Feds Buy Two Billion Rounds of Ammunition


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(Breitbart) -Something strange is going on. Federal non-military agencies have bought two billion rounds of ammunition in the last 10 months. The Obama Administration says that federal law enforcement agents need the ammunition for “mandatory quarterly firearms qualifications and other training sessions.”

Radio show host Mark Levin is suspicious. He commented:

To provide some perspective, experts estimate that at the peak of the Iraq war American troops were firing around 5.5 million rounds per month. At that rate, the [Department of Homeland Security] is armed now for a 24-year Iraq war. A 24-year Iraq war! I’m going to tell you what I think is going on. I don’t think domestic insurrection. Law enforcement and national security agencies, they play out multiple scenarios. … I’ll tell you what I think they’re simulating: the collapse of our financial system, the collapse of our society and the potential for widespread violence, looting, killing in the streets, because that’s what happens when an economy collapses. I suspect that just in case our fiscal situation, our monetary situation, collapses, and following it the civil society collapses, that is the rule of law, they want to be prepared. I know why the government’s arming up: It’s not because there’s going to be an insurrection; it’s because our society is unraveling.

Even though the National Rifle Association says that the amount of ammunition bought isn’t excessive, considering the number of federal agents and the fact that the ammunition is used over a five-year period, there are others who question why the need for so many federal agents. Among them is Jeff Knox, director of The Firearms Coalition, who said:

It’s not the number of bullets we need to worry about but the number of feds with guns it takes to use those bullets. There are currently more than 70 different federal law enforcement agencies employing over 120,000 officers with arrest and firearms authority . . . That’s an increase of nearly 30 percent between 2004 and 2008. If the trends have continued upward at a relatively steady rate, that would put the total number of federal law enforcement officers at somewhere between 135,000 and 145,000. That’s a pretty staggering number, especially when you consider that there are only an estimated 765,000 state and local law enforcement officers. That means that about one in seven law enforcement officers in the country works directly for the federal government, not a local jurisdiction.

Democratic lawmaker suggest that rape victim women should all be disarmed and carry a whistle instead


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(Natural News) – It’s one thing for Americans who don’t believe in the Second Amendment to  refrain from carrying or owning a firearm for self-defense if they choose to do  so, but it’s a completely different thing for an anti-gun politician to push for  laws that disarm Americans and put them at risk of harm from  criminals.

That is especially true for women, who are often victimized by  much stronger, much larger men.

But that doesn’t matter to Colorado state  Rep. Joe Salazar. As far as he’s concerned, even women at risk of being raped  should not be allowed to carry a gun.

Get a whistle, not a  gun

While arguing for the disarmament of college students recently on  the floor of the state Legislature, Salazar said guns weren’t the answer for  women at risk – “call boxes” and “whistles” were better protective  choices.

“It’s why we have call boxes, it’s why we have safe zones, it’s  why we have the whistles. Because you just don’t know who you’re gonna be  shooting at. And you don’t know if you feel like you’re gonna be raped, or if  you feel like someone’s been following you around or if you feel like you’re in  trouble when you may actually not be, that you pop out that gun and you pop …  pop around at somebody.”

In Salazar’s world, absurdity obviously knows no  bounds.

To his way of thinking, potential rapists would back off if they  encountered a woman in a “safe zone.” If she were near a “call box” or had a  “whistle,” her protection would be exponentially stronger because, you know,  rapists pay attention to such things when planning their criminal  acts.

Well, I can’t rape her. She’s got a whistle.  She’s in a ‘safe zone.’ And look – she’s carrying a  whistle.

“Representative Joe Salazar (D-Colo.) isn’t a ‘boorish,  macho Latino’ as some have stated. In his zeal to ban guns, he’s shown himself  to be a Todd Akin-level fool,” writes Amy Sterling Casil at PolicyMic.com. “Akin’s 2012 comments to the effect that women  could ‘prevent pregnancy’ in the case of ‘legitimate rape’ arose from his desire  to ban abortion, no matter what the circumstance of pregnancy. The statements of  both men arose from political zeal which led them to voice opinions at odds with  common sense and human decency.”

Adds St. Louis-area talk radio host Dana  Loesch, “This is the real ‘war on women’ I’ve talked about: the progressive  insistence that women disarm. Women, according to Rep. Salazar, are hysterical  things which shoot indiscriminately at any and everything.”

Loesch goes  onto back up her assertions with hard stats:

— In the vast majority of  self-defense cases involving a firearm, the potential victim will only brandish  a weapon or fire a shot in warning;

— In less than 8 percent of such  incidents, the person bearing the firearm will even wound the  attacker;

— Over 1.9 million self-defense instances annually involve  defending oneself with a gun;

— Nearly a half-million self-defense  incidents take place away from the home;

And the one statistic that  is most pertinent to the issue of self-defense involving women, almost 10  percent of self-defense instances are women defending themselves against sexual  assault or abuse.

For real and future female victims of sexual  assault, apology should not be accepted

So, not only do one in  10 cases of self-defense each year involve women defending themselves against  sexual predators, these women do so a) without wounding or maiming innocent  people; and b) without using a “call box” and “whistle.”

Salazar has  since apologized – sort of – for his idiocy.

“I’m sorry if I offended  anyone,” he said in a statement. “That was absolutely not my intention. We were  having a public policy debate on whether or not guns makes people safer on  campus. I don’t believe they do. That was the point I was trying to  make.”

He’s wrong, of course, but when you’re an anti-gun hack apparently  any form of logic is applicable.

TSA traumatizes three-year-old girl in wheelchair


tsaagent(TSA News) -I wish I could say that this is a new low for the contemptible thugs in blue for whose equipment and “services” taxpayers pay billions of dollars every year.

Sadly, it isn’t. It’s just par for the course; another Day in Despotism here in the Land of the Meek, Home of the Afraid.

In case you couldn’t bring yourself to watch this indisputable display of abuse — this disgusting mistreatment of a little girl and her family about which her mother (Annie Schulte) and father comment “look at her all dressing like a potential terrorist/drug trafficker; people who roll in on hot pink wheelchairs, wearing a gingerbread coat and clutching a stuffed baby lamb, are just begging to be harassed” — let me itemize the violations and absurdities at hand (perhaps you can identify more; as a mother myself, I’m too upset by what I just watched to further research the laws, statutory and logical):

First, there is the obvious Fourth Amendment violation against unwarranted search and seizure. I don’t care what kind of pretzel logic the TSA twists itself into parroting in order to justify groping a three-year-old in a wheelchair who’s on her way to Disney World: it’s a violation of her Constitutional rights. Period. Full stop.

And this should not stand. Not in the country that calls itself the United States of America. Citizens and residents who accept otherwise should not only be ashamed of themselves, but should, in my opinion, be constantly, and in strenuous terms, be made aware that they’re engaging in a kind of treason against the very freedoms the nation’s founders established (and countless fought for and died to protect), and thus, by extension, debasing the idea of America itself.


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Second, travelers are indeed permitted to photograph and/or videotape the so-called “screening procedure” (more accurately, security theatre), including aggressive pat-downs that would be defined as sexual assault in any other context and nude photography of their bodies. The only subject matter exempt from passengers’ freedom-to-document are the screening machines themselves. As shown in the above video, these TSA screeners try to claim otherwise and keep harping on their imagined rule that the passengers can’t record the incident, even as the parents ask them to cite the actual law pertaining thereto.

Third, the tactics here are insensitive and unkind on their face, as well as pointless. Not only is this little girl so obviously terrified to the point of crying out loud, and desperately upset that her comfort toy — her stuffed animal — is being taken away, she is distraught that her parents’ attempts to protect her are being summarily ignored. Imagine how frightening that must be. If indeed the child “alarmed,” the screeners could have resolved the matter by allowing one of the cleared parents to carry her through the metal detector in their arms while they checked her wheelchair for hidden bombs, machetes, or fusilage-piercing grenade launchers.

What will it take for the American public to recognize how wrong this is, all of it, and demand that our so-called leaders put an end to it? Why are citizens not carrying out a full-on economic boycott of the airlines for all non-essential travel? What will it take, if not the unconstitutional persecution of a little child in a wheelchair?

“Police raided me” says leaker who tried selling next-gen Xbox dev kit


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(ArsTechnica) -Leaking information and materials regarding upcoming consoles is serious business. Just ask SuperDaE, the anonymous source whose parceling of information and attempted sale of his supposed Microsoft “Durango” development kit has purportedly earned him a visit from police and an FBI agent.

The mysteriously well-informed source posted on Twitter this morning that “police raided me,” apparently based on a warrant that cited Microsoft, eBay, and Paypal. He later followed up to say that an FBI agent and seven to eight police were involved in the raid.

We’ve been unable to independently confirm SuperDaE’s claims. The clandestine source says he was tweeting from an Apple Store and was therefore unable to post proof of the warrants that were sitting at home. While his location on Twitter is listed as North Carolina, the second attempted eBay sale of the Durango kit (Which went for over AUD$50,000) lists the location as Perth, Australia. That would raise questions about the involvement of the US FBI, but it would help explain how he was supposedly posting from an Apple Store during what was the middle of the night for the United States.

Console makers routinely place strict controls on the distribution of development kits, especially before a system’s formal announcement and release. Developers are required to sign strict nondisclosure and no-resale agreements before receiving hardware, so the thought that Microsoft would get law enforcement involved isn’t outside the realm of possibility. When Curt Schilling’s 38 Studios was liquidated recently, Microsoft publicly intervened to try to prevent the resale of its Xbox 360 development kits. Then again, SuperDaE has said that his first attempt to sell the kit on eBay was blocked by Microsoft—without the need for a police raid.

Last June, supposed documents describing the next Xbox’s features and hardware specs were taken down from the Web at the request of an IP law firm that frequently represents Microsoft.

One Pizza Place Is Giving Discounts To Customers Who Bring In Their Guns


 

pizza gun discount

 

(Biz Insider) -When Virginia Beach pizza owner Jay  Laze heard about a Utah frozen yogurt shop that gave discounts to gun carrying  customers in celebration of the Second Amendment, he didn’t think that it  seemed unsafe.

 

Rather, Laze  told local station WTKR, “I thought it was a great idea, and I was wondering  why nobody here was doing it. It should be happening all around the  country.”

And that’s how All Around Pizzas and Deli, which  boasts delivery guys who carry guns, started giving 15 percent off to people  who were carrying or flashed their permit.

Apparently, it has been effective. Laze told the AP that 80  percent of customers have brought in a gun thus far, and one went so far as  to bring in an AK-47.

 

Churning Mystery: ‘Horsemeat’ in Burger King Burgers May Actually Be Donkey Meat


 donkeymeatburgerking 265x165 Churning Mystery: Horsemeat in Burger King Burgers May Actually Be Donkey Meat
(Natural Society) -Would you rather unknowingly eat a horse or a donkey? In a truly bizarre mix-up, it turns out that the mystery meat in UK Burger King burgers, which I have pointed out is actually not the worst thing you need to worry about in their burgers, may actually be sourced from donkeys.

In case you are not up to date on this scenario, it was originally admitted by Burger King that its burgers did contain mystery meat (that at the time was identified as horsemeat) just hours after claiming that their UK burgers were pure. The exact statement confirming the horsemeat in the burgers from the Burger King rep, or what was thought to be horsemeat at this point, was:

“Four samples recently taken from the Silvercrest plant have shown the presence of very small trace levels of equine DNA… we have established that Silvercrest used a small percentage of beef imported from a non-approved supplier in Poland. This is a clear violation of our specifications, and we have terminated our relationship with them.”

As it turns out, the admission means that either Burger King has no idea what’s in it’s own food, or in a more sinister scenario does not care about what consumers think and instead is interested in securing profits without causing a stir (or lawsuits). The report originally appeared in The Guardian, which developed as the night went on.

A new report in The Independent, however, asserts that the meat may in fact be donkey meat — a prospect that I am not entirely sure is more concerning or equally as concerning. This is due to a recent law change in Romania that virtually no one would initially piece together as being responsible for mystery meat inside Burger King Whoppers. As it turns out, though, Romania recently banned a very common form of transportation which included horse-drawn carts. As a result of the ban, struggling citizens therefore sent their horses to be slaughtered for the fraudulent sale of horsemeat that has permeated the European beef market.

But what about the donkeys? Well, it turns out that they also used donkeys to pull their carts as well. According to the vice-president of the European Parliament agriculture committee Jose Bove, it has affected millions of animals — donkeys and horses alike:

“Horses have been banned from Romanian roads and millions of animals have been sent to the slaughterhouse…”

This is where it gets to be an entirely new story. Millions of animals were culled in order to produce meat, which then leaked into the beef supply, and now no one knows what some of the meats produced by some European facilities really are. French officials began to take the issue seriously as well after it started hitting the news, and French consumer minister Benoît Hamon is now going after European meat corporations. In fact, it may escalate to serious legal action if it turns out that these companies are fully aware of the horse and donkey meat that they may be selling off as beef.

Whether or not you find it disturbing that you may be eating horse or donkey in your burger, it also comes down to a matter of knowing what’s in your food. It comes as no surprise to many of us who are aware of just how mysterious fast food is as a whole, but the existence of horse or donkey meat inside Burger King burgers (and other burgers even available in supermarkets) means that consumers really don’t know what they’re putting into their mouths when they purchase these items. This, regardless of what you think about eating these animals, is of serious concern and risk.

 

FDA raid company in Florida for illegal dietary supplements


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(Digital Journal) -The FDA and U.S. marshals have raided a company in Flordia  called Globe All Wellness LLC and have seized supplies of the dietary supplement  Meridia, a weight loss drug that was withdrawn from the market in 2010.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has stated that the illegal dietary supplements from the  Florida based pharmacy were seized because some may contain a dangerous  pharmaceutical ingredient.

According to Consumer Lab, the drugs seized included SlimXtreme,  SlimXtreme Gold, SlimPlus, SlimLee, GelSlim, SlimDrops, and Colonew.

Speaking about the action, Howard  Sklamberg, director of the Office of Compliance in the FDA’s Center for Drug  Evaluation and Research, is quoted by UPI as saying: “Companies that distribute products  containing undisclosed drugs are not only breaking the law, they are putting  consumers at risk. With these kinds of hidden dangers, consumers cannot make  informed decisions about the products they are taking.”

The drug in question is Meridia, a weight loss dietary supplement. The drug is  usually in the form of the hydrochloride monohydrate salt compressed into a  tablet, and is taken as an oral anorexiant. The drug was withdrawn in 2010  because of concerns that  consumption of the pills could increase the risk of  heart attack and stroke. This was based on a study, reviewed by the FDA, which showed that the drug (under the  drug’s generic name Sibutramine) posed a significant risk of an adverse  cardiovascular event occurring in patients.

Although the FDA, along with the  European Union, banned the drug from sale, in October 2011, the FDA warned that 20 brands of dietary supplements were  tainted with sibutramine.

The news of the FDA raid follows other  concerns with dietary supplements, pills that are not subject to the same  regulations as prescription medicines. In 2012, the Digital Journal reported that a dietary supplement called  Reumofan Plus, manufactured in Mexico and sold in the USA, has been found to  contain ‘unlisted ingredients’ which are harmful to human health. Also during  2012, three different supplements manufactured in the U.S: Cataplex ACP,  Cataplex C, and Pancreatrophin PMG were withdrawn from the market due to suspected contamination  with Salmonella bacteria.

Read more:  http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/343841#ixzz2LNgyHdx7

You have been lied to by the Government, again – and here’s how you can know


You have been lied to by the Government

(Prepper Podcast Radio) -“People think that a liar gains a victory over his victim. What I’ve learned is that a lie is an act of self-abdication, because one surrenders one’s reality to the person to whom one lies, making that person one’s master, condemning oneself from then on to faking the sort of reality that person’s view requires to be faked…The man who lies to the world, is the world’s slave from then on…There are no white lies, there is only the blackest of destruction, and a white lie is the blackest of all.”

― Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

“When truth is replaced by silence,the silence is a lie.” Yevgeny Yevtushenko

As an investigator I learned early two things: How to lie well enough to get the information I wanted, and the other is never to believe what you’re told. As Ronaldus Magnus (Ronald Reagan) love to repeat, “Trust, but verify”. It is an old Russian proverb that I’m afraid many people have never learned.

Fox News recently ran a story by the Associate Press, presenting the Government’s case in the ammunition purchase. But it was poorly written and the reporter did not ask the right questions, nor did they do all their homework.

From the story:

ICE’s ammunition requests in the last year included:

  • 450 million rounds of .40-caliber duty ammunition
  • 40 million rounds of rifle ammunition a year for as many as five years, for a total bullet-buy of 200 million rounds
  • 176,000 rifle rounds on a separate contract
  • 25,000 blank rounds

This small segment highlights the poor research conducted by the AP reporter. Right off the top – The 176,000 rifle rounds were cancelled. As we reported 2 October 2012:

“Put this in the “I don’t believe it” file, but something unusual has happened. The Department of Homeland Security /Immigration Customs Enforcement (DHS/ICE) has CANCELLED their request to purchase 176,000 rounds of .308 hollow point boat tail ammunition. According to an email that was passed onto me, Harry at the Federal Service Desk stated that a notice could be cancelled for a variety of reason.”

Another glaring issue is the “450 million rounds purchased”. What are not considered are prior year purchases. The following chart provides the breakdown of three branches of DHS that purchases ammunition: Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Customs Border Protectorate (CBP), and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) over the past four years.

2009

2010

2011

2012

ICE

575,759,800

487,200

350,004,000

165,012,000

CBP

1,000

77,400

88,000

250,000,000

FLETC

69,920

20,000

154,000

63,742,350

I could present a chart, but ICE’s purchases make the others seem insignificant.  The large numbers are taking the total number of contracted purchases to the date the contract was signed. Many contracts were for 4 or 5 years. Click HERE for the Excel file.

If Mr. Obama’s administration had no ammunition at the very beginning, they certainly develop a stockpile very quickly.

Had the Associated Press reporter had done their job; they would have asked the following questions:

  1. If FLETC requires 15 million rounds a year, how did they get their required ammunition in 2009, 2010, and 2011?
  2. If FLETC borrowed ammunition from ICE, is it not possible that ammunition could be allocated to Mr. Obama’s Civilian Army Corps without public notification?
  3. If FLETC has contracted out for 63,000,000 rounds of various ammunition in 2012, why then are they purchasing 200,000 rounds of .40 caliber JHP ammunition in December 2012 and 140,000 rounds of 9 mm and 100,000 rounds of .40 caliber February 2013?
  4. If over 15 million rounds of .40 caliber JHP ammunition is required per year, why did ICE order 38 years of ammunition in 2009, and another 23 years in 2011?
  5. If over 15 million rounds of .223 EP ammunition is required per year, why did ICE order 11 years of ammunition in 2012?
  6. If over 15 million rounds of .40 caliber JHP ammunition is required per year, why did CPB order 13 years of ammunition in 2012?
  7. Does the DHS Inspector General know that the December 2012 contract may have been fraudulently awarded?
  8. If the grand total that we’ve come up with is: 1,405,455,670. That roughly translates to 1,000 people firing 1 round a second for 16 days, at what point has too much ammunition has been purchased?

Transferring assets from one Department or Agency is as easy as filling out a sheet of paper listing the departments, assets, and quantities involved. Don’t be fooled. Bureaucracy has been around since Roman times. Bureaucrats know how to manipulate paper, and how to make it disappear.

And the silence becomes the lie.

Reinstate Military Draft Bill Introduced to Include All Women


 

military draft

(Activist Post) -Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) wants all Americans to serve their government, including women. On Friday he introduced one bill that would reinstate the draft and another that would require all women to register for Selective Service as well.

Rangel introduced  The National Universal Service Act(H.R. 747) for the sixth time since first being proposed in 2003 during the Iraq war.  H.R 747 “would require 30 million people in the United States between the ages of 18 and 25 to perform two years of national service in either the armed services or in civilian life.”

Rangel also introduced the All American Selective Service Act (H.R. 748) which requires all women to enroll in the Selective Service System.  This would essentially double the number of registrants. The current law requires only men ages 18 to 25 to register, leaving approximately only 13.5 million in the registry.

“Now that women can serve in combat they should register for the Selective Service alongside their male counterparts,” said Rangel in a statement. “Reinstating the draft and requiring women to register for the Selective Service would compel the American public to have a stake in the wars we fight as a nation. We must question why and how we go to war, and who decides to send our men and women into harm’s way.”

The last time Rangel introduced the “draft” bill was in 2011 on the very same day the Obama Administration launched a preemptive war in Libya on no-fly zone orders from the U.N., without Congressional approval, and despite never having been attacked or threatened by Libya.

He admitted at the time that the Iraq war was based on lies, “on false pretenses of weapons of mass destruction and involvement in the 9/11.” Yet he still insisted more Americans should be ”sharing in duty and service.”

In one sense Rangel truly believes all Americans should serve their country in some capacity, especially because the military is stretched so thin where multiple tours of duty are resulting in increased PTSD and record suicide rates.

On the other hand, he also believes a draft would force more young Americans to question the necessity of current wars.

“I served in Korea, and understand that sometimes war is inevitable,” Rangel continued. “However military engagement should be our last resort. If we must go to war, every American should be compelled to stop and think twice about whether it is worth sending our brothers and sisters, and sons and daughters to fight. Currently less than one percent of America’s population is unfairly shouldering the burden of war.”

CNN: For the average American, all this couldn’t be happening at a worse time: Large home heating bills, smaller paychecks, looming budget cuts and skyrocketing gas prices… Gas prices rise 32 days straight, Increase 51 cents in 2 months.


$5.00 a gallon gas hits California…32 days of higher gas prices comes at tough time…

(Investment Watch) For the average American, all this couldn’t be happening at a worse time.

Most of the country’s 160 million workers are taking home less pay each week since the payroll tax cuts expired last month.

The government in 2011 had temporarily lowered the payroll tax rate for the first $113,700 of annual earnings in an effort to keep more cash in the pockets of Americans and provide a boost to the economy.
Now, workers earning the national average salary of $41,000 are receiving about $60 less on every monthly paycheck.

Smaller Payday Trims Workers’ Splurges as U.S. Tax Breaks Expire

Phoenix high school teacher Kenny Williams said he’s cutting back on his “family splurge fund” for movie and sports outings after the reinstated U.S. payroll tax lowered his first paycheck of the year by $30.

The 46-year-old single dad of two was shopping at the 99 Cent Only store in Phoenix last week to save money on groceries and partly offset the $60-a-month cut he expects in his take- home pay. Dinners out also will go, he said.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-01-14/smaller-payday-trims-workers-splurges-as-u-s-tax-breaks-expire.html

 

Increase 51 cents in 2 months

Consumers are taking another huge hit in 2013. First, the two percent Social Security tax hike began the year. Now, gas prices are soaring ever closer to $4 a gallon and have jumped 51 cents a gallon since Dec. 20.

According to the Oil Price Information Service, the national average for a gallon of unleaded was $3.21.9 on Dec. 20, 2012. Today, that price is $3.73.0. While there has been a steady increase, prices shot almost 9 cents just over the weekend.

This President’s Day also marked a full month of rising gas prices every single business day, following a very small early year drop. Gas prices began rising Jan. 18, from $3.29.3-a-gallon, and have soared since. If this increase continues, gas prices could threaten or even top the all-time high price of $4.11, set in 2008.

http://cnsnews.com/blog/julia-seymour/gas-prices-soar-51-cents-just-two-months

Up 96% under Obama…

(CNSNews.com) – The average price of a gallon of gas has increased 96 percent since President Barack Obama first took office in 2009, according to figures from the Energy Information Agency (EIA).

http://cnsnews.com/news/article/price-gallon-gas-96-under-obama

 

$5 Gas Returns To Southland

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Gas prices in Southern California rose again on Monday, leaving some drivers paying over $5.00 per gallon.

CBS2?s Amber Lee reports the average price of a gallon of gas in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area climbed for the 25th consecutive day to $4.29 – over 50 cents higher than last month, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California.

One gas station in downtown Los Angeles was offering regular unleaded at $5.19 on Monday, prompting at least one potential customer to exit his vehicle, snap of a photo of the station’s prices – and then drive off in search of cheaper gas.

http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2013/02/18/5-gas-returns-to-southland/

 

Gas Prices Surge To Highest Ever On This Day At Fastest Pace In Four Years

Despite being weeks away from the start of the driving season proper, gas prices – at the pump – have been surging recently. With premium now over $4 nationwide (over $5 in SoCal – up 25 days in a row), this is the most expensive gas has ever been for the second week in February despite gasoline being relatively well supplied.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-02-18/gas-prices-surge-highest-ever-day-fastest-pace-four-years

 

Why 8% Unemployment, Or More, Could Lie Ahead

 

Severe fiscal tightening in the U.S. will lead to no growth or a contraction in the first two quarters of 2013 and will push unemployment over 8 percent, according to Lombard Street Research.

Israeli Sniper Posts Photo of Child in Crosshairs


ht israeli soldier instagram lpl 130218 wblog Israeli Sniper Posts Photo of Child in Crosshairs
An Instagram photograph of what appears to be a rifle sight targeted on a Palestinian boy by Israeli soldier, Mor Ostrovski, has prompted a military investigation.

(ABCNEWS) A photo posted online by an Israeli soldier showing a child in the crosshairs of a rifle scope has created a firestorm on the internet, drawing widespread criticism.

The photo was reportedly posted on Jan. 25 by Mor Ostrovski, 20, a member of an Israeli sniper unit. It shows crosshairs zeroed in on the back of the head of what appears to be a Palestinian boy in a village. The photo has since been taken down and Ostrovski’s account has been deactivated.

“There are no other images to suggest that the photographer actually fired at the person in the image in this case,” wrote Palestinian activist Ali Abuminah who runs the site Electronic Intifada and drew much of the attention to the photo. “The image is simply tasteless and dehumanizing. It embodies the idea that Palestinian children are targets.”

Before the account was taken down, Abuminah posted other photos from Ostrovski’s account that showed him in his olive green uniform holding a variety of weapons, including a sniper rifle.

Eytan Buchman, a  spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces, told ABC News that Ostrovski told his commander on Saturday that he had not taken the photo himself but that he’d taken it off the internet. No disciplinary action will be taken.

“The picture in question does not coincide with IDF’s values or code of ethics,” the spokesman added in an e-mailed statement.

The uproar over the photo follows another posted by an Israeli infantryman on Facebook around a week ago. In it, he mocked the four Palestinian prisoners he was guarding by posing bound and blindfolded next to them. He was sentenced to 14 days detention after the brigade’s commanders discovered the photo and ordered it taken down.

“Before the investigation began, it was discovered that the soldier was already judged by his commanders,”  Buchman said in a statement. “Since the documented offense isn’t criminal and since the legal procedure conducted by the soldier’s commanding officer was found appropriate, a disciplinary action was decided to be sufficient.”

The IDF is active on social networking, disseminating statements on Twitter and Facebook and photos on Flickr and Instagram. But individual soldiers using social media have a history of getting the Israeli military into trouble.

In November, the head of the IDF spokesperson’s social media unit landed in hot water after he posted a photo on Facebook with mud on his face, captioned “Obama style.” In 2010, a reservist named Eden Abergil sparked outrage after posting pictures with blindfolded Palestinian prisoners. She told Israeli Army radio she didn’t understood what she did wrong, but the IDF called the photos “shameful behavior.”

DHS Use Police Depts to Gather Intel on Citizens & Label Them Extremist Threats


(From the Trenches) According to the White House Blog website, the Obama administration is working to “counter online radicalization” by “violent extremist groups” such as “al-Qaeda and its affiliates and adherents, violent supremacist groups, and violent ‘sovereign citizens’.”

The White House claims that “these groups use the Internet to disseminate propaganda, identify and groom potential recruits, and supplement their real-world recruitment” with “resources to propagate messages of violence and division.” Through the exploitation of “popular media, music videos and online video games”, allegedly there are “countless opportunities “to draw targets into private exchanges” and provide “violent extremists with access to new audiences and instruments for radicalization.”

The US government stated they will combat these extremist groups by “raising awareness about the threat and providing communities with practical information and tools for staying safe online.” They are solidifying their relationships with private sector corporations involved in technology to implement “policies, technologies, and tools that can help counter violent extremism online.”

The 2011 document entitled “Empowering Local Partners to Prevent Violent Extremism in the United States” outlines how a “comprehensive strategy” to counter the influence of al-Qaeda is being championed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with digital information sharing and coordinating intelligence with local law enforcement to thwart terrorist plots and “save many American lives”.

Using propaganda, under the guise of “local partners in their grassroots efforts to prevent violent extremism” the federal government is building a network with local law enforcement against the threat of radicalization online and in the real-world.

The document names plots devised by neo-Nazis, anti-Semitic hate groups, racial supremacists, international and domestic terrorists inspired by al-Qaeda as a threat to the US. The federal government is utilizing local police departments to build a “local level . . . resilience against violent extremism.”

DHS trains local police officers at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides funding to local police departments to send their officers to FLETC to receive militarized education in tactical operations.

FLETC has locations in Georgia, New Mexico, South Carolina, andWashington DC. This federal militarization of local police extends tointernational policing agencies which “develops, coordinates, manages, and delivers international training and technical assistance that promotes the rule of law and supports U.S. foreign policy.”

Another report the White House is using to justify the demonization of US citizens as radical extremists is entitled “Strategic Implementation Plan for Empowering Local Partners to Prevent Violent Extremism in the United States”. This report, published in December of 2011, further reinforces the role of local police departments to ‘address community needs and concerns, including protecting rights and public safety.”

The federal government acquires platforms to infiltrate communities they have identified as potentially under threat of violent extremist groups. Across the nation, senior officials are deployed with the assistance of fake grassroots propaganda to partner with “Governor-appointed Homeland Security Advisors, Major Cities Chiefs, Mayors’ Offices, and local partners.”

Training of local police department officers to paramilitarize and integrate them into military tactical operations is the key to combating localized extremism.
Over the last few years the DHS have been indoctrinating local police departments into “non-Federal law enforcement agencies” as outlined in the DHS directive from the Office for State and Local Law Enforcement (SLLE).

DHS is successful in their relationship with local police departments all across the nation because they are contracted private security firms (or hired armed guards) that are placed in a city or town to secure the population and generate revenue for the local government.

In early 2012, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a reportentitled “Homeland Security and Intelligence: Next Steps in Evolving the Mission” which outlined in part on how to redirect efforts of the federal government from international terrorism toward home-grown terrorists and build a DHS-controlled police force agency that would control all cities and towns through the use of local police departments.

DHS maintains that “the threat grows more localized” which necessitates the militarization of local police in major cities in the US and the training of staff from local agencies to make sure that oversight is restricted to the federal government.

Countering online extremism is a task allocated to the DHS who have identified “behaviors, tactics, and other indicators that could point to potential terrorist activity.” DHS will host conferences for local police departments and federal partners to attend that will provide education on countering extremism.

Other “training initiatives” include “hundreds of thousands of front line officers” who are the ground-force infantry needed by DHS to “prevent” extremist activities.

The “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign is specifically designed to target local communities to turn ordinary citizens into a Stasi for the federal government with the local police department allocated as their first line of intelligence gathering.

Intelligence on citizens who are supposed to be extremists is gathered from multiple avenues such as:

• Local government
• Local law enforcement
• Parent/Teacher Associations
• School district officials
• Influential members of local communities
• Religious leaders

These collaborations provide “critical information” and real-time “assessments of [any] threat” to local communities and incorporate this information into training programs and federal initiatives.

Heartless thieves steal $3,000 raised to pay for dying baby’s life-saving heart transplant on Valentine’s Day


Four months ago, 9-month-old Jaelyn Anderson was diagnosed with Myocarditis.
You would never know by looking at her that she has an infection in her heart. Her priceless smiles and grins are enough to steal yours away.
Now she’s waiting on a heart transplant in the Intensive Care Unit at All Children’s Hospital. Jaelyn’s parents tell  this journey hasn’t been easy, but when they see her big smile, their lives are a little easier.
“She makes you laugh. She’s my wild child to put it that way,” Jaeyln’s mother Brooke said. “She brings joy to everybody. She’s so sick and she acts like nothing is wrong with her. I am amazed.”
“The only thing that keeps you going is her smile,” Josh Anderson said.
Donations have been coming in from far and wide for Jaelyn’s medical care. But on Valentine’s Day, thieves stole part of that life-saving help.
Jaeyln’s grandfather works for JetBlue and the company helped raise $3,000, but according to investigators, crooks stole that money from his truck in Orlando.
“They stopped and ate at a restaurant and locked the truck up. And went back out and everything was stolen,” Josh Anderson said. “Their luggage and the money and everything in the truck. It was pretty devastating. We were in shock. Like are you serious? Who could do that.”
But the family isn’t letting this stop them because they have something more important to focus on right now. Its now a waiting game as to when Jaelyn will receive a heart.
“It could be tomorrow she gets the heart or a year from now,” Anderson said.
The family is now hoping the thieves get a heart and return the money. They say all the donations go a very long way.
To help Jaelyn, visit her donations Facebook page.

Study Shows Black Men Receive 20% Longer Prison Terms Than White Men For Committing The Same Crime


(Refreshing News) Prison sentences of black men were nearly 20% longer than those of white men for similar crimes in recent years, an analysis by the U.S. Sentencing Commission found.

That racial gap has widened since the Supreme Court restored judicial discretion in sentencing in 2005, according to the Sentencing Commission’s findings, which were submitted to Congress last month and released publicly this week.

In its report, the commission recommended that federal judges give sentencing guidelines more weight, and that appeals courts more closely scrutinize sentences that fall beyond them.

The commission, which is part of the judicial branch, was careful to avoid the implication of racism among federal judges, acknowledging that they “make sentencing decisions based on many legitimate considerations that are not or cannot be measured.”

Still, the findings drew criticism from advocacy groups and researchers, who said the commission’s focus on the very end of the criminal-justice process ignored possible bias at earlier stages, such as when a person is arrested and charged, or enters into a plea deal with prosecutors.

“They’ve only got data on this final slice of the process, but they are still missing crucial parts of the criminal-justice process,” said Sonja Starr, a law professor at the University of Michigan, who has analyzed sentencing and arrest data and found no marked increase in racial disparity since 2005.

Douglas A. Berman, a law professor at the Ohio State University who studies sentencing, said, “It’s not surprising that the commission that’s in charge of both monitoring and amending the guidelines has a general affinity for the guidelines.”

The Sentencing Commission didn’t return requests for comment.

The Supreme Court, in the 2005 case U.S. v. Booker, struck down a 1984 law that required federal district judges to impose a sentence within the range of the federal sentencing guidelines, which are set by the commission.

The law was meant to alleviate the disparity in federal sentences, but critics say placing restrictions on judges can exacerbate the problem by rendering them powerless to deviate from guidelines and laws that are inherently biased. An often-cited example is a federal law that created steeper penalties for crack-cocaine offenses, which are committed by blacks more frequently than whites, than for powder-cocaine offenses.

Congress reduced the disparity in 2010.

In the two years after the Booker ruling, sentences of blacks were on average 15.2% longer than the sentences of similarly situated whites, according to the Sentencing Commission report. Between December 2007 and September 2011, the most recent period covered in the report, sentences of black males were 19.5% longer than those for whites. The analysis also found that black males were 25% less likely than whites in the same period to receive a sentence below the guidelines’ range.

The Sentencing Commission released a similar report in 2010. Researchers criticized its analysis for including sentences of probation, which they argued amplified the demographic differences.

In the new study, the Sentencing Commission conducted a separate analysis that excluded sentences of probation. It yielded the same pattern, but the racial disparity was less pronounced. Sentences of black males were 14.5% longer than whites, rather than nearly 20%.

Jeff Ulmer, a sociology professor at Pennsylvania State University, described the commission’s latest report as an improvement but said it was “a long way from proving that [judicial discretion] has caused greater black-white federal sentencing disparity.”

Obama’s Guantanamo Is Never Going To Close, So Everyone Might As Well Get Comfortable


(Huffington Post) In late January, shortly after President Barack Obama began his second term, Navy Cmdr. Walter Ruiz stood inside an old airplane hangar on the southernmost tip of the island and reflected on a central but unfulfilled promise of Obama’s 2008 campaign.

“We’re still here,” Ruiz said, as reporters milled around the aging hangar, which has been repurposed as a work space for the journalists and human rights observers who have been flying in and out of Guantanamo since the first suspected terrorists were brought here 11 years ago. Instead of planes, the hangar is now home to several trailer-size sheds with slanted roofs. More offices line the hangar’s perimeter, and a giant map of the base is painted on the floor. Screeching bats fly in and out of the hangar at night.

“We’re still in military commissions. We’re still arguing about the basic protections the system affords us. We’re still talking about indefinite detention,” Ruiz continued. “We’re still talking about not closing the facility.”

After years of legal wrangling, the trials of Khalid Sheikh Muhammad and four other men allegedly responsible for the 9/11 attacks have barely gotten off the ground. Ruiz, an attorney for alleged 9/11 organizer and financier Mustafa Ahmed Hawsawi, estimates he has traveled to Guantanamo 50 to 100 times for client meetings and pre-trial hearings on legal minutiae since he joined the military’s defense counsel office in September 2008.

“I’m here trying this case, people were here trying this case in 2008, arguing many of the same motions we’re arguing now,” Ruiz said. “And I think folks that have been around here for a while would tell you not much has changed at all.”

During his first campaign for the White House, Obama pledged to end an ugly chapter in American history and prove to the world that the United States could safeguard the country from terrorism without sacrificing its commitment to freedom and liberty.

“In the dark halls of Abu Ghraib and the detention cells of Guantanamo, we have compromised our most precious values,” Obama declared in a speech on Aug. 1, 2007. In one of his first acts upon taking office in January 2009, the president, flanked by admirals and generals, directed the military to close the prison camp here within a year.

Today, however, the detention center at Guantanamo appears less likely than ever to close. There are 166 people currently imprisoned, down from a high of 684 in 2003. But those who remain are likely to do so indefinitely. Effectively banned from the continental U.S. by Congress, disowned by their home countries and unwelcome pretty much everywhere else, they have no place to go.

In addition to the seven Guantanamo detainees currently facing charges — including the five charged in relation to the 9/11 attacks — 24 may face charges in the future. Three current detainees have already been convicted in military tribunals: one was sentenced to life in prison, one is scheduled to be released pending testimony in another case and one has had his sentencing delayed for four years.

Of the rest, however, the U.S. has designated 86 detainees for release but can’t actually set them free. Thirty are from Yemen, and the U.S. won’t send them back there while it remains a hotbed of terrorism. No country is willing to accept the others. And it’s a political nonstarter to release them into the U.S.

In 2010, Obama’s Guantanamo Task Force determined that another 46 were “too dangerous to transfer but not feasible for prosecution.” And so they remain stuck here, in limbo.

Obama has periodically reiterated his intention to close the detention center, most recently during an appearance on “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart in October. But the public pressure on him to do so has largely died down, as tales of detainee abuse at the hands of CIA interrogators fade into the past and the media turns its attention to new fronts in the war on terrorism, such as the administration’s drone program.

The truth is that nobody is really in a hurry to close Guantanamo. Defense attorneys, whose ultimate goal is to keep their clients alive, certainly aren’t in a rush, and have adopted a strategy of throwing up procedural objections that often slow the court’s already glacial pace. Prosecutors, anxious to avoid any possible legal challenges that could come up on appeal, are moving deliberately to make sure they’re dotting every “i” and crossing every “t.” Last month, the Obama administration shuttered the State Department office tasked with planning Guantanamo’s closure.

As a result, the vague idea of indefinite detention is looking more specifically like life in prison, at least for those detainees who are not sentenced to death by the military commissions. And with the youngest detainee still in his 20s, Guantanamo could conceivably remain open for decades to come.

‘HAVE A GOOD TIME’

It’s no surprise, then, that as Obama’s second term begins, Guantanamo seems to be putting down roots. Indeed, parts of the naval base have taken on the appearance of a new beachside housing development. Hundreds of homes are currently under construction in neighborhoods with names like Iguana Terrace and Marina Point, to house the growing population of military personnel, civilian contractors and their families, which currently stands at approximately 5,000.

The base features a Starbucks, a Subway, a McDonald’s, a KFC/Taco Bell, a supermarket, a golf course, a restaurant serving Jamaican jerk chicken and an Irish pub. A gift shop sells stuffed iguanas and T-shirts emblazoned with Guantanamo Bay slogans like “Close, But No Cigar.”

Fidel Castro bobbleheads are one of the most popular items for sale at the base’s radio station, Radio GTMO, which broadcasts popular tunes like PSY’s “Gangnam Style”. Cuban music bleeds over from stations on the other side of the island.

Improvements have also been made to the areas of the base that house the detainees. The Bush administration quickly replaced the temporary Camp X-Ray with more permanent facilities in 2002, after photos emerged of detainees in orange jumpsuits sitting in chain-link holding pens, causing an outcry from human rights groups and criticism from around the world. In 2011, the Obama administration added a new soccer field for some of the cooperative detainees, along with covered walkways that allow them to move between cellblocks unescorted.

The joke around Gitmo is that the detainees enjoy nicer facilities than the guards, who live in temporary metal trailers scattered all over the base. But the guards, too, may soon get an upgrade. The commander of the base, Capt. John Nettleton, recently told Reuters that he wants to build a new cafeteria for the camp’s personnel, along with a permanent barracks.

Some of the most significant changes have taken place at Camp Justice, the section of the base that houses the court facilities and the tent city for visiting lawyers, human rights observers, journalists and court officials. The Bush administration had proposed a major $125 million expansion, including a new courthouse and a hotel to replace the tent city. Congress balked at the project, however, and then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates quickly condemned it. The $12 million substitute, technically a temporary facility, was completed in 2008.

The windowless, barn-like structure looks like something that might hold a high-school basketball court, and is surrounded by layers of barbed-wire fences. Inside, however, it is state of the art, featuring a soundproof spectator gallery, digital document displays for lawyers and audio speakers under the table that broadcast Arabic translations of the proceedings for defendants who refuse to wear headphones. Whereas the old courthouse held a single, cramped courtroom, the new facility has space to try up to five defendants at once.

Visiting defense attorneys now stay in new townhouse condos, but journalists and observers remain relegated to Camp Justice’s tent city. In the airplane hangar, there is an “internet cafe” where human rights observers have set up an office. “We now have a printer this time, which we’ve been asking for for a while,” said Laura Pitter, a counterterrorism adviser with Human Rights Watch. “We have a working phone in there now. We didn’t have a working phone last time.”

In addition to his official portrait, visible in a few locations around the base, there are other subtle reminders that Obama is now in charge. The tents at Camp Justice are outfitted with energy-efficient light bulbs. The cover of “The Wire” — the newsletter of Joint Task Force Guantanamo, the entity which runs GTMO’s prisons — features a photo of Obama’s ceremonial swearing in at his second inauguration. A military spokesman who travels with reporters to Guantanamo is married to another man.

There have been victories for members of the media. New divider walls give journalists a bit more privacy in their heavily air-conditioned six-person tents. Reporters are now allowed to roam around parts of the base without an escort and no longer have a curfew — privileges that journalists embedded with the military in Iraq and Afghanistan have enjoyed for years but were absent at Guantanamo until last month. In January, visiting journalists were given a tour of one of the holding cells located next to the courtroom facility for the first time in years.

“Have a good time,” a young guard told the reporters about to tour the cell, after scanning them for metal or electronic devices.

Unlike the Bush administration, the Obama administration has been relatively hands off when it comes to media restrictions at Guantanamo, letting officials on the ground set the rules.

Still, it was under Obama that four reporters, including Miami Herald reporter Carol Rosenberg, widely considered the dean of the Guantanamo press corps, were banned from Guantanamo for life in May 2010 for disclosing the name of a witness whose identity is under a protective order, despite the fact that his name was already public. The reporters fought the ban, and the Pentagon overturned it that July.

The new courthouse, in many ways, is the end result of a long debate about how to try the detainees. The Bush administration — which housed the suspected terrorists at Guantanamo in order to avoid the due process required under the U.S. criminal justice system, as well as the Geneva conventions’ prohibitions on torture — adamantly opposed the idea of trying them in U.S. courts. The Supreme Court has ruled, however, that foreign terrorism suspects do have the right to challenge their detention in U.S. courts.

Obama shut down the military tribunals as soon as he took office and began exploring ways to transfer the suspected terrorists to American soil — possibly to a prison in Illinois — and try them in federal courts. Throughout the long, hot summer of 2009, however, as the Tea Party movement blossomed, Republicans charged that closing Guantanamo would put Americans in danger, potentially even leading to terrorist prison breaks. Senate Democrats, lead by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), also opposed transfering the detainees and cut off $80 million Obama had requested to do so, claiming the administration had done too little to outline its plans.

Andy Worthington, a journalist and activist who has been writing about the camp for seven years, said that Congress, which has repeatedly prevented Obama from using federal money to transfer any detainees out of Guantanamo, shares some of the blame for the camp’s continued existence. Reid, who recently claimed it was “nobody’s fault” that Guantanamo had not been closed, is “part of the absolute failure,” Worthington said.

Reid did not respond to a request for comment.

At Guantanamo, some members of the military are quick to point out that the Pentagon didn’t seek out the duty of trying terrorists in the tribunal system, but that it was rather a burden imposed on the military by Congress. “They should really call them congressional commissions instead of military commissions,” one officer joked.

But ultimately, Worthington said, Obama will have his name attached to the camp, just as Bush’s was.

“He will go down in history fairly clearly as the man who failed to close this abomination,” Worthington said. “They will judge that President Obama failed to close it pretty much because he ran up against political difficulties.”

“I think that Obama did not want to invest the political capital in it to take the steps necessary to make it happen,” Pitter said.

THE ‘RE-BRANDER’

Unable to close Guantanamo, Obama restarted the military commissions in March 2011. He did succeed, however, in reforming them to a certain extent, increasing transparency and bringing their policies and handling of evidence closer in line with U.S. courts. But the legality of the commissions is still being debated, and the detainees may appeal any verdicts in federal court, setting up a prolonged battle that will likely wind its way back to the Supreme Court.

For now, Brig. Gen. Mark S. Martins is the man with the difficult task of selling the world on the legitimacy of the proceedings. Martins took the job of chief prosecutor in October 2011, and he is a staunch defender of trying the detainees in military commissions as opposed to federal courts.

“There are narrow but important differences, and this often gets lost when I talk about federal courts, because someone will say, ‘Hey, he should try to just mimic federal courts, why do you need [military commissions]?'” Martins said, sitting in a bare-bones office in the old court building at the top of the hill overlooking the new courthouse. “This just fuels the argument about how, why are they necessary? The differences are important.”

Miranda rights don’t apply in military commissions — statements just need to be determined to be voluntary in order to be included as evidence. There are also looser rules on hearsay statements. Martins said the distinctions between U.S. courts and the military commissions could be “decisive in certain cases.”

The reformed military commissions are designed to address some of the concerns of both the U.S. government and human rights advocates. Any statements obtained as a result of torture or cruel or degrading treatment are prohibited. Detainees have greater access to classified information that might be relevant to building their defense cases. Journalists have increased standing before the court.

“Anyone who was familiar with the process before and looks at it now, I think, is looking fairly at it, would say there’s a significant proportion more of this proceeding that we can look at, understand, analyze,” Martins said.

Demonstrating that transparency has proven difficult at times, however. Last month, in the first day of hearings in the 9/11 case, an anonymous censor cut off the closed-circuit TV feed of the proceedings that members of the media were watching. Normally, the judge and the court security officer could censor information they feel should remain classified. But neither had moved to censor the information in this instance, leaving journalists and defense lawyers to infer that the CIA was secretly pulling the strings behind the scenes and undermining the commission’s established rules.

The judge ordered the outside censor button removed, but the controversy ate up most of the week’s proceedings, even bleeding into a separate hearing involving a defendant charged in connection with the attack on the USS Cole in October 2000, as defense attorneys questioned whether they could ethically continue if they believed their communications were being monitored. Two weeks later, when the hearings reconvened, lawyers were still debating issues involving the monitoring of communications that the incident raised.

Similarly, Martins has sought to dismiss charges against a number of detainees that he feels are not sustainable under international law, only to be overruled by the more senior Pentagon officials who oversee the military commissions.

Martins told HuffPost that, to him, the dispute over the charges is about “principled disagreements” between government officials carrying out their duties “honorably and faithfully under the law.” Critics, however, say it shows that the reforms to the commissions system are just cosmetic changes to a fundamentally flawed tribunal process.

“Some people call him the ‘re-brander.’ He was going to come in here, he was going to lend his name, his rank, his stature, and legitimize this process,” Ruiz said of Martins. “Now you have that person talking to another official and telling him, ‘I think this is a bad idea. I think we need to remove these charges because it will remove the legal uncertainty moving forward.’ And you have this non-entity — which is not a party, not a prosecutor, not a defense counsel, he’s not a judge — who says, ‘No, I’m not going to do it.'”

“That alone is remarkable,” said Ruiz.

“What happens when he’s not here?” asked Human Rights Watch’s Pitter, who similarly praised Martins for bringing the military commission procedures closer in line with those of federal courts. “What happens when there’s a prosecutor who is going to use all the rules at his disposal for a commission like this?”

Martins, who is 52 and has deferred promotion and retirement to continue in his role as chief prosecutor at Guantanamo, said he’s in it for the long haul. “We’re making progress,” he insisted.

“I’m here as long as it takes,” Martins said. “This is my last job in the military. I’ve gotten word that although my retirement date would have been November of 2014, it can actually be years, well after that. I’m committed to this.”

Obama reaches out to a repressive Putin


(Washington Post) PRESIDENT OBAMA is preparing to reach out once again to Russian ruler Vladi­mir Putinin the hope of striking a new agreement to reduce nuclear arms. The president mentioned the initiative in his State of the Union address; according to a senior Russian legislator, national security adviser Thomas Donilon will soon travel to Moscow with a letter outlining Mr. Obama’s ideas. The reduction of nuclear stockpiles is a top priority of this president and a worthy one. But what’s striking about Mr. Obama’s strategy is its seeming detachment from the reality of how Mr. Putin has governed Russia since his return to the presidency last year.

Mr. Obama’s first nuclear-arms agreement with Mr. Putin, in 2010, came about in the context of a warming of U.S.-Russian relations. The new proposal will hit Moscow in the middle of a Putin-directed campaign against both his domestic political opposition and the United States, which in his mind are linked. In recent months Mr. Putin has expelled the U.S. Agency for International Development, placed new restrictions on local nonprofit organizations receiving foreign funds, bumped U.S.-funded Radio Liberty from domestic airwaves and overseen a propaganda campaign that accuses the United States of orchestrating anti-government demonstrations.

Editorials represent the views of The Washington Post as an institution, as determined through debate among members of the editorial board. News reporters and editors never contribute to editorial board discussions, and editorial board members don’t have any role in news coverage.

The regime, meanwhile, has steadily escalated a campaign against the leaders of the peaceful, pro-democracy demonstrations that erupted in Russia in late 2011. For Russians, the cynical tactics are bone-wearyingly familiar: Transparently trumped-up criminal cases are being brought against the activists, with the promise of lengthy prison terms. Alexei Navalny, the founder of an anti-corruption organization, has himself been charged with corruption. Last week leftist firebrand Sergei Udaltsov was placed under house arrest ahead of his upcoming trial on charges of organizing an anti-Putin rally in May.
Some Russian analysts believe that the regime is well on its way to crushing the opposition movement, which attracted the support of much of the urban middle class. Others regard the repression as the death spasms of an exhausted autocracy. “There are classical criteria of a dying regime and its key signs are evident in Russia,” Lilia Shevtsova of the Carnegie Endowment’s Moscow office wrote recently, citing “the Kremlin’s inability either to preserve the status quo or begin changes.” Either side might be right, though our bet is with Ms. Shevtsova.

What’s strange is that the Obama administration would seek to undertake a major new piece of business with Mr. Putin without regard for this ugly climate. New U.S.-Russian nuclear warhead reductions, while welcome, are hardly urgent: The big challenges of nuclear weapons lie elsewhere in the world. At the same time, the survival of a pro-democracy movement in Russia is an important and pressing U.S. interest, just as Mr. Putin’s growing hostility to the United States threatens U.S. initiatives in the Middle East and elsewhere. Maybe offering Mr. Putin a new nuclear weapons deal is the best way to counter his noxious policies — but it is hard to see how.

You Think Jobs Are Scarce Now, Raise the Minimum Wage and Watch What Happens


dees economic collapse

 

(Activist Post) -President Obama proposed raising the national minimum wage to $9/hour during his State of the Union address drawing cheers from the left.

Unfortunately they have little understanding of economics. Forced minimum wages will destroy or offshore many more jobs in America.

The left doesn’t seem to understand that the state can’t raise the standard of living for a populace through wage legislation. Additionally, raising the minimum wage doesn’t address the root of the problem of why the standard of living is declining in the first place.

Those who genuinely care about social justice look for someone to blame for the declining standard of living; greedy business men, illegal immigrants for driving down wages, politicians who refuse oppose minimum wage laws and so on. None of these are the real enemy.

As G. Edward Griffin wrote in The Creature From Jekyll Island;

“The American people have no idea they are paying the bill. They know that someone is stealing their hubcaps, but they think it is the greedy businessman who raises prices or the selfish laborer who demands higher wages or the unworthy farmer who demands too much for his crop or the wealthy foreigner who bids up our prices. They do not realize that these groups also are victimized by a monetary system which is constantly being eroded in value by and through the Federal Reserve System.” (pg. 33).

Our fractional reserve fiat  monetary system has inflation built into it, causing higher prices for all goods and services. When wages aren’t increased to match the higher cost of living, workers feel the pinch and demand that lawmakers do something.

However, the answer to social justice isn’t raising wages through legislation, because that will in turn just raise the cost of living even more because businesses will have to pass those costs on to customers. Not because they’re greedy, but because they have to survive.

For those who really want social justice, the solution is addressing a blood-sucking monetary system and restore sound money. Until then, all actions will be counterproductive to their good intentions.

 

Report: FreedomWorks video featured a ‘panda’ performing oral sex on ‘Hillary Clinton’


 

Screen grab from "KINKY TEEN WANTS A PANDA FOR HER BIRTHDAY" video

(Raw Story) -The controversial conservative super PAC FreedomWorks created a promotional video that depicted former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton having oral sex with a woman in a giant panda suit, according to a report published on Thursday.

Former FreedomWorks officials told Mother Jones‘ David Corn that an internal investigation was focusing on the group’s president, Matt Kibbe, and a possible area of inquiry was the video in question.

“The video included a scene in which a female intern wearing a panda suit simulates performing oral sex on Hillary Clinton,” Corn reported, noting that the film had been created to play on large screens the FreePAC conference in July 2012.

Sources told Corn that the premise of the video was a dream sequence, where Executive Vice President Adam Brandon voyeuristically observes “a giant panda on its knees with its head in the lap of a seated Hillary Clinton and apparently fellating the then-secretary of state.”

FreedomWorks tasked two female interns with the roles of Hillary Clinton and the giant panda. The panda suit was an “inside joke” used at rallies to mock Democrats for pandering to special interests.

“Yes, this video was created,” a FreedomWorks staffer confirmed to Mother Jones.

Another group official recalled that his “mouth was wide open” when the film was first screened to staff: “What the hell is this?”

“How was that not some form of sexual harassment?” a FreedomWorks officials said of the two female interns who had been coerced into performing simulated sex acts. “And there were going to be thousands of Christian conservatives at this thing. This was a terrible lack of judgment.”

The group’s former chairman, Dick Armey, insisted that he only learned of the film months after the decision had been made not to show it at the group’s conference.

“There was a concern that this kind of behavior could land you in court,” Armey said. “I was shocked at the ugly and bad taste.”

 

Police Claim Dorner Cabin Fire Was Not Intentional


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(Infowars) -The San Bernardino Sheriff’s office is ludicrously claiming that the cabin fire which killed Christopher Dorner was not started intentionally, despite numerous references to a plan to “burn down” the building that were heard on police scanners during the standoff.

“It was not on purpose. We didn’t intentionally burn down that cabin to get Mr Dorner out,” San Bernardino sheriff’s department spokesman John McMahon told reporters last night.

The part of the press conference where police took questions lasted little longer than five minutes and officials seemed reluctant to give any details, with one question at the end about whether or not police offered Dorner a chance to surrender being ignored.

Police denied intentionally setting fire to the cabin despite an L.A. Times report yesterday which confirmed that after first having used “traditional” tear gas, law enforcement then lobbed CS gas canisters into the cabin, which are “incendiary” and “have significantly more chance of starting a fire.”

McMahon admitted that the second round of CS gas was “pyrotechnic” and that it “does generate a lot of heat,” but claimed that the police scanner audio simply made reference to “burners,” which was just another name for tear gas

In reality, audio recorded from online police scanners, before they were disabled, contains innumerable examples of police discussing a plan to intentionally “burn down” the cabin before the CS gas was thrown in.

Shortly after the first shootout with Dorner, local news channel KCAL broadcast audio during which police are heard saying, “Fucking burn this motherfucker,” and “burn that fucking house down.”

In another audio clip broadcast by CBS Los Angeles, police are heard saying, “get the gas, burn it down,” clearly indicating cops knew use of CS gas would set the cabin on fire.

Separate audio includes police discussing “the plan with the burners.” “The burners are deployed, and we have a fire,” says one officer, clearly indicating that the incendiary CS gas was thrown into the cabin in order to set it on fire deliberately.

Police also made no attempt to extinguish the fire once it started despite having fire trucks nearby, again indicating that they wanted to burn Dorner alive. Photos of the cabin taken after the incident show the building burned completely to the ground.

Christopher Dorner’s actions cannot be justified, but neither can those of the police involved in his death, who for days before the standoff were busy shooting at innocent people who looked nothing like Dorner.

If law enforcement officials thought that burning Dorner to death was a reasonable way of dealing with a dangerous murderer then they should hold their hands up and admit to it.

However, the fact that San Bernardino police are brazenly lying in claiming there was no plan to intentionally set fire to the cabin, when police scanner audio clearly suggests otherwise, overwhelmingly indicates that police know that their actions were illegal.

Watch the videos below and decide for yourself whether police intentionally planned to burn the cabin to the ground.



Government Tracks Your DNA Without Your Consent


 

Lock bursting through DNA helixes

Lock photo by Tequila Babs (with DNA helixes superimposed)

by Heidi Stevenson (Revamped article)

(GAIA Health) -Several states in the U.S. are storing your baby’s DNA sequence. It’s generally being done without your knowledge. All United States newborns’ DNA is now routinely screened for genetic disorders. Parental approval is not required—nor are parents informed. Our children are being born into a Brave New World.

Although the baby’s name is not supposed to be kept with the DNA samples, that begs the question of how parents are informed when their children are found to have genetic diseases. And who really believes that such information is kept private?

Supposed Benefits of Profiling Babies’ DNA

The claimed purpose of such testing is to detect genetic disorders for the babies’ benefit. That benefit, though, is questionable.

Screening for several genetic disorders, without taking DNA profiles, has been routine for several years. Conditions like Tay-Sachs disease, sickle cell anemia, and phenylketonuria (PKU) are discovered through blood tests, urine samples, and swabs. Thus far, there are no treatable conditions found in newborns that can’t be found through less intrusive means.

Annie Brown of Minnesota learned of the DNA testing done on her baby when she was informed that her daughter carried the cystic fibrosis gene. Later testing showed that the DNA test didn’t document that her daughter actually had the condition, and it must have put Annie and her husband through a lot of unnecessary stress.

The results of DNA testing may also be used against a person later in life. CNN reported  Annie Brown saying:

It’s really a black mark against her, and there’s nothing we can do to get it off there. And let’s say in the future they can test for a gene for schizophrenia or manic-depression and your baby tests positive—that would be on there, too.”

The usual excuse for taking DNA samples of babies is to diagnose genetic disorders, but that doesn’t make sense, as treatable genetic disorders are already discovered without DNA screening. As Annie Brown’s story clarifies, it can also cause undue stress and unneeded extra testing.

Muddled excuses are used to take this most intimate of identifiers, but they don’t make sense. It’s an inefficient and inaccurate means of determining the existence of diseases that can already be identified through other, inexpensive means. So, the suggestion that the purpose is to screen for genetic diseases is absurd.

Likewise, the idea that it’s for crime prevention is absurd. Your fingerprints aren’t taken at birth and kept on a massive database. It would be considered far too intrusive. Yet, most states are now taking even more intimate DNA samples and placing them on a database without parental approval or knowledge.

Other methods are in use to expand DNA databases, most commonly taking DNA samples from anyone convicted of a crime, and often even those who merely come into contact with the law. The intent is to solve crimes, convict criminals, and free those who’ve been wrongfully convicted. However, the fact is that this most personal, private, and intimate physical part of each baby is now being harvested at birth and stored in databases without any assurances that private information will be kept private. In fact, as history has shown with social security numbers, which aren’t supposed to be used for identification, once such a system is implemented, privacy is ephemeral, at best.

Concerns about genetic diseases are often conflated with DNA research. If the purpose is for research, don’t the subjects have the right to be informed and agree to it? It certainly isn’t for the babies’ benefit, since DNA testing is inaccurate at determining the existence of disease, as shown in Annie Brown’s daugher, and there are accurate, inexpensive methods of diagnosis.

Europe

Europeans, in particular citizens of the United Kingdom, should also be concerned. Although the recent government attempts to expand the DNA database—already the world’s largest—have recently been stopped, don’t forget that backdoor methods, as is happening to newborns in the US, can be implemented at any time. The genetic profiles of innocent people are being kept on file now, not only those of people convicted of crimes.

According to the Independent, Sir Alec Jeffreys, who developed DNA fingerprinting, is dismayed at the government’s DNA database. He says:

DNA is intimately different to fingerprinting, it carries incredibly intimate information about who you are, where you’re from and your family.

The United Arab Emirates, certainly not a paragon of freedom, is planning to introduce a mandatory DNA database of every citizen. Is that a road we want to go down? If not, then perhaps it’s time to question this process that seems to be using the medical system to remove every aspect of privacy we have, and to track every detail of our lives.

Will people be shunted into particular careers based on their genetic data? For their own good, of course. Will you have to prick your finger and give a blood sample before you enter your site of employment each day? Deliver up a saliva sample? Will you be forced to undergo medical treatment for a genetic disease you may or may not develop? Where will it end?

Is It Fair For People On Food Stamps To Buy Prime Rib And Lobster While Working Families Barely Survive?


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(Michael Snyder) -Should we all quit working and jump on board the Obama gravy train?

Of course I am being facetious, but when you are barely surviving does there come a point when it just becomes easier to give up and totally rely on the government?

Today, the federal government runs nearly 80 different means-tested welfare programs, and many state and local governments have their own welfare programs on top of that.  If you become an expert on those programs and you learn how to game the system, can you live more comfortably than someone that lives honestly and works as hard as they can and yet still makes less than 10 dollars an hour?

Now, right from the outset of this article, let me make it abundantly clear that I do not believe that most people are abusing the system.  As I have written about over and over, the number of Americans living in poverty is rapidly increasing because there are not enough jobs.  There are not enough jobs because we are shipping millions of them out of the country to the other side of the globe, and we are also losing millions of jobs to technology.  There have always been those that need our help, and because of the foolish decisions that we have made as a nation, the ranks of the poor will continue to expand.  But it is also true that there are some people out there that are very brazenly abusing the system.  For example, is it really fair for people on food stamps to buy prime rib and lobster while many working families barely survive?  People like that are taking advantage of their fellow Americans, and they are making it harder for the people that really need the help to be able to get it.

Unfortunately, we are rapidly becoming an “entitlement society”.  Close to half the country lives in a home that receives some sort of monetary benefits from the federal government each month at this point.

In particular, the food stamp program has experienced explosive growth in recent years.  Since Obama has been president, the number of Americans on food stamps has grown by more than 49 percent, and more than 11,000 people a day have enrolled in the food stamp program since Obama entered the White House.

And if you can believe it, the number of Americans on food stamps now exceeds the entire population of Spain.

Will we all eventually be on food stamps?

Actually, the truth is that there are millions upon millions of hard working American families that are desperately trying to make it on their own and that don’t want to become financial dependents of the federal government.  Unfortunately, it can be a little disheartening when you are barely making it from month to month and yet you see others using government benefit cards to buy luxury items.

The other day my wife came across a discussion on Facebook that really caught her attention.  I thought that I would share with you all the post that got that discussion going.  As far as I can determine, this woman shared what she believed she actually saw at her local grocery store, but I have no way of determining if this story is true or not.  But I have seen quite a few similar stories of food stamp abuse in the past.  Either way, I think the following story will be good to help spark a conversation about whether our current system is broken or not.  All of the names have been removed so as to protect the identity of the woman that originally posted this on Facebook…

Okay…so, I’m going to go on a rant for a minute…just to get it off my chest…

**** & I went to the grocery store to pick up a few things because we were getting low…sooo, we pick up our 40% off chicken and buy one get two free items and proceed to checkout.

There is a woman ahead of us with a child about 4 years old. The woman, I couldn’t help but notice….had beautiful fingernails, clearly professionally done…and I also noticed her brand new IPHONE…which she was talking on, and I think that is rude while you are being checked out. Her little girl was commenting on the TWO live lobsters in a bag on the checkout, asked if it was going to hurt when they get cooked, her mom brushed her off…at that time I took a look at what else she had on the counter…A HUGE roast, sirloin tips, shrimp, beef ribs and pork ribs…only the prime cuts… I thought to myself….mmmmmm someone is having a yummy dinner and must have a great job as I could not afford these things (not that I’d get my nails done anyway)….

So…the cashier gives her a total and what does she pull out of her wallet but a BENEFIT card!!!!!!! I had all I could do to contain myself…

Sometimes people need help, and I’m okay with that, and those who need it should get it….BUT…if you can afford the latest IPHONE and fancy nails then why in the world are the taxpayers paying for your LOBSTER?!!!! If she really needed help and food, she should have been buying the “sale” items…40% off chicken, buy one get one free cheese ravioli…you know, like the rest of us working class have to buy!

It especially makes me mad because there ARE PEOPLE WHO NEED HELP and can’t get it…My son and his girlfriend and brand new baby aren’t eligible for an ounce of help…they tried, she works days and he works nights so that they don’t have to pay for day-care, they use inexpensive diapers and try to save money anyway they can, they struggle to make ends meet and to pay for their straight talk phones and to boot are paying off college loans…but they supposedly make too much…c’mon, really, he works at McDonalds and she works in a nursing home…lets be real here…those are the type that SHOULD get help…UGHHHH Our system is broken and something needs to be done about it!!!

There, that’s my rant…kudo’s to you if you managed to read the whole thing as I know it was an awful long rant….Gotta go work now, ;)Thanks for listening.

In response to her story, dozens of people posted comments.  Quite a few people said that they had seen similar things where they lived.

And the truth is that food stamps are accepted just about wherever you look these days.  Just check out this shocking article: “Obama’s food-stamp nation: ‘We accept EBT’ signs are everywhere“.

So is this kind of thing fair?

If not, what can be done about it?

What everybody can agree upon is that the number of food stamp recipients is absolutely exploding.  The following is from a recent CNS news article

When Obama entered office in January 2009 there were 31,939,110 Americans receiving food stamps.  As of November 2012—the most recent data available—there were 47,692,896 Americans enrolled, an increase of 49.3 percent.

But this didn’t just start under Obama.  Back in the year 2000, there were just 17 million Americans on food stamps.

30 million more have been added to the program since then.

And of course food stamps is not the only federal welfare program that is being abused.

According to the Wall Street Journal, there has been a tremendous amount of abuse in the free cell phone program as well.

The U.S. government spent about $2.2 billion last year to provide phones to low-income Americans, but a Wall Street Journal review of the program shows that a large number of those who received the phones haven’t proved they are eligible to receive them.

The Lifeline program—begun in 1984 to ensure that poor people aren’t cut off from jobs, families and emergency services—is funded by charges that appear on the monthly bills of every landline and wireless-phone customer. Payouts under the program have shot up from $819 million in 2008, as more wireless carriers have persuaded regulators to let them offer the service.

A lot of people refer to those free cell phones as “Obamaphones”, but the truth is that the program has been going on for a long time.  It just has accelerated greatly under Obama.

So what is the solution to all of this?

Well, what we really need are a lot more jobs, but in the State of the Union address last night Obama simply rehashed a lot of the same tired proposals that he and our former presidents have been promoting for years.

If we continue to do the same things that we have been doing, we are going to continue to get the same results.

There is a reason why the percentage of the civilian labor force in the United States that is employed has been steadily declining every single year since 2006.  We keep pursuing foolish policies, and those policies are steadily destroying our economy.

Sadly, many of our politicians appear to be engaged in some form of “doublethink”.  The things that they tell us will solve our problems are actually the things that are making our problems even worse.

For example, Barack Obama says that we need even more “free trade agreements” and that we need to integrate our economy into the emerging one world economic system even more deeply.

But as I have shown in article after article, the “free trade” agenda of the global elite has resulted in the loss of tens of thousands of U.S. businesses and millions of good paying U.S. jobs.

For much more on this, please see the following article: “55 Reasons Why You Should Buy Products That Are Made In America“.

And of course Obama once promised that he would never “rest” until he had fixed our employment problems, but that hasn’t exactly been the truth either.  The following is from a recent article by Dan Gainor

Back in 2009, the president promised never to “rest” until the job situation was fixed. Nearly four years later, he’s done a lot of resting.

According to The Weekly Standard, Pres. Obama has had 83 vacation days overall and Factcheck.org says he took 26 of those in 2009. That means the president has taken at least 57 vacation days since his vow not to “rest.”

But hey, he needs his rest.  Life is rough.  U.S. taxpayers only spendabout a billion dollars a year on the Obamas.  How is he supposed to scrape by on such limited resources?

Meanwhile, Americans are still incredibly pessimistic about the economy.  The following is what one recent survey found…

  • Eight in 10 Americans are skeptical that career and employment opportunities will be better for the next generation.
  • More than half of Americans say the economy will not fully recover from the 2007-2009 recession for another six years; 29% believe the economy will never fully recover.
  • 73% of Americans were directly impacted by the recession: individuals surveyed had either lost a job themselves or a family member/close relative had been out work because of the economic downturn.
  • The majority of survey participants said college would become unaffordable for most young Americans.
  • 56% reported having fewer savings than before the recession.
  • More than half of those who were laid off or lost a job said they cut back on medical treatment or doctor visits.
  • 40% of Americans have borrowed money from family or friends.
  • Nearly 25% of participants said they have sought professional help for stress or depression.

And as you can see from the charts in this article, U.S. businesses remain very pessimistic about the future of the economy as well.

Unfortunately, those that are pessimistic about the economy have very good reasons to be so.

And as bad as things are right now, they are going to be getting much, much worse.

That means that millions more Americans are going to be wanting to sign up for food stamps and other welfare programs.

But what will happen someday when the safety net breaks and all of those welfare programs start getting cut back dramatically?

What kind of riots will we see in major U.S. cities when the international community insists that the U.S. implement its own version of “austerity” in response to a massive debt crisis?

Will we eventually end up just like Greece and Spain or even worse?

Please share this article with as many people as you can, and please feel free to leave your thoughts on this article above by posting a comment below…

US-led airstrike kills 10 Afghan civilians


an civiliansThis file photo shows Afghan villagers standing at a house that was hit by a US-led NATO airstrike in Sajawand village in Logar Province, south of Kabul.

(PressTV) -At least 10 Afghan civilians, including women and children, have been killed in an airstrike carried out by US-led forces in eastern Afghanistan.

Local officials said on Wednesday that the attack in eastern Kunar Province claimed the lives of “five children, four women and a man.”
A spokesman for the US-led NATO forces said they have launched an investigation into the report.

Afghans have become increasingly outraged at the seemingly endless number of deadly assaults by US-led forces in the country over the past months. The killings have been the main source of friction between Kabul and Washington.

In another similar attack on January 23, three Afghans were killed and two others wounded in the eastern province of Nangarhar when a US-led warplane targeted a residential building.
The US claims that its operations target militants, but local officials and witnesses maintain that civilians have been the main victims of the attacks.
The United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan in 2001 as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror. The offensive removed the Taliban from power, but after 11 years, insecurity remains in the country despite the presence of many US-led forces.

65.4 Million Gun Purchases Since Obama Took Office, 91% More Than Bush’s First-Term Total


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Cuomo: Gun Control Would Have Never Happened If Public Was Allowed To Review It

(CNSNEWS) -There have been 65,376,373 background checks completed for Americans purchasing firearms since February of 2009, the first full month of Barack Obama’s presidency.

According to data compiled by the FBI, the number of Americans purchasing guns has skyrocketed since Obama was elected.

In 2009, there were 13,984,953 background checks for Americans buying firearms.  If we subtract the 1,212,860 checks completed in the month of January, the total checks for the year under Obama were 12,772,090.

For 2010, background checks totaled 14,320,489.  In 2011, checks were 16,336,732, and in 2012, 19,463,832.  Background checks for the month of January 2013 were 2,483,230.

This totals 65,376,373 background checks completed since President Obama’s first full month in office, or 44,748 background checks per day!

By comparison, the number of background checks in Obama’s first term is 91.1% higher than President George W. Bush’s first-term total of 34,214,066.

Food Stamp Rolls in America Now Surpass the Population of Spain


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(CNSNews.com) – Since taking office in 2009, food stamp rolls under President Barack Obama have risen to more than 47 million people in America, exceeding the population of Spain.

“Now is the time to act boldly and wisely – to not only revive this economy, but to build a new foundation for lasting prosperity,” said Obama during his first joint session address to Congress on Feb. 24, 2009.

Since then, the number of participants enrolled in food stamps, known as the Supplemental Assistance Nutrition Program (SNAP), has risen substantially.

When Obama entered office in January 2009 there were 31,939,110 Americans receiving food stamps.  As of November 2012—the most recent data available—there were 47,692,896Americans enrolled, an increase of 49.3 percent.

According to the 2011 census, Spain had a population of 46,815,916.

Furthermore, between January 2009 and November 2012 the food stamp program added approximately an average 11,269 recipients per day.

President Obama will deliver his fourth State of the Union address Tuesday evening.  Obama is expected to focus on jobs and the economy.

The 7 Most Prescribed Drugs In The World And Their Natural Counterparts


(Prevent Disease) -We don’t have to live in a medicated world, but we certainly choose to. The crux of the matter is that we refuse to proactively think about prevention because  we reactively commit to treating the symptoms of underlying health problems.  This is the allopathic model. We want the quick fix so we can continue our poor lifestyle and dietary habits. It doesn’t have  to be this way, but it is. We can blame doctors, the medical institutions and healthcare systems all we want, but self-responsibility is our only recourse if we are ever to surface from this mess.  There are no excuses–if you’re taking one of these drugs, consult with a Natural Health Practitioner this week about phasing out your medication and phasing in  these powerful natural foods and remedies.

            Of the over 4 billion prescriptions written every year, the United States and Canada make up more than  80% of the world’s prescription opioids (psychoactive medications).  Between 1997 and 2012 prescription opioids increased in dosage by almost  500%.  Pharmaceuticals and medical errors are now a leading cause of death. Painkillers are the leading cause of accidental death.
In the last 15 years of  life, people are experiencing  more pain for longer periods  than at any point on our historical record. If you think life expectancy has increased to the benefit of mankind, you’re not looking at the numbers.

78% of   U.S. prescriptions written in 2010 were for   generic drugs (both unbranded and those still sold under a brand name). The most prescribed drugs aren’t  always the best selling drugs, there’s a difference.
Prescriptions for pain, cholesterol reduction, high blood pressure, hypothyroidism, antacids, antipsychotics, diabetes and antibiotics make up 100% of the most prescribed drugs.
Make a commitment to yourself right now and start incorporating some of these amazing foods into your diet with no consequence of side effects. When you  accept this, you will get off  prescription medications for good.
Check out the top 7 most prescribed drugs and the best natural remedies to treat and prevent disease.

          1. HYDROCODONE (Acetaminophen/Vicodin/Oxycontin)
Use:
For Pain Currently the single most prescribed drug in the world.  More and more doctors are getting huge payouts from pharmaceutical companies to promote these hydrocodone, especially generic drugs. They make up more than 20% of the top prescribed medications.
Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and   Prevention (CDC), told Fox News that doctors are handing out narcotics   like candy. Some doctors are giving patients prescriptions for narcotics   for even minor injuries.
How it Works:   It is an orally  psychoactive compound that works as a narcotic and analgesic.  It is biotransformed by the liver into several metabolites. It is highly dependent on metabolism by the  Cytochrome P450 pathway.
Consequences:   Respiratory depression;  bradycardia; coma; seizures; cardiac arrest; liver damage; and death. Inherited genes such as the Cytochrome P450 affects metabolic pathways–some cannot process it at all, whereas a smaller percentage can get even more strength from it than usual.
Natural Foods:   Ginger, turmeric, berries, cayenne pepper, celery/celery seeds, cherries, dark green veggies, walnuts.   See: Natural Healing Remedies: 10 Foods That Fight Inflammation And Pain
  2.  STATINS (Generic versions of Lipitor/Zocor/Crestor)
Use: Reduction of LDL Cholesterol
Approximately 15% of the top prescribed medications are generic statins.    A study published in January 2012 in the Archives of Internal Medicine   linked statins to 48 percent increased   risk for type-2 diabetes.
The are NO scientific studies ever documented which have proved through causation that lowering LDL cholesterol prevents disease. The obsessed culture of lowering cholesterol may actually be causing cancer.
How it Works:    Statins artificially lower cholesterol levels by inhibiting a critical enzyme HMG-CoA reductase, which plays a central role in the production of cholesterol in the liver.
Consequences: Inflammation and pathological breakdown of muscle, acute kidney failure, diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, interference with sex hormones and death.
Natural Foods: Nuts, spinach, apples, turmeric, cranberries, tomatoes, green tea, fatty fish, beans, alfalfa herb, capsicum fruit, garlic, psyllium, fenugreek seeds, butcher’s broom, licorice root, hawthorn berry. See: – New Data Shows Lycopene Reduces Heart Disease Up To 26 PercentTwo Apples a Day More Effective At Reducing Heart Disease  Than Statin Medications Top 5 Foods and Herbs To Control CholesterolWorld Renown Heart Surgeon Speaks Out On What Really Causes Heart Disease

  3.  LISINOPRIL (Prinivil/Zestril) AND NORVASC (Amlodipine)
Use: Reduction of High Blood Pressure
In combination, Lisinopril and Norvasc make up a whopping 23% of  the top prescribed medications. This makes them the most prescribed generic medications (if combined) for cardiovascular disease and blood pressure. Individually,  Lisinopril constitutes approximately 14% and Norvasc about 9%.
How it Works: Lisinopril is typically used for the treatment of hypertension, congestive heart failure, and heart attacks. Norvasc is used for hypertension and angina. It accomplishes this by  inhibiting the influx of calcium ions into vascular smooth muscle and cardiac muscle so it essentially interferes with the metabolism of calcium.
Consequences: Cancer, blood disorders, development of breasts in men, impotence, depression, tachycardia,   enlargement of gums, inflammation of the liver, elevated blood glucose, hepatitis, life threatening skin conditions.

Natural Foods:    Any foods high in  vitamin C (chili peppers, guavas, bell peppers, thyme, parsley, dark leafy greens, broccoli),  any foods high in magnesium (chocolate, green leafy   vegetables, Brazil nuts,  almonds, cashews,     blackstrap molasses, pumpkin and squash seeds, pine nuts, and black     walnuts) and any foods high in potassium (mushrooms,   bananas, dark green leafy vegetables, sweet potatoes, oranges and dates). Coconut oil/water and CoQ10 are also very effective for lowering blood pressure.   See:    – Magnesium Reduces Blood Pressure Naturally Without Side Effects   – Low Salt Diets Do Not Decrease Blood Pressure, Period   –   Vitamin C Supplements Reduce Blood Pressure  Without Side Effects Associated With Medication   – Low Potassium Linked To High Blood Pressure

  4.  SYNTHROID (levothyroxine sodium)
Use: Hypothyroidism
A synthetic form of the thyroid hormone thyroxine, generic Synthroid makes up more than 11% of  the top prescribed medications. It’s used to treat hypothyroidism.   The related drug dextrothyroxine (D-thyroxine) was used in the past as a treatment for elevated cholesterol  but was withdrawn due to cardiac side-effects.
How it Works: It replaces the thyroid hormone which is naturally occurring in the thyroid gland essentially halting natural production.
Consequences: Long-term suppression of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) causes cardiac side-effects   and contributes to decreases in bone mineral density (high TSH levels are   also well known to contributes to osteoporosis.) May also cause elevated blood glucose levels, heart failure, coma and adrenal insufficiency. TSH directly                     influences the whole process of iodine trapping and thyroid                     hormone production so use of synthroid directly affects how the body metabolizes iodine.

Natural Foods: Any foods  containing iodine                       such as seaweed, kelp, radish, parsley,  fish, seafood, eggs, bananas, cranberries, strawberries, himalayan crystal salt. Also,                       copper, iron, selenium and zinc are essential in the production                       of thyroid hormones. Exercise a minimum of 20-30 minutes per day — enough to                       raise the heartbeat.   See:   – Seaweed Extracts Can Help You Lose  Weight, Mostly Body Fat   – 8 Critical Nutrients Lacking In More Than 70 Percent of Diets   – The Number One Reason So Many Women Have Trouble Losing Weight

 

5. PRILOSEC (omeprazole/generic versions of nexium)
Use: Antacid
A proton pump inhibitor which constitutes  just over 8% of  the top prescribed medications. Omeprazole is one of the most widely prescribed drugs for  reflux disease (GORD/GERD/LPR)  and ulcers internationally and is available over the counter in some countries.
How it Works: It suppresses gastric acid secretion by specific inhibition of the gastric acid ions  in cells. The absorption of omeprazole takes place in the small intestine  essentially turning off the switch which promotes healthy digestion of foods. Omeprazole is also completely metabolized by the cytochrome P450 system.
Consequences: Angina, ulcers, tachycardia, bradycardia, palpitations, elevated blood pressure, development of male breasts, inflammation of the pancreas, irritable colon, mucosal atrophy of the tongue, liver disease/failure, elevated blood sugar, muscle weakness, skin conditions, tinnitus, inflammation of the eyes, urinary frequency, testicular pain, anemia and blood cell disorders.

Natural Foods:   Grapefruits, probiotics, broccoli sprouts, manuka honey, mastic gum, marshmallow tea, glutamine, slippery elm, deglycyrrhized liquorice (DGL), aloe vera juice, baking soda, pickle juice.   See:   – Grapefruit Heals Stomach Ulcers   – Broccoli Sprouts May Prevent  Gastritis, Ulcers and Stomach CancersManuka Honey Reverses Antibiotic Resistance, Treats Disease

  6. AZITHROMYCIN AND AMOXICILLIN

Use: Antibiotic
In combination, azithromycin and amoxicillin contribute towards   a mind-blowing  17% of    the top prescribed medications.  Then we wonder why we have antibiotic resistance. On their own, each contributes about 8.5%.   Azithromycin is one of the world’s best-selling antibiotics and  derived from erythromycin.  Amoxicillin is usually the drug of choice for children.
How it Works:   Inhibits the synthesis of bacterial cell walls and interfering with their protein synthesis. These drugs also inhibit the protein synthesis of good bacteria needed for immunity and proper digestion.

Consequences:    Inflammation of the liver, inflammation and destruction of the stomach lining, destruction of healthy bacterial populations, inflammation of the colon, allergic reactions, obesity, human antibiotic resistance.

Natural Foods:   Sunlight (vit D), garlic, coconut oil, turmeric, foods high in nicotinamide (vit B3) such as salmon, sardines and nuts. Also manuka honey, olive leaf extract, green tea, pau D’Arco, rose water, myrrh, grapeseed extract, golden seal, oregon grapes, oregano oil, andrographis paniculata, and probiotics.   See:  – Garlic Proven 100 Times More Effective Than Antibiotics,  Working In A Fraction of The TimeBefore Antibiotics Ever Existed, Sunlight Was Used To Treat Diseases With Great SuccessThe Most Potent B Vitamin That Combats Infections Better Than Antibiotics Ever Could

7. GLUCOPHAGE (metformin)
Use: Oral anti-diabetic drug
Glucophage drugs round up the top 7 but the prescription rate of this drug is rapidly increasing. It makes up   about  7% of the top prescribed medications. It is the first-line drug of choice for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, in particular, in overweight and obese people. It also acts to indirectly lower LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
How it Works: By suppressing natural glucose production by the liver, the drug  activates an enzyme which plays an important role in insulin signaling, whole body energy balance, and the metabolism of glucose and fats.

Consequences: Lactic acidosis, impaired liver/kidney function, decreasing thyroid stimulating hormone and testosterone, increased homocysteine levels,   malabsorption of vitamin B12, B12 deficiency, bladder cancer, heart failure. The biggest consequence of diabetes drugs is that it causes pancreatic function to substantially decrease inhibiting several hormones and causing other imbalances which are never correctable without abstaining from the drug.
Natural Foods: Black tea, Sunlight (vit D), potentially coffee (more research needed), turmeric, nuts, chia seeds, green leafy vegetables, apple cider vinegar, cinnamon, red grapes, steel cut oatmeal, broccoli, spinach, green beans and strawberries. 90% of all cases of diabetes can be resolved by eating foods with a low glycemic load, and pursuing both weight training and aerobic exercise.   See:    – Study on Black Tea Consumption From 42 Countries Shows It Lowers Diabetes Risk   –   Two More Bombshells For Vitamin D:  It Prevents Both Type I Diabetes and Cavities   – Coffee’s Anti-Diabetes Benefit   – Healthy                 Diet, Moderate Exercise Reduce Diabetes Risk Better Than Drugs   – How Turmeric Has An Anti-Diabetic Effect On The Body

The drugs on which we spend the most money are those that are still new enough to be protected against generic competition. That’s why drugs like Abilify and Seroquel (antipsychotics), as well as Plavix (blood thinner) and Advair Diskus (asthma inhaler) don’t make the list.

Obama: When War in Afghanistan Is Over, We Will Fight a War in Afghanistan



 

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(CNSNews.com) – President Barack Obama said in his State of the Union Address on Tuesday night that he will end the war in Afghanistan by the end of next year, and that after that he will keep tens of thousands of American troops in Afghanistan to fight a war in Afghanistan.

“And by the end of next year, our war in Afghanistan will be over,” said Obama.

For the period after 2014, he said, “We are negotiating an agreement with the Afghan government that focuses on two missions: training and equipping Afghan forces so that the country does not again slip into chaos, and counter-terrorism efforts that allow us to pursue the remnants of al Qaeda and their affiliates.”

Thus, U.S. forces left in Afghanistan after the war is “over,” will “pursue the remnants of al Qaeda and their affiliates.”

“Tonight, we stand united in saluting the troops and civilians who sacrifice every day to protect us. Because of them, we can say with confidence that America will complete its mission in Afghanistan, and achieve our objective of defeating the core of al Qaeda,” said Obama. “Already, we have brought home 33,000 of our brave servicemen and women. This spring, our forces will move into a support role, while Afghan security forces take the lead.  Tonight, I can announce that over the next year, another 34,000 American troops will come home from Afghanistan. This drawdown will continue. And by the end of next year, our war in Afghanistan will be over.

“Beyond 2014, America’s commitment to a unified and sovereign Afghanistan will endure, but the nature of our commitment will change,” said Obama. “We are negotiating an agreement with the Afghan government that focuses on two missions: training and equipping Afghan forces so that the country does not again slip into chaos, and counter-terrorism efforts that allow us to pursue the remnants of al Qaeda and their affiliates.”

The GAO reported this week that there were about 66,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan as of December. If 33,000 of those troops are brought home over the next year, as President Obama said in his State of the Union, that will leave another 33,000 U.S. troops still in Afghanistan.

Those 33,000 U.S. troops Obama intends to keep in Afghanistan–as Obama described it–will pursue al Qaeda, which is what U.S. troops first went to Afghanistan to do in 2001.

Pentagon Inks Deal for Smartphone Tool That Scans Your Face, Eyes, Thumbs


 

 

(Wired) -In a few years, the soldier, marine or special operator out on patrol might be able to record the facial features or iris signature of a suspicious person all from his or her smartphone — and at a distance, too.

The Defense Department has awarded a $3 million research contract to California-based AOptix to examine its “Smart Mobile Identity” biometrics identification package, Danger Room has learned. At the end of two years of research to validate the concepts of what the company built, AOptix will provide the Defense Department with a hardware peripheral and software suite that turns a commercially available smartphone into a device that scans and transmits data from someone’s eyes, face, thumbs and voice.

“They’ve asked us, based on what they’ve seen of our product, to work on some more specific needs and requirements for DoD,” Chuck Yort, AOptix’s vice president for identity solutions, tells Danger Room. Data security for the system will be provided by partner CACI International, which shares in the $3 million contract, which will be officially announced Wednesday morning.

Currently, U.S. troops rely on a single-use device, known as the Handheld Interagency Identity Detection System (HIIDE), to scan, upload and transmit data from someone’s facial, eye or thumb features to its wartime biometrics databases. The HIIDE, shown below, looks a bit like the camera Hipstamatic uses for its logo, and troops who want to operate it need to bring it close to the faces and thumbs of the people they scan.

 

The hardware AOptix has developed isn’t itself a phone. It’s a peripheral that wraps around a phone to enable the additional sensing capabilities necessary to acquire the biometric data. AOptix was hesitant to describe the peripheral, but supposedly it won’t impact the phone’s form factor, and the company swears a smartphone bulked up with its sensing dongle will weigh under a pound. Unlike HIIDE, it’ll only take one hand to operate.

Outside of the add-on, the computational power of the smartphone is supposed to enable the software package that AOptix built — and displayed at a September conference in Tampa partially sponsored by the National Security Agency. The company won’t say what operating system Smart Mobile Identity it’s configured to run on, but the Defense Department tends to like the relative cheapness and open architecture of Android devices. Yort promises the software will have a “very intuitive interface that leverages smartphone conventions.”

Smart Mobile Identity has limited ability to record biometric data at a distance, but its specs outperform the HIIDE camera. It scans faces at up to two meters away, irises from one meter, and voice from within the typical distance from a phone. Thumbprints will still require a finger against the reinforced glass face of the phone. Joey Pritikin, another AOptix executive, says that an additional advantage of the system is its ability to capture an iris in bright sunlight, which is a challenge for HIIDE and other biometrics device. Apparently the system will also be able to snap an image of someone’s face or eye once the phone running the software focuses on it, without a specific click, swipe or press.

AOptix is also cagey about which part of the Defense Department inked the deal with the company. (Pentagon officials didn’t respond to requests for additional information.) But since AOptix and CACI are supposed to deliver Smart Mobile Identity after 24 months of research, its most likely application would be for special operations forces, who after the 2014 completion of the troop drawdown from Afghanistan will be doing the majority of patrolling in places where biometric ID collection on a mobile device will be relevant.

It’s worth noting that even though the military is backing away from foot patrols in warzones, it’s not backing away from biometric data acquisition — far from it. The U.S. Central Command has held on to the biometric database of three million people it compiled during the Iraq war. And Darpa-funded projects are already working on biometric identifier devices that can scan irises and even fingerprints from further distances than Smart Mobile Identity — to say nothing of next-gen biometrics projects that can scan thearea around your eye, your odor, and even the way you walk.

It’ll be a very long time before any of those detection systems can run on a phone, however. And even with the Defense Department’s budget crunch, the Army and now the Navy are showing interest in equipping their troops with smartphone and smartphone-like devices. Enabling them to scan someone’s physical features with the same device may not be a step too far.

White House must respond to Aaron Swartz petition


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(Forbes) -U.S. assistant attorney Stephen Heymann built his career taking on hackers in computer crime cases. Now at least 25,000 people believe he took one such case too far–enough voices that the White House will have to respond to their calls that he be fired.

Over the weekend, a petition on Whitehouse.gov calling for the dismissal of Heymann reached 25,000 signatures, the threshold that requires a response from the administration under the rules outlined on the site. (The White House has since raised that threshold to 100,000 signatures, but that new rule doesn’t apply to older petitions like one focused on Heymann.)

The outcry against Heymann follows the suicide of activist Aaron Swartz last month, who was being prosecuted by Heymann for allegedly violating computer crime laws in his downloading of millions of academic papers from the website JSTOR.

The petition hit its goal after Swartz’s girlfriend Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman posted a call for signatures in her blog late last week, calling for Heymann’s firing and an investigation into what she described as prosecutorial overreach in Swartz’s case.

“Heymann saw Aaron as a scalp he could take,” she wrote. “He thought he could lock Aaron up, get high-profile press coverage, and win high-fives from his fellow prosecutors in the lunchroom. Aaron was a way of reviving Heymann’s fading career. Heymann had no interest in an honest assessment of whether Aaron deserved any of the hell he was being put through.”

Heymann isn’t the only prosecutor the White House must now consider firing in the Swartz case. Another petition calling for the dismissal of Heymann’s boss, U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz, quickly reached more than 52,000 signatures in the days following Swartz’s suicide.

But Heymann holds special significance for hackers and digital activists. He serves as chief of the computer crime unit for Massachusetts’ U.S.’s attorney’s office, one of the first such operations in the country. In 1996, he led the prosecution of an Argentine man accused of hacking into Harvard’s computer network, a case that involved the first-ever Internet-based wiretap.

More recently, Heymann served as prosecutor in the case of a group of hackers involved in the unprecedented theft of hundreds of millions of credit card numbers from the networks of companies including TJ Maxx and Heartland Payment Systems. Heymann received a Department of Justice award for his convictions of five defendants in the case, which included a 15-year sentence for the most active member of the team, Alberto Gonzalez. But the case’s outcome was also controversial: One defendant, Stephen Watt, was sentenced to two years in prison despite claiming to have merely written one element of the software Gonzalez used. Another hacker involved in the case, Jonathan James, committed suicide.

Accusations that Heymann overreached in prosecuting Swartz have reached a much higher pitch. Swartz, after all, had no intention of profiting from the JSTOR articles he downloaded and even gave the files back to JSTOR, which then ceased to press charges against him. Swartz’s supporters including freedom of information activist Lawrence Lessig have attacked what they call prosecutorial overreach in the case. And two congressmen have also demanded the Department of Justice investigate and explain the prosecutors’ behavior.

A spokesperson at the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney’s office declined to comment, but U.S. Attorney Ortiz has previously defended Swartz’s prosecution and Heymann’s conduct: “I know that there is little I can say to abate the anger felt by those who believe that this office’s prosecution of Mr. Swartz was unwarranted and somehow led to the tragic result of him taking his own life,” she wrote in a public statement last month. “I must, however, make clear that this office’s conduct was appropriate in bringing and handling this case. The career prosecutors handling this matter took on the difficult task of enforcing a law they had taken an oath to uphold, and did so reasonably.”

Soon we’ll know whether the White House holds the same opinion of Heymann’s actions–and those of Ortiz herself.

Correction: This post originally included a photo that was labelled as Stephen Heymann. In fact it showed MIT president Rafael Reif. Apologies for the error.

Executive order to raise “volume, quality of cyber threat information”


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(ArsTechnica) -Just before issuing the 2013 State of the Union address, President Barack Obama signed an executive order on cybersecurity—creating a series of “best practices” between “critical infrastructure” corporations and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

“It is the policy of the United States Government to increase the volume, timeliness, and quality of cyber threat information shared with US private sector entities so that these entities may better protect and defend themselves against cyber threats,” the order states.

According to The Hill, a draft version of this framework will be due in 240 days and the final will be published within a year from now.

The order comes after Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) failed in Congress last year—although it may be poised for a comeback. While many civil libertarians were concerned that CISPA did not have adequate privacy protections, some have shown some cautious optimism about the new order.

“The executive order says that privacy must be built into the government’s cybersecurity plans and activities, not as an afterthought but rather as part of the design,” said Center for Democracy and Technology President Leslie Harris in a statement.

“By explicitly requiring adherence to fair information practice principles, the order adopts a comprehensive formulation of privacy. The annual privacy assessment, properly done, can create accountability to the public for government actions taken in the name of cybersecurity.”

Others, including the American Civil Liberties Union, agreed.

“The president’s executive order rightly focuses on cybersecurity solutions that don’t negatively impact civil liberties,” Michelle Richardson, a legislative counsel for the ACLU, added, in a statement. “For example, greasing the wheels of information sharing from the government to the private sector is a privacy-neutral way to distribute critical cyber information.”

Texting: Teenagers are doing it in their sleep


(Digital Journal) -We all know the type – people walking along like zombies, or  sitting, totally unaware, in parks or public places, with their eyes and fingers  glued to their phones.  Well now, apparently, they are doing it in their sleep  too.

This new phenomenon is called “sleep texting.” Maybe  “slexting” for short?

As Chris Matyszczyk of CNET puts it, “It’s like sleepwalking, but potentially more  amusing.”

According to a study by Elizabeth Dowdell, a nursing professor at Villanova  University, “It’s just what you’d think it is, it’s texting while asleep.”

“It’s exactly what is sounds like, or  really more between that, you know, that area between being asleep and being  awake.”

“The phone will beep, they’ll answer  the text,” she says. “They’ll either respond in words or gibberish. (It) can  even be inappropriate. Ex-girlfriends contacting ex-boyfriends, saying ‘I miss  you. I want to see you.’”

The thing is, though, just like with  sleepwalking, “when they wake up, there’s no memory.”  The possibilities for  total embarrassment are endless.

When it comes to the standard unlimited texting plan  only teens are really getting their money s wo...

Jeffrey  Kontur
When it comes to the standard  unlimited texting plan, only teens are really getting their money’s  worth.

According to Dowdell, teens need from eight to ten hours of  sleep per night.  Sleep interruption can cause depression, obesity, falling  grades and all sorts of other problems.

“Overplugged and overextended teens and  young adults tend to get less than that,” she says, “so this interrupts what  could be a good night’s sleep, because they’re an hour-and-a-half or two hours  into their sleep cycle, and they’re answering texts or the machines are beeping  at them.”

Texting during sleep is disruptive not only to the texting  teen, but also to the teen who receives a message – a beeping cell phone in the  middle of the night disrupts another person’s rest.

Dowdell states that the answer is a  technology-free bedroom, or the teenager should at least put the phone on the  other side of the room and turn off the ringer.  Ah, but what teenager would do  that and potentially miss some exciting news or gossip?

 

Christopher Dorner’s body recovered from burned out cabin


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(Digital Journal) -Law enforcement officials are reporting that a police SWAT  Team has fired tear gas into the cabin where former LAPD police officer  Christopher Dorner is believed to be hiding.

A manhunt for alleged quadruple-murder  suspect Christopher  Dorner has been ongoing for the past five days.  A $1 million reward for information leading to  Dorner’s arrest was announced on Sunday.

Law enforcement officials first spotted  Dorner after setting up a road block following a home invasion and carjacking  report.

When Dorner approached the road block,  he opened fire on officers, striking two sheriff’s deputies.  San Bernardino  County Sheriff John McMahon told reporters that one of the deputies who were  shot has died from his injuries.  The second deputy is still being treated at  California’s Loma Linda University Medical Center.

Following the shootout with deputies,  Dorner fled the area and barricaded himself into a cabin in the San Bernardino  National Forest according to KCAL.  Reports state tear gas was fired into the cabin.  Smoke could be seen coming  from the cabin a short time later, and the cabin is now fully engulfed in  flames.

Law enforcement officials have not said  whether Dorner is believed to still be in the burning cabin or if police have  taken him into custody.

Live streaming video of the scene can  be seen here.

UPDATE 7:24 p.m. CST

According to CBS2,  tear gas was fired into the cabin just before the cabin went up into flames.   One gun shot was also heard.

CNN is reporting  that law enforcement authorities have confirmed that a fire and smoke from tear  gas has engulfed the cabin where Dorner was hiding. Ammunition is exploding  inside the cabin.

UPDATE 7:32 p.m. CST

ABC 7 is reporting  that police officials are letting the fire “burn itself out” before attempting  to enter the cabin to try and locate Dorner.  The cabin is surrounded and  authorities have stated that if Dorner is not in the cabin, he is “pinned down”  and unable to escape.

UPDATE 7:42 p.m. CST

Cindy Bachman, spokeswoman for the San  Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, told CNN:

“There was active gunfire before the fire.”

She could not confirm if Dorner is  still in the cabin, but reiterated that the cabin is surrounded and that no one  is allowed to approach the cabin at this time.

UPDATE 8:56 p.m. CST

The Associated  Press is reporting that a “charred body” has been  found in the burned out  cabin were Dorner was hiding.

An LAPD official has confirmed that  that body of Dorner has been recovered according to KTLA.

 

Christopher Dorner Dead? Confusion After Fiery End At Cabin


After a shootout and fire apparently ended the hunt for Christopher Dorner on Tuesday night, it was not clear if he was dead or if his body had been found.

Christopher Dorner Dead? Confusion After Fiery End At Cabin

(IBITimes) -Several sources told the Los Angeles Times and many other news organizations that a body was located in the rubble of a cabin in Big Bear, Calif. But LAPD officials said the cabin was still too hot to search and no body has been found.

As authorities moved in earlier on Tuesday, they heard a single gunshot.

Police had broken down windows, fired tear gas into the cabin and blasted over a loudspeaker, urging Dorner to surrender, a law enforcement source told the Times. When they got no response, police used a vehicle to rip down the walls of the cabin “one by one, like peeling an onion,” a law enforcement official said.

By the time they got to the last wall, authorities heard a single gunshot, the source said. Then flames began to spread through the structure, and gunshots, probably set off by the fire, were heard.

It is unclear if Dorner committed suicide. The possible end of the manhunt comes after a week of violence in which four individuals, two of them police officers, were killed and four more were wounded.

Police believe Dorner had used the cabin near Big Bear as a hideout during the weeklong manhunt. Earlier in the day, Dorner broke into a home and stole a truck, leading police on a violent chase back to the cabin. From there, police and Dorner engaged in a shootout that left one officer dead and another wounded.

Legality questioned as secretive ‘Stingray’ cell phone surveillance tool used more frequently


 

(Image credit: Joe Ravi under CC-BY-SA 3.0)

(Image credit: Joe Ravi under CC-BY-SA 3.0)
(EndTheLie) -Questions about the legality of the secretive cell phone surveillance tool  known as “Stingray” are being raised as the use of the device, originally billed  as a counterterrorism tool, expands into everything but cases related to  terrorism.

Unfortunately this is just one of many methods of surveillanceall of which are increasing dramatically – used by the government, law  enforcement and even the private sector.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) called Stingrays “the biggest technological threat to cell  phone privacy you don’t know about” and “an unconstitutional, all-you-can-eat  data buffet” in October of last year and unfortunately it has only become more  important since then.

The Stingray essentially dupes cell phones into treating the device as if it  were a real cell phone tower, thus allowing “the government to electronically  search large areas for a particular cell phone’s signal—sucking down data on  potentially thousands of innocent people along the way,” as the EFF puts it.

The major problem is that law enforcement has used them while circumventing  the need for individualized warrants as the Constitution requires.

Since this is dragnet surveillance, anyone and everyone can be targeted by  the device without a warrant being issued for the search and seizure of their  data.

In late January, LA Weekly reported that Stingray while “intended to fight terrorism,  was used in far more routine LAPD criminal investigations 21 times in a  four-month period during 2012, apparently without the courts’ knowledge that the  technology probes the lives of non-suspects who happen to be in the same  neighborhood as suspected terrorists.”

The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) was able to purchase their device  thanks to a 2006 grant from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Keep in  mind, DHS funds many highly troublesome surveillance efforts around  the nation.

While the original grant request from the LAPD claimed they would be using  the Stingray for “regional terrorism investigations,” they’ve been using it for  everything from drug cases to burglary and murder cases.

“Of course, we’ve seen this pattern over and over and over,” the EFF points out. “The government uses ‘terrorism’ as a catalyst to gain some powerful new surveillance tool or ability, and then  turns around and uses it on ordinary citizens, severely infringing on their  civil liberties in the process.”

As previously mentioned, the biggest problem with Stingrays is the lack of a  specific warrant issued for an individual, instead, it essentially gives police “general warrant” powers.

Blocking general warrant powers was exactly what the founding fathers had in  mind when drafting the Fourth Amendment since, as the EFF rightly notes, “In  pre-revolutionary America, British soldiers used ‘general warrants’ as authority  to go house-to-house in a particular neighborhood, looking for whatever they  please, without specifying an individual or place to be searched.”

Instead of obtaining a warrant for a specific individual’s cell phone data,  the Stingray acts as the “digital equivalent of the pre-revolutionary British  soldier” by allowing police to simply “point a cell phone signal into all the  houses in a particular neighborhood, searching for one target while sucking up  everyone else’s location along with it. With one search the police could  potentially invade countless private residences at once.”

The EFF isn’t the only group questioning these devices. The Electronic  Privacy Information Center (EPIC) obtained a paltry two FBI documents (see here  and here) on Stingrays (out of an estimated 25,000) as part of  their Freedom of Information Act lawsuit attempting to uncover more information  on the use of Stingrays.

The documents, which are unsurprisingly heavily redacted, reveal that even within the  government itself there are concerns that the use of Stingrays may in fact be in  violation of a prohibition of interference with communications signals in a  section of the Communications Act.

This demonstrates that “there are clearly concerns, even within the agency,  that the use of Stingray technology might be inconsistent with current  regulations,” EPIC attorney Alan Butler told Slate. “I don’t know how the [Department of Justice]  justifies the use of Stingrays given the limitations of the Communications Act  prohibition.”

The FBI declined to comment on the specifics of the legality or illegality of  Stingrays since it remains in litigation. However, FBI spokesman Christopher  Allan told Slate’s Ryan Gallagher by email that “in general the FBI cautions  against drawing conclusions from redacted FOIA documents.”

Perhaps most disturbing of all revealed in the documents is that they “disclose that the feds have procedures in place for loaning electronic  surveillance devices (like the Stingray) to state police. This suggests the  technology may have been used in cases across the United States, in line with a stellar investigation by LA Weekly last year, which  reported that state cops in California, Florida, Texas, and Arizona had obtained  Stingrays,” writes Gallagher.

Some of the questions surrounding Stingrays and the information obtained  through their use may be answered on March 28th.

Both the EFF and American Civil Liberties Union submitted an amicus  brief in the case, United States v. Rigmaiden, and the March hearing will  address if evidence obtained by using a Stingray should be suppressed.

“It will be one of the first times a judge will rules on the  constitutionality of these devices in federal court,” writes the EFF.

The EFF urges local and federal law enforcement agencies alike to come clean  about the Stingray technology and how they are using it before even more  innocent people have their Fourth Amendment rights violated.

UPDATE: EPIC just announced a new release of documents  related to this technology.

They state:

In the fifth interim release of documents in EPIC v. FBI, a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, the  agency has turned over nearly 300 pages about the surveillance technique  directed toward users of mobile phones. The documents obtained by EPIC reveal  that agents have been using “cell site simulator” technologies, also known as “StingRay,” “Triggerfish,” or “Digital Analyzers” to monitor cell phones since  1995. Internal FBI e-mails, also obtained by EPIC, reveal that agents went  through extensive training on these devices in 2007. In addition, a presentation  from the agency’s Wireless Intercept and Tracking Team argues that cell site  simulators qualify for a low legal standard as a “pen register device,” an  interpretation that was recently rejected by a federal court in Texas. For more  information, see EPIC v. FBI (StingRay).

 

Dianne Feinstein’s shocking lies about the number of civilians killed by U.S. drone program


 

Vice Adm. Richard W. Hunt, commander of U.S. 3rd Fleet speaks with U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom at the St. Francis Yacht Club during the San Francisco Fleet Week 2010 Parade of Ships. (Image credit: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jeremy M. Starr/Released)

Vice Adm. Richard W. Hunt, commander of U.S. 3rd  Fleet speaks with U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein and San Francisco Mayor Gavin  Newsom at the St. Francis Yacht Club during the San Francisco Fleet Week 2010  Parade of Ships. (Image credit: U.S. Navy  photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jeremy M.  Starr/Released)

(EndTheLie) – Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat and chair of the Senate Select  Committee on Intelligence, brazenly lied about the number of civilians killed by  the U.S.’s so-called “targeted killing” (or “targeted force” as she put  it) program during her remarks at the beginning of the confirmation  hearings of John Brennan.

This assassination program, mostly – but not entirely – comprised of strikes  carried out by drones, was recently shown to be even more disturbing than  previously thought with the leak of a Justice Department white paper, although a federal  court ruling determined that the Obama administration never has to explain  the legal basis for the strikes in court.

The program also has some calling for increased oversight through another secret court  even though Attorney General Eric Holder claims the secret reviews of classified evidence carried out by the  Obama administration count as due process.

“But for the past several years, this committee has done significant  oversight of the government’s conduct of targeted strikes, and the figures we  have obtained from the executive branch,  which we have done our utmost to verify, confirm that the number of civilian  casualties that have resulted from such strikes each year has typically been in  the single digits,” Feinstein said.

The claim that civilian deaths resulting from “the use of targeted force,” as  she put it, have “typically been in the single digits” is simply ludicrous.

Conor Friedersdorf massive underestimates the magnitude of this lie when he  calls the claim “imprecise.” It is nothing short of an egregious lie.

Even if Feinstein was using some of more “conservative” statistics like those  compiled by the New American Foundation – shown to be woefully inaccurate by Friedersdorf in July of 2012 – her  claim wouldn’t be truthful.

Researchers at the Bureau of Investigative Journalism in the UK estimates the number of civilians killed in drone strikes in  Pakistan – not including those killed by drones in Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere – to be at a minimum 2 in 2004, 6 in 2005, 96 in 2006, 4 in 2007, 74 in  2008, 119 in 2009, 97 in 2010, 68 in 2011 and 7 in 2012.

Maybe Feinstein chose to only look at the figures for 2004, 2005, 2007 and  2012? Even then, the claim would be dubious at best since those figures only  include Pakistan.

Keep in mind, as the Bureau of Investigative Journalism points out, that from  2004-2013 the CIA has conducted 364 drone strikes in Pakistan. 312 of those have been during the Obama  administration.

Somewhere from 473-893 civilians have been reported killed as a result of  those 364 strikes and 176 children were reported killed in Pakistan alone.  Anywhere from 1,270 to 1,433 civilians were reportedly injured. Remember, this  is all just in Pakistan where the CIA targets rescuers and funerals with drone strikes.

In Yemen, 42-52 U.S. drone strikes have been confirmed from  2002 to 2013 while 54-64 total U.S. operations have been confirmed, according to  the Bureau. Possible extra U.S. operations range from 135 to 157 and possible  extra U.S. drone strikes range from 77 to 93.

The total number of people killed ranges from 374 to 1,112 with 72 to 178  civilians killed by all operations. The number of children killed by all U.S.  operations in Yemen during the period ranges from 27 to 37.

Thankfully, the numbers in Somalia are significantly lower, but those numbers are from  2007 to 2013. The total number of U.S. strikes is 10-23, while the total number  of U.S. drone strikes range from three to nine.

Total number of people reported killed ranges from 58 to 170 while civilians  killed range from 11 to 57 with one to three children reported killed.

Friedersdorf also points out that there have been instances where a single  strike caused more civilian casualties than she claims occur in an entire  year.

One example is a 2009 strike in Yemen which resulted in far more civilian  deaths than Feinstein’s numbers would allow.

“Some months after the attack in Al Majalah, Amnesty International  released photos showing an American cluster bomb and a propulsion unit from a  Tomahawk cruise missile,” according to an article published on the New Yorker’s Daily Comment blog. “A subsequent inquiry by the Yemeni parliament found that fourteen Al Qaeda  fighters had been killed—along with forty-one civilians, including twenty-three  children.”

As the article points out, when American officials were spoken to, “they  seemed genuinely perplexed. They didn’t deny that a large number of civilians  had been killed. They felt bad about it. But the aerial surveillance, they said,  had clearly showed that a training camp for militants was operating there.”

“It was a terrible outcome,” an unnamed official told Dexter Filkins, the  author of the piece. “Nobody wanted that.”

If Feinstein’s claim was accurate, the casualties from that single “targeted” strike would have to be spread out over some five years.

That’s not the only single incident that proves Feinstein’s claim to be  completely and totally false.

An incredibly detailed and lengthy report published in September 2012, “Living Under Drones,” by the International Human Rights and  Conflict Resolution Clinic at Stanford Law School and the Global Justice Clinic  at New York University School of Law focused on one such incident in  Pakistan.

The report focused on a single drone strike on March 17, 2011 in Pakistan  which killed around 40 or more people according to “nearly all available  sources.”

While individuals with Pakistani intelligence said that 12 or 13 of those  killed were Taliban militants, the report stated that, “the Associated Press  investigation found that it was likely only four. Of those four, only one,  Sherabat Khan, has ever been identified by name.”

Separate investigations carried out by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism “so far obtained the names of 24 civilians killed who died in the strike,” according to the report.

The most noteworthy of all points, however, is that according to a New York  Times report from last year, “Obama embraced a disputed method for  counting civilian casualties that did little to box him in. It in effect counts  all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants, according to several  administration officials, unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously  proving them innocent.”

This method of counting civilian deaths is, on its face, completely  absurd.

Feinstein’s justification for trusting the Obama administration’s numbers are  perhaps even more absurd.

Spencer Ackerman of Danger Room asked Feinstein why the Intelligence  Committee would be confident in believing that the CIA was not misleading  Congress about civilian deaths from drones when they previously misled Congress  about their torture and detention program.

“That’s a good question, actually,” Feinstein said, according to Danger Room. “That’s a good question.”

“She said she felt the CIA wasn’t ‘defensive’ of the drones in the way it was  defensive of the torture program, however,” wrote Ackerman.

Feinstein refuses to even recognize the fact that the Obama administration’s  estimates are not only based on a patently absurd methodology but also that the  administration “has clear incentives to lie,” as Friedersdorf rightly points  out.

This issue is only going to become more important as outgoing Secretary of  Defense Leon Panetta stated that the U.S. needs an open-ended drone war in order to prevent a  future attack on America and the problem of domestic drone use is becoming increasingly  contentious.

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.

 

How in NYC the Homeless Pay $3,000/Month to Live in Tenements


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(Liberty Blitzkrieg) -I read a lot of news every day.  It’s become my life and my passion.  Rarely do I come across a story of greed and corruption so absurd that I can’t believe my own eyes as they scroll the page.  This is one of those stories.

This takes the concept of slumlord to an entirely new level.  As New York City struggles to find shelter for its increasingly large homeless population, some landlords are paying off their rent-stabilized tenants in order to overcharge the city on rentals for the homeless.  In some cases, the rent ends up being as high as $3,000 a month for a tiny room without a kitchen or a bathroom.  Yep, you read that correctly.  So next time you wonder why you are paying so much money for your little box in the sky, you can thank America’s growing slumlord industry.  Prepare your jaw to remain open for the next couple of minutes.

From the New York Times:

The city’s Department of Homeless Services pays many times the amount the rooms would usually rent for — spending over $3,000 a month for each threadbare room without a bathroom or kitchen — because of an acute shortage in shelters for homeless men and women.

Indeed, the amount the city pays — roughly half that amount goes to the landlord, while the other half pays for security and social services for homeless tenants — has encouraged Mr. Lapes to switch business models and become a major private operator of homeless shelters. He is by most measures the city’s largest and owns or leases about 20 of the 231 shelters citywide. Most of the other shelters and residences are run by the city or by nonprofit agencies, but his operation is profit-making, prompting criticism from advocates for the homeless and elected officials.

The fact that these modest living spaces have such high rents opens a window on a peculiarity of the city’s overall homeless policy. That policy, which was put in place in response to court settlements in 1979 and 2008, requires the city, under threat of sizable fines, to find a roof immediately for every homeless person. It has given landlords willing to house the homeless leverage to dictate rental prices and other terms.

With the number of homeless people rising to 30-year record levels — over 47,216 people as of early this month, 20,000 of them children — the city has struggled to find landlords willing to accommodate a population that includes people with mental health and substance abuse problems.

Wait a minute. The number of homeless is at a 30 year high?  How could this be in the booming economic recovery we’ve got going?

Joyce Colon, a resident there who entered the homeless system in December, said she was shocked by the violence and prostitution in the building.

“For $3,000 I could have gotten an apartment, a down payment and a security deposit and some furniture,” Ms. Colon, 49, said. “The landlord is getting $3,000 and I’m getting nothing.”

Patrick Markee, a senior policy analyst for the Coalition for the Homeless, blamed the Bloomberg administration for the continuing use of private landlords to house the homeless, citing a policy not to give the homeless priority for public housing projects and Section 8 vouchers because of long waiting lists.

Of course Bloomberg has his little paws in this somehow.  Perhaps he should’ve thought about this instead of spending his time banning large sodas.

“The crisis that’s causing the city to open so many new shelters is mostly of the mayor’s own making,” he said. “Instead of moving families out of shelters and into permanent housing, as previous mayors did, the city is now paying millions to landlords with a checkered past of harassing low-income tenants and failing to address hazardous conditions.”

Welcome to the recovery.

Feds Set To Mandate “Black Box” Data Recorders In Every Car And Truck


 

Accident investigators will soon have black-box data from all crashes, because of a new rule set to be finalized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

WASHINGTON – Many motorists don’t know it, but it’s likely that every time they get behind the wheel, there’s a snitch along for the ride.
This week ended the public comment period on a proposed law that would put so-called black boxes in every new car sold by September 1, 2014. The thing is, most cars already have them unbeknownst to many drivers.
Automakers have been quietly tucking the devices, which automatically record the actions of drivers and the responses of their vehicles in a continuous information loop, into most new cars for years.
When a car is involved in a crash or when its airbags deploy, inputs from the vehicle’s sensors during the 5 to 10 seconds before impact are automatically preserved. That’s usually enough to record things like how fast the car was traveling and whether the driver applied the brake, was steering erratically or had a seat belt on. This data has been used recently, for example, to determine what was happening in cars before accidents when some Toyota owners were claiming their cars were accelerating out of control as they were driving.
The idea behind mandating black box data recorders is to gather information that can help investigators determine the causes of accidents and lead to safer vehicles. But privacy advocates say government regulators and automakers are spreading an intrusive technology without first putting in place policies to prevent misuse of the information collected.
Data collected by the recorders is increasingly showing up in lawsuits, criminal cases and high-profile accidents. Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray initially said that he wasn’t speeding and that he was wearing his seat belt when he crashed a government-owned car last year. But the Ford Crown Victoria’s data recorder told a different story: It showed the car was traveling more than 100 mph and Murray wasn’t belted in.
In 2007, then-New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine was seriously injured in the crash of an SUV driven by a state trooper. Corzine was a passenger. The SUV’s recorder showed the vehicle was traveling 91 mph on a parkway where the speed limit was 65 mph, and Corzine didn’t have his seat belt on.
In this way, the black boxes can nail liars trying to blame their cars for bad driving.
There’s no opt-out. It’s extremely difficult for car owners to disable the recorders. Although some vehicle models have had recorders since the early 1990s, a federal requirement that automakers disclose their existence in owner’s manuals didn’t go into effect until three months ago. Automakers that voluntarily put recorders in vehicles are also now required to gather a minimum of 15 types of data.
Besides the upcoming proposal to put recorders in all new vehicles, the traffic safety administration is also considering expanding the data requirement to include as many as 30 additional types of data such as whether the vehicle’s electronic stability control was engaged, the driver’s seat position or whether the front-seat passenger was belted in. Some manufacturers already are collecting the information. Engineers have identified more than 80 data points that might be useful.
Privacy complaints have gone unheeded so far. The traffic safety administration says it doesn’t have the authority to impose limits on how the information can be used and other privacy protections. About a dozen states have some law regarding data recorders, but the rest do not.
“Right now we’re in an environment where there are no rules, there are no limits, there are no consequences and there is no transparency,” said Lillie Coney, associate director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a privacy advocacy group. “Most people who are operating a motor vehicle have no idea this technology is integrated into their vehicle.”
Part of the concern is that the increasing computerization of cars and the growing communications to and from vehicles like GPS navigation and General Motors‘ OnStar system could lead to unintended uses of recorder data.
“Basically your car is a computer now, so it can record all kinds of information,” said Gloria Bergquist, vice president of the Alliance of Automotive Manufacturers. “It’s a lot of the same issues you have about your computer or your smartphone and whether Google or someone else has access to the data.”
The alliance opposes the government requiring recorders in all vehicles.
Data recorders “help our engineers understand how cars perform in the real world, and we already have put them on over 90 percent of (new) vehicles without any mandate being necessary,” Bergquist said.
The National Transportation Safety Board has been pushing for recorders in all passenger vehicles since the board’s investigation of a 2003 accident in which an elderly driver plowed through an open-air market in Santa Monica, Calif. Ten people were killed and 63 were injured. The driver refused to be interviewed and his 1992 Buick LeSabre didn’t have a recorder. After ruling out other possibilities, investigators ultimately guessed that he had either mistakenly stepped on the gas pedal or had stepped on the gas and the brake pedals at the same time.
Some automakers began installing the recorders at a time when there were complaints that air bags might be causing deaths and injuries, partly to protect themselves against liability and partly to improve air bag technology. Most recorders are black boxes about the size of a deck of cards with circuit boards inside. After an accident, information is downloaded to a laptop computer using a tool unique to the vehicle’s manufacturer. As electronics in cars have increased, the kinds of data that can be recorded have grown as well. Some more recent recorders are part of the vehicle’s computers rather than a separate device.