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26 Nov 21:45

Devastated Mother Watched Helplessly as Dozens of Terrorists Murdered Her Son. But the Killers Were Gravely Unprepared for Her Wrath.

by Jason Howerton

A mother in Afghanistan is gaining national attention after she fiercely fought back against dozens of Taliban militants who killed her son in the country’s dangerous Farah province, the Daily Mail reports.

Reza Gul reportedly watched in horror as her son, a police officer who was apparently working at a village checkpoint with a team of fellow officers, was gunned down by a band of terrorists.

After witnesses such a tragic event unfold before her eyes, the mother said she “couldn’t stop myself and picked up a weapon.”

TOLO News

TOLO News

“I went to the check post and began shooting back,” she told TOLO News. Her husband, daughter and daughter-in-law also reportedly took up arms and fought alongside the grieving mother. Gul told NBC News that “other boys from the police” also joined in the fighting.

The fighting reportedly “intensified” and the family was “committed to fight to the last bullet.” Gul’s daughter apparently prepared bullets to ensure her mom and dad had enough ammunition to continuously fight the Taliban, according to reports.

The firefight lasted for roughly seven hours. But instead of the Taliban militants claiming yet even more innocent victims, authorities found the bodies of 25 dead terrorists on the battlefield. Another five terrorists — all of whom clearly weren’t prepared for the mother’s wrath — were said to have been wounded.

“We started a kind of family war against the Taliban,” she told NBC News.

TOLO News

TOLO News

More from the Daily Mail report:

A spokesman for the Afghanistan’s Ministry of Interior told the agency it was a symbol of a public uprising.

The Taliban is yet to comment about the incident.

Alongside other insurgent groups, the Taliban have escalated attacks across the country since the withdrawal of most of the US led forces from the country last month.

Targeting, government, security and foreign installations, especially in the country’s capital Kabul, members of the public have also been caught in the crossfire.

Though the TOLO News video report is not in English, it provides a look at the brave mother and her family:

Read more stories from TheBlaze

‘Burn This Bi**h Down!’: Mike Brown’s Step-Dad Caught on Vid Inciting Violence, and Here’s How the Family Attorney Responded

After You Read Ferguson Column Penned By Ivy League Prof., You’ll See Why It’s Being Called ‘Shameful’

‘Heartbreaking’ Video Shows the Moment a Ferguson Store Owner Processes What Looters Have Done. But This Isn’t Just Any Business…

Rapper’s Stunning Ferguson-Inspired Twitter Rant Involves Killing ‘Crackers in Their Sleep’ and ‘Hatred for All Straight White Men’

Shock Video Shows Car Plow Through Ferguson Protesters Blocking Traffic in Minneapolis

26 Nov 23:30

How One Woman’s Vandalized Bakery Has Become the Greatest Story to Come Out of Ferguson Riots

by Jason Howerton

Natalie DuBose, the owner of Natalie’s Cakes and More in Ferguson, Missouri, was left devastated after her business was unjustly vandalized during the recent riots over a grand jury’s decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown.

Natalie DuBose weeps outside her Natalie's Cakes and More bakery Monday, Nov. 24, 2014, after vandals broke one of two large windows in her store after a grand jury declined to indict white police officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown. DuBose's bakery is a black-owned business supported by the protesters. (AP Photo/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Robert Cohen)

Natalie DuBose weeps outside her Natalie’s Cakes and More bakery Monday, Nov. 24, 2014, after vandals broke one of two large windows in her store after a grand jury declined to indict white police officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown. DuBose’s bakery is a black-owned business supported by the protesters. (AP Photo/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Robert Cohen)

She reached out to her fellow Americans to help her repair her shop damaged by Ferguson protesters earlier this week. Her business had just held its grand opening over the summer.

DuBose set up a GoFundMe page and aimed to raise a modest $20,000. Thousands of generous Americans quickly stunned the small business owner, donating more than $158,000 in roughly one day.

Many conservative websites, personalities and public figures took up the cause, including actress Patricia Heaton, who used her social media influence on Twitter to drive some of her 243,000 followers to the fundraising page. Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh also gave out the web address of the GoFundMe page on the air.

Ferguson natalie's cakes

GoFundMe

Some offered $5, others $500, and one woman even apparently offered Dubose money from her own Social Security check.

“Thank you to EVERYONE for the kind words, prayers, and emotional support,” DuBose wrote on the GoFundMe page on Tuesday. “I am so humbly blessed!”

In a previous post, she wrote that she had “never felt so loved” in her entire life.

With all the headlines about America’s problems and alleged cases of racism, instances like this can be a breath of fresh air and serve as a reminder of the tremendous good Americans are capable of — regardless of skin color, gender or any other differences that can sometimes divide us.

Read more stories from TheBlaze

‘Burn This Bi**h Down!’: Mike Brown’s Step-Dad Caught on Vid Inciting Violence, and Here’s How the Family Attorney Responded

After You Read Ferguson Column Penned By Ivy League Prof., You’ll See Why It’s Being Called ‘Shameful’

‘Heartbreaking’ Video Shows the Moment a Ferguson Store Owner Processes What Looters Have Done. But This Isn’t Just Any Business…

Rapper’s Stunning Ferguson-Inspired Twitter Rant Involves Killing ‘Crackers in Their Sleep’ and ‘Hatred for All Straight White Men’

Shock Video Shows Car Plow Through Ferguson Protesters Blocking Traffic in Minneapolis

27 Nov 00:30

Hiker Takes Tragically Chilling Cellphone Photos of 300-Pound Black Bear Stalking Him

by Dave Urbanski

A New Jersey hiker killed by a bear in September took a series of photos of the animal with his cellphone before the bear mauled him to death.

Image source: West Milford police

Image source: West Milford police

Police in West Milford have released five photos taken by 22-year-old Darsh Patel, a Rutgers University student, before he was killed by the 300-pound black bear while hiking with four friends in the Apshawa Preserve, 45 miles northwest of New York.

Image source: West Milford police

Image source: West Milford police

The photos show the bear behind a fallen tree in the woods. Investigators said the phone was found with puncture marks from the bear.

Image source: West Milford police

Image source: West Milford police

The photos were released after NJ.com filed an open records request regarding the Sept. 21 incident.

Image source: West Milford police

Image source: West Milford police

West Milford police and the state Environmental Protection Department said last month that the bear did not seem interested in food and exhibited “stalking type behavior.”

Image source: West Milford police

Image source: West Milford police

More from NJ.com:

Chief Timothy Storbeck said in previous interviews that Patel — and four of his friends had begun walking into the preserve that afternoon when they were met by a man and a woman coming the other way. The pair warned the larger group about a bear following them. The couple walked away, leaving the group of five to talk about what they were going to do. They eventually walked farther into the woods.

The five stopped when the bear was 300 feet away, Storbeck had said.

The five pictures taken from Patel’s phone show the bear from approximately 100 feet, looking toward the hikers but still behind a fallen log, authorities said.

A sixth photo was taken by a friend of Patel’s apparently standing next to him, NJ.com said, which almost matches one of Patel’s five photos. Those were the only six pictures taken by the group, NJ.com reported, citing Lt. Keith Ricciardi.

But the West Milford Township clerk told TheBlaze on Wednesday that police only released the five photos from Patel’s cellphone and that any others are duplicates. Ricciardi did not immediately return a message from TheBlaze on Wednesday asking for clarification.

It's unclear if this is the sixth photo, but it appears slightly different from the five photos police said are from Patel's photo. (Image source: WPXI-TV)

This screenshot from a WXPI-TV report could be a duplicate from Patel’s set of five photos, but it appears slightly different from them.

More from NJ.com:

The hikers turned around when the bear kept approaching, authorities said. But the bear caught up with them, eventually closing to within 15 feet, investigators said. When the bear reached that proximity, the group split up running in different directions, they later told police investigators.

Patel at one point lost his shoe, and was last seen climbing a rock formation as he hollered for his friends to continue, with the bear right behind him. The group of four fled the woods and called 911, according to police records.

Emergency responders came upon Patel’s body about four hours later. The bear was in the area, authorities said. Eventually, a police officer shot and killed the bear.

An autopsy showed that Patel was mauled by the bear. Human remains were found in the bear’s stomach and esophagus, and human blood and tissue were found underneath its claws, authorities said.

Patel’s pants, socks, glasses and sneakers were later found near his body, NorthJersey.com reported. The outlet added that David Suh, a friend of Patel, took the sixth photo which police released along with Patel’s on Tuesday.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Read more stories from TheBlaze

‘Burn This Bi**h Down!’: Mike Brown’s Step-Dad Caught on Vid Inciting Violence, and Here’s How the Family Attorney Responded

After You Read Ferguson Column Penned By Ivy League Prof., You’ll See Why It’s Being Called ‘Shameful’

‘Heartbreaking’ Video Shows the Moment a Ferguson Store Owner Processes What Looters Have Done. But This Isn’t Just Any Business…

Rapper’s Stunning Ferguson-Inspired Twitter Rant Involves Killing ‘Crackers in Their Sleep’ and ‘Hatred for All Straight White Men’

Shock Video Shows Car Plow Through Ferguson Protesters Blocking Traffic in Minneapolis

26 Nov 04:48

The Root Cause of Ferguson: The War on Drugs, Foreign Policy, and the Federal Reserve

by Michael Boldin

A brief thought on Ferguson: Walgreens didn’t cause the police state to come to cities around the country. And the stores holding “black Friday” sales didn’t either.

We find it odd that protesters are calling for corporate boycotts, telling people to not shop on Black Friday. While many corporations may be deserving of boycotts – for taking government handouts, lobbying for unconstitutional benefits and regulations, and having no respect for the 2nd amendment – they aren’t the cause of the problems that led to the current standoff.

Our country’s plight – and it is a serious one – was brought about by turning a blind eye to endless unconstitutional acts. These include the federal drug war, foreign policy, and the federal reserve.

These are the root of many of this country’s problems. They have ravaged poor communities and benefited the politically-connected.

And until people have the courage to deal with them. Things are only going to get worse. Much, much worse.

TAC isn’t going to spend much – if any – time on this current event moving forward. We will, however, be more aggressively supporting state legislation that throws roadblocks on these federal programs.

This includes efforts to nullify the drug war, end policing for federal cash handouts via asset forfeiture, and rejecting federal programs to militarize local police.

24 Nov 12:12

The far left’s emboldened totalitarian impulses

by NetRight Daily

constitution_holesBy Bill Wilson

The modus operandi of America’s far left isn’t subtle: It’s all about “taking.”  Money, property, privacy, speech, guns — you name it.  Everywhere we look, the foundational underpinnings of our once-free, once-prosperous society are being encroached upon by government’s emboldened totalitarian impulses.

Which brings us to the No. 1 thing they are taking from us: Control — over our lives, our livelihoods and our children.

For the American people the arc toward totalitarianism has been accompanied by unsustainable government debt, soaring dependency, economic stagnation and the steady decline of individual liberty.  For those in charge, though, it’s meant more money, more power and more patronage.

Author Jason Mattera had the audacity to walk into a public building in Washington, D.C. recently and ask one of the architects/ profiteers of this totalitarianism — Senate majority leader Harry Reid — how he managed to become a multimillionaire in the service of the public.  Reid refused to respond to Mattera’s questions, but one of his henchmen did — grabbing the author and violently pinning him up against a wall.

When Mattera protested that he was a member of the media, the henchman replied “I don’t care if you’re press or not.”

Sadly, this sort of thuggish, third world behavior shouldn’t surprise us.  After all Barack Obama’s Justice Department didn’t care that Fox News reporter James Rosen was a reporter when it decided to spy on him — just like it spied on reporters and editors at three Associated Press bureaus in an effort to identify the outlet’s sources.  Far from representing a living, breathing set of principles that government is sworn to uphold, the First Amendment has become an obstacle to surmount.  Not just a relic, a nuisance.

Just ask U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, who in the aftermath of the 2011 shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords remarked that America needed to “rethink parameters on free speech.”

The left never lets a crisis go to waste — especially if that crisis involves guns.  In Connecticut, for example, Gov. Daniel Malloy wants to require parents who homeschool their children to periodically present them before government panels so their “social and emotional learning needs” can be assessed.  The stated excuse for such an invasive policy?  The perpetrator of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre was briefly homeschooled by his parents.

That’s not really what Malloy’s intrusion is about, though.  Homeschooling — like other flourishes of the free market — constitutes a clear and present danger to the rising totalitarian state.  To them, it’s an expression of defiance, an explicit rejection of the indoctrination of government-run education.  So naturally the left views anyone who chooses such a path as subversive — and in need of being monitored.

Which leads us to the National Security Agency (NSA) — and the $2 billion data storage facility center it recently constructed in rural Utah.  The purpose of this facility is classified — but former NSA executive Thomas Drake says it is being used to rife through our phone records, emails, text messages, web histories and online purchase records.

“Technology now affords the ability of a state-sponsored surveillance regime,” the executive said.  “They have an obsessive compulsive hoarding complex.  They can never get enough.”

Where is all of this leading? Let’s ask environmental radical Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. — who recently argued that those of us who believe global warming “does not exist” should be found guilty of “a criminal offense … and ought to be serving time for it.”

Interesting.  So does Kennedy believe the researchers at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) — whose data has revealed a nearly two-decade “pause” in global warming — should also be thrown in jail?  Or what about the scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center — who recently found a record 7.7 million square miles of sea ice extent in Antarctica?

Here’s the thing though: Government doesn’t need to challenge facts such as these.  Not when contrary thoughts — or data disputing the myths it uses to repress, regulate and rob the American people — can simply be criminalized (with offending thinkers thrown in jail).

We are entering a truly dangerous time in the United States right now.   So either be careful what you think — or be prepared to suffer the consequences of your free thought.

The author is a board member of Americans for Limited Government.

The post The far left’s emboldened totalitarian impulses appeared first on NetRight Daily.

23 Nov 21:55

New Malware Infecting Telecom, Energy, Airline Industries

by Jack Linshi

The cyber security firm Symantec on Sunday revealed that a malicious new piece of software is collecting information on individuals, companies, and government entities without their knowledge.

The malware, called Regin, is considered to be a mass surveillance and data collection tool (sometimes referred to as “spyware”). Its purpose and origin is still unclear, Symantec said, but researchers believe that the program is the work of a nation-state.

“We believe Regin is used primarily for espionage,” said Liam O’Murchu, a security researcher at Symantec. “We see both companies and individuals targeted. The ultimate goal is to listen in on phone calls or something like that. [Regin's operators] target individuals and spread the attack to find whatever it is they’re looking for. All of these things together make us think that a government wrote it.”

Symantec said Regin (pronounced “re-gen,” as in “regenerate”) monitors its targets with a rarely-seen level of sophistication. Internet service providers and telecommunications companies make up the bulk of the those that are initially infected, researchers said. Regin then targets individuals of interest—in the hospitality, energy, research, and airline industries, among others—that are served by those ISPs. Regin’s operators continue to use infected companies as a springboard to gain access to more individuals. Once they gain access, they can remotely control a person’s keyboard, monitor Internet activity, and recover deleted files.

More than half of observed attacks have targeted Russia and Saudi Arabia, Symantec said. The rest are scattered across Europe, Central America, Africa, and Asia. The initial infection can come from a wide variety of sources, such as copies of popular websites or web browsers and USB drives that have been plugged into contaminated systems.

Regin has five attack stages. It begins with an initial “drop,” also called a Trojan horse (or “backdoor”) breach, that allows it to exploit a security vulnerability while avoiding detection. The first stage deploys what is called a loader, which prepares and executes the next stage; the second stage does the same to complicate detection. The third and fourth stages, called kernels, build a framework for the fifth and final stage, called the payload. That’s when it can wrest control of a computer or leap to a new victim.

Each stage prepares and executes the next, rather than deploy from a common framework. It’s similar in concept to Russian nesting dolls. Regin’s distributed structure makes it difficult for cyber security researchers to identify it without capturing information about all five stages.

The malware is made up of a system of customizable modules so that it may collect the information it needs across a number of different victims. For example, one Regin attack might capture a password from a hotel clerk’s computer while another attack may obtain remote control of another computer’s keyboard for purposes unknown. Each module is customized for one task or system, making detection and prevention of a comprehensive Regin attack difficult.

“One of the problems we have with analyzing is we don’t have all the components,” O’Murchu said. “You only get the modules set on that [particular] victim. But we know there are far more modules than what we have here. We don’t have enough information to understand. On top of that, it’s coded in a very advanced way to leave a small footprint. Anything they leave behind is encrypted. Each part is dependent on having all the parts.”

This kind of operational complexity is typically reserved for a state or a state-sponsored actor, Symantec said. Only a handful of malware programs to date have demonstrated such sophistication. In 2012, the Flamer malware used the same modular system to hit targets in the West Bank of Palestine, Hungary, Iran, and Lebanon, among other countries. Regin’s multi-stage attack pattern operates similarly to the Duqu malware and its descendent Stuxnet, the malware responsible for the disruption of Iranian nuclear facilities in 2010. O’Murchu said Regin is part of a disquieting trend of government-written and government-enacted malware.

“We often say that Stuxnet opened Pandora’s box,” O’Murchu says. “Whether that is because we know what to look for now or because there has been a genuine increase since Stuxnet is up for debate, but what we can say is that yes, we now know about a lot more scary government malware than before. It is far more pervasive, it is embedded in more organizations than we have ever seen, it is more organized than ever, and it is more capable than ever. I would say there has been an explosion in government related malware, and it doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon.”

What makes Regin different is who it attacks. Instead of going only after high-worth targets, Regin attacks many different targets in an attempt to piece together contextual information. Of the 9% of Regin attacks in the hospitality industry, 4% targeted low-level computers, presumably for this information.

“The average person needs to be aware,” O’Murchu says. “A lot of the infections are not the final target. They are third parties providing some extra information to get to a final target. Lot of people think, ‘I don’t have anything of importance, why would anyone get on my computer?’ Ordinary people who may not think they’re targets in fact are.”

24 Nov 10:26

In Recent Prairie Dog Case, the Federal Government Admits Something it Tries to Cover-Up

by brian.seasholes@reason.org (Brian Seasholes)

Little noticed in the recent court decision about the Utah prairie dog, which struck down for the first time the listing of a species under the Endangered Species Act, is the federal government admitted something that it and other proponents of the Act have long tried to conceal: the Act restricts and prevents otherwise normal and legal forms of land and resource use, such as agriculture and construction. The case, argued successfully by Jonathan Wood of the Pacific Legal Foundation, elicited some telling responses from the government.

Proponents of the Endangered Species Act have long claimed that the Act does not restrict or prevent normal and legal land and resource use, in an effort to shield the Act from legal challenge that it violates the Constitution’s Taking’s Clause, which states “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” Despite this plain language, and that landowners, such as those in southern Utah with prairie dogs on their land, have had significant portions of their property converted into de facto federal wildlife refuges for endangered species, proponents of the Endangered Species Act maintain otherwise.

In 2013, John Platt, in his widely read Scientific American blog, Extinction Countdown, addressed “The Five Biggest Myths about the Endangered Species Act.” Platt’s “Myth # 2: It will take away your land” is substantiated by an excerpt from a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website:

“Presence of a listed species on your land does not preclude projects or activities from happening on your land and does not grant access to your land by Federal employees.”

In response, Reed Hopper of the Pacific Legal Foundation stated:

“This is so misleading it is hard to know where to begin.  We get calls all the time from landowners reporting that federal employees have ‘accessed’ private land to observe activities that may affect listed species.  These landowners often receive a follow-up letter from the Fish and Wildlife Service ‘suggesting’ that ongoing land use activities, like ordinary farming, building, or timber activity, ‘may’ harm protected species and that continuing such activities ‘may’ subject the landowner to severe civil penalties or even criminal prosecution.  The practical effect of such a ‘warning letter’ is to preclude such activities on the land.  If the landowner seeks a permit for the activity, the application usually runs in the tens of thousands of dollars or the mitigation is so expensive that the landowner can’t afford to implement it and must abandon the activity.  In addition, when an area is designated ‘critical habitat’ for a listed species the federal government effectively gains a veto power over any use of the land.  We currently represent a landowner in Louisiana whose property (over 1500 acres) was designated critical habitat which the service itself reports could cost the landowner $30 million in lost revenue.  But that’s not all.  The ESA has a citizen suit provision which allows anyone to sue a landowner over any activity which may harm a listed species.  The truth is that the ESA does something far worse than ‘take away your land.’  It often converts your land into a defacto federal preserve while sticking you with the bill.”

While the assertions by Platt and the Fish and Wildlife Service do not pass the laugh test, they are reminiscent of a similar claim made twenty years ago by John Kostyack of the National Wildlife Federation in a letter to the editor of the Wall Street Journal (May 12, 1994) about the Endangered Species Act: “In fact, the Act has never prevented property owners from developing their land.”

These claims by Endangered Species Act proponents are not only demonstrably false, they are embarrassing and symptomatic examples of a cynical race-to-the-bottom mentality that is contemptuous of the rural, blue collar and middle class Americans who often have to bear the brunt of the Act’s costly land use control regulations. At the same time, proponents like to claim that protecting endangered species is a public good because it benefits the entire nation. If this is the case, then the entire nation should shoulder the financial burden of protecting these species, not just the relatively few landowners whose property contains endangered species and the habitat necessary to support them.

While the Utah prairie dog case disproves the patently false claim that the Endangered Species Act does not restrict land and resource use, the government ironically put itself in the position of having to admit this. The crux of the government’s case is that federal protection of the prairie dog is legally justified because the rodent is involved in interstate commerce. According to this line of thought, this triggers protection under the Act because the Commerce Clause of the Constitution gives Congress the power “to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes.” Over the years, and especially since the New Deal era, the scope of the Commerce Clause has been expanded so massively that the federal government feels it can regulate just about anything, however tenuous or even nonexistent its links to interstate commerce. The problem with the government’s Commerce Clause claim in the case of the Utah prairie dog is that the rodent lives entirely within Utah and is not involved in, or has any effect on, interstate commerce.

Yet because the federal government put itself in the untenable position that protection of the prairie dog under the Endangered Species Act is legally justified due to the Commerce Clause, the feds had to admit the Act prevented otherwise normal and legal forms of land use in order to try to create a “nexus,” or link, to interstate commerce.

Consider the following examples from the government’s brief in the case (all the case documents are available on the Pacific Legal Foundation’s website, here). On p.8 the government states:

“Some agricultural fields became so densely populated by prairie dogs that they were ruined for agricultural use.

“FWS also wanted to find more effective methods for balancing the conservation of the species with the interests of private landowners other than agricultural producers whose land has become prairie dog habitat during the last few decades.”

Then on p.32 of the brief, the government admits the following:

“…the Court need only look at the history of the rule described in detail in the Background section to see that one of the primary purposes of the original rule was to find a balanced approach to protecting the prairie dog through the regulation of agricultural lands. See 49 Fed. Reg. at 22330 (previous regulation of take was affecting the agricultural community, costing farmers about $1.5 million annually)."

And also on p.32, the government had this to say in reference to People for the Ethical Treatment of Property Owners (PETPO), an organization consisting of land and business owners in southern Utah that was formed to shine a light on problems created by federal protections for the Utah prairie dog and that was the plaintiff in the case:

“PETPO’s standing declarations make clear that this case is about commercial activity. PETPO members assert that the rule prevents them from: (1) developing property into a car dealership or otherwise selling the property, ECF No. 55-2; (2) improving the golf course grounds for patrons, ECF No. 55-3; (3) selling lots in a residential subdivision, ECF No. 55-4; and (5) developing or selling property so that the member may 'profit from [his] investment,' ECF No. 55-5. Consideration of PETPO members’ land use and activities is relevant here…”

On p.33, the government addresses the Endangered Species Act’s prohibition on “take” of listed species:

“[T]he prohibition on take includes significant habitat modification or degradation resulting in take, see id. § 17.3 (definition of harm). Although this provision only applies when an actual take occurs, the rule may regulate activity on property that is considered habitat for the prairie dog, which itself has commercial value, regardless of how the owner intends to use the property at issue.”

The judge’s ruling on the Utah prairie dog case also makes note of the government’s admission that the Endangered Species Act has been used as a land use control tool. On pp.11-12 the ruling states:

“Defendants’ argument that the rule has a substantial effect on interstate commerce because it has frustrated several proposed agricultural and commercial activities misses the mark… In other words, the question in the present case is whether take of the Utah prairie dog has a substantial effect on interstate commerce, not whether the regulation preventing the take has such an effect. Consequently, the fact that PETPO members or other persons are prohibited from engaging in commercial activities as a result of special rule 4(d) is irrelevant to the Commerce Clause analysis.”

The federal government is surely going to appeal the Utah prairie dog decision, and when it does it will likely have to admit again that the Endangered Species Act restricts normal and legal forms of land use. As more of the country is subjected to the Endangered Species Act’s unjust and unconstitutional taking of private property, there are going to be more examples like the Utah prairie dog in which the Act’s supporters are put in the untenable position of claiming the Commerce Clause applies to the many hundreds of species that live entirely within the borders of one state and are simply not involved in interstate commerce.

 

24 Nov 08:35

Texas Bill Would Create a Mechanism to Review and Nullify All Federal Acts

by TJ Martinell

AUSTIN – November 23, 2014 – A Texas representative has introduced a bill that would create a joint legislative committee for the expressed purpose of nullifying unconstitutional federal laws.

House Bill 98, introduced by Rep. Dan Flynn, Van-R, would create a joint legislative committee that would consist of 14
members, including the speaker of the house, the lieutenant governor, six members of the house of representatives appointed by the speaker of the house, and six members of the senate appointed by the lieutenant governor.

Interestingly, the bill, titled the “Texas Balance of Powers Act,” specifically creates limits of the number of committee
members that can belong to the same political party, with no more than four house members of the committee, including the speaker of the house, and four senate members of the committee, including the lieutenant governor. The members of the committee would serve two year terms.

If the committee determines the federal law is unconstitutional, it is considered null in void in the state unless the
legislature decides to vote otherwise. The bill also contains an enforcement clause, calling on the state to actively
resist any attempt to enforce a nullified federal law.

The bill begins with the following:

“The people of the several states comprising the United States of America created the federal government to be their agent for certain enumerated purposes and nothing more…..The Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution defines the total scope of federal power as including only those powers specifically delegated by the people to the federal government. Those powers not delegated to the federal government are reserved to the states or to the people themselves.”

The bill then explains why its existence is necessary:

 The federal government has acted in a manner inconsistent with the language, intent, and spirit of the United States Constitution in direct violation of the constitution and the contract between this state and its people, and the United States. This state rejects the unauthorized and excessive abuse of power by the federal government that infringes on the rights of this state and its people and that unconstitutionally undermines, diminishes, and disregards the balance of powers between the states and the federal government established by the constitution.

It also contains an explanation of the Commerce Clause, as well as the Necessary and Proper Clause, according to the context in which they were written.

This is exactly what the Tenth Amendment Center has advocated for years, having the states retake authority they never delegated to the federal government via the Constitution through the use of nullification.

As Thomas Jefferson remarked, “In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.”

How to do that? Jefferson made it clear in 1798, when he wrote, “Whensoever the general government assumed undelegated powers …a nullification of the act is the rightful remedy.”

19 Nov 13:19

Settled Science Update

by stevengoddard
Remlaps

We have always been at war with Eastasia.

The world’s top climate scientists boldly proclaimed that global warming will bring milder winters and decreased heavy snowstorms IPCC Third Assessment Report – Climate Change 2001 – Complete online versions | GRID-Arendal – Publications – Other IPCC – Intergovernmental Panel on … Continue reading →
23 Nov 02:37

Cop Caught on Video Slapping and Punching Woman During Arrest Gets Punished — but It’s Not the Sanction You’d Likely Expect

by Dave Urbanski

A Wisconsin police officer caught on video slamming a woman’s head on a patrol car’s hood and slapping and punching her in the face used justifiable force, his department determined — but he was suspended for 10 hours without pay for using vulgar language.

Image source: YouTube

Image source: YouTube

In the patrol car dashcam video, Officer George Gothner can be heard yelling “stop resisting!” as he attempted to arrest Natasha Lancour in a Superior parking lot on January 5.

Image source: YouTube

Image source: YouTube

Image source: YouTube

Image source: YouTube

The department’s chief of police said Gothner was cleared based on a review of the arrest conducted by the Wisconsin Department of Justice, KDLH-TV reported.

Image source: YouTube

Image source: YouTube

More from KDLH:

The department concluded that Gothner failed to utilize proper communication skills and was vulgar and unprofessional in his initial contact with Lancour and his words were a violation of several department policies.

As a result, Gothner was suspended for 10 hours without pay.

Image source: YouTube

Image source: YouTube

“Superior Police Department places great value on our relationship with the community,” Chief Charles LaGesse told KDLH. “This trust has been eroded by the public perception of this incident and we will strive to win that back by living through the tenets of our mission statement.”

But Lancour’s attorney is looking for more than that.

“The system of how we judge officers has to change,” Rick Gondik told the station. “We will not see anything come out of situations like this as long as the cops are giving attaboys to the abusive cops. We need to have an outside agency look at the use of force incidents and make a finding.”

Here’s the dashcam clip of the incident via YouTube:

Gondik told KDLH he plans to file a civil lawsuit against Gothner and the City of Superior.

In October a special prosecutor declined to pursue criminal charges against Gothner, KDLH noted, and then Lancour’s disorderly conduct charge was dropped. Gothner, who has been on administrative duties since July, will return to patrol next week.

He’s already served his 10 hour suspension, KDLH said.

This story has been updated.

(H/T: Raw Story)

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23 Nov 21:00

12-Year-Old Boy Brandishing Fake Gun at Playground Dies After Police Officer Responding to 911 Call Shot Him

by Dave Urbanski

CLEVELAND (TheBlaze/AP) — A 12-year-old boy brandishing what turned out to be a replica gun died Sunday after he was shot by a Cleveland police officer responding to a 911 call about a person waving a gun at a playground.

The officer fired twice after the boy pulled the fake weapon from his waistband, Deputy Chief Ed Tomba said. The boy did not make any verbal threats toward the officer or point the gun — which was lacking the orange safety indicator usually on the muzzle — but grabbed it after being told to raise his hands, Tomba said.

“That’s when the officer fired,” he said.

Image source: AP

Image source: AP

Police said the weapon was an “airsoft” type replica gun that resembled a semi-automatic pistol. The orange safety indicator had been removed, police said.

A man who called 911 told dispatchers before police arrived that the boy was on a swing set and pointing a pistol that was “probably fake” and scaring everyone. The caller said the boy was pulling the gun in and out of his pants. “I don’t know if it’s real or not,” the caller said.

Jeff Follmer, president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association, said the officers were not told the caller thought the gun might be fake.

The officer called to the playground outside a city recreation center saw the pistol sitting on a table or bench, and watched the boy grab it and put it in his waistband, Follmer said.

The hospital where the boy died and an attorney for his family would not release his name on Sunday.

Attorney Timothy Kucharski said the boy went to the park with friends Saturday afternoon, but he did not know the details of what led to the shooting. “I don’t want to make a rush to judgment,” he said.

He said he wants to talk to witnesses and get more facts. “We’re ultimately going to find out what happened,” Kucharski said.

The police department is investigating the shooting.

Cleveland police have been under increased scrutiny during the last few years; the U.S. Justice Department has been conducting an investigation of their pursuit and use of force practices.

Federal officials said in March 2013 that their investigation would go beyond a high-profile car chase that ended with officers firing 137 shots and two deaths.

Last week, it was announced that relatives of the two people killed in the 2012 chase will split a $3 million settlement from the city of Cleveland.

The families filed a lawsuit after 43-year-old Timothy Russell and 30-year-old Malissa Williams were killed by police after a 20-mile pursuit that involved 62 police cruisers and more than 100 officers. Six police officers involved in the chase were indicted by a Cuyahoga County grand jury.

The department changed its pursuit policy after the chase, limiting when and how long patrol cars can chase suspects.

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23 Nov 16:00

If The Facts Don’t Fit The Theory, Change The Facts

by stevengoddard
Einstein joked : If the facts don’t fit the theory, change the facts. He was mocking fake scientists who tamper with data, like the ones in the US government which create fake temperature graphs. The White House is engaged in … Continue reading →
21 Nov 08:00

Why We All Ignored the Bill Cosby Rape Charges for 10 Years

By Tom Reimann  Published: November 21st, 2014 
21 Nov 05:00

#32 – FDR Was Elected in 1932 on a Progressive Platform to Plan the Economy

By LAWRENCE W. REED


The Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) is proud to partner with Young America’s Foundation (YAF) to produce “Clichés of Progressivism,” a series of insightful commentaries covering topics of free enterprise, income inequality, and limited government. See the index of the published chapters here.

#32 – FDR Was Elected in 1932 on a Progressive Platform to Plan the Economy

Harry Truman once said, “The only thing new in the world is the history you don’t know.” That observation applies especially well to what tens of millions of Americans have been taught about Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the man under whom Truman served as vice president for about a month.

Recent scholarship (including a highly acclaimed book, New Deal or Raw Deal, by FEE senior historian Burton Folsom) is thankfully disabusing Americans of the once-popular myth that FDR saved us from the Great Depression.

Another example is a 2004 article by two UCLA economists—Harold L. Cole and Lee E. Ohanian—in the important mainstream Journal of Political Economy. They observed that Franklin Roosevelt extended the Great Depression by seven long years. “The economy was poised for a beautiful recovery,” the authors show, “but that recovery was stalled by these misguided policies.”

In a commentary on Cole and Ohanian’s research, Loyola University economist Thomas DiLorenzo pointed out that six years after FDR took office, unemployment was almost six times the pre-Depression level. Per capita GDP, personal consumption expenditures, and net private investment were all lower in 1939 than they were in 1929.

“The fact that it has taken ‘mainstream’ neoclassical economists so long to recognize [that FDR’s policies exacerbated the disaster],” notes DiLorenzo, “is truly astounding,” but still “better late than never.”

A considerable degree of central planning in Washington is certainly what Franklin Roosevelt delivered, but it was not what he promised when he was first elected in 1932. My own essay on this period, “Great Myths of the Great Depression,” provides many details, based on the very platform and promises on which FDR ran. But until recently, I was unaware of a long-forgotten book that makes the case as well as any.

Hell Bent for Election was written by James P. Warburg, a banker who witnessed the 1932 election and the first two years of Roosevelt’s first term from the inside. Warburg, the son of prominent financier and Federal Reserve cofounder Paul Warburg, was no less than a high-level financial adviser to FDR himself.  Disillusioned with the President, he left the administration in 1934 and wrote his book a year later.

Warburg voted for the man who said this on March 2, 1930, as governor of New York:

The doctrine of regulation and legislation by “master minds,” in whose judgment and will all the people may gladly and quietly acquiesce, has been too glaringly apparent at Washington during these last ten years. Were it possible to find “master minds” so unselfish, so willing to decide unhesitatingly against their own personal interests or private prejudices, men almost godlike in their ability to hold the scales of justice with an even hand, such a government might be to the interests of the country; but there are none such on our political horizon, and we cannot expect a complete reversal of all the teachings of history.

What Warburg and the country actually elected in 1932 was a man whose subsequent performance looks little like the platform and promises on which he ran and a lot like those of that year’s Socialist Party candidate, Norman Thomas.

Who campaigned for a “drastic” reduction of 25 percent in federal spending, a balanced federal budget, a rollback of government intrusion into agriculture, and restoration of a sound gold currency? Roosevelt did. Who called the administration of incumbent Herbert Hoover “the greatest spending administration in peace time in all our history” and assailed it for raising taxes and tariffs? Roosevelt did. FDR’s running mate, John Nance Garner, even declared that Hoover “was leading the country down the road to socialism.”

It was socialist Norman Thomas, not Franklin Roosevelt, who proposed massive increases in federal spending and deficits and sweeping interventions into the private economy—and he barely mustered 2 percent of the vote. When the dust settled, Warburg shows, we got what Thomas promised, more of what Hoover had been lambasted for, and almost nothing that FDR himself had pledged. FDR employed more “master minds” to plan the economy than perhaps all previous presidents combined.

After detailing the promises and the duplicity, Warburg offered this assessment of the man who betrayed him and the country:

Much as I dislike to say so, it is my honest conviction that Mr. Roosevelt has utterly lost his sense of proportion. He sees himself as the one man who can save the country, as the one man who can “save capitalism from itself,” as the one man who knows what is good for us and what is not. He sees himself as indispensable. And when a man thinks of himself as being indispensable . . . that man is headed for trouble.

Was FDR an economic wizard? Warburg reveals nothing of the sort, observing that FDR was “undeniably and shockingly superficial about anything that relates to finance.” He was driven not by logic, facts, or humility but by “his emotional desires, predilections, and prejudices.”

“Mr. Roosevelt,” wrote Warburg, “gives me the impression that he can really believe what he wants to believe, really think what he wants to think, and really remember what he wants to remember, to a greater extent than anyone I have ever known.” Less charitable observers might diagnose the problem as “delusions of grandeur.”

“I believe that Mr. Roosevelt is so charmed with the fun of brandishing the band leader’s baton at the head of the parade, so pleased with the picture he sees of himself, that he is no longer capable of recognizing that the human power to lead is limited, that the ‘new ideas’ of leadership dished up to him by his bright young men in the Brain Trust are nothing but old ideas that have been tried before, and that one cannot uphold the social order defined in the Constitution and at the same time undermine it,” Warburg lamented.

So if Warburg was right (and I believe he was), Franklin Delano Roosevelt misled the country with his promises in 1932 and put personal ambition and power lust in charge—not a very uncommon thing as politicians go. In any event, the country got a nice little bait-and-switch deal, and the economy languished as a result.

In the world of economics and free exchange, the rule is that you get what you pay for. The 1932 election is perhaps the best example of the rule that prevails all too often in the political world: You get what you voted against.

Summary

  • Franklin Roosevelt delivered a lot of central planning from Washington but that wasn’t what he asked voters to endorse in the 1932 election.
  • FDR attacked Hoover for greatly increasing taxes and spending but once elected, did even more of both.
  • FDR’s close adviser, James Warburg, thought that FDR was economically illiterate and politically opportunistic.
  • For further information, see:

“Franklin Roosevelt and the Greatest Economic Myth of the Twentieth Century” by Burton Folsom: http://tinyurl.com/kbrk85v

“The Mythology of Roosevelt and the New Deal” by Robert Higgs: http://tinyurl.com/mf24bkg

“Can Labor Unions Really Raise Wages?” by Henry Hazlitt: http://tinyurl.com/kcotjqo

 

15 Nov 12:28

How Your Facebook Updates Reveal Your Personality

by Neuroskeptic

The words you use in your Facebook posts reveal much about your personality, according to psychologists Gregory Park and colleagues in a new study just published.


Based on a study of 71,000 Facebook users who reported their personality using an app, Park et al. found some quite unexpected words to be associated with given personality traits. Here are the word clouds showing which terms are most predictive of extroversion and introversion:

park_facebook_personality

Extroverts tend to use words like love, tonight, party, excited and amazing. Several length variants of the word soooo and ‘text speak’ terms like lovin and ur, are more often found on extroverts’ updates. In general the extrovert word cloud is sloppy enough to make any ‘Grammar Nazi’ red in the face.

When we come to introverts, use of the word computer was one of the biggest giveaways. Posting status updates about Internet, and to a lesser extent anime, doctor who, and books, were also predictive of introversion.

Even the style of emoticons people use was associated with personality. Extroverts prefer ‘:)’ and ‘;)’ but introverts are more apt to express themselves with o_o and XD.

Finally, it’s noticeable that the introvert word cloud contains a large number of ‘not’ phrases such as won’t, I don’t, isn’t, and doesn’t. Could this mean that introverts see life in more negative terms, and this comes across in their updates? However I wonder if the explanation might be that introverts are just more likely to bother to include the apostrophe when they write such phrases, given that other apostrophe words – it’s, i’ve – are also found in the introverted cloud.

Based on these findings, I thought I’d try to create the most extroverted status in the world:

amazing party tonight :) , im sooooo excited with my girls. its gonna be love! u come?

While the most introverted update ever might be…

I shouldn’t read internet o.o, but apparently Doctor Who anime won’t be finished? Evil computer!

Seriously though, Park et al.’s findings are impressive. They found correlations between the update-based estimates of personality, and self-reported personality, with a Pearson r of 0.38 across the Big Five “OCEAN” personality traits -  Openness, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism. This is a moderate level of agreement, but given that two separate self-report questionnaires of the same trait generally only correlate with a correlation coefficient r of 0.6 to 0.8, it’s far from trivial.

Furthermore, the Facebook update personality estimates were also significantly correlated with informant reports of personality (a questionnaire filled out by someone who knows you). This is important as it goes beyond mere self-report.

The full paper is well worth a read and it includes word clouds for the other four OCEAN personality traits, not just extroversion. Some of these feature a lot of profanity, funnily enough, but here’s the neuroticism cloud, which is pretty safe:

park_facebook_neuroticism

ResearchBlogging.orgPark G, Schwartz HA, Eichstaedt JC, Kern ML, Kosinski M, Stillwell DJ, Ungar LH, & Seligman ME (2014). Automatic Personality Assessment Through Social Media Language. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology PMID: 25365036

The post How Your Facebook Updates Reveal Your Personality appeared first on Neuroskeptic.

20 Nov 01:39

Me: *Watching video tutorial*

Me: *Watching video tutorial*
Person in the video: Heyyyyyyy... Everybodyy... Todayyyy I will show you how to...
Me: HURRY THE FUCK UP
23 Nov 05:20

Playing with Constitutional Fire

by Judge Andrew Napolitano

Last week, President Obama made it clear that he will soon offer some form of limited amnesty to about five million foreign nationals who are currently living illegally in the United States. He will do so by issuing an executive order to federal officials who oversee immigration directing them to undertake a course of action that, if complied with individually by all persons whom he designates as eligible, will cause the federal government to remove the threat of deportation from those who meet the standards he will lay down.

Can he legally do that?

To address that question, we need to start with the principle that a presidential action may be lawful at the same time that it is unconstitutional. The president has the legal power to defer deportations. The power is called prosecutorial discretion. This is a power traditionally recognized as inherent in the presidency that enables him to defer or modify all federal law enforcement.

The theory is that the president needs the ability to allocate resources as the changing times, emergent events and public needs may require. Thus, he can, for example, defer prosecuting bank robbers and aggressively pursue drug dealers. That wouldn’t mean that all bank robbers would go free; it would mean that either state prosecutors would pursue them, or they’d wait for trials until the drug kingpins were caught and convicted. But he could set some free if he wished.

The check on the exercise of prosecutorial discretion is gross abuse, which is typically demonstrated by either improper executive motive or effective nullification of law. I don’t know what the president’s motive is. If it is political, I suspect his efforts will backfire. He cannot grant citizenship or the right to vote.

If his motive is humanitarian or moral, I understand him. Under the natural law, people have the right to travel and live wherever they wish. The existence of our natural rights is not conditioned upon the place where our mothers were at the times of our births. And from a free market and historical perspective, immigrants have enhanced the economy as they move up the demographic ladder.

But the president’s behavior has serious constitutional dimensions that go far beyond the motives in his heart, and his oath is to the Constitution, not to his heart.

If the president nullifies deportations on such a grand scale that the effect is the nullification of federal laws, then he has violated his oath “faithfully” to execute his presidential obligations.

The Framers required that every president swear to do his job “faithfully” to serve as a reminder to him that his job requires fidelity to the enforcement of laws with which he may disagree. The American people, Congress and the courts need to know we have a president who will enforce the laws, whether he agrees with them in his heart or not. Without presidential fidelity to the rule of law, we have a king, not a president.

By conferring temporary legal status upon foreign nationals who have not achieved it under the law, providing they meet criteria that he will establish, the president affects huge numbers of persons and produces a result that is the opposite of what the law requires. Can the president’s exercise of his prosecutorial discretion constitutionally nullify a federal statute? No. Can the president’s exercise of his prosecutorial discretion effectively rewrite a federal statute? No.

It is unconstitutional for the president to nullify federal law. It is unconstitutional for him to refuse to enforce laws that affect millions of persons and billions of dollars. It is unconstitutional for him to refuse to enforce laws merely because he disagrees with them — particularly laws that pre-existed his presidential oaths. And it is unconstitutional for him to rewrite laws, even if he is doing so to make them more just.

Every president since Dwight D. Eisenhower has deferred some deportations. President Reagan deferred deportations for about 100,000 families of foreign nationals in 1987 under his reading of the congressionally authorized 1986 amnesty law, and President George H.W. Bush did so in 1990 for about 350,000 foreign nationals under his reading of the same law. Each of these was based on a principled public presidential reading of the words and purposes of a federal statute. Obama does not purport to read and interpret the current immigration law; rather, he effectively rewrites it.

What can Congress do? Congress can pass legislation to invalidate Obama’s executive actions. Yet even if it did so and overrode his certain veto, it has no assurances that Obama would be bound by the new legislation. He refuses to enforce the plain language of well-established and never judicially altered federal statutes. What assurances does Congress have that he would follow any new statutes that he has vetoed and that regulate his behavior?

Is the blanket refusal to enforce federal laws that profoundly affect five million persons — and in the process severely straining the social services of all 50 states — an impeachable offense? The president is playing with constitutional fire, and impeachment is the only constitutional remedy available, short of 25 months of a constitutional conflagration that he has ignited.

20 Nov 14:04

Quite A 97% Consensus

by stevengoddard
Only 52% of American Meteorological Society members believe that global warming is primarily Mann-made, and only 78% of their members who get paid to produce global warming propaganda do. According to Kook and Nutter, this is a 97% consensus. http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/pdf/10.1175/BAMS-D-13-00091.1
20 Nov 20:42

Pre-Snowden Debate About NSA Call-Records Collection Program

by schneier

AP is reporting that in 2009, several senior NSA officials objected to the NSA call-records collection program.

The now-retired NSA official, a longtime code-breaker who rose to top management, had just learned in 2009 about the top secret program that was created shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. He says he argued to then-NSA Director Keith Alexander that storing the calling records of nearly every American fundamentally changed the character of the agency, which is supposed to eavesdrop on foreigners, not Americans.

Hacker News thread.

21 Nov 23:02

Brooklyn Man Killed By Police Officer, For No Actual Reason at All; An "Accident" Says NYPD

by Brian Doherty

As the nation awaits the result of the grand jury investigation into the police shooting and killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, last night a rookie officer in Brooklyn shot and killed 28-year-old Akai Gurley (a black man), just because the officer was nervous and already had his gun drawn.

From the New York Post:

Peter Liang and his partner, Shaun Landau, also a rookie, entered at the eighth floor at the Pink Houses at 2724 Linden Blvd. about 11:15 p.m. when 28-year-old victim Akai Gurley entered from the seventh floor with his girlfriend — startling the cops, police sources said.

Liang fired one shot into Gurley’s chest from about 10 to 12 feet away, sending him tumbling down to the fifth floor, where he collapsed, sources said. He later told other cops it was an “accidental shooting,” sources said.

During a press conference Friday, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton described the incident as an “accident” that was the result of a “pitch black” stairway.

“As the officers were entering the eighth-floor landing, the lights were not operable,” he said. “Everything points to accidental discharge.”

Liang and Landau had been part of a specialized overtime detail specifically assigned to the Pink Houses after numerous violent occurrences there recently, Bratton said.

The officers had traveled to the eighth floor on the elevator and were about to make their way to the roof when they noticed the lights were out, resulting in Liang drawing his gun — raising the question of when cops are allowed to openly carry their weapons....

His girlfriend, Melissa Butler, 26, was braiding Gurley’s hair in the hallway of the eighth floor before the deadly confrontation unfolded.

She claims Liang and Landau didn’t utter a single word before her boyfriend was blasted.

“They didn’t present themselves or nothing and shot him,” Butler told DNAinfo.com. “As soon as he came in, the police opened the [door to the] eighth-floor staircase. They didn’t identify themselves at all. They just shot.”

Policing can be dangerous, police officers often remind us. Too often that danger is to non-aggressive citizens who unluckily cross their paths.

20 Nov 15:51

Citadel Malware Steals Password Manager Master Passwords

by schneier

Citadel is the first piece of malware I know of that specifically steals master passwords from password managers. Note that my own Password Safe is a target.

22 Nov 12:57

Shocker: Top Google Engineers Say Renewable Energy ‘Simply won’t work’

by Anthony Watts
Guest essay by Eric Worrall A research effort by Google corporation to make renewable energy viable has been a complete failure, according to the scientists who led the programme. After 4 years of effort, their conclusion is that renewable energy “simply won’t work”. According to an interview with the engineers, published in IEEE; “At the…
20 Nov 15:58

Cats Welcoming Soldiers Home [via]Previously: Cats Giving High...













Cats Welcoming Soldiers Home [via]

Previously: Cats Giving High Fives

20 Nov 05:00

Greedy Corporations Save Lives

By IAIN MURRAY

With Ebola wreaking havoc across West Africa, news that a private company has virtually eradicated the disease on its extensive property invites sighs of relief.

Yet Firestone’s actions were not unique: private industry has a long history of saving lives when disease threatens.

As recent history demonstrates, to face the prospect of a rapidly changing world over the next century, the best we can do to help the world’s poorest is to pursue a strategy of resiliency. And that strategy includes rich multinational corporations.

Firestone

Firestone, one of the world’s leading tire producers, needs vast amounts of rubber and owns a huge rubber plantation in Liberia. The property encompasses 185 square miles, employs 8,000 people directly, and indirectly supports 72,000 more people who live either on the property or in surrounding communities.

When the first case of Ebola appeared on the property, the company initially attempted to place the victim in a hospital in the country’s capital, Monrovia. Company officials quickly realized that the facilities there were inadequate, so Firestone set up its own Ebola ward in the company hospital. By mid-September, the facility was full. But through careful management, the disease was contained. A few weeks later, the facility was almost empty.

Firestone was able to do this because it had wealth, valued its employees and their families, and recognized the importance of stopping the disease. This is not an isolated example of a private company acting this way.

Debswana

In the 1990s, when HIV/AIDS threatened to devastate Botswana, the mining firm Debswana worked to address the threat the disease posed to its facilities there and began what the United Nations called a “benchmark” program to keep its workers healthy.

Debswana raised awareness among its employees of the HIV/AIDS threat and how the disease spread. The company funded 100 percent of the cost of retroviral drugs to employees with the disease and their spouses, and it provided counseling and monitoring programs. The company called the fight against the disease its “highest corporate priority,” saying,

The Company’s commitment to the fight against HIV and AIDS is captured in its philosophy to minimize the impact of HIV/AIDS on employees, their families and the Company through prevention of new infections, care and support of those infected with HIV and containment of costs.

While some might call this “corporate social responsibility,” it is also, in fact, a product of enlightened self-interest and a recognition of the interconnectedness of people in the modern world.

That is why measures that promote these two aspects of today’s economy are the poor’s best bet in surviving anything a changing world throws at them. Whether it be disease, extreme weather events, or the postulated effects of global warming such as sea-level rise, greedy corporations are saving lives worldwide, every day.

Enlightened self-interest and the interconnectedness of global supply chains combine to promote health and welfare everywhere. Business builds wealth not just in local communities, but in communities far away that connect with it. Bridgestone, Firestone’s parent, is based in Ohio, yet its regard for its own well-being led it to save lives in Liberia.

BHP Billiton

Another example, courtesy of my friend Andrew McLeod, might help to underline this point:

BHP Billiton, the world’s largest mining company, runs one of the world’s most effective anti-malaria programs in Mozal, Mozambique, not because it is nice, but because it increases value.

The company’s program has reduced adult malaria infection from above 90% of the adult population to below 10%. The improved community health has lowered absenteeism in the work force and that has increased the productivity of their operation by a measurable amount higher than the cost of the program itself. When measured well, one can demonstrate that the anti-malaria program is directly, measurably profitable.

Wealthier is healthier. Nigeria, being a richer country than Liberia, was able to keep Ebola at bay. As Indur Goklany and others have shown, wealth is vital for societal resiliency in the face of such risks.

Wealthier is healthier: get with the program

Bearing that in mind, this is what a strategy for reducing the impact of such risks might look like:

  • Promote true free trade by tearing down tariff and nontariff barriers with the developing world, such as the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy.
  • Promote affordable energy and distribution networks for it in the developing world.
  • Reduce regulatory burdens that divert talent toward developing accounting tricks or derivative products, rather than dreaming up genuine innovations.
  • End America’s extraterritorial tax system, which discourages private investment abroad.
  • Liberalize global payment systems to allow the free movement of remittances from immigrants to their home countries.

This program would not only lead to more Firestones around the world but also to more resilience at the national level.

However, such a program is bound to meet with opposition from the “global salvationist” establishment, whose conventional wisdom centers around inhibiting trade, banning effective but politically incorrect technologies such as DDT and coal, and reducing private profit. It may therefore be a while before it can be adopted.

Resiliency today

In the meantime, people in poor countries like Liberia will have to continue to hope that companies like Firestone can be encouraged to invest there. They can best do this by establishing the rule of law and secure property rights. A true resiliency strategy begins at home.

15 Nov 16:00

Man has NFC chips injected into his hands to store cold Bitcoin wallet

by Cyrus Farivar

Any serious Bitcoin user will preach the benefits of cold storage: keeping the bulk of your bitcoins offline somewhere, like on an encrypted USB stick, or even printed on a piece of paper. The idea is that by keeping that data offline, it’s far less susceptible to being hacked.

So, the theory goes: what could be safer than keeping it inside your own body?

For the last 10 days, Martijn Wismeijer, a Dutch entrepreneur and Bitcoin enthusiast, has lived with an NFC chip embedded in each hand. One has data that he’s constantly overwriting; he can put his contact details in simply by having another person scan his hand with an NFC-enabled phone. But the other contains the encrypted private key to his wallet.

Read 21 remaining paragraphs | Comments

20 Nov 20:44

Top NSA official raised alarm about metadata program in 2009

by Cyrus Farivar

An unnamed top National Security Agency (NSA) official had a stark internal disagreement with then-director Keith Alexander in 2009 over the bulk metadata program, according to a new report by the Associated Press (AP) on Thursday.

The official warned that the program put the agency into new and unlawful territory, saying that if it was made public, it would cause an enormous backlash.

That person, who has retired and spoke to the AP under condition of anonymity, said "he knows of no evidence the program was used for anything other than hunting for terrorism plots in the US. But he said he and others made the case that the collection of American records in bulk crossed a line that had been sacrosanct."

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

20 Nov 19:10

Utah lawmaker wants to shut off NSA’s water supply for good

by Cyrus Farivar

A bill is moving forward in the Utah State Legislature that aims to eventually shut down water to the National Security Agency’s (NSA) new massive data storage facility at Bluffdale, just south of Salt Lake City.

On Wednesday, the Public Utilities and Technology Interim Committee discussed the bill that "prohibits cooperation between a federal agency that collects electronic data and any political subdivisions of the state."

Rep. Marc Roberts, the bill’s author, did not immediately respond to Ars’ request for comment. As currently drafted, the bill would let the Bluffdale contract with the NSA continue until it runs out.

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

21 Nov 22:45

California Man Expected to be Set Free After 36 Years

After more than three decades behind bars, a California man who has served the state's longest sentence for a wrongful conviction, is expected to be released next week.

Michael Ray Hanline was convicted of the 1978 murder of a Ventura man and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in 1980. The Los Angeles Times reported that despite being cleared by DNA evidence, prosecutors have not ruled out the possibility of a new trial for California Innocence Project client Hanline. DNA of crime scene evidence did not match to Hanline or his alleged accomplice.

In addition to the DNA evidence, sealed reports were uncovered that reveal that prosecutors failed to inform the defense that Hanline's then girlfriend, Mry Bishoff, who served as a key witness in Hanline's trial, was granted immunity for her testimony. Recent interviews over the last few months familiar with the trio suggest several other individuals had motives and the means to commit the crime.

In 2010, a federal judge recommended that Hanline's conviction be set aside and that he be retried. But a U.S. district judge refused the recommendation. All of that changed last week when a Ventura County superior court judge set aside the conviction and sentence, scheduling a hearing for Monday where his bail and new trial date could be set.


"It's amazing that Mike will finally be released after 36 years of wrongful incarceration," said Justin Brooks, the director of the project at California Western School of Law, in a statement. "It's time for him to get back to his family and his life."

Read the full article.


20 Nov 19:20

Will Utah Succeed Where the USA Freedom Act Failed?

by Michael Boldin

With some prominent privacy activists recognizing that appealing to Congress to stop NSA spying is futile, a hearing today in Utah shows that there is another path to shutting down mass surveillance. One that can work.

WATER

A bill known as the 4th Amendment Protection Act was introduced by Utah State Rep. Marc Roberts earlier this year. The goal if passed? To begin the process of turning off resources – like water – to the NSA facility in Bluffdale. Since the spy center will be using up to 1.7 million gallons of water to cool its servers every day, turning off the spigot will have the effect of shutting it down.

That’s just what happened in Nevada when they refused water permits to the Department of Energy’s Yucca Mountain nuclear storage project, and a federal judge even ruled in the state’s favor in 2007.

“The validity of Western states’ groundwater rights and the right to regulate water in the public interest is not a right to be taken lightly, nor is it a right that can cavalierly be ignored or violated by a federal agency,” wrote Judge Roger L. Hunt.

And while the Utah legislature didn’t pass the bill last spring, an important committee referred it to further study.  That “study” happened today in an important public utilities interim committee hearing to investigate the data center’s deals on water and electricity.

STRONG SUPPORT

There was significant public support for the bill both prior to and at the hearing.  The room was packed, and it was even jokingly noted by a sponsor of another bill that the people were obviously not “there for my bill.”  And one inside source said that committee members had received “tons” of emails in support of the legislation.

A well-known member of the tech community spoke in favor of the bill, explaining how he was moved in support due to another failure by Congress.

“I opposed the effort to turn off the water to the NSA data center last year because I was hoping the Federal Congress would take action,” said Pete Ashdown, the founder and CEO of Utah’s first independent and oldest Internet service provider, XMission. “They have tried three times to take action, and failed three times. So I really do think it is a state issue at this point to show that we do not support these infringements on our rights.”

“The data center here was welcomed by the state of Utah with a promise that their activities would remain within Constitutional bounds,” said Roberts. “I think we all know and are aware that has been violated,” he continued.

Joe Levi, vice-chair of the Davis County Republican Party, also spoke in favor of the bill. “This is a bill about civil rights, This is a bill that needs to be taken up and needs to be taken seriously,” he said.

“We all chuckle when we talk about how the NSA has already read this, how NSA probably is listening right now. That’s the problem,” continued Levi.

HARD TRUTH: THE NSA ISN’T GOING TO STOP ITSELF

At The Intercept today, Glenn Greenwald wrote that “Congress is irrelevant on mass surveillance,” and he’s right. In fact, he said what we’ve been saying here all along:

All of that illustrates what is, to me, the most important point from all of this: the last place one should look to impose limits on the powers of the U.S. government is . . . the U.S. government. Governments don’t walk around trying to figure out how to limit their own power, and that’s particularly true of empires.

Following that, Greenwald explained what steps people should take to protect their privacy in an age where the US Government will not.  But what he failed to mention might be the biggest one of all.  Utah. If Utah – and 10-12 other states around the country – would turn off resources to the NSA, that would create an atmosphere where even if the agency weren’t fully shut down, they’d be reeling to the point that they could be run out of town.

And that’s the end goal.

Contact your state legislators today.  Whether you live in an NSA-facility state or not, we need to box them in and make it nearly impossible for them to keep the lights on.

Together, we can pull the rug out from under the NSA and shut them down.

20 Nov 12:08

Tennessee Drug Interdiction Officers Stomp All Over Traveling Couples' Rights En Route To Seizing Nothing At All

by Tim Cushing
Remlaps

h/t Jts5665

More asset forfeiture to report on, albeit of the rarely-reported "attempted robbery forfeiture" variety. (via Overlawyered)

A couple (Lisa and Ronnie Hankins) traveling through Tennessee on their way home (to California) from a funeral was stopped by Tennessee drug interdiction agents as they traveled west on I-40 out of Nashville. What followed was a long fishing expedition, during which officers separated husband and wife in hopes of getting permission to search their vehicle without a warrant.
"You say there's not anything illegal in it. Do you mind if I search it today to make sure?" the officer asked.

Lisa responded, "I'd have to talk to my husband."

[...]

The agent continued, "I am asking you for permission to search your vehicle today -- and you are well within your rights to say no and you can say yes. It's totally up to you as to whether you want to show cooperation or not."

[...]

"You have to either give me a yes or no," he continued. "I do need an answer so I can figure out whether I need a dog to go around it or not."
Because the agent was unable to obtain consent from the couple, he decided to ask a dog. A drug-sniffing dog was brought in to examine the vehicle and, go figure, it alerted near the driver's side window (after ignoring the open passenger's side window). Finally having obtained "permission" for a warrantless search, the two agents went to work. An hour later -- and having disassembled the dashboard of the couple's new car -- they were unable to recover anything incriminating. But hey, no one's rights were violated because the drug dog told officers the car contained drugs, even though it didn't.

It also didn't contain any cash, which one agent told the Ronnie Hankins was far more likely to be hidden somewhere in the vehicle.
[W]hen Ronnie insisted there were no drugs, the agent confided he wasn't really expecting any.

"Well, I'll be honest with you, with you going this direction, I wouldn't think you'd have drugs in the car -- you would have a large amount of money," he said.
Apparently, drug interdiction agents are far less interested in stopping the flow of drugs than they are in intercepting outgoing cash. Otherwise, as Nashville's News 5 (which has been investigating the state's out-of-control asset forfeiture program for years) points out, it wouldn't be performing a majority of its stops on roads leading out of the state.
While drugs generally come from Mexico on the eastbound side of Interstate 40 and the drug money goes back on the westbound side, the investigation discovered police making 10 times as many stops on the so-called "money side."
The frustrated officers finally let the Hankins go, but not before making a last-ditch effort to redeem their futile efforts. The police report claims the interdiction agents found "marijuana debris" or "shake" on the floorboards of the vehicle. The Hankins claim the only thing on the floorboards was grass from the cemetery where Ronnie Hankins' grandfather was buried. Whether it was "grass" or grass, neither of the Hankins were charged or cited.

Tennessee's asset forfeiture laws are far worse than those in many states. 100% of the proceeds of any seizures go to the department that performed it. Legislative attempts to overhaul these laws have been mostly fruitless. A bill introduced in early 2013 aimed to eliminate this abuse by making seizures contingent on convictions. By the time the House and Senate had amended the bill, the only net gain was the prohibition of ex parte hearings. If Tennesee interdiction officers seize your money or other property, they now (the law went into effect at the beginning of this year) have to give you a date when you can show up and defend "forfeited" property from the accusations of law enforcement -- something of limited utility considering these officers tend to prey on drivers with out-of-state plates. Depending on what has been seized, it may be cheaper to allow the state to claim its ill-gotten goods rather than spending even more money to participate in a largely ceremonial process that often results in the state paying out only pennies on the dollar.

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