Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Pilot punished for video exposing the farce of "airport security"

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KXTV News) - An airline pilot is being disciplined by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for posting video on YouTube pointing out what he believes are serious flaws in airport security.

The 50-year-old pilot, who lives outside Sacramento, asked that neither he nor his airline be identified. He has worked for the airline for more than a decade and was deputized by the TSA to carry a gun in the cockpit.

He is also a helicopter test pilot in the Army Reserve and flew missions for the United Nations in Macedonia.

Three days after he posted a series of six video clips recorded with a cell phone camera at San Francisco International Airport, four federal air marshals and two sheriff's deputies arrived at his house to confiscate his federally-issued firearm. The pilot recorded that event as well and provided all the video to News10.

(Full story)

UPDATE: Chris Liu: I am the YouTube airline pilot

Monday, December 27, 2010

DEA transformed into a global intelligence organization

WASHINGTON (NY Times) - The Drug Enforcement Administration has been transformed into a global intelligence organization with a reach that extends far beyond narcotics, and an eavesdropping operation so expansive it has to fend off foreign politicians who want to use it against their political enemies, according to secret diplomatic cables.

In far greater detail than previously seen, the cables, from the cache obtained by WikiLeaks and made available to some news organizations, offer glimpses of drug agents balancing diplomacy and law enforcement in places where it can be hard to tell the politicians from the traffickers, and where drug rings are themselves mini-states whose wealth and violence permit them to run roughshod over struggling governments.

(Full story)

Citing police abuse, Hispanics leaving Conn. town

EAST HAVEN, Conn. (AP) - Santiago Malave has worked law enforcement jobs in Connecticut for more than four decades, but as a Puerto Rican, he says he cannot drive through his own town without worrying about police harassing him.

Malave, a probation officer who works in New Haven, says the racial abuse is so bad that he only crosses the town line into East Haven to go home. He and his wife are now preparing to sell their house and move, joining an exodus of Hispanics who say police have hassled them with traffic stops, false arrests and even jailhouse beatings.

(Full story)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry Christmas! Get used to airport pat-downs

WASHINGTON (AP) - The use of full-body scanners and invasive pat-downs at airports around the U.S. will not change for the "foreseeable future," Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said in an interview broadcast Sunday.

While saying that she is always looking to improve the security systems in place, Napolitano added that the new technology and the pat-downs were "objectively safer for our traveling public."

(Full story)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

"Anti-terrorist" teams conduct random bag searches on trains and buses

(Washington Post) - Metro anti-terrorism teams will immediately start random inspections of passengers' bags and packages to try to protect the rail and bus system from attack, transit officials said Thursday.

Police using explosives-screening equipment and bomb-sniffing dogs will pull aside for inspection about every third person carrying a bag, Metro Transit Police Chief Michael Taborn said. The searches might be conducted at one location at a time or at several places simultaneously. If people refuse, they will be barred from entering the rail station or boarding a bus with the item, Taborn said. The inspections will be conducted "indefinitely," he said.

(Full story)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Bush's "Christian" legacy in Iraq

IRBIL, Iraq (AP) - They saw their brethren murdered during Mass and then were bombed in their homes as they mourned. Al-Qaida vowed to hunt them down. Now the Christian community of Iraq, almost as old as the religion itself, is sensing a clear message: It is time to leave.

Since the Oct. 31 bloodbath in their Baghdad church, Iraqi Christians have been fleeing Sunni Muslim extremists who view them as nonbelievers and agents of the West. At a time when Christians in various parts of the Muslim world are feeling pressured, Iraqi Christians are approaching their grimmest Christmas since the U.S.-led invasion of 2003 and wondering if they have any future in their native land.

They have suffered repeated violence and harassment since 2003, when the interreligious peace rigidly enforced by Saddam Hussein fell apart. But the attack on Our Lady of Salvation in which 68 people died appears to have been a tipping point that has driven many to flee northward to the Kurdish enclave while seeking asylum in the U.S. and elsewhere.

(Full story)

After outcry, feds back down; banks can display crosses

PERKINS, Okla. (KOCO.com) - The small-town bank in Oklahoma will be able to restore its Christian signs and symbols after all, thanks in part to public outcry against the Federal Reserve.

The president of Payne County Bank, Lynn Kinder, said he spoke with the second in command at the Federal Reserve late Thursday evening. Both sides agreed to work out the issue.

(Full story)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Oklahoma bank "Scrooged" by the feds

PERKINS, Okla. (KOCO.com) - A small-town bank in Oklahoma said the Federal Reserve won't let it keep religious signs and symbols on display.

Federal Reserve examiners come every four years to make sure banks are complying with a long list of regulations. The examiners came to Perkins last week. And the team from Kansas City deemed a Bible verse of the day, crosses on the teller's counter and buttons that say "Merry Christmas, God With Us." were inappropriate. The Bible verse of the day on the bank's Internet site also had to be taken down.

(Full story)

Obamacare rationing begins

(BigGovernment.com) - The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) announced yesterday that it would ration the late-stage cancer drug Avastin for breast cancer patients. (Ironically, the same day the EU announced it would not ration access to Avastin.) The reaction to the FDA's decision has been fierce.

(Full story)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

U.S. tries to build conspiracy case against WikiLeaks

WASHINGTON (NY Times) - Federal prosecutors, seeking to build a case against the WikiLeaks leader Julian Assange for his role in a huge dissemination of classified government documents, are looking for evidence of any collusion in his early contacts with an Army intelligence analyst suspected of leaking the information.

Justice Department officials are trying to find out whether Mr. Assange encouraged or even helped the analyst, Pfc. Bradley Manning, to extract classified military and State Department files from a government computer system. If he did so, they believe they could charge him as a conspirator in the leak, not just as a passive recipient of the documents who then published them.

(Full story)

How can any nation be expected to win a "war on terror"...

...when the train station at military headquarters is shut down because of a blinking Christmas ornament?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

iPhone snitch network launched

(Infowars.com) - A new iPhone App with the misleading name "PatriotApp" attempts to draw on the power of the patriot movement, turning smartphone users into a gigantic snitch network.

You might think an app with such a patriotic name might have useful functions like a pocket constitution or quotes from our forefathers. But contrary to the services one might expect, this app allows users to report any "suspicious" behavior directly linking them with top government agencies.

(Full story)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Obama's health-care law ruled unconstitutional over insurance requirement

(Bloomberg) - The Obama administration's requirement that most citizens maintain minimum health coverage as part of a broad overhaul of the industry is unconstitutional, a federal judge ruled, striking down the linchpin of the plan.

U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson in Richmond, Virginia, today said that the requirement in President Barack Obama's health-care legislation goes beyond Congress's powers to regulate interstate commerce. While severing the coverage mandate, which is set to become effective in 2014, Hudson didn't address other provisions such as expanding Medicaid.

(Full story)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Hypocrisy: U.S. to host World Press Freedom Day

The United States, which has been condemning the release of documents by WikiLeaks, will be hosting World Press Freedom Day in 2011. From the State Department's press release:
The theme for next year's commemoration will be 21st Century Media: New Frontiers, New Barriers. The United States places technology and innovation at the forefront of its diplomatic and development efforts. New media has empowered citizens around the world to report on their circumstances, express opinions on world events, and exchange information in environments sometimes hostile to such exercises of individuals' right to freedom of expression. At the same time, we are concerned about the determination of some governments to censor and silence individuals, and to restrict the free flow of information. We mark events such as World Press Freedom Day in the context of our enduring commitment to support and expand press freedom and the free flow of information in this digital age.
Yeah, right.

Naturally, one expects this kind of hypocrisy from the government. But what has made the WikiLeaks controversy even worse is that the mainstream press is making Julian Assange the focus of the story rather than the secrets corrupt government officials sought to conceal from the rest of us. Whatever happened to pursuing the truth and keeping the people informed?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Senators unveil anti-WikiLeaks bill

(The Hill) - Sens. John Ensign (R-Nev.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Scott Brown (R-Mass.) introduced a bill Thursday aimed at stopping WikiLeaks by making it illegal to publish the names of military or intelligence community informants.

Ensign accused WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and his "cronies" of hindering America's war efforts and creating a "hit list" for U.S. enemies by outing intelligence sources.

(Full story)

DoT exploring technology that would disable cell phones in cars

(The Hill) - The Transportation Department is looking into technology to disable cell phones in vehicles, according to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

"There's a lot of technology out there that can disable phones and we're looking at that," LaHood said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."

"A number of those people came to our distracted driving meeting here in Washington and that's one way," he said.

LaHood seemed to suggest that this technology has a good chance of making its way into cars.

(Full story)

U.S. regulators propose requiring backup cameras in all new cars by 2014

(Bloomberg) - U.S. auto-safety regulators proposed requiring backup cameras on all new vehicles by 2014 to prevent drivers from backing over pedestrians, a rule that may cost as much as $2.7 billion.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which published the proposed rule today, said an average of 292 people die each year from back-over accidents, which primarily kill children and the elderly. To equip a new-vehicle fleet of 16.6 million produced in a year would cost from $1.9 billion to $2.7 billion, the agency said in the proposal, calling the cost "substantial" and saying it might reduce back-over deaths and injuries by almost half.

(Full story)

Federal lawsuit alleges stop-and-frisk unfairly targets minorities

(Philadelphia Inquirer) - In the debate over the [Philadelphia] police tactic known as stop-and-frisk, both sides agree there's nothing inherently wrong with officers stopping more black and Hispanic than white residents, at least in cities where violent crime is concentrated in minority neighborhoods.

The question is: At what point does stopping a disproportionate number of minorities cross the line into illegal, race-based policing?

When does a legitimate, proactive tactic become the wholesale harassment of communities?

Determining those limits has been one of the more controversial topics in big-city law enforcement - and a question that often has gone before the courts to be answered.

(Full story)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Sarah Palin thinks telling the truth is anti-American

Sarah Palin, in a note posted on Facebook, calls WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange "an anti-American operative with blood on his hands." She asks, "Why was he not pursued with the same urgency we pursue al Qaeda and Taliban leaders?"

Palin, like every other neocon, would never even think of accusing the Pentagon of having blood on its hands. "We are at war," she writes. "American soldiers are in Afghanistan fighting to protect our freedoms." (What, our freedom to be ogled and molested at airports?) "They are serious about keeping America safe." (Safe from whom, Muslim bogeymen, or the traitors in Washington actively working to turn America into a police state?) "It would be great if they could count on their government being equally serious about that vital task." (But their government is responsible for putting them in harm's way in the first place.)

Tell me, Sarah, would you rather live in a country where the government is able to be scrutinized by the people, or in a country where the government operates in complete secrecy? Actually, I think you've already answered that question.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

WikiLeaks founder offered asylum in Ecuador

From the AP:
If WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange needs a home, Ecuador's deputy foreign minister says this Andean nation is happy to provide one. ...

... In contrast to the potential hostility from U.S. allies, leftist-run Ecuador provided Assange with an invitation Monday.

Deputy Foreign Minister Kintto Lucas said in audio posted online by the EcuadorInmediato news site that "we are open to giving him residence in Ecuador, without any kind of trouble and without any kind of conditions."

"We think it would be important not only to converse with him but to listen to him," Lucas added, saying Ecuador wanted to invite Assange to "freely expound" and see what it's like in "friendly countries."

He praised people like Assange "who are constantly investigating and trying to get light out of the dark corners of (state) information"
This isn't sitting too well with the state-worshiping neocon Neanderthals at Free Republic.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Give thanks to TSA agents?

No. Robert Wenzel of EconomicPolicyJournal.com explains what we should give them.

Congressman wants WikiLeaks declared a terrorist organization

WASHINGTON (AP/1010 WINS/WCBS 880) - Hundreds of thousands of State Department documents leaked Sunday revealed a hidden world of backstage international diplomacy, divulging candid comments from world leaders and detailing occasional U.S. pressure tactics aimed at hot spots in Afghanistan, Iran and North Korea.

The classified diplomatic cables released by online whistle-blower WikiLeaks and reported on by news organizations in the United States and Europe provided often unflattering assessments of foreign leaders, ranging from U.S. allies such as Germany and Italy to other nations like Libya, Iran and Afghanistan.

The cables also contained new revelations about long-simmering nuclear trouble spots, detailing U.S., Israeli and Arab world fears of Iran’s growing nuclear program, American concerns about Pakistan's atomic arsenal and U.S. discussions about a united Korean peninsula as a long-term solution to North Korean aggression.

Long Island Rep. Peter King told 1010 WINS the release of the information put "American lives at risk all over the world."

(Full story)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The FBI successfully thwarts its own terrorist plot

by Glenn Greenwald - The FBI is obviously quite pleased with itself over its arrest of a 19-year-old Somali-American, Mohamed Osman Mohamud, who -- with months of encouragement, support and money from the FBI's own undercover agents -- allegedly attempted to detonate a bomb at a crowded Christmas event in Portland, Oregon. Media accounts are almost uniformly trumpeting this event exactly as the FBI describes it. Loyalists of both parties are doing the same, with Democratic Party commentators proclaiming that this proves how great and effective Democrats are at stopping The Evil Terrorists, while right-wing polemicists point to this arrest as yet more proof that those menacing Muslims sure are violent and dangerous.

What's missing from all of these celebrations is an iota of questioning or skepticism. All of the information about this episode -- all of it -- comes exclusively from an FBI affidavit filed in connection with a Criminal Complaint against Mohamud. As shocking and upsetting as this may be to some, FBI claims are sometimes one-sided, unreliable and even untrue, especially when such claims -- as here -- are uncorroborated and unexamined. That's why we have what we call "trials" before assuming guilt or even before believing that we know what happened: because the government doesn't always tell the complete truth, because they often skew reality, because things often look much different once the accused is permitted to present his own facts and subject the government's claims to scrutiny. The FBI affidavit -- as well as whatever its agents are whispering into the ears of reporters -- contains only those facts the FBI chose to include, but omits the ones it chose to exclude. And even the "facts" that are included are merely assertions at this point and thus may not be facts at all.

(Full article)

Perry backs sending U.S. troops into Mexico to quell drug violence

AUSTIN (Dallas Morning News) - Gov. Rick Perry said Thursday he would support sending U.S. troops into Mexico to fight the drug war.

The Republican has long urged beefed-up security on the American side of the violence-plagued border, but he said stronger tactics are needed to defeat the drug cartels.

"You have a situation on the border where American citizens are being killed, and you didn't see that back when George Bush was the governor," Perry said in an interview with MSNBC.

Asked whether the U.S. should consider deploying troops inside Mexico, Perry said the federal government should consider all options "including the military."

(Full story)

A brief observation on terrorism at airports

What terrorist in his right mind would bother trying to sneak a bomb through airport security? If the goal of the terrorist is to simply take out as many people as possible, why not simply detonate a bomb in the middle of a packed airport? The parking ramps, main entrances, ticket counters, and lines leading up to the security checkpoints are all unguarded and unscreened. I have yet to see a single government official or news reporter mention this. Why is that?

The reason is that all of the "security" measures being implemented at our nation's airports have more to do with creating a submissive citizenry than actually keeping people safe. And, of course, the use of porno scanners means loads of cash for Michael Chertoff and his friends.

Willie Nelson charged with pot possession in Texas

SIERRA BLANCA, Texas (AP) - A U.S. Border Patrol spokesman says country singer Willie Nelson was charged with marijuana possession after 6 ounces was found aboard his tour bus in Texas.

Patrol spokesman Bill Brooks says the bus pulled into the Sierra Blanca, Texas, checkpoint about 9 a.m. Friday. Brooks says an officer smelled pot when a door was opened and a search turned up marijuana.

(Full story)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

U.S. seizes sites linked to copyright infringement

(Cnet) - The U.S. government has launched a major crackdown on online copyright infringement, seizing dozens of sites linked to illegal file sharing and counterfeit goods.

Torrent sites that link to illegal copies of music and movie files and sites that sell counterfeit goods were seized this week by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement division of the Department of Homeland Security. Visitors to such sites as Torrent-finder.com, 2009jerseys.com, and Dvdcollects.com found that their usual sites had been replaced by a message that said, "This domain name has been seized by ICE--Homeland Security Investigations, pursuant to a seizure warrant issued by a United States District Court."

(Full story)

Obama halts sermons during soup kitchen meals

(AllGov) - Faith-based organizations that accept federal funding cannot proselytize while providing social programs to the needy, under a new executive order signed by President Barack Obama. The order changes the original initiative, adopted by President George W. Bush in December 2002, which allowed faith-based social programs to receive tax dollars.

President Obama's decree prevents soup kitchens run by churches from conducting sermons while feeding people, for example. The White House expects federal officials to monitor publicly-funded faith-based groups to ensure they comply with the new order.

(Full story)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Libertarians against the regime

by Justin Raimondo - We should all give thanks, this Thanksgiving holiday, for the fact that we are not – yet – living under a dictatorship. Although if you're going through an airport on your way to celebrate the season, you are indeed living in a dictatorship, subject to search and the seizure of your personal effects, as well as being "porno-scanned" and felt up by some TSA Epsilon-Minus Semi-Moron.

No, we aren't yet living under a dictatorship, but I can't say I'm all that optimistic that we won't be come next Thanksgiving. The odds of another terrorist attack are quite good, and our ineffective means of preventing it are just a way of reassuring the public that all is "normal." But we are so far from normalcy, these days, that I despair of our ever returning to that lost world of innocence into which I was born. The America of my youth is gone forever, together with youth itself, and while this latter cannot be prevented, the loss of the former is a reversible tragedy – although it seems much less reversible than ever, sad to say.

That golden age – we didn't know it was golden at the time, of course – was an America in which the idea of being searched before getting on a plane was incomprehensible, impossible, the product of someone's dystopian imagination: today it is a reality. It was an America in which the idea that the government could read our communications, spy on our lawful activities, and declare anyone – even an American citizen – an "enemy combatant," and hold them indefinitely or even kill them, was utterly inconceivable, a paranoid's fever dream: today it is all too real.

(Full article)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

TSA: Some gov't officials to skip airport security

WASHINGTON (AP) - Cabinet secretaries, top congressional leaders and an exclusive group of senior U.S. officials are exempt from toughened new airport screening procedures when they fly commercially with government-approved federal security details.

Aviation security officials would not name those who can skip the controversial screening, but other officials said those VIPs range from top officials like Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and FBI Director Robert Mueller to congressional leaders like incoming House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, who avoided security before a recent flight from Washington's Reagan National Airport.

(Full story)

You know you've been at war for too long...

...when your enemies have no idea why you're trying to kill them:
Few Afghans in Helmand and Kandahar provinces, Taliban strongholds where fighting remains fiercest, know why foreign troops are in Afghanistan, says the "Afghanistan Transition: Missing Variables" report to be released later on Friday.

The report by The International Council on Security and Development (ICOS) policy think-tank showed 92 percent of 1,000 Afghan men surveyed in Helmand and Kandahar know nothing of the hijacked airliner attacks on U.S. targets in 2001.

"The lack of awareness of why we are there contributes to the high levels of negativity toward the NATO military operations and made the job of the Taliban easier," ICOS President Norine MacDonald told Reuters from Washington.

"We need to explain to the Afghan people why we are here, and both convince them and show them that their future is better with us than the Taliban," MacDonald said.
And yet we Americans still can't figure out why so many people hate us.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Small cheesemaker defies FDA

(NY Times) - To her devotees, Ms. Estrella is a homespun diva of local food. With her husband and six adopted children from Liberia, she makes tasty artisan cheeses from the milk of her 36 cows and 40 goats and sells it at farmers' markets.

Some even winds up on tables at fancy restaurants in Manhattan and Los Angeles.

But to the federal government, Ms. Estrella is a defiant businesswoman unable to keep dangerous bacteria out of her products. Last month, the Food and Drug Administration moved to shut down her business, Estrella Family Creamery, after tests found listeria in some of her cheese and she refused to agree to a broad recall of her products.

(Full story)

TSA crybabies

TSA agents have run crying to their union because of the "abuse" they have suffered from passengers unhappy with the new sexual harassment policy in place at U.S. airports. The American Federation of Government Employees, the union representing TSA workers, published the following in a recent press release:
"AFGE agrees that strong security measures need to be in place and evolve as threats come anew, but the general public needs to know what the security procedures are and what their rights are as citizens," AFGE National President John Gage added. "TSA must do a better job explaining these measures to the flying public. This absence of information has resulted in a backlash against the character and professionalism of TSOs based on a few widely reported but largely ill-founded claims repeated over and over again by the media."

AFGE further called on TSA to provide an educational pamphlet to each passenger on the new procedures and what the passenger rights are.

"Like all Americans, TSOs deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. These men and women are the first line of defense against those who seek to harm this country," Gage said. "It is unacceptable for any passenger to verbally or physically assault any security officers, and TSA must act now — before the Thanksgiving rush — to ensure that TSOs are not being left to fend for themselves."
So, the perverts feeling up men, women, and children in public deserve "dignity and respect," and they are the "first line of defense" against terrorism? How anyone can take the TSA seriously is beyond me.

The right to travel pre-dates the TSA

Writes Michael S. Rozeff on the LewRockwell.com blog:
According to a UCLA Law Review source dating from 1975 and written by Stewart Abercrombie Baker, Magna Carta (ch. 42, 1215) "guaranteed free passage into and out of the realm." "Blackstone's Commentaries proclaims a right to travel which includes 'the power of loco-motion, of changing situation, or removing one's person to whatsoever place one's own inclination may direct; without imprisonment or restraint, unless by due process of law.'" (volume 1, *134). "The right to travel was declared ‘natural and inherent' by the Pennsylvania Constitution of 1776″ (ch. 1, para. XV (1776)). Article IV of the Articles of Confederation protected "free ingress and regress to and from any other State…" The Constitution dropped that language and instead incorporated the right to travel under the privileges and immunities clause of article IV, section 2. "The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States." Baker writes: "The change was made not to disparage the right to travel, but because specific protection for the right would be redundant. Free travel was considered to be a necessary corollary to the 'more perfect Union' which the Constitution created." The Supreme Court has recognized this right in numerous cases.

I do not claim that the right to travel as interpreted by a Supreme Court of 2010 would allow the traveler unimpeded travel or prevent placing such a burden on the traveler that it would effectively foreclose travel by air. The Court would probably back the TSA and provide some sort of balancing test. I assert that such a test would be unconstitutional and would destroy the right to travel. I assert that the TSA's search procedures place a burden on the right to travel that destroys that right for millions of protesting Americans.
The TSA and other government agencies, however, are quick to remind us that traveling is merely a privilege.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Air Force launches massive, secret satellite

(CBS) - A powerful Delta 4 rocket roared to life and climbed away from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Sunday evening on a high-priority mission to boost a National Reconnaissance Office spy satellite into orbit.

The payload is believed to be an electronic eavesdropping satellite with a huge collecting antenna. In a September address to the Air Force Association, NRO Director Bruce Carlson said the Delta 4 was carrying "the largest satellite in the world."

(Full story)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

TSA chief John Pistole to put priority on rail, subways

ARLINGTON, Va. (USA Today) - Protecting riders on mass-transit systems from terrorist attacks will be as high a priority as ensuring safe air travel, the new head of the Transportation Security Administration promises.

In his first interview since taking over the TSA, former FBI deputy director John Pistole told USA TODAY that some terrorists consider subway and rail cars an easier target than heavily secured planes. "Given the list of threats on subways and rails over the last six years going on seven years, we know that some terrorist groups see rail and subways as being more vulnerable because there's not the type of screening that you find in aviation," he said. "From my perspective, that is an equally important threat area."

(Full story)

TSA pat-down leaves traveler covered in urine

(MSNBC) - A retired special education teacher on his way to a wedding in Orlando, Fla., said he was left humiliated, crying and covered with his own urine after an enhanced pat-down by TSA officers recently at Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

"I was absolutely humiliated, I couldn't even speak," said Thomas D. "Tom" Sawyer, 61, of Lansing, Mich.

Sawyer is a bladder cancer survivor who now wears a urostomy bag, which collects his urine from a stoma, or opening in his stomach. "I have to wear special clothes and in order to mount the bag I have to seal a wafer to my stomach and then attach the bag. If the seal is broken, urine can leak all over my body and clothes."

(Full story)

TSA thugs strip-search a young boy

Saturday, November 20, 2010

$11,000 fine, arrest possible for some who refuse airport scans and pat downs

(Sun Sentinel) - If you don't want to pass through an airport scanner that allows security agents to see an image of your naked body or to undergo the alternative, a thorough manual search, you may have to find another way to travel this holiday season.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is warning that any would-be commercial airline passenger who enters an airport checkpoint and then refuses to undergo the method of inspection designated by TSA will not be allowed to fly and also will not be permitted to simply leave the airport.

That person will have to remain on the premises to be questioned by the TSA and possibly by local law enforcement. Anyone refusing faces fines up to $11,000 and possible arrest.

(Full story)

Unequal protection under the law

On Thursday, the House ethics committee recommended that Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) be censured for failing to pay taxes on income he received from a vacation villa in the Dominican Republic. A slap on the wrist, and he gets to stay in office.

Contrast that with the case of Wesley Snipes. The actor was convicted in 2008 on three misdemeanor counts of willful failure to file his income tax returns. He has just been sentenced to three years in prison. That's three years of his life taken away for not turning in a form that in essence violates the Fifth Amendment's prohibition against self-incrimination.

There should be equal protection under the law, which means everyone, including Hollywood actors and 20-term congressmen, should be treated the same. But, as Orwell pointed out, some are considered more equal than others.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Seattle officer's kicking of suspect prompts call for federal civil-rights review

(Seattle Times) - The American Civil Liberties Union of Washington said it will seek a federal civil-rights investigation of the Seattle Police Department, citing a newly released video of an officer kicking an African-American teen during an arrest, and other "unnecessarily violent confrontations" with minorities.

Executive Director Kathleen Taylor said Thursday the ACLU will send a request letter next week to the U.S. Justice Department, along with documentation of the incidents.

"These repeated incidents over the last 18 months, which have continued without forceful intervention by the Seattle Police Department, the mayor, or Seattle's other elected officials, leads the ACLU to call on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate whether there is a pattern and practice of civil-rights violations by the Seattle Police Department in violation of the Constitution and federal law," the organization said in a written statement.

(Full story)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Man arrested for punching TSA screener in Indy

(Indy Star) - A Connecticut man has been arrested after exchanging words and [allegedly] punching a TSA screener at a security checkpoint at Indianapolis International Airport.

According to a report from airport police, John A. Christina, 51, Simsbury, Conn., was charged with battery as a misdemeanor in connection with the incident about 2:50 p.m. Tuesday at the Concourse B checkpoint.

(Full story)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

God Bless the TSA

(To the tune of "God Bless the USA," by Lee Greenwood)

If tomorrow all my rights were gone,
I've had for all my life,
And I had to fly again
with my children and my wife.

I'd thank my lucky stars
to be in the USA,
'Cause the flag that stood for freedom
stands for something else today.

And I'm proud to be an American,
where I'm safe instead of free.
And I know the government has lied,
but they know what's best for me.

And I'd gladly strip down in front of you,
'cause there is no better way
To assure us all it's safe to fly,
God bless the TSA!

Taking off in Minnesota,
touching down in Tennessee,
It's only possible because of
heightened security.

Being patted down in Houston,
groped and scanned in L.A.
Well there's fear in every American heart,
and its time we stand and say...

That I'm proud to be an American,
where I'm safe instead of free.
And I know the government has lied,
but they know what's best for me.

And I'd gladly strip down in front of you,
'cause there is no better way
To assure us all it's safe to fly,
God bless the TSA!

And I'm proud to be an American,
where I'm safe instead of free.
And I know the government has lied,
but they know what's best for me.

And I'd gladly strip down in front of you,
'cause there is no better way
To assure us all it's safe to fly,
God bless the TSA!

Copyright © 2010 by Lee R. Shelton IV

Senator: FDA will ban alcoholic energy drinks

(ABC) - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration will effectively ban the sale of beverages that combine caffeine and alcohol, including Four Loko and Joose, by ruling that caffeine is an unsafe food additive, according to Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).

In a press release, the Senator also announced that the Federal Trade Commission will notify manufacturers that they're potentially marketing the products illegally.

(Full story)

County settles with family of boy paralyzed by speeding police officer

(Washington Examiner) - Montgomery County will pay $400,000 to the family of a Clarksburg boy who was paralyzed by an off-duty police officer driving more than 25 miles per hour over the speed limit.

With the boy never expected to walk again, the family is bracing for millions of dollars more in medical costs -- while the officer involved in the crash remains a member of the county's police force.

In April 2008, off-duty Officer Jason Cokinos struck 12-year-old Luis Jovel Jr. with his police cruiser as the boy crossed the street in front of his home on Stringtown Road. In a follow-up report, police determined that Cokinos was driving 56 miles per hour in a 30 mph zone and concluded that the boy would not have been hit if the officer were traveling at the speed limit.

(Full story)

New Jersey Senate stand up to the TSA

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

House ethics panel convicts Rep. Rangel on 11 of 13 counts

(The Hill) - Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), once one of the most powerful members of the House, was convicted Tuesday on 11 counts of violating House ethics rules and now faces punishment.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), the chairwoman of the adjudicatory subcommittee and the full House ethics committee, announced the decision late Tuesday morning following an abbreviated public trial and nearly six hours of deliberations.

(Full story)

TSA's new book for kids


TSA to investigate body scan resister

(Sign-on San Diego) - The Transportation Security Administration has opened an investigation targeting John Tyner, the Oceanside man who left Lindbergh Field under duress on Saturday morning after refusing to undertake a full body scan.

Tyner recorded the half-hour long encounter on his cell phone and later posted it to his personal blog, along with an extensive account of the incident. The blog went viral, attracting hundreds of thousands of readers and thousands of comments.

Michael J. Aguilar, chief of the TSA office in San Diego, called a news conference at the airport Monday afternoon to announce the probe. He said the investigation could lead to prosecution and civil penalties of up to $11,000.

(Full story)

Monday, November 15, 2010

New Jersey man jailed for being a responsible gun owner

(Reason) - Sue Aitken called the police because she was worried about her son, Brian. She now lives with the guilt of knowing that her phone call is the reason Brian spent his 27th birthday in a New Jersey prison last month. If the state gets its way, he will be there for the next seven years.

Aitken was sentenced in August after he was convicted of felony possession of a handgun. Before his arrest, Aitken, an entrepreneur and owner of a media consulting business, had no criminal record, and it appears he made a good-faith effort to comply with New Jersey's stringent gun laws. Even the jurors who convicted him seem to have been looking for a reason to acquit him. But the judge gave them little choice. Aitken's best hope now is executive clemency. He is petitioning New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for a reprieve this week.

(Full story)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Encounter with the TSA in San Diego (with audio)

John writes:
A male agent (it was a female who had directed me to the backscatter machine in the first place), came and waited for me to get my bags and then directed me over to the far corner of the area for screening. After setting my things on a table, he turned to me and began to explain that he was going to do a "standard" pat down. (I thought to myself, "great, not one of those gropings like I've been reading about".) After he described the pat down, I realized that he intended to touch my groin. After he finished his description but before he started the pat down, I looked him straight in the eye and said, "if you touch my junk, I'll have you arrested." He, a bit taken aback, informed me that he would have to involve his supervisor because of my comment.
Full account here.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Are veterans owed our thanks?

Upon enlistment, every member of the armed forces swears an oath to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic." Since our attention always seems to be focused on foreign threats, the majority of Americans are under the impression that those in the military are protecting our freedoms.

The fact remains, however, that most assaults on liberty occur right here in the U.S., thanks to the very people who are sending our soldiers to kill and die in countries that never once threatened us. One would think those risking their lives to keep their loved ones safe might show a little more interest in the enemies operating within our own government.

I realize today is Veterans Day, which means we are expected to forget all criticism and simply thank those who have made sacrifices on our behalf, but just because someone believes he is defending my freedom doesn't mean he is owed my thanks. A soldier may do many things that are considered brave and noble, but, when it comes down to it, freedom is not protected by good intentions.

Military used domestically in war on drugs

TSA cuffs woman to chair, tears up her ticket

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Flight crews opting out of TSA porn scanners

I'm politically incorrect

by John Stossel - This week, I held a bake sale -- a racist bake sale. I stood in midtown Manhattan shouting, "Cupcakes for sale." My price list read:

Asians -- $1.50
Whites -- $1.00
Blacks/Latinos -- 50 cents

People stared. One yelled, "What is funny to you about people who are less privileged?" A black woman said, angrily, "It's very offensive, very demeaning!" One black man accused me of poisoning the cupcakes.

I understand why people got angry. What I did was hurtful to some. My bake sale mimicked what some conservative college students did at Bucknell University. The students wanted to satirize their school's affirmative action policy, which makes it easier for blacks and Hispanics to get admitted.

I think affirmative action is racism -- and therefore wrong. If a private school like Bucknell wants to have such policies to increase diversity, fine. But government-imposed affirmative action is offensive. Equality before the law means government should treat citizens equally.

(Full article)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Another unarmed man shot and killed by Oakland cops

On New Year's Day in 2009, Oakland BART cop Johannes Mehserle shot and killed an unarmed man who was lying face-down on the ground. Mehserle received two years in prison, including time already served, for involuntary manslaughter. That slap-on-the-wrist sentence has apparently sent Oakland police the message that it is now open season on unarmed civilians...

Monday, November 8, 2010

Barack Obama: Protector of the Innocent

President Obama, speaking in India, reminded his audience that "nothing ever justifies the slaughter of innocent men, women and children." Unless, of course, they are considered collateral damage in undeclared, preemptive wars.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Lancaster County man dies after being tasered

LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. (WGAL) - A Lancaster County man died after being tased by police early Saturday morning.

State police said Robert Neill, Jr., died after he was tased twice and maced.

It happened around 4 a.m. Saturday at Neill's home on the 300 block of Marietta Avenue in the borough of Mount Joy.

Several police departments assisted including Mount Joy Borough Police Department, Susquehanna Regional Police Department and State Police from Ephrata.

(Full story)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

GOP senator: Consider neutering Iran's 'ability to wage war'

Halifax, Nova Scotia (CNN) - A leading Senate Republican voice on defense issues said Saturday the United States should consider neutering Iran's navy and air force if Tehran does not halt its nuclear program.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, speaking at the Halifax International Security Forum in Canada, told reporters that there will come a point where Iran's nuclear program will reach the state that a conventional limited air strike "won't take them out."

"We're probably even past that point," he said.

"Instead of a surgical strike on their nuclear infrastructure, I think we're to the point now that you have to really neuter the regime's ability to wage war against us and our allies. And that's a different military scenario. It's not a ground invasion but it certainly destroys the ability of the regime to strike back."

(Full story)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

San Francisco law curbs McDonald's Happy Meal toys

(Reuters) - San Francisco on Tuesday became the first major U.S. city to pass a law that cracks down on the popular practice of giving away free toys with unhealthy restaurant meals for children.

San Francisco's Board of Supervisors passed the law on a veto-proof 8-to-3 vote. It takes effect on December 1.

The law, like an ordinance passed earlier this year in nearby Santa Clara County, would require that restaurant kids' meals meet certain nutritional standards before they could be sold with toys.

(Full story)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

"Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss"

Why is it every election makes me think of this song?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is now officially a legal authority

(io9) - The wisdom of Spock has guided us all for years, but now it's enshrined in Texas law. Ruling on the limits of police power, the Texas Supreme Court quoted from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

Ruling in Robinson vs. Crown Cork Seal Company (PDF), Justice Don Willett writes:

Appropriately weighty principles guide our course. First, we recognize that police power draws from the credo that "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few." Second, while this maxim rings utilitarian and Dickensian (not to mention Vulcan), it is cabined by something contrarian and Texan: distrust of intrusive government and a belief that police power is justified only by urgency, not expediency.

(Full story)

Man arrested for wearing a mask on Halloween

ZEBULON, N.C. (WXII News) - Zebulon police said a local man may have been wearing a mask on Halloween, but he was no trick-or-treater.

The News & Observer of Raleigh reports that 20-year-old Lawrence Marqueal Rogers was arrested Sunday for wearing a mask or hood in public. He's being held in the Wake County jail on a $7,500 bond.

(Full story)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Unemployment offices to add armed guards

INDIANAPOLIS (Indy Channel) - Armed security guards will be on hand at 36 unemployment offices around Indiana in what state officials said is a step to improve safety and make branch security more consistent.

No specific incidents prompted the action, Department of Workforce Development spokesman Marc Lotter told 6News' Norman Cox.

Lotter said the agency is merely being cautious with the approach of an early-December deadline when thousands of Indiana residents could see their unemployment benefits end after exhausting the maximum 99 weeks provided through multiple federal extension periods.

(Full story)

Wyoming Rep.: Estate tax rise has some planning death before Dec. 31

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Casper Star-Tribune) - U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis says some of her Wyoming constituents are so worried about the reinstatement of federal estate taxes that they plan to discontinue dialysis and other life-extending medical treatments so they can die before Dec. 31.

Lummis, a Republican who holds her state's lone seat in the House, declined to name any of the people who have made the comments.

But she said many ranchers and farmers in the state would rather pass along their businesses -- "their life's work" -- to their children and grandchildren than see the federal government take a large chunk.

(Full story)

Friday, October 29, 2010

TSA to phase in new pat-down procedures at airports nationwide

(CNN) - Airline passengers can expect to see as well as feel new pat-down procedures at U.S. airports over the coming weeks in an effort to provide another layer of security for travelers, the Transportation Security Administration said Thursday.

"Pat-downs are one important tool to help TSA detect hidden and dangerous items such as explosives," according to a TSA statement sent to CNN.

The TSA said passengers should continue to expect "an unpredictable mix of security layers that include explosives trace detection, advanced imaging technology, canine teams, among others."

But it's the hands-on procedures that have at least one traveler concerned that the TSA may be going too far.

(Full story)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Baltimore hands out first trans fat citation

BALTIMORE (WBAL) - The Baltimore City Health Department issued its first environmental citation for repeat violations of the city's trans fat ban.

The Health Department issued Healthy Choice, a food facility in the 400 block of Lexington Street, a $100 fine on Thursday.

(Full story)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Wider role for CIA sought

WASHINGTON (Wall Street Journal) - The U.S. is pushing to expand a secret CIA effort to help Pakistan target militants in their havens near the Afghan border, according to senior officials, as the White House seeks new ways to prod Islamabad into more aggressive action against groups allied with al Qaeda,

The push comes as relations between Washington and Islamabad have soured over U.S. impatience with the slow pace of Pakistani strikes against militants who routinely attack U.S.-led troops in Afghanistan. President Barack Obama has said he will begin to withdraw troops from Afghanistan in July, increasing the urgency to show progress in the nine-year war against the Taliban.

(Full story)

'Government Doesn't Suck' march planned

(Washington Post) - Amid growing dissatisfaction with federal employees, a group of younger, web-savvy feds are planning to march on Saturday in defense of their coworkers on the sidelines of Jon Stewart's "Rally to Restore Sanity."

Organizers of the "Government Doesn't Suck March" (their choice of words, not ours) were inspired in part by last week's Washington Post poll that revealed widespread negative perceptions of federal workers.

"We hear it day in and day out: the government sucks, federal employees are lazy and their positions are redundant," said march organizer Steve Ressler, founder of GovLoop, a social networking Web site for public servants.

"It's time to turn the tables and remind the world that government employees just happen to be people -- people that don't suck," Ressler said in a message sent to The Federal Eye on Sunday announcing the march. Government workers "are a lot of cool cats" who work hard, listen to good music and watch Stewart's "The Daily Show," "but that's all after they've spent a whole day keeping the country running," he said.

(Full story)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Body scanners unveiled at JFK Airport; Homeland Security Sect. Janet Napolitano doesn't volunteer

(NY Daily News) - Airline passengers might want to consider a trip to the gym before heading to the airport now that high-tech body scanners have been unveiled at Kennedy Airport.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano yesterday hailed them as an important breakthrough for airport security and the fight against terrorism.

Yet when it came to testing the devices - which produce chalky, naked X-ray images of passengers - she turned the floor over to some brave volunteers.

(Full story)

In case you're planning on flying this holiday season...

You may want to know which airports are using the full-body porn scanners that store naked images of airline passengers. According to the TSA's own web site, there are 259 such machines located at 58 airports across the U.S.

Airports that currently have imaging technology:
  • Albuquerque International Sunport Airport
  • Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport
  • Boise Airport
  • Boston Logan International Airport
  • Bradley International Airport
  • Brownsville/South Padre Island International Airport
  • Buffalo Niagara International Airport
  • Bush Houston Intercontinental Airport
  • Charlotte Douglas International Airport
  • Chicago O'Hare International Airport
  • Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport
  • Cleveland International Airport
  • Corpus Christi International Airport
  • Denver International Airport
  • Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport
  • Detroit Metro Airport
  • El Paso International Airport
  • Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport
  • Fort Wayne International Airport
  • Fresno Air Terminal
  • Gerald R. Ford Grand Rapids International Airport
  • General Mitchell Milwaukee International Airport
  • Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport
  • Harlingen/Valley International Airport
  • Harrisburg International Airport
  • Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
  • Indianapolis International Airport
  • Jacksonville International Airport
  • Kansas City International Airport
  • Lambert/St. Louis International Airport
  • Laredo International Airport
  • Lihue Airport
  • Los Angeles International Airport
  • Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport
  • Los Angeles International Airport
  • McAllen Miller Airport
  • McCarran International Airport
  • Memphis International Airport
  • Miami International Airport
  • Mineta San José International Airport
  • Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport
  • Nashville International Airport
  • Oakland International Airport
  • Omaha Eppley Airfield Airport
  • Palm Beach International Airport
  • Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport
  • Pittsburgh International Airport
  • Port Columbus International Airport
  • Raleigh-Durham International Airport
  • Reno-Tahoe International Airport
  • Richmond International Airport
  • Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport
  • Salt Lake City International Airport
  • San Francisco International Airport
  • San Jose International Airprot
  • Spokane International Airport
  • T. F. Green International Airport
  • Tampa International Airport
  • Tulsa International Airport

Airports receiving imaging technology soon:
  • Chicago Midway International Airport
  • Dulles International Airport
  • Greater Rochester International Airport
  • Honolulu International Airport
  • Houston William P. Hobby Airport
  • John F. Kennedy International Airport
  • La Guardia International Airport
  • Orlando International Airport
  • Philadelphia International Airport
  • Saipan International Airport
  • San Antonio International Airport
  • Seattle-Tacoma International Airport

Government-sponsored "family planning"

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Military recruiters told to accept gay applicants

WASHINGTON (AP) - A Pentagon spokeswoman says recruiters have been told that they must accept gay applicants, following a federal court decision striking down the ban on gays serving openly in the military.

Spokeswoman Cynthia Smith said Tuesday that top-level guidance has been issued to recruiting commands informing them that the military's "don't ask, don't tell" rule has been suspended for now. Recruiters also have been told to inform potential recruits that the moratorium could be reversed at any point.

(Full story)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Soldier ordered to delete videos of Fort Hood shooting

(World) - A soldier who recorded the terror of last year's deadly shooting rampage at Fort Hood in Texas using his cell phone was ordered by an officer to delete both videos, a military court heard Friday.

Under cross examination, Pfc. Lance Aviles told an Article 32 hearing that his noncommissioned officer ordered him to destroy the two videos on Nov. 5, the same day Major Nidal Hasan unleashed a volley of bullets inside a processing center at the Texas Army post.

(Full story)

Friday, October 15, 2010

For cops, citizen videos bring increased scrutiny

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (USA Today) - Diop Kamau's home in a leafy, gated community just north of town is not easy to find — for good reason.

For more than two decades, the 52-year-old former Hawthorne, Calif., police officer has made a living embarrassing cops with a video camera.

Stung by the rough treatment of his father during a 1987 traffic stop by another California department, Kamau turned to a second career recording police across the country in compromising — often abusive — encounters with the public.

(Full story)

Former Joint Chiefs chairman: Iraq war 'fiasco' due to Rumsfeld’s 'lies'

(Raw Story) - The US had no reason to invade Iraq in 2003, and only did so because of "a series of lies" told to the American people by the Bush administration, says Gen. Hugh Shelton, who served for four years as the US's top military officer.

Shelton, who was the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1997 to 2001, makes the comment in Without Hesitation: The Odyssey of an American Warrior, a soon-to-be-published memoir reviewed at Foreign Policy by Thomas E. Ricks.

(Full story)

Hell hath no fury like a cop with a bruised ego

A drunk girl trying to get home in Washington, D.C., wanted to board the metro, but a transit cop refused to let her on. She swore at the cop and turned to leave, so, naturally, he had no other choice but to give chase, wrestle her to the ground, pull up her skirt, molest her, and restrain her against her will. You see, she had committed the ultimate crime: she hurt the poor cop's feelings.

What you see in the following video is just what you would expect in a police state. Note how the costumed tax-feeder keeps shouting, "Stop resisting! Stop resisting!" That's what all cops are trained to do. It helps to reinforce the idea that resisting an unlawful arrest is no longer a common law right.

(View Discretion: Some harsh language)


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Judge lets states' healthcare suit go forward

(Reuters) - U.S. states can proceed with a lawsuit seeking to overturn President Barack Obama's landmark healthcare reform law, a Florida judge ruled on Thursday.

U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson had already indicated at a hearing last month that he could not uphold parts of a motion by the Justice Department to dismiss the lawsuit, led by Florida and 19 other states.

(Full story)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Judge orders halt to 'don't ask, don't tell' policy

WASHINGTON (Wall Street Journal) - A federal judge ordered the military to stop enforcing the "don't ask, don't tell" law that has been used to discharge gay service members, putting at least a temporary halt to the 17-year-old policy.

Tuesday's order by U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips in Riverside, Calif., applies across the U.S. and would halt proceedings against service members suspected of violating the policy, which aims to bar openly gay people from the military.

(Full story)

Freer is better

(by John Stossel) - The 2010 Index of Economic Freedom lowers the ranking of the United States to eighth out of 179 nations -- behind Canada! A year ago, it ranked sixth, ahead of Canada.

Don't say it's Barack Obama's fault. Half the data used in the index is from George W. Bush's final six months in office. This is a bipartisan problem.

For the past 16 years, the index has ranked the world's countries on the basis of their economic freedom -- or lack thereof. Ten criteria are used: freedoms related to business, trade, fiscal matters, monetary matters, investment, finance, labor, government spending, property rights and freedom from corruption.

(Full article)

Monday, October 11, 2010

College student discovers FBI tracking device in his car

(The Money Times) - Yasir Afifi, a 20-year-old college student in Santa Clara, California, said in an interview that he was shocked when he accidentally discovered a GPS tracking device placed underneath his car earlier this week.

After posting the image of the device, with the help of a friend, on a user-generated news site Reddit.com, he found that the device belongs to Federal Bureau of Investigation. This could only mean one thing that FBI was tracking him for some reason.

Afifi revealed that two days after finding the device and posting it online to know who it belongs to,the FBI agents showed up at his Santa Clara apartment complex. Agents indirectly hinted that he’s been under surveillance for around three to six months.

(Full story)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Obama reshapes administration for a fresh strategy

(LA Times) - As President Obama remakes his senior staff, he is also shaping a new approach for the second half of his term: to advance his agenda through executive actions he can take on his own, rather than pushing plans through an increasingly hostile Congress.

A flurry of staff departures and promotions is playing out as the White House ends a nearly two-year period of intense legislative activity. Where the original staff was built to give Obama maximum clout in Congress, the new White House team won't need the same leverage with lawmakers.

"It's fair to say that the next phase is going to be less about legislative action than it is about managing the change that we've brought," White House senior advisor David Axelrod said in an interview.

(Full story)

Friday, October 8, 2010

Transportation Secretary weighs ban on all phone use in cars

(Bloomberg) - U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says he believes motorists are distracted by any use of mobile phones while driving, including hands-free calls, as his department begins research that may lead him to push for a ban.

LaHood, whose campaign against texting and making calls while driving has led to restrictions in 30 states, says his concerns extend to vehicle information and entertainment systems such as Ford Motor Co.'s Sync and General Motors Co.'s OnStar.

"I don't want people talking on phones, having them up to their ear or texting while they're driving," LaHood said in an interview this week. "We need a lot better research on other distractions," including Bluetooth-enabled hands-free calls and the in-car systems, he said.

(Full story)

Federal judge upholds key provisions of health care law

(Detroit Free Press) - A federal judge in Detroit today upheld key provisions of President Barack Obama's landmark health reform law.

In a 20-page decision, U.S. District Judge George Steeh refused to issue an injunction to halt preparations for putting federal health reforms into full effect in 2014, a law known as the Affordable Care Act passed by Congress in March. Steeh also dismissed the major points of the suit — requiring Americans to buy health insurance and penalizing those who don’t starting in 2014.

(Full story)

Overestimate fueled California's landmark diesel law

(SF Chronicle) - California grossly miscalculated pollution levels in a scientific analysis used to toughen the state's clean-air standards, and scientists have spent the past several months revising data and planning a significant weakening of the landmark regulation, The Chronicle has found.

The pollution estimate in question was too high - by 340 percent, according to the California Air Resources Board, the state agency charged with researching and adopting air quality standards. The estimate was a key part in the creation of a regulation adopted by the Air Resources Board in 2007, a rule that forces businesses to cut diesel emissions by replacing or making costly upgrades to heavy-duty, diesel-fueled off-road vehicles used in construction and other industries.

(Full story)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

No threat, but counterterror operation targets bus station

ATLANTA, Ga. (WSB TV) - Federal agents launched a counterterrorism operation in Metro Atlanta for the third time in 10 days, inspecting every inch of a downtown Atlanta bus station.

Bomb sniffing dogs and officers from several agencies searched passengers, baggage and vehicles at the Forsyth Street bus station on Wednesday night.

Officials told Channel 2's Eric Philips there is no particular threat sparking the surge in activity, just their desire to ward off any potential attacks.

(Full story)

Man claiming police corruption has home searched

(Lake County Leader) - Outspoken Lake County Sheriff's Office critic Terry Leonard was served a search warrant Thursday afternoon by the very department he has claimed is corrupt.

"It's a bullying tactic," Leonard said Friday afternoon.

The 2 p.m. search of his Polson residence resulted in the seizure of computers, electronic storage devices and printed e-mails, Lake County attorney Mitch Young said.

"It is an ongoing investigation," he said. "I can't go into any specifics at this time."

(Full story)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Pot raid at school turns up tomatoes

(The New Mexican) - Police last month raided an Española-area school looking for marijuana growing in a greenhouse, but all they found there were tomatoes.

Patricia Pantano, education director of the Camino de Paz Montessori School and Farm in Cuarteles, between Española and Chimayó on N.M. 76, said the raid occurred Sept. 21 during the lunch hour.

(Full story)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Feds drop charges against supposed OC terrorist

(OC Weekly) - Remember Craig Monteilh? The convicted con artist and OC Weekly cover story subject who claims he helped the FBI foil an OC terrorist cell operating inside local mosques only to be abandoned by the agency after they stopped believing his stories? The guy who first claimed he was a hero for helping the feds fight terror, but whose activities led only to the arrest of an Afghan immigrant named Ahmadullah Sais Niazi, who allegedly lied on his visa application about one of his in-laws being involved with Al Qaeda? The guy who promised that Niazi's arrest was just the tip of the iceberg and that soon the feds would be taking down an entire terrorist cell in Orange County?

Well, surprise, surprise, no big terror plot was ever uncovered.

(Full story)

Firefighters watch as home burns to the ground

OBION COUNTY, Tenn. (WPSD) - Imagine your home catches fire but the local fire department won't respond, then watches it burn. That's exactly what happened to a local family tonight.

A local neighborhood is furious after firefighters watched as an Obion County, Tennessee, home burned to the ground.

The homeowner, Gene Cranick, said he offered to pay whatever it would take for firefighters to put out the flames, but was told it was too late. They wouldn't do anything to stop his house from burning.

(Full story)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Friday, October 1, 2010

U.S. apologizes for '40s syphilis study in Guatemala

WASHINGTON (AP) - American scientists deliberately infected prisoners and patients in a mental hospital in Guatemala with syphilis 60 years ago, a recently unearthed experiment that prompted U.S. officials to apologize Friday and declare outrage over "such reprehensible research."

The discovery dredges up past wrongs in the name of science - like the infamous Tuskegee syphilis study in this country that has long dampened minority participation in medical research - and could complicate ongoing studies overseas that depend on cooperation from some of the world's poorest countries to tackle tough-to-treat diseases.

(Full story)

Bill Gates advocates global depopulation through new vaccines

Bill Gates wants to cut Earth's human population by at least 1 billion. In this video he explains what's needed to do that:

"The world today has 6.8 billion people. That's headed up to about 9 billion. Now if we do a really great job on new vaccines, health care, reproductive health services, we could lower that by perhaps 10 or 15 percent."


Joseph Sobran passes away

One of my favorite columnists, Joseph Sobran, died yesterday from complications due to diabetes. He was only 64.

Mr. Sobran was a brilliant and controversial writer. Reading "How Tyranny Came to America" marked a significant turning point for me politically. He will be missed.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Feds order New York City to change lettering on every single street sign

(NY Daily News) - The city will change the lettering on every single street sign - at an estimated cost of about $27.5 million - because the feds don't like the font.

Street names will change from all capital letters to a combination of upper and lower case on roads across the country thanks to the pricey federal regulation, officials said Wednesday.

(Full story)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Body scanners used as porn by airport security

(Gadling.com) - It had to happen sooner or later.

The Nigerian newspaper This Day has reported that security officials at Lagos airport are getting their jollies by watching female passengers go through a full-body scanner.

(Full story)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Theft of gold necklaces a sign of the dollar's decline?

Not too long ago, we were reading about people stealing copper tubing and copper wiring from homes and businesses. Now, police in St. Paul, Minnesota, are warning of a rash of gold necklace thefts. There have been at least 11 instances in the past three months in which thieves snatched necklaces right off the victims' necks.

You see, even criminals are realizing just how dismal the dollar's future is. Thank you, Federal Reserve!

Monday, September 27, 2010

10,000 TSA employees get secret clearances

(AP) - The new head of the Transportation Security Administration say he's giving 10,000 of the agency's employees access to secret intelligence information to better enable them to detect threats and stop terrorists.

(Full story)

Wiretapped phones, now Internet?

(NY Times) - Federal law enforcement and national security officials are preparing to seek sweeping new regulations of the Internet, arguing that their ability to wiretap criminal and terrorism suspects is "going dark" as people increasingly communicate online instead of by telephone.

Essentially, officials want Congress to require all services that enable communications -- including encrypted e-mail transmitters such as BlackBerry, social networking websites such as Facebook and software that allows direct "peer-to-peer" messaging such as Skype -- to be technically capable of complying if served with a wiretap order. The mandate would include being able to intercept and unscramble encrypted messages.

(Full story)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Pretender

Saturday, September 25, 2010

White House invokes state secrets privilege to block targeted killings suit

(AP) - The Obama administration on Saturday invoked the state secrets privilege which would kill a lawsuit on behalf of U.S.-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, an alleged terrorist said to be targeted for death or capture under a U.S. government program.

Believed to be hiding in Yemen, al-Awlaki has become the most notorious English-speaking advocate of terrorism directed at the United States.

(Full story)

Pentagon destroys thousands of copies of Army officer's memoir

Washington (CNN) - The Department of Defense recently purchased and destroyed thousands of copies of an Army Reserve officer's memoir in an effort to safeguard state secrets, a spokeswoman said Saturday.

"DoD decided to purchase copies of the first printing because they contained information which could cause damage to national security," Pentagon spokeswoman Lt. Col. April Cunningham said.

(Full story)

Credit unions bailed out

(Wall Street Journal) - Two years after the peak of the financial crisis, the federal government swooped in to stabilize a crucial part of the credit-union sector battered by losses on subprime mortgages.

Regulators announced Friday a rescue and revamping of the nation's wholesale credit union system, underpinned by a federal guarantee valued at $30 billion or more. Wholesale credit unions don't deal with the general public but provide essential back-office services to thousands of other credit unions across the U.S. The majority of retail credit unions are sound, but they will have to shoulder the losses through special assessments over the next decade.

(Full story)

Socialism Is as Socialism Does

The reason liberals cringe at the socialist moniker is because they recognize the negative connotations associated with it. But just about everything they (and their Beltway "conservative" counterparts) support is socialist.

Take a look at the following list provided by Jacob Hornberger of the Future of Freedom Foundation and tell me which of these the U.S. has in common with other socialist nations:
  1. Government provided retirement pay to senior citizens (i.e., Social Security).
  2. Government provided health care (i.e., Medicare and Medicaid).
  3. Government-provided, mandatory education to people's children (i.e., public schooling).
  4. Government-provided unemployment compensation.
  5. Government-provided welfare payments.
  6. Government central planning of monetary affairs (i.e., a Federal Reserve).
  7. Government management of the economy.
  8. Government-issued licenses for occupations and professions.
  9. Government central planning over immigration affairs.
  10. Government control over trade.
  11. Government equalization of wealth among the citizenry.
  12. Government-mandated wage rates.
  13. Government control over prices.
  14. Government-provided subsidies.
If you answered "all of the above," then you know more about American politics than American politicians.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

U.K. proposes all paychecks go to the state first

(CNBC) - The UK's tax collection agency is putting forth a proposal that all employers send employee paychecks to the government, after which the government would deduct what it deems as the appropriate tax and pay the employees by bank transfer.

The proposal by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) stresses the need for employers to provide real-time information to the government so that it can monitor all payments and make a better assessment of whether the correct tax is being paid.

(Full story)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Real free market entrepreneurs are criminals

NPR recently reported on an elusive criminal operating in New York's black market:
For years, if you wanted illegal drugs in New York City, you'd get the number of an anonymous dealer who would show up at your location with the goods. Now an entrepreneur who goes by the name of "Ronnie" is trying this technique with...grilled cheese sandwiches. Hungry customers get Ronnie's number from a friend, or a friend-of-a-friend, and they text their order, and in 15 minutes or less they get a hot, grilled cheese anywhere in the Lower East Side.

Read the full story here.

While NPR didn't go into any detail on this particular aspect, it's clear from the story that "Ronnie," a real free market entrepreneur, is a criminal. He's one of those awful, evil villains who don't first obtain permission from the government or pay the required extortion fees in order to make their businesses "legitimate."

Imagine wanting to open a sandwich shop in your neighborhood. A local mob boss pays you a visit and informs you that in order to operate a business in his territory you must pay him "protection" money. If you don't...well, something unpleasant might happen. That's exactly what goes on in every neighborhood in America, only the local mob bosses are actually government officials, the "protection" fees are called licenses, and the thugs hired to enforce this arrangement wear badges and have a lot more high-tech weaponry at their disposal.

All "Ronnie" is doing is making and selling grilled cheese sandwiches. He offers a perfectly safe product, and people are willing to pay him for it. Someone please tell me how this hurts anyone. There is no threat to life, liberty, or property -- and isn't the protection of life, liberty, and property the only reason we have laws in the first place?

Monday, September 20, 2010

The problem with the FDA

The Washington Post is reporting that the Food and Drug Administration won't require labeling of genetically modified salmon. Now, I certainly don't think any government agency has the right to force anyone to label anything, but what about the producers of conventional foods who want to label their products as non-genetically altered? Well...:
The labeling matter is further complicated because the FDA has maintained a tough stance for food makers who don't use genetically engineered ingredients and want to promote their products as an alternative. The agency allows manufacturers to label their products as not genetically engineered as long as those labels are accurate and do not imply that the products are therefore more healthful.

The agency warned the dairy industry in 1994 that it could not use "Hormone Free" labeling on milk from cows that are not given engineered hormones, because all milk contains some hormones.

It has sent a flurry of enforcement letters to food makers, including B&G Foods, which was told it could not use the phrase "GMO-free" on its Polaner All Fruit strawberry spread label because GMO refers to genetically modified organisms and strawberries are produce, not organisms.

It told the maker of Spectrum Canola Oil that it could not use a label that included a red circle with a line through it and the words "GMO," saying the symbol suggested that there was something wrong with genetically engineered food.

"This to me raises questions about whose interest the FDA is protecting," said Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (D-Ohio), who has introduced legislation that would require labeling for genetically engineered food. "They are clearly protecting industry and not the public."

The problem with the FDA (aside from the fact that it is an unaccountable and unconstitutional law-making agency) is that it only serves to perpetuate the corporatist system. So much for the free market.

City may curb sales of sugary beverages

(Boston Globe) - First, it was smoking in restaurants and bars. Then, artery-clogging trans fat in fast food joints and bakeries. Now, Boston health regulators have their crosshairs fixed on soft drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages sold in city buildings.

Concerned about the girth of employees and visitors to government agencies, Boston officials are weighing — gingerly — whether to restrict or even prohibit the sale of calorie-laden refreshments on city-owned property.

(Full story)

FBI gave inaccurate statements in claiming terror link to anti-war rally

WASHINGTON (AP) - The FBI gave inaccurate information to Congress and the public when it claimed a possible terrorism link to justify surveilling an anti-war rally in Pittsburgh, the Justice Department's inspector general said Monday in a report on the bureau's scrutiny of domestic activist groups.

Inspector General Glenn Fine said the FBI had no reason to expect that anyone of interest in a terrorism investigation would be present at the 2002 event sponsored by the Thomas Merton Center, a nonviolent anti-war and anti-discrimination group.

(Full story)