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.