U.S. Prosecutors: Moscow-Based Hackers Stole Millions

NEW YORK (UPI) — A Moscow-based “worldwide hacking conspiracy” broke into the networks of major companies to steal sensitive data, federal prosecutors said Thursday.

The victims included the NASDAQ, Dow Jones and major retailers like Carefour SA, Citibank, PNC Bank, Heartland Payment Systems, 7-Eleven, JCPenney, Hannaford Brothers and others, investigators said. The defendants include four Russians and a Ukrainian.

“This type of crime is the cutting edge,” U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said. “Those who have the expertise and the inclination to break into our computer networks threaten our economic well-being, our privacy and our national security. And this case shows, there is a real practical cost because these types of frauds increase the costs of doing business for every American consumer, every day. We cannot be too vigilant and we cannot be too careful.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney General Mythili Raman said the scheme cost their victims hundreds of millions of dollars.

“The defendants charged today were allegedly responsible for spearheading a worldwide hacking conspiracy that victimized a wide array of consumers and entities, causing hundreds of millions of dollars in losses,” Raman said.

Those charged in a superseding indictment released Thursday were Vladimir Drinkman, 32, of Syktyykar and Moscow, Russia, and Alexandr Kalinin, 26, of St. Petersburg, Russia. Prosecutors said they specialized in bypassing security and gaining access to computer systems.

Roman Kotov, 32, of Moscow, allegedly specialized in stealing data once the networks were breached. Mikhail Rytikov, 26, of Odessa, Ukraine, is charged with providing an anonymous Web-hosting service while Dmitriy Smilianets, 29, of Moscow, allegedly sold the information.

The hackers allegedly stole information on 160 million credit cards, which were sold for $10 to $50 each, the lower price for U.S. credit card information and the top price for European credit card information.

The companies lost a combined $300 million, prosecutors said.

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.

According to The College Fix, “security personnel” Wednesday at the University of Central Missouri turned away the students, who were wearing a variety of Republican accessories and/or Tea Party T-shirts, after they put away their protest signs and attempted to join the 2,500 other ticketholders who’d waited hours to hear the President.

Why? Well, the “security personnel” (never named in the article as the Secret Service or campus security) told the students their political views weren’t the problem, but the President’s safety was.

Wait – isn’t that essentially telling them, in totalitarian fashion, that their political views were the problem?

“It just didn’t make any sense,” said one College Republican official. “A lot of us traveled several hours to watch the speech. We were very disappointed not to be able to attend.”

The College Republicans had joined with others from the State Republican Party for a 60-person protest that, according to the article, consisted of holding signs and talking to people passing through. Their protest was held in a “public speech area” of the campus and was nowhere within sight, or earshot, of the building where Obama delivered the speech, nor of those ticketholders who had already queued up to be let inside. The report indicates that no other groups or individuals who held tickets were scrutinized or turned away in similar fashion.

Obama’s speech Wednesday marked one stop along his newly-launched Nationwide tour to evangelize the President’s economic policy and stump on jobs growth.

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.

Casey Lee, the owner of one of the facilities, said Federal agents took 16 marijuana plants, edible marijuana products, employees’ cellphones and paperwork from the store during the raid.

“I kept saying, ‘We don’t feel like we’ve done anything wrong. Why are you guys here?’ And they said, ‘Well, you guys are state legal, but you are still not federally legal,’ that’s all they could tell me,” said Lee.

According to DEA officials, the raid of several dispensaries in Washington was part of a two-year investigation.

Via KIRO 7:

Facebook: Women More Interested In Royal Baby

MENLO PARK, Calif., (UPI) —  Facebook, based in California, said its analysis of royal baby Prince George mentions on the site found women were more interested than men.

The social networking site said its analysis of mentions of the son of Prince William and Kate, duchess of Cambridge, during the first hour after his birth found women ages 18 to 44 were the most likely to post about the infant, followed by men ages 18 to 24, CNET.com reported Wednesday.

Facebook said the male age group was followed by women ages 45 to 54.

The website said British Facebook users were the most likely to mention the baby, followed by users in the United States, Canada, Italy and France.

Honest Tea Says Hawaii, Alabama Most Honest In United States

HONOLULU, (UPI) —  Beverage company Honest Tea says its unattended drink experiments in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., found Hawaii and Alabama to be the most honest.

The company said it compiled the National Honesty Index with experiments in all 50 states involving kiosks loaded with Honest Tea bottles and a locked box labeled to accept $1 payments for the beverages, The Indianapolis Star reported Wednesday.

Honest Tea said the experiments determined the tea drinkers across the United States were honest an average 92 percent of the time, while people who took bottles in Hawaii and Alabama were honest 100 percent of the time.

“We’ve conducted our experiment in different cities over the past few years, but this is the first time we’ve conducted the experiment on a national scale,” said Seth Goldman, co-founder and chief executive officer of Honest Tea. “Even though my bicycle was stolen the same day as our D.C. experiment, it’s reassuring to know that 92 percent of Americans will do the right thing even when it seems no one is watching.”

The company said all of the money collected during the experiment is being donated to non-profit FoodCorps, which aims to feed children.

Homeless Man’s Honesty Lauded By Police

KINGSTON, N.Y., (UPI) —  A Kingston, N.Y., homeless man who turned in a wallet containing $485 he found on the street is being applauded by police and city residents.

“Thanks to the decency and honesty of a person that most likely could have used the cash — for food, shelter or any other number of reasons — the wallet and cash were reunited with its owner,” Detective Lt. Thierry Croizer posted for the department on Facebook.

Hassel “Junior” Barber, 50, who sleeps in midtown Kingston doorways and is often seen searching for bottles and cans to convert into cash, told police when he turned in the wallet “he felt bad that someone had lost money and knew that returning it was the ‘right thing to do,'” Kingston police said in a follow-up Facebook posting.

Both postings can be found at tinyurl.com/UPI-Kingston-Police.

“I looked at the wallet and I seen money,” Barber told the Times Herald-Record of Middletown. “I didn’t bother to count it. It wasn’t mine. I didn’t want it.”

“It’s that type of honesty and integrity we should all follow,” Timothy Halpin, who owns a Kingston auto repair shop, wrote on the Kingston police Facebook page Wednesday. “Mr. Barber is leading by example. We should all take notice.”

After Croizer posted the deed online, police in Kingston, a Hudson Valley city 90 miles north of New York City, were flooded with calls from people wanting to help Barber, but Barber declined the offers, police said.

“He said that he does not need or want any reward, he just wanted to ‘do the right thing,'” the department said on Facebook.

“Many times we make judgments because of another person’s appearance or circumstances,” Croizer wrote, urging city residents to “keep an open mind and not make that rush to judgment.”

“Let us all try to live by what [17th century French poet] Jean de La Fontaine said, ‘Beware, so long as you live, of judging men by their outward appearance.'”

Record Powerball Winner Offers To Fix Maine High School’s Roof

EAST MILLINOCKET, Maine,  (UPI) —  An 84-year-old Florida woman who won a record $590.5 million Powerball jackpot has offered $2 million to repair the roof of a high school in her Maine hometown.

Quenten Clark, superintendent of Maine’s East Millinocket School District, said family members of Gloria MacKenzie, who claimed her $370.9 million lump sum — $278 million after taxes — June 5, visited his office Tuesday to say the Florida woman was planning to donate $2 million to fix the roof at Schenck High School, the Bangor (Maine) Daily News reported Wednesday.

“They want their privacy respected so I don’t think they will have any comment publicly,” Clark said.

MacKenzie’s son, Larry MacKenzie, is a former East Millinocket selectman and her daughter, Mindy, teaches biology at Schenck High.

MacKenzie’s relatives could not be reached for comment, the Daily News said.

Poll: Weiner Loses Lead In NYC Mayoral Race After New Sexting Scandal

NEW YORK,  (UPI) —  Former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., has lost his lead over rivals for the Democratic nomination for mayor of New York, a poll released Thursday found.

The NBC 4 New York/Wall Street Journal/Marist Poll of 1,199 New York City adults was conducted Wednesday, after Weiner publicly acknowledged he texted sexual images to women after resigning his House seat for similar behavior in 2011.

The poll found City Council Speaker Christine Quinn is favored by 25 percent of Democrats, with Weiner slipping to second place at 16 percent, ahead of Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and former Comptroller Bill Thompson, tied at 14 percent. In the most recent previous NBC 4 New York/Wall Street Journal/Marist Poll, conducted in June, Weiner led the field with 25 percent, followed by Quinn at 20 percent, Thompson with 13 percent and de Blasio with 10 percent.

The poll released Thursday found 43 percent of New York Democrats want Weiner to get out of the race.

Also Thursday, U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said the behavior of Weiner and San Diego Mayor Bob Filner — also a Democrat, who has been accused by at least three women of sexually inappropriate behavior — is “reprehensible,” The Hill reported.

“The conduct of some of these people that we’re talking about here is reprehensible,” Pelosi told reporters on Capitol Hill.

“It is so disrespectful of women, and what’s really stunning about it is they don’t even realize,” she said. “They don’t have a clue.”

“If they’re clueless, get a clue,” Pelosi said. “If they need therapy, do it in private.”

Weiner and Filner both served in the House when Pelosi was speaker.

Poll: Most Americans Support Affirmative Action

PRINCETON, N.J., (UPI) —  Two-thirds of Americans think college applicants should be admitted based solely on merit, yet most approve of affirmative action, a Gallup poll indicates.

Twenty-eight percent of Americans think a college applicant’s race and ethnic background should be a factor when granting admission to promote diversity on college campuses.

Seventy-five percent of whites and 59 percent of Hispanics believe applicants should be evaluated based on merit alone, while black people are more evenly divided on the topic, the poll said.

In a separate question, Americans largely support the idea of affirmative action programs more generally. Fifty-eight percent of Americans support affirmative action, including 51 percent of whites, 76 percent of blacks and 69 percent of Hispanics.

Democrats are twice as likely as Republicans to favor such programs, the poll found.

“Americans are not averse to having the government take steps to help improve the conditions of minority groups in the United States, and in a broad sense express support for affirmative action programs,” Gallup said. “One of the clearest examples of affirmative action in practice is colleges’ taking into account a person’s racial or ethnic background when deciding which applicants will be admitted.

“Americans seem reluctant to endorse such a practice, and even blacks, who have historically been helped by such programs, are divided on the matter.”

Gallup interviewed 4,373 adults by telephone for the survey between June 13 and July 5. There was a 2 percentage point margin of error.

Vermont Rule Sets Conditions For Homeless To Stay In Motels

BURLINGTON, Vt., (UPI) —  If shelters are full, homeless people out in the freezing cold or in the third trimester of pregnancy may stay in a motel room, Vermont officials said.

The rule written by the Department for Children and Families also allows people who are homeless because of fire or flooding, under threat of domestic abuse, collecting Social Security, older than 64 years of age or in a family with a child younger than 7 years of age to stay in a motel, the Burlington (Vt.) Free Press reported Wednesday.

People who don’t immediately qualify under those conditions may also stay in a motel if they accrue four points in a system meant to assess one’s “vulnerability,” the rule states.

“The system awards applicants one point if they are a disabled veteran, were recently discharged from the custody of the Department for Children and Families, were recently released on probation or parole after spending at least a year in prison, have an open case with the Family Services Division, have applied for Social Security or receive Reach Up benefits,” the wording of the rule says. “It awards them two points if they are either in a family with a child 7- to 17 years old or were recently discharged from a hospital after a stay of at least two days.”

The state Legislature ordered the Department for Children and Families to draft the new rule after lawmakers reduced the state’s budget for motel rooms for homeless people from $4 million to $1.5 million.

The Legislature’s initial plan would have been far more restrictive, the Free Press said.

“We listened to our community partners and advocates,” said Richard Giddings, deputy commissioner of the Department for Children and Families. “These were tough choices that were made to get us where we’re at. We tried to revise it, and we’re going to look at it on a month by month basis.”

House Defeats Effort To Rein In NSA Phone-Tracking

WASHINGTON, (UPI) —  A rare left-right bloc of House members vowed after a narrow loss to redouble efforts to curb a national-security program that amasses Americans’ phone records.

“This is only the beginning,” Rep. John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, said after the House voted 216 to 205 to defeat a proposal he sponsored with Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., to restrict the National Security Agency’s ability to collect Americans’ phone records.

The measure — an amendment to the military-spending bill that later passed — would have limited NSA phone surveillance to specific targets of law-enforcement investigations, not broad dragnets.

It would have also required the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court’s secret opinions to be made available to lawmakers and opinion summaries to be made available to the public.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said lawmakers would keep coming back with legislation to curtail the dragnets for “metadata” records, whether through phone records or Internet surveillance.

At the very least, the USA Patriot Act section the NSA and FBI cite to justify mass phone surveillance will be allowed to expire in 2015, he said

“It’s going to end — now or later,” Nadler said. “The only question is when and on what terms.”

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., promised to draft a bill in the fall to add more privacy protections to government surveillance programs.

Their threats and promises came after the House vote, which was far closer than originally expected, despite last-minute lobbying by the Obama administration and House intelligence panel members.

Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, who as head of the House rarely casts a ballot, voted against the amendment.

Indeed, Boehner found himself in the rare position of being on the same side as President Barack Obama. He was joined in opposing the amendment by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., a supporter of the Tea Party movement.

Ultimately, 83 Democrats joined 134 Republicans to defeat the measure. Voting for the measure were 94 Republicans and 111 Democrats.

The unusual alliance of the House’s right and left wings was dubbed “the wingnut coalition” by Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, who called Amash “the chief wingnut.”

He said he jokingly gave it that name because “you have the right wing and the left wing working together and trying to get things done.”

“Wingnut” usually refers pejoratively to a person in politics who holds extreme, often irrational, political views, usually with a religious overtone.

The fight will now shift to the Senate, where Mark Udall, D-Colo., and Ron Wyden, D-Ore. — longtime critics of NSA dragnet collection and storage of personal records — have promised to take up the cause.

“National security is of paramount importance, yet the NSA’s dragnet collection of Americans’ phone records violates innocent Americans’ privacy rights and should not continue as its exists today,” Udall, a member of the Subcommittee on Terrorism and Unconventional Threats, said after the vote.

“I am urging the president and the NSA to join this growing bipartisan coalition and work with Congress to focus the NSA’s surveillance efforts on terrorists and spies — not innocent Americans.”

The White House has said Obama would veto any proposal to limit NSA surveillance.

Texas Holder ‘Em; Amash Amendment Goes Down; Weiner’s ‘Sex Bunker’; Pelosi Anchors A ‘Conversation’ About Race; George H.W. Bush Shaves His Head – Thursday Morning News Roundup 7-25-2013

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

 

  • Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. announced on Thursday that the Justice Department would ask a court to require Texas to get permission from the federal government before making voting changes in that state for the next decade. (No word on doing the same in Illinois.) Source: New York Times…

 

  • The House of Representatives voted 217-205 to defeat an amendment to the defense appropriations bill that would have limited the National Security Agency’s ability to collect electronic information, including phone call records. Source: Reuters…

 

  • The man who broke the most recent Anthony Weiner sexting scandal said that the embattled New York politician presented his marriage to young women as a sham and even planned to purchase a “secret bunker” in Chicago that could house real-life trysts. Source: The Daily Caller…

 

  • House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is hosting a “Conversation on Race and Justice” on July 30 on Capitol Hill, welcoming buddies from the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Center for Social Inclusion to use the George Zimmerman trial as the jumping-off point for a “broader conversation.” Source: Washington Examiner…

 

  • Former President George H.W. Bush, 89, sported a clean-shaven head in solidarity with a 2-year-old named Patrick, who lost his hair when he started being treated for leukemia. Source: ABC News…

 

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

Ignore UnConstitutional Laws

The undocumented White House usurper and acclaimed Constitutional “professor” has made a habit of ignoring the Constitution whenever doing so fulfills his agenda. Unfortunately, Congress has enabled President Barack Obama’s serial lawbreaking.

As Personal Liberty contributor Michael Boldin pointed out Tuesday, Americans are frustrated that those elected to serve them continue to ignore their wishes — and the Constitution — and pass laws they oppose. But the prospect of “voting the bums out” never seems to bring about change.

What did the Founders say about unConstitutional laws? Ignore them.

Patrick Henry wrote in Constitutions, Governments, and Charters: “A constitution defines and limits the powers of the government it creates. It therefore follows, as a natural and also a logical result, that the governmental exercise of any power not authorized by the constitution is an assumed power, and therefore illegal.”

EFF: Forcing Suspects To Decrypt Electronic Information Is UnConstitutional

The Electronic Frontier Foundation filed an amicus brief in a Federal court Wednesday in a bid to fight government efforts to violate Americans’ 5th Amendment rights by forcing people under investigation to decrypt their electronic files.

The filing relates to a case in which the FBI is attempting to force Jeremy Feldon, who is under investigation for child pornography, to decrypt data stored on devices and hard drives found in the apartment. After unsuccessfully attempting to access the electronic information for months, agents filed a court order forcing Feldman to provide the government with the decrypted contents of the drives.

EFF argues that forcing the man to decrypt the contents of the devices is a violation of 5th Amendment protections against self-incrimination.

From EFF:

The Fifth Amendment protects a person from being “compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.” The question here is whether forcing Feldman to decrypt the contents of the computer drives is “testimony” that is protected by the Constitution. The issue ultimately boils down to whether the government is forcing him to reveal the contents of his mind and communicate a fact to the government it doesn’t already know. If so, then the Fifth Amendment applies and the only way the government can compel Feldman to decrypt or “testify” is to offer that person immunity from the testimony.

A magistrate judge initially denied the government’s request, finding the act of decryption was protected by the Fifth Amendment. The court found the government hadn’t sufficiently proven that the drives in question were accessed and controlled by Feldman. That would tell the government something it didn’t necessarily know: that the drives — and their contents — belonged to and were controlled by Feldman. That testimony would incriminate him and therefore triggered the Fifth Amendment privilege.

While Feldon is charged with a disturbing crime, EFF staff attorney Hanni Fakhoury said protecting a suspect’s 5th Amendment rights in the electronic realm is vital as Americans increasingly rely on technology on a daily basis.

Note from the Editor: Under the Obama Administration, the NSA, the IRS, and the State and Justice departments are blatantly stepping on Americans’ privacy—and these are just the breaches we’re aware of. I’ve arranged for readers to get a free copy of The Ultimate Privacy Guide so you can be protected from any form of surveillance by anyone—government, corporate or criminal. Click here for your free copy.

“At a time where personal data is increasingly generated and stored electronically and online, encryption is a crucial way to safeguard data from prying eyes. Its fast becoming a routine feature in computer operating systems and an integral aspect of exchanging information on the web,” he writes in a post on the EFF website. “But as we’ve explained to courts before, demanding this common sense data protection shouldn’t come at the expense of our right against self-incrimination. Of course the government should have tools to investigate and prosecute serious crimes. But important constitutional rights can’t be discarded in that pursuit.”

In Some States, Flashing Your Headlights To Warn About Speed Traps Will Get You In Trouble

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is using the case of a Missouri man to challenge a municipal law — one of dozens, if not hundreds of similar laws throughout the United States — that punishes motorists who flash their headlights at oncoming drivers to alert them to a police presence in their path of travel.

The ACLU of Eastern Missouri has filed a class action suit against the City of Ellisville after learning of what happened to Michael Elli, a resident who was pulled over by a local cop and cited for “flashing [his] lights to warn of radar ahead.” He was told in court he would have to pay a customary $1,000 in fines, but the charge was later dismissed after Elli put up more resistance than other unfortunate motorists who’d preceded him.

An ACLU attorney went straight to the heart of the deceptive evil inherent in the law:

Those who use their First Amendment rights to warn others to drive cautiously should not be punished for their message. After all, the purpose of traffic laws is to promote safety, not generate revenue.

Well said — although it could have been even more precise.

There’s a tremendous case to be made for exercising one’s 1st Amendment rights not merely to “warn others to drive cautiously” but to “warn others that cops are over the hill indiscriminately mining for probable cause so that they can stop strangers who aren’t under investigation and possibly violate their 4th Amendment rights in the process.”

With the ACLU taking up the case, Elli is the named plaintiff in the lawsuit against the city. The outcome could set a precedent to legal challenges in States like Alaska and Arizona, where it’s against the law to flash your headlights as a gesture to other motorists for any reason.

Do local laws deter you from flashing your lights at other drivers? Would they? Sound off in the comments.

The Cosmic Joke

Peruse the photograph that accompanies this column. Taken last Friday by the Cassini probe currently orbiting Saturn, it’s one of those pictures NASA likes to release to the public in an effort to remind us that they A) exist and B) can do stuff besides bum rides from the Russians to the International Space Station. Recalling the famed “family portrait” that the late, great Carl Sagan led the Voyager team to create in 1990, the Earth is in the picture. And much like the “pale blue dot” section of Sagan’s famous photo mosaic, the Earth is very, very small.

saturn0724

This latest photograph, which shows Saturn in all her majesty, actually includes the Earth only as a cosmic afterthought. Of course, our beautiful blue marble is a cosmic afterthought. Heck, Saturn is neither the largest of our planets, nor the farthest from home; those honors belong to Jupiter and Neptune, respectively. Nonetheless, the photograph is as humbling as any image that accurately depicts our infinitesimal smallness against the backdrop of God’s infinite creation.

But forget the metaphysical stuff. In fact, let’s put all the really cool regular physics aside, as well. Focus on the photograph. It was snapped by Cassini just six days ago. And that simple act of clicking the shutter on a plutonium-powered camera is amazing all by itself.

See, it took 14 years of development and construction, 16 years flying via remote control across more than a billion miles, nearly $4 billion and the cooperation of some of the most brilliant humans available in more than a dozen separate countries just to take that picture. Even the Italians, the same guys responsible for Fiat, pitched in. To be sure, there have been a couple of hiccups. A European Space Agency programming error caused the loss of one of the Huygens data channels and about 350 images of Saturn’s moon Titan. But given the fact that Cassini is about the size of a school bus and is assigned to cover a neighborhood even less hospitable than South Central Los Angeles, a minor transmitter failure is cosmically small.

The usual suspects nearly derailed Cassini years before its launch date. As zero hour approached, a far left eco-loon group named the Florida Coalition for Peace and Justice tried to scrub the project on the grounds that its plutonium fuel posed a threat to the human race (or something to that effect). The Florida Coalition for Peace and Justice still exists, and it has continued its mission of scaring people with pseudoscience claptrap. Sixteen years after getting it all wrong about Cassini, its website is currently a mélange of so-called “global warming” babble and advertisements for something called “The Sustainable Living Center,” which sounds an awful lot like a “campground.” Beyond that, an impassioned campaign by astronaut Sally Ride and some luck at the budgetary butcher shop barely saved the program. And it still had to achieve escape velocity from the entropy that afflicts nearly everything that wanders too close to Washington, D.C.’s wild orbit.

Cooperating nations spent billions of dollars to make what amounts to a really amazing car that has functioned just about flawlessly for nearly 20 years — all despite worse working conditions than those faced by Keith Olbermann’s limousine service. Think about that for a moment; I mean, really let it sink in. Right now, as you’re considering the magnitude of the scientific, technological and bureaucratic success that is Cassini as well as the many parts of the incredible journey that produced that amazing photograph, the United Nations is spending many billions more Cassini cost to combat so-called “global warming.”

On the one hand, a group made up of multiple nationalities and specialties worked on multiple levels over multiple years to advance our understanding of the actual universe. On the other hand, a group made up of multiple nationalities and specialties is working on multiple levels over multiple years to advance our understanding of pseudoscience that averages a name change per decade.

The next time President Barack Hussein Obama and/or one of his liberal cronies goes into hysterics over global warming or suggests throwing taxpayer dollars at another “green” energy boondoggle, think of this photograph. Then ask yourself: “Could the same guys who came up with ‘global warming’ and Solyndra pull this off?”

–Ben Crystal

U.N. Wants You To Call ‘Illegal Immigrants’ ‘Irregular Migrants’

Citing concerns over the offensive-sounding implication of culpability latent in the term “illegal immigrant,” the United Nations is asking reporters covering human trafficking in Malta to stop saying “illegal immigrant” and start saying “irregular migrant.”

What, like their stomach problems trump their citizenship?

The U.N. is also discouraging reporters from referring to illegal immigrants’ border movements as “clandestine,” which, according to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees in Malta, has a “strong negative connection, invoking a sense of criminality.”

The Maltese case differs greatly from the illegal immigration controversy that rages in the United States. Many illegal immigrants in Malta are fleeing far more hostile political circumstances in Africa and claim political asylum upon arrival. But the ostensibly compassionate effort to bend plain language to dull the sting of its proper meaning is a trek down a one-way path toward crafting ever more statist policies spawned by globalists and liberals.

Writing for The Telegraph, foreign correspondent Colin Freeman explains the strange logic that makes offensive the very commonsense practice of calling things by their true names.

“Illegal immigration” apparently carries connotations of criminality, of someone doing something wrong. Like, for example, paying a people smuggler €700 to transport them (sic) a rickety boat that might sink with the loss of all on board. Whereas “irregular” is a more “neutral” term. Probably all the same to you and me.

…Make no mistake, people traffickers are the modern day equivalent of slave traders, the only difference being that these days, they have sidelines in drugs and weapons smuggling too. Yes, of course they are more culpable than the people they exploit, just as heroin traffickers get heavier sentences than heroin addicts. But to describe their cargo as simply “irregular” rather than illegal is a sophistry that risks detracting from the very real criminality of what they do.

The tide of humanity unleashed by the movements of desperate or displaced people can’t be legislated out of existence. Law is too feeble a construct to ultimately deter the primal motivator that’s driven mass migrations of Vandals, Visigoths, Mongols, Rwandans and Mexicans — all of which have left permanent and fundamental cultural change in their wake as they inhabit their new homes. Immigration — legal or not — is an enormously difficult phenomenon to attempt to control. But if there’s national will to address it as a problem that threatens the foundations of a society, then a Nation has every right to do so.

However, it’s a disservice to both sides of the argument to subvert, from the outset, the very language used to diagnose exactly what the problem is.

To Hell With The ‘Middle Class’

Here’s a term Americans hear endlessly during election seasons: middle class.

Those vying for political office bloviate continuously about protecting the middle class, expanding the middle class and empowering the middle class. After all, America’s middle class — the carpenters, plumbers, bank tellers, steelworkers, used car salesmen and farmers — represent the economic lifeblood of the Nation.

Those Americans who toil to achieve the picket-fence American dream vote and get politicians in office, yet they matter very little to most politicians once the ballots have been counted. The lowly middle-class voters, along with their needs and dreams, are then discarded in favor of more lucrative constituents belonging to the Nation’s military-industrial-Wall Street complex.

The United States is the richest nation on the planet; but regardless of what politicians would like for Americans to believe, its middle class isn’t doing so well.

As Les Leopold recently pointed out in a Huffington Post blog:

Our middle class is falling further and further behind in comparison to the rest of the world. We keep hearing that America is number one. Well, when it comes to middle-class wealth, we’re number 27.

The most telling comparative measurement is median wealth (per adult). It describes the amount of wealth accumulated by the person precisely in the middle of the wealth distribution — fifty percent of the adult population has more wealth, while fifty percent has less. You can’t get more middle than that.

Wealth is measured by the total sum of all our assets (homes, bank accounts, stocks, bonds etc) minus our liabilities (outstanding loans and other debts). It the best indicator we have for individual and family prosperity. While the never-ending accumulation of wealth may be wrecking the planet, wealth also provides basic security, especially in a country like ours with such skimpy social programs. Wealth allows us to survive periods of economic turmoil. Wealth allows our children to go to college without incurring crippling debts, or to get help for the down-payment on their first homes. As Bill Holiday sings, “God bless the child that’s got his own.”

Leopold considers the withering American middle class a direct result of a lack of ambitious liberal social and economic programs in the United States. He argues that stronger unions, universal healthcare, free college and more regulation is the answer.

President Barack Obama echoed a similar sentiment during a speech on the economy Wednesday, saying that the Nation needs more government efforts to lessen the Nation’s wealth gap.

“This growing inequality, it’s not just morally wrong, it’s bad economics,” he said. “Because when middle-class families have less to spend, guess what? Businesses have fewer consumers. When wealth concentrates at the very top, it can inflate unstable bubbles that threaten the economy. When the rungs on the ladder of opportunity grow farther and farther apart, it undermines the very essence of America, that idea that if you work hard, you can make it here.”

But evidence abounds that liberal policy changes can’t be the answer.

The President’s very own attempt to provide universal healthcare has already begun to negatively affect the Nation’s economy — and especially the middle-class economy.

Employment numbers from June indicated that full-time jobs are being supplanted on a massive scale as companies steady their workforce numbers ahead of the implementation of Obamacare. The labor force lost 240,000 full-time jobs in June, continuing a trend that has seen 557,000 part-time jobs in the United States outpace the comparatively paltry 130,000 new full-time positions since the first of the year.

And Detroit, a bastion of union power, has been suffering the consequences of government meddling in business affairs for decades. As politicians made profit — without the benefit of government stimulus — nearly impossible for Detroit businesses, businesses left. And with no job keeping them tied to the city, residents left. Liberal policy meant to protect workers culminated in what is likely the Nation’s largest municipal bankruptcy in history.

But surely the money that the Federal government pumps into the Nation’s universities is emboldening the middle class. Well, not exactly.

Because colleges have access to too many Federal dollars and are incentivized to chase those dollars, the very programs designed to make college more accessible for Americans have an inflationary result, driving up the price of college. Meanwhile, the value of a degree falls. That is to say, colleges are spending money to chase money and the students are left behind.

So students from middle-class families are often taking on thousands of dollars in student loan debts — while their poorer peers qualify for larger Pell grant awards — in order to afford college prices that have risen artificially due to an influx of Federal dollars since the 1970s. Over the past five years, the average amount of student loan debt accrued by college students has risen by 30 percent to $23,829.

Because of a proliferation of economically damaging liberal policy initiatives such as Obamacare and pandering to unreasonable union demands, those debt-laden college grads can’t find jobs. About 48 percent of employed U.S. college graduates work jobs that the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) suggests require less than a four-year college education.

Note from the Editor: Hyperinflation is becoming more visible every day—just notice the next time you shop for groceries. All signs say America’s economic recovery is expected to take a nose dive and before it gets any worse you should read The Uncensored Survivalist. This book contains sensible advice on how to avoid total financial devastation and how to survive on your own if necessary. Click here for your free copy.

Regardless of how staunchly conservative or liberal one may be, there is no way to deny that the U.S. has been dominated by liberal fiscal policy for just about a century.  And, more often than not, liberal fiscal policy initiatives have been gleefully accepted by a majority of Americans because of promises that they will help the middle class.

The reason the middle class in America is not doing so well has nothing to do with lack of government regulation or policy aimed at protecting this coveted segment of the American population. The reason the middle class is not doing well is that there is really no such thing as being middle-class. There’s being an American citizen who is financially comfortable and has an enjoyable work-life balance. But the only reason the term “middle class” exists is because it is a convenient way for the political power structure to promise comfort in return for economic and social freedom.

My George Zimmerman Moment

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hSQsWvkTia4&w=560&h=315]

 
Hello, I’m Wayne Allyn Root for Personal Liberty. President Barack Obama can’t stop comparing himself, or the son he never had, to Trayvon Martin. And he can’t stop talking about race. Everything in Obama’s world is black and white. This is not America’s first “post-race President.” This is America’s first “all race, all the time President.”

I see the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin case very differently. For me, it was never about black or white. It was always about life or death — for Zimmerman. You see, 36 years ago, I was Zimmerman. Thirty-six years ago, I almost died in a life or death struggle eerily similar to Zimmerman’s confrontation. Let me tell you the story.

In 1977, at the age of 15, I attended Mount Vernon High School in Mount Vernon, N.Y., one of the most dangerous and violent urban schools in America. Guns and knives were rampant. Assaults were a daily occurrence. Every walk through the hallway was an opportunity to be beaten or robbed. Lunchtime was an opportunity to have your lunch extorted by someone threatening your life. And worst of all were the bathrooms. All the decent kids at Mount Vernon High School knew we were taking our lives in our hands if we went to the bathroom, so we didn’t. We learned to hold it in all day until we got home — for fear of being robbed or beaten in the filthy, dangerous bathrooms where hoods, gang members and drug dealers hung out.

The school was about 85 percent black. I was white. But being white wasn’t the problem. Being a good kid was the problem. It’s wasn’t black versus white. It was good versus bad. The good black kids were as readily beaten up and intimidated as the good white kids.

Like Zimmerman, I decided I wanted to make a difference — for white and black kids. I was sick of the crime violence, intimidation and fear. I spent the summer lifting weights and taking boxing lessons, bulked up and, upon my return to school, volunteered to become a marshal. That meant I was part of our volunteer school police force. We were unarmed, but carried badges and walkie-talkies. Our job was to police the halls and prevent crime, drug dealing and cutting classes.

Like Zimmerman, we weren’t supposed to engage, only observe and call for help. But, as you might surmise, it doesn’t always work out that way.

In the late spring of 1977, I faced a “George Zimmerman moment.” As I patrolled an empty hallway in my high school, I spotted a gangbanger smoking and listening to loud music when he was supposed to be in class. I confronted and told him, “You’re coming with me.” The kid wheeled around and pulled a gigantic knife. In court it was classified as a machete (with a blade longer than 8.5 inches). He lunged at me, and I grabbed his wrist. We wrestled to the ground, with him on top. A much bigger kid than me, he was soon winning the struggle and was about to stick the machete into my head.

If I had had a gun, I certainly would have used it to save my life. That was the choice Zimmerman faced. What Obama and the race-baiters call murder is self-defense. Those who make the race-baiters happy by not fighting back are… dead. After the fact, they’re called “victims.”

I got lucky. As my life was about to be extinguished, a principal emerged from his office to check on the commotion.  Like Zimmerman, I’m sure no one knew which of us was screaming in my life-or-death struggle, but my screams saved my life. The principal shouted: “Hey, you! Drop that knife.” The kid ran. The principal raced to my side. I told him what happened. Together, we chased down my assailant in the school courtyard. I lived to tell this story.

Zimmerman’s critics call him “a police wannabe.” I guess you could say I was a “police wannabe,” too. How rude. You know what that means? Zimmerman and I cared about our community. I cared about my fellow classmates. He cared about his fellow homeowners. We both cared about right and wrong. We wanted to protect and serve. We wanted to make a difference. And we volunteered to put our lives on the line — for no pay.

Should someone like that be punished, vilified and put in prison or respected, celebrated and recognized by society? I believe that at the least, that person deserves the benefit of the doubt. I cheer a person who volunteers to protect his school or neighborhood. If only more Americans were willing to police our streets and schools, we’d all be safer. We should be thanking the George Zimmermans of this world.

And as if on cue to prove my case, just days ago, Zimmerman showed the world what a hero he really is. He came upon a terrible car accident: an overturned SUV on fire, with a family inside. He pulled the family to safety before the police arrived. Yes, that George Zimmerman risked his life to save a family from being burned alive. Even after what our government just put him through. Even after so many Americans threatened his life. Even after the Al Sharptons and Jesse Jacksons asked for Federal charges. Yes, they demanded “double jeopardy” for a man found “not guilty” in a court of law. Still, he risked his life to save others.

You know the biggest irony? Obama is the ultimate “community organizer” and fan of volunteerism. Obama thinks if you volunteer to protest in front of banks to force minority loans or if you fight for welfare and food stamps, you’re a community hero. But if you lay your life on the line to protect your community from criminals, you deserve prison for defending your life. Interesting interpretation.

God forbid you ever find yourself in a life-or-death situation and survive by hurting or killing the bad guy. If the Al Sharptons and Jesse Jacksons have their way, you’ll lose your freedom for the “crime” of self-defense. Unfortunately, our President can now be added to the list of people out to vilify you for trying to clean up your community and protect your fellow man, white or black.

Always remember that Zimmerman was protecting a large number of black homeowners in that community. There was never any racism involved in this case; even the FBI confirmed this after extensive interviews of Zimmerman’s friends and associates. You know what the definition of “racism” is nowadays? Anyone winning an argument with a liberal.

Obama fantasizes that he could have been Trayvon Martin. But 36 years ago, I really was George Zimmerman.

I’m Wayne Allyn Root for PersonalLiberty.com. See you back here next week. Same time, same place. God bless America and protect us from the race-baiters and community organizers out to destroy our country.

Bachman Needs The NSA; Detroit Council Fixated On Zimmerman; Cop Fired For Questioning Bully Tactics; Welfare Growth Outpaces Job Gains 2 To 1; Poll: Majority Want Snowden Charged— Personal Liberty Digest™ P.M. Edition 7-24-2013

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

Bachmann: We Need NSA Spying To Win War On Terror

Outgoing Representative and failed Presidential candidate Michelle Bachmann (R-Minn.) said that she supports National Security Agency spying and that she would vote “no” on efforts to curtail it at the Heritage Foundation’s monthly “Conversation with Conservatives” event. Read More… 

Detroit Files For Bankruptcy; Council Votes To Ask Feds To Investigate George Zimmerman

In the throes of the largest municipal economic crisis in American history, the Detroit city council found an opportunity at its Tuesday meeting to ask the Federal government to investigate a guy acquitted for a self-defense killing that took place more than a year ago in Florida. Read More… 

Watch: Cop Speaks Out Against Ticket Quota, Urges Officers To Serve And Protect, Gets Fired

Former Auburn, Ala., police officer Justin Hanners became disturbed when a new chief at his department ordered officers to hassle, ticket and arrest specific numbers of residents per shift if they valued their jobs. He spoke out— and got fired. Watch… 

Obama’s Dismal Economic Record: Two Welfare Cases Per Job

On Wednesday, President Barack Obama delivered a speech in Galesburg, Ill., decrying political conflicts that aren’t focused on improving the economy, heralding his Administration’s economic efforts and promising to do more work on the economy. Read More… 

Poll Finds Majority Want NSA Leaker Snowden Charged With A Crime

More than half of U.S. adults think NSA leaker Edward Snowden, hiding out in a Moscow airport, should be charged with a crime, a poll indicates. Read More… 

Bachmann: We Need NSA Spying To Win War On Terror

Outgoing Representative and failed Presidential candidate Michelle Bachmann (R-Minn.) said that she supports National Security Agency spying and that she would vote “no” on efforts to curtail it at the Heritage Foundation’s monthly “Conversation with Conservatives” event.

Getting into a verbal dispute with Representative Justin Amash (R-Mich.) over his proposed amendment aimed at cutting funding to NSA data collection efforts, Bachmann said that government spying is necessary to “win the war on terror.” The Congresswoman also said that Americans have no reasonable expectation of privacy with regard to phone records.

“I’ll be voting ‘no’ on the Amash amendment,” she said. “And the reason why is because with the business records exception, section 215 [of the Patriot Act], there is no expectation of privacy.”

“I believe that we need to win the war on terror,” the Congresswoman later added. “We need to defeat the goals and aims of Islamic jihad and for that reason, I will be voting no on the Amash amendment.”

Amash responded to Bachman, urging her to ask her constituents how they feel.

“All you have to do is go home to your constituents and ask them whether they think they have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their phone records, or any of their other records that are stored by a third party, and they will tell you yes,” the Michigan Congressman said.

Furthermore, he argued, that if section 215 is allowed to be used loosely by the Federal government, any digital records Americans have stored on third party equipment could be subject to snooping.

“You might as well throw the Fourth Amendment out the window,” Amash said.

Bachmann also made very clear that she considers NSA leaker Edward Snowden a “traitor” and an enemy of the U.S.

At publication of this article, House lawmakers were debating the Defense Appropriations Bill that includes Amash’s amendment.