Swedish Police Put Seized Drug House Up For Sale On Auction Site

OSTRASK, Sweden (UPI) — Swedish police are attempting to sell a house seized in a drug raid on Blocket, the country’s version of auction site eBay.

A district court ruled police became the owners of the five-bedroom Ostrask property when it was seized by authorities during an investigation that discovered marijuana plants were being cultivated and sold in the home, Swedish news agency TT/The Local.se reported Friday.

Police said there has been little interest in the house thus far.

The Blocket listing makes no mention of the home’s previous owners or their extra-legal activities.

“The property should be carefully examined before a purchase is carried out. Come to the opening if you are considering buying,” the listing reads.

Police lawyer Erik Lindstrom told the Folkbladet newspaper he was surprised by the decision to list the seized house online.

“I’ve never heard of anything like it,” he said.

French Police Seize 66 Tons Of Eiffel Tower Miniatures

PARIS (UPI) — French police said a crackdown on illegal street peddling in Paris led to the seizure of 66 tons of miniature Eiffel Tower figurines in a suburban warehouse.

Investigators said the investigation this week led to the seizure of the figurines from a Bourget warehouse, which allegedly supplied the items to about 100 illegal street vendors in Paris, The Local.fr reported Friday.

Police estimated the seized merchandise to be worth $233,000.

The raid also resulted in officers seizing about $206,900 in cash and about $26,500 worth of coins.

Police said a 41-year-old Chinese woman and her 40-year-old brother are suspected of being the ringleaders of the illegal street vending network and were arrested Tuesday. The pair supplied the illegal street vendors with merchandise via their shop in Paris’ 3rd Arrondissement.

Halliburton Destroyed Evidence In BP Spill; Pays $200,000 Fine

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is expected to accept a guilty plea from Halliburton Company to a charge of destroying evidence in the aftermath of the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Halliburton will also serve three years of probation, and, despite admitting to destroying evidence, has pledged to cooperate with all remaining criminal investigations into the circumstances surrounding the explosion. The settlement agreement is pending court approval.

As part of its oil field support role, Halliburton helped British Petroleum (BP), which owned a majority stake in the Macondo oil well, in sealing taps through a technique called “cementing.”

DOJ alleged that Halliburton had advised BP to use 21 metal collars to help ensure the effectiveness of the cementing process at the Macondo well, but that BP elected to use only six. DOJ accused Halliburton of destroying evidence held in computer simulations that demonstrated using a smaller number of collars didn’t pose a disproportionate safety risk.

According to the government, Halliburton recommended to BP that the Macondo well contain 21 centralizers, metal collars that can improve cementing, but BP chose to use six.

The government said that, during an internal probe into the cementing after the blowout, Halliburton ordered workers to destroy computer simulations that showed little difference between using six and 21 centralizers. Efforts to forensically locate the simulations were unsuccessful, the government said.

BP agreed to pay $4.5 billion late last year as part of a settlement in which it pleaded guilty to 11 felony charges related to the deaths of the 11 workers who lost their lives in the disaster. Transocean Deepwater Inc., which owned another large stake in the well, agreed to pay $1.4 billion in fines.

Both companies are also involved in ongoing civil litigation, with findings that have so far exacted hundreds of millions of dollars out of billions of dollars in funds each company set aside in anticipation of a deluge of civil claims.

Halliburton, which is also named in the civil litigation, voluntarily agreed to give $55 million to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation as part of Thursday’s criminal settlement.

Justice Department Says NSA Leaker Won’t Face Death Penalty

WASHINGTON (UPI) — Former national security contractor Edward Snowden will not face the death penalty for releasing classified document, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said.

Holder said the Justice Department assurances “eliminate” claims by Snowden, accused in the United States of espionage, that he should be granted asylum or treated as a refugee, CNN reported.

A spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin had said Snowden would “no doubt” stop leaking secret U.S. intelligence if he were given temporary asylum in Russia.

Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Putin had “expressed a firm intention to not allow” further leaks, RIA Novosti reported.

“And I have no doubt this is how it will be, no matter how the situation develops,” Peskov said.

Washington has called on Moscow to reject Snowden’s request for asylum and send him to the United States for trial. Peskov said the former National Security Agency contractor would not be handed over to U.S. authorities, Voice of America reported.

Snowden’s father, Lon Snowden, told NBC’s “Today” show Friday he was “extremely disappointed and angry” by the way his son has been portrayed.

He charged many in Congress had made a “concerted effort” to “demonize” his son so they didn’t have “to talk about the fact that they had a responsibility to ensure that these programs were constitutional.”

“The American people don’t know the truth,” he said. “The truth is coming.”

Bush: Shaving My Head For Boy, 2, Was ‘Right Thing To Do’

KENNEBUNKPORT, Maine (UPI) — Former president George H.W. Bush says shaving his head in a show of support for a 2-year-old boy with leukemia was the “right thing to do.”

The 41st president got a shiny dome earlier this week in honor of Patrick, the son of one of the Secret Service agents in his protection detail.

“A lot of agents shaved their heads,” Bush told granddaughter Jenna Bush Hager, a contributing correspondent to the “Today” show. “I said, ‘Well why not me?’ It was the right thing to do.”

Bush and more than 20 men in his protection unit shaved their heads to show solidarity with the toddler. He said he hoped his action brought “a little happiness” to the boy.

Shaving his head also had personal meaning to the former president and his wife, Barbara. Their daughter, Robin died from leukemia when she was 3.

U.S. Prison Population Declines For Third Straight Year

WASHINGTON (UPI) — The U.S. prison population declined in 2012 for a third consecutive year, the Bureau of Justice Statistics reported.

The number of inmates in state and federal prisons dropped by 1.7 percent, from an estimated 1.59 million in 2011 to 1.57 million in 2012, The New York Times said Friday.

California, which has been released state prison inmates under court order due to overcrowding, accounted for 55 percent of the reduced U.S. prison population last year.

New York, Florida, Virginia and North Carolina, among other states, had inmate population decreases of more than 1,000 each.

Marc Mauer, executive director of the non-profit research group Sentencing Project, based in Washington, said it was significant the overall prison population had fallen in three consecutive years.

“A year or even two years is a blip and we shouldn’t jump to conclusions, but three years starts to look like a trend,” he said.

However, Mauer said the number of incarcerated people in the United States is still “dramatically higher” than in other countries, and the changes are “relatively modest compared to the scale of the problem.”

Natasha Frost, associate dean of Northeastern University’s school of criminology and criminal justice, said the report signals “the beginning of the end of mass incarceration.”

Senator Burr Opposes Government Shutdown To Fight ACA

WASHINGTON (UPI) — Senator Richard Burr, R-N.C., says the idea of shutting down the U.S. government to block healthcare reform implementation is “the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard.”

Support is building among congressional Republicans for using a continuing resolution — providing funding for routine government operations — as leverage in their campaign to block implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare. Senator Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is among the loudest voices supporting the stand, The Hill reported Friday.

Burr said Thursday stopping the funding in not achievable, and argued Republicans risk taking the blame if the government is shut down over the issue.

“I think it’s the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard,” said Burr. “As long as Barack Obama is president, the Affordable Care Act is going to be law. Defunding the Affordable Care Act is not achievable through shutting down the deferral government.”

Senator Warns Cruise Lines To Improve Reporting Of Onboard Crimes

WASHINGTON (UPI) — U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., has put cruise lines “on notice” they must do a better job of reporting criminal incidents that occur on cruise ships.

Rockefeller, chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, called for stricter reporting guidelines after the committee released a report that only 31 alleged crimes had been publicly disclosed on a Coast Guard website since 2011, NBC News reported Thursday.

Cruise lines have reported 959 incidents to the FBI during that same period, the Senate report said.

Executives of Carnival Corp., Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean Cruises told the committee during a hearing Wednesday they would report all alleged crimes that occur on their vessels.

In a prepared statement, Rockefeller expressed skepticism about the cruise lines’ pledge.

“I have been assured repeatedly by the industry that things will get better,” he said. “Take a look at the events over the past 16 months and tell me if this is what you think better looks like. Cruise lines are on notice that the safety and protection of passengers is now their number one priority, whether they like it or not.”

The cruise lines voluntarily agreed to post reports of alleged crimes reported as far back as 2010 on their website by Aug. 1 regardless of whether an investigation is open or closed.

A statement on Carnival’s website says the possibility of a criminal incident aboard their ships is “remote.” Of the 4 million passengers the cruise line expects to carry in 2013, the website says, “the number of alleged incidents is a small fraction of those carried.”

Hillbilly High School Under Fed Fire; Jet Setter In Chief Costs Taxpayers Millions; College Students Okay With Infanticide; FBI Ignored Boston Bomber Warnings; Government Demands Internet User Passwords—TGIF Morning News Roundup 7-26-2013

Here is a collection of some of the stories making the Internet rounds this morning. Click the links for the full stories.

  • Political correctness: The U.S. Department of Education has officially opened an investigation into allegations that an Arizona high school’s campus-wide “Redneck Day” amounted to a Federal civil rights violation. Source: The Daily Caller
  • President Obama’s speeches are already costing taxpayers well over $1 million – and probably closer to $2 million – as the president jets around the country campaign-style to drum up support for his agenda. Source: White House Dossier 
  • What’s going on here?: Several students at George Mason University (GMU) signed a petition on Wednesday demanding lawmakers legalize “fourth trimester” abortions. Source: Campus Reform 
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation officials ignored warnings about the radical origins and nature of the mosque frequented by the Tsarnaev brothers for years before this April’s deadly Boston Marathon bombings. Source: The Daily Caller 
  • The U.S. government has demanded that major Internet companies divulge users’ stored passwords, according to two industry sources familiar with these orders, which represent an escalation in surveillance techniques that has not previously been disclosed. Source: CNET 

Check back for updates, news and analysis throughout the day. Like us on Facebook. And follow our improved Twitter feed.

Edward Snowden: Traitor Or Hero?

In today’s column, I’m going to share an extraordinary email exchange between a former U.S. Senator and Edward Snowden, the infamous betrayer of Washington secrets. I think I can promise that it will cause you to look at this controversy in a whole new way.

By now, you can almost feel a bit sorry for Snowden, the whistle-blower extraordinaire who has been forced to remain in the transit area of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport for more than a month. I’ve been stuck at a lot of different airports over the years, and it was never fun. And none of them, thank God, was in Russia.

Now comes word that the Russian authorities will finally permit Snowden to leave the airport while they consider his application for asylum. I have no idea why it took so long. Like bureaucracies everywhere, the ones in Moscow apparently move at their own glacial pace.

So what do you think? Is Snowden a traitorous dog who deserves the harshest penalties the United States can impose on him (if U.S. authorities can ever get their hands on him, that is)?

Or is he an authentic American hero who sacrificed a comfortable life to bring us the truth about how far our government has gone to snoop on all of us? Even the members of the intelligence committees in Congress, who supposedly knew all about the secretive surveillance being carried out by the National Security Agency and other government watchdogs, say they have been shocked to learn of the extent of what was going on.

Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to ask more than 1,000 liberty lovers what they thought of Snowden. I was the master of ceremonies at something called FreedomFest, an annual conference that describes itself as “the world’s largest gathering of free minds.” Most of the attendees would probably describe themselves as libertarians, although traditional conservatives were certainly well-represented, both in the audience and at the podium.

When I asked the audience for their opinion of Snowden and what he did, I expected them to be fairly evenly divided. It was not even close. Fewer than 10 percent raised their hands when I asked if they thought he should be prosecuted for revealing state secrets. The overwhelming majority — by a rough estimate, more than 85 percent of the audience — said he deserved our praise and thanks for helping to expose what one speaker referred to as “the surveillance state.”

Shortly after returning home, I received a fascinating email exchange between Snowden and a former politician I remember fondly. Gordon J. Humphrey was a two-term Senator from New Hampshire. Here is the message he sent Snowden, via Glen Greenwald, the writer for The Guardian in London who broke the story of Snowden’s incredible disclosures:

Mr. Snowden,

Provided you have not leaked information that would put in harms (sic) way any intelligence agent, I believe you have done the right thing in exposing what I regard as massive violation of the United States Constitution.

Having served in the United States Senate for twelve years as a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, the Armed Services Committee and the Judiciary Committee, I think I have a good grounding to reach my conclusion.

I wish you well in your efforts to secure asylum and encourage you to persevere.

Kindly acknowledge this message, so that I will know it reached you.

Regards,
Gordon J. Humphrey
Former United States Senator
New Hampshire

Humphrey received the following email from Snowden. Its authenticity was also confirmed by Greenwald.

Mr. Humphrey,

Thank you for your words of support. I only wish more of our lawmakers shared your principles – the actions I’ve taken would not have been necessary.

The media has distorted my actions and intentions to distract from the substance of Constitutional violations and instead focus on personalities. It seems they believe every modern narrative requires a bad guy. Perhaps it does. Perhaps, in such times, loving one’s country means being hated by its government.

If history proves that be so, I will not shy from that hatred. I will not hesitate to wear those charges of villainy for the rest of my life as a civic duty, allowing those governing few who dared not do so themselves to use me as an excuse to right these wrongs.

My intention, which I outlined when this began, is to inform the public as to that which is done in their name and that which is done against them. I remain committed to that. Though reporters and officials may never believe it, I have not provided any information that would harm our people – agent or not – and I have no intention to do so.

Further, no intelligence service – not even our own – has the capacity to compromise the secrets I continue to protect. While it has not been reported in the media, one of my specializations was to teach our people at DIA how to keep such information from being compromised even in the highest threat counter-intelligence environments (i.e. China).

You may rest easy knowing I cannot be coerced into revealing that information, even under torture.

With my thanks for your service to the nation we both love,

Edward Snowden

So what do you think of that? When he talks about media distortions that are being done “to distract from the substance of Constitutional violations,” Snowden sounds like a columnist for Personal Liberty Digest™, doesn’t he?

And when he wonders if “loving one’s country means being hated by its government,” he sounds like many of our readers.

Right now, there’s only one thing keeping me from coming down 100 percent on the side of “hero.” And that is the path Snowden has chosen to follow since those first incredible disclosures.

When the story first broke, I was impressed that this obscure contractor was willing to turn his life upside down to expose the truth about the NSA’s massive surveillance efforts. “Good for him,” was my first reaction. What an incredibly brave thing to do, I thought, knowing that he would immediately become the declared enemy of the most powerful government on Earth.

But it’s not civil disobedience if you’re not willing to face the consequences of your actions. I hoped that Snowden would come back to the United States and face his accusers in an open and public trial. Instead, he fled to China and then on to Russia — two countries that aren’t exactly known for a commitment to the freedom of their own citizens. And if he ever gets permission to leave Russia, he’s indicated that he might like to settle in Venezuela or Bolivia — two countries that are a lot closer to a “dictatorship of the proletariat” than anything resembling the Constitutional protections that we have long taken for granted.

What’s next? Anatoly Kucherena, Snowden’s Russian attorney, told CNN: “As far as I know, he’s planning to stay in Russia to learn Russian culture, Russian language and (to) live here.” If he does, it won’t be anything like his life in Hawaii before all this happened, where Snowden himself said he lived in “paradise.”

Our government has asked Russia to extradite Snowden back to the United States, but it doesn’t sound like Russian President Vladimir Putin has any intention of granting that request. (There is no extradition treaty between the two countries.) Putin has said that Snowden will need to “stop his work aimed at harming our American partners” if he wants to remain in the country.

Meanwhile, both Venezuela and Bolivia have said they would be delighted to grant asylum to Snowden. And Nicaragua has said it would do so “if circumstances permit,” whatever that means.

Oh, and one more thing. When Greenwald contacted Humphrey, to confirm the authenticity of his original email, Humphrey expanded on what he wrote Snowden:

I object to the monumentally disproportionate campaign being waged by the U.S. Government against Edward Snowden, while no effort is being made to identify, remove from office and bring to justice those officials who have abused power, seriously and repeatedly violating the Constitution of the United States and the rights of millions of unsuspecting citizens.

Americans concerned about the growing arrogance of our government and its increasingly menacing nature should be working to help Mr. Snowden find asylum. Former Members of Congress, especially, should step forward and speak out.

Count me among those willing to speak out. I’d love to see us bring to justice those officials who have “abused power, seriously and repeatedly violating the Constitution of the United States.” Wouldn’t you?

In the meantime, I think we owe Snowden a huge “thank you” for what he’s done to expose the Big Brother surveillance taking place in what used to be the land of the free and the home of the brave. Now it seems we’re the not-so-free and the not-very-brave.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Forget The Drones: Massive Spy Blimps Set To Hover Over Northeastern U.S.

Pretty soon, a pair of massive high-tech Army blimps will be floating over the greater Washington, D.C., area to provide 24-hour, 360-degree surveillance. And as testing and advancement of the airship surveillance technology continues, the eyes in the sky could have the ability to keep an eye on folks spanning hundreds of acres, from North Carolina to Niagara Falls and beyond.

blimp

The massive blimps, developed as a part of Raytheon’s Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System, or JLENS, will initially allow the Army to see for 320 miles in any direction from 10,000 feet off the ground.

“JLENS uses advanced sensor and networking technologies to provide 360-degree, wide-area surveillance and precision target tracking,” the Defense Department found in an unclassified audit.

The blimps are capable of monitoring targets on land, water or in the air with a trove of powerful onboard surveillance equipment. In a press release, Raytheon said the JLENS surveillance radar can “simultaneously track hundreds of threats.”
 

Raytheon touts the blimps as a way for militaries to have surveillance equipment out of high in the sky and out of danger while carrying “powerful radars that can look deep into enemy territory.”

But if enemy territory brings to mind visions North Korea or sandy places full of religious fanatics, think again.

After a six-week-long “test-drive” in the Utah wilderness, the Army will fly Raytheon’s enormous JLENS airships from the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, where the twin-radar system will begin a long-term trial watching over Washington, D.C., and nearly a dozen States, stretching from the mid-Atlantic into New England.

Obama’s Racial Hypocrisy: Trayvon ‘Could Have Been Me’ But I’m Nominating Ray ‘Stop And Frisk’ Kelly, King Of Racial Profiling

Why would President Barack Obama nominate a man to a top security post who, by the President’s own standard, would have profiled him as a potential criminal on the streets of New York City as a younger man? And by implication, why does he endorse the idea that it’s fine for cops to randomly stop and frisk people based on their race, but that it’s a civil rights crime if a private citizen on neighborhood watch patrol might have done the same thing?

The President’s nomination of New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly to replace departed Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano came only days before Obama joined his colleagues in the Congressional Black Caucus, along with friends in the entertainment industry and the NAACP, in the public immolation of an exonerated George Zimmerman.

For the Left, Zimmerman is a dead-horse straw man target, an involuntary Bull Connor figure who ought to be receiving royalty payments from people like Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Jay-Z — and now Obama – who have ridden his unassuming coattails to a re-emergence as race-baiting firebrands whose relevance depends on how successful they are at bringing out the worst in the characters of uninformed people. Obama seized an opportunity to do just that, telling the Nation: “Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago.”

The President’s July 19 comments are actually remarkable for the extent to which they betray Obama’s dismissal of black-on-black violence (blame history), his self-identity (our President is, first and foremost, a “hyphen”-American who’s been feared by white women on the street) and, most tellingly, his propensity to group people into a racial category and proceed to speak for their behaviors, beliefs and feelings (“black folks interpret…understand…get frustrated…”):

You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago. And when you think about why, in the African American community at least, there’s a lot of pain around what happened here, I think it’s important to recognize that the African American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that doesn’t go away.

There are very few African American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me. There are very few African American men who haven’t had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. That happens to me — at least before I was a senator. There are very few African Americans who haven’t had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had a chance to get off. That happens often.

And I don’t want to exaggerate this, but those sets of experiences inform how the African American community interprets what happened one night in Florida. And it’s inescapable for people to bring those experiences to bear. The African American community is also knowledgeable that there is a history of racial disparities in the application of our criminal laws — everything from the death penalty to enforcement of our drug laws. And that ends up having an impact in terms of how people interpret the case.

Now, this isn’t to say that the African American community is naïve about the fact that African American young men are disproportionately involved in the criminal justice system; that they’re disproportionately both victims and perpetrators of violence. It’s not to make excuses for that fact — although black folks do interpret the reasons for that in a historical context. They understand that some of the violence that takes place in poor black neighborhoods around the country is born out of a very violent past in this country, and that the poverty and dysfunction that we see in those communities can be traced to a very difficult history.

And so the fact that sometimes that’s unacknowledged adds to the frustration. And the fact that a lot of African American boys are painted with a broad brush and the excuse is given, well, there are these statistics out there that show that African American boys are more violent — using that as an excuse to then see sons treated differently causes pain.

I think the African American community is also not naïve in understanding that, statistically, somebody like Trayvon Martin was statistically more likely to be shot by a peer than he was by somebody else. So folks understand the challenges that exist for African American boys. But they get frustrated, I think, if they feel that there’s no context for it and that context is being denied.

Like Sharpton and Jackson, Obama is now speaking on behalf of American blacks, a gesture he knows automatically implies a divisive wedge that exempts one American from believing he shares — and that he should share — common ground with another. That’s vile, especially coming from the elected leader of the free world.

Equally vile is the brazen hypocrisy of burnishing the reputation of Kelly. With vocal support from otherwise-liberal New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Kelly has expanded the NYPD’s “stop-and-frisk” practice into a racial profiling juggernaut, requiring street cops to randomly pick out black and Hispanic individuals because they’re black and Hispanic and to frisk them without probable cause that they’re involved in anything criminal. Bloomberg notoriously said last month that the cops were stopping too many white people and not enough minorities — even though minorities comprise nearly 90 percent of all NYPD stops.

For Reason’s Jacob Sullum, something in Obama’s Janus-like positions on Zimmerman and Kelly doesn’t gibe:

The juxtaposition of [the President’s] comments suggests Obama would rather attack an easy target than confront issues with much clearer implications for equality under the law.

In contrast with Zimmerman, who has never been credibly accused of shooting Martin because of his race, Kelly is named in a federal lawsuit that charges the NYPD with routinely violating the Fourth and 14th Amendments through a program of street stops that target blacks or Hispanics 87 percent of the time. The number of such stops septupled during Kelly’s first nine years as Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s police commissioner…

… As Obama noted on Friday, “there is a history of racial disparities in the application of our criminal laws—everything from the death penalty to enforcement of our drug laws.” In New York City under Ray Kelly, that history is still being made.

The Magician’s Rabbit And Bureaucratic Idiocy

The long arm of the Federal government has reached inside Marty Hahnes’ magic hat and pulled out a handful of bureaucratic idiocy.

Hahne performs magic shows for children in southern Missouri under the name of Marty the Magician. For his big finale he pulls a rabbit out of a hat — a time-honored magic trick with little risk to the rabbit, magician or audience.

In 2005, a U.S. Department of Agriculture inspector cornered him after a show. She asked to see his license. “License for?” Hahne asked. “The rabbit,” was the reply.

To keep his rabbit in the magic act Hahne was told he had to purchase a $40 annual license, take the rabbit to the veterinarian and submit to surprise home inspections. And for a kicker, if Hahne planned to take the rabbit out of town for an extended period of time, he had to submit an itinerary to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. His rabbit travels with him in a small cage adorned with USDA-mandated stickers, indicating which end is up.

But this year, the idiocy got worse. To keep his rabbit license, Hahne was told he had to submit a disaster plan covering what would happen with his rabbit in the event of every conceivable emergency: fire, flood, tornado, faulty air conditioning, ice storm, power failure.

Luckily for Hahne, a professional disaster plan writer heard about his plight and offered to write a plan for his rabbit. It must be completed by July 29. As of last week, it was 28 pages long and growing. But it was still short, considering what the USDA requested it include, according to Kim Morgan, the professional who volunteered to write the plan.

While Hahne, thanks to Morgan, is responding with a serious plan, some other magicians are responding to the requirement with all the seriousness it deserves. “I’ll take a piece of paper and put down, ‘Note: take rabbit with you when you leave.’ That’s my plan,” magician Gary Maurer said.

The original law requiring the licensing dates back to 1966 and applied to laboratories that used animals in research. But the paper-shufflers in Washington, D.C., and the psychopathic elected class expanded the law with amendments and regulations so that the original four-page law grew so that there are now 14 pages just for rabbits. It grew exponentially under George W. Bush after Hurricane Katrina and now applies to all licensed exhibitors.

And you think you live in a free country?

Conservatives: The Best Defense Is A Good Offense

Conservative Americans like to think they are defending the founding principles of the United States, defending individual rights and the Constitution. They are doing no such thing.

Don’t get me wrong. Conservatives study, express, believe in and support American principles. But defending? No.

Conservatives are a lot like a militia. The notion of a militia goes back at least as far as the Roman Empire. It is that armed property owners will fight tooth and nail against anyone coming to unjustly take their property from them. For that reason, they are a reliable defense against invading armies, insurrections or other overt threats. But they are not willing to go on the offense when they are not directly under attack. They would much rather tend the farm or business and care for their families than go make trouble for someone else.

Current threats to America’s principles and Constitution are not overt. Enemies of the people work quietly, relying on media silence, to adjust the laws of the Nation until the American Constitution is no longer in effect. Conservatives exercise their right to free speech, protesting and waving around signs. They formed the Tea Party to get a couple of people elected to ineffectual defensive positions in the government. What is the effect? Insidious forces continue fundamentally transforming the American system until it no longer resembles the American way.

Constitutionally prohibited actions include importing tens of millions of foreigners to outvote Americans, making schools into gun-free zones to make children into easy targets, infringements against 2nd Amendment protected firearms, suppression of free Christian expression, a massive surveillance system and developing a police state.

If Conservatives were actually interested in defending America and the supreme law of the land, they would be doing to our corrupt politicians what those mobs in Egypt did to Mohammed Morsi — forcefully removing from power the corrupt politicians. This has been done before in the United States; and it has, for a time, restored the rule of law.

The most obvious example is the American Revolution. For years, the Founders protested abuses of their Rights by their own government. But people in power happily ignored the protests. Ultimately, the problem was resolved when the people took up arms and forcefully removed from power anyone abusing their rights and the rule of law. The result was the U.S. Constitution, with an admonition that the people have a Republic only if they can keep it.

More recently, the Battle of Athens, Tenn., demonstrated the necessary remedy to abusive public servants. Stuffing the ballot boxes, corrupt politicians had eliminated fair elections. The townspeople protested; they appealed to other levels of government; they received no help. So they took up their military firearms (those protected by the 2nd Amendment) and set out to kill their politicians and the police officers defending them. Wisely, the politicians surrendered. Fair elections and the rule of law were restored.

With massive election fraud occurring today, is it any wonder that anti-American politicians are scrambling to disarm the American people?

Conservatives (Americans who believe in American principles) can wave signs and protest all they like with no effect. Under totalitarian rule, they are simply ignored. The rapid transformation of the United States into a leftist state continues unabated. It’s all well and fine to talk about having the 2nd Amendment to protect one’s rights, but only through direct action can that be accomplished.

Otherwise, the American people will lose their Republic. If they wait to act until government agents in uniform knock on the door to take their arms, it will be too late.

Sometimes, the best defense is not defense.

Think about it; demand accountability.

–Victor Sayre

A US~Observer exclusive used by permission.

Tyrannical Trifecta: Obama’s Phony Leadership, Holder’s Phony Justice And Congress’ Phony Concern

President Barack Obama, in a speech Wednesday, blamed political posturing and phony scandals for Washington’s inability to get much done to benefit the American people.

The President wants America to know that he has many plans for improving the economy, “But with this endless parade of distractions and political posturing and phony scandals, Washington has taken its eye off the ball,” he said. “And I am here to say this needs to stop. (Applause.) This needs to stop.”

There’s one burning question: Which scandals does the President consider phony?

Lawmakers, pundits and average Americans have spent the past 10 months trying to figure out what happened leading up to and after the murder of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans at the hands of Islamic extremists in Benghazi, Libya.

Still, the White House has not provided any real answers. That’s likely because admitting that a cover-up of executive failures was orchestrated to protect the Obama campaign would reveal that the Benghazi scandal is more tangible than even Obama’s harshest critics originally believed.

Later, the State Department intimidated officials who knew the truth of what happened in Benghazi –and others who knew about misconduct in the agency.

In May, it was revealed that the Internal Revenue Service has frequently singled out American citizens and groups with conservative political leanings for increased scrutiny. During a Congressional oversight hearing on the matter, Lois Lerner, IRS director of Exempt Organizations, invoked her 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination.

Obama axed IRS chief Steven Miller, who was already nearing the end of his term, with great fanfare. And the agency blamed the scandal on low-level employees and vowed to do better.

But no real consequence emerged. No massive tax-reform effort. No massive cuts to the agency, even after further damning reports about IRS officials wasting troves of taxpayer money on lavish conferences.

Furthermore, Americans still don’t know why the IRS commissioner visited the White House 118 times during Obama’s tenure, compared to one visit during the previous Presidential Administration. Nor do they know why a top IRS aide made more than 300 visits to the Presidential residence. One White House meeting between Obama and a high ranking IRS official occurred on April 23, 2012, two days before a new set of advice on how to scrutinize tea party and conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status was sent to the IRS exempt organizations determinations unit .

In 2011, Americans learned that Federal officials were involved in an attempt to vilify firearms by handing them to Mexican drug cartels. The effort, dubbed Fast and Furious, came to a head when the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which ran the operation, lost track of hundreds of firearms, many of which have been linked to crimes, including the fatal shooting of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in December 2010.

Americans wanted to know who was responsible, as firearms smuggling and dealings with dangerous criminal elements are certainly not the business of Federal officials on the taxpayer dime.

Unfortunately for information seekers, Attorney General Eric Holder absolved the ATF of any wrongdoing and absolved himself of any wrongdoing. And President Obama basically said that, by order of executive privileged, Americans shouldn’t expect answers because it would damage national security.

Luckily, this is a Nation built on the idea that a well-informed public is an absolute necessity to the greater good of all citizens. That means, protected by the 1st Amendment, America’s journalists have the power to hit the streets and find out the answers to the questions that the White House refuses to acknowledge.

Those journalists do need to be sure, however, that they never run afoul of Obama’s all-seeing Administration, a fact duly noted by The Associated Press revelation that the Justice Department seized the records for more than 20 separate telephone lines assigned to The AP and its journalists in April and May 2012. The Federal government collected personal and work-related information from more than 100 journalists.

When government officials won’t talk about their gross misconduct and the American press is intimidated by a bully Federal government, it seems all hope is lost for American citizens concerned about the state of the Nation and seeking answers. But there are still ways for the public to come upon pertinent information about how the government is abusing them.

Whistle-blower Edward Snowden recently revealed that the National Security Agency is constantly collecting the electronic communications data of virtually all Americans. Meanwhile, Snowden has taken refuge in Russia to avoid Federal retribution for revealing the government’s dirty little secret. The White House was forced to acknowledge the leak and promised that the Department of Justice would investigate.

The same Department of Justice that looked into Fast and Furious. The same Department of Justice that said it is looking into the IRS malfeasance. The same Department of Justice that secretly spied on American journalists. The same Department of Justice that will likely skewer Snowden if he is ever captured.

And, except for a few standouts, Congress is complicit in all of the above-mentioned scandals because legislators have made no tangible effort to force answers out of the Administration. Hearings happen, questions are asked, but then — as illustrated with the defeat of Representative Justin Amash’s defund the NSA amendment, Wednesday — nothing is done to protect Americans from the growing executive and its vast abuses of power.

Obama is partially right that something is phony in Washington, but it certainly isn’t the growing list of scandals surrounding his Administration. It is his leadership, and that of the almost the entire political class in Washington, that is truly phony.

Poll: Vote Congress Out, But Trust Congress Over Obama

If there’s anything to the results of a new voter poll, the 2014 midterm elections will see the entirety of today’s House of Representatives, along with every Senator who’s up for re-election, kicked out of office.

A nationwide poll conducted by NBC News and The Wall Street Journal shows 57 percent of Americans would choose to throw the “bums” out, including their own elected representatives.

A staggering 83 percent of respondents said they aren’t satisfied with the job Congress is doing. That’s far fewer than those who’ve tired of President Barack Obama, whose numbers — 50 percent disapprove; 45 percent approve — still continue to reflect a steady decline from a high of 53 percent approval in December.

The poll asked voters a follow-up question:

If there were a place on your ballot that allowed you to vote to defeat and replace every single member of Congress, including your own representative, would you do this, or not?

And 57 percent said “yes.” That’s the highest number of dissatisfied respondents the poll has seen over the course of seven iterations since March of 2010.

Of course, that’s not going to happen. Voters have demonstrated that they are often willing to break with personal ideology in order to return to Washington a local representative who’s amassed some clout that benefits their own districts, while simultaneously begrudging Congressmen with similar views who hail from other districts and other States.

But Americans’ disgust with partisan gridlock in Congress is far and away the biggest reason people say they’re disappointed with Washington politics. Asked to rank eight reasons for their dissatisfaction in order from most to least important, 44 percent ranked Congressional ineffectiveness either first or second. By contrast, cuts to programs “that help the poor” were ranked among the top two reasons by only 20 percent.

As a strange statistic shows, people may be fed up with Congress as a whole, but they still — at least in theory — would rather Congress take the lead in setting national policy than allow the President to do it. Of those surveyed, 48 percent said Congress should set the tone on shaping policies, while only 38 percent said Obama should continue to take point. And of those who prefer Congress over Obama, an overwhelming majority said they want the House Republican majority to lead the way, rather than the Democratic majority in the Senate.

Feds Raid ‘Legal’ Pot In Washington; Obama’s Reporter Buds Love His Thoughts; Majority Agrees With Affirmative Action; Tea Party Students Spurned At Speech; How Congress Can Leash The NSA— Personal Liberty Digest ™ P.M. Edition 7-25-2013

Brush up on the day’s headlines with Personal Liberty’s P.M. Edition news links.

ProPublica: Six Ways Congress May Reform NSA Snooping

Although the House defeated a measure that would have defunded the bulk phone metadata collection program, the narrow 205-217 vote showed that there is significant support in Congress to reform NSA surveillance programs. Here are six other legislative proposals on the table. Read More… 

Obama: Reporters Say My Ideas Are ‘Great’

Who needs state media when you have the MSM?  President Barack Obama told an Illinois audience Wednesday that reporters are sympathetic toward his policies, but that they advise him Congressional Republicans will never let those good ideas take root and blossom. Read More… 

College Republicans Banned From Obama’s Campus Speech

A group of College Republicans who held tickets to an on-campus economy speech by President Barack Obama was denied admittance after civilly protesting the President’s fiscal policies in the hours leading up to the event. Read More… 

Feds Raid Legal Medical Marijuana Dispensaries In Washington

Despite State legalization and promises from President Barack Obama that raiding medical marijuana facilities was not a priority of the Federal government, medical marijuana dispensaries in Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia and Gig Harbor, Washington were raided by Drug Enforcement Agency agents on Wednesday. Read More… 

Poll: Most Americans Support Affirmative Action

Two-thirds of Americans think college applicants should be admitted based solely on merit, yet most approve of affirmative action, according to the results of a recent poll. Read More… 

Researchers Seek Metal-Coating Secrets Of Ancient Gold-, Silversmiths

ROME (UPI) — Italian researchers say ancient craftsmen created metal-coating techniques 2,000 years ago that have never been matched, even today.

Writing in the American Chemical Society’s journal Account of Chemical Research, scientists in Rome say understanding these sophisticated metal-plating techniques from ancient times could help preserve priceless artistic and other treasures from the past.

While scientists have made good progress in understanding the chemistry of many ancient artistic and other artifacts, Gabriel Maria Ingo and his colleagues said, little is known about how gilders in the Dark Ages and other periods applied lustrous, impressively uniform films of gold or silver to intricate objects.

Using the newest analytical techniques to uncover the ancients’ artistic secrets, the researchers discovered gold- and silversmiths 2,000 years ago developed a variety of techniques, including using mercury like a glue to apply thin films of metals to statues and other objects.

The method used to apply real gold and silver was also sometimes used fraudulently, they said, to make cheap metal statues look like solid gold or silver.

The findings confirm “the high level of competence reached by the artists and craftsmen of these ancient periods who produced objects of an artistic quality that could not be bettered in ancient times and has not yet been reached in modern ones,” the researchers said.

Western Demand For Cashmere Said A Threat To Endangered Asian Species

NEW YORK (UPI) — Some of the planet’s rarest large mammals may become “victims of fashion” as the cashmere trade threatens ecosystems, U.S. conservationists say.

Expanding goat herds meant to increase profits for the cashmere trade in Western markets could see wildlife icons from the Tibetan Plateau to Mongolia suffer, the Wildlife Conservation Society reported Wednesday.

Species at risk include the snow leopard, wild yak, chiru, saiga, Bactrian camel, gazelles, and other already endangered species of remote Central Asia, the society said in a release.

Goats from this region produce high-quality fibers that, when processed into cashmere, are highly sought by western consumers.

The growth in goat herds is bringing increasing conflicts with pastoralists, predation by dogs on wildlife, retaliatory killing of snow leopards preying on goats and displacement of wildlife away from critical food habitats, experts said.

A study has used date from fieldwork in India, western China, and Mongolia and builds upon economic data including herder profits, changes in livestock numbers, and the relative abundance of wildlife, researchers said.

“The consequences are dramatic and negative for iconic species that governments have signed legislation to protect, yet the wildlife is continually being squeezed into a no-win situation,” said lead study author Joel Berger, a biologist for the society and professor at University of Montana.

“Herders are doing what we would do — just trying to improve their livelihoods, and who can blame them?”

Conservationists are urging a dialog among the garment industry, cashmere herders and wildlife groups to address and mitigate the impacts.

“In the absence of commitment across global and local scales, the iconic wildlife of the world’s highest mountains and great steppes will cease to persist as they have for millennia,” Peter Zahler, the society’s deputy director for Asia programs, said.

“Rather than serving as symbols of success, these species will become victims of fashion.”

Bird Native To Russia Unexpectedly Shows Up In Southern California

IMPERIAL BEACH, Calif. (UPI) — A species of bird native to the Siberian tundra has made a rare appearance in California, ImperialBeachPatch.com reported.

Bird enthusiasts have been flocking to Imperial Beach in San Diego Country to see a Lesser Sand Plover, the news website said.

It is the first known visit of the plover to the area and only the third time it’s been spotted in Southern California.

A native to the Russian tundra that normally spends it summers somewhere between Southeast Asia and Australia, the California sighting is the first in the San Diego area and only the third ever recorded in California, experts said.

The bird, also known as the Mongolian Plover, has been drawing crowds.

“I’ve seen people looking at this bird that have come from Colorado and New Mexico,” said Guy McCaskie, an Imperial Beach resident and member of the California Rare Birds Committee, a group that verifies rare bird sightings.

“People will come from a long distance to see a bird of this quality.”

Japanese University Says Science Papers Should Be Retracted For Errors

TOKYO (UPI) — The University of Tokyo says it’s urging one of its research groups to retract 43 published papers because they contain falsified data and other irregularities.

The papers were published by a group at the university’s Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences led by Shigeaki Kato, a widely known endocrinologist in charge of a national project that was granted more than $200 million in funding between 2004 and 2009.

Kato, who resigned from the institute last year, denied involvement in any falsifications but said in an interview with The Mainichi Shimbun he “would accept the university’s decision.”

The university said it began an investigation after allegations were made by an outside source.

The university discovered fabricated data including Photoshopped and partially deleted materials in 165 papers published after Kato’s arrival in 1996, officials said.

The investigators concluded 43 papers on a range of subjects from fat-cell increases associated with obesity to DNA multiplication through cell division should be retracted, and another 10 needed to be revised.

University officials said they believed Kato wasn’t directly involved in falsification of the data but the way he managed the research resulted in misconduct.

Kato said he was in charge of checking experimental results and revising papers.

“I think my team members rushed to obtain successful results,” he said. “I’m sorry for troubling the university, the institute, and the science committee and I’m working on retracting the papers.”

More than 20 researchers are listed as co-authors of the papers in question.

“The papers damaged the university’s social credibility while greatly affecting the future of young researchers,” a member of the investigation panel said.

Cold Spring Weather Catastrophic For Poland’s Stork Populations

WOLSZTYN, Poland (UPI) — A cold spring decimated Poland’s stork population, with 80 percent of young storks perishing in some areas of the country, conservationists said.

Bird watchers said despite ample sources of food and numerous live hatchings, many young birds died of cold and exposure, Polskie Radio reported Thursday.

In one traditionally popular habitat of white storks in southwestern Poland, 26 pairs had nested this year but only six pairs managed to raise a total of nine hatchlings, ornithologists said.

Violent rains and sudden spells of cold weather in June may have also brought on fungal infections, a common problem in damp weather, they said.

Storks in western Poland were hardest hit, and conservationists said they were hoping storks raised in central and eastern Poland — which escaped the worst of the spring weather — would help rebuild the decimated populations in the western part of the country within three to four years.

Bird watchers said it has been the worst year from storks in Poland since 1997, when much of the country was hit by flooding.