Monday, July 26, 2010

The war on drugs claims another innocent life

BALTIMORE, Md. (WBAL) - Police said a pursuit ended in the death of an innocent bystander.

Officers said the incident started at 2:57 p.m. Sunday when dispatchers got a report about a man possibly selling drugs from a pickup near the intersection of Monroe Street and Penrose Avenue.

(Full story)

Monday, July 19, 2010

TSA agent: A pedophile's dream job

Agents of the Transportation Security Administration, prancing around airports in their government-issued cop costumes, have one of the most useless jobs in the nation. Contrary to what the state and its willing accomplices in the media would have you believe, they aren't there to thwart would-be terrorists from smuggling weapons and explosives onto commercial flights, though there is always a slight chance that could actually happen. Their primary purpose is to intimidate airline passengers into submission.

Working as a TSA agent has always been the perfect alternative for those who couldn't qualify for military service or a job in what most would consider "law enforcement," but now it could be the perfect job for pedophiles. As a recent incident in Tampa illustrates, no one is safe from the probing eyes of the TSA.

A 12-year-old girl was returning home to Baltimore with a friend when she was pulled aside and subjected to a full-body image scan. In other words, she had nude pictures taken of her without her consent. Even in the U.K., where violations of civil liberties have reached Orwellian proportions, these types of scans are not conducted on children under 18 because they would violate child pornography laws.

The plan here in the U.S. is to have these porn machines in every airport. You may not mind that kind of invasion of privacy, but what would you say to having your child undressed and ogled by costumed perverts? Of course, you could opt out of the image scan and just have your kid physically groped instead.

But that's the price we pay for what passes for "freedom" in this country. Really, is there anything we Americans won't tolerate in order to feel safe?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

When politicians make sense

Congressman Ron Paul discusses the business cycle and government contributions to our economic turmoil.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Pentagon warns Congress: accounts running dry

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Pentagon said on Wednesday it may be forced to take extreme measures -- like not paying salaries -- if the Democratic-led Congress fails to pass a $37 billion defense spending bill before lawmakers begin an August recess.

A senior Democratic aide said lawmakers would find a way to get it done. "We will pass it this work period. We have to," the aide said.

(Full story)

U.S. pockets $20.6 billion in sin taxes in 2009

(Reuters) - Americans armed themselves to the teeth and paid through the nose to have a smoke, according to a U.S. government report released on Wednesday.

The U.S. federal government collected $20.6 billion in taxes on alcohol, tobacco, firearms and ammunition in fiscal year 2009, up 41 percent from the previous fiscal year, according to the annual report of the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.

(Full story)

Millions of stimulus dollars spent on signs

(ABC) - As the midterm election season approaches, new road signs are popping up everywhere – millions of dollars worth of signs touting "The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act" and reminding passers-by that the program is "Putting America Back to Work."

On the road leading to Dulles Airport outside Washington, DC there's a 10' x 11' road sign touting a runway improvement project funded by the federal stimulus. The project cost nearly $15 million and has created 17 jobs, according to

However, there's another number that caught the eye of ABC News: $10,000. That's how much money the Washington Airports Authority tells ABC News it spent to make and install the sign – a single sign – announcing that the project is "Funded by The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act" and is "Putting America Back to Work." The money for the sign was taken out of the budget for the runway improvement project.

(Full story)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Fed paints weaker picture of growth and employment

WASHINGTON (AP) - Federal Reserve officials have a slightly dimmer view of the economy than they did in April, reflecting worries about how the European debt crisis could affect U.S. growth and job prospects.

Fed officials said Wednesday in an updated economic forecast that they think the economy, as measured by the gross domestic product, will grow between 3 percent and 3.5 percent this year. That's a downward revision from a growth range in their April forecast of 3.2 percent to 3.7 percent.

(Full story)

Friday, July 9, 2010

Study: Newspapers stopped describing waterboarding as 'torture' during Bush years

(Yahoo!) - Is waterboarding torture? If you picked up a major U.S. newspaper before 2004, the answer would likely be yes, according to a new Harvard University study.

But in the post-9/11 world, when the practice of immobilizing and virtually drowning detainees became a politically charged issue, that straightforward definition grew murky. The study, conducted by the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, examined coverage in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today, and found a noticeable shift in language concerning waterboarding.

(Full story)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Rules of America's rule of law

by Glenn Greenwald ( - The U.S. today charged Bradley Manning with a variety of crimes relating to his alleged leaks of classified material to WikiLeaks, most prominently including the Apache attack video that spawned worldwide debate over the American occupation. The 22-year-old whistle-blower faces 52 years in prison. Marcy Wheeler has interesting analysis of the charges, including some contradictions with the account previously offered by Wired, and I'll have more on this shortly, but for now, I just wanted to review the contemporary rules governing the Rule of Law in the U.S.:
  • If you torture people or eavesdrop on Americans without the warrants required by the criminal law, you receive Look-Forward Imperial Immunity.

  • If you shoot and kill unarmed rescuers of the wounded while occupying their country and severely wound their unarmed children sitting in a van -- or if you authorize that conduct -- your actions are commended.

  • If you help wreck the world economy with fraud and cause hundreds of millions of people untold suffering, you collect tens of millions of dollars in bonuses.

  • If you disclose to the world evidence of war crimes, government lawbreaking, or serious corruption, or otherwise embarrass the U.S., you will be swiftly prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and face decades in prison.
(Full article)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Deputies accused of excessive force against 80 year-old man and his son

(Injustice Everywhere) - It was about 6:00pm on June 22, 2010 when Robert Threadgill, 80-year-old former member of the 1970′s singing group “The Threadgills”, had realized that he forgot his fishing pole at a nearby community-property creek called Woodcreek behind his condo where he fished often and had walked over to retrieve it. While there, still on a community property section of lawn, Mr. Threadgill apparently got into a minor verbal dispute with an employee of a Cypress Creek Falls Lodge, who was on another side of a fence next to their property, about debris those employees would throw into the creek.

The Cypress Creek employee apparently called the Hays County Sheriff’s Department after the dispute and apparently reported that Threadgill was trespassing even though he never crossed the tall fence that separates the properties. Four Hays County deputies arrived in response to the call and, Threadgill claims, when he saw the deputies talking with the employee he walked over and asked them to come over to his side of the fence so he could explain what the dispute was about.

However, when the deputies crossed over they immediately told him that he was trespassing, even though he was still on the opposite side of the fence. At this point Mr. Threadgill’s son, Stephen, began to walk over to see what was going on when his father told him everything was fine and to just go back to the house. At that point, things took a strange turn for the worst when two deputies allegedly tackled Mr. Threadgill to the ground, grinding their knees into his back and his head while another deputy approached Stephen, as he was walking back towards the house, and apparently hit him from behind with a baton and knocked him unconscious.

(Full story)

Officer suspended in wake of stun gun incident

MARTINSVILLE, Ind. ( - A Martinsville police officer accused of using a stun gun on a 10-year-old boy was suspended on Tuesday.

The Police Department recommended Officer Darren Johnson be suspended without pay for 45 days, with five days already served, and remain on probation for two years, 6News' Joanna Massee reported.

(Full story)

Some customers heated over indoor 'tan tax,' which was part of health-care law

(Washington Post) - The sun hasn't exactly set on Solar Planet, but anxiety over the fate of the Arlington tanning salon has been running high ever since a "tan tax" took effect last Thursday.

One of the less-publicized measures in the new health-care law, the tax imposes a 10 percent surcharge on the use of ultraviolet indoor tanning beds.

(Full story)

Philadelphia threatens jail for tax deadbeats

PHILADELPHIA (WHYY) - The city of Philadelphia collected about a third more than it expected from its tax amnesty. Now the city is threatening jail-time for some of those who have not paid up.

Mayor Michael Nutter: "We want our damn money, you owe it, we want it, and I plan to collect it."

Nutter says the city collected over $40 million and another $20 million for the schools during the 54 day amnesty program, but there is close to $500 million still owed. Revenue Commissioner Keith Richardson says the city will step up its collection efforts.

(Full story)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

New EPA rule would cost nearly $3 billion a year

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Obama administration is proposing a new rule to tighten restrictions on pollution from coal-burning power plants in the eastern half of the country, a key step to cut emissions that cause smog.

The Environmental Protection Agency said Tuesday the new rule represented its most consequential effort yet to tackle deadly pollution that contributes to smog and soot that hangs over more than half the country. The rule would cost nearly $3 billion a year and those costs are likely to be passed along to consumers, although the rule's effect on specific companies and on consumers was not clear.

(Full story)

Monday, July 5, 2010

Flash-bang grenades ignite legal battles in Michigan

(Detroit Free Press) - When Leonid and Arlene Marmelshtein heard someone on the front porch of their small Southfield ranch house that cold winter night, they thought one of their adult sons had come home to enjoy Hanukkah dinner with them.

But within seconds, Southfield police broke the door down -- looking for a suspected marijuana dealing operation -- and threw flash-bang grenades, filling the small house with deafening noise, blinding light and smoke.

"I thought they were here to kill us," Leonid Marmelshtein, 74, said of the police officers, who wore black hoods hiding their faces and had their guns drawn.

(Full story)

NASA's "foremost" mission to improve relations with Muslims

(Fox News) - NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in a recent interview that his "foremost" mission as the head of America's space exploration agency is to improve relations with the Muslim world.

Though international diplomacy would seem well outside NASA's orbit, Bolden said in an interview with Al Jazeera that strengthening those ties was among the top tasks President Obama assigned him. He said better interaction with the Muslim world would ultimately advance space travel.

(Full story)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Six months to go until the largest tax hikes in history

(Americans for Tax Reform) - In just six months, the largest tax hikes in the history of America will take effect. They will hit families and small businesses in three great waves on January 1, 2011:

First Wave: Expiration of 2001 and 2003 Tax Relief

In 2001 and 2003, the GOP Congress enacted several tax cuts for investors, small business owners, and families. These will all expire on January 1, 2011:

Personal income tax rates will rise. The top income tax rate will rise from 35 to 39.6 percent (this is also the rate at which two-thirds of small business profits are taxed). The lowest rate will rise from 10 to 15 percent. All the rates in between will also rise. Itemized deductions and personal exemptions will again phase out, which has the same mathematical effect as higher marginal tax rates.

(Full story)

Health overhaul may mean longer ER waits, crowding

CHICAGO (AP) - Emergency rooms, the only choice for patients who can't find care elsewhere, may grow even more crowded with longer wait times under the nation's new health law.

That might come as a surprise to those who thought getting 32 million more people covered by health insurance would ease ER crowding. It would seem these patients would be able to get routine health care by visiting a doctor's office, as most of the insured do.

(Full story)

Health law risks turning away sick

(The Hill) - The Obama administration has not ruled out turning sick people away from an insurance program created by the new healthcare law to provide coverage for the uninsured.

Critics of the $5 billion high-risk pool program insist it will run out of money before Jan. 1, 2014. That’s when the program sunsets and health plans can no longer discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions.

(Full story)

White House enacts rules inhibiting media from covering oil spill

(News Busters) - The White House Thursday enacted stronger rules to prevent the media from showing what's happening with the oil spill in the Gulf Coast.

CNN's Anderson Cooper reported that evening, "The Coast Guard today announced new rules keeping photographers and reporters and anyone else from coming within 65 feet of any response vessel or booms out on the water or on beaches -- 65 feet."

(Full story)

Friday, July 2, 2010

Alabama governor claims Bingo is illegal gambling

(ABC) - Bingo is known to generate a lot of shouting and even some passion, but in Eutaw, Ala., it's stirred up quite a bit more as one small county takes on the governor over whether electronic bingo machines are legal.

The battle came to a head yesterday at the Greenetrack dog racing and electronic bingo facility, when Gov. Bob Riley's gambling task force arrived with a State Supreme Court ruling that heaped criticism on a local county judge and handed the authorities the task of shutting down Greenetrack's 800 bingo machines.

(Full story)

Florida school district bans Bibles on Religious Freedom Day

(Orlando Sentinel) - Maitland-based Liberty Counsel filed a lawsuit Thursday to overturn a ban on Bible distribution on public school campuses in Collier County. According to the Liberty Counsel, the Collier County School Board allowed World Changers to distribute free Bibles to students during off-school hours on Religious Freedom Day, but now the school officials claim that Bibles do not provide any educational benefit to the students and the distribution should stop.

The Collier County School District policy specifically allows the distribution of literature by nonprofit organizations, but only with the approval of the superintendent and the Community Request Committee, whose members are appointed by the superintendent. Approval was denied to World Changers, despite the fact that its distribution included a disclaimer of any school endorsement or sponsorship and that receiving a Bible was purely voluntary.

(Full story)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

National debt soars to highest level since WWII

(USA Today) - The federal debt will represent 62% of the nation's economy by the end of this year, the highest percentage since just after World War II, according to a long-term budget outlook released today by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.

Republicans, who have been talking a lot about the debt in recent months, pounced on the report. "The driver of this debt is spending," said New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg, the top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee. "Our existing debt will be worsened by the president's new health care entitlement programs…as well as an explosion in existing health care and retirement entitlement spending as the Baby Boomers retire."

(Full story)