled the gun away can go back to school Monday, his mother said.

Despite the fact the suspect pointed a load gun at another student and threatened to shoot authorities charged him with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon “without intent” to kill.

We asked the sheriff’s office about that.

“The investigation is ongoing,” said Sgt. David Valez in a statement. “The charges presented to [the suspect] are based on our findings at this time.”

Authorities were unable to watch the school bus surveillance video because the cameras weren’t working.

The 15-year-old suspect was arrested and charged with posession of a firearm on school property and assault with a deadly weapon without intent to kill.

He was taken to the juvenile justice center.

Last month, a 14-year-old Mariner Middle School was arrested for bringing a .22 caliber gun and a Panther brand stungun to class.

South Dakota approves guns in the classroom

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(RT) -Lawmakers in South Dakota have passed a bill that would allow school districts to arm staff and teachers with guns to make their schools “safer”.

State Senators on Wednesday voted 21-14 to pass the measure, despite large-scale opposition from school administrators and personnel, who are largely opposed to bringing weapons into their schools.

 

Supporters of the bill claim that arming teachers could prevent tragedies like the Dec. 14 massacre in Newtown, Conn. The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Craig Tieszen, R-Rapid City, said that he would leave the decision to arm teachers up to individual school districts, but that he strongly recommends it.

 

When Craig advocated for the measure earlier this year, he said that having gun-free schools would simply make them more vulnerable and invite potential mass murderers.

 

“The possibility of an armed presence in any of our schools is a deterrent,” Craig told Fox News, claiming that no shooter would attack a school whose teachers are armed.

 

Supporters of the bill also argue that teachers would only become armed after partaking in a “School Sentinel program” that would provide them with firearms training by law enforcement officers. No teachers would be forced to take part in the program and could choose to remain unarmed.

 

But opponents, including many teachers themselves, remain uncomfortable about the prospect of having dangerous firearms in schools. Rep. Troy Heinert, D-Mission, said teachers should not be employed to act as law enforcement officers and that arming them would make him uncomfortable about sending his child to kindergarten.

 

“Doesn’t this blur the line between a teacher and a law enforcement officer?” he told Fox News. “Do we want to tell our children the only way to be safe is to carry a gun?”

 

The South Dakota Education Association claims that guns should only be provided to trained professionals and that no training program could properly instruct a teacher how to respond to a situation like the massacre in Newtown, Conn.

 

It’s one thing to have firearms training,” the group’s spokesperson, Sandra Waltman, told KTIV TV. “It’s a completely different thing to be trained on how to handle those very difficult circumstances if they should arise. We believe that students should be taught by professional teachers, and we think they should be protected by professional law enforcement.”

 

Some school officials and administrators have expressed their concern about gun-related accidents. Others say the weapons would distract from the purpose teachers serve in schools.

 

“It defects everything we’re trying to do with reading, writing and arithmetic, and getting the kids ready for society,” Dakota Valley Superintendent Al Leber told KTIV. “All we do, we spend hours and hours debating whether there should be a gun or shouldn’t be a gun in school.”

 

Despite the ongoing debate on such a sensitive matter, the legislature has passed the bill, leaving the decision to arm schools in the hands of the state’s individual school districts.

 

The vote comes days after an online national survey by the School Improvement Network found that 91.6 percent of teachers feel safe in their schools and 72.4 percent would most likely refuse to carry a firearm, even if it were allowed. The South Dakota bill goes against the wishes of the national majority, but legislators believe that the solution to gun violence is arming instructors and giving them to capability to protect their students.

Here are Homeland Security’s Top 5 Priorities for Suspicious Activity Reporting This Season

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(PublicIntelligence) -A document issued last month by the Department of Homeland Security identifies priorities for the collection of suspicious activity reports from local communities around the U.S.  The document describes “topics of interest” identified by DHS Intelligence and Analysis (DHS/I&A) analysts as priorities for the Winter 2013 period that should be utilized by “law enforcement, first responders, and other homeland security professionals” to improve their reporting of suspicious activity.  The topics of interest include examples of suspicious activities related to each topical area.  They are also accompanied by several tracking numbers identifying the activities within DHS/I&A’s system of Standing Intelligence Needs which “form the foundation for information collection activities within the Department and provide other Intelligence Community (IC) and Homeland Security Enterprise members the ability to focus their collection, analytic, and reporting assets in support of the homeland security mission.”  These numbers are often found in DHS and fusion center bulletins indicating a reported activity’s relation to standing intelligence needs determined by DHS/I&A.  The topics are not in order of importance and DHS/I&A reminds the reader that previous topics “remain relevant” and reports should still be submitted on those issues.

  • Threats to religious or cultural facilities including “verbal ortelephonic threats of violence” or “property damage, including vandalism or arson”.
  • Suspicious activities or incidents associated with state, local, tribal, territorial, or private sector computer networks and Web sites including “denial of service (DoS) attacks against Web sites”, “web page defacement” and “suspicious e-mails that install malware on the network”.
  • Suspicious activities or incidents associated with mass gatherings, and special events including “breaches or attempted intrusions at event locations or related venues”, suspicious “inquiries about security protocols for events or VIPs” and “incidents of suspicious acquisition of explosiveprecursor materials”.
  • Suspicious activities, queries, theft, sabotage, tampering, or vandalism within the transportation sector—including mass transit, aviation, maritime, ground and surface, rail, and pipeline systems including “unusual questions about routes, capacities, peak travel time, training, and security”.
  • Efforts to artfully conceal improvised explosive devices in innocuous items, such as satchels, backpacks, suitcases, jars, bottles, cans, shoes, clothing, parcels, or toys including “unsolicited or unusual parcels delivered from unfamiliar overseas addresses noting the identification of the sender and recipient and whether the recipient has reported multiple suspicious parcels in recent weeks or months.

 

Predator drones can track cell phones and tell if a citizen is armed

Homeland Security required that this Predator drone, built by General Atomics, be capable of detecting whether a standing human at night is "armed or not."

Homeland Security required that this Predator drone, built by General Atomics, be capable of detecting whether a standing human at night is “armed or not.”

(Credit: U.S. Department of Homeland Security)

(CNET) -The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has customized its Predator drones, originally built for overseas military operations, to carry out at-home surveillance tasks that have civil libertarians worried: identifying civilians carrying guns and tracking their cell phones, government documents show.

The documents provide more details about the surveillance capabilities of the department’s unmanned Predator B drones, which are primarily used to patrol the United States’ northern and southern borders but have been pressed into service on behalf of a growing number of law enforcement agencies including the FBI, the Secret Service, the Texas Rangers, and local police.

Homeland Security’s specifications for its drones, built by San Diego-based General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, say they “shall be capable of identifying a standing human being at night as likely armed or not,” meaning carrying a shotgun or rifle. They also specify “signals interception” technology that can capture communications in the frequency ranges used by mobile phones, and “direction finding” technology that can identify the locations of mobile devices or two-way radios.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center obtained a partially redacted copy of Homeland Security’s requirements for its drone fleet through the Freedom of Information Act and published it this week. CNET unearthed an unredacted copy of the requirements that provides additional information about the aircraft’s surveillance capabilities.

Homeland Security's Predator B drone can stay aloft conducting surveillance for 20 hours.Homeland Security’s Predator B drone can stay aloft conducting surveillance for 20 hours.

(Credit: U.S. Department of Homeland Security)

Concern about domestic use of drones is growing, with federal legislation introduced last month that would establish legal safeguards, in addition to parallel efforts underway from state and local lawmakers. The Federal Aviation Administration recently said that it will “address privacy-related data collection” by drones.

The prospect of identifying armed Americans concerns Second Amendment advocates, who say that technology billed as securing the United States’ land and maritime borders should not be used domestically. Michael Kostelnik, the Homeland Security official who created the program, told Congress that the drone fleet would be available to “respond to emergency missions across the country,” and a Predator drone was dispatched to the tiny town of Lakota, N.D., to aid local police in a dispute that began with reimbursement for feeding six cows. The defendant, arrested with the help of Predator surveillance, lost a preliminary bid to dismiss the charges.

“I am very concerned that this technology will be used against law-abiding American firearms owners,” says Alan Gottlieb, founder and executive vice president of the Second Amendment Foundation. “This could violate Fourth Amendment rights as well as Second Amendment rights.”

Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection agency declined to answer questions about whether direction-finding technology is currently in use on its drone fleet. A representative provided CNET with a statement about the agency’s unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) that said signals interception capability is not currently used:

 

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is not deploying signals interception capabilities on its UAS fleet. Any potential deployment of such technology in the future would be implemented in full consideration of civil rights, civil liberties, and privacy interests and in a manner consistent with the law and long-standing law enforcement practices. 

CBP’s UAS program is a vital border security asset. Equipped with state-of-the-art sensors and day-and-night cameras, the UAS provides real-time images to frontline agents to more effectively and efficiently secure the nation’s borders. As a force multiplier, the UAS operates for extended periods of time and allows CBP to safely conduct missions over tough-to-reach terrain. The UAS also provides agents on the ground with added situational awareness to more safely resolve dangerous situations.

 

During his appearance before the House Homeland Security committee, Kostelnik, a retired Air Force major general who recently left the agency, testified that the drones’ direction-finding ability is part of a set of “DOD capabilities that are being tested or adopted by CBP to enhance UAS performance for homeland security.” CBP currently has 10 Predator drones and is considering buying up to 14 more.

If the Predator drones were used only to identify smugglers or illegal immigrants crossing the Mexican and Canadian borders, or for disaster relief, they might not be especially controversial. But their use domestically by other government agencies has become routine enough — and expensive enough — that Homeland Security’s inspector general said (PDF) last year that CBP needs to sign agreements “for reimbursement of expenses incurred fulfilling mission requests.”

“The documents clearly evidence that the Department of Homeland Security is developing drones with signals interception technology and the capability to identify people on the ground,” says Ginger McCall, director of the Open Government Project at the Electronic Privacy Information Center. “This allows for invasive surveillance, including potential communications surveillance, that could run afoul of federal privacy laws.”

A Homeland Security official, who did not want to be identified by name, said the drones are able to identify whether movement on the ground comes from a human or an animal, but that they do not perform facial recognition. The official also said that because the unarmed drones have a long anticipated life span, the department tries to plan ahead for future uses to support its border security mission, and that aerial surveillance would comply with the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and other applicable federal laws.

The documents show that CBP specified that the “tracking accuracy should be sufficient to allow target designation,” and the agency notes on its Web site that its Predator B series is capable of “targeting and weapons delivery” (the military version carries multiple 100-pound Hellfire missiles). CBP says, however, that its Predator aircraft are unarmed.

Gene Hoffman, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur who’s the chairman of the Calguns Foundation, said CBP “needs to be very careful with attempts to identify armed individuals in the border area” when aerial surveillance touches on a constitutional right.

“In the border area of California and Arizona, it may be actively dangerous for the law-abiding to not carry firearms precisely due to the illegal flow of drugs and immigrants across the border in those areas,” Hoffman says.

CBP’s specifications say that signals interception and direction-finding technology must work from 30MHz to 3GHz in the radio spectrum. That sweeps in the GSM and CDMA frequencies used by mobile phones, which are in the 300MHz to 2.7GHz range, as well as many two-way radios.

The specifications say: “The system shall provide automatic and manual DF of multiple signals simultaneously. Automatic DF should be able to separate out individual communication links.” Automated direction-finding for cell phones has become an off-the-shelf technology: one company sells a unit that its literature says is “capable of taking the bearing of every mobile phone active in a channel.”

Although CBP’s unmanned Predator aircraft are commonly called drones, they’re remotely piloted by FAA-licensed operators on the ground. They can fly for up to 20 hours and carry a payload of about 500 lbs.

Michael Moore vs Buzzfeed

BuzzFeed is once again being lambasted for its reporting — this time by the filmmaker Michael Moore — and much like the last time this happened, the viral-news website is finding few defenders from within the journalism community.

Michael Moore Lashes Out At BuzzFeed, And Few Jump To Its Defense

 

(IBITimes) -Moore went on a Twitter tirade on Tuesday afternoon after an article by Tessa Stuart, a Los Angeles-based BuzzFeed reporter, implied that he exaggerated some of the facts regarding a story about a Palestinian filmmaker being detained at Los Angeles International Airport. Moore had been tweeting about his efforts to vouch for Emad Burnat, the Oscar-nominated co-director of “5 Broken Cameras,” who said he and his family were detained for some 90 minutes at U.S. Customs and Border Protection when they arrived at LAX from Turkey.

According to Moore and Burnat’s version of the story, customs officers threatened Burnat with deportation if he could not produce documents proving that he was invited to Sunday’s Academy Awards ceremony. Burnat — who is Palestinian, and whose wife was wearing a hijab — showed the officers the invitation that was sent to all Oscar nominees, but that allegedly wasn’t good enough. According to Moore’s tweets, it was only after Moore personally intervened that the filmmaker was permitted into the country.

 

However, BuzzFeed’s article, first posted on Monday, called that version of the story into question. In it, Stuart cited an LAX source “familiar with the situation” who said that Burnat was held only for 25 minutes and released after he produced his Oscar ticket. The source claimed that Moore and Burnat were overplaying the incident for publicity.

 

 

Continuing in a series of tweets, Moore proceeded to call Stuart’s source’s version of the story an “outright lie.” The “Fahrenheit 9/11” filmmaker went on to explain that Burnat could not have shown an Oscar ticket to customs officers — as Stuart’s source claims — because physical tickets weren’t issued to any of the Oscar attendees until the Thursday before the ceremony.

“It’s that way every year,” Moore continued. “Oscar tickets are available only on Thursday through Saturday, the day before the Oscars.”

Stuart later updated her story with Moore’s tweeted version of what happened. (She had also apparently been trying via Twitter to get him to tell her his side of the story directly.) In her update, she explained that the differences in the two stories hinge upon what type of documentation Burnat was asked to produce to customs officers. Was it a ticket, an invitation or something else? She wrote that she had reached out to her source at LAX for clarification but had not yet heard back.

As of early Tuesday afternoon, Stuart’s story had still not been updated. In an email to IBTimes, Stuart said she is still reporting on the incident and that new information would be added shortly.

Meanwhile, media reporters have been running amok with the “BuzzFeed vs. Michael Moore” narrative, with many either taking Moore’s side or publishing stories that bolster his account. The Hollywood Reporter’s Jordan Zakarin quoted a representative for the filmmakers who backed up Moore’s claim. Blasting BuzzFeed, the rep told THR via email, “It’s pretty insensitive to attempt to minimize anguish of this experience for Emad and his family.”

The Atlantic Wire’s Alex Abad-Santos wrote in a blog post Tuesday morning that “Someone’s not telling the truth about what happened,” adding that, at least for now, BuzzFeed appears “to be on the losing end of this one.” Abad-Santos noted that the original subhead and first sentence of Stuart’s article referred to “sources” at LAX that have refuted Moore’s account. As it turns out, Stuart talked to only a single source, a fact that was later clarified in a correction posted at the end of Stuart’s article.

Stuart, a former reporter for LA Weekly, joined BuzzFeed in December, according to FishbowlLA — just two months after BuzzFeed announced it was opening a Los Angeles bureau. In January, the rapidly growing website announced that it had raised another $19.3 million in Series D financing led by the venture capital firm New Enterprise Associates.

But that growth has not come without its growing pains, as this latest debacle shows, and this is not the first time BuzzFeed has been called out in recent months for its reporting. In December, the website found itself in hot water after contributor Jack Stuef published a would-be expose on The Oatmeal cartoonist Matthew Inman in which Stuef characterized Inman as a Republican and, essentially, a hypocrite. However, Inman posted a lengthy rebuttal to the piece, revealing that Stuef had built his thesis partially around an online profile that, it turned out, didn’t belong to Inman. BuzzFeed’s editor, Ben Smith, later told GigaOM that he regretted the “major factual error.” Then, like this week, no shortage of media reporters jumped on the story, eager to report on BuzzFeed’s mistake.

Moore, for his part, said via Twitter that he was not looking to shame the website. “Sorry you guys had to go through this,” he tweeted just after midnight Tuesday morning. “I did not want to publicly embarrass you. I like Buzzfeed.”

[Update: 4:34 pm] Stuart posted a new article on Tuesday afternoon again countering Moore’s account of the events — in particular, his contention that Burnat was detained for 90 minutes. Citing a handwritten log maintained by federal agents at LAX, Stuart wrote that the records show that Burnat was detained for 23 minutes, confirming her source’s account of the timeline.

[Update: Feb. 27] On the Huffington Post Wednesday morning, Moore wrote what he calls his “final word” on the issue. In response to Stuart’s follow-up piece, he argues that the handwritten logs were only from one interrogation area. LAX has multiple interrogation areas, he wrote, and the 23 minutes only accounted for the secondary area, not the total time Burnat and his family were detained. Read the full piece here.

Correction: An earlier version of this article identified the editor of BuzzFeed as Ben Stein. The editor is Ben Smith (although we’re not saying Mr. Stein woudln’t make a great editor).

US sequester cuts will hit military aid to Israel and Egypt

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(Digital Journal) -As the sequester cuts on the military kick in, military aid to  Israel and Egypt may face cutbacks to help save military spending domestically.

Israel is working to protect US military aid. The $85  billion in automatic cuts that Obama approved on March 1 could involve up to  $729 million less in aid for Israel. Funding for missile-defense systems such as  the Iron Dome and Arrow are threatened.

Ambassador to the US, Michael Oren said:“The Israeli  Embassy still doesn’t know what will be the extent of the sequester. The aid to  Israel is included in the federal budget. Just as this budget is cut, so can the  aid to Israel. As the United States’ closest ally in the Middle East, Israel  understands the complex budgetary challenges the Americans face. We are ready to  carry our share of the burden, while trying to maintain the same projects that  are essential to the security of the State of Israel, among them the Iron  Dome.” Israel may try to keep funding for its missile defense system at the  expense of general military aid.

Funds for the Iron Dome shield are additional to the regular military aid to Israel. As noted  in a Washington Post article last May:The Iron Dome funds, already in  legislation before Congress, will be on top of the $3.1 billion in military aid  grants being provided to Israel in 2013 and every year thereafter through  2017.

Meanwhile, Sen. Lindsey Graham  (R-S.C.) introduced a Senate motion that says the United States should help  Israel militarily and economically if it acts against Iran in  self-defense.“We have no better friends in that part of the world than  Israel. Last year President Obama told the people of Israel, ‘We have your  back.’ Our resolution builds upon that statement and makes it clear that if  Israel is one day forced to protect themselves we will stand with Israel.”

While there will probably be some cuts  to Israeli aid, military aid to Egypt will face even higher hurdles. US  lawmakers generally favor aid to Israel but the $1.3 billion a year aid to Egypt  is coming under fire by more and more US lawmakers.The aid has included fleets  of M1A1 tanks and F16 fighter jets.

John Kerry has insisted that  disengaging with Egypt would be a mistake. He is meeting this weekend in Cairo  with Egyptian leaders. The US wants to review military aid policy to Egypt now  that they do not have an established pro-western authoritarian such as Mubarak  in power but a supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood. Already bills have been  introduced in the House and Senate to halt military aid temporarily or end them  entirely. Rep. Vern Buchanan, a Republican from Florida said:“Why are we  giving billions to Egypt, when in my mind it is not a friend of America? We’re  drowning in a sea of debt. Why are we spending so much money in a part of the  world that doesn’t like us?”

Since 1979, after the signing of the  Camp David Accords peace deal, Egypt and Israel have remained the top recipients  of US foreign aid. Those accords are very unpopular among the Egyptian populace.  Egyptian dependency on US foreign aid gives the US leverage that induces the  Egyptian government to adhere to the terms of the agreement. If  aid is  withdrawn the Egyptian government would not have as much incentive to continue  following an unpopular policy. Egypt also helped negotiate a ceasefire during  the Gaza conflict.

David S Adams, assistant secretary of state for legislative  affairs said:“Maintaining this relationship and assisting with the  professionalization and the building of the Egyptian Armed Forces’ capabilities  to secure its borders is one of our key interests in the region. Egypt continues  to play an important role in regional peace and stability.”

John MacCain the Republican senator  from Arizona takes a more moderate approach in suggesting that aid to Egypt  should be focused more on tools for counterinsurgency and counterterrorism. John  Kerry maintained that cutting off Egyptian aid would be very damaging to US policy  interests in the middle east:“Egypt is a quarter of the Arab world. It is  critical to everything we aspire to see happen in the Middle East.”

 

Alligator blood antibiotic could kill strains of E.coli, HIV

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(NECN/NBC News: Britney Glaser) – In the bayous of Southwest Louisiana and Southeast Texas, researchers have discovered a potential medicinal breakthrough … from alligators.

Alligator blood is showing to be a potent antibiotic in lab testing.

These keepers of the bayou are known for their tenacity. But behind the alligator’s piercing eyes and sharp teeth is an immune system that is as ferocious as the primitive creature.

“They’ve really put a lot of selective pressure on themselves to develop this tremendous immune system that we’ve been studying the past ten or twelve years,” said biochemistry professor Mark Merchant.

Merchant handles gators like they’re his own children. He’s been bitten and scarred, but never deterred in his quest to prove what it is that makes gators survive and thrive, even in bacteria and fungi-filled environments.

To get to the source of the immune response, Merchant and his students started by studying the alligator’s blood.

There are over 100 crocodilians just in the research space. Most of them have had their blood drawn before for this immune system study. Their blood is drawn from the neck.

In the immune system, the white blood cells are the infection fighters. For this experiment, Merchant isolated the gators’ white blood cells and extracted the active proteins.

The gator blood has shown it can kill E. coli, salmonella, strep and staph infections. It has even been shown to kill a strain of HIV.

The mission is to determine the exact structure of the potent proteins.

Do not try your own home remedy. Raw alligator blood could make you very sick.

But Merchant said he believes the alligator blood serum could be synthetically made in a pharmacological setting and on store shelves within the next 10 years.

New Poll Finds 57 Percent of Americans Think Obama’s Assassination Program Is Unconstitutional

 

Defence Images / photo on flickr

 

(Reason) -When asked if they thought it was “constitutional or unconstitutional for the president of the United States to order the killing of American citizens who are suspected of being terrorists,” 57 percent of respondents said they thought it was unconstitutional, including 65 percent of Republicans, 64 percent of independents, and 44 percent of Democrats.

Thirty-one percent of respondents said it was constitutional for the president to kill Americans suspected of being terrorists, including 40 percent of Democrats, 27 percent of Republicans, and 28 percent of independents.

As evidenced by several different questions, Americans have strong negative feelings about drones. One question asked, When it comes to the use of drones, how concerned are you that the government may abuse its power…a lot, some, not too much, or not at all? In response, 32 percent of respondents said “a lot,” 27 percent said “some,” 19 percent said “not too much,” and only 17 percent said “not at all.”

Forty percent of respondents, including 34 percent of Democrats, 36 percent of Republicans, and 47 percent of independents, said they were very worried that local police would use drones to invade their privacy; fully 60 percet said they were worried to some degree or another. Only 21 percent of respondents said they were “not at all” worried about police using drones to invade their privacy.

Respondents were evenly divided over this question: If a drone flew over your house and was recording you and your property without your permission, do you think should have the right to destroy it, or not? Forty-seven percent said yes, 47 percent said no, 4 percent didn’t answer, and one percent said, “It depends.”

What Reason-Rupe found about Americans’ sentiments towards targeted killing contradicts a recent WSJ/NBC poll, which found that “[a] solid majority, 64%, favored the U.S. policy of targeted assassinations of suspected terrorists by the use of drones in countries such as Yemen and Pakistan.”

There’s a pretty simple explanation for the conflicting responses, and you can find it in the questions. Reason-Rupe asked:

Do you think it is constitutional or unconstitutional for the president of the United States to order the killing of American citizens who are suspected of being terrorists?

While NBC/WSJ asked:

As you know, the United States has been targeting and killing suspected members of Al Qaeda and other terrorists in countries such as Pakistan, Yemen, and other countries. Many of these killings have been conducted using unmanned aircraft that are controlled remotely, also known as drones. Do you favor or oppose the use of unmanned aircraft, also known as drones, to kill suspected members of Al Qaeda and other terrorists? If you don’t know enough to have an opinion on this issue please just say so.

The NBC/WSJ poll question doesn’t distinguish between foreign-born terrorists and Americans suspected of being terrorists. That distinction, as Reason-Rupe found, matters.

Feds Say Man Deserved Arrest Because Jacket Said ‘Occupy Everything’

Everything’

 

 

(Wired) -A Florida man deserved to be arrested inside the Supreme Court building last year for wearing a jacket painted with “Occupy Everything,” and is lucky he was only apprehended on unlawful entry charges, the Department of Justice says.

The President Barack Obama administration made that assertion in a legal filing in response to a lawsuit brought by Fitzgerald Scott, who is seeking $1 million in damages for his January 2012 arrest inside the Supreme Court building. He also wants his arrest record expunged.

What’s more, the authorities said the former Marine’s claim that he was protected by the First Amendment bolsters the government’s position (.pdf) because the Supreme Court building’s public interior is a First Amendment-free zone.

Fitzgerald was not disturbing anybody, but was repeatedly told by court staff to leave the building or remove the coat. Outside the building, about a dozen “Occupy” protesters were arrested.

Inside, Fitzgerald was handcuffed and arrested for unlawful entry as he was viewing an exhibit on slavery.

Here is the District of Columbia’s ‘unlawful entry’ statute:

Any person who, without lawful authority, shall enter, or attempt to enter, any public building, or other property, or part of such building, or other property, against the will of the lawful occupant or of the person lawfully in charge thereof or his or her agent, or being therein or thereon, without lawful authority to remain therein or thereon shall refuse to quit the same on the demand of the lawful occupant, or of the person lawfully in charge thereof or his or her agent, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and on conviction thereof shall be punished by a fine of not more than $1,000, imprisonment for not more than 6 months, or both.

Prosecutors eventually dismissed the charges, and he sued. (.pdf)

To be sure, the courts have upheld convictions of those wearing inappropriate clothing inside the high court’s building — once in 2011 for individuals wearing orange shirts that said “Shut Down Guantanamo” and in 2007 for protesters wearing orange jump suits and black hoods — all in violation of the so-called “Display Clause.”

The Obama administration said Wednesday that Scott could also have been arrested and charged with violating the Display Clause, which makes it “unlawful to parade, stand, or move in processions or assemblages in the Supreme Court Building or grounds, or to display in the Building and grounds a flag, banner, or device designed or adapted to bring into public notice a party, organization, or movement.”

“It also bears noting that, while plaintiff was initially charged with violating the unlawful entry statute, his conduct also violated the Display Clause of section 6135, and he could just as easily have been charged with an independent violation of that statute as well,” the Obama administration said.

Montana Shooters to Challenge AG Holder in Court March 4th 2013

 

Firearms Freedom Act Map as of 3-1-13

Firearms Freedom Act Map as of 3-1-13

Montana Shooting Sports Association

Montana Shooting Sports Association

Missoula, MT –-(Ammoland.com)- Nearly a decade of carefully planned effort to challenge federal Commerce Clause power will see another landmark on Monday, March 4th 2013, when MSSA v. Holder has oral argument before the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Portland, Oregon.

MSSA in the case caption is the Montana Shooting Sports Association whose President, Gary Marbut, crafted the original Montana Firearms Freedom Act (MFFA) in 2004 specifically to lay the groundwork for this current litigation.

Although the MFFA was introduced in the Montana Legislature in 2005 and 2007, it didn’t take off until 2009 when the Montana Legislature passed it and Montana’s Governor Brian Schweitzer signed it into law. Soon thereafter, MFFA clones were enacted in seven other states and MFFA-clone bills were introduced in 20-something other states. See: www.FirearmsFreedomAct.com

In its Commerce Clause challenge, the MFFA declares that any firearms made and retained in Montana are simply not subject to any federal regulatory authority the states gave to Congress to “regulate commerce … among the several states …” in the Constitution.

On the day the MFFA became effective in Montana, the MSSA filed its planned lawsuit to validate the principles of the MFFA in federal court. Marbut is an individual plaintiff in this lawsuit, and the Second Amendment Foundation is an organizational plaintiff along with MSSA. MSSA v. Holder quickly gained support from many interested parties, including the Attorneys General of nine states, the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence, the Goldwater Institute, Gun Owners Foundation, Montana legislators, more recently CATO, the Pacific Legal foundation, and others.

MSSA v. Holder was dismissed by the federal district court over standing issues, which dismissal is on appeal to the Ninth Circuit. Plaintiffs do not believe a favorable ruling from the Ninth Circuit is likely, which would actually position plaintiffs better for an appeal to the US Supreme Court. Ultimately, only the Supreme Court can grant the remedy plaintiffs seek, to reverse over a half century of unfavorable Commerce Clause precedent that has shifted massive amounts of effective power from people and states to the federal government.

Normally, the Supreme Court is reluctant to reverse precedent, under the doctrine of stare decisis. However, Chief Justice Roberts recently addressed the subject of stare decisis in the Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission decision where he instructed that precedent should be ignored or revised, “… when the precedent’s underlying reasoning has become so discredited that the Court cannot keep the precedent alive without jury-rigging new and different justifications to shore up the original mistake.”

Hardly any better description may be made of the Court’s history of Commerce Clause precedent.

Once MSSA v. Holder gets to the Supreme Court, plaintiffs will have the opportunity to advance significant new arguments that have never effectively been made about federal Commerce Clause power, one of the “enumerated powers” in Article I of the U.S. Constitution. Court-allowed expansion of federal Commerce Clause power has arguably ushered in the greatest expansion of federal power over states and people since the Civil War.

As a part of the process, MSSA v. Holder plaintiffs are determined to breathe significant life back into the much ignored Ninth and Tenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, arguing that the Ninth and Tenth are not irrelevant surplus, but actually amended the underlying Constitution, including proper interpretation of the Commerce Clause. In the Supreme Court’s D.C. v. Heller decision, Justice Scalia closed with, “… it is not the role of this Court to pronounce the Second Amendment extinct.” Ditto the Ninth and Tenth Amendments.

Will these fresh arguments about the Commerce Clause prevail? That remains to be seen. However, the nation seems to be in the mood to challenge federal power on many fronts. The Supreme Court is certainly aware of these winds of change blowing across America.

Gary Marbut is a successful citizen advocate, the creator of political efforts such as the Firearms Freedom Act movement, is President of the Montana Shooting Sports Association, is a student of the Constitution, and accepted in state and federal courts as an expert in self-defense, use of force and firearms safety.

How Does the U.S. Mark Unidentified Men in Pakistan and Yemen as Drone Targets?

 

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(ProPublica) -Earlier this week, we wrote about [1] a significant but often overlooked aspect of the drone wars in Pakistan and Yemen: so-called signature strikes, in which the U.S. kills people whose identities aren’t confirmed. While President Obama and administration officials have framed [2] the drone program as targeting particular members of Al Qaeda, attacks against unknown militants reportedly may account [3] for the majority of strikes.

The government apparently calls such attacks signature strikes because the targets are identified based on intelligence “signatures” that suggest involvement in terror plots or militant activity.

 

 

So what signatures does the U.S. look for and how much evidence is needed to justify a strike?

The Obama administration has never spoken publicly about signature strikes. Instead, generally anonymous officials have offered often vague examples of signatures. The resulting fragmentary picture leaves many questions unanswered.

In Pakistan, a signature might include:

Training camps…

  • Convoys of vehicles that bear the characteristics of Qaeda or Taliban leaders on the run. – Senior American and Pakistani officials, New York Times [4], February 2008.
  • “Terrorist training camps.” – U.S. Diplomatic Cable [5] released by Wikileaks, October 2009.
  • Gatherings of militant groups or training complexes. – Current and former officials, Los Angeles Times [6], January 2010.
  • Bomb-making or fighters training for possible operations in Afghanistan…. a compound where unknown individuals were seen assembling a car bomb. – Officials, Los Angeles Times [7], May 2010.
  • Travel in or out of a known al-Qaeda compound or possession of explosives. – U.S. officials, Washington Post [8], February 2011.
  • Operating a training camp… consorting with known militants. – High-level American official, The New Yorker [9], September 2011.

A group of guys…

  • Large groups of armed men. – Senior U.S. intelligence official, Associated Press [10], March 2012.
  • Groups of armed militants traveling by truck toward the war in Afghanistan. – Administration officials, Washington Post [11], April 2012.
  • The joke was that when the C.I.A. sees “three guys doing jumping jacks,” the agency thinks it is a terrorist training camp. – Senior official, May 2012.
  • “The definition is a male between the ages of 20 and 40.” – Former Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter, Daily Beast [12], November 2012.
  • “Armed men who we see getting into pickup trucks and heading towards the Afghanistan border or who are in a training exercise.” – Former Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair, Council on Foreign Relations [13], January 2013.

Officials have characterized the intelligence that goes into these strikes as thorough, based on “days [14]” of drone surveillance and other sources — and said that [15] apparently low-level people may still be key to an organization’s functioning. In 2010, an official told the Los Angeles Times [7] that the CIA makes sure “these are people whose actions over time have made it obvious that they are a threat.”

In Yemen, signature strikes are reportedly bound by stricter rules [11]. Officials have often cited the necessity of a plot against Americans:

  • Clear indication of the presence of an al-Qaeda leader or of plotting against targets in the United States or Americans overseas. — Administration officials, Washington Post [11], April 2012.
  • “Individuals who are personally involved in trying to kill Americans… or intelligence that…[for example] a truck has been configured in order to go after our embassy in Sanaa.” — Senior administration official, Washington Post [16], January 2013

These strikes are not supposed to target “lower-level foot soldiers battling the Yemeni government,” U.S. officials told [17] the Wall Street Journal. A White House spokesman said last summer [18] that the U.S. “[has] not and will not get involved in a broader counterinsurgency effort” in Yemen.

But experts say some strikes [19] in Yemen do appear to have been aimed at local militants [20]. In Pakistan, in addition to low-level militants who might be involved in the war in Afghanistan, the U.S. has sometimes hit [21] those who posed a threat to the Pakistani government.

As we detailed [1], signature strikes have also been criticized by human rights groups and some legal observers because of the lack of transparency surrounding them, including on the number of civilians killed.