Appearing on the French television show, Le Grand Journal, Jean-Claude Van Damme (JCVD) just showed the world that even he is aware of the control and power of the Rothschild and Rockefeller families. Continue reading
Appearing on the French television show, Le Grand Journal, Jean-Claude Van Damme (JCVD) just showed the world that even he is aware of the control and power of the Rothschild and Rockefeller families. Continue reading
Former First Lady Hillary Clinton is the current darling of the liberal media and the front-runner for Democratic nomination for the 2016 presidential election. However, a new video could destroy her political career, giving her a term in a jail cell rather than the Oval Office.
Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura (I) said he would run for president, if the current race comes down to Donald Trump against Hillary Clinton, the Daily Beastreported.
“Jesse Ventura is a bright, shining new face who comes riding in on a white stallion to save the country,” he said. Continue reading
Well the voting season is upon us. Of course right now it is only the primaries, but after hearing radio commentary and being a witness to the countless illogical and naive social media posts, along with countless articles by the lamestream media, I have decided I would do my own commentary. I do not have all day and night to be on Facebook or Twitter, and frankly I cannot understand how people have THAT much time on their hands. With that being said, I don’t even know where to start since there’s so much to all of this but I’m going to share my account with you in the shortest way possible. Continue reading
Host of Caravan to Midnight, actor, musician, writer, investigative journalist, composer, martial artist, aviator and broadcaster, John B. Wells finds the ancient sage advice of “concentrating on just one thing” to be true. His one thing: The Arts.
John is also an internationally renowned voice-over artist with credits ranging from serving as the announcer for CBS’ The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn, to voicing promos for hit television shows like Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch and Gold Rush to lending his voice to films like Oliver Stone’s JFK and Talk Radio, as well as the popular series Unsealed: Alien Files.
Once again history is repeating…
I’ve asserted for years that the U.S. Government is an amalgamation of the Third Reich, “Atlas Shrugged,” “Animal Farm,” and “1984.” Once again history is repeating. The Nazis’ contemporaries are the neoconservatives who are running the U.S. Government behind the facade of Obama’s White House.
Roger Stone Takes On Jeb Bush, Hillary Clinton, and the Two-Party Duopoly of the 2016 Elections with Jesse Ventura | Jesse Ventura Off The Grid - Ora TV
Legendary political hitman Roger Stone - Reagan’s and H.W.’s former consultant - joins Jesse Ventura in this Off The Grid interview. Stone exposes the crowded 2016 presidential race as corrupt, blasting the “non-choice” of Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton as serving only the two-party duopoly. He sounds off on the state of our political system, calling it “show business for ugly people.” Do you agree with Roger Stone? Sound off at Ora.TV/OffTheGrid!
US President Barack Obama yesterday raised the stakes in the confrontation with North Korea over unsubstantiated allegations that it hacked into Sony Pictures Entertainment, authorizing a new round of economic sanctions affecting 10 government officials and three state entities. Continue reading
Russia and the United States reached a deal on a framework that will see the destruction or removal of Syria’s chemical weapons by mid- 2014. Under the plan, the Assad government has one week to hand over an inventory of its chemical weapons arsenal. Continue reading
(Business Insider) - Philippe Reines, the personal spokesman and longtime adviser to Hillary Clinton, blew up at New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner after the latest revelations surrounding his online sexual relationships.The New York Times’ Amy Chozick and Michael Grynbaum report that Reines went off on Weiner during a campaign conference call after learning of the new revelations. Reines is a close personal friend of Huma Abedin, a “surrogate daughter” beloved by the Clintons, and has an informal, unpaid role with the campaign. Continue reading
(Intellihub) -Is the nation too distracted by the George Zimmerman trial’s 24/7 news cycle to even know about this developing situation that coincides with escalating tensions between Russia and US-affiliated nations around the world? Continue reading
MOSCOW—The Kremlin criticized the U.S. decision to arm Syrian opposition fighters and said Washington’s evidence that the Syrian regime is using chemical weapons was unconvincing, but said Friday that Moscow is “not yet” discussing its plans to deliver of air-defense missiles to the regime. Continue reading
President Obama’s perpetual scam machine is in high gear – which signals another expansion of war and war-powers accumulation. The president played the reluctant warrior who doesn’t really want the limitless powers he has arrogated to himself. But, what he’s seeking is formal authorization to escalate the U.S. offensive against world order and civil liberties.
Perpetual War – and Obama’s Perpetual Con Game
by BAR executive editor Glen Ford
“He admits to having done no wrong.”
Barack Obama is a master trickster, a shape-shifter, and a methodical liar. The man who has arrogated to himself the right to kill at will, anywhere on the globe, accountable only to himself, based on secret information and classified legal rationales, now says he is determined that Washington’s “perpetual war” must one day end – sometime in the misty future after he is long gone from office. He informed his global audience of potential victims that he had signed a secret agreement (with himself?) that would limit drone strikes to targets that pose “a continuing, imminent threat to Americans” and cannot be captured – a policy that his White House has always claimed (falsely) to be operative. He promises to be more merciful than before, “haunted” as he is by all the nameless deaths, although he admits to having done no wrong.
He is a man of boundless introspection, inviting us to ride with him on his wildly spinning moral compass. But, most of all, he is not George Bush – of that we can be certain, if only because he is younger and oratorically gifted and Black. “Beyond Afghanistan,” he said, “we must define our effort not as a boundless ‘global war on terror,’ but rather as a series of persistent, targeted efforts to dismantle specific networks of violent extremists that threaten America.” Thus, magically, he redefined the U.S. war on terror out of existence (in perpetuity) by breaking the conflict down to its daily, constituent parts, while simultaneously affirming that America will soon travel “beyond Afghanistan” despite the fact that many thousands of Special Operations troops will continue their round the clock raids in the countryside while drones rain death from the skies for the foreseeable future.
Such conflicts, we must understand, are necessitated by the “imminence” of threats posed to U.S. security, as weighed and measured by secret means. His Eminence is the sole judge of imminence. He is also the arbiter of who is to be detained in perpetuity, without trial or (public) charge, for “association” with “terrorists” as defined by himself. He has no apologies for that.
“His Eminence is the sole judge of imminence.”
America must turn the page on the previous era, because “the threat has shifted and evolved from the one that came to our shores on 9/11.” A reevaluation is in order, since “we have to recognize that the scale of this threat closely resembles the types of attacks we faced before 9/11.” In that case, why not call for repeal of the layers of war on terror legislation that have accumulated over the last 12 years, including Obama’s own NDAA preventive detention bill? Or, he could simply renounce these measures and refuse to employ them as a matter of policy. Instead, the president defended his own maximalist interpretation of the law, and claimed that the legal basis for his kill-at-will authority is firmly rooted in the Congress’s 2001 Authorization of Military Force (AMUF). Although he made vague reference to changes that Congress might make in the AMUF, there was no substantive indication that he sought to impose restrictions on his own or any other president’s authority to wage war precisely as he has for the last four years.
Obama’s blanket interpretation of AMUF – the legal logic - had previously been considered a state secret. It was news to much of the U.S. Senate, too, until assistant secretary of defense Michael Sheehan, in charge of special operations (death squads) at the Pentagon, told lawmakers earlier this month that the AMUF allows Obama to put “boots on the ground” anywhere he chooses, including “Yemen or the Congo,” if his classified logic compelled him to do so.
The senators were stunned – although it is no secret that Obama has already put U.S. Special Forces boots on the ground in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, the Central African Republic, and South Sudan, and has sent a combat brigade on permanent posting on the continent. Central Africa is one part of the world in which al Qaida has found little traction. The purported “bad guy” hiding in the bush, Joseph Kony, is the Christian leader of the remnants of the Lord’s Resistance Army. Obama authorized the deployment under the doctrine of Humanitarian Military Intervention, or Responsibility to Protect (R2P), a war-making notion that is, at best, ill-defined under international law and non-existent in U.S. statutes. However, if Obama is sincere (!) in wanting to phase out AMUF, as he averred last week, he’s always got R2P as a backup.
“Why not call for repeal of the layers of war on terror legislation that have accumulated over the last 12 years?”
Death squad honcho Sheehan is a believer in the perpetual lifespan of AMUF, which he considers operative until al Qaida has been consigned to the “ash heap of history” – an eventuality that is “at least 10 to 20 years” away. Since this is the guy who carries out Obama’s kill orders (the identity of his counterpart in the CIA is, of course, a secret), one would think that Sheehan and Obama would be on the same page when it comes to al Qaida and AMUF. But then, we are told that page has turned.
Obama is very good at flipping pages, changing subjects, hiding the pea in his hand while we try to figure out which bowl it’s under. His call for Congress to come up with a substitute for AMUF – without yet offering his own version – is a ploy to more explicitly codify those powers assumed by Bush and expanded upon by the Obama administration. Or, the Congress can do nothing – a very likely outcome – and Obama can pretend to be the reluctant, self-restrained global assassin, preventive detainer and regime changer for the rest of his term.
Not a damn thing has changed.
In what must be bad news to Attorney General Eric Holder (and his boss in the Oval Office), results of a new Rasmussen poll indicate that 49 percent of respondents believe that the regulation of gun ownership is a state or local issue.
On May 3-4, 2013, Rasmussen Reports polled the opinions of 1,000 likely voters. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points.
What is even less favorable to the administration’s program to exalt the federal government above the states is the poll’s finding that 44 percent of those who participated in the survey believe states retain the right to nullify any act of the federal government they deem constitutionally invalid.
Simply stated, nullification is the exercise by a state or states of the right to hold as null, void, and of no legal effect any act of the federal government that exceeds the boundaries of the powers given to it by the states in the Constitution.
The issue, while not new, has regained prominence recently as the federal government has enacted ObamaCare and various gun control restrictions. Opponents of these efforts point to the fact that the authority to do neither of these things is granted to the federal government in the Constitution. Therefore, states are flexing their sovereign muscles, nullifying these and other attempts by the federal government to constrict the scope of liberty.
Of more particular interest to those in the liberty movement (especially elected officials looking to communicate with likely supporters) is the Rasmussen report that of “mainstream voters” who participated in the survey, 52 percent say that state governments have the right to refuse to enforce any federal act with which they disagree “on legal grounds.”
Read that again: A majority of Americans who vote believe that the federal government does not have the exclusive or the ultimate right to impose its rule on states that regard its acts as unconstitutional or illegal.
And it must be pointed out that nullification is not the right of states to nullify any federal act. Rather, it is the right of states to choose to not enforce any federal act that fails to conform to the constitutionally established limits on the authority of the federal government.
Nullification presupposes that there are myriad (albeit limited) areas over which the Constitution has given purview to the federal government: defense, naturalization, foreign relations, interstate commerce, etc.
When Washington decides to go walkabout, however, and start legislating (or issuing edicts, in the case of President Obama) in areas not within its constitutional boundaries (healthcare, education, gun ownership), the states reserve the right to check that usurpation by refusing to afford such acts the power of law. Conversely, it would be a usurpation on the part of the states should they attempt to disregard federal laws that are constitutionally sound.
Americans, it seems, are getting the message that Thomas Jefferson and James Madison sent out over 200 years ago in the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions.
As Madison wrote in the Virginia Resolution of 1798,
In case of a deliberate, palpable, and dangerous exercise of other powers, not granted by the said compact, the states who are parties thereto, have the right, and are in duty bound, to interpose for arresting the progress of the evil, and for maintaining within their respective limits, the authorities, rights and liberties appertaining to them.
that a spirit has in sundry instances, been manifested by the federal government, to enlarge its powers by forced constructions of the constitutional charter which defines them; and that implications have appeared of a design to expound certain general phrases… so as to destroy the meaning and effect, of the particular enumeration which necessarily explains and limits the general phrases; and so as to consolidate the states by degrees, into one sovereignty, the obvious tendency and inevitable consequence of which would be, to transform the present republican system of the United States, into an absolute, or at best a mixed monarchy.
If they are an accurate measure of public opinion, then, these Rasmussen poll numbers are surely music to the ears of the scores of state lawmakers who have boldly put themselves on record as opposing federal overreach by voting in favor of numerous nullification bills currently wending their way through the legislative process in state capitals nationwide.
Lately, federal wrath has been turned on Topeka as the state legislature passed and the governor signed a law prohibiting the enforcement of federal gun control regulations on guns manufactured and maintained within the state of Kansas.
As The New American has reported, Attorney General Eric Holder recently “reminded” Governor Sam Brownback of Kansas that his state’s attempt to nullify federal gun control statutes was “unconstitutional” and that the Obama administration would “take all appropriate actions” to make sure Kansas toed the federal line.
To his credit, Brownback wrote back to Holder, informing him that he would not bow to federal pressure and would continue to support his state’s constitutional prerogative to nullify unconstitutional federal acts.
In fairness, regardless of the swelling support for nullification in the homes of “mainstream voters,” there remains in academia an almost apoplectic revulsion to the concept.
Earlier this year, several articles and op-ed pieces were published on blogs and in newspapers where the authors labeled nullification as “nuts” and a “bizarre fad.”
To the contrary, the Rasmussen poll results suggest that it is the notion of an all-powerful, always-supreme federal government that is being pushed further and further into the hinterlands of the political landscape.
Joe A. Wolverton, II, J.D. is a correspondent for The New American and travels frequently nationwide speaking on topics of nullification, the NDAA, and the surveillance state. He can be reached at [email protected]
In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Monday the country’s interpretation of the Constitution will “have to change” to allow for greater security to stave off future attacks.
“The people who are worried about privacy have a legitimate worry,” Mr. Bloomberg said during a press conference in Midtown. “But we live in a complex word where you’re going to have to have a level of security greater than you did back in the olden days, if you will. And our laws and our interpretation of the Constitution, I think, have to change.”
Mr. Bloomberg, who has come under fire for the N.Y.P.D.’s monitoring of Muslim communities and other aggressive tactics, said the rest of the country needs to learn from the attacks.
“Look, we live in a very dangerous world. We know there are people who want to take away our freedoms. New Yorkers probably know that as much if not more than anybody else after the terrible tragedy of 9/11,” he said.
“We have to understand that in the world going forward, we’re going to have more cameras and that kind of stuff. That’s good in some sense, but it’s different from what we are used to,” he said.
The mayor pointed to the gun debate and noted the courts have allowed for increasingly stringent regulations in response to ever-more powerful weapons.
“Clearly the Supreme Court has recognized that you have to have different interpretations of the Second Amendment and what it applies to and reasonable gun laws … Here we’re going to to have to live with reasonable levels of security,” he said, pointing to the use of magnetometers to catch weapons in city schools.
“It really says something bad about us that we have to do it. But our obligation first and foremost is to keep our kids safe in the schools; first and foremost, to keep you safe if you go to a sporting event; first and foremost is to keep you safe if you walk down the streets or go into our parks,” he said. “We cannot let the terrorists put us in a situation where we can’t do those things. And the ways to do that is to provide what we think is an appropriate level of protection.”
Still, Mr. Bloomberg argued the attacks shouldn’t be used as an excuse to persecute certain religions or groups.
“What we cant do is let the protection get in the way of us enjoying our freedoms,” he said. “You still want to let people practice their religion, no matter what that religion is. And I think one of the great dangers here is going and categorizing anybody from one religion as a terrorist. That’s not true … That would let the terrorists win. That’s what they want us to do.”
America needs a new war? For the economy to survive? Job market to revive? Capitalism thrive? Maybe. Here’s why:
Forbes reported that GDP data “fell for the first time in three and a half years in the fourth quarter … declining by an annualized 0.1%” while “economists had expected GDP to increase 1%. A dramatic 15% drop in government spending dragged on economic activity. Defense outlays were cut the most, falling by 22.2%, the largest decrease in defense since the Vietnam War’s end in 1972.”
Wars stimulate the economy and we are a warrior nation: Didn’t WWII get us out of the Great Depression? And the Iraq/Afghan Wars, longest in history, sure stimulated the economy … the Pentagon war machine doubled from $260 billion in 2000 to roughly $550 billion last year … GDP increased 50% from $10 trillion to $15 trillion … and federal debt tripled to over $15 trillion from under $5 trillion back when our leaders believed “debt didn’t matter.”
But most of all, wars are great for capitalists: Forbes list of world billionaires skyrocketed from 322 in 2000 to 1,426 recently. Yes the adjusted household income of the rest of Americans flatlined the past generation.
But still, life’s great for capitalism and for 1,426 capitalists across America and worldwide, a tribute to the “disaster capitalism” doctrines of Nobel economist Milton Friedman and Ayn Rand’s free-market capitalism dogma.
However, with the Afghan and Iraq Wars winding down, capitalism needs an economic stimulus: a new war. It’s so American: Neocons believe a new war would boost GDP. They must be praying North Korea’s Lil’ Kim will do something impulsive. Give us an excuse.
Yet Washington politicians are conflicted. Some want to shrink government, cut debt and are cheering the “dramatic 15% drop in government spending.” On the other hand, the “largest decrease in defense since the Vietnam War’s end in 1972” is unnerving neocons, warhawks and politicians heavily dependent on defense contractors, lobbyists and voters at military bases in their districts.
So what’s next? If American capitalism needs a new war to survive … if we’re slowing down the Afghan and Iraq war theaters … if North Korea’s just saber-rattling … if China has too much to lose … if new wars are fought by drones from video screens in one of the Pentagon’s 70 drone bases … but if all the military-industrial complex capitalists who get rich off wars are still itching to attack … then who will trigger a new war for America’s “disaster capitalists?”
Although black swans are by definition unpredictable, there are 11 hot-spot pressure points already ramping up global tension and conflicts. And suddenly, the pressure can easily spark over the line, hit a flash point, and be ignited by any one of multiple unpredictable events that suddenly explode, and spread like a virus to all 10.
Then capitalist warhawks can take advantage of it, as they did by linking 9/11 with launching the Iraq War. So yes, in Worldwatch Institute’s report we see at least 11 challenging black swan hot spots that could surprise and ignite new wars:
Here’s Worldwatch’s blunt challenge: “Planet’s Tug-of-War Between Carrying Capacity and Rising Demand: Can We Keep This Up?” No: The planet’s “shrinking resources” cannot satisfy the exploding population’s “growing demand for food and energy.”
Why? It’s “impossible, we can’t keep this up.” Robert Engelman warns: “Rising trends will not last forever. They can’t.” The world will collapse under epidemics, famines, warfare.
When? A decade ago the Bush Pentagon predicted that “by 2020 there is little doubt something drastic is happening,” they told Fortune. “As the planet’s carrying capacity shrinks, an ancient pattern of desperate, all-out wars over food, water, and energy supplies would emerge … warfare is defining human life.” 2020 is dead ahead.
The coming capitalist wars reminds me of fighting depicted in the brutal “Hunger Games” movie. A perfect metaphor. With over one billion of seven billion people in the world living on two dollars a day … with accelerating food and commodity prices pushing more humans and emerging nations over the edge … with rising real food shortages, real hunger, real malnutrition, real starvation, real poverty … with the living standards of developed nations demanding an ever-increasing share of ever-scarcer resources … we see Worldwatch’s 11 vital signs as hot spots and black swans that can easily ignite rebellions, revolutions and full-scale wars in the near future:
Back during the Great Depression the world had 3 billion people. Twelve years ago it had doubled to 6 billion. Now it’s 7 billion, with the United Nations predicting 10 billion by 2050. Worldwatch says “although fertility rates are falling worldwide, many countries with high birth rates will have to accommodate a rapidly expanding labor force in the next few decades. In Uganda, where women give birth to six children on average, this means needing to generate more than 1.5 million new jobs by the late 2030s.”
Big Agriculture “has contributed to a tripling in global meat production over the last four decades.” Texas cattlemen may be getting richer but this is “associated with heavy use of chemical inputs, the spread of disease, antibiotic overuse and resistance, massive water consumption, and declines in human health.”
Last year’s data tells us “grain production is recovering from a slump.” However, a longer-term recovery “is being seriously hindered by climatic changes and by rising demand for ethanol fuel, producing ripple effects throughout the economy through increased grain prices.”
As the demand for food and the price of agricultural lands continues rising, the world’s forests continue to disappear, wiping out species and habitats, displacing native cultures, disrupting climate patterns and contaminating the environment. For example, a few years ago Bloomberg Markets specifically exposed Cargill and Alcoa for “destruction of the world’s largest rain forest … robbing the earth of its best shield against global warming.”
Worldwatch reports that “livestock are responsible for 40% of the world’s methane emissions and 65% of nitrous oxide emissions,” emitting toxic “greenhouse gases 25 to 100 times more potent than carbon dioxide.”
Organic foods bought at stores like Whole Foods Markets make you feel spiritual. But Worldwatch warns that the organic movement is now being challenged by “rising farmland prices, inconsistencies in organic standards and higher prices of organic foods.” Moreover, organic farming is actually impeding “a broad global shift to sustainable agriculture.”
Imagine, “statistics from 177 countries show that 38% of adults — those 15 years or older — are now overweight, with trends on the rise across different regions of the world and different income levels.” Yes, both hunger and obesity accelerating, threatening billions.
Global oil consumption reached a new high of 87.4 million barrels per day in 2010. Oil remains the largest commercial source of energy.” Meanwhile “global production of biofuels reached an all-time high of 105 billion liters in 2010, up 17% from 2009, mostly as a result of high oil prices, global economic rebound and new biofuel-related laws and mandates.”
Fossil-fuel demand is being “driven by surging natural-gas consumption in Asia and the United States.” As a result natural-gas consumption increased 7.4% in 2009-2010 hitting a record 113 trillion cubic feet. The dark side: New technologies and sources such as fracking and shale gas are now environmental threats along with spill risks to aquifers and from deep-water explorations.
Yes, the “generation of nuclear power fell in 2011” due to the “increasing costs of production, a slowed demand for electricity, and fresh memories of disaster in Japan,” plus Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, and the increasing risks of storing spent fuel.
Check out the Worldwatch site. Get their newsletters, get into action. And read the “Hunger Games” trilogy, a powerful metaphor for the world’s real “Hunger Games,” a global war for survival being fought every day, driven by an ever-increasing population with a seemingly insatiable “demand for food and energy” on a planet with “shrinking resources.”
Until we wake up to the coming wars, we’re just happy capitalists trapped in the mind-set of Robert Mankoff’s brilliant New Yorker cartoon: “While the end-of-the-world scenario will be rife with unimaginable horrors,” says the head of a too-greedy-to-fail bank, “we believe that the pre-end period will be filled with unprecedented opportunities for profit.” Go capitalism!
Paul B. Farrell is a MarketWatch columnist based in San Luis Obispo, Calif. Follow him on Twitter @MKTWFarrell.
Read more at http://investmentwatchblog.com/paul-b-farrell-america-needs-a-new-war-for-the-economy-to-survive-job-market-to-revive-capitalism-thrive-maybe-heres-why/#opv1YxeBoizhGU5Y.99
The U.S. House of Representatives passed CISPA todaywith the majority of the major problems intact. When Rep. Alan Grayson proposed an amendment that would require the National Security Agency, FBI, Department of Homeland Security and others to obtain a warrant before searching a database, it was shot down without debate.
Grayson, a Florida Democrat, proposed a simple amendment only a sentence long that would require “a warrant obtained in accordance with the fourth amendment to the Constitution of the United States” when a government agency sought to search a database of private information obtained from e-mail and internet service providers for evidence of criminal activity.
Grayson complained earlier today on Twitter saying, “The Rules Committee wouldn’t even allow debate on requiring a warrant before a search.”
As CNET points out, “That’s a reference to a vote this week by the House Rules committee that rejected a series of privacy-protective amendments, meaning they could not be proposed and debated during today’s floor proceedings.”
Without that amendment, a wide range of agencies within the federal government can be searched without a warrant so long as it is supposedly related to any crime related to protecting someone from “serious bodily harm.”
While some of the crimes are quite serious, like child pornography, kidnapping and “serious threats to the physical safety of minors,” the database can also be searched for “cybersecurity purposes” and for the “investigation and prosecution of cybersecurity crimes.” Obviously that leaves a lot of leeway.
According to Rep. Jared Polis, a Colorado Democrat and former Internet entrepreneur, the “serious bodily harm” is dangerous because it is ambiguous enough to allow federal agencies to “go on fishing expeditions for electronic evidence,” according to CNET.
“The government could use this information to investigate gun shows” and even football games, simply because there is a threat of serious bodily harm if an accident were to occur, Polis said.
“What do these things even have to do with cybersecurity? … From football to gun show organizing, you’re really far afield,” he said.
To make matters even worse, there is nothing under CISPA requiring the anonymization of records as incredibly sensitive and personal as health records or banking information before they are shared and searched by the government according to ZDNet.
As CNET rightly notes, one of the most controversial aspects of CISPA is that it “overrules all existing federal and state laws by saying ‘notwithstanding any other provision of law,’ including privacy policies and wiretap laws, companies may share cybersecurity-related information ‘with any other entity, including the federal government.’”
While CISPA would not require companies to share the information, it is hard to think of a large corporation these days that wouldn’t play ball if pressured by the federal government.
The problems with CISPA are so glaring that 34 advocacy groupsas diverse as the American Library Association, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the American Civil Liberties Union, Reporters Without Borders and many more, wrote a letter in opposition to the legislation.
“CISPA’s information sharing regime allows the transfer of vast amounts of data, including sensitive information like Internet records or the content of emails to any agency in the government including military and intelligence agencies like the National Security Agency or the Department of Defense Cyber Command,” the groups pointed out in their letter.
The ACLU opposes the bill because, “there’s a disconnect here between what they say is going to happen and what the legislation says,” thanks to the amendments that were blocked, according to legislative counsel Michelle Richardson.
Unfortunately, this time around CISPA is not receiving the widespread opposition legislation like the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) received, which eventually led to SOPA’s failure.
CNET chalks this up to the lack of alliances between ordinary Internet users, civil liberties groups and technology companies this time around.
While no broad-based coalition exists fighting CISPA, massive corporations have gathered together to support it.
“Companies including AT&T, Comcast, EMC, IBM, Intel, McAfee, Oracle, Time Warner Cable, and Verizon have instead signed on as CISPA supporters,” Declan McCullagh writes.
Some, including Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit, are calling on Internet companies to take a stand in opposing CISPA.
In the below video, Ohanian calls on Google, Facebook and Twitter to stand up for the privacy rights of the American people:
There is still time to fight CISPA in the Senate.
“We’re committed to taking this fight to the Senate and fighting to ensure no law which would be so detrimental to online privacy is passed on our watch,” said Rainey Reitman, EFF Activism Director.
Contacting your senators is incredibly easy. If you care about the principles of the Constitution and your privacy, you will be doing yourself and others a favor by taking a few moments to contact your senators to instruct them to uphold their oath of office by defending the Constitution and the rights of the American people.
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[email protected] with your concerns, tips, questions, original writings, insults or just about anything that may strike your fancy.
This article first appeared at End the Lie.
Madison Ruppert is the Editor and Owner-Operator of the alternative news and analysis database End The Lie and has no affiliation with any NGO, political party, economic school, or other organization/cause. He is available for podcast and radio interviews. Madison also now has his own radio show on UCYTV Monday nights 7 PM - 9 PM PT/10 PM - 12 AM ET. Show page link here: http://UCY.TV/EndtheLie. If you have questions, comments, or corrections feel free to contact him at [email protected]
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said this morning that he is considering a run for president in 2016, but will not make a decision before 2014. Paul’s filibuster on the American drone program, his speeches at theHeritage Foundation and Howard University have propelled Paul into the American political mainstream and allowed him to try to establish himself as a mainstream conservative and as a Republican interested in reaching out to African-Americans.
From the Associated Press:
WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky says he is considering a presidential campaign in 2016 but will not make a decision before next year.
Paul says at a breakfast sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor that he wants to be part of the national debate and being considered a potential candidate gives him a “larger microphone” on issues.
(israelnationalnews.com) President Shimon Peres said that he believes that U.S. President Barack Obama will attack Iran’s nuclear facilities if diplomatic efforts fail.
“I have no doubt that if diplomatic talks fail with Iran and Tehran doesn’t stop accelerating its nuclear development – U.S. President Barack Obama will conduct a military attack against Iran,” Peres told the Israel Hayomnewspaper this week, in an interviewahead of Israel’s 65th Independence Day next week.
“Preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon isn’t only an Israeli interest, but a global and an American interest. As long as the U.S. is in the lead — why shouldn’t we use its assistance?” Peres said.
“It could be that the Iranians are trying to buy time, but they are also losing. The situation in Iran is greatly deteriorating, the economy is collapsing, and the people understand this very well,” said Peres. The full interview with Peres will be published in Israel Hayom on Monday.
The latest round of international discussions with Iran over its nuclear program ended in Kazakhstan this past week without any breakthroughs and the sides even failed to set a new date and time for a resumption of talks.
In fact, Iran insisted this week it will not suspend its enrichment of uranium to 20 percent nor will it ship out its existing stockpile, two keys demands of world powers in failed nuclear talks with Tehran.
On Monday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told Peres in a meeting that “President Barack Obama is not bluffing when he says he will stop Iran’s nuclear program.”
“We understand the nature of the threat of Iran. And as the President has said many times — he doesn’t bluff. He is serious. We will stand with Israel against this threat and with the rest of the world, who have underscored that all we are looking for is Iran to live up to its international obligations. No option is off the table. No option will be taken off the table,” Kerry said.
Iran this week marked its National Nuclear Technology Day by announcing theopening of two new uranium mines and a new plant capable of producing 60 tons of raw uranium (also known as “yellow cake”) per year.
Western nations have “tried their utmost to prevent Iran from going nuclear, but Iran has gone nuclear,” Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in a speech on Tuesday.
“They caused restrictions and issued threats, thinking that the Iranian nation cannot achieve nuclear energy … The best way for you is to cooperate with Iran,” he said.
On Friday, Russia responded to Iran’s unveiling of the new uranium production facility, warning the move could hurt progress in negotiations with world powers over Tehran’s nuclear program.
An unnamed source in the Russian foreign ministry told Interfax that Iran’s announcement does not actually breach its obligations under various international nuclear agreements.
Rocky Mountain Pawn & Gun is confident about its own cultural identity. Before entering the shop – a palace of weaponry and camouflage gear – customers must pass a sign indicating that hippies should use the back door.
Then, in a glass display case inside the shop, another sign reads, “Federal Law Prohibits the sale of firearms to medical marijuana card holders.”
According to Chris Burnett, the store’s manager, the second sign isn’t a “hippies can’t have guns” joke, but an edict handed down from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, a federal agency.
Burnett said the shop put up the sign after an ATF agent called Rocky Mountain Pawn & Gun and said “anyone who has a medical marijuana card will not pass a background check.”
The ATF did not respond to requests for comment.
Nearly 100,000 Coloradoans are licensed to use medical marijuana, which treats a range of ailments, including pain, insomnia, nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite and muscle spasms.
Colorado law is in conflict with federal law, which criminalizes marijuana in all circumstances and by definition applies to the whole country.
Burnett said on the application to own a firearm, which is submitted to the federal government, the applicant is asked whether he or she has ever used illegal drugs, and because marijuana is illegal according to federal law, medical marijuana users must answer “yes” or commit a crime – meaning they are categorically disqualified from gun ownership.
While the gun lobby and the grass lobby are not intuitive political allies, this is the too-rare legal determination that has both in uproar.
“It’s difficult to explain it to people who we have to turn away, because they say, ‘I did this the right way, I got a permit,’ meanwhile, people who are buying it from their neighbors can still go out and by a gun,” Burnett said.
Though Burnett feared the federal government had amassed a database of medical marijuana users, against which the federal government would cross-check firearm applications as it putatively does felony convictions, Mark Sally, spokesman with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, said that was impossible.
Only the state has that list, he said, and like all matters between doctors and patients, it is confidential.
Stuart Prall, a lawyer and marijuana advocate, said Rocky Mountain Pawn’s dilemma was indicative of the confusing state of the law regarding cannabis.
“I don’t think anybody should be denied rights, because people are taking one medicine as opposed to another medicine, and that’s true for parental rights, gun rights, any rights,” he said.
He said the unresolved and increasing contradictions in state law and federal law regarding marijuana meant that “it’s completely confusing to everybody.”
Fiscal Policy: Short of its accounting gimmicks, the president’s budget isn’t a “balanced” plan to get the debt crisis under control. It’s a monument to fiscal irresponsibility.
With much fanfare and a lot of media hype, President Obama unveiled his latest budget plan — two months late. An IBD review of Obama’s budget finds that, among other things, it:
• Boosts spending and deficits over the next two years. Obama’s own budget numbers show that he wants to hike spending over the next two years by $247 billion compared with the “baseline,” which even after his proposed new tax hikes would mean $157 billion in additional red ink.
Obama claims he’ll get tough on spending and deficits later, but every budget expert knows boosting spending today only makes it harder to cut later.
• Vastly exaggerates spending cuts. The press has widely reported that Obama’s budget would cut spending a total of $1.2 trillion over the next decade. But Obama’s own budget shows that he actually cuts spending a mere $186 billion. (The relevant tables can be found at http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/budget/fy2014/assets/tables.pdf on Pages 187-190.)
Obama inflates his claimed savings by first canceling the automatic sequester spending cuts he previously signed into law, then reclaiming them as new savings, and by adding in cuts in interest payments on the debt.
• Relies almost entirely on tax hikes. Obama’s budget shows his plan would increase revenues by $1.14 trillion over the next decade. That means his budget proposes $6 in new taxes for every $1 in spending cuts.
• Cuts the deficit less than claimed. “My budget will reduce our deficits by nearly another $2 trillion,” Obama said Wednesday. But his budget shows total deficit reduction over the next decade would be just $1.4 trillion. Plus, deficits start rising again after 2018.
• Creates a new entitlement without a reliable means to pay for it. Obama claims he can finance a new $76 billion “preschool for all” program by raising tobacco taxes again. But after an initial spike, tobacco tax revenues will start trending downward year after year as more people quit smoking, while the costs of this new program will keep climbing.
The last time Obama hiked tobacco taxes — to pay for an expansion of Medicaid — revenues came in $2.2 billion less than expected.
• Boosts taxes on the middle class. Obama proposes to change the government’s “consumer price index” in a way that will lower the official inflation rate. He’s selling it as a way to cut Social Security annual “cost of living” adjustments, which are based on the CPI.
But because his “chained CPI” would also apply to annual tax bracket adjustments, it will end up hiking taxes by $124 billion — mainly on the middle class — over the next decade through bracket creep, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
In his remarks Wednesday after releasing his 65-day-overdue budget, Obama claimed: “The numbers work. There’s not a lot of smoke and mirrors in here.”
Fact is, if it weren’t for smoke and mirrors, Obama would have no budget plan at all.
(Reuters) - President Barack Obama on Wednesday will issue a greatest hits list of ideas to raise $580 billion in new tax revenues over a decade, including a minimum tax on the wealthy and putting an end to some corporate tax breaks, administration officials said.
The president’s 2014 budget proposal, expected to be released in full later on Wednesday, has no chance of moving forward in the divided U.S. Congress. But as lawmakers consider a revamp of the tax code and face a deadline on the government’s debt limit this summer, some Obama measures could play a role.
The bid will revive Obama’s offer last year to Republican House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner during the negotiations to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff of looming tax hikes and spending cuts.
Senior administration official previewed the budget on condition of anonymity to reporters ahead of the release.
Obama will officially propose a new “Buffett tax” named for investor Warren Buffett that phases in a minimum 30 percent tax rate on household income above $1 million, the advisors said.
He had earlier backed the idea but not included it in his budget proposals.
The White House also will bring back a long-running proposal to cap itemized deductions and exemptions among wealthier taxpayers - starting at household income of roughly $250,000.
The cap would apply to the same list of deductions in years past, officials said. That includes the charitable tax break and the exemption for municipal bond interest.
Obama is not seeking to raise individual tax rates as he has in prior budgets, according to a White House document. For years, he sought to raise rates on household income above $250,000.
The fiscal cliff deal raised rates for households earning more than $450,000 a year, from 35 percent to 39.6 percent.
Also in the budget is ending the tax break for “carried interest” profits earned by fund managers like those who run private equity and other investment firms, officials said.
Administration officials also said to expect the White House to pitch familiar ideas to limit energy tax breaks, curb tax shifting to low-tax countries like the Cayman Islands, and a bid to end a tax break for corporate jets.
Obama proposes cutting the top U.S. corporate tax rate to 28 percent from 35 percent, now the highest in the industrialized world.
Obama has said that he backs a full-scale revamp of the entire tax code, both individual and corporate, and a White House summary called the budget proposals a “down payment.”
Top tax-writers in Congress also back a tax rewrite, but the process is fraught with disagreement over how to streamline the code and whether to raise new revenue in the process.
(Activist Post) In the months since the Sandy Hook Mass Shooting we have seen the largest attack on private firearm ownership in the history of the country. From calls for confiscation to a push for numerous gun bans, the gun control lobby has done everything in their power to attack the 2nd Amendment.
Now, a report from a New York attorney has revealed that the New York State Police are instigating proceedings that are leading to the confiscation of pistol permits from citizens who have been legally prescribed anti-anxiety medicine.
Jim Tresmond, an attorney at Tresmond Law Firm, is currently representing two different clients who had their pistol permits revoked because of a prescription to an anti-anxiety medicine.
“We are representing a client right now who is impacted by this onerous activity of the government,” Tresmond said in a post on WBEN.com.
“We were flummoxed by this whole matter,” explained Tresmond. “The HIPAA act is supposed to prevent this kind of thing from happening. It’s a gross invasion of our privacy rights.”
According to Tresmond, the New York State Police are responsible for this direct attack on the 2nd Amendment due to the fact that they send the information to the courts that initiates the proceedings. Tresmond also noted that he believes the two clients he is representing are only the beginning to what could be a massive revocation of gun permits, all completely outside of law.
As noted by Paul Joseph Watson, this is most likely connected to the NY Safe Act of 2013 which has a provision that many mental health experts have spoken out against due to the fact that it could lead people who need help to stay away over fears of losing their firearms.
Section 9.46 of the NY SAFE Act of 2013 authorizes therapists, doctors, nurses and social workers to report patients they determine may engage in conduct that may result in harm to self or others.
If a determination is made that the person in question poses a threat, the provision permits the government to confiscate firearms. The provision is a direct violation of the Fourth Amendment and the legal standard of probable cause.
Sadly, attacks on gun ownership through the health industry are seemingly gaining ground with the number of reports showing health professionals helping police take away citizens’ guns rising sharply since the Sandy Hook Mass Shooting.
Last week, a report by this author documented the horrors one American veteran faced after he attempted to visit a pain management doctor.
David A. Schmecker, a Navy veteran with no history of arrests or mental illness, had his guns confiscated during an illegal search of his home after he refused a forced psychological evaluation that was issued simply for seeking a follow-up pain management appointment.
Not having any past history of arrests or mental illness, Schmecker politely refused the evaluation, which was the beginning of what would end up being an illegal seizure of a patriotic veteran’s guns during a search that was conducted without a warrant and without any regard for the law.
After Schmecker refused the evaluation, his doctor called his house and heard what he claimed was an “odd” answering machine message that apparently led the doctor to call the police and order a wellness check.
“The police came to my home, and, without any justification whatsoever, hauled me away for a psychiatric evaluation at a local hospital. I submitted to their forceful insistence under duress and fear of arrest or worse,” Schmecker told Survive and Thrive TV.
“So they came into my house and they searched my house, looking for contraband of anything, they looked through everything … I basically knew if I resisted I would never have gotten out of the hospital, I would have gone into the hospital and possibly the morgue, and not only that, if I had survived, I would have been stuck in the hospital.”
Clearly the powers that be, frustrated that their gun grabbing efforts have so far failed in Congress, are turning their sights towards mental health and the use of different types of doctors and health professionals to supersede the 2nd Amendment and begin backdoor confiscation of firearms throughout the country.
FDR pulled a Cyprus on the American people 80 years ago this week.
April 5 (Bloomberg) — Alix Steel reports on the 1933 Presidential order by FDR requiring citizens to turn in their gold.
April 08, 2013 “Information Clearing House” -“Al-Akhbar” - Top Google execs, including the company’s CEO and one of Barack Obama’s major presidential campaign donors Eric Schmidt, informed the intelligence agency Stratfor about Google’s activities and internal communication regarding “regime change” in the Middle East, according to Stratfor emails released by WikiLeaks and obtained by Al-Akhbar. The other source cited was Google’s director for security and safety Marty Lev.
The briefings mainly focused on the movements of Jared Cohen, currently the director of Google Ideas, a “think/do-tank” billed as a vehicle for spreading American-style liberal democracy. Cohen was also a former member of US Secretary of State’s Policy Planning Staff and former advisor to Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton.
Email exchanges, starting February 2011, suggest that Google execs were suspicious that Cohen was coordinating his moves with the White House and cut Cohen’s mission short at times for fear he was taking too many risks. Stratfor’s vice-president of counter-terrorism Fred Burton, who seemed opposed to Google’s alleged covert role in “foaming” uprisings, describes Cohen as a “loose Cannon” whose killing or kidnapping “might be the best thing to happen” to expose Google.
The Cohen Conspiracy
Stratfor’s spotlight on Cohen began on 9 February 2012 after Burton forwarded to the secure email list a Foreign Policy article discussing Cohen’s move from the State Department to Google Ideas. With this article, Burton noted that Cohen had dinner in Cairo with Wael Ghonim on January 27, 2011 just hours before the Egyptian Google Executive was famously picked up by Egypt’s State Security. (doc-id 1122191)
On the same day, Stratfor’s staff make reference to a Huffington Post article which highlighted Cohen’s role in “delaying the scheduled maintenance on Twitter so the Iranian revolution could keep going” and a Foreign Policy article that noted that Cohen “was a Rhodes scholar, spent time in Iran, [and] hung out in Iraq during the war…”. These casual discovers further perked Stratfor’s curiosity about Cohen. (doc-id 1629270)
The following day, Burton forwarded a message to the secure email list from “a very good Google source” who claimed that Cohen “[was] off to Gaza next week”. Burton added, “Cohen, a Jew, is bound to get himself whacked….Google is not clear if Cohen is operating [with a] State Dept [or] WH [White House] license, or [is] a hippie activist.”
Korena Zucha, another senior analyst on the list, queried, “Why hasn’t Google cut ties to Cohen yet? Or is Cohen’s activity being endorsed by those higher up in the [company] than your contact?”
In turn, Burton replied, “Cohen’s rabbi is Eric Schmidt and Obama lackey. My source is trying to find out if the billionaire owners are backing Cohen’s efforts for regime change.” (doc-id 1111729)
Later on, Burton forwarded information from the “Google source” of Cohen’s links in establishing Movements.org. The source added, “A site created to help online organization of groups and individuals to move democracy in stubborn nations. Funded through public-private partnerships.” Burton pointed out that the US State Department is the organization’s public sponsor.” (doc-id 1118344)
Indeed, the State Department, partnering with a number of corporations, was the main sponsor for the 2008 inaugural Alliance of Youth Movements summit in New York City that subsequently established Movements.org. Hillary Clinton endorsed the organization and presented a video message during the second summit held in Mexico City a year later.
On 11 February, Burton wrote to the secure email list that Cohen was still planning to head to Gaza. He added, “The dude is a loose can[n]on. GOOGLE is trying to stop his entry into Gaza now because the dude is like scorched earth. It’s unclear to GOOGLE if he’s driving without a license, but GOOGLE believes he’s on a specific mission of “regime change” on the part of leftist fools inside the WH who are using him for their agendas.” (doc-id 1113596)
Throughout this day, the idea proposed by Burton, and seemingly felt by his Google contacts as well, of Cohen and the White House’s involvement in the uprisings was actively discussed among the analysts, especially in regards to who would be targeted next. (doc-id 1113965)
By Monday, 14 February 2011, Burton shared intelligence with George Friedman, Stratfor’s founder, and Scott Stewart, vice-president of Stratfor’s tactical department, from his source in Google that Cohen was ordered not to go to Gaza. Burton’s Google source further stated, “Also, thinking I [the unnamed source] may be on the right track about him despite his denials [in reference to Cohen working for the White House/State Department].”
When asked to clarify his sources on Cohen, Burton claimed that they were Marty Lev, Google’s director for security and safety, and Eric Schmidt, the current CEO of Google. (doc-id 398679)
A week later, Burton forwarded an internal Google email obtained from a ‘senior Google executive’. This email was seemingly sent by Cohen to the senior Google executive to discuss Cohen’s planned trip in March.
In it, Cohen wrote, “I wanted to follow-up and get a sense of your latest thinking on the proposed March trip to UAE, Azerbaijan, and Turkey. The purpose of this trip is to exclusively engage the Iranian community to better understand the challenges faced by Iranians as part of one of our Google Ideas groups on repressive societies. Here is what we are thinking: Drive to Azerbaijan/Iranian border and engage the Iranian communities closer to the border (this is important because we need the Azeri Iranian perspective).”
After reading Cohen’s email, Stewart remarked, “Cohen might end up having an accident if he is not careful. This is not child’s play.”
Burton responded, “GOOGLE is getting WH [White House] and State Dept. support and air cover. In reality, they are doing things the CIA cannot do. But, I agree with you. He’s going to get himself kidnapped or killed. Might be the best thing to happen to expose GOOGLE’s covert role in foaming up-risings, to be blunt. The US Gov’t can then disavow knowledge and GOOGLE is left holding the shit bag.” (doc-id 1121800)
On 10 March 2011, Burton forwarded another message from his ‘senior Google executive’ source detailing how Cohen was requested not to travel on his proposed trip. The source explained that Google had concerns over Cohen’s “baggage” as a “US State Dept. policy maker, his research and publications on Muslim extremists and youth movements and his presence in Egypt just as the uprising started.”The source also stated that Cohen was recommended to “take a lower profile on this specific trip and let time pass before being visible and associated with people known by their states to be active in challenging repressive societies.” (doc-id 1164190)
A subsequent message from Burton’s source on 22 March 2011 affirmed that Cohen “heeded the advice not to go to Turkey or UAE for those meetings.” (doc-id 1133861)
The final email dealing with Cohen was on 30 March 2011.
Here, Burton forwarded to the alpha (secure) email list a response by his source to Burton’s question of whether Cohen was playing any role in Libya at the time. The source stated, “Not that I’m aware of. He heeded the advice to avoid Turkey and UAE and didn’t go on that trip.” (doc-id 1160182)
Google Ideas: Politicizing Technology
Certainly, there is more than meets the eye to Cohen and his actions; even his superiors in Google seem to think so.
The belief, chiefly by Burton, that Cohen had seemingly played a role in fermenting the uprisings that toppled Zine el Abidine Ben Ali and Hosni Mubarak underplays, and at times entirely disregards, the ability and agency by local movements in Tunisia and Egypt.
Nevertheless, Google Ideas, which Cohen directs, is a new animal. According to a report by the Financial Times published last July, Google Ideas seems to bond idealistic activist sensibilities with Google’s pursuit for continued global expansion - blurring the lines between business and political action. Schmidt and Cohen dub Google Ideas as a “think/do-tank” that aims to tackle political and diplomatic matters through the use of technology.
The first public event for the think/do-tank, in partnership with the Council on Foreign Relations and the Tribeca Film Festival, was held last June in Dublin. It gathered around 80 ‘former’ extremists, including former Muslim radicals, neo-Nazis, US gang members, and others, in a “Summit Against Violent Extremism”. The announcement by Google declared that the summit’s aim is “to initiate a global conversation on how best to prevent young people from becoming radicalised and how to de-radicalise others” and that “the ideas generated at the Dublin summit will be included in a study to be published later in the year.”
One spin off was the creation of the Against Violent Extremism group, apparently a network for those who attended the Dublin Summit. Beyond merely networking, the group also advertises certain projects that are in need of funding. Notably, much of the projects pertain to the Middle East, including an “Al-Awlaki Counter-Campaign” - Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen of Yemeni origin, was assassinated in September of last year by the US for his alleged al-Qaeda connections.
But the Against Violent Extremism site does not seem to be presently active. The last update for projects in need of funding was made in September and the last announcement regarding the workings of the site was made in October.
More recently, Foreign Policy reported in January that the Brookings Institute, one of the oldest and most influential think-tanks in Washington, DC, named Google Ideas as “the best new think tank established in the last 18 months.” Such accolades arguably suggests that Google Ideas is expected to be a major player in the near future.
Yesterday we reported that Wesley Snipes was finally released from prisonafter serving a 3 year sentence for refusing to pay the government extortion racket known as “taxation”. If you had a difficult time seeing through the scam of taxation with that story, hopefully this one can show you how taxation is blatant theft and thuggery.
10 Maryland counties, including the one that I live in will now be taxing people for how much rain falls on their property. How much area is paved on their property, and how big their deck is will be primary factors in this new taxation scheme.
In 2010 the Obama administration’s Environmental Protection Agency ordered Maryland to reduce stormwater runoff into the Chesapeake Bay so that nitrogen levels fall 22 percent and phosphorus falls 15 percent from current amounts. The price tag: $14.8 billion.
And where do we get the $14.8 billion? By taxing so-called “impervious surfaces,” anything that prevents rain water from seeping into the earth (roofs, driveways, patios, sidewalks, etc.) thereby causing stormwater run off. In other words, a rain tax.And who levies this new rain tax? Witness how taxation, like rain, trickles down through the various pervious levels of government until it reaches the impervious level — me and you.
The EPA ordered Maryland to raise the money (an unfunded mandate), Maryland ordered its 10 largest counties to raise the money (another unfunded mandate) and, now, each of those counties is putting a local rain tax in place by July 1. So, if you live in Montgomery, Prince George’s, Howard, Anne Arundel, Carroll, Harford, Charles, Frederick, Baltimore counties or Baltimore city, you’ll be paying a rain tax on your next property tax bill.
The article goes on to explain the government will survey peoples property using drones and satellite imagery.
Homeowners will bear the brunt of the rain tax: of the $14.8 billion to be raised — $482 million each year until 2025 — about three-quarters will come from residential property owners. The rate is expected to start at $100 a year for most homeowners, although that could rise. The only rain tax shelter: credits and exemptions for property owners who follow stormwater “best practices.” How the money will be spent is another murky situation.
As i reported last week, while the government uses the EPA to tax drivers and regulate how people are landscaping in their back yards, that same government has uncontrollable biological weapons sitting all over the country like toxic time bombs.
Most specifically, the area in question, the Chesapeake bay is terribly polluted with toxic chemical, biological and radioactive waste that was released from the Lockheed Martin facility in Middle River MD, and the Aberdeen Proving Grounds military base in Aberdeen MD, since around the time of World War 2. Both of these facilities have unleashed a stew of toxic waste into rivers that lead directly into the bay, even going as far as storing radio active waste under the seabed for decades. I will be doing a full series of reports on these toxic waste sites in the coming weeks and months, stay tuned to intellihub.com for more information.
An aerial footage by Japan’s public broadcaster, NHK, showed launchers equipped with Patriot surface-to-air missiles being deployed at three bases of Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force (ASDF) on Monday.
One of the ASDF bases is on the outskirts of capital city of Tokyo and another is located in the city of Kakamigahara in Gifu prefecture.
On March 30, North Korea declared that it is in a “state of war” with South Korea, warning that any provocation by Seoul and Washington will trigger an all-out nuclear war.
Pyongyang also warned that if Washington and Seoul launched a preemptive attack, the conflict “will not be limited to a local war, but develop into an all-out war; a nuclear war.”
On Monday Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that a possible nuclear conflict on the Korean Peninsula would be far more destructive than the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986.
SACRAMENTO (AP) — Gov. Jerry Brown has designs on building some of the most expensive public works projects in the nation and wants to keep the state moving forward in its slow recovery from the recession.
Where better to go searching for the money to further those interests than the world’s second largest economy and a country that has piles of cash to invest around the globe?
Brown heads to China next week to begin a week-long trade mission that he hopes will produce investments on both sides of the Pacific. Brown will lead a delegation of business leaders in search of what he calls “plenty of billions.”
“They’ve got $400 billion or $500 billion they’re going to invest abroad, so California’s got to get a piece of that,” Brown said in an interview last week ahead of his seven-day trip to China.
The governor and the business leaders accompanying him are trying to rebuild the state’s official relationship with China after the state closed its two trade offices and others around the world a decade ago in a cost-cutting move. California finds itself playing catch-up to other states that have had a vigorous presence in China for years.
California, which would be the world’s ninth largest economy if it were a separate country, will open a trade office in Shanghai during Brown’s visit. The Bay Area Council, a coalition of business interests from Silicon Valley and the rest of the Bay Area, is raising about $1 million a year in private money to operate it.
“California shouldn’t be the only state in the union not to have a presence with key foreign trading partners like China,” said Jim Wunderman, the group’s president and CEO.
The council opened its own office in Shanghai in 2010 to fill the void after the closure of the trade offices. Bruce Pickering, executive director of the Northern California branch of the Asia Society, called the 2003 decision “penny wise but pound foolish.”
“We’ve basically said, ‘We’re California, show up and stand in line with everybody else,’” Pickering said. “You have to do a little more than just say you’re welcoming a business. … You have to really send a message that you are ready for it.”
The Asia Society, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that promotes collaboration between the U.S. and Asia, reported in 2011 that businesses from China have established operations and created jobs in at least 35 of the 50 U.S. states, including California.
Pickering said California is behind other states in recruiting Chinese investment, while states as varied as Pennsylvania, Missouri, Florida and Arkansas have had an official presence there. The Republican governors of Iowa, Virginia, Wisconsin and Guam also are visiting China this month and meeting with provincial leaders to discuss trade and the environment.
“I would think it would be very difficult to try to attract investment without having someone on the ground there on your behalf,” said Joe Holmes, communications director for the Arkansas Economic Development Commission.
Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe led a mission to China last year, and a number of deals are being discussed as a result, Holmes said.
The Asia Society reported this year that China’s direct foreign investment is poised to skyrocket to between $1 trillion and $2 trillion by 2020. California is ideally situated to capture some of that money if it goes after it: China already is California’s third-largest export partner after Mexico and Canada.
Brown already has a relationship with President Xi Jinping. The two met to discuss trade issues last year when the then-vice president visited California.
Technology, life sciences, real estate, banking, health care and agriculture are among the industries state business leaders and officials hope to target. The concentration of skilled technical engineers and the clean-energy sector in Silicon Valley also are draws for emerging companies, along with Chinese tourism to California.
State and local tourism officials are among those joining Brown on the trip, along with winemakers, cheese producers and almond growers. In all, about 75 business and policy leaders from a cross section of California industries are joining the mission, which will include stops in the capital city, Beijing, as well as Shanghai and Guangzhou.
Those cities are among the most developed and important in China. Shanghai, a port city, is an important center of industry and finance, while Guangzhou is in the heartland of the Pearl River Delta Economic Zone, which is home to the myriad processing and assembling factories that have made China the world’s factory floor.
The nearly $4 billion a year in computer and electronic products California sends to China account for the state’s largest export, followed by waste and scrap, non-electrical machinery and transportation equipment. Agricultural products such as strawberries, almonds and lettuce are fifth.
According to the governor’s office, the vast majority of Chinese exports headed to the United States go through California ports.
The trip also signals a pivot for Brown as he seeks to rebuild California’s nearly $2 trillion economy after the state’s tumultuous ride during the Great Recession. It was the epicenter of the housing crisis and weathered double-digit unemployment for nearly four years.
Brown said the state budget has stabilized, in large part because of voter-approved tax increases, and that he is now moving on to broader policy issues.
“California is a place where it’s a cauldron of creative activity, and I see that China has some of that, maybe a lot of that,” Brown said in the interview. “You have always got to find a way to renew things, and that’s what I see as my job here.”
The governor’s boldest and most expensive projects are a $68 billion high-speed rail system that is expected to start construction this summer and a $24 billion project to build massive water-delivery tunnels and restore parts of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, the largest estuary on the West Coast.
Brown is especially interested in studying China’s extensive high-speed rail system and using it as a way to promote his own plan, which has come under intense criticism and has been losing public support as its projected cost has soared. The governor is scheduled to ride part of China’s rail system from Beijing to Shanghai, accompanied by the chairman of California’s high-speed rail board, Dan Richard.
China has the world’s longest high-speed rail system, covering 5,800 miles, and has tried to turn it into a showcase. But the system also has faced problems: Part of a line collapsed in central China after heavy rains and a crash in 2011 killed 40 people. The former railway minister, who spearheaded the bullet train’s construction, and the ministry’s chief engineer, were detained in a corruption investigation.
Brown said he likes “the exuberance” with which Chinese officials approached building high-speed rail and would welcome investment in the California system or any other infrastructure projects in the state.
Despite the governor’s enthusiasm, it’s not clear how applicable the Chinese system is to a major infrastructure project in the U.S. The Chinese high-speed rail network benefits from heavy government financing and faces few of the environmental and legal hurdles found in California. The land needed to build the Chinese system is often forcibly procured at below market prices.
(investmentwatchblog.com) Newtown parents, including Mark Barden, spoke at the state capitol building on Monday to call for a complete ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines
Lawmakers in the US state of Connecticut have agreed to a sweeping set of gun restrictions, including a ban on new high-capacity magazines.
The proposal requires background checks on all gun sales and expands the state’s assault weapons ban.
It comes as new federal gun measures appear to have stalled in Congress.
HARTFORD, Conn. (CBSNewYork) — Connecticut state lawmakers came to an agreement Monday on what they said will become some of the nation’s toughest gun control laws.
As CBS 2?s Lou Young reported, the deal included a ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines, such as the one that was used in the Sandy Hook Elementary School Massacre in Newtown. The deal also calls for a new registry for existing high-capacity magazines, and background checks that would apply to private gun sales.
Connecticut lawmakers announced a deal Monday on what they called some of the toughest gun laws in the country that were proposed after the December mass shooting at a school in Newtown. Some highlights from the proposal:
—Ban sales of high-capacity ammunition magazines;
—Background checks for private gun sales;
Connecticut Lawmakers Agree to Gun Control Bill – Bans Magazines over 10 rounds, Requires a State Issued Permit to Buy Ammo, & Mental Checks!
Connecticut Lawmakers Agree to Gun Control Bill
Bans Magazines over 10 rounds
Requires a State Issued Permit to Buy Ammo
Must submit to universal background and Mental Checks
Bans any weapon with any “assault weapon” characteristics (pistol grips or anything that “looks scary”)
Conn. lawmakers unveil bipartisan gun control plan
(eff.org) During his first term, President Barack Obama declared October 2009 to be “National Information Literacy Awareness Month,” emphasizing that, for students, learning to navigate the online world is as important a skill as reading, writing and arithmetic. It was a move that echoed his predecessor’s strong support of global literacy—such as reading newspapers—most notably through First Lady Laura Bush’s advocacy.
Yet, disturbingly, the Departments of Justice (DOJ) of both the Bush and Obama administrations have embraced an expansive interpretation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) that would literally make it a crime for many kids to read the news online. And it’s the main reason why the law must be reformed.
“YOU MAY NOT ACCESS OR USE THE COVERED SITES OR ACCEPT THE AGREEMENT IF YOU ARE NOT AT LEAST 18 YEARS OLD.”
In the DOJ’s world, this means anyone under 18 who reads a Hearst newspaper online could hypothetically face jail time. But Hearst’s publications aren’t the only ones with overly restrictive usage terms. U-T San Diego and the Miami Herald have similar policies. Even NPR is guilty, saying teenagers can’t access their “services” (including the site, NPR podcasts and the media player) without a permission slip:
“If you are between the ages of 13 and 18, you may browse the NPR Services or register for email newsletters or other features of the NPR Services (excluding the NPR Community) with the consent of your parent(s) or guardian(s), so long as you do not submit any User Materials.”
Some sites must have recognized the problem and crafted their policies to only forbid users under the age of 13. These include the New York Times, the Boston Globe, and the Arizona Republic. NBCNews.com uses this wording:
“By using or attempting to use the Site or Services, you certify that you are at least 13 years of age or other required greater age for certain features and meet any other eligibility and residency requirements of the Site.”
This means that inquisitive 12-year-olds who visit NBCNews.com to learn about current events would be, by default, misrepresenting their ages. That’s criminal by DOJ standards and would be explicitly illegal under the House Judiciary Committee’s proposal.
We’d like to say that we’re being facetious, but, unfortunately, the Justice Department has already demonstrated its willingness to pursue CFAA to absurd extremes. Luckily, the Ninth Circuit rejected the government’s arguments, concluding that, under such an ruling, millions of unsuspecting citizens would suddenly find themselves on the wrong side of the law. As Judge Alex Kozinski so aptly wrote: “Under the government’s proposed interpretation of the CFAA…describing yourself as ‘tall, dark and handsome,’ when you’re actually short and homely, will earn you a handsome orange jumpsuit.”
And it’s no excuse to say that the vast majority of these cases will never be prosecuted. As the Ninth Circuit explained, “Ubiquitous, seldom-prosecuted crimes invite arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement.” Instead of pursuing only suspects of actual crimes, it opens the door for prosecutors to go after people because the government doesn’t like them.
Unfortunately, there’s no sign the Justice Department has given up on this interpretation outside the Ninth and Fourth Circuits, which is why the Professor Tim Wu in the New Yorkerrecently called the CFAA “the most outrageous criminal law you’ve never heard of.”
The potential criminalization of terms of service is a prime reason that Congress needs to overhaul CFAA and it’s certainly why the House Judiciary Committee should abandon the seemingly DOJ-drafted bill it floated recently and instead sit down with Rep. Zoe Lofgren, Rep. Darrell Issa, and others to negotiate real reform.
Are you a minor with a thirst for information? You, and your parents who vote, should together tell Congress to fix CFAA.
QUEENS — Prominent Queens politicians Malcolm Smith and Dan Halloran were arrested early Tuesday for attempting to manipulate this year’s mayoral election, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
At the conclusion of an extensive undercover corruption investigation, four others were arrested along with the Queens pair, including two Republican party officials and the mayor of Spring Valley, N.Y., the Department of Justice said.
“Public service is not supposed to be a shortcut to self-enrichment,” FBI Assistant Director George Venizelos said in a statement. “At the very least, public officials should obey the law. As alleged, these defendants did not obey the law; they broke the law and the public trust. There is a price to pay for that kind of betrayal.”
Halloran told a reporter outside his home that he “had no idea” why he was being arrested, the Post reported.
“I’m sure the truth will come out once I have an opportunity to find out what’s going on,” Halloran added.
The pair allegedly formed an alliance to place Smith, a Democrat who represents Queens Village, St. Albans and Jamaica, onto the Republican mayoral ballot by enlisting the support of major GOP leaders through bribes, according to the Post and officials.
Smith needed the support of three boroughs to get the Republican nod without having to change party affiliation, the newspaper reported.
Halloran, a Republican representing northeastern Queens, was tasked with setting up those meetings and handling bribes totaling thousands of dollars, the Post reported.
The bribes were masked as legal and accounting services, the paper added.
Halloran has also been accused of pocketing bribes from a consultant in exchange for $80,000 in City Council funding, the newspaper said.
Just five days before his arrest Tuesday, Smith tweeted, “The theme of this week is ‘Tell the Truth.'”
The mayor of Spring Valley, Noramie F. Jasmin, and her deputy were also arrested Tuesday morning as part of the corruption investigation. It wasn’t immediately clear how they were connected to the scheme.
“These six officials built a corridor of corruption and greed from Queens and The Bronx to Rockland County and all the way to Albany,” said Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District.
“After all the public corruption scandals we’ve charged, the sad truth may be the most powerful special interest in politics is self interest.”
(fromthetrenchesworldreport.com) The communist insurgents within the United States continue their push to disarm we American nationals, even to the point of presenting poll numbers which have been proven to be false via their own previous admissions. Captain Mark Kelly, the husband of ex-Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, was making the rounds over the weekend, spouting his sedition while trying to present himself as some kind of American hero.
Let’s look at this logically and ask the question. Does the government grant the people their rights? Was the Bill of Rights written by the government to outline the privileges they were to bestow upon us, said privileges of course to be revoked, altered, or regulated at the government’s whim?
This is the position the government would like to establish. It is however absolutely a fiction. This government did not grant us our rights, as all power within this nation resides in the people. We granted the government limited power, which they have distorted. Our rights are inalienable, they cannot be removed as we are born with them and they stay with us until our deaths.
The 2nd Article to the Bill of Rights states in part: “The right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” This is an absolute statement and there is no way it can be misconstrued.
Infringe is defined as: “Act so as to limit or undermine; encroach on”, therefore any government action that alters, in the smallest degree, any American nationals right to arm, as he or she sees fit, is by definition an infringement and is not law, but rather an act of sedition.
The infringements that have been levied upon our Bill of Rights are too numerous to count. These infringements have in fact brought us to the precipice of slavery. The only thing standing in the way of a complete takeover of the people by the government is our possession of our firearms which have not yet been made a part of the infringements.
This is not just about our 2nd Article right. This is about our freedom and liberty, et.al. A person who is governed by another person is not free. This is why our Republic emphasizes self governess of, by, and for the individual.
Mark Kelly spouted the lie that 92% of the American people support universalbackground checks, which can only be accomplished through universal registration. Again, this is a lie, but even if it were not, it would not matter. If 99.999% supported it, no one of us can alter the rights of another.
Our employees in the government are forbidden by law to advocate in any way to alter our Bill of Rights. The 1934 Gun Control Act was and is an infringement, and tell me how bold would these actors within this police state be in attacking our homes, if we still had our machine guns and hand grenades? The 1968 Gun Control Act was and is an infringement, as the 2nd Article to the Bill of Rights does not say “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed except for those who are felons. “
These communists are parasites of the lowest degree and have sleazed their way into our lives in taking our kindness for weakness, said kindness fostered in reality via stupidity as the most feared threat to our safety is an armed government wielding tyranny over an unarmed population.
These present infringements have been put forth for no other reason than to segment another portion of our population to be without their inalienable rights. And with the new mental health aspect, hell you do not even have to be accused of harming anyone. Now, instead of being dispossessed of our rights via conviction, which again is unconstitutional, we are to be disarmed for what could happen: an ‘if’ or a ‘maybe’.
We must stand firm in our defiance of universal background check registration and let these communists know that not only are they going to cease and desist in their attempt at further infringement, but we demand that all past infringements be removed as a precursor to their trials for sedition.
God bless the Republic, death to the international corporate mafia, we shall prevail.
From Paul Krugman: The trajectory of Europe’s real GDP per capita today vs. its real GDP per capita back during The Great Depression. No commentary necessary.
Europe should be really happy that March is over. It was a disastrous month.
There were three main stories; all of them bad.
Italy can’t form a government. Italy’s parliamentary election took place at the end of February, and it was immediately clear that no single party won enough seats in both houses of Parliament to be able to form a government. Center-left candidate Pier Luigi Bersani had the best shot of establishing a coalition, but he was unable to come to any deals with Berlusconi’s party, and he was unable to pick away any support from Beppe Grillo’s Five-Star party, and bring them over to his side.
That all came to a head at the end of this past week. The ball has now been thrown into the court of Italian President Napolitano (a separate position than PM, who serves a seven-year term, and whose job it is to facilitate the establishment of a government). Another election this year looks very likely.
Since the February election, there have been polls in Italy showing strength for Berlusconi and Beppe Grillo, so if there were another election there’s a good shot that the winner would be someone who doesn’t have the same inclination to play nice with the rest of the Eurozone.
Cyprus. This was a fiasco on so many levels.
The EU/IMF raiding bank accounts in Cyprus to bail out the country’s financial system sets a dangerous precedent and investors should “run for the hills” said investor Jim Rogers, chairman of Rogers Holdings, on “Squawk on the Street”Thursday.
Rogers said that with Cyprus, politicians are saying that this is a special case and urging people not to worry, but that is exactly why investors should be concerned.
“What more do you need to know? Please, you better hurry, you better run for the hills. I’m doing it anyway,” Rogers said. “I want to make sure that I don’t get trapped. Think of all the poor souls that just thought they had a simple bank account. Now they find out that they are making a ‘contribution’ to the stability of Cyprus. The gall of these politicians.”
A key part of Lucke’s argument is that the euro must be sacrificed to save the greater European project (the European Union), as the status quo is tearing apart the continent.
This line from Lucke is critical:
We think that the euro currently splits the European Union into two parts – a segment of an economically unsuccessful southern part, and a more northern, or more central, European part, which currently seems to benefit from the misery of the southern European countries, because all of the capital flows back from southern Europe to Germany, and the Netherlands, and other stable countries, where it helps us to do cheap investment, but which is at the expense of those southern European countries, and which certainly is the cause for envious sentiment and angry sentiment in the southern European countries, so that the political tensions within the European Union actually rise.
Recall that Bankia is the large Spanish bank that was partially nationalized’ in 2012, and that received 18 billion euros in new equity funds at the end of 2012. At that time Bankia shares fell by 25% to 41 euro cents (41/100 of one euro). At that same time Bankia said it expected to report a 19 billion euro loss for 2012. See my January 3 commentary titled Spain: Bankia and its parent! where I said “My assumption with respect to Bankia and other large Spanish banks is that ‘we have yet to hear the worst of it”.
On Monday, following a ‘forced revaluation’ by Regulators to 1 euro cent (1/100th of one euro) announced after the financial markets closed on March 22, Bankia shares closed at just under 15 euro cents (15/100 of one euro), down over 40% on the day. That ‘forced revaluation’ is said to have been a ‘condition’ of Bankia receiving a further capital injection of 10.7 billion euros from European rescue funds in circumstances where in February Bankia reported a 19.2 billion euro loss (as had been expected) for 2012. Standard & Poor’s is reported as having lowered Bankia’s rating by one notch to BB-.
In February Bankia reported that it expected a quick return to profitability following a ‘clean-up’ of its balance sheet.
Bankia strikes me as needing to be on every trader and investors radar screen going forward, given its size and what I think has to be its possible impact (positive or negative) on Spain, the eurozone, and perhaps the banks and banking systems of both Spain and other countries – the latter pursuant to possible contagion issues.
In other Spanish bank news, yesterday afternoon Banco CEISS, BMN and Caja 3, three comparatively small Spanish banks reported 2.5 billion euros, 3.7 billion euros, and 1.0 billion euros losses respectively for their latest fiscal years. These losses were all driven by previously unrecognized real estate exposure losses, or in the case of BMN writedowns on property holdings.
It is not a bail-out. There is no debt relief for the state of Cyprus. The Diktat will push the island’s debt ratio to 120pc in short order, with a high risk of an economic death spiral, a la Grecque.
Capital controls have shattered the monetary unity of EMU. A Cypriot euro is no longer a core euro. We wait to hear the first stories of shops across Europe refusing to accept euro notes issued by Cyprus, with a G in the serial number.
The curbs are draconian. There will be a forced rollover of debt. Cheques may not be cashed. Basic cross-border trade is severely curtailed. Credit card use abroad will be limited to €5,000 (£4,200) a month. “We wonder how such capital controls could eventually be lifted with no obvious cure of the underlying problem,” said Credit Suisse….
School officials have announced plans to close 53 elementary schools and a high school. In all, 61 school buildings will be shut down by the beginning of the next academic year in August, the country’s third-largest public school district has said.
The announcement sparked national horror yesterday as the sorry state of the city’s finances, which are well known locally, was highlighted to the country. Chicago isn’t alone. Other cities, including Detroit, which is now facing the possibility of what could be the largest municipal bankruptcy in US history, and Philadelphia, have resorted to shutting undersubscribed schools to save money. Chicago has closed scores of school buildings over the past decade.
The city’s problems – though less severe than elsewhere in the US – have similar root causes to those in places such as Detroit: burdensome pension liabilities accumulated in the boom times and falling birth rates have become too much to bear in the post-financial crisis world. With the national and regional economy still struggling, the money coming in to city coffers cannot keep up with Chicago’s commitments.
But the size of the closures announced have sparked concern, particularly as the institutions in question are primarily attended by African-American and Hispanic students, and are situated in low-income neighbourhoods. Officials led by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, however, say there are too many vacant seats in the city’s public school system.
The Chicago Teachers Union thinks otherwise, with its President Karen Lewis labelling the closures an “abomination.”
“This is cowardly and it is the ultimate bullying job. Our mayor should be ashamed of himself,” she told the Associated Press.
The closures will mean that many children will have to venture into neighbourhoods other than their own to attend classes, which is causing concern among parents given the high frequency of violent crime in certain parts of the city. Irene Robinson, 48, said six of her grandchildren attend the soon-to-be-closed Anthony Overton Elementary in the Bronzeville area. She said news of shutdown was “like a death in the family.”
“It’s that sad,” she told the Chicago Tribune. “What’s gonna happen to these kids? Kids are being killed right now. They [sic] innocent. Why put them in harm’s way? It’s sad. It’s scary. It’s outrageous.”
The head of the school district, Barbara Byrd-Bennett, defended the move, saying the system as its currently organised is not in the best interests of students.
“Every child in every neighbourhood in Chicago deserves access to a high quality education that prepares them to succeed in life, but for too long children in certain parts of Chicago have been cheated out of the resources they need to succeed because they are in under utilised, under-resourced schools,” she said. “As a former teacher and a principal, I’ve lived through school closings and I know that this will not be easy, but I also know that in the end this will benefit our children.”
On the slide: Mayor goes skiing
Much of the public anger at the school closures was today directed at Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a former chief of staff for President Barack Obama, who was on a skiing holiday with his family when the announcement was made.
“I find it extremely cowardly for the mayor’s administration to announce these actions while he is vacationing out of town,” Karen Lewis, the President of the Chicago Teachers Union, said. “They are also making this announcement days before… spring break.”
Mr Emanuel came to power in 2011 on a wave of support from black communities, but recent opinion polls have indicated that the issue of school closures – which affects mainly black and Hispanic pupils – has contributed to his sliding approval ratings – and because his children attend private school.
Chicago lawyer and education activist Matter Farmer joked on Twitter: “Asked, while skiing in Utah, about closing 50 CPS schools, Mayor Emanuel said he is offering thousands of kids the chance to head downhill.”
In a White House meeting that lasted longer than the scheduled hour, Obama listened to leaders of more than a dozen Israel advocacy groups, representing a spectrum of views over the challenges facing the Jewish state at a moment of regional instability and mounting threats.
The gathering was not listed on the president’s public schedule, and some participants spoke on the condition of anonymity to recount the discussions. Some said Obama engaged most energetically, although never angrily, with those with whom he most disagreed.
In one exchange, Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, expressed concern that Obama might be softening his pledge to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, based on recent reports of frustrated international diplomatic efforts.
Obama has said his policy is to prevent Iranfrom developing a nuclear weapon, not containing the Islamic republic if it does achieve that capability. Vice President Bidenmade the same point earlier this week in an address to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, but Hoenlein asked Obama what actions he intends to take to stop it, according to participants.
“I’m not going to beat my chest to prove my toughness on this,” Obama said, according to participants.
Obama continued by citing a quote attributed by some to the Chinese military tactician Sun Tzu, who suggested that a “golden bridge” must be built to give what Obama described as a “proud people” a face-saving retreat to a diplomatic solution.
“The president outlined in general terms what he hopes to accomplish during his trip,” said Robert Wexler, the former Democratic congressman from Florida who attended the meeting as the director of the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace.
“All of that was underlined by the president’s commitment — the reiteration of his commitment — to an unprecedented security relationship with Israel and with the president’s desire to have a meaningful conversation with the Israeli people,” he added.
Obama is scheduled to leave in just under two weeks for his first trip to Israel as president. He will also visit the occupied Palestinian territories and Jordan, whose leader, King Abdullah II, is facing growing public unrest over his family’s long rule of the desert kingdom of strategic importance to the United States.
Obama has met with Jewish leaders before, including a seminal July 2009 meeting held a few weeks after his call for a “new beginning” with the Muslim world in Cairo.
While a moving afternoon in which Obama highlighted the suffering of the Jewish people, the visit — and decision to skip Israel — appeared to locate the modern state of Israel’s right to exist in the Holocaust rather than in the period outlined in the Bible.
Obama’s visit to Israel, which will be focused in Jerusalem, is an effort to reset his relationship not with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with whom he has had a rocky one, but with a still-suspicious Israeli public.
Nathan Diament, director of the Institute for Public Affairs of the Orthodox Union, said he told Obama at the Thursday meeting that he must reach out not only to young secular Israelis but also to the nation’s growing religious community.
“I emphasized the importance that as part of what he does in that regard is speak, directly and symbolically, to the religious sectors of society and the millennia of connection the Jewish people have with the land of Israel,” said Diament, whose organization is the largest orthodox Jewish umbrella group.
Asked if that would help correct the impression left with Israelis in his Cairo speech, Diament, who attended Harvard Law School with Obama, said, “No comment.”
Obama was also urged Thursday to deliver a message to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, whom Obama will meet in Ramallah, that Palestinians should not obstruct Israeli peace efforts.
According to participants, Obama said he would. But he added that he also planned to tell Israelis that they must do more than talk about peace.
He said they must also act in a way that encourages an acceptable resolution with the Palestinians, according to several participants.
“And that will be a difficult balance to accomplish,” Obama said, according to one participant.
White House officials said Thursday that Obama had no plans at this point to meet with Palestinian — or other Arab — leaders before the trip.
A White House official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the private meeting, said Obama during the Thursday meeting “noted that the trip is not dedicated to resolving a specific policy issue.”
“He also underscored that the trip is an opportunity for him to speak directly to the Israeli people about the history, interests and values that we share,” the official said.
Nearly a quarter of those due to be affected by the so-called “spare bedroom tax” will be single parents, according to new research.
Government figures show that 150,000 of the 660,000 people expected to have their benefits reduced because they have at least one unused room are lone parents under 60, Labour claim.
The average amount taken from each person per week is £13, which amounts to £676 a year, according to the party’s analysis.
The claim comes amid new concerns that disabled people will also be disproportionately affected by the change in benefit rules, due to be introduced in April.
New rules state that housing benefit and universal credit claimants deemed to have one unused bedroom in their council or housing association home will lose 14% of their housing benefit and those with two or more will lose 25%.
The Department for Work and Pensions estimates that 660,000 people living in social housing will lose an average of £728 per year as a result of the change.
Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary Liam Byrne said: “David Cameron promised to stand up for parents, but his bedroom tax is a £100m tax bombshell for single mums and dads.
“The bedroom tax has now been exposed as a chaotic disaster, but it’s not too late for the prime minister to do the decent thing, admit he has got this wrong and think again.”
The planned changes will also affect hundreds of thousands of disabled people, according to the National Housing Federation.
A fund to help people eligible for disability living allowance was given a £30m boost this year by Cameron. But an analysis of figures by the federation claims that this will leave a £100m shortfall which will have to be made up by claimants.
David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, said: “The bedroom tax is ill-thought and unfair as thousands of disabled people will have no choice but to cut back further on food and other expenses in order to stay in their own homes.”